Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Wounded Goose

Another week, another restaurant. Having failed to make it to The Wounded Goose on a previous attempt, and with a day of good flying weather laid out for us like an expansive buffet, we decided to try again, albeit with an earlier arrival time that would hopefully find the airport courtesy car sitting there waiting for us.

As this trip would involve landing at Gallipolis, and with trainee John having expressed great interest in flying again, and as he grew up in Gallipolis, well, I thought this would be a great trip for him to ride along on.  We agreed to meet at the hangar at 8:00 in the morning and try to be in the air by 8:30. I wanted to set aside enough time for a leisurely preflight, and my having mistaken late April as a temperate month, get there early enough for the oil preheater to get at least a little heat in the 26 degree oil.

Yes, 26 degrees.


The preflight and subsequent departure went off without a hitch. The air at our cruising altitude was glass smooth, so I went against my normal policy of me flying the easy leg and letting the guest wrestle with the afternoon bumpiness and let John fly us down south. He again did a simple amazing job of it. He says he's still a little overwhelmed and hasn't yet developed a comfortable scan of the goings-on outside the windows balanced with the plethora of gauges and dials on the Dynon, but I couldn't tell. The autopilot couldn't have given us a smoother ride.

We made use of the easy flying conditions to work on his comprehension of how the round gauges and needles indicated both our direction through the air and our track across the ground.  The concept that those are not always the same thing takes awhile to internalize, and the depiction on the screen also takes some time to fully understand. I just took a few comparisons with the GPS ground track versus something fixed on the ground such as roads or railroad tracks to clear that up.

His big sticking point right now is figuring out pattern entries. That's no surprise; there are licensed, experienced pilots that sometimes seem weak on the subject. It's fairly complicated.

As I was explaining the way the shared unicom frequencies work as pilots self-announce their positions and intentions, I couldn't help getting up on the high horse I ride when it comes to the subject of people that 1) wait until the last minute to dial up the unicom frequency and then just ask everyone in or near the pattern to bring them up to speed, or 2) don't talk to or respond to other planes in the pattern; they figure telling us where they are is enough and we can just work around them.

The winds were calm, too, which gave me occasion to explain the dangers of a calm wind day with regards to uncontrolled airports. With no wind to indicate the preferred runway, it's anyone's guess as to what other pilots are going to decide. As we were coming from the north and the runway is oriented northeast - southwest, a midfield entry into a left downwind for runway five suited us the best.

I told John that we were going to announce "Gallia-Meigs traffic, Experimental two eight four delta golf is eight miles north, inbound left traffic runway five," but that it was pretty unlikely that there would be anyone there to hear it.


"Experimental approaching Gallia-Meigs, we use runway two three when the winds are calm, we're running up for departure on two three, and a NORDO Champ just departed two three."

Well then.

"Okay, four delta golf will make a midfield crosswind to the left downwind, runway two three."

That exchange turned out to be a perfectly timed lesson on the subject of how it should be done. The guy in the Cessna getting ready to depart did everything he could do to make sure everyone knew what was going on.

Kyle arrived a quarter hour later and we loaded up in the courtesy car for our trip to nearby Bidwell, home of The Wounded Goose, a car towing business, and nothing else at all.

I freely admit that I selected this restaurant on the basis of nothing more than its name, I think I would like to have a restaurant of my own simply so that I can name it.  As we were waiting for them to open, I started working on a list of possible names in the same spirit as The Wounded Goose:

  - The Gangrenous Gander
  - The Spastic Sloth
  - The Inflamed Zebra
  - The Ruptured Raccoon
  - The Dinged-up Duck
  - The Limping Leopard
  - The Cramped Cobra

Seriously, I could come up with dozens of those.

Once inside, I noticed a Chinese restaurant cat in hiding.

  - The Felonious Feline

They even have their own glassware. It was a surprisingly nice place.

The special was a cheeseburger made from local Ohio beef, and it was incredibly good!  The fries and chips are homemade.

After lunch, we stopped by at a local gun store.

Mixed in with all of the rifles against the back wall, I saw one that looked very familiar. I thought I had it figured out - it looked very much like the Thompson machine gun that I used so much in the early WWII Call of Duty video games. I called Kyle over to see if he agreed. Sure enough, he also thought it looked a lot like a Tommy gun, although it didn't have the drum magazine made infamous by Chicago Prohibition-era gangsters,

The resemblance was no accident.  It was this gun:

Auto Ordnance T1

Thompson 1927A-1 "Deluxe Semi-Auto"
MSRP: $1,461.00

Shipped with one 30 round stick magazine

I want one.  It's $1,200, but I WANT ONE!

And they not only sell a variant with the drum magazine, but they also sell a violin case to carry it in!

As Kyle said, all we would need is Fedoras, and I happen to already have one!

Being a gun shop, they also had targets, I particularly enjoyed this one - note how the lover is like three time larger than the brain. I figure that's pretty much every Budweiser drinker I've ever met. [rimshot]

(Joking!! Keep your angry letters to yourselves.)

There was also a nearby antique shop, so that was the next stop for the trusty courtesy car,

There wasn't much in the shop of interest, although this very frightening clown stopped me in my tracks:

Climbing back out of Gallipolis is always scenic, but this time was one of the better occasions:

We stopped by Jackson, where Kyle helped me with tightening the nut that provides resistance to the swiveling of the nosewheel. I've been getting what feels like a shimmy on landing - I had hoped the tighter nut would help.

It did not.

I'm starting to think that I was right in the first place when I thought I had damaged the wheel bearing again. I have one in stock, so I'll likely just swap out the old for the new and see if that helps.

This Kildeer was nesting in the construction area around the new FBO building that's going up. She was very protective of her eggs - she would fan out her tail and squawk blue murder if we got close. John commented that behavior like that was abnormal; they usually pretend to have a broken wing. I'm not sure how that would dissuade a predator, though. Maybe they relish the challenge,

In any event, I finally settled on a name for my restaurant: The Defensive Kildeer

Notice how well the eggs are camouflaged:

That got me wondering...
The killdeer is a medium-sized plover.
The adults have a brown back and wings, a white belly, and a white breast with two black bands. The rump is tawny orange. The face and cap are brown with a white forehead. The eyering is orange-red. The chicks are patterned almost identically to the adults, and are precocial — able to move around immediately after hatching. The killdeer frequently uses a "broken wing act" to distract predators from the nest.
The range of the killdeer spreads across the Western Hemisphere. In the summer, killdeer live as far north as the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon and Quebec, as well as the southern parts of the U.S. state of Alaska. Killdeer hold a year-round presence across the southern half of the United States and parts of Peru. The killdeer winters throughout Central America. 
Although killdeer are considered shorebirds, they often live far from water. They live in grassland habitats such as fields, meadows, and pastures. The nest itself is merely a shallow depression or bowl in the ground, fringed by some stones and blades of grass. The nest is well camouflaged, as the spots of the eggs disguise them as stones, and the simple structure of the nest resembles its surroundings.
On the "broken wing act":
Distraction displays, also known as deflection display, diversionary display or paratrepsis, are anti-predator behaviours used to attract the attention of an enemy away from an object, typically the nest or young, that is being protected. They are particularly well known in birds but noted also in fish. Distraction displays are, however, not very well defined and the definition has been the subject of much debate. They are sometimes classed more generically under "nest protection behaviours" along with aggressive displays such as mobbing. 
It has been suggested that distraction displays exist mainly in birds, since they have the ability to escape at the last moment out of reach of ground predators. Displays are used mainly for ground predators, and are rarely used against avian predators. 
False brooding is an approach used by plovers. The bird moves away from the nest site and crouches on the ground so as to appear to be sitting at a nest and allows the predator to approach close before escaping. 
Injury feigning is one of the more common forms of distraction. The broken-wing display is particularly well known in nesting waders and plovers and doves such as the mourning dove. Birds that are at the nest walk away from the nest with one wing hung low and dragging on the ground so as to appear as an easy target for a predator. 
Well, there ya go.  Learn something new every day, and something actually useful on a semi-monthly basis.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Over-Performing Myday Afternoon

I work hard for the first four days of the week in order to have one extra day on the weekend which, as many of you already know, I refer to as 'Myday.'  Sure, every now and then a portion of a Myday gets devoted to mundane things like medical appointments and the like, but as I plan those medical professional visits six months in advance, I can usually schedule them for the early morning.

That does not always go to plan, and this most recent Myday was a case in point: a 9:30 am dentist appointment was cancelled at their behest, and re-scheduled for a far less convenient 11:00 am. I was not especially happy about this as a matter of general principle, but when the day dawned clear and sunny and carried with it a forecast of exemplary flying conditions, I rounded the corner from mildly miffed to exceedingly put out.

Note that this is not a great mood with which to embark on a dental cleaning. Nor was it particularly helpful to arrive at the establishment and be greeted with the rank odor of raw sewage, apparently caused by the failure of the sump pump down in the older structure's basement.  Still, I like the pretty lady that cleans my teeth and despite the sharp tools moving around inside my mouth, we still find a way to banter, albeit with the both of us having to settle for mumbling out a pithy comment or retort now and then.

Having lost half of the day, I needed to find something to do that would fit into an afternoon. Luckily, someone that has graced these pages, and those of the blog superseded by this one, has recovered to a condition that will allow him to climb up into the airplane. As a short re-introduction, John is a guy that grew up just like me, which is to say that he has been fascinated with airplanes from a very young age. Unlike me, he had never managed to get a ride in an airplane of any type.

We fixed that little problem a few years ago when I was still flying the RV-6.

He also helped out on the day that we installed the landing gear on the 12. Not long after that, he was in a very severe car accident that left him facing a couple of years in and out of the hospital. He did manage to get out to the hangar now and then, but was limited to performing in a more managerial role, by which I mean sitting around watching the others work.

He's well enough recovered now that he was able to ride a motorcycle a few weeks ago, so I figured that would translate into being able to get into the 12.

You may remember that I spent a few hours introducing a novice to flying last spring/summer as I pretended to be an instructor with my friend Jeff. I thought John might be interested in trying that too.

Not at all surprisingly, he was.

I thought we could spend a few hours working through some of the things we would be doing such as a preflight, pattern entries, tower communications, etc. which would probably be pretty fruitful as he has already completed a ground school and will have at least been introduced to some of these. All we would have to do is try to marry the book learning with the specifics of an actual airplane. That idea fell by the wayside (well, much like my Sherlock-esque theory of Humpty-Dumpty's so-called accident actually being an attempted homicide, it was actually pushed) when I received a last minute call from Kyle, Corporate Aircraft Fueler for The Jackson Two,

As it turns out, he was sitting on the ground at Delaware Co. (KDLZ) getting some work done on his airplane and had belatedly noticed the lack of a fuel cap on his airplane. Knowing that I had a spare (which I acquired when I left mine behind at an airport where I buy gas now and then and later recovered), he wondered if I could fly it up to him. As I was planning on flying around from airport to airport with John to get him exposed to the full gamut of RV-12 flight, I could see no reason to not make that out first stop.

All I would have to do is 1) find the spare fuel cap in whatever "so I won't forget where it is" location, now long forgotten, spot that I had stored it in, and 2) cut short the planned ground instruction. The former proved harder than the latter, with the end result being the eventual finding of a spare fuel cap that was camouflaged in the best (yet ultimately most frustrating) way: by hiding in plain sight.

As it was only a twenty minute flight, I did the flying (if pressing the button that turns on the autopilot counts as "flying") while John acclimated himself to the new airplane. Knowing that we will have ample time to go over things again in greater depth, I spent most of the time feeding him way too much information way too quickly. There's a reason that you don't fill a Dixie Cup with a fire hose - most of it will end up spilled on the floor. But... not all of it. The only goal on an early flight like this is to introduce the big picture. We'll flesh out the details as we go. He did get his first homework assignment, though, which is to learn the phonetic alphabet.

Which, as it turns out, has many names, none of which I have ever heard being used in a conversation between humans:

The NATO phonetic alphabet, more accurately known as the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet and also called the ICAO phonetic or The NATO phonetic alphabet, more accurately known as the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet and also called the ICAO phonetic orICAO spelling alphabet, as well as the ITU phonetic alphabet,, as well as the ITU phonetic alphabet...

It sounds far more ominous than it is, but it is still an extremely essential aspect of flying.  You may not realize it, but you're almost certainly heard it in use:

We got there in plenty of time to see a carburetor balancing done the sissy-way, by which I mean opposite to the way I do it: I usually try to time it so as to allow me to stand in the propeller blast in the dead of winter. You know, for the frostbite that's in it.  Actually it just seems to happen that way. I need to put a late September date on my calendar to get it done this year before it gets cold.

Staying as far away from that as possible lest I somehow get recruited to participate, I wandered around the maintenance hangar, wherein I discovered something I had never seen, which is a Rotax missing its reduction gearbox.  The gear thingy there in the bottom of the horse collar is the end of the crankshaft. Also, the thingy with the orange hoses attached to it is the oil pump. The little shaft protruding from it rides on a cam in the gear box - the in and out motion is what drives the oil pump to, well... pump oil.

The airport tug sports what surely must be an after-market shifter knob:

With the maintenance finished and a fuel cap in place, the question of "what next?" came up. Me? I was all for heading somewhere for lunch. Being more or less on the way home for both groups, we decided on Urbana-Grimes (I74).

John flew that leg and did an extremely fine job of holding both heading an altitude. Given that he's still sitting on the right side until such time as I can practice a few takeoffs and landings from over there, he had to maintain those two dimensions mostly by maintaining a sight picture, something that takes awhile to develop. Nicely done!

Urbana is interesting because you just never know what will show up.  Just after lunch, while we were getting ready to mount up and fly out, a T-34 landed and taxied in.

The Beechcraft T-34 Mentor is a propeller-driven, single-engined, military trainer aircraft derived from the Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza. The earlier versions of the T-34, dating from around the late 1940s to the 1950s, were piston-engined. These were eventually succeeded by the upgraded T-34C Turbo-Mentor, powered by a turboprop engine. The T-34 remains in service more than six decades after it was first designed.

As an aside, there is an effort underway in Congress to legislate away the requirement for a third-class FAA medical. My way of escaping the requirement for medical was to build an LSA airplane, but doing so constrains me from flying "normal" airplanes. To be honest, I haven't considered it to be much of a loss; when I think of what I would rather own than the 12, I come up dry. But... I think I could get excited about owning a T-34.  It is classified as a warbird, and that would be very, very cool. The downside of a warbird, though, is cost. Cost of purchase, cost of maintenance, cost of fuel.

Collectively, those can be extreme. I will provide an example shortly. In the case of a T-36, however, the costs are roughly similar to those of a Beechcraft Bonanza, which isn't all that surprising considering their shared heritage. To a large degree, they're the same thing.

A purchase cost of a T-34 on the used market (there is no "new" market, so "used" is implied) can run from a low of $150k up to $400k, depending on condition and equipment. Operating costs would be nearly identical to the aforementioned Bonanza, burning 12 - 14 gallons per hour.

I would be quite satisfied even at the bottom of today's market.

Close on the heels of the T-34, one of the most beloved of WWII fighters arrived. This particular plane is a P-51B, as indicated by the "razorback" canopy and the replacement of the Allison engine with the more powerful Rolls-Royce engine that made the P-51 the rock star of WWII fighters. Less than 2,000 B models were built, The far more common version (8,000+), the P-51D, has a bubble canopy and the Packard V-1650-7, a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin.

To see an actual P-51B is a rare treat indeed. This one, the Old Crow, is owned by Jack Roush.

I had always thought the thing mounted behind where the pilot's head would be was a cushion. It is, of a sort, but is also a first aid kit. The rear view mirror is a nice touch - the D models didn't have them.

This B-25 Mitchell is a permanent resident at Urbana, but it is usually hangared in with the B-17 that's being restored/rebuilt. I was nice to see it out in the sun. 

It was even better to see them start the engines. I suspect that it been awhile...

This A-26 (I think) has been on the going-to-be-restored list for as long as I can remember.

At this point, I figured the afternoon had more than made up for the loss of the morning, but this turned out to be the Myday that kept on giving.

I had no sooner gotten home when I answered the phone to find that The Judge wanted to return the carburetor balancing gauges I had loaned him a week ago, and he was going to deliver the gauges in his newest car. The Judge (which I nicknamed him primarily because, and this is probably obvious, he is one) has an RV-12 that he bought already flying, so he hasn't had time to gather up the unique tools required for a Rotax 912. As such, I've been helping out when and where I can.

This is the car he arrived in - a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

He asked if I wanted to drive.

Not at all surprisingly, I was.

I had occasion to think my undeserved reputation of being an, uh, enthusiastic driver had reached his ears at some point. He was holding on for dear life and I hadn't even gotten it out of Park yet.

I live on the very edge of town, so it's not too hard to find some lightly patrolled roads to use to get the feel for a 460 hp car.  So what did I find? Well, as I told The Judge, "I never really wanted a Corvette.... until ten minutes ago."  The power is immense, immediate, and invigorating, while the handling belies the 3,300 lb. weight. It does 0 - 60 in 3.8 seconds, while my Mercedes can only manage around six seconds at a nearly identical curb weight.  The cost is roughly the same at "only" the low- to mid-50's, although either can be optioned up to even more stratospheric levels.  It sounds expensive, but I believe this Stingray can be fairly compared to cars like Ferraris that cost four to five times as much, assuming you can get the Ferrari dealers to deign to sell you one.

Even at that, it's cheaper than a T-34.

Needless to say, I had quite the grin when we finally got back to my driveway.

All in all, I ended the Myday that had sputtered reluctantly to a start with a very over-achieving afternoon!

Note: all photos and video was taken with an iPhone 6.  I think they look great, unless I try to crop too tight. It's making me wonder if I need to carry around the Lumix anymore.

Monday, March 16, 2015

In Search of: Food!

There will be talk of flying in this post, so stay tuned during the early digression.

It occurred to me recently that one of the most common themes when I travel to new places is the search for new places to eat. I have by no means come anywhere near exhausting the opportunities at home, mind you. Far from it, in fact. The truth of the matter is that it is too disruptive of the routine grind to 1) find a restaurant that all interested parties agree on (even though that is precisely two of us), 2) agree to turn around and head right back out on the busy rush hour roads to get to an interesting feeding hole, and 3) wait for forty-five minutes to be seated, prior to a half hour wait for foodstuffs to be delivered to our table. 'Tis far more simple to throw something together from the supplies stored in our pantry, assuming we have any palatable comestibles in there, or to go to one of our usual spots, be that drive-thru fast (that's a misnomer!) food or a chain sit-down.

And so it is that we only ever try new places when we take vacations or, in my case, when I fly out somewhere for breakfast or lunch.

Vacations, as it happens, are nearly impossible for us to take these days due to the familial obligations incumbent with caring for elderly parents, or in my case, in-laws. We really can't go any further than a two or three hour drive for fear of receiving one of the dreaded yet not uncommon 'We called the squad, meet us at the Emergency Room" calls. As you may recall from last year, we made a brief weekend trip to the city of my origin, Cincinnati.  Last week we went off in a different direction and found ourselves in another river town, this one being Pittsburgh.

I had only ever been to Pittsburgh on business travel, and even those were short stays filled mostly with, well.... business. The Co-owner had been there even less frequently, with the distant past nature of that visit being lengthy enough to nearly equate to "never."

I'll spare you all of the details, but as always I reserve the right to display pictures and make pithy comments about them.

Our first dinner was at The Grand Concourse, which is a fancy restaurant now inhabiting what used to be a train station:

We had reservations (didn't need them, as it turned out, as there were very few diners) for dinner, but arrived early enough to have a drink at the attached Gandy Dancer bar. I doubt if the bar surface itself has been around for a century or so, but the devices used to hold the bar rail certainly have:

The Co-owner had some kind of Mango-based drink, while I went with a pomegranate martini, which is not shown due to it being a 'pink drink,' which is something I don't like to advertise out of some form of latent gender programming.  

The Mango drink was reportedly quite tasty.

The main dining room is situated in the heart of the old train station. We wondered why there were no other patrons, but later figured out that most people prefer to sit in the area that fronts the river, probably because of the great view of the downtown skyline. We had that same view from our hotel room, so we didn't feel like we were missing anything by dining in the main room.

Not only was it quieter, but the waiters were relaxed enough to provide extra services like breaking up the Co-owners lobster and extracting the meaty parts for her.

The cost of her lobster being roughly equal to the defense budget of a typical NATO country, I went with a more affordable blackened Grouper, a fish and preparation style that I had very much enjoyed when we stayed in Florida for a week many years ago.

I was intrigued with the ceiling:

And dessert, which was wonderful!

As I said, the waiters had time on their hands. When they came to collect the dishes, one of them looked at me and asked if I "had ever been in the food service industry."

My blank stare was answer enough.

It seems that I had placed the silverware on the plate in " a weave," which is something professional food service people do to keep the utensils from slipping off of the plate.

Who knew??

That was a fitting end to our Friday.

Our only plans for Saturday were to visit the Strip District (which, while interesting and enjoyable, was not precisely what I had hoped for from a place called The Strip District) and to ride the incline located just behind our hotel up to Mt. Washington.

Figuring that there would certainly be interesting breakfast places in the so-called Strip District, I consulted the internet and found a diner. And as we all know, I love diners!

I selected a place called Kelly O's Diner, pretty much by random choice. It turned out to be a fine choice, and it was a very good thing I hadn't done a lot of research or I would have never gone anywhere near the place.

I feel like the best thing to do when ordering food in a new city is to look for regional things that I can't get at home. As an example, consider the kielbasa sausage, egg, and pepper jack cheese sandwich:

Consider also the home fries with peppers and onions. Nothing all that special with regards to the ingredients, but the way they were cooked to crispy perfection is sadly something that is pretty rare:

I had a chance to look at some of the non-breakfast stuff too, and was caught unawares by a thing called 'Haluski' - I had never heard of it.  This is also where I caught the first hint of why I would not have chosen this place had I done deeper research.

First things first, I attempted to get a definition of 'Haluski' from Wikipedia, but found their entry to be a virtually useless collection of gibberish.  Fortunately, I found a much better alternative:

Kelly O’s Pittsburgh Haluski

TammyTammy Baker
There’s a Diner in Pittsburgh, PA which was featured on Diner’s, Drive-In’s, & Dive’s. Makes home style grub. Yummy Polish Haluski!!

You can find the recipe at this link.
If you can't be bothered, here is the list of ingredients:


  • 3 T butter, melted
  • 1 large, diced onion
  • 3 T garlic salt
  • 1 head shredded cabbage
  • A squirt of water to help steam cabbage before caramelization with onions
  • Black pepper
  • 1 lb cooked, diced bacon
  • 1 lb cooked, strained curly noodles
You may not have noticed, but the intro to the recipe also contained a reference to the reason I would have avoided the place: anything that has been "featured on Diner's, Drive-Ins, & Dives" is likely to have become something of a tourist attraction, and those are places I try to avoid if at all possible. Fortunately, the brief moment of fame (well, just shy of three minutes, if you can get the video to work) doesn't seem to have gone to their heads. It's not a touristy-looking clientele:

We were also very, very impressed with the orange juice. Her, because it was especially tasty, and me because I was fascinated by the machine that squeezed it:

Along those same lines, it's a good thing we approached from this side of the building....

... because I would have turned tail and run if we had seen this first:

With an extremely satisfying breakfast out of the way, we wandered down the Strip District. Note that I have been unable to track down the reason for that name, but there is a bit of a historical description of the area itself available from the usual source:
The Strip District is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States. It is a one-half square mile area of land northeast of the central business district bordered to the north by the Allegheny River and to the south by portions of the Hill District.

In the early 19th century, the Strip District was home to many mills and factories as its location along the Allegheny River made for easy transportation of goods and shipping of raw materials. It was the home of the Fort Pitt Foundry, source of large cannon before and during the American Civil War, including a 20-inch bore Rodman Gun. Early tenants of the Strip District included U.S. Steel, Westinghouse, The Pittsburgh Reduction Company (ALCOA), and later The H.J. Heinz Company, famous ketchup and condiment manufacturer. 
The shipping infrastructure built around the manufacturing companies naturally lead to an increase in other types of merchants setting up shop in the Strip. By the early 20th century the Strip District became a vibrant network of wholesalers—mostly fresh produce, meat, and poultry dealers. Soon, auction houses rose around the wholesale warehouses and many restaurants and grocery stores were built to feed hungry shift workers at any hour of the day. By the 1920s, the Strip District was the economic center of Pittsburgh.
Yeah, well, okay. There were a few specialty stores mixed in with the T-Shirt/souvenir stores you would expect. This one sold nothing but various varieties of Balsamic vinegar. I was surprised at the incredible variety of Balsamic vinegar available as only a non-veteran of the Food Service Industry can be.

Speaking of The Food Service Industry, there was at least one gift shop that carried products that would appeal to veterans of that profession:

It's hard to discern what those are at first glance - they're little statues made out of (non-woven) silverware. The one on the left is a snow skier, and the two on the right are hockey players.

They also had these, for which I have no comment, other than the fact that I haven't often (well, never) seen 'CRAP' spelled as 'COPR':

There was a kind of general market as well, where the butcher shop was just getting set up for the day's business:

I was tempted by the fresh brats and pastas:

I even took an interest in the spice selection, albeit mostly because of the presentation:

This, however, was completely unappealing to me, regional specialty or not:

Grass Fed hot dogs are good, but Free Range Grass Fed hot dogs are better. They're so much leaner than those poor hot dogs that are kept in tiny little pens....

This caught my eye, but to understand it you will need a little backstory.

I had always heard that the best thing about cooking with Tofu is its ability to absorb just about any flavor (which is good, considering that it really has no flavor of its own), and when I realized that every type of "fake" seafood (crab, mostly) is made of Pollack, I thought it would be helpful if I were to provide The Pollack PR Marketing Group (before I realized that they have nothing at all to do with Pollack the fish, which is correctly spelled as 'Pollock') with a catchy catch phrase:

"Pollock, the Tofu of the Seas!"

Now, I realize that I am pretty much alone in the wilderness on this, but I find that to be uproariously funny!

With that in mind, I present you with Boiled Baby Clams, or what I choose to call "The Veal of the Seas!"

Funny store (maybe - depends on how you felt about the Tofu of the Seas thing): Co-pilot Egg asked me once at what point a calf becomes veal. My answer: "The moment you decide to eat it."

Yes, well, onward.  The next stop was the Oriental Market. Being as I am a huge fan of Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cooking, I just love the Asian markets. That said, many of the things on display are not all that appealing to me.

For example:

That's just a bit too much duck for me. Actually, any duck is too much duck for me.

I was immediately repelled by the very idea of this, but soon realized that I was simply mentally replacing the 'S' with a 'D', a problem of mine that has caused no end of confusion.

Ah, The Potato Chips of the Sea:

Oh, good, premium quality! I've had a lot of problems with the lesser brands:

Moving on to not-quite-dry-yet seafood, I came across these poor little nobodies.  Oops, that was meant to be "no bodies," for what is hopefully an obvious reason:

There were aisles of noodles and sauces, all of which were festive looking:

I would have avoided this diner too. I looked it up when we got back to the room and apparently no matter when you try to go there, you're going to stand out in the cold waiting for at least half an hour:

This store had everything!  Except macaroni. Odd, that.

We rode the incline to the top of the hill later in the day. There isn't much to say about Mt. Washington, except that it's worth the trip solely due to the means of transport, similar to almost all airport restaurants:

And the view, I suppose:

And so, at long last, we get to the flying portion of this epic posting. Thank you for your patience.

After a full month of not flying, we finally got a suitable patch of weather just good enough for a series of touch & goes. The rust was apparent; my first approach ended in a not-quite-just-practice go-around as I found myself 400' above the numbers. I had lapsed back into an RV-6 flying style. The next two were fine, so I called it good enough. 

Just a few days later we were blessed with a fine, if slightly windy, Sunday forecast. I pinged Kyle, Chief Caterer for The Jackson Two, to gauge his interest in flying out somewhere for lunch. I even had a place picked out: The Wounded Goose in Bidwell, Ohio. 

Why The Wounded Goose?  

Really, who wouldn't want to eat at a place called The Wounded Goose?

There's not much to Bidwell, OH. I think it's something like Population 12, but can't say for sure because no one has bothered to count. It does have some history, though:
The community of Bidwell was founded in 1881 under the name Heatly, after the arrival of the Columbus, Hocking Valley, and Toledo Railroad. Charles Heatly (1809-1888) owned the property where the new station was located. His home still stands nearby. 
Porter Station was built in Heatly as a means of transportation of passengers and freight, which led to its later expansion and the source of the name of the neighboring village of Porter. Circa 1900, Heatly changed its name to Bidwell in honor of John Bidwell, the Prohibition Party's presidential candidate in 1892.
[Booo! Hissssss!  Down with Prohibition!!]
The easiest way to get there would be to land in Gallipolis and grab the courtesy car for the fifteen minute drive back in time to Bidwell. Schedules were coordinated and the plan was in place. The only thing that could go wrong would be if someone else snagged the car before we got there - that's always the risk with depending on a courtesy car.

The weather was as nice as promised - there were only a few clouds down low, but I ended up climbing to 5,500' to get above the choppy air down low. It was glass smooth up there at 5,500, though.

The other benefit of climbing up there was a hella good tailwind.

As was evidenced by RV-6-like ground speeds.

With a 34 knot difference between my speed over the ground and my speed through the air, I knew that the flight back was going to be as slow as a wound goose.

I always enjoy the approach into Gallipolis - I just love the river.

Even with the great tailwind, I landed a few minutes behind a Cessna.  They grabbed the courtesy car, so lunch at The Wound Goose would have to wait for another day.

There was a bit of activity at the airport, though. One of the hangar tenants had pulled a small Experimental helicopter out of the hangar and it was attracting a small crowd of interested spectators. Always eager to please an audience. I quipped that "Big Boy Toys" in my house referred to anything that isn't women's shoes.

The group fully understood that and I was rewarded with a fairly decent group chuckle.

This is a Hirth engine, and it makes much less than 100 horsepower. It's pretty amazing that a helicopter can fly on such low power.

The takeoff out of Gallipolis is always interesting - I have to head pretty far west before making my turn to the north.

I didn't want to climb up into the huge headwind, but there was a price to be paid in staying down in the choppy air, too.  Some of the bumps were pretty extreme - one of them register 2.2 Gs on the Richter Scale.

There's a lot of mining in Southern Ohio.

The chop made for an uncomfortable wide, but trying to climb over it put me right in the teeth of the strong winds headed south.

Right. On. The. Nose.

Headwinds or not, it was great to be back in the air!!