Since last week Lucy has been asking to go to the beach several times. I'm not sure where she got it in her mind that she wanted to visit a beach - perhaps an activity at school or a friend has been talking about it, or who knows. It took me a couple of days, but then I realized, hey why not? Its an hour and a half away in the adventure machine, so let's do it!
Lucy sat upfront with me and Sunday morning around 9 am we departed Kennesaw, GA for Dog Island, FL (FA43). It was a pleasant flight at 10.5k feet with a mild 8kt tailwind. I didn't bring any electronics or toys to keep Lucy occupied, so we did entertainment the old fashioned way and practiced counting to 100 and played other games, like hide and seek (seriously). She drew on some of my IFR sheets with a pen and she even asked if I wanted her to sing some songs for me. The 'are we there yets' started about 45 minutes into the 90-minute flight. "See that huge cloud out there?" I said. "When we get to that cloud, that's when we'll land at the beach." That finally satisfied her and gave her something more tangible than a number of minutes or nautical miles. There was a huge towering thunderstorm cell about 10 miles downwind of our destination that I was watching like a hawk. It wasn't going to be an issue so we pressed on.
We circled the island, buzzed the 2700' grass strip, then came in for a nice smooth landing. The field condition was good. A little bumpy like grass tends to be but in good shape. We turned off to parking and jumped out and started getting ready to walk about 100 yards to the beach. I had specifically chosen a field that car rental, and all that, wasn't going to be necessary. We paid a $10 requested maintenance donation into a locked box after running from mosquitoes the size of bumblebees that were swarming us near the high brush near our plane. Fortunately the breezy beach was 100% bug-free and the weather and water were absolutely perfect. The beautiful white sandy beach was pristine. We met some Sikorsky S92 pilots when we first got there, but otherwise, we enjoyed the entire beach to ourselves the whole day. It was the heli pilots first time at the beach too. They had rented a boat and were walking down the beach with one of their sons.
I pointed out a crab and Lucy poked at it with her finger a couple of times not believing it was real. It sprung out of the sand and scurried about 3 feet over and glared at her. She squealed with delight. We swam in the ocean and I was really hoping she wouldn't be a wuss about the light seaweed, or the waves, or any number of things she could be a baby about. She was a trooper and brought a huge smile to my face when she kept asking to go out deeper and deeper into the ocean, all the meanwhile waves occasionally smacking into us and salty ocean water wetting our faces. I had to do what I call the 'marine rifle' procedure to her a couple times when we were playing in the water. I held her up out of the water while I held my breath and waited for the wave to pass. The waves weren't strong but I was trying to ride them on my back with her riding on me like a surfboard, without much success I might add. She was a champ the whole time and we had a blast. She chased birds down the beach, ate snacks, and we enjoyed a nice deli sandwich we picked up at the store before we left. Lucy drank her special kiwi strawberry carbonated (sugar-free) beverage, which may have been one of the highlights of her trip. She doesn't usually get anything besides water or milk, so this was a special treat for her, which also kept her hydrated. Pound for pound she probably drank the equivalent of me drinking about a 2 liter. I kept pestering her to be careful not to get sand in the drink, but I'm convinced she drank about a quarter teaspoon of beach sand.
After a few hours of fun in the sun, we packed up and ran through the field to our airplane to minimize mosquito exposure. There was no one around to see it, but I bet it was a hilarious spectacle with me running towards the airplane shouting at Lucy to keep up and we have to keep moving. I slung our backpack and mostly sand free towel in the baggage compartment like bears were chasing us. I tend to overreact to mosquitoes because I hate them so badly. We quickly jumped in and I closed the door. It was so hot. "Daddy, I can't breath," Lucy fussed. We cranked up the airplane and quickly took off in about a 1300 foot per second climb up to 11,500 feet where the air was a nice 48 degrees. The cool air felt incredible. Lucy was asleep before we even made it past 6,000 feet. Wore out from our beach trip, she was in a deep sleep that I wished I could join her on. I put on an audiobook and enjoyed a nice flight back home. We lived happily ever after.