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  #161  
Old 09-17-2019, 02:08 PM
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Default 24. Crossings

There were many buildings in Hannibal that had been maintained from the late 1800s and early 1900s, and downtown, the son could not keep track of all the businesses that had been named after Mark Twain. It was his town.



















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  #162  
Old 09-17-2019, 02:09 PM
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Default 24. Crossings

A bronze statue of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, who walked the way of confident bare-footedness toward the center of town, marked a staircase leading up to the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse, erected in 1935.







The mighty Mississippi flowed as mighty and muddy as ever below the ridgeline where the lighthouse was erected in Twain's honor.



At the footing of the old Twain Memorial Bridge which was demolished in 2001, a friend of the son's rested on a concrete piling and perked up as the son walked by. New life was coming to the site with the imminent construction of a veterans memorial.





Back in Hannibal proper, the son walked around the perimeter of Twain's childhood home, his father's law practice, and the home of Twain's childhood sweetheart, Becky Thatcher. It was the city's bicentennial that year.







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  #163  
Old 09-17-2019, 02:10 PM
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Default 24. Crossings

The son drove back to Munroe City and pulled into the airport where he parked the Chevy Tahoe. Del was still fueling aircraft en route to Oshkosh, including a beautiful Cessna 195. The son's uncle, who was the B-17 flight engineer during the war, once owned a C-195, and the son thought about Uncle Denny when he saw the airplane sitting there by the pumps.



The son pulled the Dove out of the hangar and performed a thorough preflight. It was time to leave.



The day was heating up, the weather was clearing, and the anticipation of a new destination began to draw heavily on the son's heart. He thanked Del and Ruth, who had treated the son like a member of their own family, and they wished him a safe journey.



Then the son strapped in, cranked over, and blasted out of Munroe City. He headed northeast and climbed up to 13,500 feet between cloud layers.





The son began a 20-minute crossing of Lake Michigan over Milwaukee, Wisconsin.





After covering 428 nautical miles in 2.4 hours, the son touched down and taxied to a transient tie-down cross in Clare, Michigan (48D).



The son climbed out, the only airport on the field. The FBO building was open, and inside the son found an excellent facility. It had a couch in the pilots lounge, a kitchen, and restrooms with showers. The son brought in his gear and wiped down the Dove and covered her up. It was a place to stay for the night.



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  #164  
Old 09-17-2019, 02:12 PM
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Default 24. Crossings



There was a courtesy van parked outside under a shed, but it was broken. A tall, slender man with white hair pulled up on a burgundy motorcycle and came into the FBO to use a flight simulator. It was in a separate room. He told the son that the courtesy van was having radiator problems and was awaiting parts.



So the son began walking toward town in the cool Michigan evening, breathing in life and crossing over the pastoral countryside in a wave of peace.







Entering Clare, the son walked into the downtown area and explored the evening sights and sounds of the city.







There was an historic reference to an old Highway 27 running up through Michigan to the north. The son crossed over and beheld the iconic Dougherty Hotel on the opposite corner.



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  #165  
Old 09-17-2019, 02:13 PM
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Default 24. Crossings

In an alley behind a donut shop, the son found an interesting display of artwork that had apparently been created by owners of the business. There was a bunt cake collage, several murals, and other paintings and sculptures that had required a great deal of time and effort to create. The son admired the display in the waning hours of daylight.









The son was too drawn by the smell of freshly baked donuts to pass them up. It was an historic shop called, “Cops and Doughnuts,” originally opened in 1896. He went inside and bought an apple fritter and a cream puff.



He ate the donuts outside and watched a family of Amish locals cross over the old highway in carriages. Then the son crossed back over to the Dougherty Hotel, went inside, and took an elevator to the top floor where he walked down a long , hot, stuffy hallway. He found a better view of Clare and the busy intersection below the building.





The son went down through the hotel lobby and began walking back to the airport. He walked past an old chapel that was getting new additions built onto it, including a new portico. As it appeared that night, the faithful would have to levitate, leap, or pull themselves up through the door to find sanctuary inside.



A second-hand thrift store displayed clothing items that drifted ghost-like and surreal behind the glass.



The long country road leading back to the airport had become an Amish thoroughfare that night. The clip-clop of horse hooves and carriages brought local drivers in and out of town. Near the airport, the son waited at an intersection for one of the drivers to pull up. The horse sensed the son’s presence as he stood among the weeds in the darkness. The horse stopped. The driver repeatedly jangled the reins to get the horse to move ahead through the intersection. It would not budge. When the Amish driver climbed out of the carriage to forcibly coax the stubborn horse into crossing, the animal suddenly bolted. The iron-shod hooves clopped away into darkness and disappeared, the driver clinging desperately to the side of the carriage as it rolled away.

The son looked up. He could see a portal there, opening up to a night of rest as he cautiously approached the airport. He could feel himself being drawn toward the FBO building where he could shower, eat a decent dinner, and lie down on the couch where sleep might come more easily than the night before. It was like some heavenly hole that kept widening with a promise for tomorrow pouring through it. So he kept walking.

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Last edited by Scott Chastain : 09-17-2019 at 02:16 PM.
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  #166  
Old 09-19-2019, 06:36 AM
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Default 25. Like a Thief







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  #167  
Old 09-19-2019, 06:37 AM
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Default 25. Like a Thief

Just after dawn, somebody walked into the FBO and used the microwave oven, went into the restroom, then walked out. It was still very dark in the building. The son turned over on the couch and looked outside. There was a pilot walking back over to the pumps where he started fueling a Piper Tomahawk. While the son stuffed his bag and prepared to leave, the pilot sat in his airplane fumbling through charts for about 20 minutes before he finally cranked over, taxied out, and departed.

The son walked outside to preflight the Dove. It was a lovely, cool morning with overcast skies and a gentle breeze pushing over the tarmac from the northeast.



The son took off for a short 14-mile hop to Gladwin (GDW) where fuel was selling at $4.23 per gallon. He landed a few minutes ahead of a couple in a Piper Cherokee, on their way to Oshkosh from the Finger Lakes region of New York. The son topped off, then pushed the Dove out to make room for the Cherokee. Then he walked into the FBO to use the restroom.





The son departed Gladwin and peeled off to the northwest. He climbed up to 6,500 feet to clear a cloud deck that slowly began to break up as he approached the coastline of Torchport (59M).









At Torch Lake, the son vectored north up to Charlevoix where, turning northeast, he began making a descent toward the Straits of Mackinac.





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  #168  
Old 09-19-2019, 06:38 AM
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Default 25. Like a Thief

Winds were calm, and the morning was bright and clear and cool. The son made a straight-in approach for Runway 08 and soon was parked on the tarmac of Mackinac Island (MCD).





An RV-10 with 4 people on board landed just behind him, and as the son was wiping down the Dove, he watched the party enter the terminal building. He walked inside not long after where a taxi pulled up under the easement. It was horse-drawn.



The four people climbed in and galloped off through the forest. The son turned inside where he paid a small $12.50 landing fee to a girl who looked to be about 16 years old. She wore a park ranger uniform and seemed a little befuddled when the son asked her questions about the airport operations and the FBO. She did not seem to know what those terms meant. He rephrased his question in simpler terms.

"Can I get back in here after you leave?" the son asked.

"Yes, when the office closes you can still get in. There's a keypad outside."

"The Michigan Code?" the son asked. He was referring to the 5-3-2-1 code used at nearly all Michigan FBOs with after-hours access. The girl appeared to be nodding but looked more confused than confident in her response. The son took his receipt and turned. It was fairly large facility, with a lounge area, restrooms, and a snooze room which included a sofa on which to sleep.



There were apparently no motor vehicles on Mackinac Island. All transportation depended on horses, electric golf carts, or bicycles. There were bicycles available to use without charge on the airport property, but they were not nearly of the same quality and efficiency as the Specialized bike which the son owned. He proceeded to assemble the bike inside the terminal building while the ranger girl watched in the office from behind a pane of glass.



Meanwhile, as the son walked back outside to the Dove in order to retrieve the wheels, he met a couple on the tarmac who had climbed into their Bonanza and who were now climbing back out because the battery was dead. The pilot told the son that he left the master switch on. The son offered to help push the plane over to the terminal building if the pilot was able to find a battery charger there. The ranger girl, flabbergasted at first but nevertheless willing to check, located a charging cart in a nearby maintenance hangar.

"If you don't mind," said the pilot, "I think I'll take you up on your offer to help me push the plane over." The son got up off the floor from his bicycle assembly operation. The Bonanza pilot did not have a tow bar. So with the pilot steering the nose wheel via the propeller, the son pushed on a wing walk. They found an outlet by the terminal building where the son plugged in the charger and hooked it up to the plane's battery.

The son went back inside to continue assembling his mountain bike. Later, a native of Mackinac showed up and supervised the charging operation on a Zippo scooter while smoking cigarettes and pontificating on his knowledge of electricity. After about 30 minutes on the charger, the Bonanza was ready to crank over and the couple climbed aboard again.



They departed soon after. After ops-checking his bicycle and packing up with plenty of water and snacks, the son did, too.





He stopped first in front of a pair of beautiful mansions, now bed and breakfast businesses, where he breathed in deeply of the clear cool morning air and gathered unto himself the joy of life and living. The son could feel the father's hand of blessing upon his forehead.



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  #169  
Old 09-19-2019, 06:40 AM
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Default 25. Like a Thief

Then there came a mighty draw to move onward through the meandering green, over twisting pathways where horse-drawn carriages and other cyclists traversed.



The son made a rapid descent down a hill and ended up in front of a large congregation of racked bicycles that glittered brightly in the island sun. Unless locked up to the rack as some were---having been rented offshore and ferried over with their riders---the bicycles were all up for grabs.



The son was standing near a golf course behind a very large white building. He dismounted and walked his bicycle over to the front side. There, he stopped, stunned.







It was the Grand Hotel, built in 1887. It boasted the longest balcony in the world at 660 feet and was part of the set for filming the movie, "Somewhere in Time," with Jane Seymore and Christopher Reeve. Below the balcony the son could see a recreational area where people were playing cornhole and tossing frisbees and footballs back and forth. The son leaned his bicycle up against a railing and took a long wooden staircase down to the yard in order to get a better view.





He spent about 5 minutes down in the yard before walking back up the stairs and proceeding below the balcony along the railing where Old Glory hung in series over his head.





His bike was gone. Somebody had taken it while he was down below on the grass. There were two young women employees of the hotel standing nearby. He approached them.

"Did you see anyone take a bike I had right over there?" the son asked.

"Yes, one of our concierge took it over to the bicycle park," one of the women replied. She was pointing behind the hotel where the son had stopped earlier.

"Okay, thank you," said the son. He was thankful that it had not been a thief who had taken it, but a slight panic set in as he trotted around the side of the hotel to reach the bike racks. He suddenly realized how remiss and irresponsible it had been to orphan his bicycle on an island where there were hundreds. Anyone could have taken it without any sense of guilt or knowledge of wrongdoing because none of the bicycles were locked up, and once taken, it would probably have been next to impossible to track down on an island where there were miles and miles of possible pathways to take. As it turned out, the concierge had set the son's bike down gently on a pad of grass in front of the bicycle park. This time, the son wasted no time locking it up. Then he walked back to the hotel to explore its luxury and expanse.

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  #170  
Old 09-19-2019, 06:41 AM
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Default 25. Like a Thief

The world's longest balcony stretched before him. He walked its length, then went inside the Grand Hotel.







There was the Cupola Bar upstairs which a waitress graciously invited the son to enter for his viewing pleasure.





Back downstairs, the son found an art display from the Detroit Institute of Arts entitled, "Visions of American Life," where he spent a few minutes admiring the original paintings dating back in some cases to the 1800s.



Back outside, the son returned to the bike racks and prepared to explore more of the island. He could still feel an excitement and joy that drew him, it seemed, in every direction at once, so powerfully was his heart filled with the spirit of discovery and experience that day. He walked down the balcony steps and stopped at the ice cream parlor where he enjoyed a waffle cone. Then the son got on his bike and started riding again, but to where, he was not sure. He just let himself be led one turn at a time.







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