Fun Fact #1: There are NO taxicabs in Eufaula, Alabama. None. Zero. This historic city of 14,000 has no taxis. Then again, it has no airline service either. So there's probably no demand for a car service - where would anybody go? Which begs the question: What are we doing here? God only knows. Hey, I only drive the thing; I don't get paid to ask questions. But here we are. I had to borrow a car to get to the hotel. At least they do have hotels in Eufaula, Alabama.
It's only been just over a month since I last flew by myself, but it seems a lot longer. Back when we did a couple of flights with my friend Mike as pilot-in-command, I took two short segments just to show him a thing or two. The pain in the arm made it not enjoyable. Plus, flying from the copilot's side just felt...I dunno...wrong. (For those flights the Boss had to sit in the back. He normally rides up front with me, and I'm sure it felt equally wrong to him.)
But today I got back in the ship, climbed back into my regular seat. Ahhh, it felt good! There are only a few things in this world that I do well. Flying is one of them. And in this helicopter I am at home...maybe more so than when I'm in my real home. Still I was a little nervous: Had I forgotten anything? (That's why they make checklists.) Still, I paused one last time before hitting the starter button...looking around the cockpit, making sure everything was set right. Satisfied that it was, I fired up and took off for the Boss's house.
With just me in the cockpit and my bags in the luggage compartment, I knew the ship would assume a slightly nose-high attitude in a hover. So I lifted off slowly...feeling it...easing it elegantly and smoothly into the air like I've done it a thousand times before. And I have, actually- 50,000 times, I reckon, or more. (Back when I worked for PHI I amassed some 7,000 hours over thirteen years. On most jobs I was assigned to, I averaged six landings per flight hour. Add to that all the takeoffs and landings I did before that as a sightseeing pilot in NYC, and those I've done since and I easily have over 50,000 landings, which always must equal the number of takeoffs.)
It's a good feeling, like slipping into a comfortable old pair of jeans and sneakers. It was a gorgeous, beautifully clear day. The slight headwind slowing us down did not bother me in the least. I was back in my element and loving every minute of it.
So here we are in taxicab-less Eufaula, Alabama. Even so, I love coming here. For one thing, Eric, the guy who runs the FBO (fixed-base operator - a facility for general aviation) is also a helicopter pilot not to mention a great guy. He and his wife always go out of their way to make sure I'm well taken care of. I mean really, they go above and beyond. Wonderful people.
Headed down into town on Highway 431, I spotted a place called River City BBQ on the side of the road. Talk about your holes in the wall. But despite recommendations of other, more upscale places to eat, I knew where I'd be coming back to. And sure enough, once I got checked-in to the hotel, I made a bee-line back up the road. It was dark when I arrived and I thought the place was closed because the big sign out front was unlghted. Nevertheless, the locals were streaming in.
The special was a chicken and brisket platter (with two sides and Texas toast), so I ordered that plus a large sweet tea to go. They had a whole long list of side items from which you could select, but I stuck with the old standby beans and slaw. I had barely gotten my big jug o'tea filled when they were calling me back to pick up the food. It was McDonalds-fast.
A little pricey, it came to $16.00! When I got it back to the hotel I saw why: It was enough to feed an army. Seriously, it was a lot. I do know some (unattractively skinny) people who, upon seeing such a mountain of food will grimace and turn away. Not me! I consider such meals a challenge - one that I have proven time and again to be up to. And tonight was no exception. (They're not stingy with the sauce, either. There was so much leftover that it made a great dippin' sauce for the Texas toast. Yum!)
It. Was. Marvelous.
If you're ever on the road between Dothan, Alabama and Columbus, Georgia, stop in at the River City BBQ. It'll have to be in the daytime because you won't find it at night. You won't be disappointed.
Good flying and good food...does life get any better than this?