May 31, 2000

There were fly-in breakfasts at the Weedsport, Seneca Falls, and Perry- Warsaw Airports. Middlesex had its usual weekend café, and probably there was a Sunday breakfast at Skanateles. I considered them all, and decided that since I had such an early start on the day, that I would go someplace a little farther than usual. I flew to Great Valley, about 15 miles west of Olean, and a bit over an hour away. Eddy's Diner is at the north end of the long grass runway, and is worthy of the trip.

It was a nice morning for flying. There was no wind to ripple the air, and no sun to stir it up, either. Fog laid in all the river valleys, generally in narrow bands, but it filled quite a large gulf where Route 17 crosses a broad area of the Genessee valley. From 50 miles away I could locate Salamanca because I could trace the crooked finger of fog that laid over every bend and wrinkle of the distant Allegheny River.

With no sun, the early morning was cool. I sat in the plane, watching the stories of life on Earth slide below me, feeling like Grandma sitting all bundled up on the front porch. I had a flannel shirt draped over my legs like a blanket, and one of the sleeves plugged a vent that doesn't shut completely. With the toe of one sneaker propped gently against the stem of the right rudder pedal, the plane flew as if it had an autopilot.

Eddy's diner is just like all the great country diners. Not small, nor big either. Generous helpings of good food keep a steady stream of customers flowing. Oldies music usually plays in the background. Passing through, I heard conversation at one table centering on raising strawberries, while another table was talking family. By happy coincidence, I sat at a table that was within earshot of what was obviously an airplane table, and I joined them after my meal.

I arrived back at Dundee feeling quite refreshed, if not invigorated. The little red plane had carried me far away, and back again after meeting kindred souls. Enroute I had circled over a friend's house to tease him because he couldn't go flyin', stopped for a quick visit at the Hammondsport airport, and checked out a small airstrip in the Cohocton valley which might be a future diner stop.

It was a good trip, but my most significant memory had nothing to do with where I was or what I saw. Forty minutes into the trip I suddenly wondered why I was going so far to visit with no one; I could have traveled a shorter distance and had a good time with the regular crowd.

I guess there is a subtle reassurance in knowing that the plane is up to the task, and a reassurance that yes, I can find the time to wander farther afield if I choose to. Maybe it just helps keep perspective by being independent once and a while. Thinking of all the places that I could have flown that morning, it has to be acknowledged that there are lots of good folks and good places much closer to home.

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