My wife’s family has a cabin on a lake very near the boundary waters just outside of Ely, Minnesota.
Ely, Minnesota is a wonderful place. One of the primary egress and ingress points for the Boundary Water Canoe Area. It’s also got that friendly Minnesota small-town feel but due to the enormous amount of tourists and travelers the have an economy and businesses that are similar to a much bigger population.
I flew to Ely, Minnesota in August with my friend Jared.
He takes a regular trip with his family into the Boundary Waters (BWCA) and my in-laws have a cabin on a BWCA lake. In order to avoid driving and to get some flying hours in, we took this tiny plane from Columbus, OH to Ely, MN.
We were trying to avoid flying over large bodies of water because when you’re in a single engine airplane, you don’t have a lot of options besides swimming if your engine goes out (ours didn’t).
We meant to get fuel after Chicago but the day we were flying we had 30 (thirty!!!!) knot headwinds even low to the ground. It was stupidly impressive bad luck. So we had to stop in Gary, IN to grab some gas before heading up again.
After grabbing gas, we were off. We saw the Blue Angels parked on the north ramp of the airport as we were taking off but it was too late to grab a picture. Turned out they had a show over the Navy Pier in Chicago a little later in the morning.
We know because we flew through the TFR (before it activated).
We thought we only had about 15 minutes to get through the TFR which we thought we could barely make, but also thought if we’re going to get intercepted, would be pretty cool to get intercepted by the Blue Angels, then realized the time change to Central and that we had an extra hour still before the TFR went active. The Blue Angels did not intercept us.
Next we flew up towards Duluth. Still staying low because of the ridiculous headwinds, but that meant things were also super bumpy.
Jared puked for the first time ever in a small airplane. I always have a puke bag in the plane for emergencies but never expected to use it with two pilots on board.
So Jared pukes. The turbulence and motion wasn’t getting to me until then, but that puke-bile smell? Oh yeah. I could feel it.
The problem was that I only had one puke bag in the cockpit. If I had to hurl, it was going to be in the same bag Jared used earlier. Gross.
Furthermore, Jared told me point blank that if I hurled, he was going to need the bag back to go again.
Faced with the prospect of sharing a puke-bag and passing it back and forth, we decided to land and take a 45 minute break.
We felt better after taking off (and getting the back-up puke bag from the baggage compartment).
Anyway, here’s Duluth:
After turning the corner at Duluth, we went along Minnesota’s North Shore to drop Jared off in Grand Marais.
Then finally, with the plane to myself, I flew over the Boundary Waters due west to land in Ely, MN.
Was a fun trip. 9.3 hours in the plane due to the ridiculous headwinds. I was super happy to get a burger on the ground.