Woke up at 7:30. Happy Thanksgiving!!! Those were the first words out of my mouth.
The morning was pretty hustle-bustle. I had to eat, shower, finish packing, and check out. I wanted to make absolutely positively sure that we finished our projects today before relocating, so I was ready to get to the airport...but if you know me, we ended up waiting on me!!! I had an unexpected, um...loss of Golden Corral, to put it nicely. That completely through off my plans! But we were out the door only about 20 minutes later than planned.
Headed to the airport. Loaded up the plane. It's actually not too hard. I had royally mispacked this time around, and I found that all of my clothes didn't fit in my suitcase like they did three weeks ago. Hmm...so I just threw some of them in the plane...along with the renegade shaving cream and mouthwash bottles. It's actually fairly easy to fit it all in there...when you live out of one suitcase, you can pack up in a moment's notice...and you just throw it in the plane and head off!
I started up the airplane, taxied out to the ramp, loaded some files, and headed to the runway. It was beautiful again. These high-pressure systems are just pampering us...nothin' but blue skies again! I was 58 miles away from my flight plan, and I had 24 minutes to get there. I climbed to 5000 feet and was doing 138 knots across the ground!!! woo hoo!
I made it to my plan at 9:34 A.M. and starting taking pictures. My goal was to help Matt get a good start on this project, then I would break off and head down to Polk County, Texas, to do some reflies down there. Then we would both meet up in Texarkana, AR...where our next project was.
I did two plans with Matt...then headed off! The 130-knot groundspeed was fantastic. I arrived at my destination in no time at all. But there was a problem. And a major one at that. The winds were directly out of the north (northwest-ish)...at 35-40 knots! This wasn't a problem on north-south lines...but the new lines were east and west. I wondered how bad it would be. Well, as it turned out, it WAS bad. I was way outside the operational parameters for the lines. GRR!!!
But I had made up my mind. I was not going to fly down here and not finish this! So I stuck at it. I got creative. I used rudder and ailerons. I failed. I started again. A couple more pictures. More fail. This pattern repeated itself over and over and over again. What should have literally taken 8 minutes ended up taking me a little over an hour. I think I had to restart one of the lines around eight times...I was even yelling!!! I grabbed a granola bar and CHOMPED on it. I was getting perturbed! But again, I was resilient. I was NOT going to leave this pictures behind. After finagling with the airplane a little bit, I was finally able to gather all of the shots. It was seriously some decent piloting...mixed with some experience. It was definitely challenging, and oddly enough, it was kind of a neat experience. It certainly was not easy at all. But I stuck at it.
From there I turned north and headed for Texarkana. I had a heading of 025 degrees, and I flew 010 to keep that heading. The problem? Well, cars were keeping up with (if not passing) me. I was doing anywhere from 68-74 knots. Not cool! I had a terribly strong headwind. But I put it on auto-pilot and just coasted...looking out over the vast area of nothingness. Eastern Texas really has nothing. I passed due west of Nacogdoches, and that was about it.
I was within an hour of my destination, but I was getting low on fuel. My left light was already on, and looking at the map (with FEW airports), knowing the headwinds, and knowing I had been airborne for 5 hours already...I decided to land. I stopped over at Longview, Texas...I went to a jet center, and I was thoroughly impressed with the interior (and intrigued). It was completely black and red...and very modern. Kind of different! I even asked if the owner was a female...it just had that vibe! But I was totally wrong. Oops!!!
It was a nice stop. I called the family and wished them a Happy Thanksgiving. I talked to Mom, Dad, and Casey. It was very much small talk, but it was good to at least talk with 'em. I was a bit down (don't know why), and I kind of regret that on the phone, but it wasn't terrible. I just wasn't spunky at all. But I had been in an airplane for 5 hours already! yikes! There is probably some combination of me bein' disappointed that I didn't have a family (any family!) to go to for Thanksgiving, too. I had a place lined up north of Fort Worth, and I had a guy (I thought) lined up at this airport. I called him, but he didn't offer anything. It was kind of an awkward conversation. But he ended up calling me 15 minutes after I left...I wonder if he felt bad and was going to finally offer it? I don't know. Anyway. But I was not (and am not) terribly sad. It's kind of interesting/fun/crazy to be on the road for holidays. They take on a whole new feeling...or lack thereof!
Speaking of which...it's just an interesting perspective all around. I am working. And I talk with controllers who are working. And I get fueled up by line guys who are working. And I listen to other pilots who are working. It's just a whole different side to what I grew up with. It's kind of a brotherhood, I think. By necessity.
I landed at Texarkana and waited for the other guys to show up. We are going to have five airplanes here which is nice. It was a couple of hours, but they all came. We went to the hotel, then went out for our Thanksgiving meal. We had a delightful and fun time at Cracker Barrel (with an awesome meal to boot!). It was just plain fun.
Came back to the hotel and just talked. Pretty relaxing night. Very enjoyable.
I got word from the boss that I need to head back to Dallas tomorrow. Yeah, right where I just came from. Huh. He was surprised that we had our two projects finished and had moved on already. But we're just that good! Anyway, I need to refly one of our projects back west of Fort Worth.
It's kind of silly, but I don't bat an eye at that anymore. I just do what I'm told. I flew from Fort Worth to here today...and I shall fly from here to Fort Worth tomorrow. Whatever they say.
Talked with a good friend for 45 minutes on the phone. Then went to bed at midnight. Will wake up at 7:00. yikes!!!
In all actuality, though...a pretty good day. A happy Thanksgiving.