As it has been quite some time since I have picked up the pen (so to speak), I thought it was time to dust off the keyboard of reminiscing and dreams and plunk out of few lines of what I might call wisdom, others may see it as ramblings of an almost septuagenarian. The beginning of my page work started the day I had to send an old friend to the happy hunting ground. A sad day indeed for me, strange in a way, because I really never had a place in my heart for the old stray that showed up one afternoon. After I did the so-called deed and put her to rest I sat at my desk punching out prose thru tear filled eyes. Maybe I liked her a bit more than I thought. Better times behind us both, better place for her and a hole in my heart for a while, I guess maybe even to this day just shy of nine years later. So, as I move on here I thought I might write a bit again, fill in the space between those must chores on the “Honey do” list and my time with my current hound and my love of music, although I cannot sit and listen to anything while I write.

I thought I might go back to about the fall of 1993 I was a reasonably newly licensed pilot and thought I would have an adventure with the boys, one my own son, the other out pseudo adopted “red-headed step child”. Refresh me a bit here, but as I recall, I called down to Pontiac to where the Pistons played and managed to score three tickets, not really even in the nosebleed seats but then again not quite court-side either. I called the local holiday Inn the old way, by telephone; that for me was a bit before my knowing how to just scoop up a room on the internet, and got us a place to stay overnight. I reserved a nice Cessna 172 from our local airport and told them it would be for an overnight cross country to return the next day after lunch about a 24 hour rental.

Even though the plane had been fueled up prior to our arrival I did a thorough preflight check, visually checked the fuel for water amount and pulled the dipstick for the oil level. Good to go I started up and warmed the engine. The instruments looked right so I turned the weather on the radio and taxied east to the numbers. After running the engine up and checking both magnetos I visually cleared both directions, announced our intentions on the radio, pulled on to runway 28 (280 degrees on the compass, almost due east and west) which is 75 feet wide and paved with asphalt and powered up for takeoff. The cool weather and light load, just me and my son was no work for the 150 horsepower Lycoming engine and we gained altitude quickly. Turning south at 800 feet above ground level we headed south to the big airport to pickup our other passenger.

About 20 minutes later we checked in with the tower at Grand Rapids and were given clearance to land and taxi to the local fixed base operator. I called the tower ground control for taxiway clearance and we headed out to the big runway among the commuter planes and big passenger jets and us So here we are, running with the big dogs, the three of us in the four seat little Cessna, what a treat. I wonder who was more excited, the so called “Pilot in Command” (that would be me) of the two passengers on their way to a Pistons game in their private airplane.

The flight to Pontiac at about 120 miles per hour was basically uneventful, scudding clouds with snow squalls falling from them were occasional flown around at the discretion of the pilot as we were in uncontrolled airspace for most of the trip.. As we checked in the Pontiac tower we were assigned the left runway landing toward West at the same time a twin business plane was landing in the same direction on the right runway next to us. Yeah, we’re big time now. “Passengers, this is the Captain speaking; Please secure you drinks and put your seat belts on ding, ding, ding.”

We taxied per the instructions of the tower and tied the plane down in the required area and secured it for the night.

As we ordered a bite to eat at the airport restaurant (certainly not the best food) the snow started to come down wet and heavy. We ordered a cab and it seemed to take forever to get to the Holiday Inn but the bill was not too bad so I think he was just going slowly and being careful considering the weather. After we checked into the hotel and got cleaned up a bit we ordered another cab and headed for the Stadium. As I recall the place was not full but almost and there were some great players to watch.

(GSCeltic can add a paragraph or two here about the game and who was there because I can’t remember. And whether on not the Pistons won.)
11/14/1992: Pacers 104 @ Pistons 100; Detlef Schrempf 26 pts, 11 rebs.
We took another cab back to the hotel and hit the tv for a while. I checked the weather for the following day and the storm would subside and clear sun and sky’s were predicted by about 10am. Good, I can sleep in.

We got up and had breakfast in the hotel and found the place was packed with a large group of kids all dressed up and in makeup. It was some kind of a modeling and talent competition and fretful parents who seemed to be living vicariously through their children hoping for a win that day. Seemed a bit strange, but whatever makes one happy as long at doesn’t affect me is pretty much all right with me.

This is beginning to sound like “On the road again.” (Play it Willie) Back in the cab and onto the airport we found the plane encrusted in ice but thankfully the sun as shining quite brightly and it would not be too long before it thawed. We headed back to the airport restaurant and ordered second breakfast, (just like the hobbits) and had some more coffee. I knew I would pay for it on the flight home where the only bathroom is the one at any airport you take the time to land at.

As we left and gained altitude we began to see orange dots all over the Michigan countryside. It took me just a moment to realize it was opening day of firearm deer season and the orange army had hit the woods. It was very cool seeing all the hunters sitting along side fields and in woodlots enjoying the rite of passage into the winter season and hoping for that big rack buck to stroll lackadaisically into their sites and become something of bragging rights around the fireside chats during the long cold and snowy winter.

Sometime after lunch we landed at the clean but wet runway in Greenville, Michigan and were picked up by my bride in our ride and headed home.

I recall being a bit worn out, wallet somewhat empty but my passengers just chatted away about this play and that play. There is really no price you can put on that.

Since I am writing this for a blog of an acquaintance and it is sports oriented I thought I might just talk about the subject at hand which is hoops.. What do ya think? Was it about basketball?


Chatton MacLaren is a retired builder who writes short stories and vignettes as a hobby. His other interests are outdoor sports, mostly involving water and woods and playing acoustic stringed instruments music. He and his wife of 25 years and their dogs live in the woods and waters area of Mid-Michigan.