Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back to Chi-town!

Life returned to normal (as normal as life on the road can be) after Kristina left, and we did a lot of working and flying.  We finished up in Frederick, where we found out what was wrong with our strobe light.  Apparently the reflector fell onto the light and melted into the bulb, effectively self-destructing

Its kind of hard to see, but trust me, that is not what it is supposed to look like.

Leaving Frederick, we went back to Cambridge/Salisbury.  Back again? Yes, back again.  Same old flat land and chicken farms.  But after we finished up the material in Cambridge, we went to Roanoke VA to take pictures of Smith Mountain Lake.  Roanoke airport is a training area for new air traffic controllers, and it is not very busy.  Regardless, they make you talk to ground control, get a unique squawk code, then talk to tower, then a departure control!  Ridiculous for a helicopter VFR departure, but understandable if they are trying to train new recruits.  There is designated helicopter parking, where we must park, which is 300 yards from the FBO, so you would think it would be common courtesy to send a car to come pick us up, especially when we called for a ride specifically, but this rarely happened.  Landmark Roanoke is probably one of the worst FBOs I have ever dealt with. They had many employees, but all of them seemed completely uninterested in helping us out.  It was a gigantic hassle the entire time we were there, and we will not stay in Roanoke if we have to go back.

Smith Mountain Lake airport, on the other hand, was great.  It is a very small airport tucked in among the trees, which makes it hard to find, but there is an old pilot there that owns the airport, and he had a lot to talk about.  He was a very nice guy, and I would rather give my money and patronage to him and his airport than Roanoke who couldn't care less.  The lake was a lot of fun to shoot, there were a lot of people out on their boats and jet skis waving at us and having a good time, not to mention it was beautiful scenery.  Not a bad place to work!   No pictures though, sorry.  Here is a stock picture from Google:

One night I went to downtown Roanoke, and I was not expecting much. I am learning very quickly though, that these smaller cities that have been here for 100 years or more actually have a pretty decent downtown!  There was a lot to do, and some really nice places, I guess I shouldn't underestimate these smaller places any more.  The photographer and I went to a bar that had pool tables, and a cigar lounge, so I was pretty happy.  He schooled me in pool, with his own cue he brought in a nice leather case, yeah I had no chance.  But afterward I got to smoke a nice cigar on a plush leather couch while watching the NBA Finals, not a bad night overall.

The 100 hour couldn't come soon enough though, because we were doing it in CHICAGO!!!  I was really excited to get back and see a bunch of people and have some fun in my old city! 

During the 100 hour, I got the extraordinary opportunity to go to my first Cubs game at Wrigley Field!  Kristina's mom called and said she had free tickets, so of course I jumped at the chance!  They were great seats and I couldn't thank her enough for an excellent time and my first Cubs game, it was a blast!

Kristina's little sister, Anna

Anna, Kristina's Mom Mari, and Me

Wooo!!! Cubs win in the 9th!!

Anna pretending to be drunk at a bar after the game

So here I am back in Chicago, it feels like it has been longer than it really has.  I have already gotten a chance to see the Uribarris, Angelo, and even mark who happened to be visiting from Phoenix (perfect timing!!), but I am looking forward to seeing many more friends over the next week and a half we have left.  Since we are getting lousy weather, I have had the chance to finally update my blog, but let's hope the weather clears sooner or later, I need to get back to work!

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