A Road Trip to AirVenture and the Mentone convention

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
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I love a road trip.

I had missed my annual trip from Santa Maria, California to Wauchula, Florida for Bensen Days because I was in the middle of a complex real estate transaction that benefited from my attention.

I wanted to go to the annual Popular Rotorcraft Association in Mentone, Indiana and this year it was held the week after AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Things were a little slow in the gyroplane flight training business so I decided to go to both events.

As part of my adult transition I had sold my 1999 BMW M Roadster and purchased a 2003 Lincoln LS. The M Roadster had a trunk that was too small to fit a normal suitcase so I had been renting a Toyota Prius for the last 17 years. Now I had a full sized adult car with an actual trunk so I took the Lincoln.

I left Santa Maria a little after noon Saturday with beautiful weather and made it as far as Richfield, Utah for my first stop finding a park your car in front of the door $50 motel built in 1952.

I was up with the sun the next day for some of the most beautiful scenery in the country heading toward Denver. Over the pass there was light rain and some big puddles. Just past Denver I encountered some heavy rain that became torrential as I approached Fort Morgan. I could not see a car with lights on more than about 30 feet away. Occasionally I would hit a low spot with water several inches deep creating a wall of water in front of the car. The Lincoln never missed a beat and managed the water well.

The sun came out again as I approached Sedgwick and soon joined US80 stopping for the night in York, Nebraska at another 50s motel.

I left early for the nine hour drive into Neenah, Wisconsin arriving at 3:00 and was surprised to find a room as I did not have a reservation and often motels are booked up during AirVenture. The son of the owner remembered me from three years ago.

Most days I attended four seminars focused mostly on the FAA, The National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the National Flight Instructors Association.

I learned a lot about radio communications, accident investigation and flight instruction and have already put some of it to use.

John and Martha King gave a wonderful presentation about risk management.

Another flight instructor gave a thought provoking talk about how solo students tend to deviate from best practices and how important it is to intervene before the deviation becomes a habit.

I have long been a recurrent training enthusiast but perhaps do not push it enough. Since then I encountered a pilot who was landing fast and flat in his gyroplane having found that is “what works best for me”. This works until it doesn’t.

In between seminars I visited with friends manning their booths and explored the many aviation toys on display. I have a new multi faceted experiment with a helmet/headset and a debriefing tool that I look forward to trying.

I spent Sunday at the museum trying to increase the quality of my sense of aviation history. I love the museum because it is more about people than machines.

Late afternoon I headed off for Rochester that is about 15 miles from the Mentone Airport. I found a room at the Super Eight although unless someone didn’t show I would be homeless Thursday. They took great care of me and the nice lady even did my laundry as I travel with a little over a week’s worth of laundry and was running low.

Monday I drove to Paxton, Illinois to visit my good friend Stan Foster and he created a fabulous lunch in my honor. It was time well spent.

Tuesday the Mentone airport looked great and I visited with some wonderful friends. Despite offering my services there was not much for me to do but enjoy the atmosphere and friends. I spent some time under the air boss’s canopy enjoying the magic.

My friend Sue flew her Cavalon down from Oshkosh. This year she flew from Boston to Wauchula, Florida and then from Boston to Oshkosh and Mentone. She is hard core and camped in her tent most nights.

She had been helping out at the AutoGyro booth at Oshkosh and volunteered for kitchen duty at Mentone and she helped me with the judging at Mentone. She is a gyroplane enthusiast on a high level and I am proud to have helped to launch her gyroplane adventure.

As always I learned a lot about people, aviation and gyroplanes.

There is no way to list them all.

Ron Menzie gave a great talk about gyroplanes and learning to fly gyroplanes reminding me to keep it simple.

I got to spend some time with Duane Hunn who has a unique training style and lots of experience.

There was a lot of good flying and the banquet was a lot of fun.

I was on the road by ten pm headed for Geneseo, Illinois.

I left Geneseo early and made it past Colorado Springs to Fruita, Colorado staying in a not very nice Best Western. It was my furthest day at 1,114 miles and I was too tired to look for a nice motel. Morning is the proper time to be driving west and I enjoyed every magical moment of it all the way to Las Vegas. It was a short hop to home and I was home by six.

The weather had been hot and humid for most of the trip and it felt good to get back to the cool ocean air of Santa Maria and the arms of Ed.

My road trip total was 5,449 miles and to my surprise despite a lot of eighty plus miles per hour driving the Lincoln had averaged 25 miles to the gallon. She was beginning to grow on me so it appears I am becoming a geezer.
 

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Mayfield

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I love a road trip.
................. and made it as far as Richfield, Utah for my first stop finding a park your car in front of the door $50 motel built in 1952.
But did it have Jalousie windows with broken cranks and slats? Or the sounds of drug deals and other forms of commerce going on next door? Did it have a swimming pool with green scum floating on top?

In case you're wondering, I simply have to say that Ambassador Breese is somewhat frugal when it comes to overnight accommodations. I was honored and blessed to be in the ambassador's company on a road trip spanning Bensen days and Sun and Fun, once. It was pretty special.
 
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Vance

Gyroplane CFI
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Santa Maria, California
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Givens Predator
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2400+ in rotorcraft
Thank you for pointing out the short comings of the motel in Lakeland Jim.
I have since raised my budget to $54 per night so I am staying in the finer motels in nicer neighborhoods.
The New West Motel in Richfield, Utah was an up scale $50 per night motel.
 

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Mayfield

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You are most welcome Vance. Up until that trip, I had only experienced similar accommodations in war torn, third world areas of the world. The temperature, humidity, smells, insects, and the soft mutter of screams and gunfire in the background. It brought back memories and helped make new ones.

I do treasure my recollections of the time we spent exploring Sun and Fun.

Jim

I've caused enough thread drift here. I'm going to stop interrupting your trip report and just enjoy your writings now.
 
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DavePA11

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Have to stay in reasonable hotels so you don’t bring home bed bugs. Sounds like the FBO might have been better option. $54 is a really low threshold in most cities and towns. Maybe set your threshold with a hotel chain that is clean and in expensive at $100 per night? In the grand scheme of things it will be cheaper especially if you get shot in the hotels you stay in. Medical bills are expensive. I use to bring a tent and sleeping bag and camped by my plane.
 

Vance

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Santa Maria, California
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Have to stay in reasonable hotels so you don’t bring home bed bugs. Sounds like the FBO might have been better option. $54 is a really low threshold in most cities and towns. Maybe set your threshold with a hotel chain that is clean and in expensive at $100 per night? In the grand scheme of things it will be cheaper especially if you get shot in the hotels you stay in. Medical bills are expensive. I use to bring a tent and sleeping bag and camped by my plane.
What Jim is describing with humor is one of my failures at motel selection because most of the motels in Lakeland were full up for Sun N Fun and I didn’t want to drive from a motel in Winter Haven each day. I have since found a satisfactory motel that I stay at each year when I attend Sun N Fun.

I have a sleeping bag in the car and am prepared to sleep in the car at a truck stop if things don’t work out and shower in the morning.

My days of sleeping on the ground in a tent in the rain are thankfully over.

What I am looking for is an older owner operated motel where I park in front of the room.

I use my Garman GPS to find the local off brand motels and phone several to learn something about them and discuss pricing.

When we settle on a price I drive by and can tell a lot from the outside.

I inspect the room before taking it, I am often pleasantly surprised.

I find I can usually do better on price by calling direct rather than using one of the motel booking services.

I have yet to get bed bugs and have never been assaulted in the room.

I have been mugged twice on my travels; both times in was on my evening walk nowhere near the motel.

I used to travel a lot more and prefer to drive and visit friends and attractions along the way.

I recently flew commercial for the first time in 30 years and my worst fears were confirmed in New Jersey.

Last year I was on the road for 60 days so raising my target motel price would have had a significant impact on my expenses.

Sometimes I stay with friends.

On this trip I went over budget at Neenah because of AirVenture filling up the motels.

At Rochester I was willing to spend the extra money for the good service.

The less expensive motel in Rochester did not have a vacancy sign on.

I went over budget at Geneoso and Fruita because I drove too late and the more desirable motels were full and I was too tired to keep looking or going.

The $54 is a target more than a budget.

For me finding a room at a reasonable price is a part of the adventure.

I have favorite motels that I stop at along my regularly traveled routes.

I don’t generally have reservations because I don’t like being tied to a timeline.

When I road raced motorcycles around the country it was typically two riders and a mechanic, we had a bed behind the seats and only stopped for fuel or food. I have many fond memories of being on racer road.
 

DavePA11

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Sounds like you have a working way of finding nice hotels at reasonable price Vance! Maybe I’ll give that a try someday too.
 

Tyger

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I'm with Vance. If you do a little spadework you can often find perfectly nice places to stay for a reasonable price.
Hotel chains and apps count on the fact that most folks don't want to be bothered and hate uncertainty. They are thus consigned to paying rather silly amounts for what they are actually getting, which is usually just a few hours in a room with a bed and a shower.
 

WaspAir

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Bad things can happen even in fancier hotels. I once stayed in a Hyatt in Palo Alto, CA for a fencing tournament at Stanford. At 2:00 a.m., a huge drunk guy, convinced that his wife was up to no good somewhere in the hotel, came down the hallway randomly banging on doors. Finally, he settled on mine, and starting throwing himself against it. (His wife was not with me, by the way.) I called the desk and asked them to send the police. As the door started flexing, I pulled an épée out of my bag, removed the electric scoring tip to leave a potentially lethal end, and stood en garde, poised to run him through when the door failed. Just as I was sure the next blow would be the last, the police arrived. I figured I had one shot to stop him, but didn't need to use it, thank heavens. Hotel management gave me a free suite with fresh flowers and a fire in the fireplace when I was next in town.
 

Tyger

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I'm sure that guy would have been surprised by the impromtu épée-dural. 😊
 

Sv.grainne

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Bad things can happen even in fancier hotels. I once stayed in a Hyatt in Palo Alto, CA for a fencing tournament at Stanford. At 2:00 a.m., a huge drunk guy, convinced that his wife was up to no good somewhere in the hotel, came down the hallway randomly banging on doors. Finally, he settled on mine, and starting throwing himself against it. (His wife was not with me, by the way.) I called the desk and asked them to send the police. As the door started flexing, I pulled an épée out of my bag, removed the electric scoring tip to leave a potentially lethal end, and stood en garde, poised to run him through when the door failed. Just as I was sure the next blow would be the last, the police arrived. I figured I had one shot to stop him, but didn't need to use it, thank heavens. Hotel management gave me a free suite with fresh flowers and a fire in the fireplace when I was next in town.
Wow!
 

Rando

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We stayed at a cheap motel in the U.P. of Michigan once. The shower drained into the parking lot and even our dog would not sleep on the floor. What an experience!
 

Sv.grainne

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Some of my worst stays over the years were older Worst Westerns. Worst of the worst was in Florida where we crossed over from I95 diagnonally SW till we hit I75 (Baldwin off hwy 301). Wore our shoes till we got near the bed, took off the bedspread, tucked in, got up, shoes on, no shower, no more stay ever again!
 
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Aaron R

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most of the motels in Lakeland were full up for Sun N Fun
In some towns, hotels are the best option. In others, Airbnb is so much better. I stayed at the cheapest Airbnb in Lakeland this year (throughout Bensen Days and most of Sun 'n Fun). I got a room with two twin beds. The bathroom was shared. Also a living room and full kitchen were shared. It was the second floor of a large old house with 5 bdrms and 2 bathrooms. The cost of our room was less than $50/night total. Split two ways, less than $25/night. Some of the other guests were also there for Sun 'n Fun, so we enjoyed talking airplanes with them.
 
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