Day 4: Sea Planes and See Planes at AirVenture 2016



I married for love and knew I married a man who loved airplanes in addition to me. Thursday night found us at the Seaplane Pilots Association’s annual Corn Roast and BBQ.This is gourmet dining the no-frills Wisconsin way:   grilled brats, corn cooked in a vertical roaster, baked beans, cake, and beer, all served on unadorned folding tables.

Gotta have the beer with the brats in the state that brought Schlitz Beer to the world.  The company was founded in 1849 and once was the largest producer of beer in the U.S.  I know this because my Dad worked for Schlitz.  Other kids had milk in their baby bottles; I had Schlitz, so to speak.  Dad moved on from Schlitz to work for Budweiser and Anheuser Busch.  I moved on  from Schlitz, to drinking Budweiser, then Michelob, and now AmberBock (below) and local craft beers, like Zero Gravity,  when I am not drinking my favorite, Citizen Cider’s Unified Press.  I guess I am a personified timeline of our country’s evolution in drinking habits. How goes Connie, thus goes the rest of the country.


Beyond brats and beer, the gathering featured a band ‘o pirates relatin’ their adventures, fightin’ games, givin’ talks, ‘n auctionin’ off a ruckas booty. Arrr! We, however, added another adventure.

Gear is up and we are out of here! Off to see the airplanes that were flown in and parked on the flight line.


Boys and their toys–grown up style!


Parking for Cessna 195s on “Interstate 195” and parking for the Ercoupes at “Ercoupe Alley.”

“Fat Tire” doesn’t just refer to a bike or to a beer as the tire on “Raisin’ H’Eleanor shows.

The Mooney Mite is the smallest aircraft flown to the show, a single place from California.

All the creature comforts a camper could want:  a charging station, potties, showers, and water.  “Comfort” is obviously relative.

Sunset and airplanes, a tranquil end to an exciting day.


Day 3: The Cape Cod of the Midwest and Pyrotechnics

We played hooky today.  A week at AirVenture, no matter how enjoyable, is draining. Door County beckoned in all of her beauty, and we answered the Siren’s call since this area is the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.”  There are three hundred miles of shoreline to explore, plus gift shops, art galleries, boutiques, wineries, distilleries, farm markets, and restaurants–you get the idea.  There’s temptation around every turn. Unfortunately, we had only a few hours to spare, so we had to do the “speed dating” version of the trip.


Our first stop was Ephraim for lunch.  After hearing over and over, “You have to go to Wilson’s for ice cream, then you HAVE to go to Wilson’s for ice cream. They also serve homemade root beer and All-American burgers, sandwiches, fries, etc. Again, you get it. A diner that has been feeding the hungry since 1906 must be doing something right.

We luckily nabbed a parking spot on the road in front of the restaurant, noting the people mingling outside and lounging on the steps.  Warily, I entered the front door and saw fifteen people fidgeting in front of me.  I did an about-face, exited, and then re-entered the restaurant through the side door onto the porch.  A lonely table for two was looking for new friends. The waitress said that front door customers get put on the wait list for inside seating. Side door customers, however, could seat themselves on the porch on a first-come, first-served basis. Some days, some things go just right.

The good luck continued.  The waitress was friendly and the food arrived lickety-split.  Bruce and I ordered the Door County whitefish sandwich with fries and coleslaw to split. Great choice-very tasty.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a fried fish sandwich since Kennedy was in office.  Moreover, a french fry hasn’t passed my lips since Reagan was…okay, never mind.  That’s a lie. I had french fries in June.


I wish I could lie and say we didn’t have the ice cream, but passing up that treat, would have negated the purpose of the trip.  We ordered two scoops in one dish to share:  Double Chocolate Almond and Chocolate Peanut Butter Explosion.  The words double and explosion sum up the dish.  Double what we needed, and an explosion of silky ice cream, smooth peanut butter, chunky chocolate pieces, and crunchy almonds worth every single calorie. Looking around, I noticed that most people had their own two scoops, or a huge milkshake, or a mammoth ice cream sundae bedazzled with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and cherries. (Not as large as the one below, but decadent never-the-less.) In comparison, our shared serving look downright righteous. Bruce and I seldom eat dessert–no lie–but we survived the sugar attack and happily left the diner unscathed.

Yes, you can!  No, we didn’t!



Wilson’s overlooks beautiful Green Bay, so a quick walk along the shoreline to wake up our metabolism was in order. The sun periodically poked out of clouds mixed with splotches of gray and white, reflecting on the blue water below. Raindrops rudely spit on us for a few minutes but had second thoughts and politely disappeared. We ducked into the Visitors’ Center to discover how we could do a scenic drive of Peninsula State Park, which was a convenient few miles south down the road. After getting both verbal directions and a map in hand, we walked back to the car and took off.



We learned that if we didn’t stop and park, there is no entrance fee. We didn’t have time to stop anyway, and we are thrifty (cheap), so we did miss a couple major attractions:  Eagle Tower and Eagle Bluff Lighthouse.  Instead, we drove Skyline Drive, expecting gorgeous views. The drive had its highlights, but overall we were disappointed.  The right drive, but the wrong season.  Summer hid the view with heavy woods.  In the couple of places that we could peek through the trees, Green Bay was glorious in its washes of blues.


Exiting the park, we drove to the next village, Fish Creek, known for its shopping and art. First, we ambled down to the shore to check out the boats and view.  To see a lot of Door County in two hours or less, we should have booked one of the scenic boat tours that leaves from Fish Creek Marina. We will be smarter travelers on the next trip.


This day, we walked the main drag enjoying the charming architecture,





the artistic gardens,





and the funky shopping.




 Before we knew it, our speed date reached its end time, and we drove the two hours back to Oshkosh to watch the AirVenture fireworks from the backyard of our B&B. GE generously sponsored a twenty-minute show of fiery flames that illuminated the black sky with bursts of  boom and color.


First, however, there were almost 90 minutes of an evening airshow featuring courageous pilots who added pyrotechnics to their already dangerous maneuvers.  Flips, free falls, and fireworks flying off the planes was the opening act, but in truth, the opening act stole the show.



In the end, AirVenture is all about the pilots, both men and women, and their amazing skills in their amazing flying machines.  I, however, cannot do what they do; I have the proverbial yellow stripe down my back.  Watching them, I become one with them, streaking across the sky, blazing free and fearless into the dark infinity.

Killing Thomas Jefferson– and Us



Dennis Doyle, early settler of the Kansas Territory; Irish immigrant; seeker of economic opportunities and religious freedom; farmer: my 3xs great-grandfather.

Before I have even finished my breakfast, I have a tummy ache. You may, too, after you digest what I am about to tell you. I learned that the Republicans are discussing gut wrenching additions to their platform—additions that violate one of the most sacred tenets of our Constitution: the division of church and state.


According to the New York Times website, “The platform demands that lawmakers use religion as a guide when legislating, stipulating ‘that man-made law must be consistent with God-given natural rights.’” The platform “also encourages the teaching of the Bible in public schools because . . . a good understanding of its contents is “indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry” (

How can such a lofty idea as making moral-based decisions be so fundamentally wrong for our country? It is not. The proposed execution of this idea is wrong.


Of course we want our leaders to make sound moral decisions. The problem comes with lawmakers using “religion as a guide when legislating” Whose religion? Let’s consider one scenario based on the assumption that I have two relatives in Congress. (I don’t.)

On the issue of declaring war, my Catholic relative would base her decision on the church’s Just War Doctrine, which says, according to the Catholic Answers website (, that the “damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation . . . must be lasting, grave, and certain.” Then if non-violent measures fail to resolve the conflict, declaring war is a just decision because there is a “time to kill” (Eccles. 3:3). She would vote to go to war.

My Church of the Brethren relative, however, was raised in a church whose members have been pacifists for the last 300 years. In fact, the Church of the Brethren website proclaims that it believes “that war or any participation in war is wrong and incompatible with the spirit, example, and teachings of Jesus Christ.” In fact, the website highlights that they bring “this message to Capitol Hill to be a witness to Christ’s peace in a place full of conflict” ( ). He would vote against going to war.

We can’t divorce legislators from their religious beliefs, nor should we. In fact, the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that we all have the right to our religious beliefs. We, however, don’t want legislatures to base their decisions only on their religion. We want compassionate leaders who study a bill and look at it from all perspectives; who listen to their constituents but base their votes on their knowledge of complexities that perhaps some constituents haven’t considered; who vote to uphold their party’s platform when appropriate but have the courage to compromise when needed; and who vote to defend our God-given unalienable rights and our Constitution.

Unfortunately, if the Republican platform supports teaching the Bible in schools, it will not defend our Constitution; it will crush a segment of our Constitution’s foundation: freedom of religion.


Whose interpretation of the Bible will be taught in the public schools? The Catholic teacher believes that the Garden of Eden is a symbolic story, a creation myth, to explain the existence of man and woman and the presence of evil in the world. The Fundamentalist Protestant teacher believes in the literal interpretation:  Adam and Eve really lived in the Garden of Eden in Mesopotamia, so they are not metaphors. The Mormon teacher also believes in the literal existence of the Garden of Eden. He believes, however, that according to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Garden of Eden was located in Jackson County, Missouri.

Do you see a problem here?

Also consider the words of Matthew: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (19:24). The teacher who interprets this symbolically believes that wealthy people have demands, responsibilities, and temptations that make living a moral life very difficult. The teacher who reads this literally believes that the rich must unburden themselves of their possessions to go to heaven. This passage is so contested with different interpretations that doing a search for it yields 64,000 hits on Google.

Do you see a problem here?


I know that Thomas Jefferson would see a big problem here. He and the other founders established a country where each person can worship God in his or her own way without fear of persecution. Government does not have the right to promote one religion over another. Teaching the Bible in the public schools (other than the Bible as literature) would be teaching Christianity.

I also know that my Church of the Brethren relatives who immigrated from Germany to Pennsylvania in the 1700s to escape religious persecution and then fought in the Revolutionary War would see a major problem. My poor Irish Catholic relatives who immigrated to Kansas in the 1800s also would recognize a major problem. They left a country that was ravaged politically, socially, and economically by religious intolerance. Millions flocked to this country to have their religious rights protected.

Now, the Republican Party wants to reverse our freedom to religion as guaranteed by our Constitution. Really, Republican Party? Really? All I can imagine is that Thomas Jefferson, the other founding fathers, and my immigrant relatives must be tossing in their graves, calling out for a tincture to soothe their stomachs, sick with disbelief. They are dying all over again.  Eliminating the errors of using “religion as a guide when legislating” and “teaching the Bible in the public schools”  from the Republican Party’s platform can save them–and us.


Jacob Ulrich, Church of the Brethren leader; early settler of  Kansas Territory; farmer; pacifist; protector of religious rights; abolitionist; and Conductor on the Underground Railroad:  my 3xs great-grandfather



About Me–Really

IMG_4470I sprouted from the prairies of Kansas and got transplanted to Virginia where my husband worked for NASA, we raised two sons, and I worked as a high school English teacher and department chair. We both moved on from those jobs, my husband starting companies in the aeronautics field, and I supporting those companies in the areas of writing, oral communications, and bookkeeping. Yes, an English teacher doing QuickBooks. That’s scarier than a Gothic novel. Luckily, I spend more time with A,B,Cs than 1,2,3s.

I am also fortunate because our jobs wing us away across the ocean.Sometimes, we rent planes on our travels, in the States and abroad, and my husband is the pilot. No matter whether we fly commercially or privately, I am in the passenger’s seat. That’s not a bad place to be. Without being at the controls, I can give my full attention, both literally and figuratively, to the panorama of life that spreads before me.

When possible, I like to hang out with literary types, living or dead, like Kafka in Prague. I live life with one ear tuned to the conversation buzzing around me and the other ear tuned in to the constant internal monologue in my head. Kafka invaded my silent musings and challenged me to comment about my travels with an occasional “detour” to other topics. Really, Kafka? So here I am.

First blog post

Really? Really, Life?

Life, are you really motivating me to write a blog to comment on your idiosyncrasies, foibles, and serendipity?  Understanding you at times is like placing a piece into a jigsaw puzzle:  the piece looks right, but it’s not the correct fit.  Other times understanding you is like confidently running down stairs, inexplicably missing the final step, and sprawling skinned and bruised on the pavement. Understanding you can also be like expecting a blind date to be Brad Pitt and finding Ramsey Bolton at the front door instead.  Brad may melt a heart, but Ramsey much prefers to pierce a heart–literally–into pieces. Then when I am at the pinnacle of my confusion, running in a dark forest, tripping on roots, and failing to find the correct trail to escape your bogeyman,  I stumble upon a clearing.  Overhead, a brilliant shaft of sunlight points to the path of safety.

Really, Life?  Really!