Day 7 - Friday, June 1st, 2018
We were up early at cousin Mark and Gayle's house with Uncle Tommy arriving at exactly 6 a.m. to cook a delicious southern breakfast including grits with Aunt Lois helping. Much better than my powdered milk and cereal in a ziplock! On the way to the airport, we visited with Jeff, cousin Laura's husband. He owns a big company that builds huge electric motor starters. We got the nickle tour and parting gifts of Yeti cups. It was super interesting to see in inner workings of a small factory. Another cousin Dwayne worked there and we visited for a few moments. Remember not being able to throw a rock without hitting a cousin? We didn't mind the somewhat slow start as the morning clouds in Florida had our destination IFR.
When we departed for Marianna, Florida (KMAI) the weather was already VFR. There were multiple helicopters making practice approaches to the field and it looked like it used to be a very large training base of some sort. We parked next to an RV but didn't go in to visit, only taking a quick picture. We were both beginning to feel that this was the last day of the trip and we need to keep pushing and finish. No so much get-home-itis but more keeping the momentum going.
Cousin Laura left us a snack box the evening before and we broke it out and started snacking. Georgia peaches, Uncle Tommy's boiled peanuts and more. Extremely appreciated. Thanks, Laura!
Greenville, Alabama (KPRN) was a stop recommended by Dan H. and it was a good one. Cheap gas. Very friendly lady in the FBO who told us about visiting her son in San Antonio. We loved her southern accent. Comfortable couches to rest for a spell and even an orange stripped kitten on the porch. Austin said if his sister was with us, she'd leave us to stay with the kitten. One odd thing was the Civil Air Patrol C-172 that left about a minute before us and their radio calls. The official name of the field is Mac Crenshaw Memorial. The pilot in the C-172 only used "Greenville" and never Mac Crenshaw. Pet peeve of mine but I always try to use the official name but occasionally squeeze in the city name to ensure locals know we're here. I used Mac Crenshaw Memorial in about six radio calls and the other pilot seemed to be purposely not using Mac Crenshaw. We imagined he had some beef with who ever Mac Crenshaw was.
Carthage, Mississippi (08M) felt like a remote crop duster field or so we thought based on the only airplane we saw. There were some folks in a nearby hanger sitting around an airplane under repair. Austin said he heard one lady say she liked the color of our airplane. Quick fuel top off and we departed.
Monticello, Arkansas (KLLQ). Austin was flying this leg and was surprised to see a crop duster so close to the runway. We visited with the friendly airport manager while we were soaking up some air-conditioning. It was H-O-T outside. We got snacks of peanut butter m&m's and orange crush and continued downhill to home.
Natchitoches, Louisiana (KIER) was the last state we needed to complete all 48 lower states in 7 days. Woo Hoo! We pushed the airplane onto the grass to keep it a little cooler than the scorching hot ramp as we planned to eat something and spend more time in the air-conditioning before leaving for home. The lineman was refueling a pink Gama Aviation Wheels Up charter King Air and yelled at us to not block his parking space so we scooted the plane over a little. We planned to go to the meat pie place in town but it closed at 3 p.m. and we couldn't make it by then. Austin decided to eat the last of the freeze dried hiking food and I had a few crackers from Laura's snack pack. I met a fellow Marine in the lobby that was the pilot for the pink King Air and he said the company has other interesting color schemes for their planes including camouflage. He said he flew OV-10 Broncos in the Marine Corps.
Before we left Natchitoches, we put the last of the stickers on the map. The trip back was at 12,500 feet and nice and cool and one of the few times we had a tailwind.
We made it to New Braunfels, Texas (KBAZ) in time to eat dinner at home. Austin wanted a picture of us like the one he took as we departed a week ago but showing how tired we were. We didn't have to pretend.
Time to put the airplane away and go home and spend the next couple of days recovering.