Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Sad and Tragic Demise of my Hangar Frog

With the Mother of All Cold Fronts having blown through last week, it's not a huge surprise that the calm that typically comes after the storm here in Ohio has stretched through the entire work week and into the weekend. And, as is usual when the calm winds and high pressure stick around for a few days, the weather is perfectly flyable, albeit with reduced visibility. The hallmark of extended high atmospheric pressure in Ohio is, after all, haze. Knowing that, I called Co-pilot Rick on Saturday evening to see if he'd be up for a late morning flight, after the inevitable fog had lifted. He was downtown watching some kind of historical reenactment where they attempt to light the river on fire in celebration of the Cuyahoga River fires of the 20th century (near as I can figure) when I called, but it doesn't matter. A 1015 show time was confirmed with a later call. Destination not important, or even thought about yet, truth be told.

The Weather-out-the-Window(tm) forecast was sue-poib, but it was every bit as hazy as I had expected. I also saw some .1 nm visibilities (fog) reported down south, too. The 1015 go time looked like a good decision. With plenty of spare time on my hands, Brave Sir Hogarth joined me in sampling the Weather-on-the-Porch(tm) for awhile. With hot coffee in hand, I sat and read my first Large Print novel (Memoir From Antproof Case) which, ironically, happens to be about a guy that has a visceral hatred of coffee.

The large print is helpful for those mornings on the porch that are so sunny that they force me to use sunglasses rather than reading glasses. Anyway, I'm enjoying the book. There's even parts about flying in it that I hadn't expected.

I liked the paragraph about the weather.

Eventually we were joined by Co-pilot Egg, still tired from her big day with the band on Saturday. She marched in a parade in the morning, then traveled out to Dayton for a band competition. They placed 5th out of 17 bands competing, which is good, but they didn't get back to town until after midnight.

Wanting to maximize my time relaxing on the porch, I waited until the last minute to head to the hangar. I got there just a couple of minutes before the Co-pilot was to arrive, so I got the hangar door up and the airplane pulled out in a hurry, finishing just before I had to head back to open the gate for Rick. I had wanted the plane out of the hangar before I went to get him so I could just drive the Miata into the hangar for parking while we were gone. And that's what I did. And I ran over my hangar frog on the way in.

Sometime this Spring, a young frog took up residence under the weather stripping of my hangar door. Every time I opened the door, he'd start hopping into the hangar. I really didn't want him there, although I can't say for sure why. I'd scoop him into the saucepan that Brave Sir drinks from when he comes out to loiter with me and carry him down to the end of the hangars. There I'd drop him in the grass with an admonition to never return. An admonition that he completely ignored, as it was to transpire. To his chagrin.

All through the summer, I got used to looking for him every time I opened the door. I'd scoop him up and take back down to the end of the hangar row, inexplicably firm in the knowledge that this time he wouldn't be able to find his way back. He always did. Today, when I was in a hurry to get the plane out, I forgot to look for him. Well, until it was too late. He wasn't hard to find when I did remember to look for him. He was broader, flatter, and much, much slower than normal. I took him to the end of the hangars again, but this time I didn't need to tell him not to come back.

As neither Rick or I could conjure up a destination for the day, I took the simple expedient of using to find the cheapest gas that was at least 75 miles away. That turned out to be Ashland County (KDWU), Kentucky. The AirNav comments were all very favorable, and we figured the worst case is that I'd buy some gas and we could fly back up north for lunch at Portsmouth.

The flight down was glass smooth, although the humidity and latent heat in the air foreshadowed a bumpy ride back later in the day. We don't sweat things like that, though. The visibility was pretty low, but the GPS guide dog was there to direct us infallibly to the airport. We diverted a bit to take some pictures of the Portsmouth water front, but by that time we were within a few miles of Ashland and it was easy enough to find in the murk. The winds were reported as calm and there was not a plane to be heard on the frequency (except for the few hundred flying into Vinton County for their annual Fly-in, anyway) so we had our choice of runway. I used 28 both because of its position relative to our entry heading and because it was mighty darn scenic! We turned left base over the river, and overflew a barge while we were on final. I was too busy to take any pictures, unfortunately.

We had no plan at all for what to do once we landed, so I asked the airport guy if 1) there was anything to do, and 2) whether he had a courtesy car to use to get us there? Yes, to the car, but no ideas as to what to do with it. He said there's always something going on in Ashland, so we should just head down there.

"How far is that?" I asked.

"Ten minutes. Five if you do it right. Our car ain't much to look at it, but it runs like a scalded dog."

I think that's the exact moment I decided that maybe Rick should drive.

I didn't keep track of the time, but I'm pretty sure it took longer than 10 minutes for us to get downtown, the reason mostly being that the car may have smoked like a scalded dog, it didn't really run like one. It did the job, though, and we managed to find downtown Ashland. Where, as predicted by the airport guy, something was going on. I never saw a sign explaining what it was, but there were crafts, food, and music.

Not having had lunch yet, we decided against both the live rat and the educational experience:

The Arts & Crafts stuff was worth a look, though:

This one is really demoralizing. My porch swing doesn't look anything like this one:

These are really cool! They cut the 'logs' out of 2x4s and stain them to look like logs. The big dollhouse was priced at $500, the small one at $50:

I took a lot of video of this corn mill. I felt kinda guilty about it, so I bought a $5 jar of farm-fresh honey and a $5 jar of Piccalilly. Then, realizing that the opportunity may not arise again any time soon, I asked the guy what in the hell Piccalilly is, and what's it's used for. He ran off a string of veggies that are in it, all of it pickled in vinegar and sugar. He said they use it on hot dogs and stuff.

"Oh. It's relish."

I think I was saved from a scathing stink eye by the guy standing behind me who chose that moment to announce that he wanted to buy the entire stick of pickled beets.

After perusing the culinary options open to us, I decided against the shrimp or crab Po' Boys. Ashland is right on the water, yes, but it's not shrimp or crab water. No telling where that stuff came from. Nope, not for me... I decided to take my chances with a spicy Italian sausage with grilled onions. Knowing, mind you, that there was very likely to be a bumpy ride home. Caution to the wind, though:

We were joined by a couple of local residents enjoying ice cream cones. I made sure to explain to them too that Piccalilly is really just relish. Made their day, I'm sure:

The predictions of a bumpier ride home proved true, so I sat back and let the Co-pilot fly us home while I concentrated on keeping lunch down. An endeavor, I must say, that I succeeded in quite admirably.

So, other than having suffered the tragic loss of my hangar frog, it was a pretty good day.

Here, courtesy of PapaCam, is your Zenumentary:


  1. Dave I'm sorry to hear about the sudden demise of your hangar frog,but there is a reason for all things. How could you possibly know that you would need a flat frog later in the day. You just might have been the first person to pay the entry fee in "snake-snacks". Sounds like a nice trip thank you for the story.

  2. Dave, your blog arrived in my email this morning via a google alert for Portsmouth, OH. I enjoyed reading about your trip and look forward to more in the future!

  3. Nice job on the video!

    Co-Pilot Rick

  4. Dave, It should be Boyd County, KY and the city of Ashland.

    Ted the 9A driver

  5. did you like that paragraph because it had a tree frog?

  6. Leon -

    No, actually, it was the "four explosive seasons, each of which sought you out like an expertly aimed shotgun blast" that caught my eye, so to speak.

    I hadn't even noticed the irony of the tree frog until you mentioned it!