Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Sunday, October 22, 2017

While Here In a Holding Pattern, a Trip Recap

At Thousand Trails on Lake Conroe, Willis, Texas...

Writing the title of this post reminded me of holding patterns as they apply to flying. Since I spent quite a few years as an aviator, I thought a brief primer might be in order:

A pilot who wishes to add an Instrument Rating to his or her qualifications must demonstrate knowledge and skill in performing a holding pattern while referring solely to the aircraft's instruments. These are specific maneuvers whose track across the ground would resemble a racetrack as the aircraft is flown within certain confined airspace that is associated with a navigation aid or fix. When assigned a hold by Air Traffic Control (ATC), the pilot is supposed to know how to enter the pattern and fly the correct direction, distance and/or time to be flown in the maneuver without instructions from the controller. In the holding pattern depicted below on an aeronautical chart, the airplane would fly this racetrack pattern southeast of the Pomona, California VOR (a navigation aid), making left turns and one-minute legs, all the while maintaining an altitude as assigned by ATC.

Below is an interesting photo showing contrails of a jet aircraft having made several turns in a high-altitude holding pattern.

If several aircraft need to hold at the same location, the crews are usually given instructions to fly the same pattern at different altitudes, stacked one over the other until they are cleared to proceed further.

In the last 50 years or so, the necessity for flying holding patterns has become quite rare, thanks to the vast technological advances in navigation and radar equipment. Aircraft can now be spaced in a desired sequential flow pattern for hundreds of miles before reaching a point where a holding pattern would normally have been needed. However, a pilot must still demonstrate the procedure in order to obtain the rating.

As a pilot, I still recall my training days when I learned how to do holding patterns, and I guess we are in an RV holding pattern now, having arrived in Conroe after our epic summer of wandering through no fewer than 22 states!  We will always be drawn here because the kids are here, and we really got antsy to see them after more than four months' absence. Here is a view of Lake Conroe from our park:

This explains the absence of posts since the end of that trip. This seems to have developed into a pattern over the years: When we're on the road, I'm inspired to make frequent posts because of all the new places we visit, but not so much when we're settled here for a while. Some years ago, I experimented a bit with daily posting, but I just couldn't bring myself to write about the mundane stuff we do each day. That's not to say I don't enjoy reading the blogs of those who post daily, because I do, and I admire the authors' discipline in doing that every day. I really think the whole problem is that I'm lazy--something, by the way, that I can point to with a degree of pride. I've already done the w*rk thing, and I like not w*rking better. 

I wouldn't want to leave the impression, however, that we are idle while Phannie takes a well deserved rest in her spot here by Lake Conroe. We've already attended a rally in San Marcos with some of our Tiffin owner friends, and we're planning a trip to the Dallas area next month for doctor visits and attending a concert. Then we'll have another rally in the Rio Grande Valley where we'll hang around until mid-November visiting friends there.

What it looks like at one of our rallies.
We think our mobility and good health--which we believe has improved since retirement--is at least partially attributable to our refusal to circumscribe our activities and accept the confinement of a small world defined by four walls of living space and the boundaries of a single neighborhood or town. 

We have a physician friend who seems fascinated by the freedom of our lifestyle, and he shared with us that he sees so many older patients who seem to age faster as their world becomes smaller after retirement, restricted to gatherings of friends and relatives who generally sit around and talk about little more than their ailments. With God's help, we are not going to do that. We have striven always to live our life without regrets, and I think we'll be able to say that we've pretty much met that goal.

We couldn't be more proud of ol' Phannie on her long voyage. The drive train part of the bus operated perfectly without a single hiccup of any kind. We couldn't say the same for the house part, however, that saw the need for a new bedroom air conditioner. But that unit was pretty tired after ten years of use, and it was time for a replacement. We also broke a slide torque tube shear bolt in Memphis, but that was the only time we had to call a mobile technician on the whole trip. 

Of course, there was the ignominious end of Mae, our Chevy HHR tow vehicle, in Indiana, necessitating our acquisition of the new Mae, a Honda CR-V. We were sorry to see the little red car go but, with her unreliability, she lost our trust and had to be put out to pasture. We love the new Mae, though; life goes on, doesn't it?

Phannie and the new Mae at Billings, Montana
Phannie, our aging Phaeton coach, looks a little dated beside some of our friends' coaches that brightly reflect their multi-hundred-thousand-dollar price tags, but some of these have given their owners lots of headaches. Not so with Phannie--she just runs and runs. Trade her for a newer one, you say? I don't think so; she has served us too well. Plus, she's much like a member of the family. And there's a lot we can do with a couple hundred thousand dollars.

As we have traveled and found ourselves rubbing elbows with other RVers, we have made so many wonderful friends among fellow nomads who share this interesting life and who are some of the nicest people on the planet. This trip was no exception; why, on the eve of writing this post, we had dinner at a local dive with this fun group, assembled mostly from our neighbors here in the park:

In a couple of days, Janice and Dave, new friends we recently met in Idaho, will arrive, and there will be much merriment for all.

Thankfully, with this blog to help with our fading memory, all we have to do is to go back a few posts and remember all of our summer trip. It would be hard to come up with a favorite photo, but here are just a few from the trip that we really like:

And so, I'm sure you will agree that our current holding pattern is an enjoyable one and that this may inspire you to get out there and live your dream with no regrets. As our longtime friend Ed closes each of his daily blog posts--life is good! (Thank you, Ed; everyone should have a friend so positive.)

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

I had rather own little and see the world than to own the world and see little of it.  
--Alexander Sattler