|Date: December 18, 2013||Migration Day: 78
|Dist. Traveled: 101 miles
||Total Dist. 804 miles
|Location: Chilton County, Alabama|
Yesterday was another long day that included a skipped stopover, crating four cranes and a tire blow out.
Until Richard van Heuvelen has his lead pilot report ready, I’ll provide some brief details and some images.
Richard launched with seven cranes, as number 5-13 again decided to lag behind in the pen. They formed up very nicely on his wing initially, but soon after taking off a couple peeled off and Brooke Pennypacker moved in to lend them a wing. Shortly after this we heard on the radio that Richard had four and Brooke now had four as well because apparently during one of the many passes over the pensite, number 5-13 read his memo that said we would be flying today and made it out of the pen and into the air.
Just when we thought all was well and they were on their way, the radio chatter started up again: Brooke: ‘two just broke from me again’ Richard: ‘I’ve got these four locked onto the wing so I’m going to continue on course’ Brooke: ‘okay, I’ll see if I can round these two up again’ Brooke: ‘this sun is so bright that I’m having difficulty keeping an eye on them, they may just head back to the pen so get the costumes onto the field and you’ll have to crate them’ Brooke, ‘found them, let me see if I can convince them to get on my wing’ Brooke: ‘now my other two have joined the two that don’t want to fly’ Richard: ‘my birds are doing great and I’m 20 miles out from Walker County, what do you say we skip and continue to Chilton County?’ Brooke: ‘sure – go for it, I’m going to see if I can get these four back to the pen and the ground crew can crate then up for transporting by ground’
As Jo-Anne and I head back to retrieve four crates, I wondered which cranes didn’t want to fly. I’d put money on number 5-13 just because of his late exit from the pen. Sure enough after we suited up and began crating, there’s number 5-13 with his yellow leg band. Along with him are cranes 2-13, 7-13 and 8-13.
Crating goes quickly and smoothly and within 30 minutes they’re all boxed up and loaded into the vehicle with Geoff Tarbox behind the wheel chauffeuring them to Chilton County. Meanwhile, Colleen, Jo-Anne and I head back out to the field to break down the pen and get Colleen on the road.
Next it’s our turn to get our trailers ready to travel. We breakdown and pack up the Sierra RV and hook it up to the truck that I drive and when that’s ready to roll, we get the aircraft trailer hooked up to Jo’s truck. By 11:45 we’re ready to head out and begin the 2 1/2 hour drive south.
The stretch of Interstate 65 that cuts through Birmingham will rattle your teeth and your kidneys – especially when you’re hauling large, heavy trailers. Honestly, it’s worse than most of the gravel and dirt country roads we’ve been on since leaving our Wisconsin home base in October. Evidence of this is that just as I was exiting the highway, Jo, who was traveling 2 or 3 vehicles behind me was dodging black tire debris, along with everyone else on the road going 70 mph. I, of course, didn’t notice a thing as it was all taking place behind me.
As I took the off ramp, Jo radioed that I had blown a tire on the Sierra trailer and since I couldn’t exactly stop in the middle of the ramp and was on my way to a black water dump station about a 1/4 mile away, I put on my hazards and hobbled into my destination, texting Liz on the way to let her know about the tire and our location.
Within 30 minutes or so, we had dumped the RV and Richard, Brooke and our migration host had arrived and were changing the tire, while Jo and I continued to our stopover in her truck with the aircraft trailer.
Turns out this was the exact location where Joe Duff blew the exact same tire last year.
Four cranes flew 101 miles and the other four arrived by road… It’s always something.