Woke up at 7:30. Didn't really roll out of bed until 7:54.
Checked the weather...crappy. Clouds were well below 5000 feet. There was rain forecast in our flight plans to the north. No pictures today! I ate breakfast with Mom in the hotel.
Then we headed for the beach! We just sat out there for about an hour. She absolutely loves it. I enjoyed it myself. Who knows when the next time she'll see it...I was thrilled to see her fascination with it. I think it's been several years since she's seen it, so I was happy to provide that for her. I should mention, however, that a bird pooped on me while there. I wasn't sure if this was how my day was going to go or not!!!
We went to a used books store but found nothing. She had made a comment earlier that we should go out and buy the stuff to make bacon-wrapped wieners...one of my favorite meals. I have since learned from my Thanksgiving snafu that sometimes it's best just to alloow others to do their kind acts, however silly it may seem. At first, the idea was a bit silly to me (price-wise), but I ran with it. If Mom wanted to make me lil' weenies, then I was going to eat lil' weenies! We went to Wal-Mart, bought a skillet and the goods and headed back for the hotel (not after getting lost for 10 minutes). Oh, I also talked to my good friend about flying down to spend time with me!!! Agh, she is so excited!!!! Me, too. I really hope this can all work out. I'm just so afraid to tell her something only to have my plans changed. I know this can happen with this company, and I sure don't want that to be the case! But she is so thrilled to come down...and I am thrilled to see her. Agh, what to do?!
Well, we headed back, and right there in that hotel room Mom cooked up some lil' weenies for Kenton and me. Pretty sweet.
We checked out at 2:00, then headed for Ft. Lauderdale International to send Mom home. For me, it was a pretty quick trip...we flew a ton (which was great), but the other times were pretty quick. I was glad to see her, glad to eat out with her and whatnot, but it all just went by so fast! And then she was gone. Oh, well...she certainly should have some great memories!
Kenton and I headed for Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport so that we could fly up to Daytona Beach for our company's Christmas party. We were told only to take one plane, so we chose mine. I filed an IFR flight plan and was told to expect rain most of the route. We climbed up, entered the clouds around 2000 feet, and popped out around 4000 feet. I thought that was going to be it...but we still had a long way to go. I flew above the clouds for about 20 minutes, then the overcast layer started creeping up on us. It is sooooooooooooo beautiful to see nothing but clouds as far as the eye can see...and it's tricky to watch them come higher and higher all while watching your altitude stay the same. So beautiful. I only wish I had my camera out of my bag and the batteries ready to go!
Well, the beauty was short-lived. The clouds kept creeping up and finally we jumped back into it...never to really get out again. I flew 1.3 hours in hard IMC today. A couple things I've learned...a. I need more experience in this if nothing else than for confidence! b. Having a second guy to help with radios, just to talk to, etc., is nothing short of amazing c. Flying through the clouds is just downright fun. d. Auto-pilot is not a cop-out...it's a great way to be safe and accurate! All in all, I had a great time up there...we only had a few moderate bumps for a few miles. Other than that, it was smooth sailing. I popped out around 5000 on the descent into Daytona Beach.
From there, we grabbed a hotel, then headed to the company Christmas party. We had quite a big crew there. It was nice to see the other guys that I probably won't see much of this season. And it was nice to be part of a party that was really aimed at celebrating us! I learned that our company is pretty sweet. It is only 5 years old, but in its short history, it has gone from 950 hours billed out in 2004 to 15,000 hours billed out in 2009 thus far. In this "recession," profits are up yet again (though not as much as last year) for us. It's just great to be working for a company that in all honesty takes care of us. It's just a huge blessing.
I feasted on shrimp (the appetizer!!!), crab, salmon (more appetizers!), then ordered a 16-ounce steak...all on the company's tab. Pretty nice gesture. I would imagine $1500 was spent tonight on all of us (30????). I received this year's gift (an Amazon Kindle), though I'm not sure if I'm going to use it or not...I like an actual book in my hands. So we'll see. But it's still a pretty sweet gift! We all ended up heading out around 11:30.
Headed back for the hotel, checked the weather for tomorrow, and it looks crummy. I guess a couple more guys are coming down to join us in Ft. Lauderdale. Should be enjoyable. But rain, thunderstorms, and low clouds are forecast, so we'll see how hard it is even to get there! More IMC tomorrow! Sweet!
Went to bed at 1:00 A.M. Ouch!