Last updated September 16, 2012
I am a commercial pilot and flight instructor with 1/5 share of a corporation that owns a fun plane and managing ownership of an LLC that owns my dream airplane. I give free transportation to folks in medical need through Angel Flight, and I give free airplane rides to friends in my spare time, in particular Young Eagle rides (free rides for kids) are a high priority. I used to spend a ton of time doing and teaching Search and Rescue through Civil Air Patrol where I also got to teach the Garmin G1000 avionics suite. I also combined flight instructing with Search and Rescue through teaching pilots about survival. I've also started hiking more, and in late summer 2003 finally achieved a longtime goal of climbing Longs Peak, since then doing a lot of hiking and snowshoe trails throughout the year. Other toys are a 2004 Toyota Prius hybrid and for 6 months in 2006 I had a blast flying a Bonanza (Debonair), photos here, which got me addicted to the quality of Beech aircraft. Finally have an LLC with a really fast cool Bonanza... ah now if I could only afford to fly it as much as I want!
Bob Proulx is my fiancé, best friend, web hoster, Linux guru, sys admin, fellow pilot, helps me do silly things like build snowmen. As a wonderful sys admin we also have a great network of PC's with which to play group computer games. Since between us we have 4 airplanes, we have a blast flying to cool places!
I snowboard, ski, snowshoe, and love warm beach vacations... and Snowcaving (2006 and 2010) which is much more fun than going winter camping in a tent in Dec 2002 :-)
Some family pictures below at the 2003 and 2001 Wolber family reunion, and here's other Wolber pictures over the years...
Some of the most fun I have is working for Agilent Technologies (a spin-off from Hewlett-Packard) as a software engineer. Here's my previous team and my current team at work.
I am also a ham radio operator (N0MPI), which I originally got to work the Gold Rush Pro Rallyes every October down in Westcliffe, Colorado. The rallyes were a lot of fun to work, but the organizers got burned out and 1995 was the last one :-( I can totally understand after rallye-mastering a few TSD and gimmick rallyes up here! I don't put them on anymore either, but Bob and I still work local sport rallyes for Jay & Cindy, as well as a few OctoberFests's for the BMW Car Club, and the annual COG Rallye in Steamboat.
Highlights: Week in Kauai, hut trip, saw a bear cub in the wild, 3 angel flights so far, amazing adventures with a day at Oshkosh, factory training at Continental Motors...
This year started similarly to last year with the pre-party-party at Robs for party setup - much fun putting together all the food items to marinate overnight. Bacon-wrapped-water-chestnuts, wow yumm! Then on New Years Eve the dinner party at George's, followed by the usual New Years Eve party at Rob's. Both Bob and I imbibed of the incredible margs Rob makes (better than the Rio's!) so we walked home and slept in the next day, then met George & Rich & folks for brunch, picked up our car at Rob's, and spent a quiet new years day playing computer games. I had one more day off before having to go back to work, so on Jan 2 I had a blast taking JohnM's grandkids down to El Paso, TX in the Bo. They'd come up for Christmas and John's son wanted to avoid the horrendous long drive down to return them, google maps says it's 12 hours each way, instead it was 4 hours each way in the Bo including a fuel stop each way. Gorgeous clear calm day, not a cloud in the sky, no wind, wow incredible weather for January.
Next weekend had fun flying with Roy on a "long close xcountry fuel pump intro" where we went to all the local airports and practiced self-fueling at each fuel pump. We hit LMO front pump, 18V, GXY for fuel and lunch, and were going to hit LMO for its back pump but clouds were rolling in so we just ran back to FNL and put the plane away. Still much fun and learning, each fuel pump is different. Then Sunday went snowshoeing with Dave & Patty again, were going to take the North St Vrain trail but it had snowed Sat night and there were no tracks and we had problems finding the trail so instead we went across the road and took the Sourdough trail, photos here. Even there we got off trail a few times and spent about half the time bushwhacking which is an incredible amount of work compared to being on a packed trail.
Following weekend we headed up to Steamboat with friends, rented a gorgeous house "Sweet Air Ranch". Would have been an awesome time but Bob was just recovering from a cold and I was just catching it :-( In spite of that we had fun, went snowshoeing one day up to North Walton Peak, but the next day was windy and very very cold so we stayed home and then when it warmed a little in the afternoon went for a walk around the country roads, found a local airstrip, and that wasn't enough exercise for me so I then went around again alone at a jog, trying to work off all the cheese and scotch of the last couple days :-) Snow depth at Steamboat ski area was horrendous so we didn't even try to ski.
Back to work and then WOW suddenly my sister Annie is saying that she's bummin' cuz she's going to Hawaii in a week, supposed to go with hubby and kids, but hubby got yanked by work and can't go. So she's still going to go with the kids but bummin' at not having an adult to hang with while the kids are playing, so I jokingly said "well you could invite _me_ ya know" and she said "really you'd go??" and I said "well duh twist my arm, never been to Hawaii, let me think for a quarter second YES". I asked Bob if he'd mind if I went to Hawaii without him and his face lit up with this look of glee and he waved his hand bye-bye at me "yes yes go go have fun". He hates to travel and I love to :-) He'll have a blast holed up in the basement for a week working, and I'll have a blast on the beach! Can't wait!! And indeed had a great time, only downside was losing my camera the last day, have no idea where it disappeared to :-( Ah well, fortunately I'd been uploading photos daily so here's photos from most of the trip: first day, second day, Spouting Horn, more gorgeous views, Kilauea Point.
Also looking forward to another hut trip in Feb, this time to a lower hut, and a much longer hike in (6+ miles) and a much farther away trailhead (5 hour drive to Aspen area). So in a way it's a pain because we'll have to drive up the day before, spend the night in a motel, and it'll take nearly a full day to snowshoe in 6 miles. Fortunately it's only 1500' elevation gain so fairly flat trail hauling in gear. But on the other hand this is an awesome thing to have to drive up the day before and spend the night in a motel because it'll (hopefully!) let me acclimate a bit by spending a night above my home elevation of 5000' but not as high as the hut (9,700') so _hopefully_ I won't get altitude sickness this time. Hopefully.... and drum roll.... had a great time! Did get a little sick but I think it was from eating too many awesome fish tacos on top of too much awesome guacamole combined with too much of the awesome margaritas :-) Photos here. I think driving up the night before and spending a night at 6,600 feet in Basalt (AspenAlt hotel is good value for the price) was a good call - helped acclimate and we got a good night's sleep, and slept in till 9:30. Finally got up, last shower before 3 days of no electricity and no running water, there's a grocery store 20 feet from the motel so grabbed a yogurt for breakfast, drove up to the trailhead (26 miles up past Ruedi Reservoir, nearly to Hagerman Pass), unloaded the car, loaded the sled, and got going up the trail about noon. What I hadn't done is look closer at the topo map - yes the difference in elevation between the trailhead and the hut is only 1500 feet, but, the trail itself goes up 2000 feet above trailhead and then descends to the hut! Ah well, will look more closely next time :-) Fortunately the only long steep section in the trail was in the first mile so got that over with and then it was nearly flat for a couple miles, then gentle climb, then a fun downhill, then just as it was getting dark we hit the last uphill, the last 1/4 mile was uphill, short but steep. That was going to kill us (we were both low on blood sugar, ready for dinner at that point) and MarkR saved us - we had been loading up together at the trailhead and since we had a sled we offered to take some of Mark and Amamda's heavier or bulkier items that they were having problems fitting into their backpacks. We went uphill mostly together, then at the downhill part they whooshed away on their skis while Bob and I plodded on with snowshoes, so they were at the hut long before us. After they unloaded at the hut, and feeling a bit guilty about us hauling up some of their weight MarkR put his skis back on and came down the last 1/4 mile to help us up, and OMG that was a godsend, he saved us. So we got to the hut right at dark and the Friday night crew was already making dinner so we just settled in and pigged out on yummy beef strogonoff. Saturday we got up and Bob took some practice runs down the first hill on his snowboard, I watched and took pictures, then BarbD was heading up Burnt Mountain after the rest of the folks so I headed up with her and got most of the way up, Bob took some more runs, then we both headed back to the hut as our task was appetizers for Saturday dinner - chips, salsa, and guac. We used this recipe for guac (tripled it, expecting 15 people) and it was a HUGE hit - 9 avocados makes for a huge bowl of guac but even with only 13 people up there the entire bowl was consumed along with most of 3 bags of tortilla chips and 3 bottles of salsa. Mark's fish tacos were a huge hit as well and Amanda's margs were awesomely good. Sunday morning I woke up feeling pretty blech but Bob got me to muscle through it and got me packed up and onto the trail homebound and by the time we were a mile out I was feeling fine. Bob hauled the sled the entire 1.5 miles uphill, I took it most of the easy downhill, and then we loaded up the car and headed down to Subway in Glenwood Springs for dinner, and then the drive home (snowing on Vail pass, glad we had the 4wd). Took us about 6 hours to snowshoe in, about 4 hours coming out. Major learnings for next year - pack lighter, don't drink at altitude, and allow more time for the hike in so we get to the hut before dark. Fun!
Back to work, then following weekend helping my mechanic Bill with annual on his plane (a beautifully maintained Debonair), had a fun day taking everything apart, found out how to take out the gear motor and flap motor, wow one was easy and one was really hard to get to! Having lots of fun learning more about beech aircraft. Along the way they replaced an exhaust manifold and as usual discovered that the right tool makes a job trivial and the lack of it makes the job nearly impossible. On an IO-520 it's nearly impossible to get to some of the exhaust manifold nuts without a 7/16 socket with an integrated u-joint, ground thinner just enough to fit into the tight spaces, but not ground enough to be too weak to torque on.
Then the weather took a turn towards spring so bought a pass to Horsetooth Park again and since it was a gorgeous Saturday the upper lot was packed so we went down to the lower lot at Inlet Bay where there's always lots of parking available and hiked up Tower Rd, I'd never been all the way up to the antennas. Lots of snow and mud still in the tree-covered areas but fun.
Spent a few weeks adding an Insight Graphical Engine Monitor (GEM) to my Bonanza, man it's a ton of labor but oh so useful to see what all 6 cylinders are doing! Also gives me a fuel totalizer which I've been wanting. Along the way added a circuit breaker for the GEM, discovered the transponder circuit breaker was unhappy so replaced that, discovered the transponder circuit breaker was also powering the HSI (weird!) so moved that to a separate breaker. Spent a TON of time under the dash working on the circuit breaker panel, looks like this with my head and arms under the dash, good thing I do yoga and am flexible :-)
Took KirkH up for a mountain flight to celebrate his solo, up over RMNP and Granby and back over Corona pass. He took some good photos here. In April Keith and I were talking about possibly going to Europe late this summer and visiting Diane, and also touring across Europe on a bicycle with Experience Plus tours - hoping to do the 4-countries-in-2-weeks tour across Germany-Austria-Slovakia-Hungary. So I started bicycling again after a couple years off, and worked up to biking to work one day (15 miles each way). Had a bad crash along the way that took out my helmet and totally smashed my bike computer and bent a rim... but it was 2 miles from home so I got back up and wobbled my way home, hitting a bike shop along the way to get a new bike computer and get the rim straightened. Was glad I was still on my ancient 10-speed, not a nice new $2k carbon-fiber bike, that would have totaled a non-metal bike. Nursed my massive bruises for a week or two then got back on the bike to get ready for a bike tour in mid-May. Now hoping to do the Europe trip in June/July 2013...
In May headed back to Kansas City for me to renew my CFI, spent a fun couple days with Dan & Jan. After 4 days there, went back to my Bo to head home and saw a few suspicious wisps of grass in the front of the cowling and bird poop on the prop. Opened up the left cowling and wow a huge birds nest. Never seen one that big, but it's the right time of year for birds to be doing this. Right after that my Bo went down for annual inspection, hurrah a quick and easy one this year, done by first weekend in June! My Bo was also the guinea pig for using a new-to-us jack that is a huge one-piece jack that can be moved around on wheels rather than the usual pre-positioned jack stands that are more difficult to use.
May 20 was the annual McKee Medical Center Foundation Community Classic Bike Tour. For this tour (not a race) you have a choice of 62 miles and serious hills of both Carter Lake and Horsetooth, 37 miles and Carter Lake hill, 30 miles and the mild Sedona hill, or an easy 10 mile local trail, all with nice path markings, aid stations, water stations, etc. A lot of the locals were doing the 62 miles, most folks agree that on a 10-speed you can't even do the Carter Lake hill much less Horsetooth so I opted to do the 30 mile and Sylvia volunteered to push me - we'd leave 15-30 minutes before the rest of the serious riders, she'd ride the first 10-15 miles with me, then when the hard-core riders caught up with us she'd take off with them for the rest of the 62-mile trail and I'd slack off and take the 30-mile loop. Doris also volunteered to go along and stay with me on the 30 mile loop. Unfortunately the fire just west of Ft Collins (very close to the north end of the 62-mile route!) was putting out copious amounts of smoke, enough that for the first time ever McKee had to cancel the tour for health reasons. But Sylvia and Doris and I agreed that we'd bike the 30 mile loop anyways that day, it was a lot further south and out of most of the smoke, and this way we got to sleep in another 2 hours :-) Sylvia did the 37 mile loop up Carter Lake and Doris stayed with me. Ended up being 31 miles since we didn't quite start at McKee, tons of fun, the longest continuous bike ride I'd ever had. Gave me a taste of what biking across Europe would be - it would be 50-60 miles each day, for 12 days straight... but no hills and you have all day to go at your own pace.
End of May went to the usual Reed Memorial Day Flyin, lots of planes and RC planes and people there.
June started with a fun Young Eagles rally at FNL on Saturday, thanks to LesleyT and all the organizers for a very smoothly running event. Flew a couple sets of folks over the burned-out area from the Hewlett Gulch / Grey Rock fire, this was just before the High Park fire started. Then met up with RandyB and BillH to ferry Powers' Baron from Front Range to FNL but major thunderstorms over Denver turned us back, when tower called us on short final saying there was a microburst one mile west it was time to give up and head home to FNL to work on Bill's plane as it was nearly finished with some work on the oil pump, got to ride along on a test flight in it. Then tried again for the ferry Sunday am and gorgeous weather let us go this time, got 2 hours in the Baron on the way back including seeing a real engine full feather in flight, wow what fun. Then got to ride along back-seat while Randy and Bill did some recurrency training in the Baron, tons of fun.
The following weekend spent Saturday in ground school, auditing the awesome Colorado Pilots Association mountain flying ground school so that I can become an official instructor for them. All these years I've been flying and teaching in the mountains with Civil Air Patrol but never got officially accredited with CPA as well. Still have to go fly a checkride so not complete yet, but thanks to RandyB for motivation to finally do this. Saturday night went to Ann's annual Dean Martini party, great to see everyone. Sunday caught up on a about 3-year-old promise to take Mort flying, it was a little hazy from the High Park fire but went up anyways and was a gorgeous flight.
Along the way have been working on adding instrument to my flight instructor certificate, known as CFI-I or "double-I" so I can teach people how to fly on instruments. Huge thanks to RandyB for all his help and nudging me along. Got the written tests done end of March and have been flying with Randy trying to get proficient at instruments and then proficient from the right seat. Had a great flight Saturday morning, then in the afternoon went hiking up Round Mountain and saw a bear cub, what fun! Photos here. Also with good weather and my Bo done with annual I started doing Angel Flights again, had two beautiful flights to Cortez.
Next weekend was the annual Glenn Miller Days fly-in at Fort Morgan, much fun as always. Photos here including fun "big and little Redbirds" photos of the Howard and Redbird. Thanks Vernon for a great fly-in!
The next week while working on CFI-I, flying under the hood doing an approach, suddenly nothing made sense. The artificial horizon said I was in a nice 20 degree turn to the right, while the turn coordinator, HSI, and Garmin 530 all agreed that I was not turning. The turn coordinator is electrical and if the 530 GPS is working then it should work too. But the HSI is vacuum driven along with the horizon - either both should work or both should fail. I was trying to figure out how that could happen where one failed and one didn't. I actually looked left at my CFII-trainer (Randy) and said "How did you DO that??? How did you fail the horizon and not fail the HSI???" As we found out earlier this year putting in the GEM, the HSI does have an electrical input and is now on its own circuit breaker, so if Randy had managed to reach in front of me and pull the breaker (without me noticing) then he could fail the HSI while leaving the horizon running. And if vacuum had failed, both the HSI and horizon should have failed. How did just the horizon fail? Randy of course was looking outside and could see what was really happening, and he'd already figured it out - he finally pointed at the vacuum gauge which of course read zero. Wow a true vacuum failure, fortunately in good VMC weather, but under the hood where I could really see how the failure manifested itself. Weird but we finally decided since the HSI does have electrical input it makes some sense that it kinda kept somewhat working while the horizon totally failed, finally tumbling. I was going back and forth between "this is so cool to see a true vacuum failure under the hood" and "oh crap now I need to buy a new pump, another $400 down the drain" :-) Turns out the dry pump had about 950 hours on it, which is a lot for a dry pump, so it was past due to fail.
The next weekend, Saturday I had a blast flying the Bo in the mountains with Randy. I have a ton of mountain time in the Cessnas but not that much in the Bo so we wanted to see how well (or not) the A36 (with a tired engine) would do going into the more difficult (short, high) mountain airports. So we hit a bunch of the airports I hadn't been to in a bonanza, and a few that Randy hadn't been to - Granby, Glenwood Springs (half tanks and 2 people at 70F is doable), Rifle for fuel, overflew Marble, tried to find Harry Gates hut near Hagerman pass but the Bo being a low-wing isn't good for looking down and finding things on the ground. Over Hagerman to Leadville (again 2 people and half tanks at 60F is doable), then stopped into Buena Vista for fuel and lunch. The FBO at Buena Vista is very nice folks, they let us have the ex-cop-car courtesy car to go into town into the usual Jan's for lunch, then since we had a car we drove a mile north-east to the river park and watched the rafts and kayaks playing on the river. Headed back out to the plane and did a landing at Salida since we were there, then headed out of the rocks about 2pm as the afternoon thunderstorms were starting to build. Much fun!
Sunday I slept in too late and hiked Round Mountain again anyways but it was so hot I turned around early, then met up with Randy and Bill (my mechanic) to do some testing on the Bo to ensure that the vacuum pump really had failed (it had, the shaft was sheared off just like it's supposed to, to protect the parts inside the engine). Wasn't too bad to pull the pump and air filter, maybe an hour for both, we'd expected a lot worse to get to some of the hard-to-get-to nuts. Overhauled pump is on order and will arrive Tues. Meanwhile, Monday flew 82H down to Parkland to meet up with Kim of M&K Upholstery to get a more final quote on re-doing the ratty ancient ripped-up interior of 82H. We'll probably end up closer to $5k than $4k but oh man the seat foam is non-existent and the carpeting is gross and the puke-green of the headliner is just ukk, it's way past due for an upgrade. Fortunately Brenda has a good eye for color so we hopefully will have a much better color scheme soon. Wednesday put the new vaccuum pump into the Bo and all is happy again, then headed to Rob's for his awesome annual July 4th party.
Thanks to RobP for organizing the annual Collings Foundation fly-in weekend of the WWII bombers, B17 and B24 and P51 Mustang. First off on Friday was for 4 planes to head northbound to the bomber's previous stop in Gilette WY and ferry 14 folks up, so they could ride back in the bombers. Loveland Reporter-Herald did a great story on the WWII vets riding back in the bombers: Here's my photos too. Then on Saturday had a great time caravan'ing with JohnM and EdB in 90K (me and Bob were in 82H) to Granby for the annual EAA pancake breakfast fly-in, then Greeley for lunch, then back to FNL to fly a photographer over the bombers. Photos here of another great day in spite of cloudy skies. Tons of rain Saturday night, too much to hike Sunday (trails would be a mud bog) so slept in and caught up on posting photos. Monday have another Angel Flight, then back to work. Glad for the rains that are putting out the horrible wildfires we've had here in Colorado.
Mid-July we hiked Chasm Lake photos here which is a gorgeous hike up in Rocky Mountain National Park, the columbine flowers and waterfalls are beautiful. The following weekend we started the 14ers for the summer with a hike up Mt Bierstadt, our third time up the easiest of the 14ers, photos here. Insanely crowded but fun nonetheless. Then Monday-Tuesday I was in a ground school class for CFII - adding instrument instructor on to my flight instructor certificate, learning what I need to know for the oral exam and how to teach this stuff. Extremely worthwhile for me (would highly recommend Colorado Contrails aka The Flying School) as I finally, after 19 years of instrument flying, finally understand the concept behind "primary / secondary" instruments, finally makes sense. Then Wednesday took off for a serious adventure which requires a long explanation....
[background] My instructor-in-all-things-
[story] A couple long-time friends of Randy's want a ride out to Minnesota to a bluegrass festival where one of them is in the headliner band, and all of them know many other folks going to the festival, and they want to haul out not just a fiddle but a guitar too and maybe a couple guitars, and baggage etc. They want to come back afternoon of Sunday July 29... all good for Randy to take the 3 of them in Bill's plane except the baggage area is too small to carry more than one guitar, until it transpired that Bill also has a trip leaving Sunday and he wants to leave early Sunday (both July 29th that is). That's tough to do with sharing Bill's plane. So with the guitar-and-other-baggage Randy asked if he can take my plane on his trip cuz my plane has a much bigger baggage compartment, and that would remove the conflict with Bill's trip. Of course I said sure and was curious where he's going (I'm always on the lookout for anyone going east near Detroit where I could hitch a ride to see my parents) so I asked for details.... Turns out they want to arrive in Minn on Friday noonish and leave Sunday noonish... so I said hmmm do you have an empty 4th seat and can I come along and drop you 3 guys in Minn and take the plane, and go on to Detroit...??? Will be a short trip for me cuz I'll get to Detroit Friday around dinner time and have to leave Sunday morning like 7 or 8am cuz it's nearly 4 hour flight from Minn to Detroit. But I figured a short trip to visit the parents is better than no trip, and it would be a fun adventure to go through Minnesota.
[longer story] Then as plans progressed, one of the friends (Greg and MaryBeth) asked if we could go 2 days early and fly out Wed and spend 2 nights in Appleton Wisconsin at MaryBeth's parents place, get in a visit to her parents, and they'd put up Randy and I for the nights. Randy thought for maybe half a second and said OMG this is during the week of Oshkosh EAA AirVenture (mecca for pilots) and you're offering me accommodation in Appleton (like 20 miles from Oshkosh) for Wed-Thu nights and the chance to spend all day Thursday at Mecca? Hotels for 100+ miles around Oshkosh fill up a year in advance for the week of Oshkosh... really. So the revised plan is that we leave Wed morning, fly into Wisconsin, stay at MaryBeth parents' house (I'll be happy with a sleeping bag on the floor OMG I get to to go Oshkosh!), Greg and MaryBeth spend Thu with her parents while Randy and I spend the day at OMG Oshkosh, spend Thu night in Appleton too, Friday morning head to Minnesota, drop off the 3 of them, and I head on to Detroit for a weekend with my parents, then Sunday morning head back to Minnesota to pick them up and head back to Colorado. What an adventure! Appleton was a blast, MaryBeth has three sisters in Appleton and her sister Cathy had two extra bedrooms in her gorgeous house so she put up me and Randy, and man Cathy is an awesome hostess! We had talked to Cathy and her husband John about getting a ride to one of the shuttle pick up points to catch the shuttle down to Oshkosh and that was the original plan, but then Cathy and John decided it was too much hassle for them to take us to the shuttle stop and then pick us up that evening so they just gave us the key to their car. Wow. Then we get up Thursday morning to head to Oshkosh and Cathy is long since up and already made us home-made muffins for breakfast... which were awesomely good. WOW. Just the greatest people!
Photos here of Oshkosh - saw a ton in just a single day, took an awesome class with hands-on training on how to rivet, spent a while wandering with BillS, kept an eye out for Jer/ and JackB but didn't run into them, saw a C5 and Fifi arrive, wow what a fun day. Then on to Minnesota then Detroit photos here and was great to see the parents even if only for a day and a half, had fun helping in Mom's garden and adding brick edging around a flower bed, was sad to have to leave so soon. Fun flight back to Minnesota and then dodging thunderstorms back home, XM weather is worth its weight in gold especially in NE/CO area where ADS-B is still years away from reality. What a great adventure!
August got in another hike of a 14er, Quandary Peak for the second time, photos here including an awesome baby mountain goat just off the trail. Major wow to be that close to that much cuteness! The next weekend had a blast flying the Cessna into a private back-country grass airstrip up in the mountains, another long story explained in the photos here. Much fun with the three-plane fly-in and always fun to fly with JohnM, only downside was somewhere in there my iPad got smacked and slightly crushed, photos here. But hey it still works... Ended the day of awesome mountain flying back at Ft Collins airport around 3pm the same day as the Colorado Civil Air Patrol bi-annual evaluation, and 3pm is the really quiet time of day at an exercise so stopped in to say hi to all the usual folks and get a lot of hugs. JohnB was missing in brief/debrief, not the same without him, but got to chat with a bunch of other fun folks, all the "usual" folks working the evaluation. Was the first eval I'd not worked at, in about 15 years now that I'm inactive.. but I'm having so much more fun with life and hiking and flying my Bo and working on CFII, and Angel Flight is so worthwhile! But I do miss the fun people in CAP. Next week is take-apart for annual (and new interior!) on the Cessna, and take-apart for the dreaded 500 hour spar web AD inspection on the Bo. Hopefully both will go well!
Some good, some bad - Bo passed spar web inspection with flying colors, Cessna didn't pass annual so it'll be down for a few months. Sigh. Meanwhile had fun with another couple Angel Flights out to Utah, and another longer one from Idaho to DIA - got to fly into the huge Denver International airport! Would have been scary to do alone but had another pilot along so went well and much fun. Yard work, laundry, fun bike ride with Keith and Dave and Patty and Bob finished up August.
September started with a fun labor day weekend including a fun 30-some mile bike ride with Keith and Bob from Keith's place in Longmont up to Lyons for brunch. Then the always great Marble Fly-In, photos here. Since my Cessna was down for annual and Bob's Cessna was already scheduled by his partner Mike, I was thinking we'd have to cancel going to Marble as there's no way I'm driving 5 hours each way to a fly-in! Started asking around for rides and my adopted dad Vic who was going with his son Paul in Paul's 206 offered me his C182 for me and Bob to take. Wow what an honor to have someone offer you their plane to fly! (*) But then Bob had a better idea - we'd swap Vic for Bob into Paul's plane, and put me and Vic into Vic's plane. Vic and I get more time together! That worked out wonderfully, I had a blast flying with Vic into Marble (he let me fly and I even did a great landing with 100 people watching :-) and then camped out with Vic and Paul and lots of other fun folks - Gary with the familiar 76N, Mel and Taylor in the Glastar introduced us to Jan and Mike in their Rebel, Jer/ in his 206... Fun!
(*) I told that to Randy and he looked at me like I was crazy and said "but you offer me _your_ bonanza to fly without hesitation" and I said "well yes but you're a bppp instructor and a beech-god-instructor" and he said "well you are a cessna-god-instructor" and I had to stop and think, well, yes with nearly 2000 hours in c182's, having owned one for nearly 20 years and taught in mine and in CAP 182's for 10 years, I guess I am :-) Next logbook page I total will probably take me to 3,000 hours :-)
Got back from Marble, worked for 2 days, then off to another awesome adventure with another long story... BeechTalk is an incredible on-line forum for Beech pilots that in only 5 years went from nothing to over 18,000 subscribers. I first found it when I was googling for parts during the first annual on my Bonanza, there is an amazing amount of great information there (along with a ton of chatter). Anyways, "the Jeffs" who founded and maintain the site ran into a guy who works at Continental Motors (almost all Beech aircraft have continental engines) and they said "wouldn't it be great if..." There's all these Beech owners who could use more info on how to run their engines properly, and the engine factory who wants happy owners who will eventually buy more engines from them...can't we get together for a fly-in and training? Thus was born the idea of the September 2012 BeechTalk / Continental Motors Fly-In and Factory Training! Hundreds of beech owners signed up, lots had to cancel for last-minute issues with work and things, but over 200 attended with probably 100 planes flying in. OMG a ton of fun! A couple of us wanted to go and found 4 of us in the local area all wanting to go, we were going to take PaulB's Baron but it has last-minute tach issues, Randy's (Bill's) 33 had autopilot issues, PaulC had to cancel last minute so we couldn't take his V35, so we ended up taking my A36. A bit slower than Paul's Baron and not as classy, but hey cheap on gas and fun to swap around pilots on the four legs. Photos here. Huge thanks to BeechTalk for organizing and Continental for the incredible training and food and factory tour and bus'ing us around, WOW.
Highlights: Burn's Night weekend in Gypsum, 7 Angel Flights, lots of hiking, solo'd Roy
This year started same as last year with fun New Years Eve dinner party at George's, followed by the usual New Years Eve party at Rob's. Two parties in one night! Rich from Austin came to visit George over New Years but we didn't take him flying this year - 2 of Bob's planes were down and the odd thing is that both of them had fuel selector leaks. My Bo was down for something dragging on the wheels where I could no longer pull it out of the hangar by myself, turned out to be the brakes dragging on one side. Trusty 82H was up, but as Rich arrived so did a major snowstorm and well-below-freezing temps. Rich - bring WARM weather next time!
Next weekend we went snowshoeing up in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) again, this time to Loch Vale with Dave & Patty & Keith. So many trails, so little time! Gorgeous up there, photos here. The following weekend we went back up to RMNP with Dave & Patty again, and intended to snowshoe from Fern Lake trailhead up to Fern Lake. But the road to the trailhead is closed in winter nearly a mile before the trailhead so we parked just beyond Cub Lake trailhead and hiked into the Fern Lake trailhead and gentle uphill to The Pool and then steeper uphill to Fern Falls... and decided to turn around there and make a loop of it, back down to The Pool and then uphill to Cub Lake, and back out to the Cub Lake trailhead, since we were parked right next to Cub Lake trailhead anyways. Both Fern Falls and the Cub Lake overlook from the north-west edge are stunning even in winter, definitely want to go back in summer. Photos here. It was a VERY windy day up there and there's about 1/4 mile on the east end of Cub Lake that was gale force winds, if we'd been heading west into the winds we would have turned around for sure! As it was, with the winds at our backs, it was strong enough to push us around a little! This was one of the few hikes that I did without Bob, he had been up all night working and having had only one hour of sleep, he decided to snooze in the car while we hiked.
The next weekend on Friday night, our fridge died. Oh no! We packed everything into a cooler and got dry ice every day for the next few days, went fridge shopping most of Saturday and had sticker shock, and had great luck Monday getting Quick Appliance Repair to work on the fridge and get it fixed quickly. More info and photo here. Sunday we left the fridge worries behind and hiked Zimmerman Lake up at Cameron Pass with JK, much colder that day but still a lot of fun, photos here.
Coming up - a fun weekend in Gypsum/Eagle renting a huge gorgeous cushy house with I think we're up to 11 friends... lots of snowshoeing, maybe some skiing. Then in Feb another long weekend up in the hills, but on a Hut Trip this time - rustic to say the least - this hut is considered "cushy" in that it has an indoor compost toilet. Obviously no electricity and no running water and no shower, one wood stove for heating and cooking, sleeps 20 in community bunk beds so this is a pretty huge cabin, melt snow for water... going to be quite the experience... oh and did I mention that you can't drive to it, it's a ski/snowshoe in for a couple miles hauling all your gear? This is going to be a lot of wow's.
The weekend in Gypsum for Burn's Night was a blast - we ended up with 11 folks in the house, photos and more info here. We snowshoed three days -- Thursday on Ten Mile Creek at Frisco, Friday on Corral Creek at Vail Pass, and Saturday on West Lake Creek Trail at Edwards. Sunday (aftermath of Burn's night) we just hung out, then headed home Monday. We had gorgeous blue sky days up through Sunday night (snow and cold for the drive home Monday, ah well). Excellent food all weekend by Keith and other folks, cookies by Shuman and Dave&Patty, much scotch, couple cases of Mike's, mmmmm. On the drive back Monday we stopped off in Breckenridge to peek at the trailhead for the hut trip in February, various web sites have wildly different information on how far the road to the trailhead is plowed in the winter and how big of a parking area there is in winter. Turns out no problem at least now at end of January, plenty of parking in the plowed lot at Spruce Creek Trailhead.
February hut trip was a lot of fun in that everyone up there was very cool and fun, but it sucked in that I got altitude sickness and was miserable. We went up Friday afternoon and I was fine that night but didn't sleep well and was nauseous from Saturday morning through Sunday and we finally gave up and headed out Sunday afternoon. As soon as I got down to 9000 feet in Breckenridge I felt better and by the time we got down to Denver I was fine. Bummer. Gorgeous up there tho, pics here from Alan and from us..
March was amazingly warm down here on the Front Range and we hiked Horsetooth a couple times, photos here and here. Saw deer both times! Also had a great Young Eagles day at FNL, flying kids.
April was mostly rainy with one bright spot when Diane came into town and Vic and Di and I flew in Vic's plane "Charlie" over to Greeley for lunch, photos here. Also got in a couple Angel Flights in April down to Farmington NM and up to Landers WY.
May was also rainy and first of May we started the Bonanza annual.. another saga on its own. Long story and many photos here. End of May we took a day off from the Bonanza to fly the Cessna to the yearly Memorial Day fly-in to Russ's grass strip and breakfast, and this year he added a flour bomb drop. Photos here. Much fun!
June we had a fun day down in Denver with Aunt June :-) at her birthday party! Aunt Alice came into town (these are Bob's aunts, very fun folks!). Photos here. We also had fun at Ann's Dean Martini Party, photos here and had fun at the annual Glenn Miller Days fly-in at Fort Morgan (took the cessnas) [Brenda owes me photos]. Otherwise through June we continued the Bonanza annual most every weekend... into July. 4th of July we tried to ride our bikes over to City Park for the fireworks but my bicycle tire had seen better days, photos here. We were able to drive over and only had to hike about a half mile in to see the fireworks. We got a couple hailstorms in July, here's photos from one. Very glad our planes live in hangars! Bonanza finally came out of annual inspection and I started flying Angel Flights again. Also flew the Cessna a bit, taking a potential buyer Roy and his wife up for a flight in the mountains, very pretty, photos here. Have to convince the wife that buying into a plane can be a lot of fun :-)
Now that the plane is out of annual I have free weekends again and it's already mid-July. Time to start hiking! We started with a medium-difficult hike, Twin Sisters. Photos here. Bob started last month on "the regime" to lose weight - cutting out a lot of excess calories and jogging most days. Here's a typical dinner for us - yummy and fairly low calorie with tons of veggies. End of July I also did a crazy Angel Flight day where I flew to Amarillo TX twice in one day! Cool planes on the ramp at Amarillo and it was a very long day, 10 hours on the plane, up at 5am and home at midnight but a very worthwhile thing to do. Then the hiking continues with a hike up to Fern Lake and Cub Lake, photos here. We'd snowshoed that earlier this year and it was very cool to see it in the summer! I also learned what this emblem on a car meant -- the flying spaghetti monster!
August starts with a huge CAP search & rescue exercise the first weekend, I'm mostly inactive in CAP now but at BillO's request came back to work this "evaluated" exercise. Was good to see everyone again. Then a bit of local excitement as construction down the street cracked a water main, photos here. Then the hiking continues with a gorgeous hike up past Loch Vale (which we snowshoed back in January) up Timberline Falls (literally climb up the wet rocks!) up to Glass Lake, photos here. Following weekend we went to a different (quieter) part of Rocky Mountain National Park and hiked to Sandbeach Lake, photos here.
September went a little hike-crazy Labor Day weekend with two hikes up in RMNP on Sunday and Monday - gorgeous hike Sunday to Ouzel Lake with incredible falls along the way, and Monday hiked past Mills Lake (one of the prettiest lakes in the park to Black Lake, photos here. Took two days off work to help fly an awesome lady from Montana down to Denver for chemo through Angel Flight, got to meet a great connecting Montana pilot up in Driggs Idaho, gorgeous area flying past the Tetons! Flew her down on Tuesday and back on Friday, very different weather up there the two days, both flyable but getting into icing conditions in clouds at those high altitudes. Amazing experience to be able to help folks like this.
Following weekend is the annual fly-in to Marble - awesome! Photos here.
October 1 had a fun day flying kids through the Young Eagles program, photos here of Redbird and 90K and kids. Now that it's October it's getting cold here and I was a wuss and didn't plan any more hikes. And, my mom fell and broke her jaw in 3 places. As usual Annie (the awesome sister) flew out to Detroit to care for her and dad. A few weeks later my other sister Mary flew out to Detroit to spend 2 weeks cooking, with the goal being to fill mom & dad's freezers (yes freezers plural) with healthy easy-to-reheat great-tasting food, all packaged up in meal sizes. Since I can't cook (but I can chop and slice and do dishes) I flew out to Detroit too for a week to help chop and do dishes. Great to see Mom & Dad (photos here), learned a lot from Mary, she is an awesome cook! Would have flown myself out but Bob realized winter is coming and he still had a truckload of furniture in storage in Kansas City that needed to be hauled home.. and we'd talked with friends in Kansas City about a late-fall roller coaster trip... and if I flew commercial to Detroit then flew commercial to Kansas City, while Bob drove his SUV to Kansas City, we could spend the weekend with Dan & Jan in Kansas City and then I could help him drive home... so that's what we did. Great to see Dan & Jan again, and fun at Worlds of Fun riding coasters!
Then another Angel Flight down to Farmington NM in mid-October, good weather and an amazing patient with limited mobility, enough to be able to get in and out of the plane but not by much, but she was upbeat and positive and never a word or even a sigh of complaint from her. Connecting pilot was the same pilot I'd connected with back in April so that was fun to meet him again. But after that every Angel Flight I tried to sign up for had to be cancelled for weather in Oct/Nov/Dec. Winter and mountains and small airplanes without de-ice just doesn't mix safely. Had a fun long hike good-bye with SteveS and Liz, no 14er this year (too much snow already) so we did Lumpy Ridge / Twin Owls loop. It was a cold overcast day and rained at the end so we were glad we didn't try for a higher elevation trail. Then in October SteveS left us :-(, heading back to native Australia. Did have a good send-off party, photos here. Man we miss him!
Then an early winter storm dumped a ton of snow on us, broke a lot of tree limbs. Photos here. And normally a snow this early in the season would all melt off in a day or two, but this hung around for weeks. Weeks. In good news, the city of Fort Collins recognized that most of us homeowners do not have trucks to haul all the broken limbs out to the wood-chipper place or off to the dump, and there were tree limbs all over the streets, so the city decided to spend some taxpayer money helping us all out by sending trucks around to every street in the city and picking up any tree limbs that were out in the street. So we only had to chop up the branches enough to haul them out to the curb. Hurrah Fort Collins doing the right thing!
November flew by (pun intended) with lots of flying with Roy in 82H. Got to spend a day with Vic and Diane, got to watch Randy & Bill replace a fuel bladder in 3HP (wow that's a lot of labor!). Also flew the Bo a lot, got an IPC as insurance wants that every year. Lots more flying with Roy and a little with Brenda in 82H, lots of de-rusting for them. George invited us over for Thanksgiving dinner, fun! Then the day after Thanksgiving I flew with Roy and his son Tim in 82H down to Santa Fe, NM to drop off Tim for his masters defense (he passed) and some real cross-country experience for Roy. Fun trip!
Early December I got to help with an annual on a G36 - this is a nearly new (maybe 3 years old from the factory) Bonanza 6-seater, very similar to mine in airframe, but with all the latest toys and I mean ALL the toys. Starting with the G1000 (why it's called a G-36, mine is an A36), fully integrated autopilot, synthetic vision, super scimitar prop with de-ice on the prop, WOW. The synthetic vision is amazingly awesome. For backup he has a 696 hand-held, plus of course the usual iPad with ForeFlight. I'm beginning to think every Bonanza owner except me has an iPad with ForeFlight :-) The annual was a blast in discovering what is different between his plane (~2008 model) and mine (1972) and how much is the same. Really an awful lot is the same. One interesting thing is noticing how much more is packed into the same space because of all the toys... so what should have been a simple job of changing out the G1000 standby battery took all day - it took us an hour just to find the battery, it wasn't behind the PFD where it was supposed to be, it was up under the dash of the co-pilot, hanging upside down from 4 bolts which were nearly impossible to get to. Well, 3 weren't that bad, but the 4th.... I spent a couple _hours_ under that dash... good thing I do yoga and am flexible! What took so long was finding the right length of extender for the ratcheting socket, with limited space, metal-backed-carpeting that was tough to move and easy to skin knuckles on, and stringers/longerons/metal running back and forth, there was very little leeway on the length of extender we needed. After much swearing we had the right tool and then it wasn't so bad. Another learning on space is the 24-volt system - there's not enough room for a battery box so they had to inset it a little underneath other things. So on my Bo with the 12-volt system and smaller battery, the battery box is easy to get to and simple to lift the battery out of the box. On the 24-volt G36, the battery fits into the battery box, then the battery box is inserted underneath things and bolted to the firewall. So to change out the main battery requires moving the battery box forward a couple inches which requires taking out 5 bolts, of which, you guessed it, 4 are easy and one is blind and tough to get to. Though we did discover that the 5th bolt is only tough to get to when the plane is up on jacks, when it's down on its wheels you can get to the 5th bolt by going through the gill door and then straight aft. Wow. Learned a lot, got a ton of bruises, had a lot of fun.
After another week of the usual insanity at work, had a good Saturday with my adopted dad Vic, long lunch together then long walk-and-talk by Fossil Creek Reservoir. It was a cold but clear day and a great time to see Vic right before Christmas. Then Dave & Patty's usual great holiday party. Then back to work until the great thing work does of giving us a half-day off right before Christmas. I used it in my usual way, going flying, with Roy in 82H and it was a blast in that I was able to solo Roy, his first solo in HighPerf and his first solo in his own airplane. What a kick! A few days after that he took his wife up flying and she said he did an awesome landing :-)
Then Christmas Eve went snowshoeing with Dave & Patty. There was enough snow down here that we decided to not drive 90 minutes up into the hills but instead just snowshoe down here. I had a pass for Horsetooth through the end of the calendar year so we went up there to snowshoe those trails. Photos here. Turned out to be only about a foot of snow on the ground and trail was pretty well packed so we left the snowshoes in the car (all of us, not just bob) and just hiked it. There were a few slippery patches that made us wish for snowshoes or spikes but 98% of it was fine in just hiking boots. But when we got down I did go hit REI and get a set of the MicroSpikes, they are expensive but awesome! Christmas Day we spent quietly at home, made Gabi's crockpot chili for dinner (yumm!) and played computer games.
Then the day after Christmas I worked as a CFI for 4 days in a row full-time, had a blast! A guy in Goodland who had been flying a TriPacer had bought an A36 nearly sight-unseen and needed a HighPerf and Complex signoff and full Bo checkout. He heard about BPPP, called RandyB who called me to get a ride out there (since Bill's Bo would be gone that day) and I ended up helping instruct the guy. I had the whole week between xmas and new years off work and had been wondering what I could do to fill it... Wow what fun! In 3 days the guy went from had-never-sat-in-a-Beech to comfy with highPerf, complex, systems, etc. We did tower work too, and signed him off. On the 4th day he needed to go to Durango to sign some paperwork that hadn't been FedEx'd when it should have been, had to be done before end of year, so Randy and I went along and gave him some mountain training. Was fun for me cuz I got to go into the little Durango airport, Animas, don't know why I never went in there in all the times I'd been to Durango doing mountain clinic training for CAP. Very cute little airport up on a mesa. Was bad weather in the mountains though so we didn't get to do any tough mountain airports, there was snow and deep clouds all the way from Corona down to Monarch and Poncha, so we went west over Mosca and Wolf Creek, and back over Wolf Creek and Hayden. So no one-way strips, no tough high airports, but still a fun day in the mountains. The next day he went home, and I headed over to Robs with Bob for the pre-party-party setup for his New Years Eve party.
Highlights: Snow-caving, lots of hiking, North Carolina beach vacation. Lowlights: three funerals in Feb/Mar
This year started same as last year with fun New Years Eve dinner party at George's, followed by the usual New Years Eve party at Rob's. Two parties in one night! Rich from Austin came to visit George over New Years but we didn't take him flying this year :-( as 3 out of our 4 planes are down :-( Redbird ate a valve - good photos here. The Bo is overdue for an AD, and 90K is going down for annual. Only the trusty 82H is up, but the remainder of our time off is going to be taken up with working on the Bo, and snowshoeing, so no flight for Rich this year. Sorry Rich!
So next on the list is to work on the Bo for the "circuit breaker AD" which is really the switches for landing light, taxi light etc that have a circuit breaker inside the switch. Easiest way to do this is to remove both front seats, remove the yoke, unhook the battery, put down a bunch of pillows on the pilot side floor, crawl under the dash, and spend an hour in a tiny cramped space to pull all the switches as _one_ bunch - leave them all hooked to the bus, so only unhook the bus from the plane and each switch's individual wire. At the same time have a person sitting on what was the passenger seat handing you tools, and, pull the front of the panel to be able to undo the nuts on each of the switches. Then pull the switches (6 in my case) as one chunk from under the dash, replace them one by one on the bench being careful to get it right-side-up, and put the whole thing back. I was clueless at the start but with expert A&P instruction we did this in about 3 hours total. Here's photos of me under the dash. Then get logbooks signed off for that and about 5 other AD's that were pending (all N/A but still have to be signed off).
Then went snowshoeing for the first time this season on the South St Vrain trail again. This is a good trail in that it is a gentle climb with only about 5 short steep sections in the first mile or two, decent snow, and very well protected from the wind. It's not obvious where the trailhead is, and there's no parking lot (park on the road) so this trail has light use. Met down in Lyons at the fun (and good quick breakfast, and WiFi) Barking Dog Cafe. Had an all-time high of 9 folks going! Photos here, thanks Dave & Patty for organizing!
Meanwhile Bob's plane is not getting better :-( After eating a valve (see great photo link above) which is going to be around $2k to replace the cylinder, the co-owners thought a bit - another cylinder got overhauled in the fall, there's only 2 more cylinders. Is it worth pulling the 2 others and send them out for a $400 overhaul, to avoid a $2k replacement? Decision was to pull the remaining cylinders, which lets you get a good look at the crankshaft and camshaft... which brought more bad news - the lobes are worn (photos here, 4th one shows the cam on the left doesn't look right), so it's time for an engine overhaul. Which then raises the question - do they want to just overhaul the existing C85 engine, upgrade to an O-200 for more horsepower, or upgrade even higher? Remember we are at 5000 feet elevation here and even on a cold day Redbird's engine was a bit anemic. Discussions and research are ongoing... but Redbird is down for probably a couple months :-(
Then on Jan 10 we spent another day snowshoeing, this time up near Cameron Pass, at Big South. Photos here. This is one of the lower trails so snow coverage was ok but not enough to be able to ski, good enough for snowshoeing tho. LOTS of ups and downs, "rolling" or "undulating" is a good description. We made it as far as a small bridge which we believed to be the May Creek bridge at 2.4 miles in according to the Alan Apt snowshoing book. Btw this book is available free online but it's worth buying a copy to have with you when re-reading directions, looking at maps, or when meeting with friends and debating which trail to tackle today :-)
Next week back to work, and more work on the Bo - the electrical system is still acting up (has been since Oct). The two symptoms are: (1) turn on the master and nothing happens, or (2) turn on the master and all appears fine (fuel indicators come up, gear indicator lights are on) but add a load such as avionics master or fuel pump and the whole electrical system dies just like the master was turned off. Not a reliable plane at this point, and I'm not good at anything electrical. Consult with A&P Bill, help from Randy and Bob... After trying several things (tightening some hard-to-reach nuts that were indeed loose) and some sleuthing with a voltmeter, discovered the master relay is the issue. Researched and a new part is $403 from Beech, ouch! You can buy the equivalent from Spruce but it's only valid for homebuilts, not certificated aircraft. Sigh. So back to the A&P for advice... took the relay off the plane and looked to see if it's serviceable.. and it is! The contacts were just dirty, arcing with black spots. We cleaned everything, went to put it all back together and the screws holding it to the firewall bracket were stripping (man they were tough to turn) so we got it in there just enough to hook up all the wiring and see if the electrical system is happy now.. and it is! So now to fix the screws where the nuts were just dirty, used a tap to clean them a little, replaced the stripped-head phillips screws and hurrah all is happy! Took her up for a test flight and all is good. So many hours of labor, thanks Randy and Bob and Bill, and with zero $ cost the plane is back up.
By this time it's Thu before MLK weekend - and the stars seemed to be aligning - the Bo is back up, we have a 3-day weekend coming up, I have no plans for the entire weekend, weather here is forecast to be gorgeous Fri-Mon, and weather for Kansas City is currently gunk but forecast to clear out Friday and stay good through Tuesday. Hey, time for a trip to see Bob's mom on a rare winter weekend we can fly! So Friday morning I told folks I was taking Friday afternoon off work, checked all the weather Friday morning and it was still gunky in KC but still forecast to clear, worked Friday morning (had some meetings I couldn't miss), Bob and I packed up the car ready to head to the airport, updated my GPS database card and printed charts just in case we went IFR, and about 1pm as we're about to drive to the airport, checked KC again to be sure weather was clearing. Hmmm it's not. Whoa whoa whoa (as Jimbo used to say), stop everything. Visibility is still 1 mile with Temp/Dewpoint still -2/-3 C with mist. Other airports nearby are reporting either light snow or freezing fog. From here in Colo through Salina KS it's clear, but Topeka east is gross. Tops are only around 2000 but ewwww I don't want to take off knowing I may have to do an approach in low vis, at dusk, and probably in ice which is illegal for me. Checked forecast again and called FSS. Forecast has changed to say this moisture is staying around through Sat am, then burning off. The front did move out Fri morning as forecast, but the moisture/gunk did not. Prog charts show absolutely nothing over that area but man it's gunky. Ok we're not flying out today! Call Bob's sister and Dan & Jan (the friends we usually stay with) to say sorry we're not coming tonight. Dan confirmed they had been having freezing rain all day. Lauri confirmed still foggy :-(
So we hang out Friday eve, fun FAC with friends at Island Grill, check forecasts again. Hmm now it's forecasting to not burn off Sat morning :-( Go to bed Fri night, get up Sat. Indeed the -2 temps, mist, haze, freezing fog are all still there and forecast now shows it'll stay into Sunday. Satellite loops show circulation on the Texas/Oklahoma border throwing gunk up into the Kansas/Missouri border area, but Prog charts show no Low there. Freaky. FSS shows a low on THEIR prog charts but it's not on the ADDS charts I can look at. Freaky. So... went back to bed :-) Spent the rest of the day cleaning house, dinner with George, and unload the car to go snowshoeing tomorrow.
Went snowshoeing Sunday and nobody else wanted to go so it was just me and Bob. After perusing our trails guide, we decided to try a steeper hike than normal, the Lake Agnes hike near the Nokhu Crags. Man it's gorgeous up there! Photos here. A longer and steeper trek than normal, but worth it to get to Lake Agnes.
Then Monday MLK day Bob decided weather in Kansas City was not going to let us fly out anytime soon (and as we saw later, KC weather stayed gunky into mid-Feb) and he would just drive out solo.. so he headed out while I headed back to work for the week. Turned out to be a blessing in disguise that we couldn't fly out that MLK weekend and that Bob drove out for the week, as Bob's mom's health was worsening. Bob had been talking with her every couple days since Christmas. Hospice has been wonderful with everything. While we were there over Christmas, Elsie's pain was increasing and the pain meds were helping but just barely keeping up. As soon as Hospice found out, they doubled her morphine dose, then doubled it again and hurrah she was out of pain. For one day she felt good enough to get dressed and go down to meals, but then said that exhausted her and she went back to not getting dressed and the hospice aides brought her meals. Again can't say enough good things about Hospice. When Bob went out there she was not in pain but getting weaker. On Thursday night she couldn't walk from the bathroom back to bed (maybe 8 feet) even with 2 people helping. On Friday she got up into her chair, but just wanted to sleep so Bob and the aide Pat put her back to bed... and a few hours later she passed away in her sleep. Bob drove home, we cried all weekend, drove out the next weekend to empty out her apartment, and drove out the following weekend for the memorial service.
It's now mid-Feb Valentine's day weekend, our first weekend at home in a while, and indeed pain dulls with time. Countless thanks to George who gave me a shoulder to cry on that Friday while Bob was driving home, and George also took on the difficult task of calling all of Bob's friends and co-workers to let them know, Bob and I were too choked up to talk coherently. Immeasurable thanks to Dan & Jan who have opened up their house to us for the last year, whenever we're in KC and looking for a place to stay. Photos here and here, we really appreciate Chez Lewis. Now, life is getting somewhat back to normal. We went snowshoeing again Saturday, photos here. It was just me and Bob again, so we picked a steep trail again but a shorter one this time, Montgomery Pass. But at the fork we missed the untracked trail to the pass and ended up going to the Bowls. Ah well, still gorgeous, would like to hike that in the summer when it's not snowing and windy :-) Sunday we slept in, I went flying in 82H with Brenda to knock some rust off her and had a great time, then had a cozy salmon & veggies dinner with Bob, gamed, watched some of the Olympics... so far a good weekend.
Had a few more fun weekends including a good Young Eagles day at FNL before sadness hit again, a co-worker of Bob's passed away from cancer, then in mid-March my long-time boss Ken passed away, also from cancer. I worked with Ken for more than 20 years, together as engineers on the same project for over 10 years, then he was promoted to manager and he was my boss for about 9 years. He was the best manager I've ever had. Knowing it was coming doesn't lessen the pain any. I think I've cried more in the last month than in the rest of my life combined.
End of March had fun at the annual Chili Cookoff by the Thompson Valley Composite Squadron Eagles (cadets), photos here. Also end of March went to IC training for CAP, and taught another G1000 ground school.
April was more fun with our second snow-caving trip. Photos here -- much much fun!. Then we had a huge state-wide CAP exercise at BJC in Denver, I worked it as Air Ops for Fri-Sun. Fun folks to work with and the remote bases did well. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures, ah well. Then the weather warmed up a bit in Fort Collins, enough to think maybe summer was coming, then a late snow made our tulips droop.
May was wet and rainy (May showers bring June flowers?) and the vast majority of May nights and weekends I spent at the airport working on the Bonanza. Annual was due end of April and BillH (A&P and IA - fully qualified aircraft mechanic) and RandyB had offered to help me with an owner-assist annual, and they were busy most of April. So first of May I taxied the plane over to Bill's hangar and the plane went up on jacks to start swinging the gear and taking everything apart. First thing Bill found is a broken off grease (zerk) fitting on the nose gear steering, photos here. So he starts taking the nose gear apart.. and one bolt is frozen up and he can just barely see behind it, to where another zerk is broken off. Oh this is bad. So more and more comes apart, and at each step Bill says "well as long as we have xx apart we may as well replace yy" which leads to more and more being taken apart. More photos here of the nose gear in pieces. Also spent many hours checking the AD history (Airworthiness Directives), special directives put out by the FAA when a part breaks more than usual and is found to have manufacturing defects, or design defects, and everyone who has such a part has to replace it or do a special check every so many hours (usually every 100 hours). My Bonanza has an AD for a special inspection on the magneto switch every 100 hours, and on the main wing spar every 500 hours, just part of keeping an airplane legal. But this was my first annual on the plane so I spent many hours researching what every possible AD out there is that could possibly apply to my plane. Like 30 years ago there was a manufacturer of circuit breakers (not the switches, just the CB's) who has an outstanding AD, so I put a camera under the dash and took some photos to verify I can't possibly have any of those - photos here.
Also in May Bob's plane, Redbird, got its engine finally taken off and crated up (photos here), it's going to Don's Dream Machines in Georgia for overhaul. And in May my C182 went down for annual inspection, fortunately that was a quick and easy one, done in a week. Hurrah! Two days after the 182 came back up, took it to the Second Annual Memorial Day Fly-In at Reid's International Airport (a small grass runway just north of Fort Collins). Jer/ took some photos here.
First weekend in June was a busy one - Friday-Sat I went up to the squadron bivouac at the Tip-Top-Ranch up Rist Canyon (they are VERY nice to us given we only pay to rent one cabin and have 40 kids in tents). Photos here of bivouac and Tracking class and photos from the aircraft overflight. This is usually the only time I get to camp out in a tent for the year so I enjoy it, and this year was a lot of fun in that Larimer County Search & Rescue came up with a bunch of folks to teach us Tracking skills, I'd had a 3-day course years ago so it was great to refresh my skills. Also had fun on a topography course with the cadets, hiking through the woods trying to find specific spots on the topo maps. I had to leave the bivouac early on Saturday afternoon so I could get back to Fort Collins in time to attend Ann's annual Dean Martini party which is always a lot of fun, photos are on Facebook. Then Sunday we went back to work on the Bonanza, and _finally_ got the nose gear put all back together and finished the annual on the Bonanza, photos here of the nose gear final assembly and the plane finally coming off jacks. Hurrah! Did a run-up of the engine and pulled all the engine covers and all looked good. Took her up for a test flight around the pattern a few times, all good. Hurrah! Went up with JimS for some instrument practice and to reset my night currency and still all good. Double hurrah!
Second weekend in June was a good lazy weekend - Friday dinner with George and Matt and Mike and folks, then mostly crummy weather all weekend so didn't do much, a good weekend to catch up on laundry and play computer games. Too cold and rainy to work on the yard, but man the rain made the weeds grow!
Third weekend in June we took the Bonanza to Central City, Nebraska - 07K - where there is no FBO listed in airnav.com though there is one there. Bob had called ahead to ask about tie-downs, the guy hemmed and hawed and said there is hangar space, which is even better, but we wouldn't get there Friday in time to get into a hangar. Turns out there really are no tie-downs for a general aviation plane (only for huge sprayer ag planes)... so we just put the plane on the edge of the concrete ramp and put dog-ties into the grass figuring partial tie down was better than nothing. There was a forecast for Friday night storms (the 2am horrible thunderstorms with hail) but turned out the storms passed us by. Saturday we went back out there and after wandering around and chatting with folks in various hangars we got a contact for a guy who works at the FBO who was happy to meet up with us later Saturday afternoon and we got fuel (fuel is self-serve but you need the combination to the lock) and put the Bo into a hangar. Very nice guy, fuel was $4.10/gal and hangar was $10/night. Very reasonable! And Saturday night at 2am when the thunder was booming overhead (yes really), man it was great peace of mind to know the Bo was safe in a hangar.
That weekend in Central City was a mix of sadness and good-to-see-everyone. Tons of photos here. It was good that we were all in the same motel (highly recommend Super 8 in Central City, desk clerk Cameron was wonderful). Friday night we wandered room to room until we found everyone and dragged everyone down to the lobby to hang out and talk. Aunt June remembers meeting me years ago, though neither Bob nor I remember it. Aunt June and Aunt Alice are both a lot of fun. Saturday morning was sad at the Clarks cemetery, burying Elsie's ashes. Then Glenn and Loretta were wonderful in opening up their house to everyone for a great lunch so we all headed to Grand Island for lunch and chatting for a couple hours (Bob and I took a detour to the Central City airport to find a contact for a hangar for Sat night). Glenn and Loretta have a beautiful house with incredibly gorgeous flower gardens, wow. Very nice to be able to just hang out with everyone and get pictures of everyone. Very bittersweet. Saturday evening we all went out to dinner together at a local steakhouse, good and fun. Then back to the hotel and Bob and I chatted with Aunt Alice until very late. Sunday morning everyone was leaving, but most of us met up before that for a great breakfast at the local Waffles And More restaurant, smushing about 12 of us around a table built for about 8. Then final farewells as everyone headed out, Steph had the farthest to go and was planning multiple days, it was a short hop for Bob and I in the Bo - only 2.5 hours.
The last weekend in June we attended the annual "Glenn Miller Days" Fly-In in Fort Morgan, about 50 miles east of Fort Collins. Then Sunday, yardwork called.
July plans - fly-in to Granby, 4th of July fireworks and Rob's party, more yardwork, picnic before Shakespeare, hiking Twin Sisters up in Rocky Mountain National Park... and that's only the first weekend :-)
Second weekend in July was crazy busy for Sue with a huge search and rescue exercise down in Colorado Springs that went from Thursday through Sunday. Bob had a calm weekend alone to catch up on work. I got back Sunday night feeling like I'd been sitting on my butt for 4 days and decided to start using my pass to Horsetooth Mountain Park so went hiking after work on Monday, Tues, and again on Friday. 3rd weekend now and Saturday we went to see Shakespeare "Measure for Measure" with the usual picnic beforehand. Sunday we hiked Chasm Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park with Patty and Dave but none of us brought a camera :-( Spectacular views of the waterfalls, whole meadow of Columbines and other gorgeous flowers, marmots.. definitely that goes onto my list for a re-hike soon!
4th weekend in July we headed east in the Bonanza. Just before leaving, Redbird's engine arrived, after some photos I finally dragged Bob away so we could head out. Friday night we spent with our good friends Dan and Jan in Kansas City. Saturday we all got up very early and the 4 of us weighed all our luggage and had enough leftover to bring the frozen pulled pork, good thing cuz it was yummy! Loaded everyone up into the Bo and headed east to Wilmington, North Carolina. As usual a big group of us rented the house Happi Ours, right on the beach, in Carolina Beach on the NC/SC border near Cape Fear. Deanne came this year (hurrah!), as well as the usual folks Dave and Jenn and kids and friends, Scott flew in for a couple days. Much fun, photos here. Headed back Saturday and stayed the night again in Kansas City with Dan and Jan. They loved travelling on Wolber Airlines in spite of me making them get up at 6am both ways to get in the air early to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms :-) Flew the rest of the way back home Sunday.
The next weekend, second weekend in August, we saw Shakespeare "Taming of the Shrew" which was pretty good! Then Saturday I got up early (5am) and flew the Bo up to Casper Wyoming with some other folks to teach at a Civil Air Patrol meeting, I taught 3 sessions and all went well. Helped ferry another plane around which took a while so got home late - almost 10pm. Sunday got up early (6am) to go hiking with Dave and Patty, but turned out their dog Sadie was ill and had to be taken to the vet, ouch. So it was just me and Bob and we don't have a Rocky Mountain National Park pass (Dave and Patty do), so we chose a hike that didn't require a pass - and surprisingly there are quite a few of these, like Twin Sisters and Chasm Lake. This time we picked Estes Cone which also starts at the Longs Peak trailhead, and after that stopped at Lily Lake on the drive back to Estes Park and did the short walk around the pretty lake. Lots of photos here.
Monday got up at 6am again for "boot camp" exercise class at work... man getting up early 3 days in a row is tough! Tuesday got to sleep in till 8am :-) and left work in time to hike Horsetooth Rock again with Bob, we brought Subway for dinner up top. Took the Audra Culver trail this time, very different views than the usual Soderberg trail! Friday hiked Horsetooth again, solo this time as Bob's foot was very swollen from a wasp sting - photos here. Saturday went down to Front Range airport and presented at a Colorado Civil Air Patrol meeting. Sunday... a hike.. where to hike? Decided to drive up to Cameron Pass and hike a couple of the shorter routes we've snowshoed - Montgomery Pass and Zimmerman Lake. Very different in the summer! Photos here. Wednesday and Friday hiked Horsetooth Rock again, got rained out Wed but did see some deer up there. Saturday I got up for an extra boot camp workout, then we went down to downtown Fort Collins for the annual New West Fest - fun, food, crafts, music... While we were there Bob got the call that Redbird's engine was finally done being installed so we headed home and he went to the airport to meet up with partner Jer/ to go fly. I took a nap :-) Sunday we met up with Dave and Patty for another long tough hike - Flattop Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park, and also hiked up Hallett Peak while we were up on top of Flattop. Photos here. Then Monday was final day of boot camp with re-assessment to see how much we've improved in 6 weeks. I was very happy - knocked 40 seconds off my mile run, improved in the number of situps, squats and pushups in a minute, and lost 4 pounds. Hurrah! Now the hard part is to keep the weight off and keep losing, now that boot camp is over.
Last week of August went down to Durango for a Civil Air Patrol exercise, gorgeous flight down and back - photos here - and fun to see all the usual suspects. Bob flew down in The Beast (aka his C172XP, 90K) for the fun of it. Absolutely stunning views on the flight down and back, I feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful state and be able to fly around. Got back Friday evening, supervised (watched) Bob and Perry change the oil in 90K, it's a bit different than what I do to change the oil in 82H or the Bo. The Bo is a lot easier and a LOT less messy :-) Saturday worked on the yard again, finally knocked down the huge bush on the north fence to a more manageable size, and boring tons of laundry. Sunday thought about a long tough hike but snoozed in and hiked a more local lower trail - Round Mountain which is only a half-hour drive from the house instead of an hour up to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Saw deer at the trailhead parking lot but not on the trail, fun hike.
Beginning of September we hiked another 14er that we'd done back in 2003 -- Mt Bierstadt. Photos here. Seemed like a good idea to hike to 14,000 feet on Saturday, and then Sunday board a plane for Florida for a week at sea level :-) My sis Annie planned a vacation for our mom to get away from Detroit for a week in Orlando, so of course little arm twisting was needed for me to join them! So September 5-10 I headed to Florida (without Bob). Annie's daughter Sarah came too and we had much fun. Photos here.
September 10 (Friday) got back into Denver in the evening (flying commercial, blech) but my flight got in a few minutes early and I caught an earlier Airport Shuttle home than I expected, hoorah that saved sitting around for 1.5 hours for the next shuttle! Bob met me in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn hotel just 1/2 mile from our house, where the shuttle drops off, what a nice guy :-) Home to unpack and repack for a camping trip! Bob did all the planning and took me on a weekend date in his airplane 90K to a back-country fly-in to Marble, Co. Much fun with other folks we knew who went - JohnM and Vic my adopted dad, and Jer/ and his kids, Mel from FNL with his Glastar, wow fun! Photos here. Flew back Sunday - took off in the morning for fuel in Glenwood, then stopped in Longmont for a top-off on cheap fuel and lunch, then home.
Then back to work for a week, then time for another 14er. This is the one that started the whole hiking passion this summer -- back months ago, Liz proposed hiking Grays/Torreys with some senior experienced Civil Air Patrol cadets and I jumped on the idea of going along because that would give them an IC and Safety Officer going along (making it more likely that we'd get the trip approved to take cadets on a hike of this magnitude). Realized at the time that just boot camp wouldn't be enough to get me in shape so I started the summer hiking get-in-shape plan, and fortunately Bob went along with the entire thing. Ended up with no cadets going, so we didn't even make it official CAP anything, just a bunch of friends going hiking up Grays and Torreys. Grays was my first 14er back in 2003, this time it was Steve's first 14er!
Then back to work for a week, then hmm we've hiked all the "close" 14ers, time to look a little further... next closest is Quandary just south of Breckenridge. Google maps says it's a 2:45 drive each way, but ya know morning traffic should be light so we planned to be on the road at 5am for a 7:30 trailhead arrival, hopefully won't have to park too far down the road. 4:15 alarm clock (only snoozed once) and we were turning onto I-25 at precisely 5am. Had another wonderful late fall day of gorgeous blue skies and fortunately little wind as much of the last couple miles is pretty wide open to winds. Photos here. Saw mountain goats! Then Sunday we worked on the yard - hacked back the lilac bushes, wow most of the back yard is back to nearly manageable shape - no weeds higher than my knees! Given that in June all the way around the back yard had weeds above my head, man we did good this summer. Now if only we didn't have (we think) _three_ wasps nests around the house!
Next two Saturdays teaching G1000 again down at BJC... and the second class on Oct 9 was a rush to finish, get back to Ft Collins, meet up with Bob, hop in the go-fast Bonanza, fly to Kansas City, drive to Ottawa, and get there by about 8pm for Bob's 30th high school reunion. Fun trip and as usual Dan and Jan are wonderful sweeties and opened up their house to let us stay there Sat night. We educated Jan on the "Pinin' for the fjords" Monty Python skit... Sunday morning Dan and Jan took off to pick up the Jaguar that Jan supposedly has parked across town... came back with a good story that it wouldn't start... we're not sure this car exists :-)
Hiked Horsetooth again on a rare warm Saturday. Had gotten used to the quiet up there on weekdays, it's busy on a Saturday! For Halloween we had George help us put our costumes together, helped Rob with party setup, had fun at the party, and helped take down the outdoor decorations a few days later. Wish we'd gotten more pictures of the decorations!
November first weekend we used Jenny's pass to RMNP (we're sharing it, that is legal) and hiked Lawn Lake, site of the huge flood in 1982. Scars of the flood are still visible after all these years, and, there's snow up in them thar hills! Next weekend I took off for Tulsa, OK for a BPPP class (pilot proficiency class specific to the Bonanza I bought), very good class and much fun. Bob stayed home this time and had a fun weekend geeking. Next weekend we headed for Vegas with Keith and Ann, much fun there too!
Thanksgiving will be the second time I have ever stayed home for the holiday, Keith is hosting a day of games and fun and great food (he's a really good chef!) so looking forward to that, while bittersweet sadness as to why we're staying home... sigh. Still, a fun time at Thanksgiving and very nice to not be travelling.
December began quietly with the usual Saturday bell-ringing for Salvation Army, and a great holiday brunch party at Dave & Patty's - they throw a great party every year and it's good to just hang out and chat with all our friends. I also got my official orientation completed with Angel Flight West, a non-profit charitable organization that arranges free air travel for people with serious medical conditions, who either can't afford commercial air travel, live in areas that don't have commercial air travel, or have illnesses such that they can't travel commercial. Pilots love to fly and are always looking for an excuse to fly, and with the Bonanza I finally have a plane fast enough to be useful for this kind of transport. So Angel Flight brings together pilots who donate their time, plane, gas, etc, with people who need transport. There are a surprising number of flights needing pilots, but mostly weekdays where I'd quickly run out of vacation time at work. So right now I'm signed up for my first flight on a weekend, January 2. But this time of year, weather is a huge issue so don't know how it will go.
For the winter solstice lunar eclipse (Dec 20) we hiked up into the hills with Keith, bringing sleeping bag and tarp and such, and laid down on the ground to watch the eclipse which started at 11:32pm. We thought it was going to end at 1am but at 2am the moon was still dark and we were thinking "wait I want moonlight to hike out of here!" but we gave up at 2:30am and gathered everything up in the dark and started hiking out in the dark, and about 2:40 the moon started re-appearing. Got to bed about 4am, was tough getting up for work the next day! Saw the movie "R.E.D." which was a lot better than we expected, and on our weekly Tuesday evening "movie night" at Keith's we finally finished Weeds fifth season and are debating what to start next. Dave and Patty organized a snowshoe trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park on Dec 24, photos here where we snowshoed to Bierstadt Lake, Nymph Lake, and Dream Lake. There's no snow down here but plenty up in the mountains. Had a quiet Christmas at home, found there are a few restaurants which are open on Christmas Day for lunch (Panda Express, one of our favorites) and gamed and watched movies all day, and did about 5 loads of laundry. A little mundane to be doing laundry on Christmas Day, but nice to be home. The next day we slept in and it was still sunny and high 40's (amazing for December) so we hiked Horsetooth Rock and then over to Horsetooth Falls on the way down. Pretty hike even in winter, photos here. Then the cold snap hit, as Rich arrived.
Highlights: buying a Bonanza, gosling, B24 flight, possum adventure,
This year started well with a fun New Years Eve dinner party at George's, followed by the usual New Years Eve party at Rob's. Two parties in one night! Rich from Austin came to visit George over New Years so Bob took him flying in Redbird on New Years day, and they had a big adventure - a C210 landed out on a road south of the airport, and in picking the road instead of gorgeous fields on either side the plane got very banged up from road signs which is a bummer. Everyone walked away unharmed but a bummer to see how much damage was done to the plane. Anyways, Bob and Rich were circling overhead, reassuring the pilot that his location was noted, then talking the fire trucks out to the aircraft. Rich took some great photos, here.
Then Keith and Bob and I tried out Keith's new toy - an igloo builder. It's pretty cool, though we certainly need to try it again a time or two to get the details right. Photos here Then back to work after a wonderful 2-week company-wide shutdown. The bad part is having to use up precious vacation. The nice part is that since it's a company-wide shutdown, when you get back everything just picks up where it left off, it's not like a vacation where you come back and are 2 weeks behind everyone else. I didn't get anywhere near as much accomplished on the 2 weeks off as I'd hoped, but I had fun which is what matters.
In good news, I went in for my every-6-month mammogram and it's normal, hurrah! And I'm past the short-term-recurrence so now I only have to go once a year. Double hurrah! In so-so news, our company is doing a 10% pay cut company-wide for all of 2009, in hopes of staving off huge company-wide layoffs. I'd rather have a pay cut and a job, than layoffs, so Agilent still has "the HP way" :-) of valuing employees instead of going to hire-and-fire tactics.
The next weekend in January we went snowshoeing with Dave and Patty. Since they're down in Erie we met them in Lyons at the Barking Dog Cafe (recommended!) and debated between the South St Vrain and Sourdough trails. SSV sounded more uphill then downhill, Sourdough sounded like starting downhill and then dying on the trek uphill out so we went for SSV. Very little snow on the trail, but very nicely shielded from most of the wind, which was nice as the wind was howling up in the tree tops. Photos here. We agreed we'd like to go back up in summer and hike it.
One day I was walking back home from the grocery store and it was a pretty sunset... then the sunset turned from the usual pink/peach to positively green in spots. It was fading as I got home and grabbed for a camera, I got a so-so photo here before it all faded. Weird... and weather stayed good. The only other time I'd seen the sky turn green was in Detroit when I was a kid and a horrendous storm came through, knocking down trees and power lines everywhere, I'd never seen green in a sunset before.
February Bob headed to Kansas City for 3 weeks to drive his mom to daily doctor appointments. He wanted to fly back and forth, but weather was just nasty so he had to drive out. After 2 weeks of him being gone, on a Friday afternoon looking forward to a 3-day weekend alone (I had Monday President's Day off), yukky weather all weekend in Colorado so all my flying appointments had already cancelled, and it was Valentine's Day weekend... Bob only had a 2-day weekend so he couldn't drive home, weather won't let me fly out... I decided to drive out. My car didn't cooperate, first time my Prius had ever stranded me, fortunately in my own garage before I started the trip! The dashboard icons were all flickering, it refused to start, and the display showed weird messages like "The transmission lock mechanism is abnormal. Park your car on a flat surface, and fully apply the hand brake". Huh? The car is in the garage, on a flat surface... Huh? Fortunately googling found this wonderful page which as a side note explains that this is a freaky message that happens when the 12V auxiliary battery gets low on charge. Hmmm the car is over 4 years old, and the 12V battery is a non-normal small motorcycle battery... so I put a voltmeter on it and indeed it showed 9.8V. Bad! So now the question is whether the battery is bad, or the 12V charging system is bad.. with much help from Bob over the phone and me taking pictures of stuff to send to him, I got a charger hooked up, let it run for about an hour, and the battery got up to 12V but not up to the usual 14V. I unhooked the charger (by now it's midnight, no way I'm going to get a battery tonight) and let the car sit overnight. In the morning the battery is back down to 10V so good news, it's the battery that's bad, not the charging system. So a quick re-charge of the battery enough to get the car to start, and drove it (with the big red triangle ! on) to the dealer to verify my hypothesis and fix it... and by 11am I was out of there and ready to get on the road to spend a (shorter but still fun) weekend with Bob. Here's some photos from Kansas City. It's a long 10-hour drive each way but it was worth it, especially cuz I took Tuesday off work to have an extra day there. One of the fun things, besides spending time with Bob, was seeing the Assisted Living Unit at John Knox Village - a retirement community where his mom Elsie is. She moved into the ALU, from independent living, in mid-January. It's nice not to have to cook anymore and you can be as social (or not) as you like - eating meals with folks in the cafeteria or taking your meals back to your own apartment, there are social areas with fun toys like a pool table, a big aviary with a bunch of birds where you can hang out and watch the birds and chat, and activities (yeah like Bingo) every day. Lots of really fun people there, the nurses and staff are very nice and helpful, nice place to live!
Early March and Bob is back in town, hurrah! We had another fun day up on Cameron Pass building both an igloo and a snow cave, side by side, seeing how long each takes and how soaked each group of folks gets. Photos here. This time Keith had had enough practice builds that the igloo got finished - the dome roof is the tricky part! Keith, Eric, Jodi and John built the igloo, Bob and I dug a snow cave big enough for 2 and then helped finish the 4-person igloo, Patty and Ann snowshoe'd around us and took pictures. Fun for all! Once built, both the snow cave and the igloo are warm inside, just above freezing no matter how cold or windy it is outside. The snow is also extremely sound-dampening, so if you're inside and someone outside is yelling, you can't hear a thing. A couple differences are that the igloo cannot be completely built solo - the roof requires 2 people. A snow cave is much easier to build with 2 people but it is possible alone. Whoever is digging inside the snow cave will get soaked to the skin, whoever is inside the igloo holding the block-maker will get constantly showered with snow from those on the outside shoveling and will get very tired and wet hands from packing the blocks. Both are very fun to try tho!
Also in early March, our own Thompson Valley cadet "Eagles" drill team won the state competition. Hurrah! They head to regional competition in April, in Montana and are trying hard to figure out logistics of getting 13 cadets plus a couple adults all the way up there, with no funding. Ah the joys of volunteer groups, they're coming up with some creative fundraising ideas... Including a really fun chili cookoff. Photos here. They also did a great blog of their trip to Montana here on April 4 weekend.
Also on April 4 weekend we were going to have a Young Eagles rallye (free airplane rides for kids) on Saturday morning but got snowed out. Sunday weather improved for Bob's trip to Kansas City, good enough weather that he could fly out in Redbird. The following weekend, April 11 was also good enough weather that he could fly back on Friday afternoon, and Saturday 11th we had fun at the postoned Young Eagles rallye in the morning. In the afternoon we worked on the house - mostly Bob worked and Sue watched - patching a big woodpecker hole. Photos here. Sunday the 12th is a fondue party at the Cowan's - much fun!
Sue is also looking forward to a trip to Houston at the end of April to look at buying a Bonanza, though the price is very steep given the economy and they keep wanting to raise the price, not lower it... and they keep pushing out the appraisal so it's been over a month and the appraisal isn't done yet, which doesn't bode well for us agreeing on a price. So we may not come to agreement on a price, but I figure it's worth the cost of a trip down there to watch a professional pre-buy inspection since I'll learn a lot. I'm used to doing annuals on Cessna's but I don't know anything about inspecting a Bonanza. More info at www.gobogollc.com And in another way it's good that everything is stretching out time-wise, in that my company is doing another round of layoffs this month, we'll find out about April 15 so I want to postpone a final purchase decision until after that. And I want to say thanks to George Robberts for the go-bonanza-go name for the LLC :-)
So good news that I didn't get laid off (tho my boss did which is pretty depressing)... so end of April I did go to Houston for a pre-buy inspection on the Bonanza. More details here on the pre-buy trip. Went back home after the pre-buy, waited for the bank loan to get approved and $$ to move to escrow... and on May 5 Bob and I went to Houston to pick up the plane and fly her home. We spent an extra half-day in Houston and visited the Space Center (home of "Houston, we have a problem"), photos here. Then took off on the trip home, with a stop in Borger TX for very cheap fuel and great Mexican food within walking distance... Photos here of arriving at FNL and putting the plane in my new hangar. Huge thanks to Bob for coming with me for my comfort level, and taking the photos. The last photo there is a good one of me, I put it on Facebook as my picture :-)
A day later I walked into my hangar and looked at my LLC's new plane... and 2 thoughts went through my head... "Oh my god she's beautiful!"... "Oh my god what have I done?" :-) Those who know me well know that I inherited my Mom's hate of being in debt, it just hangs over me and stresses me out. So now that I'm $75k in debt... oh man what have I done? But, oh man she's gorgeous and what I've wanted for years, and ya know the house is paid off and the car is paid off and I do still have a job (even if we are on a 10% pay cut, that's only for a year) and I've already had one medical scare... so screw it, I'm going to have fun while I can, and if I have to work for another 20+ years, well that's ok, work is still fun :-)
May went by pretty quickly with the CAP National Check Pilot Course where we all gather for a day of safety training, then take checkrides. I had fun giving Pete Boldrin a checkride, and passed my own checkride with Jer/ :-) Then I spent 2 Saturdays down at Jeffco airport in Denver teaching G1000 ground school. Was a lot of work because this was for the new G1000 aircraft which are updated from the one we have in Fort Collins - the new one has a completely different autopilot, WAAS, and a few other cool differences.. so I had to learn all the details before I could teach it. Probably spent 8 hours learning it all enough to present it, worth it to know the new systems.
In between that was the CAP squadron bivouac over a Fri-Sun, but I'd already committed to teaching G1000 that Saturday, so I ended up going up to the bivouac Friday afternoon, setting up my tent, going back home Friday night to get up early to get to Jeffco to teach by 8am, then heading back up to the bivouac Sat night and staying through Sunday. Much fun and lots of photos here.
Memorial day we flew into Russ Reed's grass strip for a pancake breakfast, Jer/ took Redbird, JohnM took The Beast (90K), and I took 82H with Bob. A couple other folks flew in too and much fun was had. The rest of Memorial day weekend was taken up with yardwork and such.
June 3 Bob discovered a new arrival, a baby gosling at the pond near our house. He took some photos, took me by to see them, and we took some more photos over the next month. Fun to just sit and watch them...
June 6 was the annual Dean Martini party hosted by Ann. I drank a few too many martini's and photos are up on facebook to prove how sloshed we both were :-( ah well. Much better photos here. We walked over as usual so we both could drink and not worry about driving, and Rob Sims walked too so we had fun walking home with him.
June 10 and 14 I got up way way early to head to Colo Springs for CAP assisting the Air Force Academy for a Vectoring exercise. Sounds weird but very useful and lots of fun, more info here. In between there on June 13 had a great time at at Dr Who / Torchwood marathon at Gabi's. MUCH fun, thanks Gabi for hosting!
June 20 went up flying in the CAP G1000 plane for mission pilot proficiency flying for me and a couple of CAP Mission Observers, finding grid corners in the mountains... It was a bumpy day, all 3 of us were short on sleep and 2 of us got queasy - me from the altitude and lack of sleep, Jerry from the bumps, and of course iron-stomach Jenny was fine except for ear-clearing issues. Ah well, still worth going.
The next day (a workday, tough) went to Greeley for lunch with god-level Bonanza instructor Randy Bailey, and Brad and Gerald as ballast 1 and ballast 2... playing with how the Bonanza handles when loaded near max gross and near aft CG. VERY instructive and I'm really glad I did that training flight, given I have a couple flights coming up with 6 light folks (kids and cadets) on board and I wanted to see what worst case would be, with an experienced instructor along. Also did a couple flights with Randy to get myself more instrument proficient with the fun toys.
Had a few bad days where 3 planes got wrecked in less than a week - 2 at FNL and 1 at the gliderport up north. Fortunately no injuries, and the "bad things comes in threes" is all settled. Bob got photos of one of the sad planes here.
June 27 a bunch of us had fun at the annual Glenn Miller Days fly-in to Fort Morgan FMM airport. Photos here. Had to get up at 5am to get there way early to set up static display and start helping with flight line, but it was worth it. Vic Hauser came out and I had a great time sitting down with him to a great breakfast - the Lions Club does a really good pancake breakfast! Bob came out in Redbird to join the other taildraggers on the ramp, wow there are some gorgeous planes there. Then Bob and I flew back to FNL, I didn't beat him there by much, put my Bo in Larry's hangar for maintenance work on Monday and joined Bob at the new flight school at FNL, "Leading Edge" flight training. They were having an open house and flour bomb drop. So we had fun with the flour bomb drop from Redbird, did 3 passes and got 42, 47, 49 feet away. Pretty good compared to some, not as good as the winner which I heard later was 15 feet away. Wow.
Sunday June 28 went up flying again in the CAP G1000 plane for mission pilot proficiency flying for me and a couple of CAP Mission Observers, finding grid corners in the mountains, and practicing using the Becker Direction Finding (DF) equipment. Gorgeous day, smooth, I actually had enough sleep this time so we could stay at 13,000 for 20 minutes with no problems.
June 29 continued the flying trend when Jim Schinnerer mentioned he needed to reset his night currency... and I did too... and so did Bob... so we went up in Bob's 172XP and all 3 of us reset our currency. Fun!
Early July have a couple way cool boon-doggles planned.... and wow they have been fun! From June 27 to July 4 I flew every day, from taking folks to GXY for lunch and an intro-to-Bonanza ride, to another mission pilot training flight in the CAP plane, taking some co-workers and kids up for a Young Eagles flight, to TWO awesome once-in-a-lifetime flights. First was Wed July 1, flying alongside a B24 WWII bomber from Utah to Denver. Then, I got a ride on the B24! AWESOME! Story and lots of photos here.
Other fun in July was Rob Sim's annual July 4th party... Then in mid-July I headed out solo to Detroit. Bob had a gig working backup sys admin at the local high school while the regular sys admin was out of town, so he was stuck and couldn't come with for the first weekend.. but he did get paid for that job. Spent a few days in Detroit, then wasn't going to make it all the way back to Colorado in one day with headwinds, so stopped for the night in Kansas City and talked Bob into coming out for a couple days so we could see his mom again, so we finally had both our planes at LXT at the same time. Had fun at Valley View with Margaret Smith who is sharp as a tack at 96.
Also in July we picnic'd with Keith & Ann & Chris & Heather & Dave & Patty before a bunch of them went to see "To Kill A Mockingbird". The plot is way too depressing so me and Bob and George just went down for the picnic'ing and skipped the show :-) Then the next day I flew to Dodge City to pick up a CAP plane for another state, ferrying it around for the maintenance work to make it into UAV simulator (story here on AOPA site). No we don't get to fly it here in Colorado, just some of the work of adding the pod was done here.
End of July was the State-wide Evaluated Exercise for Civil Air Patrol which is a lot of stress and worry and hard work, the bright spot was all the fun folks on mission base staff, and Diane was in town which made it more fun. We passed and got a good grade... and right after that was our "subordinate unit inspection" which went really well at the time but the evaluators of that keep coming back to us saying "we lost xx can you make us another copy" and "this optional thing we made up, we want you all to do it" yadi yadi yadi.. so far I'm ignoring it all :-)
A really fun time at end of July was on the 28th (a weekday) when Rich was in town from Austin, staying with friends in Denver.. and Rich is working on his pilots license, so every time he's in town we take him up flying in a different airplane. He's been up in my C182, Bob's C172XP, Bob's Redbird, and this time he got a ride in my Bonanza. Had a fun lunch with him and George, a fun flight... any day flying is more fun than work :-)
Beginning of August we had a really fun hike up in Pingree Park (west of Fort Collins) to one of the B17 wrecks. Huge thanks to Jim Schafer who organized everything and drove the van and navigated us up the trail with few trail markers! The next day Vic and I met up with Diane for a fun day flying out to Buena Vista, walking into town for lunch, chatting forever, walking back and chatting more, flying back, and chatting more :-) Diane is my adopted sister - she was SO good to me during my cancer crap, and Vic is our adopted dad as he was also sooooo supportive... so it was great to spend a day together while Diane was in town.
Next weekend was a double-feature of Shakespeare in Boulder going to see Much Ado About Nothing on Friday, and Hamlet on Saturday. Both good shows!
Mid-August was the Mountain Flying Clinic in Gunnison which was way cool, I missed last year (was at TechEd) so good to go review everything, and got to fly with some fun folks. Bob came out with The Beast and sat in on the ground school and flew around Sat too. Originally we thought Bob would go home Sat so we took separate planes, me in the Bo, but he ended up staying around till Sunday and we flew home together.
Next weekend was another busy one with picking up a case each of west slope peaches and pears - mmmm good! Split some of that with George but hogged most of them. That night was Keith's annual Cajun Boil, photos here. Always incredible food and fun folks! Then Sunday headed to Denver to do brunch with Elisheva, who's moved to Jerusalem, got married, had a kid.. wow! Her son is a serious "sucker baby" - one of those perfect kids who laughs and smiles all the time, seriously in like 3 hours he made one unhappy sound for about 3 seconds, the rest of the time was happy. These are the babies that trick everyone into having 15 kids in hope of getting one like him :-) Was way cool to see Elisheva and meet her husband Loren.
Following week was the annual CAP counter-drug exercise, out in Fort Morgan this year. I got to fly at this one (thanks Vic!) and had fun. Then that weekend was scheduled to fly all day both days, got to fly Saturday with Jim doing instrument work down to Pueblo and back, and Sunday was scheduled to fly in the mountains all day with JohnO, but Sunday dawned overcast and it stayed cloudy and stayed cloudy and we finally gave up and went home... so I had half a day free unexpectedly which was good to catch up on stuff around the house.
First weekend of Sept, Labor Day, I finally got to meet Bob's Aunt Alice who lives near DesMoines. We flew first into Ankeny to visit her for a day, and man she's a lot like my Aunt Bernie - a firecracker and a lot of fun! Then we flew on the next day to Kansas City, a short hop of just over an hour. There we stayed with Bob's sister Lauri and visited Bob's mom and had a great possum adventure at Lauri's! Photos here.
Second weekend of Sept we flew to Boise to visit my sisters Annie and Mary. We stayed with Annie as usual, thanks to Manny and Evan and Tanner for putting up with us :-) Photos here We spent a couple hours at "Art in the Park" where I helped the local economy by buying several pair of way cool earrings :-)
Third weekend of Sept is the annual Rally Colorado off-road race up in Steamboat Springs. We were invited to work the pre-race "practice" leg on Friday so we went up there Thursday night. Friday we had lots of fun working the practice stage, which is a mix of drivers taking sponsors and press folks for a fun near-race-speeds E-ticket ride.. and competitors practicing on what is not an actual race stage but is similar in condition and twisty-curvy. This is a closed road so they can go full-speed, though really no one does for fear of breaking the car before the race starts :-) Friday was _very_ dusty. Saturday, the first day of the race, was also very dusty, photos here. Again much fun working Middle Cog stage. Sunday was a change - rain, more rain, mud, and more mud. We worked Sage Creek and Elkhead controls, was fun but man it was muddy at times!
Fourth weekend of Sept was actually a weekend at home - working around the house, CAP stuff, and Young Eagles day at FNL. I had fun back in 82H, and Bob brought Redbird. At the end of the morning we did thank-you flights for the cadets who worked escort and safety, then went over to the FAA's "Aviation Challenge" which was a blast. Then oh crap it's 3pm already and we're late to be at Gabi's for another fun evening of Dr Who and Torchwood. Fun!
October starts with another trip, this time leaving Thursday for Santa Maria, Calif for a BPPP (Beech Pilot Proficiency Program) class. Gave Randy (one of the instructors) a ride out, stopped for fuel in Utah and then took off south to overfly the Grand Canyon through one of the flight corridors, stopped at Santa Barbara for dinner on the airport at the Elephant Bar restaurant (very good food!), then on to Santa Maria and wow the hotel is on the airport ramp, way cool. Friday all day was classroom, Sat too. Got a few photos out the hotel window that evening too - Bonanza heaven. Sunday caught a ride with a really nice guy who let me ride along to watch (wish I could remember his name!) while Bob visited the "Museum of Flight", then flew home. The flight home was one of the windiest I've ever been on, thank goodness Randy had the foresight to bring their oxygen bottle! It was horrendously bumpy at 12,000 so we went on oxygen and went up to 16,000 where it was smooth and we had an amazing 50-knot tailwind! The flight out was nearly 9 hours, the flight home was about 5 hours and about half the fuel burn. Wow.
A highlight a few weeks later was getting a perm - my first in about 10 years. I love it, Bob hates it, ah well. I had a few perms in college and typically they fell out within a few weeks. Hopefully this one will last longer...
The rest of Oct was taken up with work, fun CAP stuff, ROTC starts, and borrowing a fun costume from Lauri for Halloween. Lauri's flower costume worked great with my name and some blacking to make me a "black-eyed-Susan" with and Bob dressed as a crazy "farmer Bob". Then on Halloween itself the downside of the year - being involved in my first ever aircraft accident. I wasn't flying, but I was officially PIC and the CFI, so I am at fault. The joys of filling out an NTSB report, talking to the FAA, all the not fun of CAP paperwork and being grounded in CAP.. and the incredible stress and worry of finding out I get to take a 44709 ride from the FAA. The pilot flying got off easier with just a check flight with a local training school, he did fine of course. I have to highly recommend AOPA's legal plan - I called them right away and they were incredibly useful, I got to talk to a real lawyer who had experience with Denver FSDO and what they would do, etc. My flight was scheduled for the end of Nov right after Thanksgiving. I spent the rest of November studying - dusted off some texts, got current copies of other texts that have been revised recently like the AIH, study study study, and of course practice flying in 82H to de-rust from all the time I'd been spending flying the Bo. Another strong recommendation from AOPA legal is to spend some time with your local DPE - I scheduled half a day with mine for both oral and flight practice, and that helped my confidence a lot. My self-confidence was very sub-zero after the incident, and flying with other CFI's and my DPE helped a lot to get my confidence back. Also spent time making sure 82H's logbooks were up to snuff and all AD's were signed off (they were, but I had to check)...
Also kept busy in CAP, even while grounded from flying, doing non-flying things like being IC at a search and rescue exercise (SarEx) at Greeley on 21 Nov. Here's some photos from around mission base, was a good day, everything went well. Good training, including an evil-idea I had to test crews on flight line - right after crews start their engine, hold up a sign saying "simulated engine fire" and see how both the crew in the plane, and other folks on the flight line, react. Crews should exit the plane in a rapid but orderly manner, know which way to go to meet, etc. It's actually tough to do without getting tangled up in headset cords and seatbelts. Most pilots remembered to turn off the fuel, one pilot even thought to grab the fire extinguisher on the way out! The crews were a little annoyed by the delay in getting going but all agreed it was good training.
Study study study then headed to Kansas City as usual for Thanksgiving, photos here. Got back and took my '709 ride and did fine (of course everyone around me was telling me I'd do fine but my self-confidence was firmly planted at zero and I was terrified). The FSDO gentleman was very nice, very clear on what he wanted and what we would do, went well. Huge sigh of relief. So FAA-wise I'm totally legal again, CAP will keep me grounded for typically 90 days, to be decided yet.
Had about 1 day to recover from passing my '709 ride before immediately plunging into re-learning the G1000 training material, new set of slides (only 400 to memorize!) to teach a CAP training class at BJC the first two weekends of Dec. Was a bigger class than I'd taught before (6 students) and we were going to try to use both slides and simulator, and keep everyone in sync... which turned out to be tough but doable. Thanks to KenJ, JimS and VicH (dad) who helped a lot. Each weekend we did about 5 hours of classroom training (after which my voice was gone), lunch break, then go sit in the plane for knob-ology work - hook up the ground power unit and physically touch the knobs and buttons and get used to the feel. There's some things that can only be done on the sim, and some things that can only be done on the GPU, and both are useful. Trying to learn all of this while flying the plane is expensive, distracting, and IMHO unsafe at the beginning since no one is looking outside. Having a few hours on the sim and with the GPU seems to help a lot before the first flight.
We also had a good snow the first weekend of Dec, a few photos here. The rest of December was taken up with the usual holiday fun including a great party at Patty & Dave's. Work work work up through Christmas eve (given the forced shutdown over the holidays I'm out of vacation) and head out to Kansas City. The roads through Colo and most of Kansas were fine but then we caught up to the latest snowstorm... After our speed dropped from 70 to 60 to 50 to 45 I said "enough" and we pulled over to a rest area to sleep for a couple hours. We were planning on that anyways, had the down sleeping bags and everything, but Bob had hoped to make it a little further before we stopped. Ah well, safety first, and my gut wasn't liking the feel of the roads. Opposite from Thanksgiving this time - at Thanksgiving I hadn't slept well but Bob snored through the night, this time at Christmas I slept well and Bob didn't. Bob says I slept through a snowplow coming through the rest area right next to us! I don't remember it at all... Woke up the next morning, skies weren't clear but the roads were greatly improved from all the plows going through and the winds had died down a little. Made it to KC in time for dinner xmas day, ah well at least we made it. It continued to snow every day for a while so roads were pretty slick across town to Dan & Jan's house where we stayed. Huge thanks to them, Chez Lewis is wonderful! Photos here of their dog Molly, and photos here of fun sewing adventures with Lauri, and putting together a gift for Dan & Jan - a do-it-yourself "best bottle of wine ever", some assembly required :-)
Downside was that Bob's mom was doing much worse health-wise than at Thanksgiving. She was in pain (likely from the cancer spreading) and the pain meds weren't knocking it down enough. Lauri had been thinking ahead and had started Hospice back in Sept. Can't say enough good things about Hospice! About mid-Dec decision was made to get Elsie a daily aide to help her get up out of bed, dressed, shower, fetch her things throughout the day, etc. Hospice was wonderful with scheduling folks on short-notice in the holiday season. But with the pain, Elsie wasn't getting dressed and going down to meals, so the aides brought her food. She also wasn't eating much, maybe a cup or two of food a day :-( I had to get back to work, so we headed back home from Kansas City in relatively good weather, it's a long 11-12 hour drive but with two of us it's not too painful. Had a day or two at home to catch up, then wow it's already New Years!
Highlights: Pagosa Springs vacation, ...
This year started well with a great (as always) annual New Years Eve party at Rob's. Then a group of us went to Pagosa Springs for a week. Much fun, snowshoeing, skiing, etc! More info and photos here In good news, I went in for my yearly mammogram and it's normal, hurrah! Pretty cool to see all the metal clips left from surgery, they show up really bright on the xrays :-) I get to do mammograms every 6 months for a couple years since I'm now higher-risk. I also get to do another MRI to get a new baseline post-surgery and radiation. Still zero side effects from the tamoxifen so doing fine.
More coming sometime.. maybe soon...
Highlights: CAP fun, Bob retirement, China trip... Lowlights: breast cancer :-(
This year started pretty quietly with the snow covering the ground still and refusing to melt off, and there were lots of fun events.
But end of January my life turned upside down. I went in for my yearly mammogram (my 3rd one) at the Breast Diagnostic Center in Fort Collins, which I recommend wholeheartedly. They called me back asking that I come in for a follow-up mammogram, of course I asked "is anything wrong??" and I am really grateful that they were non-committal, just a general response of "oh this happens sometimes, one picture comes out fuzzy or something". So I wasn't stressed out worried. Went in and the radiologist was looking at the pictures right away as they were taken, which didn't give me a good feeling (usually it's a couple day wait before the radiologist gets to them). And yup bad news, I had a group of micro-calcifications, which is an indicator of possible cancer, that dreaded c-word.
But again they reassured me that like 80% of calcifications turn out to be nothing, but we should do a core biopsy just to be sure... Again I'm really appreciative that they didn't worry me and get me all stressed. So sure ok, scheduled the biopsy for mid-February, went in for it... and a couple days later got the results phone call, and the lady on the other end sounded sad and serious... oh crap yup it's cancer, DCIS to be specific - ductal carcinoma in situ. Cancer inside the milk ducts, not yet invasive but not something to ignore, recommendation for MRI and then surgery.
It was a heck of a shock I cried for a couple days, on Bob's shoulder and Diane, and of course my sisters Annie and Fran, and Mom. I talked to some folks (thanks Deb Homan, Ken and Kathy McNaught, Bob's mom, George Robberts' mom, and Rob Sims) for advice on everything including a local surgeon and picked Dr Dickinson, who has been wonderful. Went in for an MRI which showed suspicious cells in a decent sized chunk in the left breast, so about 1/4 of the breast would have to go, but the right breast showed clear, hurrah! First surgery mid-March went well (I would recommend PVH) and sentinel node biopsy showed lymph nodes are clear (hurrah no chemo!) but tissue margins came back good on one side but bad on the other side - not enough good tissue to be sure they'd gotten it all. After talking to a radiation oncologist for another opinion on whether I should have another surgery or just go on with radiation, all the opinions pointed to another surgery so in I went in mid-April, this time just in the doctor's office with local anesthesia instead of at PVH under a general. This pathology report came back clear, so hurrah I'm done with surgery! And no invasive cancer showed up anywhere, so no chemo needed. I get to keep my hair :-) DCIS can be mild or can be serious, but it's pretty mild compared to invasive cancer that's spreading (metastasizing). If you're gonna have breast cancer, this is the best kind to have. Officially DCIS is Stage 0 or pre-cancer since it hasn't spread outside the ducts yet, not invasive. They also rate it by 'grade' depending on the forms of the cancer cells, mine was the worst grade (grade 2-3) with cribiform and comedo and all the nasty necrotic cells. My cancer cells are also very estrogen-receptive (grow better in the presence of estrogen) so I get to go see a medical oncologist too for hormone therapy. And I have to stop taking the birth control pill, which contains estrogen. After 21 years of no cramps and knowing to the hour when my period would start, that's been another adjustment.
Next was to heal up for 4-5 weeks, then end of May have a 'baseline' post-surgery, pre-radiation mammogram --- ouch gotta be pretty well healed up for a squish test! At 3 weeks after second surgery I was still very sore and tender and starting to worry about the upcoming mammogram, and then poof dramatic improvements at 3.5 weeks in healing. So I'm really glad the rad-onc folks scheduled me for the mammogram at 5 weeks after surgery, more time to heal is a good thing. I've been trying to hurry the process along, since I can't fly as PIC till this is all over and I'm recovered from radiation, and I really miss flying. But waiting until 5 weeks for the new baseline mammogram was a good thing, 4 weeks would have been ok but 3 would not have been.
Why radiation? Studies have shown that lumpectomy (take a chunk out) + radiation gives about the same recurrence rate of cancer, as mastectomy (remove the whole breast). Yup that's right, even after a double mastectomy you can get breast cancer again! The breast cells reach up to your collarbone, around to your back, and are pretty tight into the ribs & chest muscles, so even a mastectomy won't get all the breast cells removed. Given a choice of mastectomy, versus lumpectomy and radiation, heck I can always get a mastectomy later. I'm only 42, I wanna keep what I can. So back to why radiation - other studies have shown that lumpectomy alone is nowhere near as effective as lumpectomy + radiation, to prevent cancer recurrence. So radiation it is.
While healing up, went to see a medical oncologist (not the same as the radiation oncologist). I'd heard rave reviews of Dr Medgyesy and managed to get an appt with her (and yes she's good). I read up a bit on hormonal therapy and looked up what the FAA would allow me to take, and fortunately it all fell together well - since I'm pre-menopausal there are very few choices and the best one for me is the most common drug, tamoxifen, that's been around since the 1970's and the FAA will let me fly with it (on special issuance medical). So I started taking that mid-May and so far no side effects. I'll be on that for 5 years to prevent recurrence of cancer.
Radiation prep is going well, CT scan is quick painless and easy. I now have 3 tattoos - tiny blue dots and yes they're permanent - so the radiation machine can be calibrated to me and give the same dosage in the same area each time. I start radiation May 31, it'll be 5.5 weeks of full-breast and then finish with 1 week of intense in just the area of the original tumor (pre-tumor for me). Most common side effects are fatigue, and, skin nastiness (red, sore, flaky, itchy, tender, blisters, oozy, etc) -- essentially what you'd get from a nasty sunburn, every day for 6.5 weeks.
Everyone has been wonderfully supportive, family and friends, everyone in CAP, my boss Ken, Lala and Patty and everyone at work. Diane has been incredible, for my first surgery spending the entire day at hospital with Bob, giving me foot rubs and back rubs all day, keeping Bob sane. She also went to the rad-onc with me to take notes and ask great questions... in spite of herself having health issues - she went in for major back surgery right after my second surgery! Bob of course has been a trooper, with all this on top of him suddenly being offered early retirement from HP.. and deciding to take it! Major stress trying to get everything done at work before he's gone.
So that's been my February - May 2007. I've only taken a couple days off work to recover from each of the surgeries, otherwise going right back to work full-time. The hardest parts, aside from telling people about it without breaking down and crying, was being so sore and tender after each surgery for ~ 3 weeks, any kind of jiggling was very very painful even with a tight sports bra on. Just driving to work I was going 'owie owie owie' on every bump in the road. Looking back on it, I should have taken more time off work to recover from surgery before trying to drive. Even walking was painful! That's the one thing I would change if I could do over, would be to take better care of myself and let myself heal better, and worry less about work.
So for radiation, my plan is to only work half-time for ~7 weeks. It may be overkill and I'll end up being fine and going back to 3/4 work or going back full-time early, but, I'd rather that than feeling like crap and pushing myself to work fulltime and getting all stressed.
It's now early June and so far so good on radiation, 7 treatments in and ~25 to go. So far no side effects and it's an incredible stress relief to be working only half-time. With Bob retired, he's spending more time with me, right now he's walking with me to radiation (it's only a mile from my house) so it's a nice walk every day. The side effects should hit within another week or two....
It's now mid-June and yeah right at the expected 2 weeks the side effects started to hit - lots of fatigue, having to take a nap every day or sleep 11 hours a night... or both The skin is starting to turn pink...
Now end of June and at 4 weeks the skin is red and starting to peel in spots, which is really not good during radiation as it won't heal while it's being radiated and can easily get infected. And it's itching something nasty. The folks at Poudre Valley Radiation Oncology are wonderful - Dr Simpson is knowledgeable and makes sure he answers all my questions, and he's just fun too. All the nurses and techs are just wonderful - very cheerful, friendly, welcoming, and caring. The first appt they took a photo of me, and at the next appt and from then on everyone there called me by name - they all memorized my name & face. They do that with all their patients and it's just one of the many ways they care. Anyways, they are also wonderful at ensuring I get all the creams, lotions, everything I need, from wonderful anti-itch cream to antibiotic lotion, regular lotion, vaseline-impregnated gauze pads for the sore tender areas, extra-moisturizing lotion for the dry areas.... all included. I would HIGHLY recommend PVRO!!
It's now mid-July and I'm done with radiation -- hurrah! Fun photos here. Now I have no excuse not to go back to work full-time :-( :-) Looking back on radiation, it was very tiring and the tiredness lasted for 2-3 weeks after the treatments finished. I wish I had stayed on half-time work until the fatigue lifted. The only painful thing about radiation was when the skin peeled and that wasn't particularly painful in most spots.. except the nipple when it peeled... twice :-( That was not fun. The silver lining on the radiation cloud is that both my surgery scars were in the peel area and the peeling made them fade a lot and become a lot less noticeable.
Fun events 2007 - the year started with searching for people stuck in the blizzard down in south-east Colorado. Jer/, DaveZ and BillO found a stranded trucker and got an incredible photo of the SOS he stamped out in the snow, photo and stories here. After a couple days searching for people, CAP was shut down. A day later, everyone realized the people on the roads were rescued, but the folks living down there were still stuck in their homes and tens of thousands of cattle were starving to death, stuck in 5+ feet of snow, unable to move. So a mission was started to "find the cows", I got to participate flying on that one, looking for herds of cows stuck in the snow, photos here. We were spotting and calling in coordinates, the National Guard was dropping hay.
End of January was Keith's annual Burn's Night where the highlight was Heather Cowan showing up after concert with cello and playing everything from "happy birthday" for Bob, to the Jaws theme, to classical selections. Man she's good! The CAP January SAREX at BJC got cancelled for weather and moved to April. Snow cancelled all ROTC flying, even the trip of our top CFI's to pick up the new CAP T182 got postponed to February. Karl Schultz taught some IMU training, I went to IC training, and mid-Feb the brand new T182 arrived for CAP. Much fun learning the G1000, until the cancer news hit and even with it being non-invasive my AME said I should ground myself... so still helping with ground training and learning more of the G1000, and thanks to CFI's Jer/ Eberhard and John Mitchell who have both been flying with me to keep me current.
March had fun working the Colorado Cadet Competition, went to see Stomp at the Lincoln Center with Chalyn and George - a lot like Blue Man Group, very good show. We all went to see Heather in concert in Loveland, good show! I got flowers from both work folks and CAP folks after my first surgery, photos here. April started with Bob finding out he not only qualified for early retirement from HP, but having decided to sign up for it, got it! So his last day at work is May 31, can you say stress trying to finish everything up by then? April continued with Casey Bell going off to the Air Force, a comedy show at the Rialto theatre in Loveland (I'd never known Loveland had a theater), and Vic and Diane came over to see me after my second surgery, photos here, and as a good-bye to Diane who's going to Switzerland for 5 years. Then I worked the re-scheduled January SAREX at BJC in April, photos here. A learning on that sarex was to send the paperwork to wing via non-regular mail, the package got lost at Peterson for 2 weeks and nearly gave us all heart attacks before it was found. We'll have to use certified mail or something after this :-( Scott Gardner came up to Colorado and visited, and gave us a ride in his Columbia 350SL, nice toy!!! photos here.
May started pretty quiet with CAP Nat'l Check Pilot Course, annual inspection on 82H, and renewing my First Aid / CPR with the local Red Cross. Rob Sims' annual birthday party is a lot of fun as always (I have the same birthday so always crash his party :-), then talked Brenda into taking me to the Mountain Flying Clinic in Durango, photos here.. More photos along the way from Brenda show how gorgeous a flight down we had, and the fun she had flying at the clinic. Had a quiet Memorial Day weekend so far, with fun plans for a full-moon hike of Horsetooth Rock, photos here.
June started with a really fun time at Ann's annual Dean Martini party, photos from Keith here. Then a surprise birthday party for MikeB (50th), photos <coming soon>. Slowly hacking on the back yard where the weeds are incredibly overgrown from decades of neglect, weed barrier is trashed, and Bob is motivated to work on it. I'm helping as much as I can.... Also spending a lot of time with CAP doing ground training for the G1000, both for our pilots and now starting to work on getting our Observers trained on the glass for what's needed to help out the pilot for search missions. Tons of fun and there's always something new to learn or re-learn on the G1000.
July just flew by with finishing radiation, and suddenly having to go back to work full-time (blech). Did get some local hikes in, thanks to Erick for organizing. We did Young's Gulch photos here, Aurthur's Rock photos here - no rattlesnake this year :-) I'm slowly getting my energy back.
Early August I got to take a business trip to China which was a lot of fun. Long story and lots of photos here. Also continued the weekly hikes with a trip to Coyote Ridge photos here. Also stopped by George's place after the hike to catch the tail end of him moving his parent's furniture into his house. Man there's a lot of stuff! Photos here. Got a ride in a helicopter, the second in my life, what fun!!! Submitted all the paperwork to ask the FAA for a special issuance medical, pretty please. Hoping to hear back by mid to end September. I miss flying!
Keith held the first annual Summer Barbeque "Mad about Q". Info and photo link here. Much fun and wonderful "Q"!
Mid-September a group of us rented a condo in Frisco for a long weekend, photos here. Much fun hanging out, roller-blading, hanging out, playing fun games (Kill the Bunnies!). Sue hiked Mt Royal alone one morning, then the next day more folks went along for another hike up the same trail. photos here of the nice hike past Mt Royal to Mt Victoria and gorgeous view from the top. Fun ruins along the way made the hike more interesting. Much fun was had that weekend with folks, and Keith's cooking was marvelous!
Then my medical arrived from the FAA, hurrah I'm legal again! The following weekend we drove up to Steamboat to use our ham radios to work the annual Cog Rally, renamed to be Rally Colorado. Photos here. The next week we all snuck out of work early one day and went roller-blading in town, photos here.
October we took a trip to Boise to meet up with my parents and have a mini family reunion and celebrate my dad's 90th birthday. Photos here from me and more photos from mom. I also worked a CAP exercise put on by Boulder but held at Metro :-), good ground team training as the weather grounded most of the flying.
November we flew some ROTC cadets, held a one-day search & rescue exercise at Greeley airport (photos here), and went to Kansas City for Thanksgiving. Weather was marginal so we drove :-( instead of flying.
Early December was busy with bell-ringing for the Salvation Army, watching RonZ play in the Tuba Christmas (in the snow!), more ROTC and CAP cadet Orientation flights, and a great holiday party at Dave & Patty's.
Mid-December now and trying to keep flying but it's been snowing and the airport guys only plowed the runways, not the taxiways between the hangars so the hangars are still snowed in, photos here. Later we called up some local contractors to ask about getting our house's roof and gutters re-done. I was thinking they'd put us on a wait-list for sometime in the spring, but no, they wanted to do it the next week! So we got both the roof and gutters re-done in spite of the snow, photos here.
Had a fun Christmas in Missouri with Bob's mom and sister, a raccoon was having fun up on the roof and in the attic so the maintenance guys put out a (live) trap and caught him (or her), photos here. Later when we got back in town we checked on Gabi's kitties and fishies, the cats were fine but the fish tank had a major algae bloom, photos here. Looking forward to the annual New Years party at Rob's...
Highlights: New Zealand, snow-caving, Bonanza fun 6 months...
Went snowshoeing on Joe Wright trail, and watched Bob and Keith dig snow caves! Tons of fun and very wet work. Photos here. Then we did it again on Jan 8 up Zimmerman Lake trail, with a larger group from Childfree, with me & Bob, Keith & Ann, Laura & Bob, and Patty & Dave. Got 2 caves dug and connected before we had to bug out. Photos here.
February 7-28 we went to New Zealand. Gobs of info and 2000 pictures here. Much fun!
March when we returned, we held a picture party (at Keith's house :-) to show folks our photos, and went to a wonderful French Dinner hosted by Chris and Heather. Three fondues: cheese, oil, and chocolate ah yumm, much wine, french movies, ah what fun. Red wine hangovers are not as much fun though :-) Then we got cultured by going to see a play of Cats. Bob and I had never seen it before, and didn't even know it was a musical - we were expecting plot! It was ok but don't need to see it again - tick.
March 18 we went snow-caving with Keith & Chris. Much fun! Story and pictures here. Later in March we also went skiing and snowboarding (photos here) up at Copper. Didn't quite use up our 4-packs but had fun.
April I hiked a little - Horsetooth with Gabi (my photos here and Gabi's photos here and saw deer on the trail! Otherwise work, snowboarded again, flew a little, and had lots of fun doing Young Eagles at FNL. Photos here.
May went by pretty quick too - finished annual on 82H, walked over to Keith's fun "Pinot Envy" wine & dinner party (Keith's photos here), helped work a CAP mini-exercise (photos here), and had fun hiking Young's Gulch with Bob, Gabi, and Heather (photos here).
June flew with by a trip to Detroit for my mom's 80th birthday party. The entire family gathered - photos here. Then I went to Spokane to a BPPP clinic to learn about Bonanzas before buying into one. Did some local flying, worked a lot, enjoyed learning and flying the Bo, hacked down some bushes around the house to only a couple feet tall, and relaxed a little.
July I went to Boise for my first solo xcountry in the Bo (well really to visit Annie but...:-) Annie's photos here, had fun taking Sarah and Evan up for a ride, and much much fun shopping (thanks Sarah!). Then Bob and I flew the Bo out to spend a week on the beach in North Carolina -- much fun!! Then CAP Colorado hosted the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE) with cadets and escorts from Japan, Canada, and the Netherlands. Photos here of the glider rides. Then I took Guy and Jenny flying over their property up by Pingree Park. What a gorgeous area! They got great photos, I got ok ones here.
August started out with a CAP & Larimer County joint exercise at the Downtown Fort Collins airport (3V5) which is closing soon :-(. Fun photos here. The next weekend was the Squadron Bivouac - campout and learning Ground Team techniques for search & rescue. We had a good turnout and lots of good photos. Bob and I also had fun in July-Aug getting more cultured at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. We picnic'd before the shows - a few photos here. Then renewed my CFI at the last minute, and had a weekend off to do nothing.
Another adventure in August was ferrying Bill Arnold to Chickasha, Oklahoma to pick up Dave Klink's new-to-him 1948 Vagabond. This is a Piper 2-seat side-by-side, kinda like a Pacer or a clip-wing Cub. Fun photos here. Bill had been waiting for 3 days of good weather to finish the ferry home and Tues-Thu looked good so we took off on a Tues morning. Bob went along to catch a ride for Bill's first leg home. 85 mph top speed - headwind took them about 2 hours to make it 120 miles to West Woodward where Bill re-fueled and continued on to Dodge City that evening. Bob and Sue took off for home and even found a slight tailwind going west - 170 knots groundspeed is so fun to see :-) For Bill, a long day Wednesday got him all the way to FNL.
September starts with another trip to Boise for some end-of-summer fun up in McCall. Photos here from Sue and Ann. Worked another CAP exercise at Downtown Fort Collins Airpark, our last one before the airport closes end of October :-(. Starting on a new-to-me project at work, and outside work having much fun doing marathon sessions watching the first and second seasons of Battlestar Galactica in preparation for the third season starting soon. Also marathon sessions catching up on the last half of last season's Dr Who, next season starts soon! We also went to Steamboat for a weekend for the annual COG Rally (american so rally not rallye which is for british rallyes :-). Fun photos of the cars and stuff.
Started October with a trip to Vegas with Keith Schwols, stayed off-strip at the Gold Coast so went over to the Rio a lot to watch their nightly show and get addicted to Nutty Englishmen drinks at the fun Tilted Kilt (great music!). Had a lot of fun, didn't take a single picture. We'd missed the BodyWorks exhibition when it was in Denver so we caught it at the Tropicana. Very worthwhile, tho I got a little grossed out at times. Shark Reef was fun, especially the stingray petting pool :-) Keith met up with Greg & Karen one evening and it was fun to listen to stories of their Costa Rica trip.
Later in October we attended Sue Bodoh's wedding, and Keith's famous annual Halloween party - photos here. My desktop PC with Win2k was crashing and hanging daily, tried playing with Vista RC2 bits and its install crashed and totally trashed my boot sector so I couldn't even boot into my old windows partition. A boot of a Knoppix cd let me backup the files I hadn't yet copied so then I could smash the disk without losing anything. Thank god for linux. A second try at Vista RC2 trashed the boot sector even worse. After much swearing at Microsoft and having to give up and buy a copy of XP I got the machine working again. Vista RC1 did install but it's doggy slow and unimpressive. Oh well, typical for microsoft - failure is not an option, it comes bundled with :-(
November we did some CAP training- flight line training at FNL and a SAREX in Greeley for Groups 1 & 2, went to see the Full Monty with Gabi and friends at the Carousel Dinner Theater, and flew the Bo to Kansas City for Thanksgiving with Bob's family. Didn't know it at the time but it was my last cross-country in the Bo :-(
December I joined in the fun ringing bells for Salvation Army, had a good time at Gabi's birthday party. Found out no more Bo - long story but the owner has good reasons that I have to agree with. Ah well, I learned a ton, got over 80 hours of Bo time, am highly spoiled, and am now looking again for a fun fast toy. At least I do still have the Cessna as a backup.. Had more fun when Patty and Dave put on a great party, went to a SAREX in Boulder where I got to fly instead of work it :-), then the snow hit. Photos digging out of the blizzard, a couple days later when the town had cabin fever, and more fun on the final digging out and Christmas fun. Oh and there's another storm supposed to hit in another day :-) The FNL airport was totally snowed in, and on the evening before we were heading to Kansas, we drove out there to see how much of the general aviation hangars had been cleared (none!). So we drove to Kansas City. Oh well, the 11-12 hour drive makes us appreciate when we can fly. At least by then the highways were mostly clear and dry so we could take the Prius - it's great on ice but can't handle more than a couple inches of snow before high-centering.
Dec 30 since there's so much snow still in Fort Collins, hey we don't have to drive 1.5-2 hours up to Cameron Pass to snow-shoe, we can snowshoe right here in town! So a group of us went to Coyote Ridge to snowshoe, photos here, and the next day took Rich up flying, photos here. Next is Rob's famous New Years party....
Highlights: painting house trim, painting bathroom, 3 new trees, Black Hills, Boise
Wow it's been a busy year so far!
January we... worked, skied a few times, flew a few times, and worked. Snow shoed once (pictures here).
February we visited Annie up in Boise and had the kids ski us into the ground. Lots of fun! Pictures here. When we got back we changed from skiing to snowboarding, and man snowboarding is still addicting! Photos here of us getting back on the boards.
March we... worked, snowboarded a few times, flew a few times, and worked.
April saw a late snowstorm hit Fort Collins. Pictures here. Otherwise, we... worked, snowboarded a few times, flew a few times, and worked. Are we seeing a pattern here? Did have fun on another Vegas trip, sorry no pictures.
May I started burning out at work and started flying a little more. In CAP we borrowed the turbo-retract from Region for 2 weeks and we're flying the wings off it, getting our folks checked out and working on commercial ratings, to get more pilots for the orientation pilot program. Then my project shipped (hurrah!).
Bob and I went down to Jeffco for the airport's open house, and Gilbert Wheeler arranged for us to meet some of the Tuskegee airmen (great photos from Cadet First Class Joseph S.Reynolds-Grant here). We also took some of the graduating Air Force Academy cadets up for a plane ride; more photos here. Fun!
June started rainy and continued rainy, rained through the CAP squadron bivouac (photos here) on the first weekend. June 11th I participated with CAP in a National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) exercise at DIA, having fun riding on a C-130 and playing walking wounded -- photos here. Then on the 16-19th weekend we went to South Dakota to the Black Hills with Keith & Ann. We bicycled the Mickelson trail, hiked in Custer State Park, took a tour of Wind Cave, and drove out to the Badlands for a scorching hot hike. Lots of photos here. The last weekend of June I hiked Mount Margaret with Keith & Ann, which is more of a walk than a hike (very little overall elevation gain, just a little up and down), and not much of a "mountain" :-), but still a pretty hike.
July Bob and I both took the week of the 4th off work, and worked on the house. We put up new wood trim on the porch (Bob dusted off the table saw, I learned how to prime and paint), and took time off on the 4th to bicycle up to Fort Collins City Park for the fireworks (great show!). Then we started on the bathroom by re-caulking the bathtub and that led to noticing just how badly water-damaged the paint around the tub and shower was getting... which led to picking up some white paint and trying to touch it up... but by the time I realized the new bright white didn't match the old off-off-white by a LOT, it was too late. Bob said my patch spots looked like measles! So it was tear apart the bathroom and repaint time. We had a big surprise when we pulled the mirror off -- the wallpaper underneath was beautiful and yet shockingly dark - photos here.
We also hiked a little that week -- I did Killpecker trail with Keith (photos here), and Bob and Ann came along for a hike up Roaring Creek (photos here). Both are gorgeous hikes. Later in July we hiked Arthur's Rock (photos here) in Lory State Park. More photos here from Keith with a close-up of the rattler we encountered!. We also continued on the getting-cultured with the Shakespeare Festival in Boulder, and Chalyn and Gabi joined us for "The Winters Tale". Then we saw Othello, Twelfth Night, and the incredible Unexpected Shakespear improv show.
August we went to Keith's annual Crab Boil party - always lots of fun! Photos here. Then I flew to Boise, along with my parents flying there from Detroit, to meet up with my sisters. A fun time in Boise and McCall was had, with a full day of rafting, fun on the waterski boat, and mountain biking down Brundage ski resort. Great photos here.
August I also attended a really fun class down in Pueblo where we learned about a ton of stuff including booby traps and then spent a couple days flying folks. A few photos here.
September we spent a bunch of time doing more house trim painting, and spent an entire weekend putting in 3 trees. Lesson learned - if the tree is in a pot, it'll be 1-2 hours to dig the hole. If it's in a burlap ball 3 feet across, it'll be more than a day. Photos here of digging the holes and the final pretty trees. The big 20 foot one is a forest gold ash, the 10 foot is a honey locust, and the baby 5 footer is an apple.
We also used our ham radio skills at the COG Road Rallye in Steamboat - tons of fun to work! Great photos here from us working start and finish controls.
At the end of September, we both went down to Durango for a CAP exercise - me to work and Bob to get suckered into helping set up the wireless network :-) Photos here from Friday when things were still calm.
October we went with the Northern Colorado Childfree group to the Fritzler Corn Maze. The Rock-n-Roll maze as a maze wasn't very hard this year, especially compared to last year, which was so hard they had workers in the maze guiding people around -- the flag part last year was just really difficult to get through! Was lots of fun this year especially with a fun crowd of folks.
Also did annual on my plane, took a fun co-worker (Debbie Vischer) flying (big photo here) and went to the usual Halloween party at Keith's - always a blast! Photos here from Rob Sims' most excellent camera and from Keith here.
November was busy with flying more co-workers, a really fun trip to Vegas staying downtown at the Plaza again (photos here), and fun movies at Keith's like Bride and Prejudice. Spent one day at the Boulder SAREX, then off to Kansas for Thanksgiving, flying was fun and being there was more fun.
December was pretty quiet, with another CAP exercise in Greeley (photos here), and helping with bell-ringing for Salvation Army (photos here). Salvation Army is really supporting of Search & Rescue -- whenever we have a mission they will show up to feed us and help us. Went with the Childfree group to see the Blossom of Lights in Denver -- the Botanical Gardens all lit up. Then Christmas in Kansas, which was very relaxing (photos here) and even more geeky than usual - Bob's mom got DSL!
Highlights: Jenny's pilot license, Japan trip, Glenwood, Shakespeare, lotsa CAP
January started with me catching a cold/sore throat, and as soon as I got over it Bob came down with it :-( On the upside, another CFI and I have been sharing a wonderful primary student, JennyN, who is trying to get up through solo over the holiday break from college... and she's done it! Photos here. We're so proud of her!
February and March are busy with work. No skiing yet (snow depth is pretty marginal) but went snowshoeing again a couple times (photos here). Finally ship product and have a life again! Plane went down for engine rebuild...
April is a bit late for skiing and snow depth is pretty poor, but we went skiing anyways and caught the annual Spring Splash at Winter Park where crazy folks try to ski down the hill through an obstacle course and across a pond of frigid water... and a few really do make it across! Pictures here and it was a good mix of skiers and snowboarders.
April we also did another trip to Las Vegas, stayed downtown for the first time, at the Plaza. Bob and Ann climbed the rock wall this time and both made it all the way up. Pictures here of both climbing the 75 foot rock wall... wow. Also worked a road rallye for Jay and Cindy, their 9th annual Dust to Dusk fun TSD rallye.
May... the plane is still down waiting for parts for the engine.. Seemed like May was pretty busy but I can't remember anything in particular :-)
June I spent two weeks in Japan on a business trip, lots of photos here. Much fun, lots of great sushi and other wonderful Japanese food. They have an incredibly ingenious way to park cars in a tiny space (see the photos -> first link for a video), their train and subway systems are absolutely clean, on time, during the day the trains run every 5 minutes, it's just amazing compared to how most of the US is so dependent on having a car. Japan has mass transport down to an art, and all of the trains and subways run on electric. Huge thanks to GeorgeR for giving me lots of prep work and email consulting during the trip :-) on how to use the train systems, how to get around, etc etc. We only took a taxi once the first day, and the driver got lost and had to call for directions, and it was almost 10x the price of the train. The train system is not obvious, but once you see it, it makes sense and even us knowing no Kanji didn't have much trouble, though having a train station map from George did help quite a few times. Japan is a beautiful country and I would love to go back.
July has been fun with a trip to Glenwood Springs with Keith & Ann. They got there first and said our hotel room was the laundry room (photos here)! Saturday we did the "Wild Cave" tour of Glenwood Caverns, which was a blast, photos from Keith here. Sunday we rented bicycles and cycled 10 miles up the canyon (not much elevation gain really) to Hanging Lake, which is a short but steep hike to a gorgeous pond and an interesting water spout from the rock face, feeding the lake. Pictures from Bob here and from Keith here.
Also being cultured, seeing my first ever Shakespeare plays from the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder. We saw Anthony & Cleopatra, Romeo & Juliet, and A Comedy of Errors. All three were very well done (from the perspective of an ignorant who's never seen or read the plays before), but the Comedy of Errors certainly stood out as just incredibly hilarious. These are high-quality productions, in an outdoor theatre "Shakespeare under the stars".
August has me finishing up my CFI renewal on the web (from AOPA/Jepp), so far I'm impressed at the quality. Looking forward to a vacation soon, a week on the beach in North Carolina. We had a wonderful time there, escaped Hurricane Charley bearing down on us! Lots of pictures here.
September went by pretty quickly with my airplane finally coming back from engine overhaul and putting on the 20 hours of engine break-in, then doing the same thing for our search & rescue plane. Mid-September Buena Vista hosted a Search & Rescue exercise and Mountain Flying ground school (photos here) and the next weekend Boulder hosted a mini-exercise (photos here).
October had me on a business trip right into the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne in Atlanta and continuing on into recovering Florida. Man some areas got hit hard, and those living on the lakes and rivers were still expecting even more flooding! Back to drought-laden Colorado, then had fun on another short vacation in Las Vegas (photos here)
Nov was busy at work releasing a couple projects, flying with a couple folks prepping them for the CAP C182 checkout, and flying back to Kansas City for Thanksgiving. Weather cut that trip short on both ends with a snowstorm in Kansas City Wed am that we came in after, and a snowstorm hitting Denver Saturday 1pm that we landed here an hour before.
Dec we are doing final preparation for Jenny's private pilot check-ride, just less than a year after she solo'd. Christmas day is Huma's wedding to Jamshid (pictures here) then she moves to Kansas City and leaves Agilent - we're going to miss her! Heading to Kansas City for a late Christmas with Bob's family, driving this time. Jenny received her private pilot certificate, woo-hoo!
Highlights: lotsa CAP, totaled Subaru, parents' 50th anniv, hiking 14ers, new Prius
January was mostly taken up with a huge state-wide CAP exercise that was supposed to be held in Greeley, but they lost their hangar and the exercise had to go somewhere close... so the ball landed in our court. Gobs of work and it turned out ok. Since we did a lot of photo-taking, there's over 150 Meg of photos here.
Winter continued with some skiing, lots of work, lots and lots of flying, everything fun, including a jaunt to Dallas/Austin in late April for Bob to do a gaming weekend with Scott in Austin, and Sue to go to a Cessna Pilots Association Systems & Procedures course in Dallas - highly recommended!
Fun lasted until May. My project at work shipped (hurrah!), then everything went downhill -- my car got totaled and our CAP plane got smushed and Wayne Covington's car got totaled... sigh. At least the "bad things come in 3's" is over.
June saw us winging our way to Detroit for the parent's 50th wedding anniversary! Aunt Bernie, Rhenee, Colleen, Bonnie, Father Frank (soon to be a Bishop!) and Father Wolber all attended, and it was a lot of fun. Bob described Aunt Bernie as "a firecracker" :-)
July I had an incredibly wonderful week off work where we accomplished a lot of unexpected things like spending 2 days cleaning the garage - 12 years since we moved into the house, so this first cleaning saw a lot of cobwebs removed! I spent a bunch of time debating what kind of car I want since mine got smushed and I finally had to give it to the insurance company to collect the payout for comprehensive insurance... Test-drove and looked and debated... and decided on a 2004 Toyota Prius hybrid, which is a hatchback and gets 50 mpg and zero emissions (which in Colorado is a biggie - we have emissions testing here!). The 2004's aren't even order-able yet, but at least now I'm on the list at the dealer's when they can order it later this month. Until it arrives (October?), I'm driving Bob's RX-7 whose turbo acceleration is spoiling me big time :-)
Then I got to hike my first 14er (the relatively easy Grays Peak) ever, what fun! Hoping to work up to Longs Peak later this summer... Did some other shorter hikes along the way too.
End of July through Aug 3 was a huge CAP evaluated exercise - every two years the Air Force evaluates one of our training exercises to ensure we have well-trained quality volunteers doing our jobs safely and well. Since you the taxpayer pays for our actual search missions as well as a state-wide training budget of around $50k per year (for each state), the Air Force monitors us constantly and does a formal evaluation every two years. Note that CAP is funded only for the actual aircraft and vehicle costs, on actual missions and on the 3-4 funded training exercises per year - we volunteer our time, our equipment, hotels, food, uniforms etc.. and aside from those couple of funded training weekends the rest of our training flights (the vast majority) are also self-funded. Anyways, Colorado did well this time with a high Excellent rating, and I received one of only four "Pinnacle Performer" awards for exceptional work :-) Rick Schein did the vast majority of the work, go Rick!
August 5 Tuesday I took the day off work to fly Young Eagles at the Tuskegee Airman 2003 conference in Denver. With only seven planes (including four 2-seaters!) we flew 134 kids from Denver at the Front Range airport. I got to meet a few of the Tuskegee pilots! Lots of fun but a long day -- landed back at FNL around 5pm, way too late to go to work.
Aug 6 Wednesday I was back to work in the morning, then that afternoon we left for a couple hours drive south... Bob and I were privileged to help at the dedication of Columbia Point near Kit Carson Aug 6-9.
Aug 17 we joined a fun group from Denver to climb Mt Bierstadt, long trip report here.
Sept 1-2 I finally achieved a goal I've had since moving to Colorado in 1986 - I climbed Long Peak. Long story here and many thanks to Jenny and Bob for their patience with my slowness and fear of heights.
Mid-Sept I was introduced to Tracking with a Track Aware class (photos here) from the Universal Tracking Service. This was a huge eye-opener (pun intended) in how to track a person's footprints across an open field. Friday am was classroom while the advanced class made tracks for us. Friday afternoon, evening in the dark, all day Sat and Sun am we managed to go about 1/4 mile following those tracks. We spent literally 5-10 minutes on each of the footprints, finding all the tiny details from the obvious bent grass to the flecks of dirt on top of tiny plants, compression marks in the ground, small scuff marks, tiny kinks in the dead grass, cracked deer poo... wow. It was daunting at first to see anything, but after a couple days we improved immensely. Most amazing were the skills of the instructors, and the advanced class who were off in the distance tracking up and down hills. Thanks to the Larimer County Search&Rescue folks who hosted the course and let non-ground SAR folks like me and Bob attend.
October was pretty busy at work, with a mini-SAREX in Greeley (thanks Ed Binkley!), ROTC Orientation flights starting, plus my first trip to Vegas, and another Young Eagles day at FNL. Also Betsy organized a fun sushi dinner party. Best of all, my new car arrived!
November I've been having fun with my new car in spite of the inclement weather, flew to Kansas City to visit Bob's family for Thanksgiving, then went on to Detroit for a few days with my parents and a day of work there.
December is busy with work getting busier, more ROTC flights, and a wonderfully less-stressful holiday season than ever before -- both families have agreed to do away with gift-giving, so no Christmas shopping! Hurrah! Diane put on a great mini-SAREX in spite of Colorado CAP being grounded, we went snowshoeing, had a great time at the Denver Zoo "Wild Lights" exhibit, etc. We had a fun trip to Kansas City to see Bob's family, driving the new toy car of course :-)
Highlights: Commercial and Flight Instructor cerrtificates, winter camping
Too many pictures to upload them all yet. Here's some that Bob's found time to load, of the CAP Maule.
January-April 2002 I don't remember much beyond work, skiing a few times, work, flying ROTC rides, work, working on my commercial with then-new-CFI Sue Bodoh, and more work.
May 2002 I worked a lot, got my Commercial pilots license, worked, and worked for CAP for the first time as an official IC at my first full-size (state-wide) SAREX (Jeffco).
June 2002 I worked, taught at the BPPP course, worked, attended the CAP squadron bivouac, worked, put on (with a LOT of help) an unfunded mini-exercise for CAP, and my project shipped at work and I have a life again! No more 14-hour days 7 days a week! Hurrah!
July 2002 I recovered from work over July 4th, found out what Bob looks like again, realized the house has a back yard and I already missed the tulips and daffodils and irises and there were a few roses left blooming still, and began the enormous task of beginning to start to attempt to try to catch up on life. I took the written tests for Flight Instructor and am enrolled in Colorado Contrail's 14-day CFI course. Flying from the right seat is humbling :-)
August 2002 I got my CFI - Certificated Flight Instructor rating. Hurrah! I would highly recommend Contrail's course. The rest of August I spent a lot of time with some CAP guinea pigs like Ken McNaught and Rick Turley and Patrice Gapen learning how to teach mountain flying. Don't fly in the center of a valley!
October 2002 Bob and I flew to Kansas City for Dan & Jan's wedding celebration. Sue learned that Westport is not in Lawrence (duh!) and the Plaza has great shopping... have to contribute to the economy...
Nov 2002 we went commercial to Boise to see Sue's sisters who live there, and the parents who were visiting. Bob and Manny both took pictures, we think Manny's are better. We got back Monday night and Wednesday morning we flew ourselves (gorgeous weather!) to do Thanksgiving in Kansas with Bob's family.
Dec 2002 Sue planned a mini-exercise for local CAP folks where we practiced Homeland Security type missions with lots of photographs. Then I was insane enough to go winter camping! I actually stayed fairly warm, and we had fun with 25 cadets and 6 adults, though there wasn't enough snow to build snow caves, as originally planned. We got back Sunday night the 22nd, and I unpacked and immediately re-packed for driving to Kansas for Christmas with Bob's family, which is always fun.
In June Bob and I flew to Austin to visit Scott & Linda, and drop off Brittany, the lab/terrier mix we'd been dog sitting since New Years. Poor pooch, going from 6 years in southern California to the depths of snowy winter in Colorado, to over 100 degrees in Austin. She flew great in the airplane!
July 14-21 Bob and I went to the beach in North Carolina with Dan and folks from Kansas City. After a week back at work, we headed back out in Sue's plane to Detroit for the Wolber family reunion. We also did the required day at Cedar Point, the world's best amusement park (Sue is still drooling over the Millenium Force ride). Then we headed home to work for a day before going to John & Kara's wedding in Wichita with our chauffer Dan. Somehow we managed to take no pictures there... 30 hours on the plane and a lot of fun!
In May 2000 we went to Cozumel with Brad, and Jimbo and Shelly. A fun time was had by all and Sue got her first (temporary) tattoo.
Also in 2000 Sue did a lot of traveling for work to train our sales force, and got Premier on United for the first time ever. Boston multiple times, California, two weeks in Europe, and a week in Hong Kong racked up the miles. Would have gone to Japan too, but the worsening economy caused a cutback on travel and training budgets. But by that time, I'd had enough of airports so I didn't mind.
In early October Bob and Sue both flew (in separate planes :-) to Reno. Sue stayed there for week of training for Inland SAR (Air Force Rescue Coordination Center teaches how to manage a search for a lost airplane). Meanwhile Bob flew on to San Jose to stay with Scott and Linda (& Brittany) to work remotely for the week. He came back Friday, Saturday it snowed in Denver so we wandered around Reno for the day and discovered if you're not into gambling, Reno has not much else to do, and locals are NOT very polite. Sunday we finally caravanned back home.
In late October we flew up to West Yellowstone for Reid & Karen's wedding. SueB & Mark flew up also in Sara, they took off well after us and blew by us like we were standing still :-) The four of us snuck off for half a day in Yellowstone Park (in Reid's truck :-) to see the geysers and had a lot of fun!
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