Monday, May 31, 2010

Big Day Number One!!!--May 30, 2010



Woke up at 7:10 A.M.  Grabbed breakfast, showered, threw on two pairs of socks, grabbed the hotel blanket, then headed towards the airport.  I stopped by the gas station/Subway, but the sub shop was not opening until 8:00 since it was Sunday...hmm.  I didn't have that time.  So I grabbed a sandwich out of the freezer, grabbed a Coke, and headed for the plane.

It was absolutely beautiful out.  Not a cloud in the sky, and the sky's blue was pristine.  I don't know how God makes that color, but it is just somethin' else.  I pre-flighted, threw the blanket inside, and off I went.  It's a good solid 75 miles to the flight plans, and it's one of the most enjoyable parts of the day.  The skies are smooth, the morning is early, the traffic is non-existent, and the scenery is quite amazing.  Plus I just LOVE flying from Point A to Point's a welcome relief to the monotony of flying lines.  So I enjoy that little 30 minutes each morning.

I got on station at 8:45 but was going too fast east-bound.  I couldn't get below 150 knots.  So I tried some north-south plans, and that's where I stayed for the rest of the day.  I was flying over what may be one of God's most magnificent creations, too.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Utah is easily my favorite state in terms of scenery.  I was seriously flying over the (Less) Grand Canyon.  The valleys, the cracks in the earth, the orange rock, the towering was paradise.  I couldn't get enough of it!  And as I flew more and more, I kept heading more south into it.  It's just perfect.  I sat there, flying in circles, realizing that I am one of the VERY few people who get to experience this.  Sure, some people come in this area and check it out.  But for the most part, it's a quick shot.  Maybe a flight over.  Maybe a scenic tour.  Maybe a passing glance on a cross-country trip.  Maybe a view from FL350.  But here I was, just dancing over the canyons.  It was sheer bliss.  A day that I'll probably never forget!

I just kept flying and flying.  I refused to look at the clock, though.  That just never helps.  I wanted to go as long as I could.  I started measuring time by the flight plans.  Ok, I'll finish two flight plans and then it's lunch time.  Well, that didn't last too long.  I stole a glance at the time, and it was ONLY 10:32 A.M.  Oh boy.  I felt like it should have been a bit past noon already!  This was not good!  But I kept going.  North, south.  North, south.  North, south.  I finished a flight plan, then moved on to the next.  I was kinda struggling, though.  The first couple of hours are pretty nice.  After that, well, it just depends on the day.  It really just starts running all together.  But I was ready to be on the ground.

I finally finished the second one...but I figured I might as well go for more!  So I did three lines on the third plan before dropping down for lunch.  And drop, I did!  I took advantage of the smooth skies and went down at 2000 feet/minute!  I hit the bumps around 9000 feet, though, so I leveled off a bit.  I dropped down into Canyonlands Airport in Moab, Utah.  Why in the world they built this airport 20 miles away from the city is beyond me.  Especially with all of the tourists that come in for the National Park.  But whatever.  I entered the left-downwind for Runway 21...which puts you right into a (very bumpy) gorgeous view of some red rock a couple hundred feet below ya while turning base!

I was so ready to be on the ground.  I grabbed my sandwich, Coke, and headed inside.  Several sky-divers were getting ready to go up.  I just walked around, trying to get some feeling back into my toes.  And I was just stiff all-around.  I couldn't sit down.  I just wanted to stand and walk.  So that's what I did as I ate my lunch!  I threw two quarts of oil in the plane, rested for about a half-hour, then headed back up.  I had already logged 4.6 hours.

The afternoon was more of the same.  It was bumpy through 9000 feet, but it smoothed out after that.  I finished a third flight plan, then moved 15 miles to the west for another.  It was a bit bumpier as it is on the edge of cliffs.  I only did a few lines on that one, then tried to do an east line.  I messed up.  Actually, this afternoon, I messed up all-around.  The third flight plan was a nightmare.  I did good on the first several lines, but I think I had to fly 6 lines probably twice as much as I needed to.  I just kept getting speed errors.  So I kept circling to try them again.  <sigh>  I was just fatigued.  I could feel it.

But I kept on going.  I actually flew a bit more than I least in the afternoon.  I kind of set a goal for hours, but I went past it.  I kind of felt "in the zone" late in the day, and I figured I might as well stay up as long as I could.  But I was getting really tired, too.  And I had been above 12,000 feet all day with no oxygen (save the couple of times where I took some "shots" of the stuff!).  It was more bumpy over these plans, so everything was just leaning towards the end of the day.  I called it.

I headed back to Grand Junction.  Now THAT was a long flight!  I was doing 166 knots, but sheesh!  I didn't feel like the scenery was moving!  I was just tired.  The winds were at 15, gusting to 22.  No problem.  I landed and quickly left the airport.  I had logged a whopping 8.6 hours.  And I'm sure it's going to be the first of several days like that.  I was eager to get back to the hotel and just relax and enjoy the rest of the day.

I came back to the hotel, did the paperwork, and then my phone rang.  I didn't recognize the number.  It turns out it was the FBO calling to say that their line guy had broken a fuel cap on the plane.  Ok, no worries, I thought.  I'll deal with it tomorrow.  But then she asked if I wanted to talk to him.  I said sure.  The consensus was that a piece had fallen into the gas tank.  And they wanted me to come out there.  <sigh>  Ok.  I just did it.  I figured it would be a quick fix.  Go out there, pull the piece out, end of story.  It was 5:30.  Well, I got out there, and there was no piece to be found.  Or seen anywhere in the tank.  I asked for tools...a claw-grabber thing and a wand mirror.  Still nothing.  We had a flashlight, a boroscope, and we STILL couldn't see anything.  Hmm.

I called my mechanic.  He said there is no easy way to find it.  You have to drain the tank.  So that I did.  I laid on my back and watched the fuel SLOWLY trickle out the small drain.  It was crazy windy, and much of it blew away from the bucket, sometimes on me, sometimes on the concrete.  It was a nightmare.  I was tired, too.  But instead of complaining, I just used that laying time as relaxation!  I was soaking up the rays, laying on the ramp!!!  What a guy will do sometimes.

The tank was almost empty, but we still couldn't find anything.  And the piece is fairly large.  Hmm.  I wondered if it could be back at the Moab airport from fueling today at lunch.  But I checked each tank to make sure I was full!  It would've been obvious if it was broken then...I didn't know.  As a last resort, I decided to take the plane up for a quick trip in the pattern...with ALL turns to the right.  That way maybe the piece would come over to the side where the fill spout was.  Who knows.

Well, that didn't work, either.  We had spent nearly two hours on it already, so I just called it.  We were having no luck, and frankly, we didn't even know if the piece was in there.  It could be laying in Moab 65 miles away.

I headed for downtown, smelling like oil and gas.  I just wanted to eat and relax.  Most of the restaurants were closed, but I found one that closed at 8:00.  It was 7:45.  I grabbed a sandwich, sat outside, and soaked up the last bit of daylight.  Then I headed to the hotel.  And I'm not goin' to lie, I don't really have much energy.  I laid on the bed for a bit, just thinking about life.  About owning an airplane, about the gas cap tomorrow, about lots.  But I was pretty tired.

I checked the winds for tomorrow, and they are looking gorgeous.  20 knots out of the west.  Which means I should be able to do the north-south plans again.  It looks like it could be another full day.  Oh boy.  All in all, today was pretty good.  I mean, there were times up there.  It's just a long day, no matter how you look at it.  8.6 hours flying, 12 hours of "work."  And another one after that.  Actually, everything looks good through at least Friday!!!  yikes!

My only saving grace is that I have 44.7 hours until my 100-hour inspection.  I figured out I have 17 days left.  Or 44.7 hours.  And I have to get this plane to Daytona Beach sometime, too...which is at least 11 hours.  So let's say I have 33 hours until my 100-hour inspection.  At this rate, that's only four days of flying!!!  I may be able to get my summer here sooner?!  Who knows.  Because I think I need to be in Daytona Beach around the 15th for training of some sort...

Hmm.  44.7 hours.  Or 17 days...which will come sooner?!

In bed at 10:30.  I am just exhausted.  Alarm is set for 7:10.  Let the routine begin.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The (Not So) Big Day--May 29, 2010


Woke up at 7:10 A.M.  Grabbed some breakfast, took a shower, headed for the airport.  I stopped by a Subway on the way there to buy my lunch for later.  I have a feeling I'll pretty much be doing this every day.  Went out to the airplane, then headed for the skies.  It was a bit windy on the ground already, with a steady 15 knots coming in from 310.

But the ride itself was absolutely perfect.  It's soooooooo nice to fly when it's smooth!  I'm just quite simply not used to it as of late.  Having spent six weeks on the opposite side of the Rocky Mountains in Denver...well, I learned to hate flying real quick.  But today was a welcome relief.

I climbed up to 10,500 on my 75-mile journey to my flight plan.  I was cruising right at 139 knots.  But I had a heater was not working.  NOT good.  It was -10 degrees at altitude.  And it was a bit drafty down by my feet.  I close all of the vents, and that helped, but even then, a body can't last too long in that type of cold.  And I refuse to fly numb.  I arrived on station and completed my first line.  Perfect!  What a nice day (outside of the cold toes)!  But I was going west-bound...I was eager to see what I would be doing in the turn.  And sure enough, my speed sky-rocketed.  I was doing 180 knots!  Yikes!  So I pulled back the manifold pressure.  Still doing 167.  Hmm.  I trimmed the airplane up, but I still couldn't get below 150.  I was missing picture after picture.  Not good.  I circled around and tried to do a north-south plan.  The south line completed perfectly!  But I made the turn, and it was more of the same.  I just couldn't stay within the speed parameters!!!  Or frankly, get anywhere close to them!  I was constantly 10-15 knots too fast AFTER I was all trimmed up!  <sigh>

And on top of it all, I STILL couldn't get my heater to work.  I tried everything...I checked the breaker, I checked the fuel, I turned it on and off, I primed it...but nothing.  My hands were starting to get cold.  My toes were border-line numb...I just had no where to put them.  This has GOT to be fixed.  Soon.

I could do every west-bound line and every south-bound line.  But that would leave me with a problem the next time I came out.  I debated dropping down to an airport and trying again in a few hours, but that didn't sound too appealing, either.  The airports out here are pretty desolate.  So I begrudgingly pointed the bird back towards Grand Junction.  Today just wasn't going to happen.

Agh, I was disappointed!  I mean, I won't lie, I really had no desire to fly 8-10 hours today.  But I would have at least taken a solid 4-5!!!  Oh well.  Not much I can do about it.  I landed back at Grand Junction where the winds on the ground were 17, gusting to 25.  I had logged just 1.9 hours.

But now I had a whole day on my hands.  I headed back to the hotel and spent most of the rest of the day inside.  Just pootin' around on the internet, not really DOING anything.  I checked out ducks for my backyard...seriously.  They would make for a unique pet, hmm?!  I ate my Subway sandwich in my room around 12:30, then chilled inside until supper.  I then walked downtown and grabbed a sandwich and fed a couple of birds with the bread.  They were so tame!  I came back to the hotel, and outside of an 8 o'clock McDonald's hot-fudge sundae run, I stayed inside.

It was kind of a bad day.  Just one of those where you observe a whole lot but realize you can't do anything about anything.  I thought about the state of the airline industry and how it is pretty much in shambles.  I read articles on flights being taken away.  I talked to another fellow pilot on the road about coming back next year.  It's not really my number one choice, but where else can I go?  There is no movement.  It's a thought I would just rather not think about, frankly.  I want to fly people.  Yet I have no way of doing that.  I've applied at every airline under the sun, yet I've heard NOTHING back.  Not a word.

And it's hard to think about coming back because my other thoughts revolved around this whole lifestyle.  I sat on the hotel balcony for awhile and just watched people coming and going.  Several motorcycles pulled up, and all I wanted to do was go on a motorcycle trip.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.  With friends.  I wanted to have a girl on the back, I wanted to have people I rode with.  I wanted to have friends.  But I just had to watch.

It's loneliness, I reckon.  I don't know anyone, no one knows me.  And there just isn't much to do to change that.  I'm only going to be here for two weeks, and as much as I would like to meet people (I try), I know that it's really a fruitless endeavor.  I'm just ready to be done.  I really am.  I've got 17 more days.  Just two and a half weeks.  Yet today made that seem like forever.  I'm just ready to have a "normal" life where I can know people.  Where people can know me.   And, frankly, I don't even know what that looks like anymore.  I've been on the road in some form or another for nearly three years now.  Everyone in my life is a quickie.  A here today, gone tomorrow.  It's got its perks (not a lot of drama), but it has a huge crater of emptiness with it, too.  I guess I'm just ready to fill that big hole.

17 days.  Just 17 days.  I'm just tryin' to take them one day at a time...

And I know I've said it before with no results (insert today), but I am really feeling good about tomorrow.  The winds are looking superb!  Probably the best since I've been here.  So I'm thinking TOMORROW is going to be a loooooooong day!!!  But as I've seen so many times before, anything can happen.  I mean, if I can't feel my toes after three hours, you better believe I'm coming down to land.

Went to bed at 11:00 P.M.  Alarm is set for 7:10 A.M.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gearing Up for the Big Day(s)!!!--May 28, 2010

Woke up at 6:36 A.M.  But that just wasn't goin' to happen.  So I fell asleep again until 7:46 A.M.  Much better.  But I had slept 12 HOURS!!!  12 hours!!!  Who does that?!  I was obviously tired.  I grabbed some breakfast and had a VERY lazy morning, spending most of the time on the internet.

I walked downtown for lunch again, this time stopping at a classic diner.  Since I was dining by myself, though, they put me in the back!  It was kind of...weird.  Oh well.  I came back to the hotel, then headed to the airport to grab my receipts for the month.  It was crazy windy today.  We had winds at 30 mph gusting to 48 here in town.  No thanks on flying.  The winds at 12,000 feet were at 65 knots.  That's just crazy.  And not fun when flying over the numerous hills, mountains, and valleys.  So I didn't even go up today.

I used most of the day to try to mentally prepare myself for what is likely to be SEVERAL days of 8-hour flying.  The forecasts all look great, and the winds look favorable.  I miiiiiiiight get the morning off tomorrow due to the winds still being aggressive at 35 knots up there, but it's hard saying.  I think they are going to be off the nose enough to not make it an issue.  I guess we'll see.

I made some preparation for where I'll be landing, too.  It's either Price or Moab, Utah, for fuel.  Moab's airport is about 18 miles outside of town, though, so that presents a problem for lunch.  But there is no courtesy car at Price, so that also presents a problem.  It looks like I'll be taking my lunch with me.  <sigh>  Nothing is ever easy.

I went downtown again this evening for supper.  I stopped at a little deli shop.  Pretty good but not great.  Then I came back to the hotel where I spent the rest of the night.  It was a pretty lazy day.  An honest break.  I thought about going up in the mountains again, but I honestly just wanted to rest before the next stretch of flying.

Speaking of which, I called my boss today about a question with my flight pay, and I then learned that it looks like I'll be flying a bit longer than anticipated.  I KNEW this would happen!  <sigh>  No, really, I just sighed out loud!  Instead of June 11, it looks like June 15 now.  It's not a huge change, but I just want to start counting down the days!  Actually, not start!  I want to finish counting down the days!!!  I have already started!  So my 14 is now a 18.  Like I said, it's not a huge change, but it's a mental change.  And I had a feeling that it would happen...

I also sent my website and blog public today.  I usually had one daily reader of my blog.  Today, as of this writing, I had 156.  And my website went from 10-15 hits to over 500.  Not bad for a day's work.  It's kind of fun!  Though I wonder if I have any incriminating material in my past blogs!  ha!

All in all, a pretty good day.  Just nothin' special.

Just tryin' to get ready for tomorrow.  It has the potential to be a loooooooong day.  I was in bed by 11:00 P.M.  Alarm is set for 7:10.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Paid to Take...Vacations?!--May 27, 2010

Woke up at 9:00 A.M.  I was in no hurry due to the winds up at altitude.  I knew today wouldn't be a flying day.  Laziness can be quite enjoyable sometimes!  I grabbed some breakfast, gobbled up another free hotel night with my rewards points, then slowly made my way over to the airport.

I wasn't going to be able to do any revenue work, but I could use today as a scouting day.  So that's just what I did.  The winds were already kickin' on the ground, at 13 knots gusting to 25.  Gotta love those mountain gusts!  The winds were out of 180 at the time, so the Tower gave me the option of Runway 11 or Runway 22.  I went with 22.

I taxied out, then took off.  I was just going to stay in the pattern.  The winds weren't too bad until I came closer to the mountains to the south.  I had a couple of nice jolts, one throwing me out of my seat!  I made a wide left downwind due to the winds pushing me that way and came back around to land.  It's a pretty sweet airport to are nestled right in the valley between mesas/mountains/large rock on both sides.  So I turned base before the huge chunk of rock to the north and came in to land.  No worries.

I taxied back and took off again.  This time Tower told me to fly runway heading until he called my turn.  Two military jets were coming in doing a high approach on Runway 11.  He eventually called my turn, then told me to stay east of the Colorado River.  So I did that, as well.  Then he said to continue downwind until he called my base.  Well...that call never came.  I was HAULING with the winds out of the south, too, and all I could see was this large plateau of rock getting closer and closer, right in my base turn.  So as the PIC, I told the Tower what I was going to do.  I'm turning base!  I wondered if he would let me, but seriously, that rock was at my 11 o'clock and moving in quick.  I had a possible option of turning to the right, but there was a large upsloping mountain even there.  Sometimes you just can't wait for another guy to save your life.  I made the turn.

Me:  "Aztec turning base, traffic in sight."

Tower:  "Aztec, yeah, you can go ahead and turn base."

It ended up being just fine.  But I was still being pushed pretty quickly to the south, so I tightened the bank!  And as I rolled out, I had a BEAUTIFUL view of the rock just below me and to the right.  I scrambled for my camera.  I wonder how many people have flown this close to this rock!  I mean, I was just a few hundred feet off the rocky slope!!!  I managed to take a couple of pics while on base.


I turned for final and had an uneventful landing.  Winds were steady at 17 knots.  I taxied in and still had a problem with my heater fan shutting down, much like yesterday.  Hmm.  I called my boss and mechanic.

I headed back to the hotel, walked downtown to a Nepali/Indian restaurant for lunch, then walked downtown some more.  It's a pretty sweet downtown...the shops are actually still there, unlike most of the rest of American towns.  It's beautiful.  I found a street artist doing portraits, and she was rather good!  Hmm...

I headed back for the hotel, then decided I would head for the Colorado National Monument.  So I hopped in the car, but I found myself driving to downtown!!!  I wanted a picture of me!  So I walked up to the young woman and waited for her to finish another older man.  I looked at the picture, and I was quite impressed!  It looked like him!  After she left, I plopped myself down in a chair in the sun and just stared off into the distance as she proceeded to draw me!  It turned out to be a pretty sweet picture.  It definitely looks like me!  She was charging $10 a pop, but after learning about her story (she's an art major, just finished her first semester, this was her first day, she was nervous and didn't know if anyone would show up), I gave her $15.  I am ALL about people following their dreams.  She could have a pretty sweet gig right there on that street.  She has amazing talent.  And I have a portrait going in my house!!!

Fiiiiiiiiinally, I headed out to the Colorado National Monument.  As I left town, the boss said he needed my right-side tach numbers.  <sigh>  So I had to cancel my plans and run out to the airport...about 20 minutes away.  But I just did it.  No sense making it more painful than necessary.  Then I headed BACK to the Monument!  I honestly didn't know what to expect, as I had never heard of this thing before.  But as I took the backroads to get there, I was quite thrilled with what I saw.  It was GORGEOUS!!!  I saw one of the little National Parks booths up ahead, and I was surprised to find out that I would have to pay to get in there, but I also realized that this was going to be time out of the hotel.  It's worth the money.  The ticket cost was $7.

And so for the next hour and a half, I just drove through the rocks and valleys!  I don't really understand how engineers do it, but the road was just following the rim ALL THE WAY around...for about 23 miles!  It really is quite amazing to see.  There were no guard rails, and if you flew off the road at any time, you were basically dead.  That was fun to think about!  It was hot (around 90), but the views were just gorgeous.  It reminded me of the Grand Canyon, although on a smaller scale.  This definitely had more green to it!

It was definitely money well-spent.






I finally came out on the other side, then made my way back to Grand Junction.  I didn't do too much the rest of the day.  I stayed in the hotel until supper, then made my way to a lil' new sub shop.  I had a roast beef/apple/sprouts sandwich.  It was quite tasty.

I came back to the hotel, but I was sooooooooo tired.  I ended up falling asleep around 7:45.  I woke up around 8:30, but that was the last I saw of the clock.  I was quickly back asleep and stayed that way...

I had logged o.7 hours today.  But I had my own little mini vacation.  It was humbling seeing families and RV's out there...these people drive here for vacations!!!  And yet this was just another "Hmm, I'm bored, so let's go exploring" day in my life.  It's pretty crazy what I get to do.

Tomorrow is lookin' nasty again.  The winds are actually going to be stronger at 12,000 feet!  They are forecast to be around 65 knots!!!  Way too fast to image.  So it looks like I have another day off.  I did get quite sad today, though, as I realized exactly where I was at.  I was looking at our FBO's website, and they boast "346 VFR days with visibility better than 20 miles and ceilings of 5,000 ft. +".  <sigh>  I also looked at the forecast for the area, and it's 10 days of sunshine.  Oh boy.  I have a feeling I am going to be flying my face off.  To the tune of more than 8 hours a day.

It's hard to get prepared for that.  I'll enjoy tomorrow, then brace myself for what lies beyond.

Here we go.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Back in the Skies--May 26, 2010


Woke up at 7:10.  Grabbed a shower, then some breakfast.  Kenton had already departed long ago.  The alarm had gone off at 5:45...way too early for this guy.

We didn't move too fast, though, as a group.  I was ready to go, but they other guys were takin' their sweet ol' time!  I mean, it was fine by me.  I wasn't in any hurry to log 8 hours.  We finally headed over to the airport around 9:00.

I had quite a bit to do before I could take took me about 20 minutes just to get ready!  I had to load my luggage, pre-flight from the guy before me (I am never comfortable takin' that easy), pay and check out, and make sure I had all of my maps and all!  One of the engines was down to 6's supposed to be 8-12!  The other side was just over 7.  Ya see?!

Well, I had everything in order, so I taxied out for take-off.  My plan was to climb over the mountains and go "direct."  And that's what I did.  I tell ya, Salt Lake City is a beautiful city!  It's really quite gorgeous from above and below!  I flew up to 5500 feet (assigned), then was given clearance to 8500, then to 8000, then as requested.  I didn't climb too fast, but I could see that I had plenty of clearance.  I, of course, had the oxygen on, too.  I ended up getting to around 15,200 but leveled off due to clouds.  The mountains were simply beautiful.  And COVERED in snow!!!  It's hard to believe that in late May.  But they were caked!


I flew over to my flight plans, about 120 miles away.  And I was pleasantly surprised to find them SMOOTH!!!  This was nothing like Denver!  I started my first line around 10:45 but had to abort it due to snow.  So I headed 20 miles south.  I finished a flight plan, then moved to another.  Basically, I am mapping rough terrain and desert.  No joke.  I may have taken a picture of ONE man-made structure today?!  I was flying in a Restricted Area, too, so I called up Center.  The previous controller had told me to squawk VFR due to lack of radar out here.  But I called them up for this Restricted Area.  He told me that area hadn't been used since 1975!!!  ha!  But it was still on the chart, so I HAVE to call them up for my sake!

I stayed out there for a couple of hours.  And all of a sudden, I had a flashback.  I was looking down at the interstate below me, and I just recognized THAT EXACT SAME AREA from a motorcycle trip I had taken back in 2004.  I remembered the scenery, the straight stretch, the curve.  And just like that, I turned my head to look for a small town my sister and I had stopped in.  BAM!!!  There it was!!!  Greeeeeeeeeeeeeeen Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiver!!!  I verified it with the map!  ha!  I was so right.  I knew the exact area!  It's just crazy how the mind works.  Here I was at 12,500 feet, recognizing a stretch of foreign road from six years ago.  It was pretty sweet.

But outside of that little town, I was seriously mapping NOTHING.  I kept on singing "Barren Wasteland."  It was pretty much my song to the tune of "Teenage Wasteland."  I mean it.  NOTHING.


Around 1:00, the bumps came, though...pretty quickly.  I was mapping a (very gorgeous) valley that reminded me of the Grand Canyon.  Utah is just simply gorgeous...easily my favorite state in terms of scenery.  Well, somehow or another, the winds were just violent over this area.  It was pretty smooth on one side, but aggressively nasty on the other.  Plus the easterly winds had picked up, and I could no longer maintain altitude AND airspeed.  I was having to do my lines over and over again.  I HATE that!!!

So I had to call it a day.  I had finished one partial plan from Kenton...and finished four lines on another plan.  Yikes.

I aimed the airplane towards Grand Junction, Colorado, 75 miles to the northeast.  It was still pretty bumpy out there, so I tried to stick to the valley.  I flew at 11,500 feet.

I came up to the airport and learned that the winds were calm.  On the surface anyway.  I was getting rocked over the hills.  The landing was uneventful.  And I was pleased with today's work.  I had logged 4.6 hours.  Not bad for my first day back!

I went inside and asked about hangars that we had called about last week.  They said they could only promise me tonight.  <sigh>  I hate being told one thing only to find out another.  So we'll see how this all plays out later this week.  They even have a note in there that has my tail number and all.  How interesting.

I actually had to wait at the airport for an hour and a half.  I had picked Enterprise for a car, but I chose the one off the airport (and saved $120/week).  But the other Enterprise wouldn't pick me up AT the airport (I asked if they would do it across the street) and the FBO wouldn't take me TO the other Enterprise, so I found myself without luck.  I begrudgingly had to call a taxi.  I HATE taxis.  So over-priced.  But I had my hotel for free (rewards points), so I just let it slide.

The fare was $15.  I picked up the car, headed out for some BBQ, then tried out my hotel.  I'm VERY pleased with it!  And I'm happy about that as I plan to spend just about every day here!  I have 11 free nights to use!  I love it.  That saves me $450 just right there!  That's money in the pocket!

I looked up a church online and went to a Young Adults Bible Study tonight.  There were probably around 75 people there...and not a person talked to me.  So that is what it is.  I'm glad they have the service for these folks, but I left kinda sour.  I even waited around to see if anyone would talk to me...or to see if anyone was going out afterwards.  But they all had their friends...I was just some guy no one knew.  Understandable.

So I thought about going to a bar.  But I came back to the hotel instead.  I talked to Jaye for an hour and a half...then winded down.  I was in bed at 1:00.

The winds are forecast to be crazy fast tomorrow, though...actually for the next few days.  At 12,000 feet, they are forecast to be 45 knots.  That's just not possible with the Aztec.  At all.  So it looks like I'll have a few days of non-flying.  Which honestly is ok by me.  I'll make the most of them.

Alarm is set for a late 9:00 A.M.

It's Time--May 25, 2010

Woke up at 9:00 A.M.  I didn't have anything to eat, so I opted for coffee.   I wasn't feelin' too awake anyway!!!  It took me forever (15 minutes) to figure out how to use the coffee maker, but I finally managed.  Today is the big day...goin' back on the road.  So I used it to get everything ready.

One of those being laundry.  Actually, I cleaned and organized the entire house.  It didn't take too much because I don't have much (and I plan on keeping it that way).  But I put all of my mail away, did all my laundry, and emptied my suitcases so as to not take wasteful items again.  Mom texted me and said she would take us all out to Subway for lunch.  So I called my sister only to find out that she was enroute to the emergency room!  She had a possible blood clot.  Man oh man.  So I had the duties of calling Mom, Dad, and that order.  I tell you, I tried to so hard, but I started crying!  I even told myself to "BE STRONG!" before every phone call, but the thought of my niece growing up without a Mom...that thought just doesn't sit too well with me.  I dropped to my knees and prayed.

Everything ended up being ok.

Mom, Jobu, and I all met for lunch.  I went over to a guy's house to check on a lawnmower that I had seen at his garage sale last Friday, but it had sold.  It was great condition...and cheap.  I should've bought it.  I'm kickin' myself for not.  It was nice eating out with the fam, though we were short a couple.

Jobu came over to the house for some cookie dough, and we talked a bit.  Then he headed out, and I started finishing (funny words together!) packing.  Mom and Dad were coming over at 2:45 to pick me up.

And just like that, we were off towards St. Louis.  My flight was leaving at 5:40.  We had a bit of construction (though it ended up not being anything...two lanes went down to one, stopping traffic for 4 miles only for us to find out that we never needed to go down to one at all...comical but frustrating!).  I stopped at Arby's for a quick supper, then I was on my way.  I ended up getting there a little before 5:00.  I said good-bye to Mom and Dad...and then headed inside.


I was flying to Phoenix...just over three hours.  As I boarded, I asked the pilot if they were hiring.  "Nobody is hiring, are they?"  It was more a statement than a question.  <sigh>  The flight wasn't too bad, though the person next to me never talked to me.  I browsed a couple of magazines I had bought, then tried to sleep as much as I could.  I had an hour lay-over in Phoenix, and I was crazy hungry again, so I had a full meal AGAIN!  This time it was Burger King.  Nothin' like back-to-back fries and grease to start my trip back on the road.  Bleh.  I actually went to Quizno's to eat, but they were closed.  Grr.

My second flight to Salt Lake City was just over an hour.  The guy next to me never uttered a word.  Not one.  So I sat there and picture us having an emergency (I was in the exit row).  I think I can handle it.

I landed at 10:40 Mountain time.  Kenton picked me up, then we headed for the hotel.  I met Jensen and Jeff there...guys I haven't seen in several weeks and two months respectively.  So we chatted for about 20 minutes but then I forced myself to retire to bed.  Tomorrow is looking like a good day to fly.

I walked inside the hotel, brushed my teeth, and went right to bed.

Alarm is set for 7:10.

Last-Minute Work and Friends--May 24, 2010

Woke up at 8:00 AM.  Ate two granola bars, then headed outside to do some yard work.  I mowed my yard, and I must say it looks great!  I really enjoy this yard.  I then used a hoe to take out several of the thistle plants growing in the yard.  And then I took a sprayer and sprayed weed killer on the entire yard.  It took awhile, but I’m hopin’ to get it lookin’ nice!  I’m kind of excited!  It was getting hot out, so I wanted to get all of that done this morning.  I also pulled apart the weedeater to figure out what is wrong with it.  I can’t figure it out!

Then I called Dad and invited him out to lunch.  We went to McDonald’s for a quick bite to eat.  From there I drove back home, then picked up Schneider’s lawnmower and the weedeater and headed for the north side of Springfield.  I stopped at Wal-Mart first and bought over $60 worth of house items!  Laundry detergent, hand soap, cleaning spray, toilet paper holders, bathroom rug and more!  A house is expensive!  But it’s kind of fun, too!  I then went over to Big R and picked up a carb kit for the mower and inquired about the weedeater.  The guys say it sounds like the shaft is broke somewhere.  Hmm.  I told him I checked the end that went to the engine, but he suggested checking the other end.  Very well then.  I also asked about a job while there, but no such luck.

So I went home and put the carb kit in.  It took about 15 minutes.  And the mower runs PERFECT!!!  Never missed a beat.  A quick $5 fix.  Beautiful.  I then pulled out the shaft of the weedeater, and sure enough, it was all gnarled up.  Well, there ya go!  So I called and had one ordered.

I cleaned the house for the guests tonight, and then I went for a quick lil’ run around the neighborhood.  Just two laps…maybe a mile?  Basically, I saw a ridiculously attractive girl running, and so it was motivation enough for me.  I came back, showered, and headed for my friend’s house.

I ate with the Metz’s at 6:30 and ended up staying there until 9:00.  It’s so nice having friends again!  We had a pretty nasty pop-up thunderstorm, and a branch fell on the neighbor’s garage, and we heard it!  But it was beautiful!  Lightning everywhere!

I then hurried home to my guests at my house!  Boogs, Casey, Crazy, Schneider, and J-N.  Most of them stayed until 12:45.  We talked, ate cookie dough and cupcakes, and just enjoyed each other.  It was a WELCOME gift to have.  I really really really LOVE having this house!  I can sure get used to it.

I myself was in bed at 1:15.  Alarm is set for 9:00.

I’ll be leaving around 3:00 tomorrow afternoon to head for St. Louis.  And it’s goin’ to be 16 days instead of 15!  My relief pilot’s birthday is on June 10, so I can’t take that from him!  I talked to him today, and he said it was snowing out there today!  Ha!  16 days.  Hopefully only 5 of those involve flying?!

Let the countdown begin.

Back to Work...--May 23, 2010

Woke up at 10:00 A.M.  Grabbed a granola bar, took a shower, then headed for church.  I saw a couple of people I knew there, and we set up a time to get together tomorrow.  So that was nice.

I headed out to Mom and Dad’s for our typical Sunday after church meal.  The rest of the family was there, too, so it was good to see them.  I stayed there until 2:00, working on a baby swing (it only needed batteries we found out after an hour’s worth of work), and packing up some more stuff in my truck.

Then Dad, Casey, and I headed over to my house to do some spring cleaning in my yard!  I started chopping away branches left and right.  And they just kept piling up!  We filled up my truck bed pretty quickly, but we had a whole other tree to go.  This place has just been unkempt for awhile.  We chopped and piled for a couple of hours.  The yard looks so much better now, but I still have a ton of work to do!  I am loving the house thing, though.  It’s so much fun.

We headed over to Casey’s house after that for some more work!  I had to leave early, though, to return my tuxedo by 6:00.  So I headed to the mall to do that, came back to my house and showered, and then headed BACK to Mom and Dad’s house for a grilled meal!  I can get used to this!  I stayed there for just under two hours, then eagerly headed back to my house.

But once I got here, I was fairly bored again.  Ha!  It’s goin’ to be interesting to see how I deal with this whole living by myself thing!  With no TV or internet AND it being dark outside, there’s just not much to do!  I received a couple of phone calls, though, so I took care of those.  I ended up being on the phone for nearly an hour and a half.

And one of those was with my boss.  I told him I would be going back for 2 ½ weeks.  Basically, he already assumed that, so there really wasn’t a question to answer, but it’s good to know myself!  I’ve been chewing on that for awhile now…whether to go back or not.  I even made a list of pro’s and con’s tonight!  Basically, I would be getting 30-50 more multi-engine hours, another $3500 (before expenses), and I could get my currency up to date in terms of instrument flying (I need to get my six approaches in).  The other side involved me staying here and working at home…taking care of my house, finding a job (maybe) for the summer, finding friends, and being happy!  Ha!  I mean, I’m not thrilled about going back out on the road again, but in the same breath, I don’t have a whole lot going on back here anyway.  So I might as well stay busy, get more flight time, and get some money to hold me through over the summer.  I think it’s a good decision.

Plus…I told my boss I am looking at June 10-15 for my departure.  But I’ll just say June 10.  So I leave on Tuesday, May 25.  That gives me 15 days more.  I think I can handle that.  It’s a mental game…but it makes SO MUCH DIFFERENCE having the end in sight.

15 days.  A little more flying.

And then I’m back for good.

I’m ok with that.  I really am.

Went to bed at 11:30.  Alarm is set for 8:00.  I’ve got plenty of work to do in the next two days before I leave!!!  Gotta get the yard cleaned up some more, mowed, and goin’ to have to clean some of the inside of the house, too!  It shouldn’t be too bad, though.

15 days. Let’s do it.

Hear the Bells Ring--May 22, 2010

Woke up at 8:06.  I hopped up, checked the time, and realized it was way too early for me to be up.  So I lazily hopped back in bed, where I laid until around 10:00.  The guys were all moving around, and they came up in the bed a couple of times, but I had no intentions of moving.  I finally hopped out around 10:00 and went downstairs and grabbed some coffee and a couple of doughnuts.  And this house was just AMAZING in the daylight!  It is so beautiful.  I was in love!

I went upstairs and took a BATH in the bathtub…this house has absolutely no showers at all.  They are all the old iron claw tubs!  It was like being 5 years old all over again…I enjoyed it.

We headed to the church around 10:45 to be there by 11:00.  And then we sat around!  It was ok…guys are just funny when in large groups.  I took the groom’s ring and put a block of cheese through it.  I was pretty excited about that.  And then right before the wedding, we groomsmen all wrapped our left middle fingers in napkins and tape…to make it look just like Ruble’s!  It was a hit during the ceremony.  Everyone was laughing.

All in all, a good day.  It was a typical wedding, and I was rather bored throughout it, but that wasn’t a surprise to me.  I just don’t do normal weddings very well.

The reception was a couple of towns over, and that was fairly enjoyable…for a bit.   The food was decent, but there wasn’t much rhyme or reason to the schedule.  And because of that, people started leaving…in mass droves.  By the time the couple had their first dance, we had lost nearly 40% of the people.  And it just kept getting worse.  They didn’t seem to be too bothered by it, though.  So I decided to leave, too.  But then several  of us decided we would meet in Champaign to hang out for a bit.

So I drove over to Champaign (stopping at a rest area to lose a few pounds first).  We arrived around 8:45 and stayed until 10:45.  It was fun…met a guy named Todd who I hit it off with.  It was one of those “best buds” at first sight thing.  We were just a’jokin’ with each other…and making fun of my dismal life on the road.  <sigh>  Oh, boy.  No, seriously, we did!  Got some good laughs out of it, though.

I made myself leave at 10:45, though.  I still had plenty of interstate to put behind me.  And I’m glad I left when I did.  Because I was STRUGGLING out there on the open road.  I mean, STRUGGLING.  I was anything but safe.  I had the air going to try to keep me awake, and I called a friend back in Denver.  But even then, I wondered if I would fall asleep while talking!  So I called someone else.  But the numbers and letters on the phone were just a big blur.

It was bad.  Real bad.  So I called one of the girls I had just met at the wedding…she had come out to hang with us in Champaign.  It was only 9 minutes long, but it got me a little further.  <sigh>  I was seriously unsafe out there.  I hated it.

I finally got back to Springfield, filled up the car, headed over to Mom and Dad’s house to pick up my truck, and then headed home.  I didn’t get in until 1:15.  I was in bed at a very late 1:40.  I was so unbelievably tired.  Alarm is set for 10:00.

A Poorly-Groomed Groomsman--May 21, 2010

Woke up at 8:30.  Ate a granola bar for breakfast, then headed outside.  I started up Schneider’s lawnmower, and it ran perfect.  I guess the spark plug cleaning from late last night did the trick.  And that’s pretty logical…that spark plug was so carboned over.  I tried it a few times, and every time, the mower ran great!  I called him to come pick it up.

Then I started up my hedge trimmer that I bought last year.  It doesn’t run perfect, but it allowed me to finish shavin’ the bush out front.  The bush is quite a bit smaller and actually looks like heck right now, but once it turns green again, it should be fine.  Then I headed over to Dad’s work to pick up pruning shears and a chainsaw for the trees in the front and back yards.  And on my way, I saw some garage sales, so I hit those up on the way back.

I was pretty disappointed to see a woman walking away from one with a nice, large bird feeder!!!  Agh!  I did end up buying a bird house, though.  I called up Boogs, and she came out with Micaiah.  It started to rain, and we only went to six sales before we called it a day.  But it was fun.  I headed back home and tried out the shears…the trees were just way too wet.  They weren’t cutting at all.  I had a guy come by and take a look at my gas hedge trimmer.  I had it listed on craigslist, and he wanted to check it out.  I had it listed for $75, but since it didn’t run right, I offered him a steal at $35.  Frankly, I was just glad to see it go!  I had tried selling it last year, too.  I had paid $15 for it not running, and I had to put a $2.00 part in it.  So I certainly wasn’t out any money, but I was glad to see it go.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut, I needed some trimmers, so I went back to the garage sales where I had seen some, and wouldn’t ya know it, the guy in the garage with me was buying them!!!  This is crazy, I thought.  Just my luck.  But there were two for sale, so I went with the older, smaller one.  They were only $5, so I couldn’t complain too much.  I also bought a three-foot level and an electric leaf blower, too.  $10 total.  I’ll take it.  I stopped by McDonald’s on the way back home for a quick lunch.  I love my house’s location!

After eating, I headed back to the house and tried out the electric hedge trimmers.  Perfect!  I trimmed another bush, then moved to the backyard!  I have so much work to do!  I tried trimming the weeping willow with the hand shears, but it was just too much, so I took the electric trimmer to it.  Perfect!  Of course, I had a mess in the yard now, but I’ll pick it up when I come back from the wedding.  And it WAS getting about that time, too.

So I finally showered for the day, then headed over to Dad’s work yet again.  I had to find out where I was picking up my tux, where I was going for the wedding, AND check to see if I money in my bank account!  I just had a haunting feeling that I didn’t have too much!  (I was right).  I borrowed some money from Dad, then headed to pick up my tux.

And that’s when I started having problems.  I haven’t driven my truck in town yet, and frankly, there should be no reason why I shouldn’t, but it started acting up again.  BAD.  Every time I down-shifted or came to a stop, my truck would die.  I couldn’t even sit at a stoplight!!!  I would have to wait for it to turn green, then hurry up and start it, and go!!!  It was NOT good.  I have no idea exactly how many times it died on me in the short 10-mile drive, but I would guess double digits.  It was just bad.  I was pretty dejected!

But I grabbed my tux from the mall and headed over to Wal-Mart.  It died on the way there, too!  I bought some Sea Foam to see if this would help out.  But I had a dilemma.  I had a two-hour trip to go on, and my truck was dying constantly.  I had no question in my mind that it would make it there and back, but it’s just that I wanted the mechanic to get a weekend with it!!!  So I called up Dad, and he said he would meet me at the mechanic’s house.  It was now 3:40 in the afternoon.  I needed to leave 20 minutes ago!

But I drove it over there (not wanting Dad to drive it through town as he had originally suggested), and Dad met me.  He then drove back to his work where I then took the car and headed east.  I knew I was going to be late, but I wasn’t really planning on this one!

And sure enough, I WAS LATE!  Mega-late!  I ended up getting lost about 10 miles out, so that didn’t help anything.  I was in the back country, too.  Gravel roads.  Water on the road.  Paralleling the river.  It was nuts.  I finally arrived at 6:15, just 45 minutes late.  <sigh>

Well, we did the rehearsal, then went out to eat.  And I was surprised at what I had just forgotten about.  The table just listened as I told stories.  They were mesmerized.  I haven’t had people like that in ages.  Months?  Over a year?  But they just kept asking for them.  One of the girls I met said I should post these online…or write a book.  I haven’t heard that in sooooooooooooo long!!!  It felt…different…but good all at the same time.

I just relished the times of being back with friends again.  It was pretty nice.

What was also nice was that we ended up scoring a free house that night, too.  One of my friend’s girlfriend’s aunt was taking care of an OLD house, and she said we could stay there.  I wasn’t really prepared for what it was, though!  I mean, this house was OLD.  It says “circa 1910” out front, but it just looked older than that.  Hardwood EVERYWHERE.  Gorgeous paint on the ceilings, designs everywhere, wallpaper everywhere!  It was a dream house.  It just solidified my love for old houses.  I want to own/restore one or several.  I am in love with them.  They just don’t make them like they used to.  A comparable house with that same quality today would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more.  I just don’t get how they did it with bare hands and horses.  It seriously blows me away.

We went to the hotel where the other guys were and ended up hanging out there for a couple of hours.  Lots of alcohol and smoking.  I didn’t partake in either outside of a drink down at the bar.  It’s just crazy, really.  I don’t get all of that.  I was even given a flask as my wedding gift.  Don’t think I’ll ever be using that one.  I am so out of place.

We headed back to the haunted house, and I ended up sleeping with Paul in one of the bedrooms.  We refused to sleep alone for fear of being murdered…it was just one of those houses!  I ended up falling asleep at 1:00.

The Family and Friends Round--May 20, 2010

Woke up at 8:00 A.M.  Grabbed a granola bar (I really need to get some food in this house) and took a shower.  Kirk called me about 10 after and reminded me that he needed to be picked up from the truck accessory store.  I went ahead and hung up a bird house that I had made last year as well as put up the bird feeder I bought last night.

About 10 till, I headed for the shop.  It was raining outside, and I was surprised to find out that I only had one windshield wiper!  Ha!  This truck DOES have character!!!  I was humored.  The one that it did have was on my side, though, so I didn’t have any problems.  I was pretty anxious to pick Jobu up to see what his reaction would be.  And he didn’t disappoint!!!  Haha.  I’m laughing just typing this…it was pretty humorous.  He pretty much insisted that I stop at Wal-Mart to get TWO windshield wipers because he could never tell if we were on the road or not!  So I did.  Another expense for the truck, but that’s fine…the truck has been driving nice!!!  I’m excited about that!

We went to my house afterwards and just hung out.  Dad met us over there, and then Boogs came by and picked us up.  Then we headed to Lincoln in the Ford Escort…5 deep!  I sat in the back with Boogs, and I tell ya, that lil’ baby is cute!!!  It’s fun just watching her!  She slept the entire time.

We met Grandma and Grandpa and Bob up at Culver’s and stayed there about an hour.  It was nice to see everyone, though I didn’t really talk to Grandma and Grandpa as much as I would have liked.  I don’t know…they were on the end of the table, and we seemed to have stories all on our own!  They didn’t seem to mind, though, and I suppose they didn’t…but I’m just eager to spend as much time with them as I can.  I just don’t know how many more days like that we’re going to have.  I love ‘em to death.

We drove back down to Springfield and dropped Jobu off at his house, then me off at my house.  Dad headed for home, as did Boogs, and I headed inside.  It was around 3:00 o’clock.  It was still pretty yuck outside, so I just loafed around the house.  And boy oh boy, I tell you, I don’t think this is going to be able to last very long.  I didn’t really have anything to do…I had no internet, I tried the TV which I usually don’t watch but couldn’t pick up ANY channels (I later found out…i.e. was reminded…from Dad that everything has gone digital now…you can’t just pick up channels anymore).  Yeah, about that.  But I was pretty bored…lonely? I headed for Mom and Dad’s house for supper that I had been invited to.  Basically, left-overs from last night.  Mom had gone up to visit her mom, so it was just Dad and me.  And we cleaned up shop!  Ha!  I stayed there for awhile…and ranted about lots.  Grr…I think I was complaining again.  I was checking out internet prices, and they are just outrageous.  Like silly outrageous.  The cheapest I can find is $40/month…any package deal with TV is $100/month.  And that is just for six months!!!  Wow.  I’m just thinkin’ long-term, and 20 years down the road, I’m not sure I want to say I spent $20,000 on TV and internet.  <sigh>  But I ALSO looked at a house online, and it looks like it could be a money-maker.  So as Dad reminded me, the internet could pay for itself in one transaction.  So true, so true.

GRR!!!  I think I’m goin’ to have to get somethin’.

Schneider called me at 7:45 and said he was near my house!  Agh!  He was supposed to give me a heads-up!  So I hurried on back to my house, taking some blankets from Mom and Dad’s house…I have so much stuff there, so I’m goin’ to try to take something EVERY time!

I met Schneider at my house, and we went to work right away on a mower he had brought to me.  I opened it up and cleaned the carburetor.  The air cleaner was BLACK, so I said we needed one of those, so we headed to Wal-Mart (fail) and then to Menards (win).  We came back, installed it, and fired it up.  But it was doing the exact same thing.  I hate when that happens!  I pulled off the spark plug and cleaned it up, but it was past 9:00, and I didn’t want to run engines with the neighbors around.  So we came inside.  I’ll have to work on it when I get back from the wedding.

We grabbed one of my roommate’s movies (National Treasure 2).  I didn’t think I had seen it, and sure enough, I hadn’t seen the first half.  But as it progressed, I recognized the rest of it.  I ended up falling asleep somewhere between 11:00 and midnight.  I woke up to see Schneider off at 11:52.

I brushed my teeth and headed straight for bed.  It was midnight.

My First Night at "Home"--May 19, 2010

Woke up at 7:30 to my alarm.  That just wasn’t happening.  So I went back asleep and ended up waking up at 8:26.  I grabbed some breakfast, took a shower, and then I loaded up my four-wheeler into my truck.  Mom (she took the day off) and I drove it over to my house, and I unloaded it there.  On the way over, my truck died several times.  Basically, every time I threw it into Neutral in order to coast, it would die.  Or when I came to a stop, it would die.  This is not good!!!  Here it is, only the second day I’ve driven my truck, and it won’t stay running!!!  Not good!!!  We headed back home (it died some more), and I started to load up some more stuff from the shed.

But I was in sooooooo much pain.  My lower back was just killing me…I don’t think I’ve ever felt like this before.  It hurt so bad.  I would go to lift something, and I literally physically could NOT lift it!  It was the weirdest thing ever…but it was certainly real!  I came inside and laid down on the floor.  I tried to do some back stretches and exercises, but I couldn’t even lift my legs up.  It was that bad!

Dad and I loaded up the rest of my stuff out of the shed, then we had lunch.  I made a call to a mechanic in town and set up a time for him to look at it tomorrow night.  Then Dad and I took the second load over to my house.  We unloaded the stuff, then took some time to address the yard.  And frankly, it needed some addressing!!!  I weed-whacked while he mowed.  And I tell ya, what a difference a “shave and a haircut” makes!  The place looks 10 times better.  I still have a lot of yard work to do, but it’s a start.  This definitely needed to be done.

We headed to Auto Zone before we went back to Mom and Dad’s place, and I dropped $30 there.  I bought a much-needed air filter, a fuel filter, oil and filter, and a PCV valve.  I installed the air filter at the store, but the truck still died on the way home.  That didn’t fix it!

Back at Mom and Dad’s house, Dad and I burned some wood I had taken from my house.  It was just layin’ in the yard takin’ up space.  After that, I changed my oil.  What should have been a 20-minute process ended up taking about an hour since I started the project without my oil filter wrench.  Bad move.  I had the hardest time getting that thing off!!!  It was tough!!!  But I finally got it taken care of.  A little bit of work, but it was cheap.  I only had $11.99 and a little bit of elbow work in that oil change.

The day was absolutely perfect, and I didn’t want to waste it, so even after a good day’s work, I decided to head back out.  Mom and I went bird-feeder shopping.  I never really found one I liked.  Everything is made so cheaply yet they are expensive!  Seriously, the quality is lacking, but the prices are not.  That was frustrating.  We went to Big R, Wal-Mart, Menards, and Tractor Home Supply, and I never really found one that I liked.  They were all just cheaply made.  But I grabbed one…we’ll see if it works or not.

Because that took me about 45 minutes longer than I expected, I didn’t have time to go over and put it at my house!  I had to get Mom back to cook!  We were having Crazy and Casey and Erica over tonight, so she had some work to do.  I had her back at 7:10 for a party at 8:30!  And that’s where I spent most of the rest of the night.  We ate, talked, and just hung out until 10:30.

Then I loaded up my stuff and headed over to my house.  And that’s where I am now!  Tonight is the first night I’ll be sleeping in a house I bought three months ago!!!  Ha!  It’s nice, though…it’s different being alone in my own place, but it’s nice, too.  I like this place.

I was in bed at 11:30.  Alarm is set for 7:30 again.  We’re goin’ to visit Grandma and Grandpa tomorrow up in Lincoln, but I want to do some yard stuff first!

We’ll see what happens.

All in all, a very good day.  Enjoyable and productive.  I actually got dirty today…the first time in months.  I LOVED IT!

Already Put to Work!!!--May 18, 2010

Woke up not sure what time it was…I checked.  It was only 6:56 A.M.  NOT cool!!!  I was having pretty vivid dreams, and so I knew I was still tired, but my sister’s room was sooooo bright!  Sun was coming in from everywhere!!!  But I went back to sleep…I knew I had to.

I eventually woke up at 8:30…even though my alarm was still set for 9:00.

I grabbed some breakfast, then Dad and I headed out to get plates for my “new” truck.  I was eager to drive it, but since it wasn’t yet registered, he said we better take the car.  So we did.  And, boy, was I ever surprised at the cost!!!  The last time I registered a vehicle I had to pay $78.00 for license and title and $25.00 for tax.  Well, that has shot up.  WAY up.  I had to fork over $194.00 for the license and title and still $25.00 for the tax.  I was shocked.  I really don’t trust other people with my money, and I HAVE to wonder exactly where these fees are going.  I mean, seriously.  It was just a few short years ago that the cost was $48.00.  I remember it jumping to $78.00!  And now $194.00?!  What is going on here?  Seriously, WHAT is going on here?  I often wonder.  I just don’t trust people anymore.

From there we headed over to my house.  Frankly, I was a bit nervous.  You just never know when you have someone else living in your home!!!  But I was pleasantly surprised to find the house in near-perfect order.  It smelled clean, AND it was in fantastic shape!  I was thrilled.  Outside of one light being left on, it was exactly as I would have liked it.  I can get used to this tenant thing if this is how they are going to be!!!  I walked throughout the house and tried to figure out what I needed to do in the upcoming summer.  The inside was pretty good…I’ll probably replace a bathroom floor, but that’s about it.  Everything else looks great.  Outside was a different story.  I have a pretty rough yard with poor grass (i.e. weeds) and volunteer trees and just unkempt landscaping.  It’s a mess.  It definitely needs some attention, and frankly, I am eager to give it some!  I’m excited about that part!

We only stayed there for about 15 minutes, but I wanted to see my niece!  So we headed over to my sister’s house to see the baby!!!  She is sooooooooooo tiny!!!  Seriously, it’s just like a miniature version of a person!  It’s crazy!  But she is so cute and funny!  I loved it!

While there, Dad wanted to start the electrical work for a garbage disposal they just purchased.  So we started on that…it wasn’t too awful bad, but it was time-consuming as most electrical projects are.  Well, as we got into it, I said we might as well just complete the whole project.  He really wasn’t planning on that, and rightly so, for it looked like it was going to be a bear.  But I knew that if I didn’t help out that it might not get done OR it might not get done correctly.  So we made the “switch” in our minds that we would tackle this thing.  And, oh, how long that was.  We started around 10:00 A.M.  I wanted to be done by 3:00.  Dad said we would go into the evening…

Well, Dad, you were right.  We didn’t finish up until around 5:30.  It wasn’t too terrible, but it DID present some challenges, frustrations, and car trips.  We had to make two runs to the store, and while Dad was working on the electrical, I had to get creative with the plumbing.  But in the end, it all worked out.  Actually, I kind of enjoyed it.  I don’t mind plumbing.  Dad HATES it.  Passionately.  But it was a challenge, and it took some creativity and workmanship to get it done.  I enjoy that.

So my sister now has a working garbage disposal.  Yesterday she didn’t.  Today she does.  I love it!

Mom came by around 5:30 with KFC, so we all ate that.  And she had good news.  She had called me earlier to let me know that she had my luggage!  She had a meeting up in Bloomington today, and my luggage had arrived.  So she brought that down for me…that was a relief.  Now I can put on some deodorant!!!

I also received a VERY important phone call from the boss.  Basically, the guy that is flying my airplane right now said he would be willing to fly it into the summer.  So in essence, IF I don’t want to go back, I don’t have to!  It is soooooooooooo weird knowing that…having that decision.  I told him I refused to make the decision over the phone.  I wanted time to think about it.  But it’s kind of what I wanted!  I am just tired of flying lines, it’s late in the season (past my contract date), and I’m eager to relax.  But at the same time, I don’t have a whole lot of connections here, the money would be good (even if for a couple of weeks), and it would get me more multi time to fly some more.  What to do!!!  I am definitely going to have to chew on this one for a few days.

We went home, and I instantly hopped in my truck.  I wanted to see how she ran!  She started right up, and I took her for a 6-mile drive with Dad.  No real problems that I could see!  She ran just fine.  It did die on me once, but that was OK.  I didn’t mind.  Ha!  It is one bumpy ride, though!!!  Hey, what do you expect for a $900 truck?!  I’m thrilled with it.

I came back and spent the rest of the night at Mom and Dad’s house.  I watched the birds outside, talked finances with Dad, checked out my truck engine, and tried to find a movie to watch.  That didn’t pan out, so I headed for bed.

I was in bed at 11:20 P.M.  Alarm is set for 7:30!!!  I’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow!

Oh, and I lost a couple thousand more in the stock market today.  VISA is getting hammered.  I’m down quite a bit in just two weeks…it’s crazy frustrating!  I just wish I had more to invest for times like these.  Ha!  I guess we’ll see what happens in the future!

Early Vacation!!!--May 17, 2010

Woke up at 7:00 A.M.  Took a shower, grabbed some breakfast, then headed over to the airport.  I was feeling overly tired, though, and I wasn’t sure why.  I just slept for 8 hours!!!  I don’t get my body sometimes.

Kenton was going to fly with me today.  Basically, all of his low plans still had snow in them, and so it would be worthless for him to go out there when he could go up with me and get trained some more in the Aztec.  So that’s what we did.  And what a beautiful day it was!!!

I never thought I would say that here in Denver, but the winds were mild at 13,500 feet…out of the northwest.   And the air was SMOOTH!!!  Agh, I wish EVERY day could be like this!!!  It was a joy to fly.  Ok, so I didn’t really do any flying, but still.  Actually, it was pretty nice to just sit there.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it or not, but I certainly didn’t mind!!!  And on top of that, it is just sooooo much nicer having someone else in the airplane with you.  Makes the day go by much quicker.

We ended up flying 4.2 hours…the most we’ve flown in weeks.  Between the two Aztecs, we finished five flight plans…again, another record I think in weeks.  So it WAS a productive day.  It’s about time!

While we were flying, we learned from Pete on the ground that Kenton would be taking my Aztec to Utah that day.  Pete would stay in Denver, and I would get to fly out early for vacation tomorrow.  I like it!  We ended up landing around 12:45 due to clouds, and that’s exactly what the plan was.

But I was eager to see something else…if I didn’t have an airplane, AND if tomorrow was going to be bad weather (thunderstorms all day), then could I get a flight out TODAY?!  I checked the times, and a flight was leaving Denver at 3:00 and would have me in Bloomington tonight at 8:30.  I made a phone call, and my wish was granted!!!  But did I have to scramble!  I grabbed some things out of the Aztec, then said a quick, awkward, and very sad (for me) good-bye to Tessa.  It was very awkward…and hard.  But it is what it is.  I then hurried over to the hotel!!!  I walked in at 1:16, and I was in the car at 1:30, all packed and ready to go!  I had a flight to catch!

Pete dropped off Kenton at the airport, then drove up to the big one.  My ticket wasn’t even purchased yet because it was within two hours of the flight.  So it was merely “held” for me.  We arrived at 2:06, and I went to check in.  The guy said I had to check in inside, and he told me to hurry!  So I did!  And I got a woman who was NOT very happy with me.  She was crazy stressed out, saying she had three minutes to get my bags and payment into the system.  She was seriously taking this one a bit too hard!  She says this is why she hates her job…because of the stress.  Sorry, lady!  I kept making jokes and laughing about it, but she just wasn’t having it!

But I was in!  Woo hoo!

I made the flight no problems and spent the next several hours playing the commercial airlines game.  Not too fun.  I was wedged between two others on a packed flight to Chicago, then grabbed a quick McDonald’s meal, then hopped on a (supposed to be ) 25-minute flight to Bloomington.  But, boy, did I have gas.  I mean, I was dying inside.  I had been dropping bombs the previous flight, but they didn’t smell.  But all of a sudden, I was just rancid.  In the terminal, I was dying in my own funk.  It was bad.  I was sitting next to someone on the second flight, though, and I refused to release the poison.  So I held it in.  But oh, how it hurt!  It was HUGE.  As soon as I got off the airplane, I let her rip, though.  And it just didn’t stop.  AT ALL.

I greeted my dad with some gas.  And some more.  And some more.  And I waited for my bag on the carousel.  It went around and around, but it never came.  You have got to be kidding me.  <sigh>  Sure enough, it wasn’t there.  So I had to file a claim…the airlines can be so annoying and frustrating sometimes.  I now have no clothes, no toothbrush, no deodorant…AND there wasn’t even a record of where the bag was in the system.  I’m not too optimistic.

So I left the airport empty-handed.  But I still had that unbelievable gas.  I mean, they were just HUGE and long farts!  It was almost crazy!  Dad had the window down most of the time.  And then I had a problem…the fart was no longer just a fart.  Or remotely close to it.  I was about to poop my pants.  AND I COULDN’T HOLD IT.  Something was happening inside, and it wasn’t healthy.

I could not even make this up if I tried.  I was in the left lane, and I whipped the car over to the right lane and dove into a parking lot.  I threw the car into park as I braked, so quickly that it made the weird gear-grinding noise.  I WAS NOT SURE IF I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT.  I jumped out of the car and dropped my drawers.  We were only a mile from a gas station, but I had no other option.  I just wasn’t going to make it…I wasn’t even sure if I would get out of the car quick enough.  And so right there, in front of some business, I unleashed my fury.  Frankly, it was disgusting.  A huge mess of diarrhea crap.  And it smelled terribly.

And I felt terrible.  I mean, I was hurting.  I limped back to the car, but I couldn’t even sit down.  I had to lay butt-up in the back seat as Dad took me to the gas station.  I walked tippy-toe into the gas station and found the bathroom.  I dropped my dirty drawers and just purged my body.  I seriously lost just about everything in me.  It was horrendous.  But I was empty!  There wasn’t ANYTHING left inside.  I don’t know if it was food poisoning or what, but WOW.  I never want to experience that again.  It was atrocious.

I grabbed a Gatorade to replenish my fluids, and we were off for home!

I arrived in Springfield around 10:30 and spent the next half hour or so talking with Mom and Dad.

And then I started winding down.  But as I was getting ready for bed, Rubes called me.  He had nearly cut off his finger.  True story.  He was on his way to the hospital, and though as tempting as it was, I had to pass.  I needed sleep.  I guess he’ll be gettin’ married with a cast on his finger.  Ha!

But he said he just HAD to call me and share.  I returned the favor with my poop story.  It was good to hear from him.

I was in bed at 11:55 P.M. (Central time).  No worries about flying tomorrow, either.  Tomorrow is going to be a day for me.  And I’m pretty stinkin’ excited about that.

Alarm is set for 9:00 A.M.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Well, We Tried--May 16, 2010


Woke up at 7:00 A.M.  Hopped in the shower, grabbed some breakfast.  Outside my window the skies were spectacularly clear.  It looks like we were going to have a full day.

We headed over to the airport at 7:35, and I was in the airplane shortly thereafter.  I grabbed 1/3 cup of coffee for an extra jolt before hopping in.  The weather was simply perfect for least at the airport.  The winds were 4 knots, and the skies were clear.  Beautiful.

I took off Runway 17L and headed up towards Rocky Mountain Regional.  I had coordinated with ATC this morning, although I was going to be above the Class Bravo at 13,500.  It's still nice to let them know what we're doin'.  I threw on my oxygen before I took off and braced myself for a long day.

I was on station right around 8:30 at 13,500 feet.  My first line was north-bound, and I had no problems completing it, doing a nice 126 knots.  I made the turn for Line 2, however, and I was instantly doing 175 knots.  Oh boy.  I was only at 16" MP and 2300 RPM's.  This was going to be a tough one.  I missed a ton of pictures due t speed, so I circled back around.  I slowed up, pitched up, and hit the line doing 155 knots.  Still too fast.  It took me five miles before I started taking pictures...and I was BARELY meeting the 139-knot requirement...I was actually over it at 145 knots...and I was just above blue-line.  Hmm.  This was not good.

I failed that line.

I turned north-bound and didn't really have a problem with one.  But I went back to Line 2...I still couldn't get the airplane slow enough.  I had to abort.  Unbelievable.

Pete had already started his descent due to a stomach problem.  So he was out.  And Kenton was over the mountains trying to find a flight plan without snow.  He was failing in that regard.  But I couldn't do anything up high, so I asked for a flight plan down low.  He gave me one at 12,500, but it put me right into clouds.  I couldn't do it.

So he gave me another one.  I loaded it up and headed for it.  It was a bit deeper into the mountains, and as soon as I hit the eastern ridge, I was already starting to get bounced around.  But I kept going towards the line.  There was snow all around in most of the areas, but it looked like it MIGHT be doable in this one.  But as I got closer, it just became unbelievably horrific.  My plane was being tossed around like a rag doll.  I gripped the yoke with both hands and gingerly tried to get her out of there.  I was cruising at 140 knots, and it was putting me just a few miles from the fact of the huge mountain.  And then it was as if I reached an invisible the east it was moderately bumpy, but to the west it was hell.  As soon as I hit it, I just hunkered down to get that airplane out of there.  I had the peak ahead of me, huge foothills to the left (at my altitude so I couldn't turn south), and several high hills to the north.  I had to slowly but VERY accurately turn to the north, trying to keep the ball centered, trying to keep my altitude.  I was failing miserably.  The ball was a modern-day game of Pong, and my altitude was descending at 800 feet/minute.

But I aimed between these two hills.  The entire time I was looking out my right window trying to find a path out of here.  I had pushed the throttles forward, and I was just trying to was a losing battle.  I SERIOUSLY pictured me hitting the side of the jagged rocks out there.  It came to the point where I honestly thought that it was a good possibility.  But I HAD to get out of here.  I picked my path and kept the turn in.  I had to make sure I turned in time so as to avoid the high peaks.  It was not pretty.


ATC came on and said I was getting out of radar coverage.  I was just focusing on getting out alive.  I tried grabbing my camera between my legs to snap a couple of pictures, but even that proved to be too much.  I HAD to keep my hands on the yoke.  I was being tossed around.  Then I had one of most abrupt punches of turbulence yet.  It was incredibly quick (I never felt it coming), but it was brutal.  My head flew up and hit the ceiling...only the 2nd time I've had this happen in the Aztec.  It's never pretty.

I finally completed my 180-turn and felt soooooo much better.  But I was not safe.  I was NOT out of the woods (mountains) yet, and I watched jagged rocks pass by my wing to the north.  I was right at their altitude.  I HATE this project.  This was seriously our best day in weeks, and this is how the mountains treat us.  It was a moment in my aviation career of "What in the hell am I doing"?  I finally saw the flatlands increasing in size, though, and I breathed a sigh of relief as I crossed that last ridge.

I was still alive.

Everything just happens so fast out there.  I was doing 140 knots westbound, and as I turned I was doing 165 knots.  I couldn't maintain a climb, and I was consistently pegged at over 500/feet per minute in descent.  I had to maintain a constant turn, though I couldn't be too steep due to the forces out there.  But if I kept the turn loose, I would hit cumulo-granite.  I just sighed.  It was NOT fun.

I landed and just questioned this whole lifestyle, this whole project.  It's just stupid.  I went over and shook Kenton's hand after I landed and said, "I have no idea how you flew a 172 out there."  He didn't say anything.

I had logged 2.1 hours.  And I had only completed two lines.  This project sucks.  We have 9 hours done out of over 100.  And we've been here 5 weeks.  I am just so jaded.

On an interesting side note, Pete had landed, and the line guy said he had an oil leak.  Pete said it happens on these Aztecs, but he cussed when he came around the wing.  His engine had shot out a couple of quarts down the cowling.  It turned out an oil line had become disconnected.  Had he not had that stomach pain who knows what would've happened.  It was a mess!

We went out for BBQ for lunch.  Then we came back to the hotel.  And I about went mad again.  I stayed in for a few hours, but I just couldn't take it anymore.  So I went for a walk.  It only lasted a half hour, but it helped.  It was 65 outside (though a chilly 65, if that's possible), and I just couldn't stand to be in this hotel anymore.  I am dying.

This evening Jaye came over, and I spent a few hours with her.  We went DVD-player shopping, then out to eat, then over to the apartment.  But I have rules when I fly, and I made sure I was back in at 9:45.

Tomorrow is lookin' like it's supposed to be better than today.  The clouds are forecast to be at 12,000 feet instead of 8,000, AND the winds are supposed to be out of the west (at 22 knots) instead of the north.  That should provide us with low-enough speeds.  So we'll see.  I'm banking on flying several hours tomorrow.

So with that said, I headed for bed at 11:05.  Alarm is set for 7:00 A.M.

All I can think about is flying ONE MORE DAY.  If I can just get through tomorrow, I'll be on my way to my vacation.  It can't come soon enough.  But that is what is holding me right now.  All I need to fly is tomorrow!!!  I think Tuesday is pretty much a given for yucky weather, so I don't think we'll be able to take pics.

ONE MORE DAY.  Just one more day.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

And Yet Another--May 15, 2010

Woke up at 10:08.  I had my alarm go off at 9:15, but I just wasn't feelin' that.  Slept in yet again.

Didn't do a whole lot this morning.  We ended up going to IHOP for lunch...or breakfast...however you look at it.  I had breakfast anyway.  Loved it!

We came back to the hotel, and we spent most of the afternoon inside.  Basically, we each almost went insane.  We were yelling back and forth to each other..."FIND SOMETHING!!!"  We were just bored out of our minds.  Unbelievably bored.  We tossed out museums, the zoo, shows, movies, but nothing sounded appealing.  So we just screamed some more.

This is Day 5 without flying.  ZERO hours.  It's ridiculous.  The other guys didn't want to scout again today, so I had to agree with them.  <sigh>  It's frustrating sometimes.  I mean, even if I only got 0.7 hours, it's still another hour, and a multi hour at that!  It's extra money, AND it gets me out of the hotel!!!  It's just a no-brainer to me.  Not EVERY day, no way.  But I would've been happy with at least two of the last five.  <sigh>  Such is the life of living with others on the road.  It's give and take.

Around 4:00, we decided to head to Buffalo Wild Wings just to get out of the hotel.  I wasn't too hungry, but it was something to do.  We stayed there until 7:00.  I enjoyed it for awhile, as we played Texas Hold 'Em and the trivia (and ate, of course), but that only lasts so long.  The guys started drinking several drinks, and I just downed my sweet tea.  They were starting to get drunk even before we left...I HATE IT.  I was ready to go around 6:00.

On an interesting note, I received a call from the girl from a few days ago.  She had been pulled over with some guy, and the police told her she needed a ride home.  She called me.  Hmm.  Basically, I was too far away (45 minutes) to pick her up (the police refused to wait that long), so they were taking her to DETOX.  That was interesting.  Hmm.  It's unbelievably sad, disappointing, and just heart-breaking for me...she is just so hurt.  Lookin' for love in all the wrong places.  So sad.  I would've picked her up, too.

We came back to the hotel, and the guys continued drinking.  Lots.  They both ordered pitchers of Long Island Iced Teas...packed with 15 shots each.  I don't get it.  They were pretty lit up.  I talked to Matt for a half hour...he's done for the season.  I'm a bit a good way.  Just ready to be done.  I want another 50 hours of multi-time, but I don't want to fly to have to get that, either!!!  Agh!!!  But he's back at home in Michigan.  Lucky dog.  J came over to see me, and we played pool for awhile, but I told her I had to bed in bed by 11:00.  I did some laundry while she was here (in order to get me through 'til Tuesday), and then she left around 10:30.

The weather is lookin' way too good for tomorrow.  We had low clouds all day today with rain and thunderstorms all around, but tomorrow is just supposed to be beautiful.  The winds are forecast to be 10 knots at 15,000 feet.  And the clouds are supposed to be scattered at 8,000.

I guess we'll see.  There is a possibility that I could fly 10 hours tomorrow.  Sweet mother.

Oh, and I just learned that I will be taking Kenton up with me for the whole day in order to get him ready for the Aztec on Wednesday.  I'm not overly thrilled about that...I'm afraid of being bored the entire day without anything to do!  But I'll try to make the most of it.  I'm actually hopin' for just 4-5 hours...anything longer than that is just way too long.

I guess time will tell.

But in order to be ready, I'm off to bed at 10:58.  I'm kind of excited about that.  Alarm is set for 7:00 A.M.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

And Another--May 14, 2010

Woke up at 12:11 P.M.  Yup.  I don't even know how I did it.  My alarm was set for 9:15, and I just slept right through it.  I NEVER do that.  But I slept another THREE hours past it.  Yikes.  I guess I was tired.

Shortly after waking up, I learned that Pete had been asked to relocate to Utah.  Basically, we aren't getting ANYTHING done here on this project, so he is going over there to scout it out (and work!).  But he couldn't leave today due to weather.  Rain between here and there...and cold.  Not a good combination.  But I'll be interested to see we all end up in the next couple of weeks.  It's going to be reaaaaaaaaaaaal interesting.  For lunch, we headed to the amazing lil' Greek restaurant that I found from a couple of days ago.  The waiter recognized me, and the food was just as good as last time.  No disappointments at all.  It's one of my favorite restaurants now!  The lamb is SO good!

We came back to the hotel after that, and I ended up applying to an airline today.  I had applied to it last year as well, but I never heard anything back.  It's a sad story but an accurate look into the airline industry.  The minimums last year were 600 TT and 50 multi.  They shot up to 1500 TT and 500 multi.  As of right now, they are sitting at 1000 TT and 200 multi.  I had applied on May 4 when I had 190 multi hours, but I talked to the recruiter personally today.  She highly advised that I update my resume, even though it's only an additional 13 hours.  But that's what I did.  She asked a little bit about me yesterday when I called, so hopefully that pans out.  It's my dream job.  I went into aviation to fly people around.  But we'll see what happens.  I'm cautiously optimistic.

I went to Panera late this afternoon for coffee and my book.  I ended up finishing the biography of Howard Hughes.  Everything ended up coming down to surprise there.  But it's a healthy lesson to pocket somewhere in my brain.

I came back, and the guys wanted to go to see Robin Hood.  I wasn't feelin' like droppin' that much money on a movie, so I opted to hang out with my friend from a couple of nights ago.  We started to watch a movie at her house, but ended up talkin'.

I was back at 1:20 A.M. and in bed by 1:40.  I'm pretty tired.

I won't be flying tomorrow, though...more rain and thunderstorms.  What a life.  It looks like Pete will be another day, too.  ha.  What a crazy life.

Another 0.0 on the books.  I'm still at just under 15 hours for the month...14 days into it.  Oh boy.

Friday, May 14, 2010

ANOTHER Day Off--May 13, 2010

Woke up at 10:00 A.M.  Ended up headin' back to the hotel around 11:30.

I ate my awesome Greek supper from last night for lunch.   I love that stuff!

The afternoon was pretty uneventful.  We had low clouds again, and the guys didn't want to scout, so we had ANOTHER day to kill!  I ended up grabbin' my laptop and book and headed to Panera where I read some more.  I ended up stayin' there for a couple of hours.

I came back to the hotel and was surprised to find the parking lot full!  I walked in, and there was a party going on!  I asked around, and I found out that this was the hotel's "grand opening" party.  Hmm, none of us were invited.  But we went down anyway and asked what was going on...and they said we could have some food. of the girls asked how we got in...and implied that we weren't invited.  This hotel is so weird.

But we stayed down there for most of the night.  We ended up going into the bar afterwards where the guys drank and I played pool.  A gorgeous woman walked in, and we played and played and played!!!  She was so cute!  And she was nice and a bit flirty!  But she was stolen away by the crazy hotel lady, and she never came back or acknowledged me again.  It was nothing short of weird.  I hated women all over again.

We decided to go out for a bit and meet some of the other people at a bar, but they had gone home already.  So we came back to the hotel where I talked to the two girls from the previous nights.  I was invited over to one of them, but I said no way.  I was so tired.

Ended up going to bed at 1:00 A.M.  Alarm is set for 9:15 A.M.

I'm ready to get some good sleep again.

0.0 hours.  I now haven't flow in three straight days.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Not the Life I Want--May 12, 2010

Woke up at 10:30.  I was pretty tired.  I didn’t want to move.  It’s kind of crazy waking up in someone else’s house, but I guess I was ok with it.  It’s a house anyway.  I guess that’s an improvement.  I was slow in getting ready, but she had work to do.  Her business.  It tore me apart.  She was just dead in thinking about getting ready for it.  Like I said, I don't get how I meet the people I do.  I just don’t.  This encounter is going to haunt me forever.  In the best way possible.

There was snow all over the ground outside.  It had melted already on the pavement, but it was still pretty white when you looked outside.  I said good-bye, then started for the hotel.  The other guys were waiting to go out to eat.  They had missed breakfast, too…but no surprise there.  I knew they were pretty hammered last night, so I figured I didn’t have to be back too early.  The ride back was…terrifying.  I was fine, I thought, but once I hit the interstate, I realized JUST how tired I was.  My eyes were burning, and I just didn’t feel right.  I kept on blinking as much as I could, but my eyes were so dry.  I was not feeling too safe…so I was thrilled to make it back to the hotel in one piece!

I walked upstairs, and the guys were ready to go.  We headed to IHOP.  I was still pretty out of it.  I tried to put on a decent face, but they kept commenting on my red eyes!  Sure enough, they were beat red.  I was just tired.  We headed back to the hotel.  I grabbed the car and hopped on over to the airport.  I wanted to see try to make (show) peace with her.  I had talked to her last night for 45 minutes, and thankfully she took the call.  But I just wanted to have that openness again.  It was VERY short...and not much talking took place.  Certainly not like we used to.  But the effort was made, the face was shown.  Hopefully we will have peace between us.  I went back to the hotel, absolutely worthless in body.  I closed the curtains and set my alarm for 4:15.  It was only 1:15 in the afternoon.

But I crashed.  And I mean, I was gone.  A very deep sleep…not even sure if I moved.  I finally woke up at 5:21.  And the “routine” started again.  One of the girls I had talked to last night wanted to get together with me…<sigh>.  What am I doing?!

I walked over to the airport, grabbed the courtesy car, got my fix of McDonald’s sweet tea, and then headed for her house.  We ended up going out to eat at an AMAZING tiny Greek restaurant (I LOVE foreign food!), then picked up “Up in the Air” from Redbox, and then went back to her place.  The movie was pretty much a loose documentary on my life, and seeing as how it was pretty sad, well, put two-and-two together.  She threw in another movie, “The Producers,” but I found it nothing short of weird and lame, so we just talked.  And that was that night!

I didn’t make it to bed until 4:00 A.M.

I REALLY need to just focus on airplanes.  Girls are...well…complex.  I hate NOT being liked by someone, but this whole being liked by someone is just difficult.  I can't do this.  Not on the road.  I think I would be better off to lock myself in my hotel.  And I did so well for so long.  But I had a lapse two nights ago.  And now I had two nights in a row of fleeting pursuits.  There is nothing healthy about that for either side.

Everyone Has a Breaking Point--May 11, 2010

Today was my breaking point.  I've hit it a couple of times on the r0ad, and it never leads to anything good.  I suppose today was no exception.

Woke up at 9:00 A.M.  Went downstairs and grabbed some breakfast.  The weather was pretty crappy with VERY low overcast, so we couldn't even scout.  We would hop up in those clouds, and we would have ice form instantly.  Not a good combination when your plane can't handle ice.  I imagine I would die within 10 minutes?  What a thought!

So anyway, it was just a no-go.

Which was NOT good for the ol' mentality.  All of a sudden, I had an entire day to kill.  Hours upon hours.  No real friends in the area.  No real desire to do much.  A day in the hotel.  I spent much of it on the surprise there.  It's really become a "lifeline" for us pilots, though I am sure it probably kills us more than it enriches.  But it's a necessity.  I hate saying that, but I just feel like it is.  I'm not sure what I would do without it.

But even with it, you can only last so long.  And I made it until early afternoon.  Then I started going crazy.  The weather was absolutely horrendous, and it started raining lightly.  Snow was in the forecast, and it was just a matter of time before it came.

I went out to Quizno's for lunch, came back, hit the proverbial "wall," and started to go crazy.  The guys opted for their outlet:  alcohol.  Seeing as how I absolutely hate the thought of that, I declined.  I ended up heading out to Panera for supper and reading.  It was actually a joy.  I had started reading the biography of Howard Hughes some time ago (a Christmas present from my sister and her husband), and I was addicted to it for the longest time.  But the past month or so, I've probably only read a chapter or two.  Well, I jumped right back into it, and I loved it.  I hate admitting it, but I see so much of myself in this man.  A playboy (doesn't have to be sexual), a man with demons, a man intent on money, a man so lonely he pursues relationships he knows won't last because of his lack of commitment.  It's not a compliment by any means, and frankly, I feel nothing short of dishonorable in my admittance of my connection with him, but I just resonate with this man.  For worse, I think.

But even the reading only lasted so long.  I spent a little over an hour? there but then headed back for the hotel.  The guys finally came back up to the room around 10:00 after the bar closed down, but they kept drinking.  And they were drunk.  And I hate conversations with drunk people.  They were talking about the Aztec, quizzing each other, and I was trying to escape in my own world.  I found my outlet with people...albeit on the internet.  In a moment of sheer weakness, I posted an ad to hang out on craigslist.

Frankly, I only had four responses.  One from a horny chick in Japan who wanted to meet me in two weeks when she came to Denver, one from a pretty vague person, one from an obviously drunk woman, and one from a seemingly upstanding woman.  I ended up talking to the latter two.

The drunk woman was going to come down to meet me, but she never showed up.  I ended up calling her, and I convinced myself to hang out with her.  The other woman wanted to hang out tomorrow night.  So at 1:30 A.M. (yes, you read that correctly), I ended up taking the car for the 40-minute drive to meet this intriguing woman.  The weather outside was now terrible with snow everywhere.  I was one of only a few cars on the interstate, and I drove in the rigid 10-2 position the entire time.  There was slush and junk everywhere, and the snow was coming down heavily up north.  Well, I finally found her apartment, and I was absolutely stunned at the sight of her.  She was nothing short of gorgeous.  A mid-to-late 30's woman, skinny, tan, and beautiful.

And we hit it off.  She shared with me some interesting facts about her life...she's definitely a bruised and broken woman.  Yet she has this beauty about her.  Somewhere inside.  I would see it every now and again, but it was buried deep.  DEEP.  She is involved in the online cam industry...something that just tears her apart.  She hates everything about it, but it's easy money, and she thinks she is in need of that.  It was like watching a drug...she so desperately wants to quit the very thing that she keeps coming back to.  And so I was VERY cautious about how I treated her.  She just needed to know she was worth something.  That she IS worth something.  I wanted nothing more than to pay her bills as she looks for another job.  What would it take?  I asked her.  I literally asked her.  What would it take money-wise to get you out of this industry?  How much?  She says she makes $75-$200/day.  Not much at all.  I was devastated, and I don't think I'll ever forget this woman the rest of my life.  I'm just...torn.  I'm not even sure she WOULD get out if I offered.  But she is dead inside.  Just the way she holds her body, herself...she has nothing sacred.  Nothing WORTH anything to her.  It tore me apart.

So I just tried to build her up.  To treat her with respect.  Who knows what I did.  If anything.

I don't get how I meet these people.  I really don't.  I really think there is Something, Someone that puts me together with them.  For better, for worse.  But my life just absolutely intrigues me.

For better, for worse.

Ended up going to bed at 4:00 A.M.  NOT my type of sleep-pattern.  I'm probably going to be worthless tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wasting My Life?--May 10, 2010

Woke up at 9:00 A.M.  Actually, I woke up at 8:30, but I didn't get out of bed until 9:00.  I didn't want to.  The lack of sleep from two nights ago had caught up with me.  But I wanted to grab some I headed downstairs before it closed.  The other two guys were out...and no surprise there.  They had run up a $125 bar tab last night.

So I went downstairs and then waited for the other guys to wake up.  The skies were fairly clear from what I could see, but the reporting stations were telling a different story.  Low fog up in the Denver area and low clouds out to the west.  Looks like we won't be flying after all.  They finally woke up but were moving slowly.  I was eager to go get the scouting flight out of the way, but they were VERY slow.

Finally around 11:00-ish we headed over to the airport.  I took Kenton up with me for training again.  He sat left seat while I watched and taught.  We did three take-offs and landings...he's definitely getting better.  We only logged 0.8 total, though.  We came in and waited for the other guy to get in.  But he had an alternator problem, so we left for the hotel.  He still never came back, so we went for Panera at 1:30.

We came back and waited on him in the parking lot.  And then a pretty funny story happened.  Right behind me a cab pulled up and was droppin' a guy off.  It was bright orange.  Well, the guy was payin' the taxi fare, and so they sat there for probably 45 seconds to a minute (if that).  Well, in that time, another car came and pulled up behind the cab.  And he honked his horn!  I thought it silly.  It's a cab, just wait!  And then he honked AGAIN!!!  How ridiculous.  It was seriously just a few seconds.  Well, the guy paid and got out, and the taxi left.  AND THEN!!!  A woman had walked out of the restaurant, and I saw the guy start to break.  I knew EXACTLY what was going to happen.  So I leaned over and said to Kenton, "Watch this."

And with that, I threw the car in reverse and backed up.  Then I got right behind the guy as his wife was getting in the car, and you know it, I HONKED MY HORN!!!  Oh, I loved it!!!  He finally pulled up (it took just a couple of seconds) and had to stop at the stop sign, and he just couldn't hold it anymore.  So he yelled out his window, "RELAX!!!"  Without missing a beat, I piped back out of my already-rolled down window, "YOU, TOOOOOO!!!"  haha!!!!  And with that, he pulled forward and he let me know he thought I was number ONE.  :)

Seriously, folks, if you're goin' to be stupid, then I am going to treat you stupid.  The road goes both ways.  What a schmuck.

We spent the afternoon inside, and the cabin fever started kicking in.  Basically, I piddled around on the internet.  I found a house I liked, and so I called the bank and my realtor, but wouldn't ya know it, they won't give me another loan.  Not a chance, she said.  I knew it was a losing battle, but I said "So I can pay cash for this house in full but I can't even get a loan"?  Um, yeah, that makes sense.  I really, really hate banks.  I hate the system.

Just to get out of the hotel, I went out for BBQ at 6:20.  But I was soon back at the hotel.

I tried the internet again, but I was quickly finding the end of it.  I hate it sometimes.  I watched a special on Sam Walton and then wasted the night away.  I did apply for another airline, though.  Not sure where that is going to lead, but I'm just kind of tired of flying lines.

Didn't really talk to the two girls I made cry yesterday.  I guess I have to cut my losses.

Ended up going to bed at midnight.  Alarm is set for 9:00.  Basically, the next couple of days are going to be crappy.  Rain and low clouds.  We're even expectin' snow showers tomorrow evening.  Oh, Denver.

But they keep on paying me.  And so I guess I'll keep on taking it.

But what in the world am I going to do with all of my time?  I'm not too excited to think about it...