Old Pilot’s Camper Journal Day 5

3
Dawn at Paradise City.

Even in everyday life, living in a comfortable home, sleeping can be an issue for an old fat guy like myself. Physiologists tell us that we need less sleep as we get older. That certainly holds true for me. If I get 6 hours of sleep that is a good night for me. I feel certain that the stresses of job, family pandemics and the lure of digital screens all have something to do with it. However, I would rather die and go to hell before attending some “sleep study” in which the foregone conclusion is that you will be doomed to go to bed for the rest of your life with a Darth Vader mask and soundtrack. I know. I know. I am an idiot sleep deprivation denier. I just cling to the hope that it will all get better with time.

I think I have found a viable solution: airshow camping. Oh there are certainly some challenges; generators droning on till 11:00 each night, the slamming of porta potty doors, the midnight departure of a radial engine or the odd raucous laughter coming from guys telling flying stories. For some reason, those occurrences have never stolen my sleep. It is the song of my people.

When camping, you often end up hitting the sleeping bag early. There is no late nite show to lure you, only the stars to look at and the low song of roosting birds to hear. As a result, you can find yourself waking up at 5:00 a.m., or even earlier. That is when you lay there in your sleeping bag, in a silent campground, and contemplate what you will do with the rest of your day, or the rest of your life.

This morning, I concluded that my day would start with a pre-dawn visit to Paradise City to see the ultralights, light sports and powered parachutes fly in the early morning light. I rolled out of the tent to find that Jim and Forrest were also ready for such an adventure. You can always count on old guys to be up early.

We arrived at Paradise City to find a dense fog. The powered parachute folks (the Grateful Dead of the aviation world) were sleeping in, waiting for favorable weather. Even better. We strolled through the heavy dew on the grass to admire several different light craft, unencumbered by the heat of day or the press of other airshow attendees. To see the cockpits in the early light, we would wipe the dew from canopies and windows. Finally, the sun’s orange ball climbed through the ground fog to reveal the morning. I took out my phone to memorialize the scene, so many pixels in a data file. An even better rendering resides in what is left of my old guy brain. The next time I find it difficult to sleep, I will pull up that visual.

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