Sunday, August 03, 2008

Farm Walkabout

You know those hot (but not too hot), dry (or at least not too humid), summer days of August? Clear skies, light winds, with just enough heat to remind you that it's still the heart of summer. Borderline hot in the sun, but cool in the shade. Days that can help repress my dread of the impending winter (which comes sooner in the year every year - this year it started in June) for another week or two. That's what we had today.

These are the days that I remember from my childhood. Those were the days of driving from Cincinnati to The Farmtm to mow the lawn and visit with my grandparents. On days like these, we'd be outside most of the day playing around the barn or outbuildings. Or go down to the Greenville Creek. Crawl out on the rocks that make our little bitty waterfall. Ride the mini-bike around the fields. Shoot BB guns. Chase the fat pony around. Just... stuff. Summer, outside stuff.

With that in mind, Papa and I lifted off in the direction of The Farmtm mid-morning, the time when flying conditions are the best they're going to be all day and it's not yet hot enough to make the RV-6 greenhouse too uncomfortable. Basically, the opposite of what I could expect on the return leg. And in a case of insult to injury, it looked like the trip home would also be against a light headwind since we were already starting to see the benefits of a tailwind helping us along. But that was in the future, and summer days are all about living for the moment. We'd deal with the trip home later. And besides, it's flying! How bad can it be?

As we climbed out to the west, one of the rental Cessna 172s from the FBO at Bolton called in over Lilly Chapel, a small town 8 miles or so west of Bolton. Lilly Chapel has the dubious honor of being a reporting point for planes approaching Bolton from the west because of the highly visible grain elevator just outside of town. Interestingly, he reported that he was 2,500' descending upon his first contact with the tower. As much as I wish they would, very, very few people do that. I wonder if he always does it, or if he had been monitoring the tower frequency during my takeoff and wanted to pass that valuable piece of information on to the airplane that he knew was heading right at him. Since the tower won't.

I had told the tower as I got my takeoff clearance that my departure was VFR to the west. By the time the approaching Cessna called, about the furthest I could be from the airport was 3 or 4 miles. The Cessna, if over Lilly Chapel, would be 8 miles west. I don't understand why I don't even get advisories from the tower when he knows that I have departed in the direction of inbound traffic. I also don't understand why they don't ask the approaching aircraft what his altitude is and report it to me. I'm reluctant to barge into the frequency and ask him directly, but I've been sorely tempted to do it a number of time in the past.

The grain elevator at Lilly Chapel

Approaching Bolton from Lilly Chapel

The traffic conflict quickly resolved (by dint of our already being above 3,000'), we continued our climb to the west. The air was fairly smooth once we reached 3,500' so we leveled off there and creeped up to our cruising speed. As we were loafing along, I did a little math in my head to try to compute our gas mileage. It seems that we were getting better than 25 mpg. Let's verify:

140 knots = 161 mph
161 mph / 6 (gallons per hour) = 26.8 miles per gallon. Not too bad! The Miata gets 28.

Having a tailwind on the way to DarkeCo International Aerodrome(tm) is always welcome, and not solely because it gives us free miles. No, the other big deal about an easterly wind is that I can use runway 9. The opposite approach (runway 27) is more normally favored because of the prevailing winds out of the southwest. Those winds bubble around a stand of trees on the south side of the approach end of runway 27, and they cause me all kinds of grief when I land there. Runway 9 is always a welcome change. And I made the best of the opportunity with an almost-greaser. Not a 10, by any stretch, but a strong 9.2.

Without Brave Sir Hogarth along with me to act as walking partner, I had to borrow a substitute. Faygo, being ever-ready for a walk and not overly particular about whom her leash is attached to, rapidly and readily accepted the invite for a walk. Or a guided sniffing tour, depending on which of us you asked. We made the rounds of all of the groundhog holes, sniffed and snuffed at the entrances but found no one at home (or at least no one foolish enough to openly welcome a predator in for a visit), and slowly made our way down the banks of the creek. We saw plenty of wild flowers and wild (insect) life:

It's sometimes perplexing to me to ponder the fates which can have such pretty plants hung with the moniker of 'weed'. It must all come down to location, location, location. Luck of the draw. Grass? Nothing more than a weed with a great PR department, in my opinion. Roses?? For crying out loud, people. They have THORNS!! How in clear conscience do you reward belligerence like that by awarding the status of 'flower', yet relegate harmless little plants to weed status. Oh well. If nothing else, the distinction has built two huge industries. Where would florists and weed killer manufacturers be if there was no difference between the two?

I always like to visit my brother's shop while I'm out and about, so I made a stop by later in the afternoon. He's currently working on a 1939 Dodge with a cracked exhaust manifold. I wandered around and took pictures, of course:

These are just pictures of old cars stored in an even older barn, but I kind of like them:

I love the old stone and hand-hewn girders, but I can't find a way to get a compelling picture of them. That probably means that I like them for what they stand for more than I do for their aesthetic appeal, I suppose, but the fact is that I like to look at them and keep trying to make a picture that adequately conveys the effort and artisanship that went into their making.

The birds seem to like the architecture as well. They've done a number on this old Corvair:

I hereby nominate Ralph Nader as the Schadenfreude King of the Weektm. He will be ordained by last week's Schadenfreude King of the Weektm who was, as you may recall, that neighbor that Elizabeth Edwards was so "afraid of" because he had a Republican sign in his yard. He has got to be enjoying the brewing scandal surrounding Mr. Edwards.

What? You don't recall last week's Schadenfreude King of the Weektm? Well, that's because I just invented it today in honor of the irony of birds crapping all over the car that Nader crapped all over to make his name. That said, if I could anoint an honorary Schadenfreude King of the Weektm for last week, it would be that neighbor guy. You know, that gives me an idea for a new blog...

By the time I got back from my walk, it was getting to be about that time when I start to get the urge to head home. The flight back was hotter, but not horrible, and the expected bumps were definitely there, but again not at an uncomfortable level. And get this: the headwind never bothered to show up! We made a good 135 knots at 2,200' rpm on the way back. I know that "Tailwinds both ways" is the fishing story of flying, of course, and quite perversely, "Headwinds both ways" is far more often actually the case, but it's true! Tailwinds both ways! Well, if you grant me that "no headwind" is close enough to "tailwind" to count. You know, for the sake of the story that's in it.

This field caught my eye as we flew over:

Recently irrigated that one, I'd wager.

We had a pretty decent landing back at Bolton, aided more by the limp windsock than any proficiency on my part, but they all look the same in the logbook. Score a 9.5 for that one.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for both the trip wright-up and the car pics. You do some nice stuff with that E-500. The barn shots reminded me of the trips in my youth to my grandpa's hay farm. He had a couple of late 40's buisnessmens coupes that we could start and drive around the garden.