Saturday, August 9, 2008

Oshkosh: Getting the Lay of the Land

Warning: If you want a detailed version of our trip to Oshkosh-- this is for you! I'm writing this both to share our experiences with others, and to serve as a reminder to ourselves next year as to what to expect! I'll cover each of our three days at the show, and then do a wrap-up post that includes a complete inventory of what we took to osh-- and what we wished had taken.

After we pushed the plane back into the parking spot, we set up our campsite. Then we headed off to register and explore the show. To do both, we hopped on one of the many "North 40" buses that took us to one of the entrance gates. Here, we exchanged our pre-purchased paper tickets for wristbands, and registered our plane to get a permit for our windscreen. They also told us about the free shuttle that runs between the North 40 and a local strip mall that has a Target and a Pick n Save. Good info for later.

Once the administrative tasks were finished, we grabbed a tram and headed into the main part of the show. As tempting as all the planes and exhibits were, eating was the first priority. We hadn't had anything since early that morning, and it was now close to 2pm. We ate at one of the first places we came upon-- though we later realized there were a ton of food places just around the corner that had better food.

After eating-- and consuming about 3 bottles of water each (note to self: have a snack before attempting the landing procedure at OSH!)-- we wandered around a little and tried to orient ourselves. We had planned to just keep walking around and looking at exhibits... but weariness overcame us much sooner than anticipated. So we found a nice spot on the grass, not far from airshow center, and sat down (ok, laid down!) to watch the airshow.

I had not been very excited about the airshow-- I often find that I get bored of watching them well before Husband does. But this was incredible. The acts were all quite good-- and they were pretty varied as well. We saw the Red Bull Helicopter (amazing, who knew a rotorcraft could do such things!), the F-22 Raptor (loud, powerful, fast, and also incredibly delicate when in slow flight), Julie Clark, the Jelly Belly plane, Matt Younkin in a twin beech (we saw him in his first major airshow at Sun'n'Fun-- and were awed by his act then. I especially remember the music!), and several others. One thing that made this more fun is that I was actually able to start noticing the differences between acts. I don't know if this is how they are judged, but I could tell that the Iron Eagles (I think it was them-- it was a two plane act) had beautiful arching lines, and were graceful and elegant. And after them, a single plane (I don't remember who) was much less fluid-- more sharp and jerky. I appreciated the beauty of the warbirds-- flying in an amazing formation more than 50 years after their first flights. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this part of Oshkosh (Husband was ecstatic that I did!).

After the show, we made our way out of the show site, picked up some ice at the North 40 bus stop, and headed back to our campsite to drop off the ice. After depositing our three bags of ice, we walked over to the Hilton Gardens parking lot to catch the free shuttle. This was very convenient as we were only a few rows over. The shuttle took us right to the door of the grocery store and Target (and maybe other places, too-- we got off there). I was happily surprised to find that the Pick n Save was a pretty decent grocery store. The produce was fresh, the facility clean and bright, and they were well stocked for EAA campers. I had planned for three breakfasts (eggs and bacon for two, cereal and yogurt for one) and three dinners (chicken kabobs, brats, and fajitas), and was able to find everything I needed. I ignored my conscience and just bought paper products (who wants to wash dishes while at Oshkosh?!). Our only hitch was that Target was out of propane. According to Husband, they were pretty much out of all camping supplies. You'd think they would catch on to overstock camping supplies for these two weeks in July... but apparently they haven't gotten clued in to that. So... we quickly found some prepared food to have for dinner, and paid for our groceries. Along with all the food, we bought a case of water (and we used all of it) as we had discovered water was $3 a bottle at the concession stands in the convention.

We loaded up our backpacks with all our purchases, and hopped the shuttle back. As we settled into the campsite for the evening, we watched all the activity above and around us. At about 8pm, when the airport closed, things quieted down... except for the karaoke club across from us. That heated up. We watched the sun set, ate, found the showers (very clean!), and got ready for a well-deserved rest.

And so ended our first day at Oshkosh.

No comments: