However, the REALLY big deal this weekend was my dad's birthday on the 4th. I won't say how old he is, but it's a nice round number.
On Sunday, The Wife and I met at his place where I commandeered the barbecue and whipped up some beer-in-the butt chicken.
Step 1: season raw chicken.
Step 2: cut top off of beer can.
Step 3: fill can 1/2 way with your favorite brew.
Step 4: violate chicken with open end of beer can.
Step 5: place chicken and beer can on grill until roasted.
Add to that some burgers.
It was a small party, but my dad's never really liked being the center of attention. We ate, chatted, and ate some more. Not too shabby. But the REAL fun would come the next day.
My dad's always been a bit of an aviation enthusiast. Shoot. When I was a kid, we had the first ever Microsoft Flight Simulator game - for an Apple II. So, since it was a BIG DAY, we decided to get his butt up in the air inside a small aircraft.
We showed up at Flying Cloud Airport and met our pilot, Andy. No, not "Captain Smith", not "Andrew 'Maverick' Smith", not even "Andrew", just plain ol' "Andy". Yeah. The kid from Toy Story who writes his name on his toys' feet would be taking us several thousand feet in the air. Hoo boy.
My dad and Andy going over the pre-flight checklist.
Going over the rear flight controls.
Next, it was time to board the aircraft. Now, usually my dad is pretty selfless. He'll always let someone else take his place in line or have the last slice of pizza in the box. But, when I said 'why don't you fly in the co-pilot seat so you can take the controls' I didn't get any argument. He hopped right in. Awesome.
Trying to figure out how we were going to squeeze 3 grown men into a flying phone booth.
Yay!. Cup Holders!
Once we were all packed in, the only thing let to do was fire up the engine and take to the skies!
All strapped in and ready to go.
Once we gained altitude, Andy let my dad take the reigns and we headed north, over lake Minnetonka and towards his brother's house in Elk River.
We then proceeded to circle his place for some photos - likely scaring the crap out of him, his family and most of the neighborhood.
Hey Uncle Dan - mow your lawn!
Then, we started making our way back to Flying Cloud. About half way back, we got a report from the airport that there was a storm cell heading towards the field and we were going to have to race it to the runway. Oh joy. It was during this last 20 minutes in the air that I heard 4 things that I wasn't hoping to hear on my first ride in a small aircraft.
1. Air Traffic Controller: "We've detected a precipitation cell that has been described as 'extreme'".
2. Air Traffic Controller: "You're going to have to keep your speed up if you want to beat this thing".
3. Andy: "I'm going to have to red-line the throttle so we can get some more speed".
4. Andy (preparing for final approach): "Okay boys, let's have some fun".
Photo out the left window showing our runway. Notice: we are 10 seconds from landing and I am taking a photo of our runway out of the SIDE WINDOW.
Getting ready to touch down. Not shown: me pooping pants.
The actual landing went smoothly - more so than most commercial flights I've been on. We made it indoors just as the skies opened up and the rain came. After waiting for a few minutes for the rain to stop, we decided to make a break for it and
run swim to the car.
Safely back in the car, we met up with our wives and then each went home to change into dry clothes. Later that afternoon, we met up in Red Wing with my sister and her new husband for dinner. I had the jambalaya. Yummers.
The Wife, me, Dad, Kristi, Karna and Joe.
Happy birthday Dad!
For those of you hoping for more tri-related ramblings...hold your horses. It's coming. But, it's late and I'm going to bed. I'll have plenty to share about the long bike ride and my quasi-triumphant return to real honest-to-goodness running.