No, I didn't get a new plane for Christmas!
We all rush around trying the find the perfect Christmas gifts for those we love... but sometimes, we are blessed... or maybe the trim gods smile on us, and the truly perfect gifts fall right into our laps.
After an exciting trip down to North Carolina, we had a nice Christmas Eve and morning with my parents. But by around noon, the clouds were clearing and our thoughts turned to flying. We knew that Christmas Day would be the best day to get in a flight as it was supposed to get rainy and cold the day after. So we invited my parents along for a little flightseeing. Mom was too beat to come (she's a present-wrapping fiend!), but Dad was definitely game for a flight. So he, Husband, and I headed out to the airport.
We found the plane tied down and ready to go (the line guy had come out after we landed on Christmas Eve and tied it down for us). Before takeoff, we put in an estimated waypoint for my parents' mountain house, though we figured we'd just be able to follow the roads along to get there. With so few roads in the mountains, it's pretty easy to find places. After take off, we flew along the GPS route for a few minutes till we picked up 321-- the road we take to get to my parents. It was pretty cool to see it from the air and see how close together everything looks compared to on the ground when things are separated by big mountains. Dad was getting more and more excited as we got nearer to the house. In just a couple of minutes, we saw the turnoff from the highway into the valley where the house is. We could see the new development of homesites, and picked out a few familiar farms along the road. Then, we saw first the long driveway (around .5 miles!) and then, finally, the distinctive roofline of my parent's house. As soon as he saw it, my Dad, who was moving from side to side in the back of the plane (he likes the pictures from the back), picked up his cell phone and called my mom. Soon, we could see her moving around on the driveway-- a white and red speck against the dark grey driveway.
We circled for a while-- maybe close to 10 minutes. Dad took tons of pictures-- I think around 40 or 50. Husband even took controls for a few minutes so that I could take in the sights, as well. It was so amazing to see this place that I have known since I was a little girl from the air. I could see the river and Mrs. Shore's house, and the horse pasture... it was really awesome. Flying in the DC area is always interesting and often challenging. But I will never be able to come fly over my own house or neighborhood here. Or-- as they joke about at the flight school-- I guess I could fly over it... exactly once. And I'd have a very interesting story to tell, though I might not get the chance!
After we soaked in enough of the house, we flew over the town, and circled Boone. Then we flew over to Sugar Mountain and circled Grandfather Mountain, pointing out familiar landmarks to each other-- like the viaduct, the Boone golf course, and Chetola Lake. We even picked out the tiny runway in Boone that's owned by the power company (we need to find out how to land there!). We finally turned back toward the airport when we saw some snow clouds in the distance.
We had such a great time-- and Dad was so impressed with the pictures (it was cloudy-- so they weren't the best-- but really cool, nonetheless)-- that we decided to go back up on Thursday for a quick flight with Dad before leaving for Asheville. The sun was out-- so Dad was able to get some great shots.
A week or so later, Dad called to tell me about a dinner he and Mom had hosted the night before. During the course of the evening, his guests (homeowners in the same valley) noticed some of the pictures out on the table. Apparently they were quite enthralled with the pictures and Dad had a great time showing them off. Though not always a talkative man, he talked for 10 minutes about being able to show off these pictures. And then it hit me. For a man who loves all kinds of maps, and who loves this little valley even more than I do... our flights on those two days were truly the perfect gift.