Day 4: Sea Planes and See Planes at AirVenture 2016

 

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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.

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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.

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Boys and their toys–grown up style!

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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.

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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.

EPHRAIM:  WILSON’S FOR THE BEST ICE CREAM

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.

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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!

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EMPHRAIM: WALKING OFF THE CARBS

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.

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EPHRAIM: SCENIC PENINSULA STATE PARK

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.

FISH CREEK:  THE HOME OF ARTISTS AND ARTISANS

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.

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

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the artistic gardens,

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and the funky shopping.

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THE DAY’S GRAND FINALE: FIREY FLAMES

 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.

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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.

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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.

Day #2 at EAA AirVenture 2016: Visiting the Airplanes and Other Awesome Sights

Round and round all over Wittman Regional Airport,  you can run and run and still not visit all the airplanes at EAA AirVenture 2016 in one day. I tried to do so and failed miserably.

Maybe it was the 92 degree heat that slowed me down. As the locals tell me, “We’re having your state’s kind of weather ” I can forgive Virginia’s fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk weather; Virginia is in the South, so I know what to expect. I had hoped for more (or should I say less?) from Wisconsin and its Northern environs:  less heat, less humidity, less sidewalk cuisine. Not to be!

I am not really whining because despite the hot heat, I saw some really cool spectacles, some with wings and some with not. Sweat running into my eyes did not dim my enthusiasm.

You can see the awesomeness that I saw and be totally comfortable. Pour yourself a cool one, sit back, relax, and take a “scroll” around the sights.  Here we go:

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The iconic propeller welcomes EAA AirVenture visitors at the gate.

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Pilots love their women, and the pilots of this B-29 are especially visual about expressing that love.

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This “bombshell” is not Fifi, but certainly she is the spirit of Fifi.

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C5 Galaxy military transport jet:  This plane can transport a lot of C-rations, 270,000 pounds worth according to the U.S. Air Force.

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The EAA honors the DA42 Twin Star, which was the first diesel-powered fixed-wing aircraft to make a non-stop crossing of the North Atlantic, doing so in 12.5 hours.

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The Pilatus PC-12 NG is getting rave reviews and is one of the most popular turbine-powered business aircraft on the market today.

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We have come a long way since the Xerox machine. Textron will have a 3D printed propeller engine on the new Cessna Denali turboprop.

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The ultimate toy box. Transport your light sport aircraft (LSA) and your Corvette in one trailer. A gal can dream, can’t she?

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Pipistrel’s Virus, a high-tech, carbon fiber aircraft produced in Slovenia, is a leader in the next generation of low-cost aircraft. It won the NASA PAV Centennial Challenge.

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I took several pictures of LSA, but why show the second best? Here is the best of the bunch: the ICON A5 on its trailer with the wings folded. We plan on playing on land and sea in this two-person. incredibly engineered amphibian. ETA? Hopefully, 2017.

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The daily air show offers thrills and chills on a hot, sunny day.

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Isn’t he cute? Tall, dark, handsome–and sweet!

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Need some adult refreshment to cool down? As you exit the displays, the Happy Face balloon points the way to the Beer Tent.

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Off of Wittman Regional Airport, the beer continues to flow late into the night. Wendt’s on the Lake is also famous for its fried perch. AirVenture attendees are still dining at 10 p.m.

Long days, short nights, and serendipity yet to come.  That sums up what to expect each day. I think, however, it’s time to take a road trip. More on that on Day 3….