“Hey, I’m going to Oshkosh, want to come along?” That’s how it started, a simple question from my long-time aviation buddy Malcolm. “Oshkosh,” to virtually any aviation enthusiast world-wide, could only mean Oshkosh Wisconsin USA and AirVenture (http://www.airventure.org), the annual fly-in convention of the Experimental Aircraft Association (http://eaa.org). We could expect more than 10,000 aircraft of every description and 500,000 visitors would attend – no small gathering this! Count me in!!!
So, Malcolm, you’re going to drive out? Ugh, 14 hours I’m thinking. “Sure, and I’m going to drag my converted recreational trailer along with my plane inside,” he replied. “We can take the plane out and camp in it when we get there.” Perfect! Two middle-aged guys (sorry Malcolm, but facts are facts) on a college road trip. Does it get better than this – no way!
Departure day and we’re off to a good start, if you discount the fact that it’s one of the hottest days of the year, the humidity is through the roof and it is drizzling rain. Oh well, we’re happy to be rolling. A lot happier it turns out than the engine in the van. The first several hours west on Interstate 80 seem to take us further up and down than forward. The hills are long; the air thin from the high humidity and the engine temperature is climbing steadily. It’s going to be a short trip if we don’t figure out a solution soon. Sometimes you just have to sacrifice comfort – off with the air conditioning. That helped, for 10 minutes. The engine’s radiator just isn’t up to the task of cooling in these conditions. A quick glance at the engine temperature gauge confirmed we’re rapidly losing this battle. You know, the engine does have a second radiator we say to ourselves and then each other. Yes, that’s right, the heater core. On goes the heat – full blast. It works, for the engine – not so much for us. We’re rolling along the highway with the windows down and the heater running full – on one of the hottest, most humid, days of the year! College road trip to be sure.
Too busy perspiring to take a photo until we reached the flat of the mid-west, I grabbed one shot of Interstate 80 intending to capture interesting sights along the way. Turns out I don’t find highway travel interesting…
Being a fan of recreational vehicle camping, Malcolm wanted to stop at the RV Museum near Elkhart Indiana (http://www.rvmhhalloffame.org). Although grateful for the break from driving, I departed the van more from respect for my friend than enthusiasm for the subject. Wrong! The history and culture of RV camping presented in this small but well-designed museum turned out to be quite interesting to this neophyte. Although, I have to admit their Hall of Fame wall brought a chuckle. While no doubt well deserved, there where so many photos that at first glance it seemed every member of every family ever associated with this relatively small industry must have been inducted.
Back on the road, one thing that caught my eye was a sign for Culver’s (http://www.culvers.com). They are a mid-west restaurant chain known for their frozen custard and generally dairy-laden menu – you get extra butter with that! Having stumbled onto their restaurants during a previous pass through the area, this was an opportunity not to be missed. Sure enough the custard was superb and there were plenty of delicious sandwiches and salads to satisfy even the cholesterol-wary.
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