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Two Week Flying Vacation - Day 15

Date: August 4th, 2012

I won't bore you with a week of hanging out in NJ with my mother, son and sisters - Deanie didn't even want to hang out for the whole week and spent three days on Long Island with friends and relatives. I watched a lot of Olympics, Yankees, and helped my mom around the house with various repairs and computer and video related issues. We ate a lot.

On Saturday, August 4th Deanie and Zach drove me to Caldwell (KCDW) to start the flight home. Deanie would fly home commercial the next day, since I was going to do the trip in two days.  My plan was to fly to St. Louis (KALN) direct and have lunch with Curt Smith, then fly direct to Tucumcari, NM (KTCC) to overnight. The weather looked crappy through most of the mid-west and it looked like I'd have to detour somewhat north of the great-circle course to KALN.  As I approached Columbus, OH, the weather was getting worse and worse with T-storms further south and west. I descended below a broken layer and ended up landing at Findlay, OH (KFDY) again to check the weather (FSS was not particularly useful in pointing me anywhere).

I got some food and gas and checked the weather. It looked as though I could stay low for about 45 minutes, heading northwest skirting the OH/MI border, get through Indiana, and be in the clear to the southwest after getting into Illinois. So I did that.  Stayed at about 1200 ft. AGL with 10 mile visibility below the clouds (just sucker holes here and there above) and eventually was able to climb up to 8500 ft. after passing a bunch of rain showers to the south.

I decided to bypass St. Louis due to weather concerns and passed about 60 miles north of KALN, between some storms to the east of St. Louis and to the northwest. Couldn't see any lightning, but there were rain showers in the distance. I paralleled the storms to the north as I crossed Missouri and passed south of Kansas City. Discussions with ATC on flight following were useful in picking paths away from the heavier rain showers. I stayed north of Wichita, about 20 miles south of a line of rain and headed for Dodge City, KS (KDDC). I had stopped there on the way to OSH the previous two years, so I was sort of familiar. I fueled up for the last hour and a half to Tucumcari, rested a bit, and then headed out.  KDDC - KTCC is a good route as there's a road under you pretty much straight line all the way, past Liberal, KS, Guymon, OK, Dalhardt, TX into Tucumcari.

After fighting a headwind of 10 - 25 kts for the whole day up to that point, I finally picked up a 20 kt. tailwind and had a nice, uneventful leg into KTCC. I fueled up for the next day, put in a quart of oil and tied down the plane.

I called the Blue Sparrow Motel (another plug here - great people, nice "Route 66" historical type motel within walking distance of food) and Kevin came to pick me up. Last year, it was in his 1951 Pontiac - this year, in a new Ford pickup. I was disappointed in the ride :-). It was about 6 PM and I had been in the air for about 10 hours - 12 hours total time since takeoff from KCDW, and I was pretty beat. I rested a bit and then walked over to "Dells" restaurant (eh) for dinner. Kevin loaned me an umbrella as the sky looked pretty ominous, and it started pouring torrents while I was eating. The walk back to the motel in the rain around 8:30 PM only got me a little bit wet thanks to the umbrella.

I watched some Olympics and baseball and hit the sack.


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