Wanderung 11

A Tantalizing Taste of the Texas Tropical Trail

January-February 2006

Prolog: Tying up loose ends

They say that the two happiest days for a boat owner are the day he BUYS a boat and the day he SELLS the boat, but I'm not sure the same is true for airplanes. At least, I know it wasn't true for me the day we drove to Illinois and I finally sold 5642R, my 1965 Cessna Skyhawk. It was just so hard to see it in someone else's hangar and to let him take it over. It was not quite like "losing a member of the family", of course, since it was still a machine rather than a living being, but I was definitely losing a part of my history. I consoled myself with the thought that I hadn't flown it in two years and there were good reasons for me to move into the new Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) category of airplanes. For one thing, since there are just the two of us now, it doesn't really make sense to have a big, heavy 4-place airplane. The clincher was that flying under the LSA rules meant that I wouldn't have to jump through hoops of repeated medical tests in order to fly--having a valid drivers license and being in good health was sufficient.

The LSA rules still required a Biennial Flight Review to ensure flying proficiency, of course, but my old friend Lloyd inveigled me into doing that before I left. After I passed that test I was legal to fly again and free and clear to start looking for a new 2-place LSA airplane. While I was off getting my BFR, Sandy and Monika took a nice long walk in a park in Lincoln. It was a pleasant, slightly rolling wooded park with a creek running through it and an exercise trail where Sandy's grandson Christopher enjoyed working out. When they came back to the house we had not yet appeared. Lloyds rather optimistic "2-hour" estimate for the BFR turned out to be more like 5 hours as we detoured to visit an old gent with a model airplane museum on the way back.

Seeing all the old models brought back the days of my childhood when Lloyd, my brother Terry, and I would walk out to Phillips Park to fly our "U-control" model airplanes. Those were flying model airplanes tethered by long control wires to a handle controlled by the "pilot". If all went well, the airplane flew around you in a circle while you turned around in the center, but if you became dizzy or didn't control the airplane exactly right it would immediately crash. Crashing was the typical fate of our airplanes by the end of the day, of course, whereupon we would traipse home to mend them with balso wood, glue, and tissue paper. Visiting this museum was for me at least, a trip down memory lane and chatting with the proprietor was so pleasant that the time just slipped by.

After a nice visit with Lloyd and Sandy, Monika and I drove up to Burlington to retrieve our travel trailer that had been patiently waiting for us for many months. We had left it there at the end of Wanderung 8 in preparation for a summer trip into Canada that never happened because I had spent the summer recovering from coronary bypass surgery. When we arrived at the Burlington RV dealer I was relieved to find all of the necessary pieces for the hitch still in the trailer, and after an hour or so of pumping up the tires and re-assembling the hitch we finally hooked it all up and started back south. We didn't delay because cold temperatures and snow were forecast for the following day and I hate fooling around with metallic things in the cold and ice. We spent enough time preparing the trailer for traveling that we didn't hit the road until 11:30 and consequently we only got as far south as Springfield, Illinois, before dusk forced us to pull in for the night.

"Mr. Lincoln's RV Park" had the water supply spigots turned off for the winter, unfortunately, but the heated bathrooms were nearby and we could at least hook up to their electrical outlets and have heat and light in our trailer. It took us a bit of practice to get back into the swing of trailer camping. First we had to stow all of the stuff we had brought with in the truck into the various nooks and crannies of the trailer, which took a while. Then I downloaded a map of the south central states into my newest GPS so that we would have detailed maps of any city between Chicago, Illinois, and Dallas, Texas, which was our next destination, and that took another hour. By the end of the evening, however, we were able to once again sit in the trailer, each with a laptop computer, and do our usual chores. Monika downloaded the pictures we had taken so far onto "Daddy" and I started writing the Wanderung 11 trip journal on "Baby", after which we turned in for the evening. During the night trains passing nearby reminded me of our resolution made during Wanderung 6 to avoid any campgrounds near railroads!

Copyright 2006 by R. W. Holt and E. M. Holt
Prolog Map Epilog

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February 2006
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