Our send off yesterday from Ackley was great. We pulled up in the truck Dale had so generously loaned us to find quite an assemblage of well wishers. They tried to be polite (for two seconds) but they had been waiting for some time. Morning to the good folks of Iowa means early .None of this an few hours after sunup business!
I replaced the tired batteries in the intercom and handheld radio, purchased some fuel from the local crop duster and then it was time for another goodbye to yet more folks who had so quickly found a place in our hearts. More pictures, hugs, pictures. The small town of Ackley was well represented in our send off party. Dale and his family, the local barber, a man who plays Santa, the crop-duster, and even the garbage truck crew stopped their rounds to wave goodbye and watch us take off. It had been a wonderful stay in biplane heaven, just too brief.
We made a quick stop for fuel in Spencer, Iowa alongside a Lear jet, and then the Prince gave Chrissy a hard time when it refused to start. Two breathless water breaks later, it finally fired.
We were happy to see the beautiful lake surrounding Madison, South Dakota and greet Chris, the local FBO manager and mechanic. He quickly and efficiently checked the torque on the Prince’s wood prop and pumped our fuel. He also showed us a very well researched and written article on the front page of the Madison paper. It had been written about our trip when we had been eastbound. Chris had wanted to give it to us, but I insisted that we all sign it for him. We’ll get copies later.
Fatigue was setting in, and I was glad when the monotonous, sleep inducing view of flat green squares of the Midwest starting changing to rolling hills and yellow hay crops in the Dakotas. After a fuel stop in Gettysburg, we crossed the mighty, huge Missouri and I decide that I would fly our final leg at a lower altitude keep me awake and entertained. I am glad I did. Chrissy and I were enraptured by the gorgeous landscape unfolding as we flitted above. Rolling green hills, twisting ribbons of silver rivers with clumps of trees alongside, old barns and abandoned houses in the middle of nothingness, cattle, giant round bales of hay in fields, small lakes with willows on the shore and sunflowers! Huge fields of yellow flowers with their heads pointed ever optimistically toward the sun. We spied a lone cow gorging in a field of sunflowers. It spooked and ran as we flew over, but promptly went back to the field. We were cold upon our arrival for the evening in Hettinger, North Dakota and fatigued, but it was well worth it. What stunning country.
The Rockies today and the weather is perfect!