Tennessee Time:  

After an MVFR trip in to Spencer, we settled in with our 99s friends for the 2 week Governor Retreat. This is Myra's first year as governor and her first retreat. I was happy to see some 99s coming in to visit.

The plan had been to do some paperwork, a little hiking, a fire or two and re-connect with some 99s. The reconnection part went well; the paperwork went well. The hiking ..... well, not so much. The large weather system thrown off by Hurricane Juoquin left us in the clouds and rain for a solid week. We did not see the sun and hi,ing was out of the question with the cold and dampness that settled in. But that should have left is with good fire weather. It did, but the fire.....not so much. The wood supply was fairly well depleted so we ordered a new batch of cut wood which was quite wet and not seasoned at all. It was like trying to keep water burning. While I managed fire, it was much work and took constant tending. Each new log seems to act more toward putting out the blaze rather than stoking it.

By Saturday we were ready for some action and the visit of Ramona Banks, Alabama Chapter Chair, was the perfect ticket. We launched out to Fall Creek Falls and went to the zip line and ropes course. It was a cool 50 degrees but we figured that all bundled up, we could handle the cold. We could, that is, until it started raining....and raining....then pouring..... We got through the first 2 legs of the course before we were soaked through to the bone and our hands quit working, it took me 5 minutes to open the safety latch. Time to quit.

We retreated to the Fall Creek Falls Inn for a hot lunch and a warm up. Lu ch was good but we all needed a fire and hot showers to finally warm up. I dug through to the bottom of the wood pile to find some of the older logs and got a good, hot blazing fire. Relief at last.

A out noon on Sunday we looked skyward to see an odd sight. The grey skies gave way to this lovely blue color and a yellowish fireball called "sun" started peeking through the remaining clouds. The temperature soared to over 80. Mind you, I was still in long pants and a sweat shirt recovering from the 50 degree weather. A hike was finally in order. 

We made our way to Burgess Falls State Park. There is a nice mile long trail through the woods to the big falls, passing the little falls and cascades along the way. Unfortunately, heavy rains from July washed out the last part of the trail to the big falls and it was fenced off. You could hear the rushing water but there was nothing for the eyes to see.

We all but gave up on nature and headed to Nashville Tuesday. Myra had never been so it was a new adventure. We spent the day in the Country Music Hall of Fame and out and about downtown Nashville, ending the evening at the Grand Ole Orpy. Alan Jackson was headlining and, man o man, did he put on a great show. 

More guests arrived Wednesday. Thursday, we had nice weather and headed back to Fall Creek Falls for about a 5 mile hike in total through the Paw Paw Trail and other minor trails and paths to the various waterfalls. We then headed over to the 2 mile downstream trail at Rock Island.

 This has long been a favorite waterfalls of the area.  The water does not fall over the top of rocks like a normal waterfalls, instead it comes through a fissure in the rocks. So I understand, the Collins River was damed long ago. This created enough hydraulic pressure that the cracks in the rocks started to leak, eventually creatine the waterfalls. These waterfalls are breath taking. They are not dependent on rain so they gush year round. There are the twin falls creating  a deafening roar and quite a strong current. The next is the cascades: a lesser falls with a beautiful stair case of water leading to the river below. As you hike along the path there is a series of smaller falls, each with its own unique water pattern and sounds. As you leave the sound of one falls fading behind you, the sound of the next falls starts to fill your ears. It is an enchanting hike ending at the rapids before looping back.

I have not spend much time here since Mario died. Too much going on, the economy, no time and the litany of other "excuses" why we fail to do things we like to do or should do. The walk along the downstream path reminded me why we built the cabin in the first place. Ten years ago, I came here and got fogged in. We drove around for lack of something better to do and discovered a natural world in the Cumberland Plateau unlike any I had seen before. There are 10 State Parks in the area, hundreds of miles of river frontage, caves, rolling hills and small mountains and wonderful people. It was great to experience those feelings again rather than seeing the cabin as "business".

Our last part of the Tennessee trip,is attending the AOPA fly in at Tullahoma. Cabin cleaning prevented me from helping with the Friday set up but the crew was all present for the Saturday event. Another cold front pushed its way through Friday leaving i its wake low clouds, 50's temperatures and blustery wind for Saturday. We could not set up many of the activities we had planned for the kids because of the lingering drizzle then winds that made a mess of things. But when the sun came out, we were able to get up and running with a variety of flight simulators, puzzles and other interactive games for the kids. It was a great turn out and a fabulous event.

Sunday came and our retreat came to an end. The remaining troopers: Myra and Ellen and me go the dubious honor of cabin cleaning for the next rental gusts before blasting off to the warmth of Florida. Tennessee was beautiful, but I miss my shorts.

2015 Fall SE Section Meeting: Early Wednesday morning with the stars still out, I headed to the hangar to finish packing Wild Mama and head to KHWO to pick up Myra SheriffTour/99sfall1.jpgBugbee, our new SE Section Governor. I had pre-packed most of the plane but still had a few items to add. Wild Mama was full with my stuff but I still had to leave room for the stuff Myra had to bring. We left the plane in Vern's hangar because the night before was a stormy night. As I pushed the heavy door open, I lost my footing and splattered flat out on the concrete. OUCH!!! Now, dressed for a meeting, I am covered in brusies, blood and mud. I get cleaned up and got Wild Mama out of the hangar to the hold short line, waiting for sunrise to go wheels up.
The sunrise was beauriful: the orange glow just peeking below the clouds and reflecting in the water that flooded the farm fields. I followed the SheriffTour/99sfall2.jpgview in to Hollywood Perry Airport where I found Myra waiting. We finished loading Wild Mama and blasted off on an IFR flight plan to Daytona. There was some rain in the area and a few low clouds so we thought it best to file to avoid problems.
Almost from the moment of lift off, we were vectored, re-vectored and re-contra-vectored. I have never had so many "advise ready to copy" instructions. We finally made it into the Daytona approach zone. We were perfectly set up for the GPS 34 approach; and with winds 320 at 18 kts, gusting to 23, we were confident that would be our approach...but we got ILS 7L vectors to final. I should have know.SheriffTour/99sfall3.jpg
We had a great meeting at Daytona ERAU. We will be working with them for the 2016 No Limits Girls Aviation Program teaching the girls from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Flagler & Volusia Counties. Joe was on board and excited for the girls. Nancy and Emmy, ARC racers, are ready to help and all of the staff who met with us at ERAU - Gretchen, Pamela and Debbie - are eager for a great program and a great 2016 ARC race terminus.
We departed IFR from Daytona and became an instant magnet for clouds, vectors and "advise when ready to copy" instructions. We had a small bit of rain to avoid but spent most of the let slogging through some very wet, thick couds. Wild Mama was leaking a bit around the vents. We SheriffTour/99sfall4.jpgclimbed to get out of the clouds but they followed us.  After the better part of 2 hours we finally got in the clear followed by afew scattered light puffy clouds. We landed at Huntsville and headed for the hotel. It had been a long day and I was gettig stiff from my tumble this morning. An evening of rest and we hit the ground running tomorrow.

September 24-27: We had a great Fall SE Section meeting with Myra Bugbee at the helm. This was her first meeting as governor and she did a great job as did our Alabama 99s Chapter as the host chapter. We had a great Mommy pilot seminar, learned about the art of laying out a compass rose and toured the rocket center and a 747-800. It was a whirl-wind of a few days but it was really nice to be in the background and have the opportunity to really enjoy our section sisters.

Sunday departure was looking doubrful for our "special flight" to Sparta. The ceiling were still low hanging from the rains over the weekend so ourSheriffTour/2015FS1.jpg standard 0'dark 00 departure was a bust. We waited until 0900 before loading Wild Mama and planned for a late morning departure. Although we got rid of some of the cargo, Wild Mama was still relatively well packed andI wanted to shift a little more weight for a better weight & balance. Loading took nearly an hour but I was pleased with the results. We even had extra space available!!!

We departed close to 11 and headed north-ish after avoiding the restricted areas, mountains, towers and a hosst of other obstacles in our path. I had created a few waypoints in Foreflight for our navigation and gave Myra instructions on what to look for. I wanted to spot corn mazes from the sky an Tennessee is ripe with corn mazes this time of year. Our first spot was just outside of Fayetteville, TN with the Lyons Family maze. It is apparently their 1
SheriffTour/2015FS2.jpg0 year celebration. We circled to get just the right photo then plotted our course for the next maze.

The second maze was easier to spot for Myra since she now know what to look for. This was her first hunting corn mazes and I have to say se took to it quite readity. She had a keen eye and steady hand to shoot the right picture. We completed this mission and went on toward the third maze. On the way, we made an overflight of Murfreesboro airport - one of the 2016 ARC stops. We will make a return to gather some information at the request of the ARC route division.

Maze #3 was a bust. We saw the corn fields but nothing was cut yet so we crossed over Center Hill Lake and continued on to maze #4 which was right off the appraoch end of runway 4 at Sparta. I knew this maze would be there and it is always a good one. Locally, the farm is called "Amazing Acres of Fun" and open every fall for
fall family activites and to run the corn maze...from the ground, of course. We had a great VFR flight, never getting above 2,000' because of the ceiling.SheriffTour/2015FS3.jpg

We finally landed and met Mae and Jaimie for the Governor's retreat. Myra has invited anyone from the SE Section to come and stay for a day or a period of time and chat with her about what is important to them and their chapters, discuss strategies and other issues aust to get to know the new governor. We have lots of folks who have said they are coming but we have lots more space for lots more visitors.