To Ely, MN

I flew to Ely, Minnesota in August with my friend Jared.

Jared on right, me on left.

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.

Red line is actual GPS route. Blue line is simply airport-to-airport route.

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.

Gary, IN

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).

Chicago from the most expensive seat available.

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:

Duluth, MN
Duluth, Sky Harbor Airport

After turning the corner at Duluth, we went along Minnesota’s North Shore to drop Jared off in Grand Marais.

Two-Harbors on the North Shore of Minnesota

Then finally, with the plane to myself, I flew over the Boundary Waters due west to land in Ely, MN.

Somewhere in the BWCA between Grand Marais and Ely. Endless untouched nature.

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.

Ohio to Minnesota

So 0 year-old daughter and wife went to wife’s Minnesota hometown of Saint James to visit parents and our daughter’s great-grandmother. Since my wife is on maternity leave and I was working that week, she left a few days earlier than I did and I caught up for the weekend. The weather forecasts looked good enough that I felt confident flying private rather than commercial.

Weather forecasts are bullsh*t. Columbus, sunny all day. I had to find a hole through THIS to even get going.

Heavy cloud
Heavy clouds at approximately 6,000 feet. I’m at 8,500 feet.

But, after a 2 hour delay, I found an opening worth going for and climbed through it to get over the top of the cloud layer. Unending clouds is just about what I saw for nearly an hour as I worked my way northwest.

My direct route crossed through Chicago airspace. Some of the busiest airspace in the world. Since I needed to re-fuel anyway, I stopped in Gary, Indiana and topped off the tanks before skirting Northwest along the coastline and under Chicago’s class-B airspace. This allowed a nice daytime shot of the Chicago Skyline:

Chicago, November 4, 2016
Chicago, November 4, 2016

Saw quite a few other planes in the area. Everyone staying below the Chicago airports’ control space.

Once north of Chicago I turned west again towards St. James. It wasn’t long before I crossed over Harper’s Ferry, Iowa and got a great shot of the Mississippi.

Harper's Ferry (with an apostrophe), Iowa
Harper’s Ferry (with an apostrophe), Iowa

You might be thinking, is that THE Harper’s Ferry I read about in the history books? Nope. That one is in West Virginia. But if you want to know something really weird, here’s a piece of trivia you won’t find anywhere else:

Harper’s Ferry, IA (on the Mississippi) started out as Harpers Ferry (no apostrophe). The apostrophe was later added.

Harpers Ferry, WV (famous, no apostrophe) started out as Harper’s Ferry. The apostrophe was later removed.

Anyway, started to get a little closer to St. James and the sun also started to set.

Albert Lea Lake, MN
Albert Lea Lake, MN

And then just a short while later I was there with all the in-law family to greet me. It was one great welcoming.

St. James Airport
St. James Airport