What we do here is chronicle what we're up to in a wide range of areas. This is an invitation to share stories and comment on those of others. I like chatting with adults, and I like mental health, so we'll try to use those as standards. Hopefully we'll share a lot and be in a better position to apply it to the next play. (leave a comment at the bottom of the page)
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Day 12, 18 Feb 2013. The final day of our adventure. We're in the Hampton Inn in Beaufort SC, doing the final bag drag and grabbing a little breakfast.
We called the same cab and the same guy took us back to the airport. This is all pretty routine at this point. We pre-flight and blast off for Barnwell, a short flight of around 40 minutes,
picking up a clearance in the air.
This clearance business is getting
complicated everywhere. Turns out Beaufort approach is closed for
President's Day so we scramble find a frequency to get our clearance. By the
time we do we're half way there.
Barnwell is a popular place. There was
one guy pulling away from the pumps as we pulled in. Two more planes land and get in line as
we're topping off. It's amazing what cheap gas will do for your popularity.
The fella watching us all mentioned they weren't sure how long prices
would last, but they sure were happy to be able to help everyone while it
We pick up one more clearance in the air enroute to
Frederick. Other than the usual headwinds (no matter what direction we're
headed ;-) the sky is clear all the way home.
We finally get Frederick in sight . . .
. . . and are cleared to land Rwy 05.
One more top off at Frederick's self-serve and we're headed for the hangar.
It's still winter here so we need to take the usual precautions. As we leave for Waynesboro she's plugged into the engine heater. That's a necessary step unless you want to arrive for a flight one cold morning and find the oil has more the consistency of asphalt. This is certainly a big change in perspective from the last two weeks. We also asked Landmark Aviation, our local FBO, to take her in for a wash to get all the salt she's undoubtedly picked up in the Caribbean off her. Never hurts to keep ahead of corrosion.
So home sweet home. It's time to build a fire. It's going to be cold tonight. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ The overall tale of the numbers: 4033 nautical miles, three countries, 36 hours of flying on the hobbs meter (sort of an engine clock) / 33.3 hours on the tach, 16
stops. There are a lot of things one can say about a trip like this. It was a fun intellectual challenge pulling all the pieces together (in spite of the unreasonable four rules imposed by the participants - see our 19 May 2013 post ;-). It required a good effort by both of us to keep it all on track while on the road. In the end, it was satisfying to have successfully anticipated virtually all the main logistical issues. The main thing, though, is it was worth it. Being able to share so many terrific places with my model friend, great people, natural beauty, man-made wonders, different ways of making a living, big money, small money, the hustle everywhere, civic interest everywhere -- this is positively stimulating and motivational. Of course, you can see bits and pieces of this everywhere you go. You don't necessarily need to fly the Caribbean to find it. It's hard to argue, after flying it, that these characteristics are so much clearer when one looks around. With any luck, we'll be able to use a refreshed perspective back home. Just one perspective, but who knows -- it might just be contagious. And it might lead to another adventure.
Day 11. 17 Feb 2013, and its a beautiful day by the looks of it early in the morning.
Well, it's been a great ride so far. In two days we'll be putting N6321T back in the hangar in Frederick MD. We're stopping in Beaufort SC to visit a partner in the plane, Bill Schultz and his wife Betty, before topping her off for the last leg home. But first, we need to clear
BHS and US Customs, get a little more cheap gas, and hope for good weather.
I mentioned the conversation with our taxi driver on the ride back to the
airport in yesterday's post. What I did not mention
was breakfast before our departure. We ate at Murray's Deli, kind of an "I Love NY"
kind of a place with good food and one of the few places at Atlantic open early. When we finished, I had to
get some pictures because Murray's was right next to the harbor, and the harbor
was filled with boats.
Big boats, impressive boats, boats with boats,
boats with their own jet skis,
boats with cranes mounted on the stern to raise and lower shuttle boats.
All this was very impressive, but one boat in
particular caught everyone's attention. There was a boat with its own
helicopter. Talk about one-upmanship!! I'll grant you I never
actually saw the helo without its canvas cover, so for all I know it was a
cardboard helo. But still . . .
Anyway, I'd called US Customs the day before
with a 1200L arrival at Ft Pierce, so once again the timing of the day's events
was pretty much set. After the drive to the airport, Bahamas Customs is
another snap. Just hand the ladies at the FBO counter your paperwork, they
walk it back to a little room, and you're done. I'd also filed that
morning using FltPlan.com.
It worked this time (none of that stuff about needing a contract or agreement), but you have to pick up your clearance using a radio in the
FBO. Once we'd gotten 21T moved in from the lower 40 and fueling was
underway, I called clearance and got a full route clearance.
Departing was a snap. After we got our
clearance, all we had to do was make our departure time. Bag drag,
pre-flight, and we're a few minutes early. Ground has no problem with
that and we're off a little early.
The flight to Ft Pierce is over Freeport.
There is a bit of surface traffic out with us this morning.
This is a long leg that starts with the usual number of islands along the route, and ends with a large stretch of deep water all the way to the Florida coast. From the air the line marking coastal waters and the deep Atlantic is pretty clear as you can see below.
The only remarkable thing about this flight is chatter about a TFR over Ft
Pierce. We later learned this was for Mr. Obama's golf outing with Tiger Woods.
ATC routed us right in and we parked in front of Customs.
After outbound and inbound experiences, I can definitely recommend Ft Pierce as a preferred and easy way to make the jump to the Bahamas. An FBO
guy came over with a baggage cart to help unload bags, and a customs guy came
out to help as well. We did the usual passport and Immigration form, and
walked past the x-ray machines with instructions if no one was there to keep
walking back to the plane. Plane it was.
As a Cherokee pulled in behind us and a
business jet had pulled alongside, we decided to push her over to parking in
front of the FBO and Tiki Bar - line guy helped again. We dropped off the
raft and life vests and grabbed some lunch. Nice place with excellent
food and good service. While in the restaurant we filed for a flight to
Beaufort SC and dinner with Bill and Betty. I had thought about stopping
once again at Valkaria, but Barnwell's gas was cheaper and we had enough to hit
Beaufort and get to Barnwell the next morning.
So one more uneventful flight up the coast to
Beaufort. The fella at the airport remembered Bill and 21T from a period in December 2012 through January 2013 when Bill had her down that way.
We're getting used to the idea of grabbing a cab, so off to a Hampton in Beaufort. This is a pretty little town just outside the Marines Parris Island complex.
As you might imagine, there are a lot of Marines and retired Marines in the area. Our taxi driver chats about how the area has been doing since the economy turned south. He's doing alright so far.
After cleaning up a bit, Bill and Betty arrive and take us
downtown to The Plum. This is a great little restaurant with what appears
to have a good following. Ann got the local shrimp ravioli, and I got the
special. Everyone completely enjoyed the food and it was good to catch up
with the Schultz's.
The next day, 16 Feb 2013, we head out
to the beach by way of the intervening park
and water slides
and pools with sharks (and turtles, and rays, and . . . ).
There had to be a beach out there somewhere. We could see water from our room ;-).
On the way we came across the starting point for the river rapids. Ann got a tube and headed out while I walked a little further to see the beach front area.
It was really there (the beach,that is), and very nice.
Beach chairs, umbrellas and towels were all provided, first come first
After circling back to get Ann, we
finally got to the beach more or less in time to watch a storm rolling in.
We figured it was time to move when Ann noted the local folks putting
tarps over their wares. We decided to head for the Lagoon Restaurant. That's the painting in its domed ceiling above.
The Lagoon is set amidst several pools and features aquariums. The walls downstairs have large glass panels offering views of the sea life in various segmented pools surrounding the restaurant.
This would have been a very nice place to eat if only it had not rained so hard. We were waiting to be seated as the rain poured down for maybe 15 - 20 minutes.
So hard that the people
seated closest to the outer edge either were in the rain or were getting
splashed by runoff from the roof. So hard the small drains near the
entrance were not up to the flow and the area in which we stood was being flooded.
So hard the head chef halted serving. Eventually, we got the idea
this was not as good an idea as we thought, and made our way back toward the
We eventually stopped at Virgil's, a BBQ
place with good ratings. Outstanding BBQ and they had Kalik Gold, an
upscale version of the beer I tried in Staniel Cay. All around, a great
meal. This place reminds me of Disney World in at least one sense. It is constructed on such a huge scale it takes several days to actually see everything it has to offer. After that you can get comfortable and relax, knowing you are finally
in a position to choose what you want to do without the nagging suspicion you're missing something.
All that said, Atlantis is not Nassau.
The big news outside of Atlantis is all the construction taking place for
a new resort with 8000 jobs. Both of our taxi drivers commented on it,
and seemed very impressed with the effort.
From their perspective, they liked the idea that the roads from the airport to the new resort (which
will be much closer to the airport) are being expanded from 2 to 4 lanes,
making it possible for them to generate more revenue from each hour of driving.
One noted it would probably be good for Atlantis to have some
competition. We also saw a lot of efforts at Atlantis to improve or
enhance their facilities. That may just be routine maintenance, or it
could be a little brushing up before the new guys open.
Our drivers commented most folks on
Nassau live on the other side of "the hill" which I'd guess is the
opposite side of the island from Atlantis and Paradise Island. One noted there is a mixture
of housing areas over there ranging from pretty run down to pretty nice, but
they are apparently all intermixed. Would be nice to come back to Nassau
sometime to see more of the island. In that sense, like we found everywhere else, if you want to explore the entire region, you really need to set aside a month or so and take a slow stroll. Will have to think about that. Would take a lot more budget unless one consciously avoided resorts of this sort.
So, we're rapidly approaching the end of
the trip. Tomorrow is Sunday, Day 11, and we'll be headed back to Ft
Pierce. Still more to see.