According to our local Meteorologist, Bill Steffen, the Grand Rapids area had about half of the normal average total possible sunshine in December. Given the fact that December is typically our cloudiest month, that is pretty grim. According to Bill, our sunshine amounted to roughly 9%, or only about 25 total hours of sunshine for the entire month! I’m not trying to be a negative-Nancy or anything, but the fact is, December was 91% gray, gloomy, cloudy, snowy, icy, frozen, cold, wet, sloppy, (and many other adjectives that are not family friendly.) Bottom line – it was not very conducive to roaring around in an airplane!
When New Year’s Day greeted us with bright blue, sunny skies, my husband Randy and I scrambled to sneak in a flight before it all came crashing down again – which it did – the very next day. We chose Gladwin, MI (KGDW) as our destination. Gladwin is a small town roughly 100 miles north of Hastings, the closest major town being Mount Pleasant, home to Central Michigan University, which is just to the south.
A very smooth and relaxing flight took us over miles of mainly farmland. This time of year with the usual dominating gray hues sometimes presents a challenge finding anything picturesque or interesting to photograph. I’ve always been drawn to photographing farms, as I think they are the quintessential representation of the Norman Rockwall-like rural America. (Not to mention, the red barns offer a smidgen of color in an otherwise drab boring scene). So I snapped a few shots of some farms from above as we made our way north. We touched down at the Gladwin airport and found the terminal building to be deserted. It was a holiday though, so this wasn’t unusual. Fortunately the airport manager had the courtesy car keys available in plain sight, so all we had to do was sign it out and we were on our way. It is always interesting and sometimes comical to see what kind of courtesy car you get. This one was a large boat of a car – a Dick Tracy-like former cop car boasting a large cowcatcher up front. Fortunately this time around, we didn’t have to use the cowcatcher.
Historical downtown Gladwin is located on Cedar Avenue, about a mile from the airport. Gladwin offers a variety of shops and restaurants. Most of the town was closed down as it was not only Sunday, but also a holiday. However, we found that the quaint family owned restaurant we had come to dine at, the Pepper Mill was open for business. Randy ordered the homemade corned beef hash and I had a mouth- watering breakfast burrito. Our very personable server, daughter of the owner, told us how her Mom comes in early every morning long before the sun rises and with her grandmother’s help, bakes their famous homemade pies fresh every day. She gave us a list of the dozens of flavors available and explained that they have consistently made the mlive top ten best pie list in Michigan. Give them 24 hours notice and you can take any of these pies home with you. We had no room for dessert after a great and filling lunch, but we’ll be back for sure to check out those pies! You can check out the Pepper Mill’s menu, as well as a list of the many pies they offer at www.peppermillonline.com. How great it was to brush off the snow and get up in the air again!
Author: Susan Van Liere
Sue is a three hundred hour pilot, SEL, HP/Comp, and all around aviation enthusiast. She also enjoys writing and has carved out a niche for herself as a freelance writer, with a focus on aviation related topics. Sue and her husband Randy, also a pilot, reside in Michigan and enjoy many flying adventures together. You can follow along on Sue’s aviation blog at: flygirljournal.wordpress.com.