Sunday, November 06, 2005

Spectacular Saturday

I've been coping remarkably well with my cancer for the last two weeks or so, despite being back in chemotherapy and radiation. I still have pain (and other secondary symptoms) but my constitution and appetite have been, in general, much better.

But my planets must have been aligned extra-well today, or something; I had a wonderful day. Gail and I slept in, she catching up on her sleep after a rushed visit to New York (and I had stayed up late watching airplane movies!) I came downstairs this morning to a stunningly warm and sunny November day, and began to wonder how to make the best of it. (Hugh suggested an outing on the front porch, but surprisingly didn't stay out long.)

When Gail came bouncing down shortly afterwards, she already had an idea: to go out to Cherry Ridge airport, where we always find something to enjoy, whether it's photography, food or just my flying friends. As we drove out to the rural airstrip, I assessed myself and decided that I was in rather good shape to fly - I hadn't taken any strong painkillers, and it was last Tuesday that I last had chemo, and I was feeling strong and clearheaded. And moreover, the weather conditions were just perfect. Clear skies, light wind and shirtsleeve temperature; too good to pass up!

So on arriving at the airport, I suggested that we go straight to the hangar. Gail insisted on doing the heavy work of pulling the plane out of the hangar, to avoid straining my back, and I took my time preflighting the plane. As we taxied out there were a few other planes about (mostly students I think) but then I noticed two of my CAP comrades refueling our squadron's plane at the self-service pump. With a wave (and a snap of the shutter, of course) we took the runway.

Our little plane accelerated down the centerline as smooth as ever, and we eased into a sunny sky. It felt great to be at the controls again, as it's been over a month since I've flown; and longer than that since I've felt so lucid and strong. (I wouldn't have risked a flight, of course, if I hadn't felt sure of myself.) I circled and checked over the plane while Gail worked her cameras, and we flew south towards the lake. I was grinning, enjoying myself; I startled Gail a little when I began banking left and right, rolling in and out of the steep turns that are so much fun in our plane. Once she knew that it was deliberate, she was laughing too, and we took in the sunset over the long lake. Then I flew north up the ridgeline, onto the sunny side of a long farm of wind-driven generators; Gail got several great pictures, including this one. (She has many more to post yet.)

Then back to the airport, where I set up for one touch-and-go landing, as some of the other pleasure flyers watched from the taxiway; I got a "10" for my first effort on the radio from Mr. Tibor. Once more around the pattern and I brought us to a nice slow landing, taxied to the pumps and shut down. My CAP buddies were still around and chatted with Gail and I as we filled 02P's wing tanks, and then followed us to my hangar to help put the plane away; great chaps, those guys.

After a few minutes of hangar talk with them (and Mr. Tibor, who had come taxiing up to be social) dusk was gathering, and Gail and I were by now quite hungry. So we went back into town and stopped at Calabria's, the place to get the absolute best (and biggest) cheese calzone in the valley. I wasn't sure how hungry I was, but it turned out to be a lot, and I devoured my half of the cheesy, kayak-shaped Italian fare. Oh, that sauce... that incredible Calabria's sauce!

And - to finish off a day that couldn't be beat, at home I found out that Penn State had won again today; 35 to 14 over Wisconsin, the highest-scoring team in the Big 10, and making us 9-1 for the season. Let's Go State!

So, a good-news day all around. I've awoken from a deep, ricotta-induced sleep, and thought I would document my day, and wish you all a great one as well.