The Enterprise has been out on its longest mission, having spent all of
last summer in San Diego and wintering in various spots that see no
snow. It was time to come home.
The week after Bubba's Rocky Mountain High, Tim Kaiser joined me to take
the waiting Enterprise from Denver to Naperville, IL. We only had three
days but also only had 16 hours of driving. There would be flying.
Road trips never fail to amuse. After a number of hours driving with too
little sleep it became obvious that napping would be required. So we
came out of warp drive (65 mph in this craft) to a small town on a quiet
side street, by a cemetary of all places, and set up for a snoozelet. I
even commented on how these folks won't be whooping it up. Within a
minute of Tim drifting off came the near deafening whine of an obviously
nearby warning siren. Then voice blasted out to explain the testing of
this little communities weather warning system. We had parked
immediately underneath one very loud speaker/siren. So much for quiet.
Thankfully the test soon ended as did the lawnmower that joined the
cacophony and we got enough winks to press on. Next time I'll ask with
respect if the underground occupants mind us resting nearby.
The Straight and Narrow
Flying sites abound at civilization's edge and this little town was no
exception. We'd been distancing ourselves from a same-direction
thunderstorm that was now far enough away. Like many quickly-chosen
sites, it wasn't ideal. Staying away from people meant choosing a narrow
strip of grassy launch with corn on one side and ditch on the other.
Nothing dangerous, just challenging.
My lines caught on the cage and I barely got them yanked off while
running through a ditch. Tim said he thought I was a gonner (well,
faller would be more accurate). Liftoff was 90 degrees from my inflation
direction. I have since solved the line catching problem and forward
launches are much easier.
Unfortunately, Tim had motor problems so only I got to fly. We fixed the
motor but it was already late. Flying wasn't spectacular and, I must
admit, one endless view of flat corn fields is much like the others. Of
course, when given the opportunity to go explore, we never fail to find
something entertaining. Just being in the air is fun, regardless
of terrain, and I'm glad I got up.
was more amusement, though. The Enterprise's water system quit working.
Uh oh, no toilet water. And serious bowel business beckoned. Hmmm. Some
farmer will wonder why this one particular clump of corn is growing so
high. The water problem, loose pump wires, was quickly solved.
Feast of Flight
Saturday was the day. After a night at Wal-Mart, we went looking for
launch. It didn't take long, the south end of the parking lot turned out
to be perfect. Shortly after offing our gear, a cop parked next to the
Enterprise. He didn't get out of the car and, since we weren't doing
anything illegal, we just pressed on getting ready. The cop went to
Just as Tim got his wing laid out, the sprinklers sprang to life. A
quick scramble got our equipment clear but it made a dewy launch that
much wetter. Never saw that one coming.
Our flights were brief and the cop never did wake up. We launched, flew
around, landed, photographed Tim catching a toad, enthused over the
sport to a spectator, loaded and left the sleeping soundly. And I
thought my job was easy. Of course people don't shoot at me often,
We put a lot of miles to pavement, arriving near Des Moines, Iowa in the
afternoon. A pristine forecast encouraged us to find a site early. This
edge of civilization was a grassy development with another year to go.
We could have done without all the light poles but they would be easy to
avoid by any pilot who remained at least awake.
This was the flight. We headed out with full tanks and needed it all.
Nearly all my pics are from this one flight. It was gorgeous, too. Yes,
Iowa is the tall corn state, but like I said, give us some time and
we'll make it interesting. That we did.
First Row: 1) First flight of the trip. Short but sweet, as
2) Tim inflates but a line snags hard on the cage, dooming the effort.
You can see it on his lower left.
3) Climbing out from a foot drag. 4) After landing on Saturday
afternoon, Tim received audience applause from this van.
Second Row: 1) Just another beautiful scene where water meets
land on Sat afternoon. 2) Twelve row combine. Had to check out the
Caterpillar outdoor showroom.
3) Tim reverses nicely for our Sat morning jaunt. 4) Wal-Mart with
Third Row: 1) Saturday evening. We got here early and hung out
until the atmosphere settled.
2) I took off and grabbed this shot of Tim's launch. 3) The downhill
landing was a bit challenging
4) Mr. Black Devil, please don't fail me at this particular moment!
Fourth Row: 1) Cruising West Des Moines.
2) I'll bet I'd be in cell range about now. That is, of course, if I
accidentally left my phone on.
3) Tim captured me doing a long foot drag down this lonely road. 4) Tim
toad trapping. His breadth of skills never fail to amaze me. Or should
that be amuse me.
Home at Last
Sunday we relaxed until reaching the Quad Cities. There we diverged onto
wheels for an 8 mile roller blade along the Mississippi river.
a nice place in the summer, especially given our outdoor eating. Don't
try that in January!
The Enterprise finally arrived home at about 4:30pm.
She's getting a thorough cleansing which continues. Miles of dust and
bugs are reluctant to leave but we seem to be winning the battle. She
did get washed a couple times while being out for two years but the
cab-over bugs were well entrenched. They obviously like it since they
are resistant to most efforts.