My husband is a recreational pilot who has his Instrument Flight Rating. We have a small Cessna 172 that we keep at Martin State Airport in east Baltimore County. From time to time, we use the little plane for trips into small airports and un-towered runways that give us quick access to places that would otherwise take hours to get to in a car.
Yesterday afternoon we decided to fly down to Cape May, NJ. We only had a few hours, since we were due at a friend’s house later to ring in the New Year, so this short day trip was the perfect way to spend the last remaining daylight hours of 2011. Cape May is one of our favorite places to fly to. It’s close, it’s on the beach, and the quaint little town has all kinds of little shops and restaurants to hang out in.
Yesterday’s weather was windy, slightly cloudy, partially sunny — in other words, beautiful! My husband was able to do the flight visually (without instruments), which is our preferred way to fly. If you can’t see the ground, it’s not as much fun. (Although, like Howard Hughes, I do like some clouds. They add interest. Remember Leonardo DiCaprio’s line from THE AVIATOR? “I want clouds, damn it… Find me some clouds.” I love that line. :-))
Signs That 2012 Will Be A Good Year
In flight, I was struck by two things: how amazingly, unbelievably empty the Chesapeake Bay was. We are used to seeing the bay dotted with countless sailboats and motor boats. Yesterday, I don’t think there was a single boat down there. But instead of looking lonely, it just looked gorgeously pristine. Somehow fitting for a New Year’s trip. It was as if the bay had refreshed itself and was waiting for the new 2012 boaters to make their mark on it. We also saw a fairly large rainbow stretching from sky to ground in an area somewhere over Dover. I don’t know if anyone on the ground would have been able to see it. I always think rainbows are good luck, so I took seeing one on New Year’s Eve Day as a particularly good sign that 2012 will be a good year.
Landing was as uneventful as take off. These are usually the most exciting parts of a flight, but (not to brag or anything ;-)) my husband’s a good pilot and we hardly felt a bump as our tiny plane touched down on Runway 28 at WWD. Our cab was already waiting for us, so we were in town less than five minutes later.
Charming, Romantic, and Sweet
Cape May is a charming town year round, but the Christmas season really shows it off. It was wonderful seeing all of the lights and decorations. The horse-drawn carriages were out, taking couples on romantic rides through the narrow streets. A small boy was playing his guitar at the corner of Jackson and Beach. A cat napped on a rusty old lawn chair somewhere along Perry Street. There was a wedding at Congress Hall. We found ourselves unintentionally trailing after the wedding party as they made their way through town and down to the beach, the photographer snapping pictures the whole way. We stopped at the Cape May Popcorn Factory and bought paper cones full of caramel popcorn and hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows.
East Coast Sunset Over Water
I love that Cape May is one of the few places on the Atlantic where you can see the sun set over water. We strolled down to the beach to enjoy the view, the sound of the waves, and to write in the sand as the sun set on the last day of 2011. With a beach grass stick, I wrote “Happy New Year” and “2011,” in the sand, smiling when the waves came in and washed “2011” away.
We caught a return cab on Beach Street and were soon back in the air. From the cockpit, I tried to capture the last rays of red daylight with my camera, but it was already too dark. Beneath us, the twinkling town lights looked like muted firecrackers. The lulling sound of the plane’s engine and the rhythmic, hypnotic vibration had its effect and my youngest soon fell asleep in the back. It was a good thing… because not two hours later, we were at our neighbor’s house waiting to watch the ball drop, pop some champagne, and ring in the New Year!
So how about you? How are you celebrating the New Year? Did you do anything special on the last day of 2011? If you want to see more pictures of Cape May on December 31, 2011, check out my Facebook album “On The Fly.” BEST WISHES FOR A WONDERFUL 2012!!