It’s been a while since I’ve published anything on my blog. Last spring, I was busy working on my New Zealand book. Over the summer, it seems like about half of my time was spent traveling. I’m now starting to catch up on all that I didn’t do during over the past several months, like writing an occasional blog piece.
Aside from a recent wedding and some portraits, I had the pleasure of flying along the Lower Wisconsin Riverway a few days ago with my friend, Ditas, and daughter, Julija. I was pretty excited, as I’ve always wanted to fly. One of the first careers that I wanted to pursue was pilot/astronaut (and, chef). Life gets in the way of some of our dreams, but that doesn’t prevent us from living our dreams in other ways – in my case, vicariously through Ditas. Ditas was gracious enough to take me up about eight years ago before Julija was around, and then we flew around the Madison area and up to Devil’s Lake.
We met at the Watertown, Wisconsin airport on a beautiful morning. I checked over the airplane (yes, the wings were there), and then Ditas did a very proper and thorough inspection. Before long, we were up in the air. I guess that I’ve become accustomed/jaded to commercial airplanes, as I dislike going through security and then being packed into the aluminum cattle cars. Flying on a small aircraft is so much different! The cockpit is even more confining and there’s no toilet. But, you feel like you can reach out and touch the clouds!
A few minutes out of Watertown and we were flying over Devil’s Lake State Park near Baraboo. Just after that, we headed a bit south and flew over Lake Wisconsin and then around Gibraltar Rock and over a corn maze. We flew downstream over Sauk Prairie and we could make out the Wollersheim Winery from the air. There were low clouds over the Wisconsin River beyond Sauk Prairie and they provided beautiful texture to the scene, giving the agricultural lands a sort of dreamy quality. Spring Green was our next waypoint, and then further down the Wisconsin River. It seemed like just a few minutes before we were landing in Prairie du Chien for a quick lunch. Since we flew into town, we had to walk all the way to Culver’s – poor us. On the way back, we briefly flew up the mighty Mississippi River – I loved seeing it and it’s twisting and turning – the land’s network of major arteries, it’s aorta. On the way back to Watertown, the sun was in my face, so there weren’t any decent photographic opportunities, which was fine. It’s nice to put the camera down and enjoy the scenery, particularly from on high. By this time, Julija was slightly bored, so she buried herself under a blanket to help keep the sun out of her eyes. It wasn’t possible for me to do anything like that.
Then there was another thrill – Ditas let me fly the plane! Woo hoo! I’d never before had my hands on the controls of any aircraft for more than a moment. I broke any previous flying records of mine by safely getting us much of the way from Prairie du Chien to Watertown. It was a wonderful experience to feel how the aircraft handled and how it was different from a car. It was also amazing to have access to a third dimension – up & down – that’s not controlled by the contours of the land that you experience on a road.
Following is quick visual tour of our aerial survey of the Lower Wisconsin River. I hope that you’ll have a chance like this to explore your passions, as well as to enjoy Wisconsin’s beautiful autumn scenery.
And, thank you Ditas for a thrilling adventure.
‘Til next time, this is 43 N MSN signing off…