Triple Tree Fly-in 2015

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View from the main hangar events
Triple Tree Aerodome in Woodruff South Carolina is officially our first real fly-in with the new plane. We decided to take advantage of the nice weekend and meet our good friends and fellow RV-10 builders, Brian and Brandi, for a weekend filled with airplanes and camping. This was also our first camping trip as a family, and quite the learning experience. After one trip, we realized we need to make some changes. We're going to be selling some of our outdoor gear and replacing with some lighter weight and compact items instead. Justin and I will be doing some product research on this and get back to you with a review/update post down the road. We plan on doing a lot of outdoor adventures with this plane, so packing efficiently with the right gear is a must for us!

Once we landed, it was pretty crazy to taxi your plane all the way down a road and through the woods to camp. We finally met up with Brian, Brandi and their little baby, and we were ready to go exploring! Triple Tree has a wonderful little set-up with a nice pavilion/bar by the runway, a very nice bathhouse and wonderful museum behind the main hangar. The grounds were beautiful, surrounded by quiet woods. It's kind of crazy to think that our camp grounds are now flooded and completely underwater from the recent hurricane.

Walking along the runway

The pic doesn't do the sunset justice

Woke up to the sound of a cannon blast and our breath on this cold fall morning

Grand Marais 2015

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The Pilot's Brief: 

Since Ed Kranz did such a wonderful Pilot's write-up, we've decided to leave it to him to explain: (Jump to the adventure part)
"The weather was looking a little iffy… solid low clouds covering pretty much the entire northern half of the state, however the Grand Marais airport was reporting that they were above the minimum weather requirements to get in on instruments. We decided to depart IFR from Red Wing, and that if we couldn’t get to Grand Marais, we’d see what other airports near by looked like, and worst case scenario, fly back to Red Wing and drive up in the car. Just north of Minneapolis, we crossed over a solid, low undercast. We were flying in smooth, clear, sunny conditions at 9000′, but it was a cloudy dreary day for those stuck below the clouds! 
Well, as we got close to Grand Marais, the clouds had gone from being 500′ above the surface to 300′. The lowest they could go, where we could legally land, is 250′. It was really close, but we decided to give it a shot. Minneapolis Center cleared us for the approach, we plugged everything into the Garmin system in Justin’s plane (pretty much the same setup I have in our plane), and off we went. As we started descending, we entered the clouds at around 5000′. After about a thousand feet, we entered into a cool clear area between two cloud layers. It’s like being on another planet! As we went further down, we entered into the lower layer of clouds. As we’re going, Jusin is heads down, managing the plane (autopilot is actually flying) and staying fully engaged in what’s going on and what needs to be done… and I’m watching the altitude and looking out the window trying to spot the ground thru the bottom of the clouds. As we are on final approach to Grand Marais, I finally see trees! We’re at about maybe 600′, but that’s well above the minimums needed to land, and with the synthetic vision screen that Justin’s watching, we still have full situational awareness.
I called out “ground in sight” but that joy was short lived. Right at the edge of the airport property, we see a solid wall of clouds, all the way down to the ground. Crap. Justin stays heads down, and keeps flying the approach as published. We enter the wall of clouds, hoping it would be just a narrow patch, and we’d be able to see the runway on the other side. Well, we flew right down to the minimum allowable altitude, and were never able to catch a glimpse of the runway. Justin then made the call to go “missed” and accelerated and flew the published missed approach procedure, which has you climb straight out over Lake Superior, all the way up to 7000′, and enter a holding pattern while you contact ATC to figure out what to do next.
That’s when the next little learning experience happened. We got to the hold, and we couldn’t get ahold of ATC. Great. Well, the proper procedures for lost comms after going missed is to fly to the alternate airport that you included when you filed your flight plan. For us, that was back to Red Wing!
So, after a few times around the hold, trying to get ahold of ATC on every frequency we could think of, we started heading back towards the Twin Cities. In the meantime, I was also pulling up ADSB weather, and found that the Ely airport had much better weather, with clouds 1200′ above the ground. That’s where we would want to go. After another 5 minutes or so of trying to contact ATC, we finally got some staticy response, and ATC had a Delta jet flying overhead relay our communications. We told the Delta jet what we needed (to divert to Ely), the jet told ATC, then ATC had the jet relay their directions back to us. It was pretty interesting how that worked. 
The 20 minute flight from Grand Marais to Ely was much less exciting, and after a few minutes more, we were talking to ATC directly. After another instrument approach, we broke out of the clouds at 1200′ and could clearly see the entire airport in front of us. Success!"

Now, let's start at the beginning...

As Justin and I packed up our luggage and headed down the runway in Huntsville AL, we realized we were about to embark on many of new "firsts": First real adventure and longest flight to date in the RV-10, first time leaving Ayla with grandparents for more than one night, first time we've ever been farther north than NY, first time we've ever seen the Great Lakes and so much more to come.

Our first stop was dropping the little one off with grandparents in St. Louis. Wishing them luck (they're gonna need it!) and kissing goodbyes, we jumped right back in the plane and took off towards Hastings, Minnesota. After another 2.5 hours we had finally met up with the Kranz's, ready to stuff our tired, hungry bodies with food. They took us to an amazing burger joint called King's Bar and Grill where the burger options are OVERWHELMING! Seriously, I kept forgetting what burger I was settling on because I'd read another delicious version! I'd highly recommend this place if you find yourself in Hasting MN. Great beer + Great burgers = Perfection after a long afternoon of traveling.

The next morning was the big day. Ed, Colleen, Justin and I (A.K.A. "The Kranbecks") packed up for our short flight from Redwing to Grand Marais, a rental car would be waiting for us and head straight in to town to start our adventures. Boy, did plans change! The biggest thing you learn with flying is to be flexible and enjoy circumstances for what they are. After some serious fog and a missed approach into Grand Marais, a lost communication with ATC, we landed in a small town called Ely, MN. Team Kranbeck came up with a new game plan, and luckily we were allowed to rent their courtesy van for the weekend. With another 2 hour drive upon us, we jumped in the 90's gold minivan, turned on the tunes from the 3 radio stations we could find (which oddly played a lot of Simon and Garfunkel!) and headed into the fog towards Grand Marais.
Landed in Ely MN due to Fog

Day 1:

Split Rock Lighthouse: Our first stop on the way to Grand Marais was the Split Rock lighthouse. This new game plan actually worked better in our favor (see how flexibility circles around!). We made this our first adventure for the weekend, and it was such a beautiful site. There are wonderful hiking trails easy enough for the whole family, three worker's living quarters, one of which you can tour, and a wonderful historical video about the site.

Split Rock Lighthouse 
View from Split Rock Lighthouse

Silver Bay Marina - Silver Island Geocashing: With only a mere hour until dark, I backed out of the 1/2 mile boulder hop across the lake to the Silver Island geocash. I anxiously waited for the three-some to make their way back before nightfall, hopefully with no injuries. Those boulders have HUGE gaps in between each one! It was some seriously tough maneuvering, but I heard it was totally worth the trek though.
Silver Bay Marina

Colleen showing off the serious holes between these boulders!
View from the Silver Bay Island

Exhausted from a crazy, unplanned day, Team Kranbeck found their way to the Voyager Brewing Co. This brewery had such an awesome, rugged/industrial feel, and some crazy impressive appetizers. I only wish they'd expand their menu - it's delicious! We ended our night with a round of beers and "cheers" and a long nights rest in an amazing townhome, right at the waters edge. Staying in town was definitely the way to go. Walking to everything was sooo convenient!

Day 2: 

The start of the chilly morning landed us at a tiny little restaurant called The Pie Place. Let me tell you, BEST OMELET of my LIFE!!! If we wouldn't have filled up on such a delicious breakfast, there definitely would have been some pie in our near future. Everything looked ridiculously amazing. Man, I want to go back...

Hike #1 - 1.5 miles Superior Trail to Devil's Kettle: We decided on this hike mainly for the waterfalls. There is a place in the Brule River where it splits into two, and one side disappears into a dark hole called Devil's Kettle. Researchers cannot figure out where it goes, and even with tons of testing it still remains a mystery.

Pictures never do a view justice, but here's one from the hike up to Devil's Kettle

Waterfall hiking up to Devil's Kettle. Cool side note, we got to watch a fisherman catching salmon that were up stream spawning!

Jess and Justin 

Devil's Kettle disappearing into a giant cavern on the left 

The Kranbeck's refueled before heading out for hike #2 at a small restaurant called Sydney's Frozen Custard and Wood-fired Pizza. Lunch had an incredible view and, ironically, we all ordered Gyros instead of pizza (again, GOOD stuff!). The views were spectacular and rooftop dining was a perfect choice!
Such a beautiful rooftop view of Lake Superior

Hike # 2 - 3.2 miles up Pincushion Mountain: The afternoon hike lead us along Devil's Track Canyon. So many wondrous views along the way up. Word to the wise: 167 wooden steps sounds like a good idea for a trail until you have to walk back up them - they were a killer thigh workout!
Quick rest stop with a view

Colleen and I felt a little bit like Alice in Wonderland with the crazy shrooms we kept finding. "The Chalice" takes the cake with the coolest one of the trip!

Remembering to stop and take breaks along the way is priceless

Covered in fog up top on Pincushion Mtn.

We made it to the top of Pincushion Mountain just in time to see the breathtaking views, and a valley full of trees. Shortly after our arrival, the fog crawled in from both sides of us, covering the whole view within minutes - ominous and beautiful at the same time. Cold and wet, it creeped along our skin making the whole hike sooo worth it! Team Kranbeck sat down, took in the view and opened a bottle of great wine from St. Louis. We saluted to great friends, a great trip and a successful accomplishment of building an airplane to create such memorable adventures together.

Ending the Trip:

Ed and Colleen decided that one of our "must sees" for us "newbies" was  Sven and Ole's Pizza. It was really good, but heads up! - you're going to be waiting a bit because that place is PACKED! To end the night, we drug ourselves to Gunflint Tavern for some wonderful live music and flights of beer - our aching bodies setting in from an amazing day outdoors.

Homeward Bound:

We dropped off Ed and Colleen, sad to leave them until our next adventure. We enjoyed such a special treat flying home that evening. The super moon large in the sun-setting sky, and a magnificent sea of clouds rolling below us! That's what flying is all about people!

Until next time!

Simple Air Dry Clay Craft

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©2015 Jessica Twilbeck
I have an extensive craft board on my Pinterest page full of projects, let's be honest - that I'll most likely never get around to doing, but dream to create. As I was scrolling through, searching for some Christmas ideas, and I came across an air dry clay tutorial. It was a little bit intimidating, considering I haven't worked with clay since elementary school rope pots! But, hey - I was up for the challenge!

©2015 Jessica Twilbeck
To start, I went around my house gathering tools that I thought would come in handy. I found some craft wire to cut through the clay, small point knitting needles (for details), a dollar store doily (for pattern/texture) and a shallow bowl to shape the clay. Now, I don't recommend using a glass bowl like I did. I had a little bit of an issue getting the dried clay out of the bowl, it almost broke my kitchen bowl! I'd recommend a shallow, plastic bowl if possible. Just a wise warning!

Step 1: I started by kneading the clay, carefully warming it up with my hands. I wrapped a rolling pin with some parchment paper so the clay wouldn't stick, and rolled out an even disc. 

Step 2: Next, I used the doily to create a pattern on the clay by gently going over it with the rolling pin a few times. 

Step 3: Once your pattern is set, decide what size you want your dish circumference to be and cut out the final shape. 

Step 4: Carefully set the clay in a shallow bowl or plate, to help mold it's shape while it dries. You'll know it's dry when it's light in color and doesn't feel cool to the touch any longer.

I had a smal ball of clay left after making two jewelry dishes, and decided to try my hand and making a pendant for a necklace. I figured, if it didn't work out there was no big loss. It was a scrap piece heading for the trash anyways.
©2015 Jessica Twilbeck
Once the clay was dry, I was still a little unsure that it was worthy of giving away as gifts, but I continued along with my plan. I wasn't about to give up now! I was going for an aged, bone fossil kind of look, and found some gold and white acrylic paint tucked away in my craft bin. I applied the white coat about two times and let it dry completely. Once it was dry, I used a paint brush and dabbed the gold paint into all the grooves and carefully wiped away the excess, creating that aged stone ware look. Lastly, I was looking for just a little bit of a ceramic finish, something to make the colors pop. I used a clear coat spray to give them a nice sheen and protect the paint.

The results:

©2015 Jessica Twilbeck
©2015 Jessica Twilbeck
I actually get the most compliments on the necklace that was just a pure accident! I didn't think it would actually turn into anything useful, but it happens to be one of my favorite pieces now.

Pixie Hollow Birthday Party

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I still can't believe our little girl is two! This past year has flown by and she has developmentally grown sooo much (not in size, she's still a tiny munchkin). She loves dogs, nurturing her baby dolls, working on the plane with Daddy, puzzles, reading books to her toys, and stickers - oh, the hours of playtime with stickers!

This year was exciting to plan a birthday party for her since she actually has interests now. She loves the new Tinker Bell movies (they're about the only movies that DON'T scare her), so I knew that I wanted to throw her a Pixie Hollow party! Now, if you know the designer side of me, it's definitely NOT into commercial themed parties. I wanted something special and unique, and no too blatantly obvious that this was a Tinker Bell party. Everything was handmade by yours truly! Classy and whimsical all in one, and I think it was a hit!

©2015 Jessica Twilbeck

Winter Fun

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I just wanted to give a quick update on all of the fun adventures we've had over the last several months. We've managed to squeeze in as much playtime as we can, all while juggling the last leg of building the airplane. It's been fun watching our little one enjoy such simple things together as a family, I can't wait until we can fly her to new places.

Pumpkin Picking

This was the first time we've been to a farm together. She LOVED the baby cow (even though it did nothing but sleep) and the pig races, and running through the corn maze leading the "way" (basically walking in circles)!

Thanksgiving in St. Louis

We had SNOW!!! Living in the South, snow is a rare occurrence, and if it does happen it's usually just a dusting. So this was a treat, and to take her sledding for the first time was priceless. We enjoyed our yearly wine tasting day, traveling to the historic German settlement of Hermann, MO.

Christmas Cookies

I can't wait until we can have Mommy/Daughter baking moments, so I attempted this year with some Christmas cookies. For a 23 month old, she did pretty well. I only had to stop her from eating the raw dough a few times. She was my sprinkle master, coating them all until there was no icing left!

Christmas Tree Farm

It was a beautiful day to cut down our Christmas tree this year. We had a blast touching all the trees and running through the fields with no care in the world. Maybe next year she will actually help us find one!