Joyce and I made a February swing to visit family and friends to Florida. We stopped in Fort Lauderdale Wednesday to see Jennifer, Mike and Alexandra for an afternoon and evening. Life continues at warp speed there with Alexandra growing up fast. We then flew to Sarasota on Thursday to visit some of our former NCR colleagues and friends. Elton and Gordy White hosted us for lunch and we stayed in the beautiful apartment overlooking the bay. We were joined for cocktails, by Chuck and Carol Exley, Joe and Nora Stephan, Rex and Pat Fleet. We had a great time catching up and everyone is ageing gracefully and most of all haven’t lost their sense of humor. We then had a great dinner at the Field Club, continuing the frivolity.
On Friday we flew to Naples to visit Rich and Linda Miller. They are doing fine as full time Florida residence and we again enjoyed catching up. Rich and Linda treated us royally, at their great club Grey Oaks. We then flew back to Hilton Head on Saturday, a quick but very enjoyable trip, reminding us of how lucky we have been to have met and works with such great people.
Joyce and I flew to Ft. Lauderdale to spend Christmas with Jen, Mike and Alexandra. We left a day early due to weather, arriving on Thursday. We enjoyed Thursday afternoon and Friday in the Montgomery construction zone as Jen and Mike are in the middle of a renovation project and the progress is impressive, with more to come. Some shopping, Mike and Gil visited the Wings over Miami aviation museum Friday, but mostly relaxing and enjoying family. Oh did I mention eating, yes eating is our strong suit, lots of food all the time, with a great Christmas eve dinner, then another feast on Christmas day. Back on the diet next week. Christmas morning was great with everyone enjoying the gift exchange and of course Alexandra was the epicenter of the gift giving storm. She loved it in a very mature and Christian way. We talked on the phone with Heidi who was with the Prado branch of the family in Myrtle Beach this year, and all was well.
Joyce and I flew back to Hilton Head on Monday to prepare for the New Year. It was a great Christmas, we are so blessed as a family.
This was the first Thanksgiving celebrated at the Chechessee cottage by our family and it was a great one. Jennifer, Mike and Alexandra arrived late afternoon on Wednesday and Heidi, Gary, Brenn, Caitlin and Kinsey on Thursday morning. Gary and Brenn launched their boat and caught a bunch of sea trout, the rest played games, watched football and enjoyed each others company. Joyce, Jen and Heidi were at work in the kitchen preparing the dinner. We all sat down and gave thanks for our many blessings then enjoyed an incredible feast. After dinner more games and football plus pumpkin pie to top off a wonderful day.
Friday was filled with activities for everyone, more fishing for Gary and Brenn, then they joined Alexandra and Caitlin in a fishing tournament. At the same time Heidi and Kinsey participated in a 5K fun run. Gil worked out and played photographer, then after lunch watched football, Ohio State vs Michigan, what a game. There was a young persons fun night at Spring Island and the adults had dinner a Chechessee Creek Club. Saturday there were more activities at Spring Island with the owners market, various kids activities such as face painting, barbecue lunch, a presentation of raptors by a visiting naturalist, as well as a dog show. Alexandra’s dog, Autumn’s brother was in the show so he got lots of cheers from us. Again, it was a perfect fall day and everyone had a great time.
Jennifer, Mike and Alexandra left for Fort Lauderdale Saturday evening to beat the traffic and the rest of us enjoyed a fresh caught sea trout fish fry at the cottage then watched a little more football. Sunday morning we watched another great sunrise over the Chechessee river, had breakfast then reluctantly left to go home. This was truly one of the best Thanksgiving ever at a very special place for our family.
COPA members from across the country and around the world started to arrive September 7th, with the majority on Thursday the 8th. Registration opened noon on the 8th. and our amazing registration volunteers, Donna, Kim, Justin and Stan made checking in effortless. The first evening welcome party the “COPA cabana” was a very jolly event held over looking Lake Superior in front of the host hotel the Inn on Lake Superior. Pat Wadick Cirrus President with other Cirrus management mingled with COPA members. Friendships were renewed and made as always at this kick off party.
The next two days were packed with activities, including the annual meeting, in which Andy gave us a update on the incredible progress that has been made, Membership grew 31% since 2012, Training is up 50% year over year, fatal accident rate down dramatically and much lower than general GA, over 30 Regional Events in last 12 months and much fun stuff going on. There were lots of seminars, the exhibitor hall was full with many new exhibitors and all of the regulars, Friday, evening Cirrus hosted a great hangar party at their facility with entertainment, a few commercials and Dale Klapmeier giving an update and recognizing the COPA and Cirrus people contributing to the training that has helped improve safety. It was a great evening appreciated by COPA attendees. Thanks Cirrus! During the cocktail party many walked out to look at the flight line, Over 100 Cirrus parked together is a impressive site.
Saturday Seminars and Exhibits continued and the day ended with the annual Migration COPA Gala dinner. Another great evening, with COPA Volunteers, outgoing board members receiving recognition, Rick Beach receiving a award for his work on safety, John Ylinen accorded Volunteer emeritus status, the key note speech by AOPA president Mark Baker ending with Andy turning the gavel over to Roger. A very fine evening, and a great Migration organized by Craig Albright and the incoming Migration chair Bill Meyer. Thanks Migration committee. Sunday the flock took off for their home bases in glorious weather. See you all next year in Nashville, TN.
The family tradition continued with Joyce and I flying to Hilton Head on June 30th, Jennifer, Alexandra and Mike driving from Fort Lauderdale and Heidi, Brenn, Caitlin, Kinsey and Gary arriving from Savannah over the next two days. The first kids activity was the Spring Island Sports Camp Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The camp was mostly in the morning ending with the kids in the pool in the afternoon, which was good because it was HOT. The adults enjoyed a break from the kids and everyone gathered for dinner at the cottage. Gary brought the boat over on Sunday in preparation for the cruise Monday night.
Monday the fourth, we all participated in the Spring Island festivities. The kids were out early to decorate the horses for the parade. The parade seemed to be bigger and more elaborate this year with Tom Cameron again Grand Marshall. There were games, Brenn being a tug of war star, then a incredibly barbque lunch, then more games and swimming for the kids. There was entertainment with the weather warm but what the fourth in the south is expected to be. This is truely what a small community fourth of July celibration should be.
In the evening we boarded the Prado’s boat and cruised to Skull Creek for the fireworks after picnic dinner on board. It turned out there was a delay but just as we started to leave the display went off. It was a late night but the kids were up in time for Camp Spring Island (Nature Camp) the next morning. Another three days, with the kids busy with camp and the adults relaxing, going to the pool, playing a little golf and catching up on reading. At dinner we got the camp report. Did you have fun? Yes. They were pretty tired with camp and swimming afterwards. On Wedesday, Heidi volunteered to pick up the kids and the rest of the adults, cruised to Beaufort for lunch a a local favorite on the river, Plums.
Overall it was a great fourth of July week at Chechessee Creek and Spring Island. Plenty for the kids to do and the adults got to do their thing with time for the whole family together. It was a very happy 4th of July for our family.
Weather was unsettled in the South East prior to the weekend of the COPA Jekyll Island Fly-In, however the weekend turned out to be beautiful. There were attendee’s from Alabama, Texas, Indiana, New York, Maryland, North and South Carolina, and Florida. They started arriving on Friday for a long weekend, or Saturday for the weekend or Sunday for the famous Sunday Brunch and some stayed on. Rick Dawson, hosted dutch treat cocktails and dinner Friday evening. Saturday, COPA members took advantage of the many things to do on Jekyll Island and some flew with the Patty Wagstaff aerobatics school that brought up their Super Decathlon Aerobatic trainer. Saturday evening there were cocktails and dinner, and door prizes, including a demo ride in an Extra 300, donated by South East Aero. Sunday the final arrivals for the Jekyll Island Club Brunch and to hear aerobatic champion/air show star/super flight instructor Patty Wagstaff talk at the COPA Brunch. Some more door prizes, including a aerobatics flight won by Bob Marini from New York, were drawn on Sunday.
Patty Wagstaff spoke about her career and observations of stick and rudder flying and her schools approach to airmanship as well as upset/recovery and aerobatics. Patty and her chief instructor Allen then answered a large number of questions.
A Big Thanks go to Gerald Gaige, South East Region Lt. Governor and Event Coördinator for the COPA Jekyll Island Fly-In.Thanks also to a long list of sponsors, with special thanks to lead Sponsors Cirrus Aircraft, South East Aero and the Patty Wagstaff Aerobatics School.
A great group of COPA members had a great time, thanks to Gerri.
On Wednesday April 20, we flew to Fort Lauderdale, KFXE, and spent the afternoon and evening with our daughter, grand daughter and son-in-law. Great visit, then Thursday morning we left for Abaco, Marsh Harbor Airport, MYAM, in the Bahamas, to meet the 40 other COPA members and partners for the annual COPA Bahamas adventure. The one and a half hour flight was great, with views of the beautiful water as we passed Grand Bahama Island, into Marsh Harbor. Customs and tie down was effortless and we were by the pool having lunch and chatting with friends by mid-day. Some took to the water by boat, others just relaxed by the pool. We spent the afternoon on the beach and then joined the group for welcome cocktails hosted by Bahamas Tourism ministry. Joe McGonigle, our organizer had everything arranged including door prizes. Lots of socializing at cocktails then dinner.
Friday was a day to explore. Some went fishing, others took boat tours, others drove to near by Treasure Cay, there were also the relaxers on the beach and pool. We explored the town of Marsh Harbor, which is a short walk from the resort. Lots to see, along the harbor side, shopping, and a restaurant for conch salad for lunch, then relax and socialize by the pool.
In the evening everyone met on the beach for cocktails, then dinner.
The Abaco Beach Resort knocked themselves out with an incredible buffet dinner, we then had entertainment and a huge bond fire on a perfect Bahamian evening.
Saturday, there was an optional ferry trip to Elbow Cay and Hope Town. We did that trip, although we had done it before, others did the many island things available. Hope Town is a historic settlement, on its own little island with lots of pretty pastel colored cottages and little shops on winding streets. There is a great beach on one side and harbor view restaurants on the other where we had lunch. . The land mark is the Hope Town Lighthouse.
In the evenings we all met at Curly Tails, for final cocktails, took one last group picture as the sunset and then had our last dinner on Abaco.
It was another great COPA Bahamas adventure, with a great group of people having a lot of fun together and experiencing flying over the incredibly interesting and beautiful Bahamas waters. Sunday some continued their adventure in the Bahamas others winged home in perfect weather. Thanks again, to Joe McGonigle for organizing the trip and Jim and Nancy Knollenberg for their help, as well as the Bahamas Tourism ministry for their support.
Sunday April 24, we left Marsh Harbor, MYAM, for the 45 minute flight to Nassau, MYNN. A beautiful day and a beautiful flight. This part of the trip was organized by Joyce and we were met by car and driver at Odyssey Aviation and whisked to the One and Only Ocean Club, one of the premier resorts in the world. “Nothing is to good to celebrate Gil’s birthday”, says Joyce, did I mention the car was a Bentley. The Ocean Club is a magnificent property, with extensive manicured grounds, two pools, one an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, multiple restaurants, one five star, a spa, a gym and on and on. It is a oasis from the crazy world we live in, designed to free you of any cares. You do have to be at your room at 5:30 PM when the champagne and chocolate covered strawberries are delivered by your butler so you can relax and watch the sun set. After the partying in Marsh Harbor I tried, not to successfully, to get back to a healthy life style, hitting the gym everyday. We celebrated my birthday in style and then departed Wednesday April 27, at 9:30 AM, cleared customs and had lunch in Fort Pierce arriving in Hilton Head at 2:00 PM. Another great flight and Bahamas trip.
This is a bucket list trip that Joyce and I have been thinking about for several years. Its been 35 years since I have been to Argentina and Brazil. Joyce as not been to two of my favorite countries in Latin America so this is it. Tony Huffman our friend organizes a incredible trip for us, we don’t have to lift a finger, just a glass, a fork, a camera and a pen to write the check. We leave Thursday January 21 from Savannah through Atlanta to Santiago, Chile then on to Mendoza, Argentina. Our first stop is the Cavas Wine Lodge, a vineyard and first class hotel. We are met by our host/guide Agostina Astegiano and our driver for the one hour drive to our lodge. Then we are checked in to our Casita which is in the Vineyard itself. We have lunch and then relax before the cooking class that we have signed up for. Leo the resort chef turns out to be delightful and we have great fun cooking empanadas and a Argentine vegetable/chicken dish over an open fire. Its fun and of course we taste wine then enjoy our dinner, before crashing. Our casita is great, the view of the Andes is stunning and we get a full nights sleep.
Time for the cooking class, we are tired but its so much fun we forget about it and it means an early by Argentine standards dinner.
The next day after breakfast its off to do some wine touring. Our objective is to learn about Argentine wines particularly their varietal Malbec. We are in the Lujan de Cuyo Valley region and start by visiting a winery (Bodega) started by an American with an Argentine partner, the Paul Hobbs winery. We then visit and do tasting at the Bodega Casarena.
After the winery visits we finish the tasting with lunch at Osadia de Crear at the the Dominio Del Plata Winery. The wines are impressive and the lunch is over the top both in terms of the quality of the wine and food.
We have dinner at the lodge, which is of course is very good, with Chef Leo preparing something special for us.
Saturday after breakfast we are out again to explore the Mendoza wine country. We start with, what turns out to be our favorite winery Bodega Benegas, which is owned by one of Argentina’s oldest wine families. In fact we like one of their wines so well we arrange to have a case shipped to the US. These bottles will not be cheap, so only our best friends will ever get a wiff of this ambrosia. The winery itself is interesting in that the founding father kept old wine making tools as well as a collection of Goucho ponchos and decorated the winery with his collection. The wine was superb particularly their FBL 2010 Blend.
We visit Bodega Malipal and finish with another great lunch at Vistalbas. Malipal is a modern winery and if closed your eyes you would be in Napa Valley. It turns out that Agostina our guide is not only a wonderful person she is a wine maker herself as is her husband to be. She is a delight to be with and a fountain of knowledge about Argentine wines. We then have a tasting lunch Bodega Vistalba.
Its time to relax and enjoy Cavas Wine Lodge, who’s owner is an artist so its not a surprise to find a very arty cow in the vineyard. The grapes are getting ripe and we can image that being their during the crush would be incredible. We enjoy one last great meal at the Lodge and then in the morning we are off to Bariloche.
On Sunday January 24 we leave Mendoza, fly to Buenos Aires and on to Bariloche airport arriving late afternoon. We are met by Alex Outerial our guide for the next few days and driven through the town of Bariloche and past lake Nahuel Huapi to our home for the next couple of day, Hotel Llao Llao. Our suite is spectacular looking out at Lake Moreno and Mount Tranador. We learn our hotel is considered the nicest in Argentina, built in 1939 and recently completely renovated and expanded. We dine at a quaint Italian restaurant, Il Gabbiano on the big lake, and the meal and wine are excellent.
The next morning after a great breakfast at the hotel we are off on a hiking adventure. It turns out the Alex is a world class trekker and mountain guide, as well as very knowledgeable about Patagonia. We drive around the mountain behind our hotel to a lodge on another lake. Our objective is to hike up the mountain to a waterfall with a view of the lake and lodge. It is a moderately steep trail but we handle it and are rewarded with great scenery.
After our trek we have a great lunch at the lodge overlooking the lake. We return to our hotel and relax before a dinner at a restaurant called Butterfly on Lake Nahuel Haupi. We have a great view and the seven course tasting menu with wine pairing fits right in with our new style. The next day we leave for a boat excursion on the lake. We will cruise from the western in and can see the Chilean border in the distance and end up on Victoria Island. The whole area including Bariloche is in Nahuel Haupi National Park, once a private land holding of Perito Moreno an early explorer of the area. He donated 26 square miles in 1906 to create the park. He was responsible for importing exotic species of trees from all over the world to Victoria Island. After our cruise we hike around a bay and are surprised to find giant sequoias from our home state of California as well as many other interesting species.
We set out on our trek, which is a very easy walk around the island, that includes structures that no longer are used as well as a school for area children that’s not in session. We see an amazing array of different trees and woods with beautiful views from the island.
We end our hike in a small bay that has an abandoned tour boat on the beach where our boat has docked and it turns out that our first mate in fact is a accomplished chef and has set up a gourmet picnic lunch on the beach. This is a very memorable lunch of course with wine and multiple courses and to top it off out of the woods comes a young musician who was below deck during our cruise playing first a local flute then a local guitar to serenade us. An incredible experience, one we will not forget.
After lunch we cruise back across the lake and return to our hotel. That evening we invite Alex to join us for dinner at a restaurant named Cassis. This is a tasting menu of native Patagonian cuisine influenced by the German, Austrian and Italians who immigrated to the region. Another great dinner, with fine Argentine wine and we enjoy the company of our new friend Alex. Tomorrow morning we are off to Buenos Aires so this will be our farewell dinner. Bariloche and Patagonia will go down as one of the highlights of our trip, however it turns out there were no low-lights.