July 11, 2002

Three hours of sleep set a difficult tone for our second day.  We promised ourselves a 7:30 AM departure and ended up taking off at 9:30 AM.  I blame Pat’s inability to get up until 7:30.  Meanwhile Shawn and I got ready and played Super Mario Brothers while we waited for Pat to work through his tedious morning routine.  Somehow the three of us managed to escape Montana without collecting any sort of fungus or disease from Shawn’s place of living.

We slowly puttered out of Montana facing a difficult head wind that didn’t let up for the entire six hour leg of the journey.  Otherwise luck was truly on our side.  In our struggle to see Mt Rushmore from the air, we accidentally stumbled on to Devil’s Tower, Crazy Horse and finally caught an incredible view of the giant faces carved in the black hills.  I’ve seen Mt. Rushmore before but the downward view put a whole new perspective on them.  Truly impressive.  Literally two minutes after we saw the faces we were engulfed by clouds, elevated ourselves and didn’t see land again until we descended into Mason City, Iowa for fuel and a bathroom break.

We were beginning to learn the difficulties of flying to locations we’ve never seen before.  It is far too costly to get lost in the air so planning for every move is essential.  While making a pit stop in a car can be done in 5 minutes, a speedy pit stop for an airplane is 45 minutes.  You need to check the weather, line a flight path, fill up with fuel, check the status of the engine, get in line to take off, elevate, etc…So far, Iowa gets the prize for the most hospitable airport.  Troy, the Mason City attendant, actually rolled out a red carpet for us to step onto as we got out of the plane.  Thanks Troy.  And off to Chicago.