What I did on my Summer Vacation


In the summer of 1997 I decided to take a vacation. This would not be unusual, except that the last vacation I had was in 1990 – seven years before. The first step was to decide where I should go. Hawaii? Tahiti? Europe? How about ... Duluth, Minnesota!!!!

My sister had recently moved to Minneapolis from Kansas City. A flying vacation through her new home state would be a lot of fun. Only one problem: My sister has never been flying, even though I had spent two years begging her to join me. Only one solution: Give her several months notice and tell her she was going with me … period …

In July, she climbed into a Piper Archer and took off for a new adventure.

Our first trip was to Red Wing ... a trip of twenty minutes. After a wonderful lunch at the St. James Hotel, shopping, site-seeing and a final trip to the St. James Hotel for a hot fudge sundae, we were ready to return to Flying Cloud airport. Hmmmm, two gals, an Archer and a LOT of Red Wing pottery. I thought about running a weight and balance..The winds had shifted and our return trip was also twenty minutes!

Next was a trip to Little Falls, home of Charles Lindbergh. The museum and his childhood home were interesting. However, most remarkable was the taxi driver – a woman with a double Masters degree in Social Work and Psychology. She had been offered a job in Arizona and was trying to decide if she would miss the Minnesota winters…..

Finally, a three day trip to Duluth. The Air National Guard unit stationed at Duluth was "practicing" when we arrived. They were sent away for a few minutes to allow the air to settle for the two broads in their Piper. My sister thought this was "most cool." Moments after this picture was taken, two F16s took off side-by-side behind us. Now that was REALLY cool. The weather was also really cool. It had been in the 90s in Minneapolis during the week. The high in Duluth for three days was in the 60s. I had only one pair of long pants for the entire trip. It was chilly. I decided to buy a pair of socks. Yes, these are the socks I bought. Our trip included a delightful stay at a wonderful bed and breakfast. We toured the Cirrus Design plant, Gooseberry Falls State Park and the Split Rock Lighthouse. We ate a lot of wild rice and, of course, we stopped at Betty’s Pies.

Back to Minneapolis and finally a trip to Brainerd. During our entire trip we had been dodging thunderstorms. On the trip to Brainerd we flew around the back end of a narrow band of thunderstorms. The lightning and the cloud formations were awe-inspiring in both their power and their beauty. My sister was in charge of the Storm scope. She did a great job and is now (affectionately) referred to as the Storm Scope Queen. In a week, she had learned to read VFR sectionals, determine distances, use a LORAN (she had the right half; I had the left half), pick out landmarks and spot other airplanes. She also learned about run-ups (when the airplanes were doing all those silly things with their ailerons and tail feathers) and she can spot a "twin-tail doctor killer" across an entire airport.

2 girls
Yup, all in all, a wonderful adventure. I might not wait seven years again before my next vacation…..


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Last Modified on April 12,1998
All images and text copyright 1998, Barbara @ Babes & Airplanes