Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Big East Trip Day 1

Big East Trip - Travel Day 1
Saturday 5/29/04 
DAY 1     DAY 2     DAY 3     DAY4     DAY5     DAY 6     DAY 7

Longmont, CO (2V2) - Le Mars, IA (LRJ)
Full stop @ Le Mars, IA

The first leg was to an airport suggested by a coworker.  Le Mars, IA is the hometown of a friend of mine, Dave.  The flight there was mostly uneventful, except for passing a building thunderstorm in the middle of Nebraska.

A low pressure system with about 5 fronts in it was just passing through Colorado before we left.  While the weather was fine in Longmont, we hit the first front northeast of Ogallala, NE.  Turns out that front and many others were all part of a low pressure system would chase us for at least a week.  We fueled up in Le Mars and were even offered a free ride to the Blue Bunny Ice Cream factory.  We had to pass due to time limitations.

Unfortunately, this was about the only runway that Brig didn't get a picture of on landing. 

Le Mars, IA - Prairie du Chien, WI (PDC)
Touch & Go @ Jackson, MN (MJQ) 
Well, it didn't take long for us to have to alter our trip.  The weather east of Le Mars was not great, fairly overcast to broken skies.  We were planning to make our stop in Minnesota in Austin.  The onboard weather system showed that the surface reports all along the southern edge of Minnesota were low ceilings and low visibilities.  The most promising airport appeared to be Jackson, MN.  So we turned left and diverted there.   At least it was still just scattered to broken there, and we got in with a touch & go and right back up again towards Prairie du Chien.  Sure enough, as we passed the area south of Austin, it was completely overcast.  Prairie du Chien though was perfectly clear and we made a straight-in there.

I found out about a restaurant within walking distance called "Huckleberrys", so we set out for it.  It was sort of a long walk and we probably used up too much time walking back and forth from there.  We had a good lunch though, got fueled up, and were on our way east.

Prairie du Chien, WI - Benton Harbor, MI
Touch & Go @ Aurora, IL  (ARR)
Touch & Go @ Gary, IN  (GYY)
Full stop @ Benton Harbor, MI  (BEH)
The weather on this leg was pretty good.  We did an easy straight-in touch & go at Aurora, IL, and flew along the southside of Chicago, where it was a little hazy over downtown.  Next was Gary, IN, and another straight-in touch & go.  Gary had to be one of the most unsightly places I'd ever seen.  Big, dark abandoned buildings and shipyards, seagulls everywhere, just looked like a big dump.  The controllers were pretty friendly though.  After that it was along Lake Michigan, past Michigan City, IN and Indiana Dunes, and on to Benton Harbor, MI.  We passed one of several nuclear reactors to come.  Coming up on St. Joseph, MI we could see the harbor and lighthouse.  We flew right by it on a straight-in to Benton Harbor airport.  I should mention here that this location was another one suggested by a different friend at work, Dean.  He grew up near Benton Harbor-St. Joseph, and talked me into this place over Michigan City, which was our original first overnight stop.  We're glad we took his advice, it was a really nice place and we plan on returning.

Once we landed at the airport we had to make some calls to get someone out there to get our rental car keys.  The next day I went back to the airport and put the airplane in a hangar.  There was supposed to be a huge storm coming through, it was probably the same one that was just getting started back in Nebraska, and was now a full fledged monster causing thunderstorms and tornadoes.  The rain we received while there was pretty heavy all right.  The parking lot near our hotel was completely flooded.  The next morning it was just cool and overcast with no rain or thunderstorms.


Boulevard Inn, St. Joseph, Michigan

DAY 1     DAY 2     DAY 3     DAY4     DAY5     DAY 6     DAY 7