Wow, what a crazy week that was...I did make it out to Montgomery over the weekend, and had a great time. I actually didn't leave until Monday too, as opposed to my usual custom of leaving Sunday afternoon. I just felt like I didn't need to rush back last weekend, I guess. Saturday morning Luke and Uncle Gary and I went to Circuit City looking for good deals on their 'going under' sales. We weren't the only ones waiting outside the doors for them open up. It was like a pack of vultures hovering over a slowly dying buffalo, each looking to get a piece of the 'prize'. Actually though, I didn't even buy anything, and Luke only only picked up a USB memory stick for a friend that was a good price and Uncle Gary got a good deal on an external hard drive he was looking for. Then we went downtown to a gunshow at the convention center. It was a good sized show so Luke and I spent about 2 hours walking the floor looking at everything. I found a shoulder harness holster that I've been looking for, and got a good deal on it; at least a lot cheaper than I've been able to find online.
That afternoon we hooked my computer I'd brought into an extra monitor at Luke's place and we tried to play command and conque generals. However, we had different versions and they didn't have internet for us to update to the same one. So then we tried to get Starcraft running but that's always had a strange setup requirement. I remember Dad getting it to work for Kenny and I a good 10 years ago but have no idea how he did it. Anyways, we finally got another copy of C&C from a friend of Luke's and played that for a while. We also the played the farming game (which was actually not bad and pretty entertaining) which Michelle won by a longshot and a game of Munchkins over the weekend as well. It was really good to see everyone again, and I actually got a chance to spend some time chatting with the elder Maxwells Monday morning as well which I usually don't get since I'm generally running out the door in the mornings and returning late at night when we're done with a game or movie or whatever at the Smith's.
Monday night I spent studying agian for my checkride. This time I still briefed again but didn't have to do another boldface or get my pubs and all checked again. Bassically the only thing I didn't have to do over again was my walkaround during the preflight. The whole thing actually went pretty well, though there was one big scare. The winds were coming out of the North, but in order to get the instrument approach I needed for the profile I would have to shoot it to a 180 runway which meant about a 10-15 knot tailwind which is out of limits to land. So I didn't think it would be a big deal, I just had to shoot the approach, I didn't have to get a touch and go around it. But when I briefed it up like that he said "what?" And so I started thinking, oh no, is this illegal? I thought I could do that! So I explained it to him again, and he kind of shook his head and said "what?" again. So I handed him the weather printout, explained the required approach, and that I didn't believe I had to do a touch and go, just shoot the approach. Finally he understood what I was getting at and was like, "oh, yeah, that's totally fine." So here I was the whole time thinking I may have just failed the checkride for improper mission planning!
So, anyways, I ended up getting a 4G on the ride. Again, the lower the number the better, and the number is the count of downgrades on the ride. I got 2 downgrades in the pattern which were understandable, but the other 2 I really didn't agree with. And let me just say, that happens on every checkride. Everything we do is just someone else criticizing our flying. That's there jobs as IPs. I could fly the same way by myself and think it was a pretty good ride, not perfect, certainly, but considerig my experience in the plane, not bad at all! But anyways, one of the others was for leaving the power in on the 700' leveloff at takeoff before climbing past the departure end of the runway which is purely just a matter of technique and so technically shouldn't be a downgrade. But of course, how can you argue with the check IP? The answer is that you can't. The other downgrade was for the EP. He said I should have referenced 2 other items in the Dash-1. He knew I had them memorized since I talked through them anyways, but as a good practice it is best to address the procedures in writing if they exist. So, eh, don't really think that should have been a downgrade since I did everything right anyways, but that's his perogative. So anyways, not a bad days work!
Then I spent the rest of that day learning from Bryan and JD what I needed to know to fly the Nav ride I was scheduled for the next morning. To make things worse I was flying with Rob who couldn't help because he was in a sim until late and would not be able to get in early the next morning due to crew rest issues. So basically all the planning fell to me who just finished a checkride and had no idea what was required for a nav ride. Thankfully those guys were a huge helped and I stayed there learning and getting stuff ready until I ran into my 12-hour day cutoff and had to leave. We flew Wednesday and went out to Texarkana and had lunch at a great BBQ place there for only $3 each. Then I hit Littlerock for my approaches on the way back. That was another 12-hour day. Thursday I flew again with Ben this time. Since I was working all day Wednesday he did most of the planning for us and even had a full backup plan in case the first didn't work. So we started our briefing with the LtCol guest help IP who was flying it with us and then discovered not 5 minutes into the brief that the one airport we were relying on in both plans was no longer eligable for us to do approaches on as there was no more joint-use agreement. Of course, in our in-flight guides that place was listed as OK, but online it was not. So we had to replan everything that had taken 2 or 3 hours to plan and come up with the changes in 30 minutes. It all worked out in the end, but it was hectic!
So then I called the New Orleans airport that we were going to stop at and asked about food arrangements and which facility they were because the airport diagram showed 3 such facilities. She sounded kind of confused and said that they were the only FBO building there...Well then I asked about food arrangements and they emailed me a menu I took with us in the plane so that we could just call them up on the radios when we were 20 minutes out and they'd have the food waiting for us. So then we landed and walked into the FBO and they were like, hey, welcome, what can we do for you? And they actied like they weren't expecting us. When we asked if our food had arrived the lady behind the counter gave us a really confused look and asked, what food?? Great! Long story short, the FBO in Chenault, LA was the exact same company, and I'd called them instead that morning and also ordered food from them instead as well! How embarassing! So I had to call them up, apologize and explain that we 'had' to land at another airport and ask that they cancel our food order. They said it was totally fine, but I'm sure someone got some free Poboy sandwiches out of the deal! Luckily they had a car at the FBO in New Orleans for us to use and I drove us down the stree to a BK for a quick lunch. I guess usually they like to go get a sitdown meal but due to the morning's planning fiasco time was short. It was kind of nice, though, the car they gave was lincoln towncar, that's what I want for my next car! Now I just need some generous filthy-rich person to buy it for me... :)
So after a week of solid 12-hour days (and that just from the time I entered the squadron to walking out at night, does not include prep and study at home!) Friday morning I finally got to sleep in. I only had a sim and it didn't start until 1430. What a relief. So we got out at 1800 or so and then I came back home. Stew and I were thinking of going to watch the new Underworld: Rise of the Lycans since we both liked the rest of the series, but we were kind of wiped out and passed. Then Rob came over and he and Stew both had Walmart gift cards burning holes in their pockets. So off to Walmart we went. Then we were hungry and dropped by the drivethrough at Wendys. As were driving home and by the theatre I saw it was 2120 and the next showing of Underworld was in 20 minutes. So on a complete whim (fueled mostly by boredom and not having plans for entertainment back at the house anyways we pulled a u-turn and ended up watching the movie anyways!!
Then, after we got home, I decided I needed a nice hot bath. Now, guys, I know what you're thinking: "A hot bath, that's girly!" Well, call it what you want, but I enjoy relaxing after a long week, and that's how I did it! I filled up the tub with piping hot water, got myself an icecold drink I set on the rim, lit a good-smelling candle, and broke open a REALLY good book I got from Luke and Michelle last weekend by Ted Dekker called Black. The other 2 books in the series are Red and White. I must say, this book has hooked me like no other book has in a while, he a brilliant writer. He's a Christian author, and he actually grew up in Indonesia as well! His main character the book grew up in the Philippines so there's a lot of cool stuff in there that I relate to that's pretty cool! But it's not about that at all, it's about a guy in two different realities, and the second reality is a great allegory to this world. It's definitely written by a Christian and reminds a lot of C.S. Lewis' work but written on an 'older person' level than even Lewis' books. I was up until 4 AM this morning because I just couldn't put it down! So today I bought the 3-book in one hardcover edition on Amazon so I can hopefully jump into the next 2 books as soon as I finish this one. I highly HIGHLY recommend this book anyone interested in a great read with some solid Christian values and allegorys to God's love and hand in our lives. All that being said, I must reiterate that there is nothing girly about a nice hot bath, don't overlook that point! ;)
Anyways, today I've just been running errands and of course made some waffles for lunch. Probably should tie this up as this update is huge and has taken a good bit of time to write. I saw Bro Jonny in the commisary today as he's back in for a week or so and got to talk to him for a couple of minutes. He's going to try and fly with me some time this week too, hopefully.