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  #171  
Old 09-19-2019, 05:42 AM
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Default 25. Like a Thief

The son rode along the south shoreline of Mackinac Island where a beautiful train of Victorian cottages graced the length of the pathway into the town of Mackinac itself.



















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  #172  
Old 09-19-2019, 05:43 AM
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Default 25. Like a Thief

The son stopped for a time to observe and absorb the throb and surge and excitement of spending---of shopping---of giving and getting, of catering to the whims and fancies of a people who seemed to be humming a tune of prosperity wherever they walked or spun or sailed or galloped along.









Being the island that it was, Mackinac had a central shipping depot in the harbor through which all of its supplies had to pass. Workers were busy sorting through a cartload of parcels being readied for delivery.



A facsimile of a missionary-made bark chapel from the 1670s marked an evangelical outpost on the island.



The historic Trinity Presbyterian Church glowed across the street from the bark chapel. The son approached and went inside where he spent many moments alone.





The son was drawn up toward the entrance of Fort Mackinac. Originally designed and built in the 1760s, the fort was suddenly captured by British forces, marking the earliest stages of the infamous War of 1812.



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  #173  
Old 09-19-2019, 05:45 AM
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Default 25. Like a Thief

Commanding one of the highest points of the island, Fort Mackinac was surrendered to superior Canadian, British, and Native American forces on the morning of July 17, 1812. Like a thief in the night, the invaders caught Americans completely by surprise after landing on the northern shores of the island and approaching the fort from the rear. Following its capture, Americans were never able to wrest the fort from British control throughout hostilities. Eventually, it was peacefully signed back over following the armistice.









Original furniture and military accoutrements for officers’ quarters, barracks, a barroom, and infirmary were all open for the son to admire.











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  #174  
Old 09-19-2019, 05:46 AM
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Default 25. Like a Thief

The son departed the fort and rode across the island to the landing site where, outnumbering Americans by nearly 10 to 1, the British-led invaders landed on the morning of July 17. The clear, cool waters of Lake Huron rattled through the polished pebbles along the shore where the War of 1812 began in earnest.





The son continued his exploration of Mackinac island, climbing up to Arch Rock and beholding the spectacular azure beauty of the surrounding waters.







The son rode along empty paths back to the airport, stopping at another historic chapel along the way and casually soaking in the remaining beauty around him.





The terminal building was empty when the son arrived.





He made quick time of disassembling and packing up the mountain bike. The son then pre-flighted the Dove and strapped in for departure.

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  #175  
Old 09-19-2019, 05:47 AM
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Default 25. Like a Thief

There was a strong crosswind that caused the Dove to skip off the runway as the son took off on Runway 26. Over the water, he cranked to the north and bade farewell to Mackinac Island as the setting sun washed over the scene.





There was a strong headwind as the son landed a short time later only 24 miles away, at Chippewa County International Airport (CIU). It was the former site of the long-retired Kincheloe Air Force Base. After touching down, the son had to taxi over a mile to reach the FBO where he shut down next to a Cessna Cardinal.



It was quite breezy outside. There were two buildings to inspect as the son climbed out and walked over the tarmac. The first was completely stripped of equipment and abandoned to the elements.



The second was in operation, but not a soul was around. The door was open and there was no need to enter the Michigan Code on the keypad. Inside, there was a U.S. Customs facility, an FBO with a pilot’s lounge, restrooms, a shower, and a snooze room.









It was a standard military-style, cinder block building that brought back many memories as the son wandered through its halls. It was quiet, cool, and utterly devoid of human activity. In the shower room, the son happened upon an open locker with a pair of work pants that had been hastily flung over the top of the door. He stood there and looked at photos of a lineman named Todd who was the proud father of his baby girl, Jordan. The son smiled. There was much joy and happiness in Todd’s eyes. But the personal, private joy of the lineman being displayed in a public restroom somehow made the son feel like a thief, and he turned away to begin unpacking his gear from the Dove and preparing his home for the night.



The son showered, cooked up a pot of chili-mac, and ate dinner. He brushed his teeth and walked past Todd and Jordan again on the way back to the snooze room. Then he turned off the lights and went to sleep on a recliner. It was very dark in the room. But it was only so dark because the day had been so bright.
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  #176  
Old 09-22-2019, 07:17 PM
alcladrv alcladrv is offline
 
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Scott,

I've followed your trip with interest. In fact, your photos of the USAF Museum inspired me to stop and check out their new Presidential aircraft display area since it wasn't completed when I last stopped in 10 years ago. So, I flew into Moraine Air Park (I73), bought some avgas, and borrowed their courtesy car for the afternoon. It was worth the visit.

You've stopped at several airports I've patronized or look to do so. Most small airports operate on very thin margins, even if run by a municipality, because of lack of traffic. If the airport offers me a service that I accept, I acknowledge the unspoken and unwritten quid pro quo and buy some avgas to help with their cash flow.

I ask you to consider that as you fly around the country. It pained me to read that you flew into Clare, MI, (48D), used their courtesy vehicle, slept the night in their facilities, yet felt the need to fly 14 nm to Gladwin (GDW) to buy your avgas the next morning. That's how the GA world ended up with facility fees levied by the likes of Signature FBOs and others that we all despise.
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  #177  
Old 09-23-2019, 07:50 AM
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Default 26. Trails of Dust







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  #178  
Old 09-23-2019, 07:51 AM
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Default 26. Trails of Dust

At 4:45 A.M. the next morning, the son woke up when he heard somebody enter the building. A couple of doors outside of the snooze room banged shut against the jambs. The son turned over and continued sleeping. It was after 7:00 A.M. when he finally got up. After getting dressed, the son walked out to the Dove to pack his gear and begin a pre-flight. Todd was just outside the door smoking a cigarette. The son wished him a good morning.

“I didn’t expect any rain today,” the son said. There was a heavy overcast and the flightline was wet with a recent shower. It was lightly sprinkling outside as the son pulled off the canopy cover. Back inside the FBO, the son made coffee, checked weather, and made final preparations to leave Chippewa County. Todd asked the son if he needed fuel, but he did not.

The son cranked over and taxied out to Runway 10 just as a cargo plane was landing. Applying power, the son took off and made a right downwind departure for a course west-northwest that would take him along the southern coast of Lake Superior.



The son leveled off initially at a mere 4,500 feet. Soon, he encountered cloud layers at exactly that altitude, so he brought the Dove up to 6,500 feet. He encountered layers sitting there as well. At 10,500, he finally cruised out over the deck where most of the clouds broke up into clear skies to the south, but the further west the son flew, the hazier it became.



The air quality became fairly abysmal by the time the son reached the Apostle Islands, about 10 miles north of Major Gilbert Airport (4R5). Another set of clouds forced the son to leap up to 14,500 for a short hurdle over the top before descending again into the haze.



As the son approached Two Harbors, Minnesota (TWM), the comments section on the AWOS frequency announced that there was no fuel available. The son diverted sharply to the southwest and made an approach for the Sky Harbor Airport at Duluth (DYT). There were two floatplanes using the parallel water runway as the son announced his intentions. They were a Beaver and a Cessna Skyhawk. The Beaver had become a non-factor by the time the son crossed midfield for Runway 32, and the Skyhawk was just taking off again for another circuit in the pattern. After touching down, the son taxied up to a tie-down cross and pulled the mixture.





The son climbed out of the cockpit and walked toward the north end of the runway. There were many floatplanes on the ramp. There appeared to be a maintenance facility on the field specializing in floatplane maintenance and repair.



Nearing the pumps, the son perceived that the FBO was the last hangar down. Inside he found a beautifully built or restored Benoist named, “The Lark of Duluth.”



There was a screen door opening into a shack-like appendage to the hangar where the son heard voices. It was dark and stuffy inside. The son walked in and saw a group of four or five men sitting on couches and chairs in a walled-off area of the lounge. They did not seem to notice the son as he walked past them and into the restroom. A few minutes later when he came out, the son went to the coffee pot and discovered it to be empty. He turned into the cubicle where the men were still talking.

“Is there any more coffee?” the son asked. “Looks like you’re empty over there.”

“Sure,” one of the men replied. He got up and went out to make a fresh pot. The son came into the room and sat down.

“Here,” one of the men said, holding out a plastic box of cookies, “help yourself.” The son took a couple.

“Thanks,” the son said.

“Where you from?” the man asked. He was an older man in his late seventies with only a few brown jagged teeth in his mouth. His skin was crinkled like wet newspaper that wasn’t wet anymore but had dried over a skull with jaws that moved up and down to reveal the lack of teeth. He used a lot of foul language when he talked, as did some of the others, but his was used in a way that seemed to be an effort to outdo the competition. After the son told him about flying the RV-8 through America, the old man tossed out a few comments about adventuring through the country by air, and then to make sure everyone was listening, added a couple of vulgarities at the end as he laughed at about it.

A young man in a green vest sat a few feet over from the son. It was the airport manager of Sky Harbor. The son asked him if there were any Wi-Fi available.

“Nope. The City of Duluth won’t allow it for security reasons.”

The son was drinking his coffee and eating his cookies and he noticed suddenly that the others had gotten up and left the building. Only he and the old man remained. There was no after-hours access at Duluth, no Wi-Fi, and the son decided without any qualms to get up and leave, too. So he did. He thanked the old man for the cookies, finished his coffee, then walked back out to the Dove.

From the dust of Megiddo, the son placed a cross at the Dove’s tailwheel and taxied out. Before taking off, he looked across the harbor at the City of Superior.



Then he applied power, cranked hard to the left, and climbed out to the southwest. Bong Field (SUW) sank below him to the starboard.

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  #179  
Old 09-23-2019, 07:53 AM
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Default 26. Trails of Dust

The air was hot, hazy, and very bumpy as the son flew to the south. He did not have to make an extended climb-out because he decided to keep the flight fairly short. He was getting low on fuel, and there was $3.59 per gallon fuel being advertised only 55 miles from Duluth. Twenty-five minutes after departing Sky Harbor, the son touched down, taxied in, and let the propeller spin to a stop at the Burnett County Airport in Siren, Wisconsin (RZN).



The son got out and walked over to the FBO building. There were a couple of other planes on the ramp, but nobody else was around. There was an after-hours access keypad installed, but the door was already unlocked.





Inside, he found himself in an unattended building with air conditioning, restrooms, and a couch on which to sleep. There were also two courtesy cars available, and Siren was just a few miles away from the airport. The son decided to wipe down the Dove and stay for the night. After getting the plane covered up, the son took a Crown Victoria into town for something to eat.



At a DQ Grill and Chill, the son had a Flamethrower burger with fries and a shake. After eating, the son drove the Crown Vic into town where he parked and got out. He looked around. It was not much of a town. There was a barber shop open, so he stepped inside. The owner was sitting in the lone barber’s chair reading a newspaper when he came in. It wreaked heavily of cigarette smoke in the shop, and the barber himself was thin, frail, and anemic, with a grey goatee and a thick head of grey hair. When the son sat down on the chair, he asked the barber for a simple clipper cut using a #1 setting.

“That’s pretty tight,” said the barber. “You sure you want it that tight?”

The son was sure. He told the barber to use a #2 for the beard. They talked first about the weather, about some of the recent storms that had passed through the area, and then about the barber’s having caught a large bucket-mouth bass that was mounted on the wall. The barber explained that he caught it in a local lake after the bass got itself tangled up in a bunch of underwater weeds.

Right after paying the barber, somebody else walked in.

“Hey, Brian!” the customer called out. “I can’t believe I walked into an empty stool!” And then the son walked out. It felt like he was pulling a trail of dust behind him, so thick and full of smoke was the air inside the barber shop. He felt like he could breathe again finally. He walked down the street a few blocks. Turning a corner, he found a tank. It was part of the Burnett County Veterans Memorial.



Directly behind the memorial was a long, well-maintained trail that was used in the winter by snowmobilers and throughout the year by hikers, cyclists, and quad riders. There were several intersections on the trail as it passed through Siren.



Nearby was a home that had some interesting artistic pieces displayed on the property. He circled in front of the property and then walked back through town to the car.







At the other end of town, the son came upon a place called Clear Lake Park. He got out of the car and stood by the shore for a long while, breathing in and breathing out, feeling himself at once very much alive but trapped in mortality. Like the dust under his feet, his body felt as much a part of the creation around him as did the air in his lungs, so much so that he felt compelled momentarily to dive into the lake and breathe as with the gills of a fish.



Then he remembered where he was as he slid back into the car. He could smell the barber shop drifting off his clothes as if the place had followed him through town on a long length of fishing line. The son hit the gas and drove off. He was back at the airport before the sun went down.
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  #180  
Old 09-24-2019, 10:47 AM
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Default 27. Scars







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