Sunday, April 28, 2013

It doesn't matter...

Regular readers of this journal must surely be starting to wonder... "Why hasn't Pete flown yet? Does his in-depth knowledge of the tomfoolery that went into the building of this particular airplane give him pause??"

Well, no, the explanation is far more banal than that. It really has been simply a lack of opportunity. Wait long enough, though, and the Shakespeare-penning infinite monkeys of time will surely get around to providing an opportunity for just about anything. Saturday was that chance, in this case. The weather was forecast to be so close to perfect that even a stereotypical mother-in-law couldn't find flaws in it. To me, this opened up the range of places to go wide enough to include traditionally windy places like Burke-Lakefront Airport up north in downtown Cleveland. 

I've been up that way quite a few times and pretty much done all the obvious touristy things (this is going to be a problem until such time as I move out of state - with the long legs of the RV-6, I've pretty much plucked all of the low-hanging fruit, as defined by near-an-airport attractions in Ohio and surrounding areas) so I was looking for something new. Food is always an attraction, so I fired up and started looking for a good place within reasonable walking distance of the airport.

I found Slyman's.  I absolutely love corned beef, but as I am a particularly particular sort, I love it best in a good corned beef hash.  For example, this breakfast was very nearly the highlight of my Vegas Vacation a few years ago:

Pictures available on Slyman's web page indicated that such a thing would be available, albeit with a less glitzy presentation and sans the huge bloody mary:

And lo and behold, "** Now open on SATURDAYS!"  So proud of it, they are, that it's in all caps and BOLD.  That was enough for me - I fired off a text asking Pete if this would be of interest. The reply from Easily Piqued Pete was quick: "It doesn't matter where we go."  Perfect! A plan was formed.

Early the next morning, I was finishing up my planning for the trip when, as a precaution, I took one final look at the web site. And there I saw it: the fine print! Yes, open on SATURDAYS, but carry-out only, and NO Breakfast!


With insufficient time to find an alternate to justify the 120 nm flight, I decided to fly south instead. There is a restaurant at the Parkersburg, WV airport and it's only 85 miles away. Plus, I thought, maybe we would run into my buddy that has a work shop right there on the airport. And, as icing on the cake, it is a beautifully scenic region to fly over.

With the high ambient air pressure and the cool temperatures of the early morning, we climbed out of home base at a brisk pace.

Flying to the east takes us right over the former Rickenbacker Air Force Base, which is now primarily a hub for cargo flights.

A very slight detour took us over Lancaster, OH, where young Co-pilot Egg is currently matriculating, amongst other equally unsavory-sounding activities, I'm sure. Seriously, I'll bet she regularly masticates as well.  What's a father to do? You gotta let go some time...

Her abode is nestled somewhere in the clutch of homes just south of the fairgrounds.

After Lancaster, the topology is pretty much all trees and hills. It was during this portion of the flight that I discovered that the autopilot had taken a powder. Not in any spectacular sense, mind you. In fact, the air was so calm that it took a few minutes to notice that it was no longer maintaining a constant altitude. It wanted only to climb at a gentle 100 feet-per-minute, and absolutely refused to descend at all. Not a problem -- I just took over the flying. With the friendly weather, that was no burden at all.

Approaching the airport, we fly over the junction of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers, and a town that I had always assumed to be Parkersburg. Later in the day, I was to learn that this is in fact Marietta, Ohio.

We parked in front of the shop, but no one was home.

Off to the restaurant, then, where we had a spirited debate as to just how the establishment arrived at its nearly inexplicably arcane name.

And, as a felon will often return to the scene of the crime, I had to go back to the spot where I made my second most egregiously bad pun ever. How bad was it? You be the judge:

"Hey, do you know why this bear is waving?  Because he's gotta split!"

Bwahahaha -- get it?

Yes, yes, I know: that begs a question. Just for the sake of closure, the most egregiously bad pun occurred during one of our father/daughter trips to Oshkosh:

It was getting late and it was time to go retrieve Egg from work. I treated her to some delicious Wisconsin ice cream on the way home (these people really know their dairy products!!) and later we picked up some cheese curds. For those unfamiliar, 'curds' sound horrible. People seem to equate 'curd' with 'cod liver oil' or something equally unpalatable. Nothing could be further from the truth; curds are cheese at its freshest.
Unfortunately, they come in a sealed bag that is very difficult to open without scissors and we. of course, haven't a pair. Egg asked me how we were going to get the bag open without having scissors.
I, sage and wise old man that I am, replied, "Well, where there's a curd, there's a whey!"

After breakfast and as we were heading out of the Parkersburg airspace, I realized that I had committed a bit of a faux pas in telling the controller that we would be departing to the north. Parkersburg is actually more east of Columbus than it is south, so we would actually be flying to the west. To cover for my mistake, I told the tower that we had changed our minds and we were going to fly west along the Ohio river for awhile. Which, to be honest, is something that I like to do anyway.

I was intrigued by the location of this house out on an island in the middle of the river.

Some time spent on Google maps determined that the mansion in question has quite a history:

Blennerhassett Mansion
Constructed by a wealthy Anglo-Irish couple named Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett, the Blennerhassett Mansion became known during its brief existence as the Ohio Valley’s most beautiful private residence. Beyond its extravagantly landscaped lawns and gardens lay a dark wilderness broken only infrequently by scattered log cabins and a few small settlements. Thus the Blennerhassett Estate seemed like a jewel whose contrast with its crude frontier setting made it sparkle all the more.

Harman and Margaret sold their 7000 acre County Kerry estate in 1795 and emigrated to America, landing the next year in New York City. By the spring of 1798, they had located on the upper end of the Ohio River island two miles below the present-day Parkersburg, West Virginia, and started the construction of their new American home.

To the 18th-century European aristocracy, possessing a fine home was immensely important for it stood as the most outstanding symbol of the family’s social status, prestige and wealth. Thus, the Blennerhassetts set out to build a palace in the wilderness, a showplace, and they had both the money and good taste to see their dream through to completion.

When they moved into their house in the late summer, 1800, it contained 7,000 square feet of (daily living) interior floor space and a frontage of 186 feet ~ making it one of the United States’ largest homes. It was designed in the Palladian style with walkways and attached wing buildings curving upstream from a central structure like arms welcoming the approaching river traveler.

Probably the most interesting things I learned are that Parkersburg is much larger than, and located nowhere near where, I had thought it was.

Further along the river, I found what I was looking for: a barge and tow boat. Ever since reading Mark Twain as a youth, I have wondered what it would be like to ride the river. There are river cruises available should I ever get desperate enough to find out for myself. Desperation would be a requirement: the cruises are damned expensive!

Heading back to Columbus, we flew over Athens, OH. This is where Ohio University is located. Egg ostensibly attends OU, but only tangentially. She goes to the regional campus in Lancaster, and even then for just a few more days. Having finished her freshman year there, she will start nursing classes at the Mt. Carmel Lancaster regional campus in the fall.

Having burned through roughly ten gallons of gas (at 4 - 5 gallons per hour, the RV-12 is like a 50% off coupon for the "$100 hamburger" flights) I decided to stop in at Circleville for a refill. Circleville is one of the friendliest rural airports around, and that's really saying something as they are all pretty welcoming.

We also passed over my old kart racing track -- not much going on there. Maybe they're racing on Sundays now.

Back at the ranch, I was faced with the afternoon chores. First amongst them was a necessary repair to my weed whacker. For the second year in a row, I have found a brittle and broken fuel line leading from the tank to the carburetor. Last year I was able to fix it through the simple expedient of pulling more of the still-pliable fuel line out of the tank, although doing so did have a deleterious effect on its range - it could no longer reach all of the fuel in the tank. This year I had to apply a real fix.

The problem would, of course, finding suitable tubing. I doubted that I'd be able to find it in a Lowe's type of store. Having built R/C airplanes in my misspent youth, I knew where to go: the hobby shop would have just the stuff I needed. The trick would be in finding someone at the shop that knew which type of tubing to use - it is my experience these days that they usually don't know much about what they sell, except for R/C cars and trucks. 

Sure enough, I was met by an older guy that looked like he might be able to help, but he turned out to be a shockingly bigoted ("Japanese weed whacker? No wonder, you can't trust those G*$ D@&^$ Japs") know-nothing. The answer came from the tattooed, pierced, goth-looking young woman who I found working elbow-deep on a huge R/C truck. "Tygon is what you need; it's the only stuff that will hold up to unleaded gas."  

You simply can't judge by the package. She really knew her stuff!

An hour later, the whacker was whacking and I was patting myself on the back. Hoping to cash in on my accomplishment with a modicum of spousal praise, I was reminded that the standards have irrevocably shifted: "Really? [shrug] Well, you did build an airplane."

With the remainder of the fine afternoon simply begging for more outdoorsy activity, Egg and I took young Cabot out for a walk.  Sort of. Because from where I was standing? Well, it looked more like Cabot was walking Egg!

Not that it matters.


Steve said...

Sorry, nothing's topping the OSH pun for a long time.

I've been meaning to try that restaurant for a while... would you recommend it?

Chris said...

Mary's Plane View has been a staple for us flying between upstate NY and Knoxville, TN. It just always seems like good home cooking for the most part (and my young daughter loves their chunky applesauce). So, Steve, I would recommend it (if that counts for anything).

I was moved to comment when I ran across your mention of Tygon for a fuel line. As a chemist, I work with Tygon tubing frequently. Most (not all) Tygon is a heavily plasticized PVC. As the tubing interacts with solvent (gasoline fits the bill there) and the phthalate plasticizers are leached out, the tubing will get progressively inflexible and brittle over time. Maybe that's what happened to the last stuff. I don't want to contradict the hobby shop girl, but if it were me, I would maintain a watch on that tubing. Some Tygon materials will not fare well over time.

I've been meaning to add your blog to the list on my blog, I hope you don't mind.


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