Old Pilot’s Camper Journal: Sun ‘n Fun 2022 #7

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It happens every year. I arrive at Sun ‘n Fun two or three days before the show even starts and begin to wonder if I will run out of things to do during the week. Every year I reach the last day and think about activities I did not have the time to accomplish.

My original plan was to get an early start home on Saturday, but there was one more Garmin forum at 9:00 that I wanted to attend. Also, I really needed to troll the commercial buildings one more time to make sure I did not miss anything. Since I was still in the neighborhood, I should take in the car show in which locals bringing some pretty impressive cars.

I developed my last-day plan of action in my sleeping bag at 6:20 a.m., just after the Amazon 757 wake up call. Peel myself out of the warm sleeping bag, get dressed and head over to Antique/Classic headquarters to grab breakfast when they open at 7:00. My timing was perfect. I was the first person to get a cup of hot coffee at A/C HQ. It was too cold to hang out on their porch, so I took shelter in the cab of my toasty Ridgeline and cruised over to Paradise City to see the sun rise over beautiful flying machines crafted by dreamers in basements and garages. God, I never tire of that sight.

I stuck to the plan. The Garmin forum was great, the final tour of Buildings A,B,C and D was swift but informative, and the car show was lovely, with everything from Ferraris to VW Bugs. One more cup of coffee and I broke camp to hit the road at about 11:00 a.m.

Although I certainly know the way home, I consulted with the rectangle of knowledge to plot out a GPS route. I was thinking that the withdrawal of spring breakers and snow birds northward would clog the major arteries. I was right.

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The GPS sent me north on back roads, but they petered out at Ocala, dumping me on I-75 for the remainder of the slog. Slog being the operative word. I spent hours in bumper to bumper traffic that went from dead stop to 45 mph for hours on end. At Warner Robbins, Georgia, I stopped for fueling the truck and de-fueling my bladder at the now famous Buc-ee’s roadside phenomenon. It is a gas station and store the size of a Walmart. Inside, the store was as packed as a mall the week before Christmas.

Back on the road, traffic speed finally increased north of Macon, but I did not get home to Atlanta until 8:30 p.m. What was normally a 7 hour drive took me 9-1/2 hours. Next year, as God is my witness, I will fly to Sun-n-Fun. If my RV-8A project is not finished, then I will fly my trusty Skyhawk, Princess. As for now, I am making plans for Oshkosh. Hope to see you there.

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Steve Ashby is a sometime lawyer and full-time aviation aficionado from Atlanta, Georgia. He learned to fly in 1980 and has adopted a 1968 Skyhawk (your Grandma could fly it). Steve is also working on a Van's RV-8A which he swears will be completed on (a) Thursday.

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