Size Matters

So during that flight I made this week, I told the instructor that I wouldn’t fly across Lake Michigan in a Cessna 172. And he chuckled at me!

I’m not a wimp. In that moment with the instructor, I forgot the exact reason why I didn’t fly over Lake Michigan. I just knew that it was too wide.  He chuckled again when I said that.

“How you even see a Great Lake?”

“No.”

“You can’t see the other side when you stand on the shore.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

I could tell he was still doubtful.

At home Trevor had the answer I forgot – even at the flight ceiling of the Cessna (the highest you can fly it) there was a short point in the middle of Lake Michigan we couldn’t have glided to land if our engine had failed.  No, gracias.

Being curious, I used overlapmaps.com to compare sizes.  It puts one geographic location on top another at the same scale.

michigan

3 Puerto Ricos could fit in one Lake Michigan! I don’t know why the menu on the left says Erie.  This is clearly Michigan.  Anyone who roots for the Green Bay Packers knows that’s Green Bay!

superior

Just for fun – Lake Superior too (the biggest Great Lake)

Nuff said. 🙂

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Me: Caribbean Fly Girl

Me flying in Puerto Rico today

I  first wanted to become a pilot when I started watching the cartoon Talespin in 1990. I was 11 years old. Trips to Oshkosh Airventure and watching the planes takeoff and land at our closest little airport, Timmerman, inspired me. Today I got to pilot a plane for the first time in the Caribbean, and it got me thinking about what it took to get to this point.

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My second flight EVER.

Above is a little photo of me of my 12th birthday. I got to see the cockpit! I was so excited! I eagerly told the two pilots that I wanted to be a pilot too. They laughed.  And one said I could work on this plane and bring them cookies. I nervously laughed too, not really understanding the sexist moment that just occurred.  They didn’t squash my fire. no no

A year later my middle school friend and I went to an informational meeting at Timmerman airport.  It was basic info for young people like us: what you need to earn your license, money and time involved. I loved it, but I knew it was too much money at the time.  After the meeting the head instructor came right up to me, looked at my sweat-shirt, and said gruffly, “You better not wear that here again!”

What was on my sweat-shirt? Olive branches around the USA and USSR flags, showing peace.  You see, my sister LisaMarie had just returned from a People-to-People trip to the USSR. The year was 1991 – Soviet Union would fall a couple months later. Maybe this guy was ex-military and hated the ‘reds’.  In any case, I felt puny and I have yet to set foot inside the terminal at Timmerman again. It’s 2016 now.  That’s a long time. That guy’s probably gone.  Or dead. And nobody cares about the Russians anymore. Sorry Russia.

2002. 22 years old…starting my flying lessons

The photo above is during my lessons at Morey in Madison. My boyfriend lent me money to reach my dream of being a pilot. What kinda boyfriend actually does that?? One you marry–haha

I earned my license in 13 months (and planned a wedding during that time too!).  I took a job as a line girl. Meaning – I got to wash all the oil, dirt and bugs off the airplanes, refuel them, mow the lawn, lean with all my might to open the old, frozen hanger doors, and tug (push and pull) the planes over uneven grass and mud. The airport was 70 years old. The fuel truck was from the 1960s.  It had no doors so I had to brush the snow off the seat in the winter, and pray it would start when I pressed the ignition button.  Most of the time I just flooded the engine! haha  oops.  Inside the building, the most direct path from the front office to the back shop hanger were we worked was through the men’s bathroom.  Yeah, I walked in on a guy once or twice. oops again.

I joined the 99s! It’s a club for female pilots started by Amelia Earhart herself. Met a bunch of awesome ladies.

I also had an old pilot guy tell me that if women were meant to fly, the sky would be pink. Ding dong. A) Up until WWII pink was a color for baby boys B) um, sunrise and sunset??

Call me Sully ’cause I hit a bird with my propeller.  Ok, bad analogy.  I didn’t do anything heroic except keep myself from tossing my cookies when the guts covered my entire windshield and I made my landing looking out the door window.  Aw, memories…

Since then I’ve flown a Cessna in the Swiss Alps, a glider and a Waco in Hawaii, and done a little aerobatics. Actually…I had another experience with the guy’s bathroom in an airport.  Sounds horrible – but no it’s funny.  I had to pee before our Alps flight, and didn’t want to be late, so I just dashed in the bathroom and when I exited the stall I noticed there were urinals in the bathroom. Wait, what? Yeah, as I was leaving the bano a dude gave me a funny look as he entered. well, I was excited and the sign on the door was in German  tee-hee

My view today

I was expecting smooth sailing, uh, flying today.  I knew I’d be a lone aviatrix among aviators.  This is nothing new. But Puerto Rican guys are very nice, not overly macho, and very respectful (not ONCE have I been cat called or looked up and down here. EVER! Way to go, hombres…)

I learned on a high wing Cessna from 1978. This was a 21st century low wing glass cockpit Piper Sport.

My maestro Jose was very nice.  Their practice area is where the UFO sighting were. And you need to fly around the big blimp. So pretty! I even saw my neighborhood! You realize just how small this island is up there.  And with so little air traffic on this end of the island, we had the whole southwest corner to ourselves.

By the way, the universal language for pilots on the radio is English.  So I get off easy with that! haha

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Speed bump passive aggressive battles

Mayaguez LOVES speed bumps.  On my route between school and my gym, I bump on top of more than 20! (my poor shocks).  The city recently added two fresh ones. Did the residents request it? Who knows…but it has amounted to some hilarious passive aggressive behaviors.

When the bumps first arrived drivers were just avoiding one by driving on the grass around it.  So someone stacked a tidy pile of rocks on  the flat grass.  A nice little way of saying, hey, don’t drive on the grass.

img_0415.jpg Which apparently didn’t keep people from not driving on the grass.  So, someone added more piles of rocks.

Then one morning I saw the rocks had been painted red.  Blood red.  Like, it actually looked like blood.  But that afternoon, someone else took said bloody rocks and spread out the tidy little piles.

A few days later Trevor told me he actually saw someone throwing the rocks into the bushes down the hill there.  Sorry for the blurry pic. Someone was behind me and it was raining. Adios rocas.  Hahaha.  What next will we see? 🙂

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Amusing fotos

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Don’t steal TP, dammit. And no, I’m not able to turn it right side up. Complaints can be sent to WordPress.

I absolutely hate it when people print notes backwards! This was in the Coliseum in San Juan

This Walgreens entrance thinks it’s in England. Everyone ignored the arrows, including us.

A brand new speedbump shall not be ignored by driving on the grass. They have since added more piles of rocks

Cosco does nothing small

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Caballos 

Our friends organized a horse ride for a small group of us in Cabo Rojo.  What a great idea and something we wouldn’t have done by ourselves!

The whole wagon was full of friends from school.

Mount up or ride in the carriage – your choice (but sitting in the saddle will cost you $30 extra.  Twas worth it!)

On the map above, the star on the upper left is the farm and that blue dot was where we were halfway thru the trek. Gracias mother earth for nice weather.  Breezes and a bright overcast sky. Excellent considering the trail wasn’t shady at all.

Trevor rode the horse for the second half of the tour, and my son joined him for about 100 meters once back at camp. The saddle squished him but he liked it.

We witnessed baby crabs scurry away under our wagon.  awww…

I figured I’d represent the Packers while I channeled my inner ranch girl.

Beautiful panoramic views illustrated Puerto Rico’s natural beauty.  It was simply delightful to saunter on the horse behind the wagon.  The horse riders mostly rode in a comfortable, contemplative silence and my soul soaked it in.My girl and I on the horse named Rusio. She road with me a quarter mile until her squished hips and legs couldn’t take it anymore. This saddle was definitely made for one cowgirl at a time.

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Fighter jets: Dead and Alive

So, our weekend was filled with fighter jets. This dead one parked at the Parque Tomas Palmares in Dorado.

I didn’t know the park had a closing time!

Except it was closed when we arrived. Boo.

And I spent all that tome talking it up to the kids

At least the park wasn’t surrounded by a wall!

The next day was the Air Show featuring the Thunderbirds!! (Cue AC/DC music here)

 We scored a very good seat on one of the old fort walls. Overlooking the ghetto. (Literally, it’s where the guidebooks tell you not to go in old San Juan.)

I was so excited to watch an airshow over water for the first time

But then the police came by and told everyone to get off the wall. So we did. And then 10 minutes later more people came and sat back on the wall and some of the people who had gotten off got back on. I was tempted to do the same but Trevor is an outstanding law-abiding citizen. So we stayed put on the grass.  And stared at a wall. Obviously, an airshow is in the AIR. But still, I was seething with the injustice of getting there early enough to score great seats then being superseded. The show began and I was so irate I made our whole family relocate.

Our new view after getting booted off the wall.

The show was so slow going we easily moved 100 feet east to a new spot and didn’t miss anything

The first act was a xxx that just flew back and forth. Then some police helicopters, Cessna and a police boat below. Not extremely exciting. But what I did like was the search and rescue helicopter. It dropped a rescuer into the water, the chopper circled over the city then returned to the diver who lit a flair.  If we hadn’t relocated our seats, we would’ve missed that demo.

My daughter was ready to leave before the Thunderbirds even came out.

Then there was a 20 minute demonstration by a cloaked Romulan bird of prey. Which was boring.

After a 20 minute pause…

Thunderbirds!

Basically, the meat of the show were these guys. They fly their wingtips within an soda-can width of each other.  It was a fun show. But, airshow snobs that we are, it wasn’t anything that we hadn’t seen before.

And at the end, we couldn’t determine if it was worth it.  The sun, the crowds, the biting ants, the lackluster opening acts. I think we left our conclusion undetermined because we didn’t want to bad mouth the event, our efforts, our times, or our choice to attend. And if we hadn’t gone, we would’ve wondered if we shoulda gone.

It took us 40 minutes to leave Old San Juan with the traffic. This only aggravated our mixed emotions, so we soothed ourselves with 2000 calories delivered via Macaroni Grill and Cold Stone Creamery in Caguas.

…..later my massage therapist told me they don’t want people sitting on the old fort walls because they want to preserve them, not destroy them.  oh. make sense

 

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I’ve lived two years and I still don’t know this.

I’ve lived here a year and I still don’t know street names.  Obviously I know MY street name but outside my little neighborhood? Uh. Not really. Actually, the name of the main street in my gated neighborhood escapes my memory while writing this.

Besides a couple of the main ones like Hwy 2, and Post Street (which also has two other names) I couldn’t tell you even the street names I use everyday to get to school.

The lack of street signs is prohibitive to giving directions, but since people are so used to using landmarks, everyone expects it. If the intersection has no signs, it’s just easier to say “Turn left at the Denny’s” or “just after mile marker 5.6”

Sometimes our GPS takes about 6 solid seconds to spit out some long street names and by the time she says “in a quarter mile” we are already at the turn!

No signs

There are a couple of streets with simple names like Calle A, which intersects with Calle AA. (Which is really funny to hear the GPS lady say, which is the only reason I know the name of the road. Go ahead, say Calle AA out loud.  Btw, you pronounce ‘calle’ like kai-yay.  Now say AA in English.  Teehee)

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We didn’t get our mail for two months

Me to my neighbor last May: We’re just going to forward our mail to Wisconsin over the summer.

Neighbor: You don’t want to do that. It takes too long. We can collect your mail and mail it to you.

Me: Thanks. But it’ll be easier to forward it.

Ugh! If only I’d listened to her!  I could NOT submit the forward request online (my address is not in the system for some reason). So I went to the PO. Ok. Done.

We stopped receiving mail 2 weeks before I told them to start. Is that because they put our mail on a third class boat and it takes two weeks to arrive at the forwarded address?

I think all my trouble started when I told our deliveryman that I’d like my mail delivered until the day we left. He said it was in a box at the post office and that would be no problem. Ok! But….we left on May 31st.  By mid-July…we had received nada at my Mom’s…

So I sent a quick text to my friend who works in the Rincon PO.  It’s good to have connections!

As it says, my wise neighbor said some mail was still getting delivered to our house. But I didn’t think all of it was there, and none of it was here, so my mail must’ve been in some sort of mail limbo!  I asked my postal worker friend to help me reinstate my forwarding..

But by late July, we still had a mail blackout. The two weeks it should’ve taken the mail-by-boat came and went. I’d had it! We were returning to PR in two weeks anyway!  I had Amazon (lovely Amazon) items to purchase.  Would they get to my doorstop only to reverse course and get shipped back to my mom’s in Wisconsin?

Message from my neighbor

Just to be sure – I sent some packages to my neighbor’s house instead. I was ordering school supplies afterall. Nana doesn’t need those 😉

I eventually worked with my postal worker friend to cancel all forwarding. Since our address isn’t recognized in the USPS system, I couldn’t do it online.  That would be too easy!!

All our packages, gracias a Dios, weren’t redirected north. But….just this week (third week in September mind you)…I just received two items of mail with a stamp that said, ‘unable to deliver.” One was a bill due in August. Good thing I pay online!!

Lesson learned: when your Puerto Rican neighbor tells you not to use a Puerto Rican service (even the US Postal System), listen to her! (Stick to just mailing stuff, like 54 boxes of your belongings! haha)

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Now you see it…

So, two days ago Puerto Rico experienced the worst power outage in decades. And I learned a new word, “apagón” (blackout).

At the same time as my hubby was flying away from Mayaguez to San Juan to begin his journey to Barcelona (not the one in New York, no no), a major explosion at a power plant in Central PR caused damages to two main 230, 000 volt  transmission line. Begin domino effect here! The entire system shut down to protect itself. Or so they said.

This said the airport was closed (I assume they mean thr main one in San Juan). but Trevor said TSA had enough power, and henwas able to leave fine with a small delay.

I’ve blogged about the tree covered power lines many times

People were quick to lay blame. But one of the coolest images I saw was comparing an aerial image before and after the apagón.

We’re very bright!

Like we’re not there!

And I see how intertwined I am with electricity. Obviously not just for lights, but for trying to download all the photos Trevor sent us from Spain.

Trevor eating fresh fruit in a market in Barcelona. With lights.

 

Rationing our generator, we had snacks in the dark.

I thanked God many times for the fact that we had a generator, and a water cistern with a pump.  Because eventually the water pressure dwindled to dribbles. Friends checking on each other, getting updates through our intermittent internet, and remembering how to simply unplug and enjoy the natural light.  It’s like camping – get your house organized and picked up before sunset or you’ll be sorry. I felt like worshiping the sun every morning.

I imagined this on the news that my father watches every night, but then thought more realistically.  This probably isn’t news to anyplace else.

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We went to a cafe for lunch. While exiting, this electrical box up on the pole literally shot out blue lightning. Yeah, my car was parked under the wire. The whole feeling surrounding the town was eerie..

And imagine on top of all this – my friend was delivering her twins in one hospital in town and my neighbor was administered to a different hospital the night of the explosion.
Never a dull moment!!
Silver lining:  ESTRELLAS!! Millions of stars. And a faint outline of the Milky Way. = worth it!

 

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Pics to make you go huh?

Taino man in Aguadilla proudly props a 2×4 up with his nose

When you go to check radar to see when the rain will let up…and you can even read the name of your city

So many public restrooms don’t have hot water.

The topless Taino woman will watch over you on your toilet throne

If one hydrant is broken, just install a new one.


At nine at night, that girl is so done.

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