Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Mighty Fine Day--June 29, 2010





Woke up at 8:00 A.M.  A good night's sleep.  I didn't have any breakfast food, so I threw on some clothes and headed to Wal-Mart.  I bought 7 boxes of cereal, a gallon of milk, and a garden rake.  I ate a bowl of cereal, took a shower, then headed out the door to start working!

I attacked the front yard again.  Basically, I was focusing on getting the rocks out of the dirt.  AGAIN.  It's a slow process, but it's working great.  If only that right side would dry up some!!!  I also attacked the previous bush that was in the ground.  But it was a tough one.  I was not making much progress at all, just slowly digging the dirt (mud) from around the roots.  Then Jobu called me.  He said he had some free time and wanted to know what I was doing.  I told him I was working!  And he said he would join...and bring some tools from the ranch!!!  Including a chainsaw!  PERFECT!

So with renewed vigor, I went at the bush yet again.  I cleared it up quite well, anticipating my brother's arrival.  He arrived with the goods, and we went at it.  I tell you, having the right tools is just perfect.  I zipped through the roots, then started at the base of the trunk.  I would cut, he would rake out.  Dont' get me wrong, it was still work, but there is just something about having two people work at the same time.  The project literally flew by.  We had that bush out of there in no time at all.  And it looked great!!!  It was well below the surface, and it was deep enough that another bush could be planted there no problem.  Perfect!  We even took time to take out a small (very ugly) bush that we had tried to salvage a month ago.  It had life on some small stems, but the majority of it was dead.  So I just took it out completely.  Easier that way.  It was just ugly anyway.

I now had a large hole to fill, though, from the previous bush, so we headed out to the horse ranch to return the tools and pick up a truckload of compost.  What had taken Dad and me 45 minutes to put into the back of my truck last week from shoveling only took two minutes with a front-end loaded on a Kubota.  It's ALL about having the right tools!!!  We came back, and Jobu had to go get ready for work, but I kept on at this project.  I filled in the big hole, grabbed a quick lunch, then tilled up the area.  And I kept sifting the rocks out.

Basically, I worked from 9:00 until 5:00-ish!  It was a good day's work.  But I made progress today!!!  The first time in too long!!!  I could literally wrap this up tomorrow, but I think it will be Thursday before it's complete.  I'm waiting for it to dry a bit more by tomorrow, then I'll sift out the remaining rocks.  From there, I'll be ready to lay down the weed barrier, and then I'm ready to plant some bushes!!!  Then the project is complete!!!  And this has been a HUGE project!  I have spent countless hours (and numerous days) getting this area all cleared out!  I am so excited for it to be done!!!


Towards the end of the day, I took a little time to check out a lawn mower from the ranch.  It runs but needs the gear-drive fixed.  Basically, it just needs a good tune-up.  It wouldn't even turn at first because the grass was so caked underneath.  I cleared that out, and it ran fine.  But the self-propel function doesn't work.  But it was going to be too much work before the evening, and I already had plans.

So I took a shower at 6:00 and headed to D'Arcy's Pint to meet Todd, a best friend from high school whom I've only seen a handful of times in the past 10 years.  It was good to hang with him.  We spent the entire evening together, eating horseshoes, and then going out to hang with his dad and some friends at a bar.

I was back in by 10:30.  I want to get good sleep for tomorrow!!!  I have a ton of work to do and only a little time to do it in!!!  I have another friend coming into town tomorrow!!!  And she needs picked up from the train station at 12:50!!!  So basically, my plan is to get the entire area sifted of rocks, then tilled, then raked to form a nice sloping surface away from the house.  Then Thursday I can put the weed barrier down and plant the bushes and be done!!!

I'm excited!

A VERY productive day today.  A lot of work completed.

Ended up in bed at 11:45. P.M.  Alarm is set for 8:00 A.M.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A New Roommate!!!--June 28, 2010

Woke up at 9:30.  I didn't have any breakfast food, so I just drank a glass of milk.

Outside was still too wet, so I opted to get some paperwork done inside.  I finally got caught up on my receipts!!!  I was about a month it was nice to get that all done.  Boogs called me around noon, and I thought she was going to want to go out to eat again!  But she said she was swinging by our brother Kirk's house and wanted to know if I wanted to join.  Sure, why not.  Nothing going on here.

I went to Wal-Mart real quick to FINALLY buy groceries.  It's been almost two weeks since I've been here, and this is the first time I've been shopping for food.  I tell ya, it's crazy how cheap a guy can be!  I went to town on the $1.00 lean microwaveable dinner meals.  Works for me.  It's cheap AND healthy.  Beats the $10.00 average restaurant bill I had on my receipts!!!

Boogs picked me up, and then we headed over to Jobu's house.  We didn't really have any plans other than to visit.  He put me to work outside on a water leak he's been having.  It wasn't hard, though.  We just caulked the window and the encasement around the window.  No worries.

We stayed there for a few hours, then headed back home around 4:00-ish.  I again didn't really have much to do, but that was fine by me.  It was a nice, relaxing day.  I did end up calling a guy I had e-mailed on Friday, though, about staying in my house.  He had come by to check out the place last night, and tonight he said he would take it.  Perfect.  So I now have a new roommate!  He's around my age and doing some medical school.  It's a good match.

This evening I went out with Casey and Erica and a whole slew from their church to see Toy Story 3.  It was a decent flick, but I feel like I was a bit too old for it!  Am I getting that way?!  I don't was fine, but it wasn't great.  I certainly won't be seeing it again.

Came back home and relaxed some more.  My body is crazy sore from being in a crawlspace for six hours yesterday!!!  It hurts to even sit on my cheeks!  Funny what muscles I was using.

But all in all, a good day.  I have a new (paying!) roommate.  And my front yard is drying up very nicely.  The forecast is for SEVERAL days of sunshine with 0% rain.  I certainly need it.

Went to bed at a decent 11:15.

Sump Pump Party!!!--June 27, 2010

Woke up at 9:30 Indianapolis time.  Yikes!!!  I felt like it was 7:00 or so.  But I was glad I had slept in.  That means I had 10 1/2 hours of sleep!  Whoa!

Grabbed a quick shower and breakfast, then we hit the road.  I only did 70 MPH this time on the way back.

Around Champaign, it started sprinkling/raining a bit, so I was nervous about getting to finish my landscaping out front when I got home.  But I was still holding out hope.  We'll see.  We stopped in Decatur to eat lunch at Cracker Barrel, then continued on our way.  We ended up getting home around 1:30.  And sure enough, it HAD rained here this morning.  I checked my front yard, and the dirt was wet.  It was mud.  <Sigh>  Oh well...guess I won't be doing that AGAIN today.  What to do, what to do.

I was eager to get that project done, so I had a lot of energy to do SOMETHING.  So I decided to tackle my sump pump problem instead.  I had never seen it before, but once I got down there, I realized the problem.  Basically, the contractor did not install the sump pump deep enough.  Actually, most of the sump pump was ABOVE the ground level.  Not good.  So I pulled out the pump, then dug out the rocks.  Dad came by to help (to be my hands upstairs), so that was nice.  I would dig, and he would get me tools or take the rock outside.  Well, I quickly realized that my sump pump pit was small.  Very small.  I hit the bottom of it before long.  It was only 12 inches deep, and 4 inches of that was above the ground.  Hmm.  I would need a new sump pump pit.

So I dug up the whole plastic pit while Dad went out to buy a deeper one.  Knowing that it would need to be deeper, I just started digging and digging.  I had heard that 22 inches was a good depth, so I just kept on going.  Thankfully, the mud was EASY to dig out.  I mean, it was still a mostly darkness...with a small trowel.  BUT it was progressing nicely.  I was a filthy mess, but I was getting somewhere.  By the time Dad returned from buying several parts, I had dug about 22 inches down.  Sweet.  And the pit was full of about 15 inches of water!!!

(Somewhere in here, I ended up selling the last mower I have for sale.  I paid $40 for it, had to put new oil in it ($1.50?), buy a new air filter ($6), and buy a new wheel for it after we broke it ($12.09).  So I basically had $60 wrapped up in it.  And it was a beauty.  Fired up on the first pull.  Anyway, I ended up selling it for $125 today.  So that was nice.  It's about time I have money coming IN, rather than going OUT!!!).

Well, he brought the new pit into the bedroom, and I quickly realized we had a problem.  It was way too big to fit down into the entry hole.  It just wouldn't fit.  So I had to use the old one.  Very well.  So I went back to the pit, smoothed it all out on the bottom beneath the water and then waited for Dad to bring in some rock (from my landscaping project out front, nonetheless!).  I dumped 7 gallons of rock into the bottom of the pit, then put down the old 12-inch plastic pit, then put the smaller rock inside the pit.  I put the sump pump on top, and we started working the pipes.  Dad had a project to do outside with the pipe.  Basically, it's been "minorly" fixed ever since I bought the house...just enough to get it going to the ditch out back.  But it was never really secured.  Only with a flexible rubber piece.  So he glued all of that solid outside, and then I glued all of my pieces solid inside.

Frankly, it was tiring.  I was in a MESS of gloshy mud, a deep water pit, and darkness.  I was pretty exhausted by now, but I knew we still had quite a bit to get done!  Well, I finally got all of my pieces together.  It wasn't too easy with the watery pit below me, but I managed to get everything glued together.  I hooked everything up, and we tested it out.  It seemed to work fine.  The water had actually made its way ABOVE the ground level by now ever since I added the rock to the hole.    It's pretty wet down there.

I cleaned up the massive gob of mud I had dug out, and Dad carried the buckets out to my backyard to fill in some holes.  Might as well use the free mud!  But it was work.  He was breathing crazy hard, and these buckets were heavy!!!  But the project was COMPLETE!!!  And this is probably the most important of everything.  The landscaping will be nice, but it can certainly wait.  This crawlspace really can't.  I have a musty smell in my house, and after doing research since I acquired the internet, I've pretty much concluded that I have mold in my house.  Of course, it was certainly verified down in the crawlspace today.  I have thousands upon thousands of tiny spores on the wood and ductwork down there.  Basically on everything.

So I was thrilled to get this project done.  Now I just have to wait to see how dry it gets down there.  After adding the rock and all, I don't think the pit is as deep as I had expected it to be, but it is certainly going to help.  The bottom of the pit is now probably 16 inches below the surface whereas it used to be only 8.  Also, I have rock below and around the pit now, too, so the water should seep a whole lot better.  And judging by the sounds I heard, I think it's pumping, filling up nicely, and pumping again.  If that would happen continuously, I think I could actually get it DRY in my crawlspace!!!  The mold would die, and then I would have to spray it (a major pain), but it should get rid of this awful smell.

Houses are work!!!

I think I spent over 7 hours in the crawlspace today.  And this is a legitimate crawlspace.  No walking for me.  Needless to say, my body was a bit tired.  My knees are still sensitive!!!  Here's the before (sump pump hanging from rope in floorboard), middle (sump pump and pit completely buried underneath massive amounts of water), and after (sump pump below ground level, resting on rock bed).  Like I said, it's about 8 inches deeper now.  But I think it's just a better set-up all around.  The pit is now below the surface instead of above it, and we have a good deal of rock all the way around.








I took a shower, then started to head over to Kirk and Kristin's to play some Wii.  But I was stopped a little bit by a possible new addition to my house!!!  I had a lil' "interview" with a possible tenant starting tomorrow.  He's only needing housing for six weeks, and I think I can handle that.  So we'll see what happens.  He said he would let me know tomorrow.

I ended up heading over to my brother's house around 9:10.  I stayed there until 11:00.

Ended up in bed at a late 12:30 A.M.

But what a day.  My crawlspace is on its way to getting DRY!!!  I can't wait.  It's been 5 months coming.  (And way more than that if you figure in the previous couple of years it sat empty!!!).  Plus the previous years before that that it used its current sump pump set-up!!!  Agh, why can't people do a project correctly the first time?!  That would sure save us massive loads of work down the road!!!

Oh well.  It was kind of fun.  Productive, at least.  Just glad it's over.  7 hours in a crawlspace.  WORKING.  Yikes!

Hammer's Wedding--June 26, 2010

Woke up at 7:10 A.M.  Took a shower, then headed over to some neighborhood garage sales just two miles away.  I called up Boogs to have her come meet me, and she did!  So we spent about 45 minutes driving around checking out the deals.  Frankly, there wasn't anything.  I had a WONDERFUL day shopping yesterday, but this morning they were all duds for me.  I bought my niece a 50 cent outfit and Boogs a $2 Little Tikes outdoor play station for the kids she will be babysitting in a couple of months.  Other than that, nothin'.

Seeing as how we had some time to kill, I took about 20 minutes to teach Boogs how to drive a stick-shift.  She had done it before (I think I taught her last time, too), but since she never uses it, she's just out of season.  By quite a bit!  ha!  Actually, she did fine.  It certainly wasn't perfect, but my truck still drove when she was done with it, so that's always a good thing.  She drove us back to her car, then she headed for home, and I headed for my home.  Mom and Dad were there to meet me at 9:15.  I grabbed some coffee, dropped some kids off at the pool, and then we started to head out...until Mom broke her shoe on my door!!!  So we had to run by their house to get her another pair...then we left right at 10:00 A.M.  The wedding was at 2:30 in Indianapolis, so we figured we would still be fine.  It was only 3 1/2 hours away.

Well, that was until we were in Decatur.  Then Dad asked a VERY important question:  "Andy, is Indianapolis Central or Eastern time"?  Hmm.  That IS a good question!!!  I knew Indiana changed back and forth in some parts, but I wasn't sure.  So I called Kirk.  He said it was currently 12:12 in Indianapolis.  Oh boy.  Because it was only 11:12 in our car!!!  All of a sudden, I had to make up an HOUR!!!

So I sped.  I bumped my speed up to 80 and went on sensitive patrol for cops.  We had a GPS that told us our arrival time would be 2:28 P.M. in Indianapolis.  Not good enough.  I was hungry and needed to eat.  I didn't even have breakfast knowing that we would be stopping on our way.  Well, through a nice, constant speed, I was able to get our time down to 2:11 P.M.  PLENTY of time for a quick bite to eat.

So we stopped at McDonald's and grabbed a lil' meal in Indianapolis.  We rolled in at 2:19 P.M.  Right in the middle of the pack.  Absolutely no worries!!!

The wedding was fine.  Typical wedding, I suppose.  Another one bites the dust.  I was able to see a few friends from the past that I hadn't seen in awhile, so that was good.  Although I thought there would be more.  Oh well.  The reception was enjoyable for me getting to talk to Squeaky, but that was about it.  I met his new wife, and I had a blast with Montour at the table, but the reception was just DEAD.  As in bad.  Mom and Dad even mentioned how bad it was.  It was...bad.

We headed to the hotel around 6:45.  We grabbed a room, tried to watch some TV, but became very bored with it, so I picked a place for us to go downtown.  We pulled up but found out that the cover charge was $10/head, and that was on top of parking.  We didn't feel like spending that, so we headed to Dairy Queen instead.  Oh how food is always an outlet for this family.  We ate, then headed back to the hotel where we watched some 48 Hours Mystery before going to bed.

I was in bed at 11:00 local time, 10:00 Central.

All in all, not a bad day.  Glad I came over to see Hammer...but not impressed with another wedding.  Typical story.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

SOLD, Internet, and Garage Sales--June 25, 2010

Woke up at 9:30.  I had mistakenly fallen asleep last night, but I'm not goin' to lie, it was a GREAT sleep.   I was out!  I didn't even set my alarm, but I woke up on my own.  I'll take it.  I grabbed a bowl of cereal, then showered, and then checked my e-mail.  I was pleasantly surprised to find EIGHT e-mails about the lawn mower!  ha!  I guess I had it priced pretty well if I had that many responses!!!

I called a woman up, and she said she would be by at 11:00 o'clock to check it out.  Sweet!

I didn't do a whole lot before that.  I checked out the front yard, but it was still too wet to do anything.  It was going to be another day of not much to do!!!  The woman came by at 11:00 and gave me $50.00 for the mower.  Perfect.  So I made roughly $30.00 on that one.  I received it for free as a "good luck with this one" challenge, and I'm thrilled to report that I got it running.  AND made a profit!  The gentleman that gave it to me literally asked me to contact him if and when I got it running.  It had been plaguing he and his wife for quite some time.  Can't wait to send that e-mail.

Erica called me up at 12:02 and asked what was for lunch.  We both decided on Subway, so we headed over there and just talked.  It's nice.  I think she enjoys getting out of the house.  And it's good for me because I have absolutely no food!  It's a win-win.

We came back at 1:05 as I was expecting a Comcast guy to install my internet and cable.  I was pretty excited about that.  He ended up showing up at 2:00.  And he stayed there until 4:30, about an hour past what was planned.  Dad came over at 2:45 to go garage-saling with us, but we had to wait until this guy was done.  He refused to go down into the crawlspace since it was wet, so I opted to do that for him.  I wanted internet!!!

Finally, he finished.  And I had TV (who cares about that) and a very problematic internet.  I couldn't get my router workin'.  Oh well.  The gang was itching to go to some garage sales.  By now we had Casey and Mom with us, too!  So we all loaded up in the van and headed out.  Frankly, I had some great finds!  I picked up a Garden Claw for $4 (I've been using Mom's), a garden tool storage rack for $2 (I love it!), and a newer microwave for $10.  I picked up one last week for $10, but this was was 9 years newer for the same price.  I'll take it.

We all headed out for pizza afterwards, then came back home.  It was a pretty good day.

I worked on my internet for about an hour and finally got it working.  And it is blazing right now.  So I'm thrilled.  I just have to figure out how to make $3/day in order to justify having it.  Craigslist, here I come.

Ended up going to bed at 12:15.  I'll be waking up at 7:15 for garage sales about a mile away, then getting ready to leave at 9:30 for Hammer's wedding in Indianapolis.  It's going to be a long day!  But I'm looking forward to it.

The Stinkin' Mower--June 24, 2010


Woke up at 8:00 A.M.  I was so tired again!!!  I’m not sure what it is, but I really, really need to get extra sleep!!!  I think being on my feet all day in the sun is just taking it out of me.  Oh well…

I ate a bowl of cereal, took a shower, then headed outside.  I went and checked out my front yard, and it’s just way too wet to do anything.  So I came back into the garage.  Basically, there is not a whole lot to do here, either!  Just fix that one last lawn mower…hmm.

I walked around aimlessly for a good bit, not sure what I was going to do.  The temperature was perfect…probably in the 70’s.  If only it hadn’t rained last night, I could probably finish up the front yard!!!  I was frustrated at that, but what are ya goin’ to do?!  That’s what a 20% chance of rain does in Illinois…it unleashes massive thunderstorms.

Dad showed up mid-morning, so I used his help to address this finicky lawn mower.  Last time I tried on my own, I determined that there was an air leak on the side of the carburetor.  Well, I had him the rope as I sprayed starting fluid on the side of the carburetor.  Nothing.  Hmm.  Scratch my previous idea!!!  Not to be outdone, though, I took my finger and covered up half of the air intake hole as Dad pulled the rope.  It fired right up!!!  And it stayed running with my finger over the hole.  Well, how about that.  Who knows how long this thing has been out of commission…and here it is running!!!

And that’s what it would do…as long as I kept my finger over the hole.  So it was getting too little fuel compared to the amount of air it was taking in.  I took it apart and cleaned the carb again just to make sure everything was good to go in there.  I also emptied the very old gas out of it.  It was pretty orange.  We eventually were able to get it to run with nothing over the intake hole, but it sounded terrible.  It just wasn’t getting enough fuel.  OR it was getting too much air.  However you wanted to look at it.  I had an idea, though.  I figured that if we put an air filter over it, then it would run fine.  The resistance to a solid stream of air would provide the same effect as me having my finger over half of the hole.  So I decided to try out my theory.

I grabbed a tiny foam filter off of my brother’s weed trimmer and went to set it over the intake hole.  And ZOOP!!!  One second it was in my hand, the other second it was gone.  Disappeared.  The engine then died.  Well, crap.  It had literally sucked the foam filter right out of my hand and into the hole.  And this filter was about 4x the size of the hole!  It was admittedly pretty surprising and comical, but I was worried that it had made it to the cylinder in the engine.  That would spell GAME OVER.  But I looked into the carb, and it appeared that the butterfly valve had stopped it.  Or at least part of it.  So I grabbed my claw tool to fish it out.  I got about half of it out, then took the carb off to get the other half.  It appeared I found it all.  I hoped so anyway.

I put the mower back together, and it ran like it had before.  Close call.

Well, so that we could progress a bit further in our fixing of this thing, we headed to Big R to get the final parts.  Another gasket, an air filter, and a new primer bulb.  The old just felt stiff.  Dad and stopped at Arby’s for lunch, then picked up the parts at Big R.  We also stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up more carb and choke cleaner and a battery for my garage door opener.  That Wal-Mart didn’t have the battery, so we stopped at the one closest to my house on the way back.

I installed the new primer bulb and the air filter, and I put it all back together.  It fired right up and stayed running no problems.  Sweet.  I went to test it out.  The wheels started to turn for a split second, then stopped.  Well, crap!  I tried again.  Same thing.  Again.  Same thing.  Something wasn’t right.  So we took apart the front-drive system and tried to figure out the problem.  Everything looked fine.  The belt was pretty loose, but it turned the pulley until I engaged the wheels.  Hmm.  After racking our brains for quite awhile, we determined that the belt itself was just too loose.

So we headed to True Value to pick up a new one.  I was shocked to find out that new ones were $15.89!!!  Yikes.  I already have $19.00 in this mower, and I’m not even sure that this would do the trick!  I might only be able to get $35.00 out of it.  Oh well.  It’s worthless as is.  No one wants a broken mower.  So we picked up the belt, then came back to install it.  As I was installing it on the crankshaft, though, I noticed that that pulley spun freely.  It was not attached to the spinning of the engine.  That is most certainly not good.  Not how it is supposed to function!

So after a closer inspection, we found out that a hex key had come loose.  And it was so rusty in there that it was impossible to get out.  Oh boy.  I tried, but the head just stripped.  It was getting late in the day, though, so Dad headed home around 4:30.  I tried to get that stinking hex key out but couldn’t do it.  I needed some screw extraction tools.

So around 5:15 I loaded up the mower and headed to Mom and Dad’s house.  I grabbed the tools and tried to get it out.  Nothing.  The head broke from the rust.  Hmm.  So I tried drilling it out.  Still nothing.  I drilled a hole all the way down, but the rest of it stayed in there.  This was not good.

But on a fluke accident, I moved a plastic guard and noticed that there was a space for a flywheel key.  I rotated the metal piece I had been working on and also noticed a spot for a key.  Well, there you go.  Just a couple of hours earlier, I had mentioned to Dad that there is no way this hex key could keep this thing spinning.  It HAD to have a flywheel key.  But our eyes were blinded by what we saw, so we just worked and worked on getting this hex key out.

Well, after realizing my mistake, I beat and beat and beat…and beat some more…on getting the blade holder off.  It was pretty stuck on there.  After much WD-40 and pounding, I finally got it off.  Now it was time for the easy part.  I slid off the plastic guard, slid off the pulley, grabbed a flywheel key, put it in the groove, then slid everything else back up.  Done.  Perfect.

I celebrated with a  spaghetti meal cooked by Dad.

I stayed there about an hour, then came back home to FINALLY be done with this thing.  I put it all back together, started it up, and mowed my front yard with it.  The engine, the front-drive system, everything all worked perfectly.  It even left me with “baseball stripes” in my hard.  It has a great cut!

I also used the old belt after realizing my mistake.  So I STILL only have $19.00 in this thing.  Three days’ worth of work, but in terms of anti-boredom, it’s worth more than that to me.  I listed it on craigslist for $50.00 around 9:00 P.M.  We’ll see what happens.

I talked to a friend this evening, then took a hot bath.  I RARELY take hot baths, but I needed one.  I got out and lie in my bed for a short bit.  Well, it lasted longer than I expected it to.  I think I fell asleep around 10:30.

The Flight Review--June 23, 2010

Woke up at 7:10 A.M.  Grabbed a bowl of cereal, then took a shower.  I looked over the online sectional chart for Springfield, but basically, I was planning on just going in and taking it as it came!  So that’s what I did…I left the house around 8:30 and headed for the airport.

The instructor was a younger guy…probably even younger than me.   He was an Embry-Riddle graduate, and he was pretty straight-forward.  We shook hands and then literally started!  He went through an FAA publication of topics and questions, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I knew 95% of them.  We had to do at least one hour of ground, but it passed by very quickly.  I had a memory lapse on three of the TOMATO FLAMES mnemonic, but that was probably the worst.  I learned that you don’t have to fly at even or odd plus 500 below 3000 feet AGL, too.  Ya always learn something.

Basically, we did about 45-50 minutes of questions (the whole syllabus), then just talked aviation for the rest of the time.  It was surprisingly (and thankfully) simple.  From there I went out and pre-flighted the Cessna 172.  It’s actually in fantastic condition…I think it’s a 1980 or so.  He came out, and we headed for the skies.

Two things I remember.  #1—After I applied full power, I honestly didn’t think we were moving!!!  We were just crawling down that runway.  It’s got a 180 HP engine, but it’s a bit different from the 500 HP I’ve been accustomed to the past couple of months.  #2—This thing shot off the ground.  Seriously, it felt like we were going to the moon at just 500 feet down the runway.  I honestly couldn’t believe we were airborne already!!!  But it wanted to climb.  Again, quite a bit different than the couple thousand feet of runway I have been using up.

But I was having fun.  We flew about 15 miles west, and then he had me do steep turns to start out.  They weren’t too bad, although it been a long while since I had banked over to 45 degrees!  From there, we climbed up to 3000 feet and did slow flight, then power off stalls, then power on stalls.  Again, a bit rusty, but not terrible.  I knew what I was doing at least.

From there, we had a simulated engine failure, and I flew down to 500 feet, talking him through my process all the way.  He had also covered up my heading indicator and asked me how to know where I was or would be going.  Not too hard.  We climbed back up to 3000, then headed back to the airport where I did a short-field landing (complete with a Tower-commanded short approach), then a soft-field landing, then a normal landing.  And that was it!!!

I felt pretty good about it all.  It honestly just wasn’t that hard.   Basic VFR maneuvers.  I came inside and had to PAY for a flight for the first time in nearly TWO YEARS.  It was painful.  I had to fork over $207.60!!!  I DO NOT like this flow where I pay to fly!!!  I like it much better when they pay me to fly!!!  Yikes.

But I’m certified for another two years.  It’s just part of going through the hoops.

On the drive home, I stopped at McDonald’s for lunch.  It was warming up.

I came back home and started plucking rocks one by one by hand from out front of my house.  It’s pretty easy since the rocks are big, so I didn’t mind.  Then the UPS guy pulled up and delivered a package!!!  MY WHEEL!  Sure enough, it was the wheel from Sears that I had ordered on Saturday.  Not bad delivery time!  It was a perfect match, so I threw it on the mower and started it up.  It ran PERFECT.  I mowed half of my yard with it just to make sure it was ready to go and then listed it for sale on craigslist.  I’m asking $150, though I’ll be surprised if it goes for that much.  But brand new, they are $329.99 at Sears.  So we’ll see.  It’s just a bad time to be selling a mower!  Everyone already has one!!!

I mowed the rest of my yard with my own personal mower, then headed back to the rocks.  The dirt was drying up rather nicely, so I headed over to Mom and Dad’s to pick up the big tiller.  The little one would just get tore up going through this mess of dirt and rocks.  I stayed over there for about an hour, helping Dad research a homemade ice cream maker.  Then I headed back home.

It was HOT.  It was over 100 degrees with the heat index.  And so stinking humid.

But my front rock area was in the shade, so I opted to work.  It was around 5:00 P.M. by now.  It tilled up rather nicely, so half of it was actually still too wet.  Oh well.  I raked up some rocks and  put them in the pile in my driveway.  But I was hot, so I called it a day.  I came inside and rested for a bit.

But then I checked the radar, and I saw a huge band of thunderstorms heading our way in a couple of hours.  <sigh>  I just can’t win!!!  We get huge thunderstorms every couple of days!!!  And this one was definitely going to hit us.  So in a quick burst of motivation, I headed back outside and started sifting the dirt.  There are sooooooo many rocks still left in this mess.  I was able to pull out another half wheel-barrow full.  And there is plenty left.  Basically, 90% of the big white rocks are out (what I originally thought was the ONLY rock there).  But I was surprised (and disappointed!) to find out that the previous owner had covered up a huge mess of purple rock with the weed barrier and white rock.  So I have the distinct honor of not only cleaning up this mess but ALSO sorting the two types of rocks.

Oh the fun!!!


Actually, I am enjoying it.  I’m just so excited for the end product!!!  I had originally planned on be completely and totally done by Friday, but the storm was going to throw a major kink in my plan.

While sifting rocks, I received a phone call from the State-Journal Register.  Basically, my mom, dad, and I will be interviewed about Couch-Surfing.  So that’s pretty exciting.  They have hosted 20 guests, and I have surfed for over 3 months.  I’d say we represent CS pretty well!  We’ll be interviewed next Thursday.

I came inside to rest for good around 6:45.  I was only inside for a couple of minutes when the door bell rang.  Mom and Dad had come by to surprise me!  Mom had brought a gorgeous sight, too:  McDonald’s sweet tea.  My second one for the day!!!  Woo hoo!  They only stayed about 15 minutes, though, as I had other plans for the night.

So around 7:40, I headed to my friend’s house.  I’m going to be mowing their yard for the rest of the summer.  The dad of the family has taken a pilot job.  Yup, they still exist!!!  But here’s the catch.  It was in a different country.  In a different continent.  Way across the pond.  Frankly, it’s kind of frustrating to me.  Here’s a 6500-hour pilot with 4000 hours of jet time, and he has to leave his family for a year just to stay in aviation.  It was bittersweet for me to visit with him.  I’m excited he is flying again, but I just know the pains it is going to wreak on his wife and family.  Frankly, it makes me quite sad to think about.  But I love them all to death.  And I’m eager to help out with their yard.

I stayed over there for 2 ½ hours.  Ate some pizza, ate some cookie dough, watched very aggressive thunderstorms pass through, then headed back home.  Ended up back home at 11:35.

I was in bed at a too late 12:50 P.M.  I’m setting the alarm for 9:00 tomorrow.  With the very wet yard now, I really can’t do any landscaping work.  AGAIN.  AGH!!!  So much for finishing Friday.  Oh well.

Not really sure what I’ll be doing tomorrow…

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Scheduled a Flight!!!--June 22, 2010

Woke up at 8:00 A.M.  Actually, I woke up quite a bit earlier than that.  I first woke up at 2:42 to a rather loud and impressive thunderstorm.  It was so loud that I couldn’t go back asleep.  So I walked out to the living room and just watched the show from my patio doors.  The lightning was constant, and the winds were brutal (I later learned they were 60 MPH).  I was watching a mixture of white and green lightning.  It was nothing short of awe-inspiring.  So powerful.  After about 15 minutes, I headed back for bed.

But I was awaken again by another storm.  This time I stayed in bed, but it was pretty intense.  Actually, this is kind of embarrassing, but oh well.  One of the lightning bolts seemed like it hit in my backyard, and that was verified by the simultaneous thunder.  And for whatever reason, I swore a tree was coming down on my body.  I seriously grabbed my pillow and threw it over my head.  But no tree fell.  And I was left with a pillow on my head.  I’ll blame the half-asleep category on this one, but I was amused by it.  It was seriously my first reaction.  Hmm.

So anyway, I woke up at 8:00 A.M.  But I was beyond tired.  I just lie there in bed for about a half hour.  I NEVER do that!  I finally got up and headed for the couch.  But I pushed myself to start moving.  I grabbed some cereal, then headed outside to start working on Kirk’s weed trimmer.  I figured I might as well get dirty BEFORE I take a shower.  I quickly found out that his primer bulb was shot.  Hopefully an easy fix then!

I came back in and showered and then headed for Big R to buy some parts.  To the north the sky was a deep blue/purple.  It was gorgeous.  There was a large storm somewhere up there.  Well, it turned out it was only 10 miles away!  Just north of Big R!  I grabbed a primer bulb and some gaskets and an O-ring for another mower, then started back.  I had to run through COLD rain, though!  And the drops were huge!  This thing came out of nowhere!  But the good thing is that it was only 80 degrees and not the forecast 105 heat index they had expected.  For now, at least.

I headed to True Value for a weed trimmer part, then headed over to see Baby.  I stayed there about 15 minutes, then headed back for home to work.  It was pouring down rain now.  I replaced the primer bulb on the weed trimmer, but it still wouldn’t run in high speed.  Hmm.  I tried tackling the push mower.  I put all of the new pieces on, but I still couldn’t get it to fire, either!  GRR!

Boogs came over at noon to pick me up to head to Mom and Dad’s house for lunch.  Dad had cooked us a very delicious meal of chicken breasts and fried potatoes!  I like free food!  We stayed over there until just after 2:00, but I was eager to get back home and do some work.  Landscaping was definitely out of the question, as we had received around 3 inches of rain between the two storms EARLY this morning and two this morning and afternoon.  That’s a lot of water.

So I started back on the weed trimmer.  I took it all apart, cleaned the carb, and tried it again.  It wouldn’t even fire this time!  Hmm.  I took it apart again, cleaned it up, and noticed something.  The choke/full throttle sticker is backwards.  As in it’s in FULL CHOKE when it says it should be full throttle.  So every time I have been taking it from half-choke to “full throttle,” it has been dying.  Well, obviously!!!  I’m flooding it out with full choke!  It’s starving for air!  Of course it would die!  Having realized my mistake (has it always been like this?!), I did it the correct way (contrary to the sticker), and it worked flawlessly.  It’s a nice-running machine.  So I was happy about that.

I spent some of the afternoon inside.  I was expecting a guest over this evening, so I cleaned up the house a bit and put everything away.  I also did some laundry!  I learned, however, that the plans were a wash.  No guest.  All of a sudden, I had an entire evening on my hands.  <sigh>  So much for…

Anyway.  I headed over to my friend's motorcycle shop to say hi.  Basically, I'll probably be hanging out here quite a bit this summer.  I love the place.  It's also REAL handy that's less than 1/2 mile away from me now, too!  I love motorcycles!!!  I was over there about a half hour.

Just before 5:00, I called up the local FBO and set up a time tomorrow for my flight review.  It’s going to be an expensive lil’ booger.  But it has to be done.  $36/hour for an instructor and $120/hour for an airplane.  An older Cessna 172.  $120/hour.  Yikes.  I can get newer model SP’s for that.  I wasn’t too thrilled, but again, it has to be done.  I’m scheduled for 9:00 A.M. tomorrow morning.

I headed to Subway for supper, then came back home.  I had a ton of time to kill, so I opted to try the push mower again.  I finally found the culprit.  The carburetor is not sealed off tightly.  I had pretty much assumed this (hence the O-ring and two gaskets today), but I realized exactly what the problem is now.  I can spray starting fluid on the OUTSIDE side of the carburetor, and the engine will try to turn over.  That is not so much what you want.  Ha!  I’m trying to figure out where the air leak is…but it’s a stupid carburetor set-up.  It’s kind of cheap.  I’m not giving up, though.  I’ll get this stinkin’ thing!

I called to inquire about getting internet for home, too.  It’s so stinking expensive.  $80/month to start out.  Yikes.  I guess I will just have to make that much each month off the internet in order to justify it!  A technician is scheduled for Thursday to come install what I need.

I spent the rest of the evening inside.  I watched “Charlie Wilson’s War.”  OK, but not too great.

I was in bed at 11:30.  I’m flying tomorrow!!!  And I have to plan out a cross-country trip in the morning!  I have NO idea what he is looking for, but I’m afraid it’s going to be a LOT more than what I usually do!  I guess we’ll see!  Oh, and the winds are supposed to be kicking tomorrow.  I think 14 gusting to 24…with cumulonimbus.  So we’ll see if I even get to fly.  Shoot, I’m fine flying in that stuff…but is the instructor?!

I guess we’ll see!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sweat Equity--June 21, 2010

Woke up at 7:45.  I was sooooooooo tired.  I ate a bowl of cereal, then laid down on the couch.  I think I fell asleep for a little bit, as the next thing I remember is the garage door going up.  It was Dad coming over to help.  I hurried back to take a shower, but it was about 30 minutes later than I thought it should have been.  I am pretty sure I slept…

Anyway…I showered, then headed outside to help Dad who had already continued what I had begun last night.  We were removing the rocks from right in front of my house.  The area was crazy overgrown, and I wanted to start fresh.  I’m planning on putting bushes in front here, but I want to get rid of all of the weeds first.  It was quite a bit of work.  I would rake, and Dad would shovel the rock into our barrel.  We did that for a couple of hours, I would imagine.

The weed barrier was in terrible condition, and it had a ton of dirt/mud on top of it anyway.  No wonder the weeds loved growing here!!!  Once we got the top layer off, the ground was pretty damp, so the rocks were sticking.  We couldn’t do too much more.  So we tried tackling a dead bush in the corner.  I had cut it down several weeks ago when I was home last.  It has a couple of new shoots coming up, but it’s just downright ugly with all of the cut branches.  It’s definitely coming up.  But again, the wet ground really hampered our efforts.  It’s going to have to dry out first before we can finish that one.

This was work today!!!

So we headed back to continue the project from yesterday.  I finally decided that I wanted a smaller area around my mailbox.  Easier to manage.  So I made a little area around the mailbox and prepared it for flowers.  The other area needed to be filled with dirt.  Lots and lots of dirt.

We took a break for lunch and headed over to Mom and Dad’s house.  We figured we would go ahead and take Casey over his mower and weed trimmer and kill two birds with one stone.  So we ate the left-overs from yesterday, then took Casey his goodies, then headed into Wal-Mart for flowers and grass seed.  I bought 10 packs of flowers…for 89 cents each.  That’s my type of price.

I came back and planted all of the flowers.  It looks decent.  It is SO much smaller, and the huge area of dirt obviously is going to take awhile to change, but I think in the long run, I’ll like having something more simple.  Plus I don’t have to deal with the rocks anymore.  And no weed barrier for that.  It should be easier all around.  Less is more.

From there, we headed over to my aunt’s house to pick up some dirt.  By now, it was a BLAZING 100 degrees with the heat index.  I mean, it was HOT.  And so stinking humid.  I was almost totally zapped while shoveling the dirt.  But we managed to get 5 wheelbarrows full into my truck.  I hoped that would be enough!

We came back home and shoveled it out of my truck (it’s so nice having a truck!).  That was work, too.  And we were both just dead-tired by now.  But we got it all in there.  Dad was so tuckered he decided to head home for the day.  But that was allowed as it was already 4:30!  That’s a full day’s work right there!  I went ahead and tilled up the ground, leveled the dirt, seeded the ground, and raked it all in.  I then watered it.  So this project is essentially complete.  It only took a couple of days, but it should look a ton better here in a couple of weeks.  I just need that grass to grow!!!






I came inside and just rested.  I needed off of my feet.  I took a shower, then talked to a friend about her family for awhile.  I also learned I might have a mowing job for the summer.  That would be nice…some extra cash on the side.  Nothing huge, but it can pay for gas!!!

I headed over to Jobu’s house to have homemade ice cream a lil’ before 7:00.  We had everyone there basically.  Mom , Dad, Jobu, Kristin, Boogs, Casey, Micaiah, Crazy, and myself.  A fun time.  We ate peanut butter Oreo homemade ice cream, talked, and played intense games of Wii.  A very enjoyable night.

I left around 10:15.

I was in bed by midnight.  Alarm is set for a “late” 8:00 A.M.  I am just so doggone exhausted!!!  My body is spent!  But the yard is looking better already.  Just a little bit at a time…

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day--June 20, 2010

Woke up at 8:00 A.M.  I was pretty stinkin' tired.  Came out to the kitchen and ate some breakfast (thanks, Mom!).  Then took a shower.  Around 8:50 I headed for church.  It's been awhile since I've been to this church, so I tried to find my old Sunday School class, but it appears it has dissipated.  Too bad.  I enjoyed them.  So I found another one...and I brought down the average age by 50 years.  NO lie.  It kind of made me sad.  Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE old people.

I'm just curious as to where the people are aged 27 who love God.  That is all.

Class was ok.  I was pretty appalled in the first 10 minutes when the teacher went through an entire page (and a bit more) of jokes against our government.  I thought he would tie it in to the lesson somehow, but it was literally just belitting our nation's leaders.  It was sickening.  There was no health in it whether we trust them or not.   I thumbed through the Bible to Romans12 where it commands us to pray for our leaders, and I was so close to raising my hand.  It's hard being the new guy sometimes..."Um, yes, now that you are done, would you mind if we prayed for President Obama"?  That would have gone down like a lead zeppelin.

I went out to Mom and Dad's house after church for Father's Day.  Grandma and Grandpa, Crazy and Jenna, Casey, Erica, and Micaiah were all there, so that was fun.  Bob, Lisa, and Melissa ended up coming later.  I am so blessed to have such a great family!  I try to never take it for granted.  Part of the fun was watching Casey get his gifts.  He loved the weed trimmer, and he about wet himself with the riding lawn mower.  I'm glad he can use them.  It's fun giving gifts.

The food was great.  Hamburgers, brats, hot dogs, potato salad, cottage cheese, baked beans, and sweet tea.  YES, YES, and YES!!!  We had Grandma's applie pie, Erica's crazy graham cracker dessert, and homemade ice cream to round it all off.  Needless to say, I think I filled my tummy.

I ended up staying at their house all afternoon.  Minus a little trip to show Grandma and Grandpa (and Melissa) my house...and Casey and Erica's.  That was enjoyable.

I left around 5:30 and came back to my house.  Seeing as how it was still light out, I started working on my front yard.  I am going to remove even more rock and re-do the entire area in front of my house.  It's just been...well, overgrown with weeds.  Dad is going to come by tomorrow and help, but I just wanted something to do.  I also cleaned out my garage.  I have a lot of stuff in it already!

I talked to Ash for a bit tonight, then ended up watching a (lame) war movie from my roommate's collection.  That ended around 11:00, and I was in bed at midnight.  I am very, very tired.

Alarm is set for 7:30.  LOTS of work to do tomorrow!!!  I'm eager to get this front yard all beautiful!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Typical Country Boy Saturday--June 19, 2010

Woke up at 7:30.  Called Mom and asked if she wanted to go garage-saling.  She did!  I asked her to bring me some breakfast, too!  I don’t have food.  I then took a shower and was surprised to find both Mom AND Dad here when I got out.  Sweet!

We headed to the northwest side of Springfield and started our hunt.  There were actually decent sales!!!  I bought a handy little tool set (I borrow Dad’s all the time, including a couple of days ago!), some oil filter wrenches (my truck’s oil filter is loose from me only tightening it by hand a few weeks ago), and a microwave to replace the HUGE one in my kitchen.  All in all, not a bad day.  I think I spent $18.00 total.

From there, we headed to Sears to check for a matching wheel to the nice lawnmower.  They didn’t have any in the store, but the helper showed me how to find it on their parts computer, and he gave me a parts number to call.  We left the store, and I called the number.  I was informed that I would have to pay shipping for it ($6.99), so I told him we would just turn around and go back to the store as we were only a mile away at that point.  I went back in and said I would like to have the part shipped here to the store.  The floor helper said that that is not possible.  I pointed to a sign above the computer that read, “Find your part, ship it FREE!” and asked what that meant.  He said it was “misleading.”  Hmm.  So Mom and I headed out of the store when she said I should talk to a manager about that.

Indeed I should!  I made a 180 and went back in and asked for a manager.  I said I found my part on the computer and I wanted it shipped for free.  He said they would not do that.  I pointed to the sign directly above the computer and asked him to read it out loud.  He refused.  I asked him again.  He refused.  So I read it out loud to him.

“FIND YOUR PART, SHIP IT FREE”  “Well, I just found my part, and I would like it shipped for free.”

“Sir, we won’t do that.”

“So this sign is a lie”?

“No, it is not.”

“It says find your part, ship it free.  I found my part, and it doesn’t ship free.  That, by definition, is a lie.”

“It’s not a lie, sir.”

“How are you able to say this?!  Listen to yourself!  Find your part, ship it free!  I found my part, it won’t ship free!  THAT IS A LIE.  You are lying to your customers!!!”

“Sir, you need to settle down.”

Unbelievable.  He continued to reiterate that it wasn’t a lie.  He said that it’s not on all items, that it’s in the fine print.  I asked him to come up to the sign with me and look for the fine print.  “Nope, all I see is blue.  Do YOU see any fine print”?  I almost laughed at him.  I think I may have?!  I couldn’t believe it.  This was nothing short of ridiculous.  I asked for HIS manager.  He obliged.  I had to wait about 10 minutes for him to come down, but it was more of the same.

“Sir, yes, I just found my part on your computer.”  I had actually pulled up the PART number on their PARTS list and left it there on the screen.  “Now as your sign says, I would like it shipped here for free.”

“Sir, we won’t do that.”

I pointed to the sign.  “So this sign that says ‘FIND YOUR PART, SHIP IT FREE,’ is a lie.  ??”

“No, sir, it’s not a lie.”

“Ok, let me get this straight.  I found my part.  It won’t ship free.  The sign says find your part.  Ship it free.  And this is not a lie.”

“It is not a lie, sir.”

“I’m not sure I understand this.  The sign says, ‘FIND YOUR PART, SHIP IT FREE.”  I found my part, it doesn’t ship free.  You are telling me that this sign is not a lie.”

“It is not a lie, sir.”

“ARE YOU LISTENING TO YOURSELF?!  HERE, I CAN HELP.”  And with that, I pulled out my phone with which I had been recording our conversation.  I tell you, the guy just about went ballistic.  He was crazy defensive all of a sudden.  He accused me of being illegal, that I couldn’t record our conversation.  Hmm.  This isn’t a phone.  Or court, for that matter.  I just want to make sure I understand you fully.  He DEMANDED that I stop recording our conversation then and there.  I did.  But he was insistent.  He asked again if I had stopped.  He was seriously beside himself.

Might make you think about what you say before you speak now.

Basically, he would NEVER admit that the sign was a lie.  But he kept saying that he wanted to help me out.  I said the help would be if he could help me in pulling the sign down (it was a big one).  He refused.  Hmm.  I asked him if we could at least write “On eligible items” with a marker.  He also refused.  So that told me then and there that he didn’t REALLY agree with me.  That I was just a schmuck that he wanted to be done with.  I told him that!  He never disagreed.  But he REFUSED to agree that the sign lied to customers.

Find your part, ship it free.  I found my part, it doesn’t ship free.

Am I missing something here?

He said he would agree to take off the shipping charges if I bought the item then and there.  He would just credit back my credit card.  So we did that.  But he NEVER budged on the sign.  No willingness to have it looked at by upper management, no acknowledgement that he agreed with me, NOTHING.  I seriously could not believe him.  Or the guy before him!!!

One thing is for sure, though.  I HATE BEING LIED TO.  I have no place for it in my life.  I just won’t take it.

<sigh>  NOT the easy purchase I had planned on when I walked in to the store.  I took his name and corporate’s number.  What fun.  <sigh>

From there, they came back and dropped me off at home.  Dad and I installed a digital thermostat, then fixed my very wobbly ceiling fan in my room.  I was pleased with both of those being done!  He left, and I worked on some lawn equipment some more.  I tried tackling the free lawnmower I received with the rider.  I still couldn’t get it to fire.  But I think I made some progress.  I found a WORTHLESS O-ring inside the carburetor.  It needs replaced.  Could that do the trick?  Who knows.  I am not at all familiar with these carbs.  It’s…a box?

I also cleaned up the Ryobi weed trimmer and riding lawn mower.  They are now all ready to go.  So that’s exciting.

I went for a little run around 4:45.  It was pretty hot, but I need to get back into this.  I, um…yup…I have gained weight!  Ruh roh!  Yeah, it was hot.  90?  I headed to Mom and Dad’s around 5:30 for supper…Casey, Erica, and Micaiah joined.  And I gave Micaiah her first taste of something besides milk.  A little drop of strawberry juice!!!  She just licked her lips!!!  It was awesome.  I kind of got in trouble, but it was definitely worth it.

From there, I went home to meet Schneider Pants at my house for the fair.  I wasn’t too overly thrilled about going, but once there, I loved it.  Country folk, hooligans, fattening foods, country concerts, and THE ZIPPER.  I had a blast.  I seriously had my best ride EVER on the Zipper tonight.  So much so that I thought I had passed out.  We never stopped spinning.

Epic.  I have a special place in my heart for the simple life.  For country folks.

Came back, loafed around for a bit, then headed to bed at 12:50 A.M.

Alarm is set for 8:00.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Work, Work, Work!!!--June 18, 2010

Woke up at 7:30 A.M.  Ate a fiber bar for breakfast.  I am now officially completely and totally out of food in my house!!!  Agh!  I drank some water to wash it down!  ha!  Called Dad and told him to bring all kinds of garden tools.  Then hopped in the shower.

He showed up aroud 8:15, and we went straight to work.  I dug up ALL the rock around my mailbox.  It was a pain in the butt!!!  I had had a serious problem of clovers growing up through the rocks, but Dad had sprayed them a couple of weeks ago, and they were mostly dead.  But the roots were there, other green weeds were there, and it was just a lot of rock!  We certainly had our work cut out for us.  We made a large pile right there on my driveway.  I would hoe, and Dad would scoop.  We were just dripping sweat...and it was early!!!

We decided to take a little break and make a run to the hardware store and Mom and Dad's house.  I needed fuel line for a weed trimmer, and we also needed to pick up a small tiller so that we could loosen up the rocks that had sunk in the dirt around my mailbox.  There had been weed barrier put down YEARS ago to hold the rocks, but it was basically worthless.  There was so much dirt on top of it mixed in with the rocks.  So after coming back to my house, I tilled it up, and we were ready to filter out the rocks from the soft dirt.  Only one problem.  We had forgot the sifter back at Dad's house.  So he left to pick it up while I tackled the weed trimmer.

I replaced all of the fuel lines, and I tried it out.  It ran PERFECT.  So I went ahead and trimmed my entire yard!  I was filthy afterwards, but it sure needed it.  Plus I wanted to try it out.  It seriously runs perfect.  I'm thrilled.  Amazing what a little know-how and work can do.  Dad came back, and I showed him the beautiful running trimmer and attachments!  I was excited!  We then went to sifting the rocks and dirt.  That was work, too!  Dad would shovel large piles of rock and dirt into my box, and I would shake it up and let the dirt fall to the earth.  We ended up getting the area looking very nice.  It's now just fine dirt.  And it looks so good that I am not fully convinced that I want rock back in that place!  What to do, what to do.

We headed to Subway for lunch, and I took time to drive around the neighborhood and look at everyone else's mailboxes!  Some are just downright ugly, some are somewhat nice.  But the ruling is official:  NO ONE KNOWS WHAT TO DO WITH THE AREA AROUND THEIR MAILBOX.  Well, you can add another one to that list.  I don't have a clue.

After Subway, we headed to Wal-Mart and picked up four quarts of oil for three lawnmowers.  We came back and started with the riding lawn mower.  It wasn't too hard.  I also took time to grease up the wheels and steering column...who knows how many years it's been since that has been done.  Routine maintenance can be a life-saver!  I'm just trying to get it in tip-top shape.

We then changed the oil on one of the push mowers...a "new" one that I had bought through my parents weeks ago.  It's from craigslist, but it's a beaut.  It's a VERY nice Craftsman...I had paid $40 for it not running.  Well, we changed the oil on that, but in doing so, we accidentally broke one of the rear wheels.  I was disappointed in that, but not much ya can do!  Life happens.  So that one would have to wait.  It starts and runs great without the air filter, but once you put it on, it dies immediately.  The previous owner had put WAY too much oil in the mower causing it to spill out.  But it's an easy fix.  I drained the oil, put new in, and will replace the filter (and now tire).  But that's it.  Then it's ready to sell.  I'll have about $60 in it.  $20 more than planned, but meh, again, what are ya going to do?

After that was done, we loaded up the riding mower, MY push mower (since this "new" one was now broke), and headed over to my sister's house to mow her yard for her and her husband.  But it was just BLAZING hot.  With THICK humidity.  I had been sweating all day, and I was actually not very comfortable with the idea of push-mowing a yard.  I mean, I LOVE hot weather...but this was just...dangerous.  Well, Dad took the rider, and I begrudgingly took the push-mower.  Before I started, I took a drink out of the spigot (my sister wasn't home).  And about every 10 minutes, I would have to go back for more.  I took my shirt off.  The air was just saturated with water.  It was 95 degrees with a head index around 106.  It was nasty.

I ended up just doing the necessary edging parts.  Then I took a break in the shade.  But I just wasn't feeling well at all.  I was pouring out sweat, and I was completely and totally exhausted.  My sister pulled in the drive, and she said I looked real bad.  Dad came around to the front yard on the rider, and I watched him pass by.  And that's when I saw the engine bog down and TONS of blue smoke come pouring out.  Oh crap.

I just watched emotionless, though.  I was seriously out of it.  Completely and totally out of it.  Just sitting there on the porch pouring out sweat.  It wasn't good.  At Dad's command, Erica brought me some water, and I downed it.  I didn't have much to say about the mower, though, but I was afraid it had thrown a rod or something.  Who knew.  Dad was eager to finish the yard, but I was just...lifeless!!!  It was so hot.  I was ordered to go inside to the air-conditioning, and frankly, stubbornnness just wasn't an option.  I realized I wasn't doing so hot (poor pun, I know).  I NEEDED to cool down.  My body was just in overload trying to keep me cool.  Dad went to push-mow the yard, and I pretty much him NO.  It was seriously too hot.  I mean, I was born and raised here, and I know hot summers, but just did something to me!  It was dangerously hot outside.  I didn't want the same to happen to him.

While inside, he went back outside and jumped the mower with my sister's car.  It started right up, and he finished the yard.  About 15 minutes later, I went outside as he pulled around back.  The engine sputtered and died.  And it would NOT start up at all.  Agh, I was frustrated!  This mower was supposed to last for years!!!  What is it doing?!  I was just frustrated.  It wouldn't start.

Well, we loaded up both mowers and headed back to my house.  We unloaded them, and I was eager to figure out what was going on with this riding mower.  Dad was hot, though, and tired.  He headed for home.  But I just HAD to figure this thing out!  It was spinning over freely...and I would see some smoke come out of the carburetor.  But it wouldn't fire.  Everything SEEMED to be right.  It was all doing as it should.  Hmm.  Go for the simple things, Andy.  So I pulled off the spark plug, and I was thrilled to find it all crappy!!!  It had huge chunks of black goo spanning the gap.  Yup, that would certainly make an engine not run!

I wire-brushed it, picked it, and screw-drivered the black carbon and goo off of it.  I think it probably happened when Dad got into that crazy tall grass.  A huge shot of oil was sent into the firing room!  At least that's what I'm hoping.  That explains the black smoke, and that explains this mess of goo.  I put it back in, all clean, and it fired instantly.  That's a relief.  I'm just hoping it's not bad rings...but it runs so good, so I don't think it is.  I pulled a big chunk of rubber or plastic out of the gas tank, threw some Sea Foam into the tank, and found a loose bolt on the gear shifter.  I'm just trying to get everything in perfect working order!!!

But I was exhausted.  I was ready to call it a day.  Mom asked if I wanted to go out for pizza, so I couldn't refuse that.  I put everything away, showered, and waited for them to come over.  We went to Godfather's.  I honestly can't remember the last time I had pizza.  It was pretty good, if I do say so myself.  We swung by my aunt's house for a short bit, then headed to Wal-Mart where I bought an air filter.

We headed over to their house since I locked myself out of my house on accident!  I grabbed their car and headed home.  I installed the new air filter, and the "new" mower runs like a champ.  Just needs a new wheel now.  Sigh.  I called Sears, and they may have one in stock.  $14.00.

I took the rest of the night off.  Just chilled inside.

And chilled is what I needed.  A sign on the way home tonight said 89 degrees at 8:16 P.M.  Even now at 11:03 P.M., it's still 82 degrees with a heat index of 88.  At 11:00 P.M.!!!  It is just nasty to be outside.  The humidity is so thick.

But that won't stop me!!!  I'm hoping to garage sale tomorrow morning with Mom...then get a few items all ready to go!  I want to clean up the weed trimmer, clean up the riding mower, and fix the "new" push mower.

All in all, a very productive day.  A hot one.  An exhausting one.  But a good one.

Was in bed at a comfortable 11:15 P.M.  Alarm is set for 7:30 A.M.

Friday, June 18, 2010

HOME Work!!!--June 17, 2010

Woke up at 9:00 A.M.  I had woke up on my own at 8:40, but I stayed in bed and ended up falling back asleep.  It was nice to get some long sleep.  I ate a fiber bar (my only food in the house) and drank a glass of water for breakfast.  I showered, then headed outside to work on some engines!

I started with the riding lawn mower.  I was able to get it jump-started with the battery charger, so that was encouraging.  Maybe it’s not the starter after all (what I thought yesterday).  It ran great, but I wanted to test it out, so I took it up and down the street a bit.  No problems!  I then decided to mow a couple of paths in my front yard.  It seemed to work just fine.  So I then moved to my back yard!  And I ended up mowing the entire thing.  Only took maybe 10 minutes.  It has a beautiful cut, and I’m just thrilled to death that it’s running.  I came back to the garage and tried to start it again after I shut it down.  It was dead.  So I took out the battery and put it on a slow charge.

I then tackled one of the weed trimmers.  I filled it up with fuel, and it actually start and ran!  I couldn’t get it to run at full speed, so it’s either a mixture screw or the carburetor jet, but that was also encouraging.  But after working on it some more, I realized that the gas lines and fuel primer bulb were just shot.  The bulb cracked, and that was about the extent of that project.  I needed a new part.

So I moved on to a push mower.  I had to literally take most of it apart in order to get to the recoil system.  It’s not recoiling…AT ALL.  But the engine turned over freely…so I’m hoping that’s an easy fix.  The previous owner says it’s cursed, though, and he literally asked me to tell him what was wrong with it if (when!!!) I get it running.  I’d be happy to.  But I needed lubricant to free up the rusty spring inside, and I didn’t have any.  So I had to abort that one, too.

I ended up firing up my own lawnmower to mow the rest of my front yard and the edges of my back yard.  That didn’t take too long.  I found four HUGE baby birds in a birdhouse I had put out back just a few weeks ago.  That was fun!  It’s just nice knowing that what I do influences some”one” else!  I love it.  After that, I headed over to Dad’s work for some free food.  I took the new shaft cable for another weed trimmer in order to lube it up with some grease.  I had tried it out earlier this morning, and it fit perfect!  So that was going to be an easy fix.  GOOD!!!

I enjoyed some potato salad, grilled chicken breasts, coleslaw, baked beans, and cherry pie.  So hard to beat.  Erica called me to see what I was doing, so I headed back home to meet up with her.  She was just looking to hang out.  So Baby, she, and I just hung out for a bit.  We chilled on the couch for a bit, but I figured I could get some work done, too, so we headed out to the garage.  I put the weed trimmer with the shaft cable back together, and it ran like a champ.  ONE DONE.  It needs a new head, though, so I’ll have to buy one of those.  But it runs perfect.

I then continued with the cursed free push mower that came with the riding lawn mower.  I lubed it up, put it back together, and tried it out.  It DID actually do what it was supposed to do now (recoil!), but it wouldn’t start.  And on one of the pulls, the recoil system gave way completely.  GRR!!!  I took it all apart again…and even more so.  This time I actually took apart the recoil system itself.  I didn’t really understand how it worked (it’s been YEARS since I’ve fixed one of these!), so I was at a loss.  But I decided to take the part with me to Big R for some edumucation.

So that’s what I did.  I took the Ryobi weed trimmer (bad bulb) and the recoil system from the Craftsman lawn mower in to Big R and grabbed a replacement bulb.  The guy wasn’t too nice in helping me with the recoil system (he never really is), but I did end up learning how to put it back together.  So all wasn’t lost.

I headed back home but made a quick stop at Wal-Mart to pick up some weed barrier.  Once home, I tried to fix the primer bulb, but the hoses were so brittle that they just fell apart.  GRR!  Now I need new fuel lines!  Oh well.  A cheap fix.  Just more traveling.  So I moved on to the Craftsman push mower again.  I was able to get the recoil system all back together AND working, so that was a plus.  And I was able to get the engine to fire, too…but not stay running.  Another plus.  Basically, that just means the carburetor needs cleaned.  I didn’t have the custom tool required to take off the carb, so I had to abort that one again!  Agh!!!  But I was at least encouraged to know that it WILL run!

And that was the extent of my day!

One fixed riding lawn mower.  One fixed weed trimmer.  Some progress on one weed trimmer.  And a good diagnosis of a push mower.  All in all, I guess not a bad day.  But still…I want to get all of these in tip-top shape!  And soon!

So as not to be bored (I LOVE working!), I started clearing out the rocks around my mailbox.  What a mess!  This is actually going to be work!  I aborted that one for until tomorrow with Dad…he would have better tools.  I started to weed some other rocks in front of my house, but that is going to be a big project, too!  I have to decide if I want to completely replace the weed barrier or just weed it by hand and be done with it…what to do, what to do.  It WOULD be nice to do it completely…but what work that is going to be!  Ha!

I ended up weeding some flowers that Mom had planted instead…much easier.  J

Erica called and invited me over to their house for the NBA Finals tonight.  I said ok.

Schneider came over, Boogs came over, and we chilled at my house for about 45 minutes, then headed over to her house where I spent the rest of the night with ‘em.  Crazy showed up, and we watched the game.  Basically, I could care less about the game…and about most sports, in general.  Having been on the road this long has really been a blessing in terms of sports…out of sight, out of mind.  It’s been nice.

I ended up back home at 11:00.  VERY tired.  Just exhausted.

In bed at midnight.  Alarm is set for 7:30.  Dad and I are going to have a TON of work to do tomorrow.

Can’t wait!!!

The End of Season Two!!!--June 15-16, 2010

Woke up at 7:10 A.M.  Showered, then grabbed some breakfast.  I packed up my stuff (5 minutes), dropped a very painful poop, then we checked out of the hotel.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky anywhere.  Back to like it was a few weeks ago!  We grabbed subs at Subway, then drove to the airport where I dropped more kids off at the pool, then hopped in the airplanes.

I had 95 miles to go to get to my flight plan.  It was up at 12,700 feet, so I went ahead and put some oxygen on.   It was an absolutely beautiful day to fly.  It was almost totally smooth, and it was certainly a refreshing change!!!  The visibility was almost endless, although there was a haze at the bottom half of the horizon.  A stable atmosphere for sure, holding down all of the “stuff” in the air!  It created what looked like smog all around.  A brown haze just compressed right above the earth!

I arrived on station and did my first west-bound line.  I missed too many pictures for it to complete!  GRR!  I turned east-bound and was flying too fast.  Another line missed!  GRR!  I was NOT off to a good start.  I turned back around to try to grab my first missed line.  And I missed hitting the entry point.  Oh boy.  It was smooth, too…for the most part.  The western portion of my lines had some unforeseen bumps, but for the most part, it was fine.  I should NOT be flying this terribly!

But I kept at it.  I was finally able to get my flying under control.  To be honest, though, I just wasn’t feeling very well.  My stomach was just a mess.  Food poisoning?  Just bad food?  I’m not sure.  But I was feeling pretty blah.  I checked the oxygen.  It was fine.  I was a bit nervous for awhile, but sometimes my body honestly just takes a while to get used to flying.  I’ve noticed that.  After an hour or two, it’s not a problem.  I think it’s just not used to the numerous sideways motions thrown at it!  Who knows.

I started to see clouds popping up.  They would appear, then disappear.  Some were white and off in the distance, while others were grey and closer.  But they were causing a bit of turbulence.  To this day, I just don’t get it.  Clouds are so pretty to look at it, but they are often nasty to fly around!  But I will admit I was pretty stinking excited to see ‘em pop up.  From experience, I was pretty confident they would start popping up all around sooner or later.  Perfect!  Enough to fly, get some work done, AND fly to Denver without making it a crazy-long 10-hour day.


I finished a flight plan, then moved on to another.  By now , the couple of clouds were certainly more.  They were not disappearing, either.  I had to climb up to 13,700, and I had to fly 35 miles west deeper into them.  Hmm.  I wasn’t even sure if I could get any more work done, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could.  And it was smoother up here above them.  I finished another flight plan and then tried to do another.  But there just wasn’t hardly anywhere to go anymore.  The several clouds were now hundreds if not a thousand.  They were everywhere.  I was able to fine ONE more flight plan that was barely without clouds…by about ½ mile.  But that didn’t last long.  I was only able to finish three lines on it.  And that was all I could do!  The day was over.  I was thrilled!!!  No 8-hour day like I had expected!!!  This was going to be perfect.  I had logged 3.1 hours thus far.

I pointed the Aztec back towards KGJT.  I was doing around 150 knots heading back.  Two flight plans completed.  Very nice.  I was flying back at 12,500 feet.  It was pretty smooth except for a stretch of about 20 miles over the mountains.  AND all bets were off below 11,500.  It was bumpy there!  And then once below 7,500, it was just silly!  I landed back at Grand Junction with 4.0 hours on the Hobbs.  Now THAT is a good day.

I said good-bye to one of the desk girls, then drove to drop Pete off at his new hotel.  I ate my Subway sandwich in the car.  I then drove to my old hotel from a week and a half ago.  I had essentially borrowed a blanket in order to not die at altitude.  It was a life-saver.  I used it every day I was up high.  I wanted to return it now that I was done with it.  Then I headed to Enterprise to return the car.  I was eager to get back in the sky, though.  I knew the turbulence would only increase as the day went on, and I was wanting to have as little as possible!

I had the Enterprise guy drive me back to the airport, and I hopped back in, ready to go east to Denver.  I loaded up KAPA on my old-school GPS, and off I went.  I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous about the trip.  I have never really flown over the entire Rocky Mountains before…as in the range.  I’ve flown over mountains, I’ve done circles over mountains, but I’ve never really crossed a ridge by myself.  And off to the east I could see some pretty big build-ups of cumulous clouds.  I just wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was expecting the worst.

I headed west for a bit off of Runway 29 in order to gain altitude before I flew over the bluffs.  I made a gradual turn and had some bumps as I passed over.  Uh oh!!!  But I continued the climb.  About 30 miles northeast of Grand Junction, I called up Denver Center and grabbed some flight-following.  I was basically on a heading of 070.  The GPS had told me 068 from the ground, but it had since lost reception (a common theme with this old thing).  Since I had turned north, that’s what I went for.  I just pointed east!!!  And I kept the climb going…12,000.  13,000.  14,000.  15,000.  I stayed there for awhile, not climbing too fast!!!  But I eventually made it up to 15,500.  And let me tell you, it was nearly perfect.  It was just as smooth as could be!!!

It is SO nice flying an Aztec.

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I just took it all in.  I was cruising around 150 knots, just pointing the nose east-bound.  I didn’t really know where I was exactly, but I dialed in a VOR to help out.  I had a ballpark idea.  Up ahead, I could see clouds at my altitude.  But they were pretty far up there and looked to be scarce enough to be able to manage.  But I took note.

I was flying a little bit on edge…just wondering when the turbulence from hell was going to happen.  I waited…and waited…and waited.  I figured it would come when I had to fly above the mountains but below the clouds.  But outside of some very manageable bumps and downdrafts, it never really happened!!!  The flight was just perfect!!!

And that’s what made me sad!!!  I was having the time of my life up there.  I had views that people would pay for.  I was flying over snow-capped peaks in the middle of June.  Just absolutely perfect views.  And I was getting paid to do it.  I knew it would be my last flight, too.  And I’m tellin’ ya, I was sad!  I am really going to miss this.  It’s bittersweet.  This job certainly has some pretty amazing perks.  And flying over the Rockies in a twin-engine is definitely one of them.  I had the best view in the world.




About 40 miles west of Centennial, I started recognizing some stuff.  I could see Pike’s Peak down to the south, and I realized that I was almost done with my flight!  As soon as I passed over the last peak, I began a descent from 15,000 feet (I was pushed down by the downdrafts).  And even the descent wasn’t too bad!!!  I cringed thinking about passing over that last ridge, because that was always the place where it was the worst when I was here a month and a half ago.  But it was just fine.  Not a problem at all.

Winds on the ground were minimal, and outside of the normal bumps, below 10,000 was a pleasure, too.  I was cleared to land on Runway 17L.  I landed, turned off the engines, and thought I had flown my last flight in the Aztec for the season.  I had logged another 1.7 hours.  I headed inside, said hi to familiar faces, then called up Pete.  Basically, I wasn’t really wanting to do a calibration field.  I tried to get out of it, but he said it was necessary.  So I hopped back in, loaded up the plans, and went at it.

Frankly, I’m glad I did.  I had some fun flying for another hour.  It was surprisingly smooth, and I was just 3,000 feet above the ground at 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon.  It’s unheard of here.  I just wanted to fly around some more!!!  But I knew I couldn’t.  I should also mention that I busted Class B airspace, too.  I was talking with Tower, and on one of my turns, I went a bit too far east.  They were nice about it, but after that, I went ahead and talked with Approach and got clearance into it.  It’s the small mistakes that can get ya sometimes.

I landed for the final time this time in a parallel approach with a Lear.  Man, that is just downright fun!!!  It’s pretty enjoyable flying that close to another airplane!  I had logged another 1.1 hours.

It was just a perfect day.  4.0 hours of “work” flying.  Then 1.7 hours of vacation flying.  Followed by 1.1 hours of just relaxed flying.  I’ll take it.

I took about 45 minutes to unpack the airplane, say my good-bye to her, and get packed up in the car.  I wanted to make sure I had everything.  The last day of the season is kind of crazy.  I’m so excited about the summer, but I just know I’ll miss flying in just a couple of short weeks!!!  Oh, the tug-of-war we go through!

I headed to my favorite BBQ place for supper.  Then I started to head towards Denver International to pick up Kenton.  But as I was getting on the highway, I received a text from a friend in town.  So I made a slight detour and went and spent a few hours with her.  Someone else heard I was in town, so LATE tonight, I went over to see her!!!  It was getting late, though.  And I knew I had to wake up early tomorrow morning.  But at the same time, I didn’t want to miss out on seeing these folks!!!

I finally made my way towards the hotel at 2:00 A.M.  I was a bit bummed about “standing up” Kenton, but it was also nice to see friends.  I had the hardest time finding the hotel, though, and I didn’t get checked in until 2:45.  I went to sign up for a shuttle to the airport tomorrow, but the slots were full.  I couldn’t believe it.  I had a 6:15 flight, and I was planning on being there an hour earlier.  But the ONLY slots available before my flight were 3:45 and 5:45.  The latter was obviously too late, and the earlier one was, well…horrendous.

But I had to do it.

I went upstairs, dropped the airplane keys, car keys, and credit cards off at the bathroom sink, brushed my teeth, then went right back outside the hotel.  It was 3:00.  I had to be downstairs in a half-hour.  I just knew that trying to sleep would probably be detrimental to my health.  As tired as I was, I would probably sleep through any alarm.  I walked downstairs back to the car and sat in the driver’s seat.  I DID set my alarm, though, just in case I fell asleep.  And I about did.  The alarm went off at 3:30, and I JUMPED!!!  I was so out of it.

I walked over to the shuttle, got a very suspicious interrogation from the driver as to whether I had paid for a room in the hotel since I just walked out of the parking lot, then headed for the airport.  The lines weren’t even open at the airport yet, so I sat on a chair and tried to sleep.  I covered my eyes with my Aviators and hoped for the best.  I did fall asleep because I remember opening up my eyes and being surprised to see about 50 more people in front of me than when I shut them!  Maybe 15-20 minutes?  Who knew.  But it certainly was NOT enough.

I grabbed all my tickets and headed back for my 6:15 flight to Minneapolis.  As soon as I was on the plane, I put the glasses on and tried to sleep.  I managed to again, but it wasn’t great sleep.  Maybe an hour?  Who knows.

We did have a fun arrival, though.  We had clouds at 2,000 feet, and I assumed the pilots were shooting the ILS.  Well, we were the in the clouds, and then I heard the jet engines roar back to life.  And we were on top of the clouds!  I figured they were getting low on the glide-slope, but we kept climbing!  The Captain came on and said that the airplane in front of us had had a bird-strike.  We were next in line for the runway, but the airport had closed down the runway to check for any damage.  Ha!  Always have to be ready for the unexpected.

I grabbed my connecting flight in Minni after a terribly long walk through the terminal and went through the routine again.  Glasses on, eyes closed.  I honestly don’t even remember the take-offs.  The only reason I knew we were airborne was the announcement that it was ok to use portable electronic devices again.  I was just absolutely out of it.

I slept for maybe another hour.  So I was up to a little over two hours for the night/day.  Not good.  It was going on noon.  Mom and Dad were there to pick me up at the airport.  And it’s kind of weird.  I knew I was done with the season hours ago.  But until I was actually back home, with my parents, with my luggage…well, I still felt like I wasn’t done.  But now?  I am totally done.  It’s a crazy feeling.

TWO SEASONS.  1114 hours.  Wow.  I flew 564 hours last season from October 13-June 6.  And this season I ended up with 550.3 hours from November 1-June 15.  With 178.9 hours of MULTI!!!  Woo hoo!!!  But here's the crazy/AMAZING part...I made $46,670 last season in just under 8 months.  And this season I made a whopping $49,004.20 in just 7 1/2 months.  This job has really been great in terms of paying off loans!  I mean, seriously!!!  I made a miniscule $1200.00 in my first month of flight instructing...and $500.00 of that was for relocation expenses!!!  So I definitely know the pain that some go through. 

In reference to pilot jobs, the top two questions are ALWAYS...1.  Pay and 2.  Quality of Life.  This one is DEFINITELY strong on #1, and just OK on #2.  Looking back, I've made a ridiculous $95,674.20 in two seasons (but only working 15 1/2 months out of a possible 24!!!).  It's just crazy.  I mean, crazy!  A huge blessing, for sure.  I'll certainly take it.  And I'll admit that I liked this season better than last year.  I don't know that there is just one reason why, but I enjoyed the people, I enjoyed most of the flying, and I think I just had a better outlook.  Hmm...I really can't pinpoint one exact thing.


We grabbed a bite to eat in Bloomington, then I drove us south to Springfield.  As soon as I arrived at home, I went straight for bed.  It was 2:00 o’clock.  I set my alarm for 4:30 in order to get ready for a friend’s concert that night.

“HEY!”  “HEY!!!”  “HEY!”

What is going on?  I woke up to find my Dad in the doorway.  “Your mom and sister are waiting on you.  What should I tell them”?  I had NO idea what was going on.  I just came out of a DEEP sleep.  Terribly deep.  It was 6:17.  Oh boy.

I grabbed a quick shower, then headed to my sister’s house.  We then all drove over to the Sangamon County Fair to watch my friend play in his first “big” concert.  It was a pretty good time.  He’s a very gifted musician, although his transitions between songs need some attention!  But it’s a huge day for him.  He was opening up for Bomshel, who we also stayed to watch.

We left around 10:15.  I saw several friends from the past there, and it was good to see them.  But it’s crazy, too.  We just haven’t had contact in a couple of years.  I’ve been gone.

We stayed at my sister’s house for 20 minutes to hang out with Baby, then finally called it a night.  Mom dropped me off at my house at 11:15.  I was pretty tired.

Ended up going to bed at 12:30 A.M.  What a day/two.

Won’t wake up until 9:00 o’clock tomorrow.  But I’ve got so much work to do.  Tomorrow’s goals?  Fix a weedeater, fix a lawn mower, and mow my yard.  I have SEVERAL items that certainly need attention.

Can’t wait.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

GREAT NEWS!!!--June 14, 2010


Woke up at 7:10 A.M.  Pete muffled something to me.  What?!  “Check the weather, the clouds were too low when I checked a half-hour ago.”  Riiiiiiiiiiight.  I swore he was joking.  But I checked the weather anyway.  Ha!  He was right!  The clouds were only at 6000 feet!  But the forecast was skies clear by noon.  Hmm.  Pete went for more sleep, while I showered and headed for breakfast.

We went ahead and went to the airport around 8:30 anyway.  We stopped at Subway to get some food for what we thought would be a flight through lunch-time.  The clouds were pretty crazy, though.  I mean, they were EVERYWHERE.  In all directions.  And quite low.  Parts of the mountains were obscured by the clouds.  Hmm.

We decided to hang out at the airport for awhile before we flew west.  We talked to a NetJets pilot for the longest time.  He currently flies a Gulfstream.  But he was fascinated with what we do!  I mean, fascinated!!!  We talked for probably an hour!  We exchanged stories, experiences, etc.  He graduated from Embry-Riddle back in 1990, then instructed for a SHORT bit…87 hours.  But he gained most of his flight time up in Alaska, flying in what he called 500-2.  Basically, all he needed was 500 feet for clouds and two miles for visility.  Thinking about it now, he said it was pretty crazy!!!  But he was willing and eager to do it because he wanted/needed the flight hours.  I know the feeling.

He said it was REALLY rough for pilots in the early 1990’s.  He had applied to be an instructor at Riddle, but he only had 300 hours.  At the time, instructors needed 5000 hours, he said.  WOW.  I was encouraged, though.  He was just thrilled with our experiences we were able to have.  He cringed at the thought of 7 months on at a time, but he said it would be good for a single pilot.

All in all, it was just an encouragement to me.  It was just refreshing to hear someone else’s story.  He is “living the dream.”  But he had to put his time in first.  He took the hard route.  It’s nice to resonate with someone like that.  But it was a bit painful, too!  He’s been flying for 20 years!!!  He said corporate is DEFINITELY the way to go.  He told us that “boxes don’t…”, but he said that people really don’t, either.  That was good to hear.  But he ALSO said that the problem with corporate flying is that you get fired once every five years.  Haha.  So true!  He highly recommended NetJets, though.  He just seemed happy!

As far as the flying was concerned, though, he said it was pretty simple.  He showed us his “flying.”  He used his hands to rotate the imaginary yolk, then took his finger and pushed a button.  Auto-pilot was now on.  He said every flight is like that.  Some pilots will hand-fly the ascent sometimes, but it’s rare.  You just push a button and sit back and relax.  Haha.  Oh man.  He was flying to Dulles today…all in 3 hours and 3 minutes.  That is just crazy.

We just enjoyed each other’s company.  Honestly.  He seemed to be thrilled to have someone to talk to, and we were more than eager to talk with him!  I vow that if/when I become a pilot in that capacity, I will ALWAYS give the time of day to everyone.  I have flown in and out of airports with corporate pilots for a couple of years now, and this was one of the very, very few times that I had any type of conversation with another pilot.

It was just good.

Pete and I finally decided that we should at least try to scout.  The satellite showed clouds out west, but we HAD to at least try.  On the walk out, the corporate pilot wanted to know if we wanted to take a peek inside.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  Um, yeah!!!  I was stoked.  I’ve only been in a couple of bigger aircraft, and I think this was my first jet.  It was just beautiful.  The passenger area was immaculate…room enough for six people.  It was sick!!!  I turned and checked out the flight deck.  There just wasn’t much to it!!!  Haha.  Seriously!  It’s obviously all glass-panel with Collins avionics, but I was just shocked at the open space!

The pilot went ahead and started up the avionics for us.  So beautiful.  I was seriously on cloud nine.  Just absolutely motivated!!!  Some day.  SOME DAY!!!  This was perfect!!!  I was pretty stoked.

From there, Pete and I headed out for our flight plans.  Or at least tried.  I had the hardest time starting my left engine again.  It took me about 40 minutes.  It’s pretty frustrating.  QUITE frustrating.  Oh well.  I’m putting in my time, right?  I’m smiling.

I FINALLY got it started.  I headed out west.  I couldn’t fly above 7000 feet due to the clouds, so that’s where I stayed.  I just followed the valley around the mountains.  It was a bit bumpy…not exactly what I was planning on!  It’s just amazing to me what happens at the bases of clouds.  It’s not right.  I ended up at my flight plans, and it was just absolutely positively a no-go.  Clouds were everywhere.  So thick.  These were forecast to be burned off by noon, but they were growing.  These weren’t clouds that just disappeared.  At all.

I circled around and headed back.  Pete and I were having a conversation on the radio about me not being able to get closer to the 100-hour.  I pretty much let him know how I felt about all of it.  I was promised June 10th, then the 11th, then the 15th, and now I’m not going to be able to head out until I burn off 14 more hours?  I was anything but thrilled.  He said he would talk to the boss once we got on the ground.


I landed back at KGJT.  I had logged 2.2 hours.  I saw the FBO chick from last week who then accused me of standing her up last week.  Oh boy.  Don’t even get me started.  Pete went outside to make some phone calls.  I was in a pretty crummy mood, just not knowing what was going to happen.  I wasn’t too optimistic.  I was so different that the other FBO chick said she was disturbed by how quiet I was.  Yup.  I didn’t have it in me to change.

Well, about ½ hour later, I learned that I WOULD be able to leave.  Hallelujah!  I was pretty stinkin’ excited.  We then spent a good deal of time trying to find me a ticket.  But we found one, and it was then and only then that I was actually confident that this could happen!  I’m leaving Denver at 6:20 Wednesday morning.

So basically, here’s the plan.  I’m going to fly tomorrow on this project.  The skies actually look good (ha!), so I should be able to get several hours in.  After I finish here, I’ll head east to Denver.  I’ll pick up Kenton from the airport, grab a hotel, then wake up early the next morning and BE DONE!!!

I just let out a huge sigh.  I’m really ready for it.  I really am.  I’m a bit nervous about tomorrow, though!  It was the potential to be one of those 8-hour days!!!  It’s a high-pressure system with low winds!!!  I know what that can mean!  Oh well.  MOTIVATED this time.  It’s my last day of flying this season!!!  My last day!

So whether it’s 4 hours or 8 hours of work tomorrow, I have vacation to look forward to.  I’ll have to make a (most-likely hellacious) flight east to Denver after I’m done here, so it has the likelihood of being a VERY long day, but I’ll do what I need to do.

Vacation is waiting for me.  4 ½ months of vacation.  I couldn’t be more ready.

At 8:30, Pete and I went out with the chick from the FBO.  I had honestly given up on her.  She had said she would be off work at 8:00 o’clock and would give us a ring.  It was 8:29, and I was done with her.  And hungry!!!  So we headed for the restaurant.  As soon as I hopped in the car, I got the text.  She was coming!!!  I couldn’t believe it!

So that’s what we did for the night.  We went downtown to Blue Moon, ate, and grabbed a couple of drinks.  It was sooooooo refreshing to eat with someone else…to get to know someone.  I loved every bit of it.  I really did.  We were back at the hotel at 11:00.

Tomorrow is the big day.  My last day of flying for the season.  Wow.  Hard to believe.  But it looks to be a BIG one.  The weather is lookin’ perfect.  Clear skies, calm winds.  <sigh>  We’ll see.  No matter what, though, I’m plannin’ on bein’ in Denver tomorrow night.  And Illinois the following day.

Time will tell.