Our usual RV10 adventure pals, Tim & Karrie and their daughters, suggested we all go out to Sweetwater, TX to visit a Women's aviation museum called WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) and also attend the annual rattlesnake round up. Sounded odd but fun! Brandi was a last minute scratch since she was feeling awful, so Lucy upgraded to front seat co-pilot. She expertly announced, "Calhoun, RV 42BU departing runway 3 5" and off we went.
Headwinds wernt too bad, but we stayed around 4-6k to stay out of the worst of it since it was about a 5.5 hour flight. We got fuel in Panola County Texas (4F2) for $4.32/gal, which was nice! Lucy was being cute and burning off some cooped up energy while I pumped fuel and then we had a quick snack and finished the 2 hour leg to Sweetwater (KSWW).
We had trouble getting an uber ride to our AirBnb house where Tim and Karrie were waiting for us, having arrived just an hour or so ahead of us. The airport manager, Bob, was super nice and offered a ride so we drove 10 minutes into town and then went to a nice mexican restaurant for dinner. 5 street tacos for $11, yes please! Yum!
Saturday we had a pretty ambitious schedule as we were bent on squeezing out as much fun in our brief stay as we could. We woke up early and had a super breakfast of all kinds of fruits, bagels, bacon, and other delectables. We called for an Uber ride to the WASP museum and a super nice guy, Julian, showed up with a brand new Kia Stinger and we piled all 6 of us into the car with kids on laps. We enjoyed the WASP museum. The girls played on the simulator, practiced riveting, and bounced around a bit taking it all in. They ended up in the gift shop and we caved and bought them all matching Fifinella tee-shirts.
We continued on to the Nolan County Coliseum and took in the crowded and interesting event that was the 65th annual rattlesnake round up. There were three snake pits with hundreds of snakes and West Texans in there with them milling around like they were kittens. They would grab one and bring it around for people to touch and often recoil from. There was a venom milking area where each snake was milked for its venom in order to produce anti-venom. The next stop for the snakes was a somewhat disturbing snake skinning area where bloody handprints peppered the wall behind them, presumably one handprint after each snake was skinned. Lucy really didnt like that scene so we scooted past it quickly. The final stop for these snakes, and I do mean that quite strongly, was the fried rattlesnake upstairs at the food booth area. There was a huge line out the door as they had a delay and so we didnt end up trying any cooked rattlesnake, which was on our agenda, but we agreed we all would be fine to move on. Later conversations with the girls about what was going on to these snakes proved a bit difficult and honestly made me question the whole thing a bit as well. On the one hand, its a natural part of life for food to eat food. These snakes werent frivolously being abused, right? They were a spectacle and also used for anti-venom and then the skin was used and the meat eaten. Nothing wrong with that, right? Hmm, its not so black and white how we can be ok with beef/chicken/pork and draw a line at this lifeblood to this community. I sympathize with folks that protest this event over animal abuse, and I can also appreciate that the circle of life is real. No easy answers there.
After we left there I told Tim and Karrie I had read about a BBQ cookoff and we should try to find some good BBQ. We walked around past dozens of RVs where folks were setup having a great time, many having serious BBQ rigs. We asked about the competition BBQ and how to get some and this super nice group were so friendly and told us about it and even gave us samples of their chicken and ribs! They told us go up the hill right over there to the judging area and maybe we could get in. We lucked our way into getting last moment badges to be judges to the upcoming brisket portion of the judging, thanks in large part to having gorgeous Karrie with us to charm our way in. We proceeded to sample 21 competitor entries of brisket, one of my favorites, and it was a dream come true. There were good, bad, and one in particular I gave a perfect 10. I once in Billings Montana found a perfect 10 brisket and have been on the hunt ever since. Sadly it took 21 competitors in TX no less, known for great bbq, for me to finally realize another perfect brisket. I was in heaven.
We were all wearing down, but the girls had patiently been waiting for us adults to finish dumb boring adult things so they could go into the carnival that was a tauntingly close 5 minute walk away. We bought $60 worth of tickets and let the kids bounce around from ride to ride and drain the last remaining energy that they could muster. We called up our buddy Julian and he picked us up in his Stinger again and took us back to the house. I had brought a bunch of taco fixings and the kids were hungry so we made tacos and somehow the adults managed to stuff in a taco or two even though we were 21 briskets full from about 4 hours earlier. It was a wonderful time. The girls watched a movie and the adults just chit chatted at the kitchen table until we all happily declared it was bedtime. I slept so good that night.
Sunday morning we piled all 6 of us into the Stinger again. This time with luggage. How does a singer fit 7 people and luggage even? We basically turned that thing into a clown car lol! We flew off to Brownwood Regional (KBWD) for some cheap fuel then continued on to Hammond Louisiana (KHDC). We met up with the builder of Tim's RV-10, Carl, and his lovely girlfriend, Paige, who was a former lawyer and current Judge. We had a wonderful lunch filled with typical Louisiana foods like Crawfish, shrimp, hush puppies, catfish, etc. Lucy and I said our goodbyes and left for home. We dodged around a some weather and enjoyed a 40-50kt tailwind up at 11k feet the entire way back home. Lucy helped with takeoff and later took a little in flight nap, which was well earned from a long weekend, not to mentioned more easily coaxed when at 11k feet for a couple hours hehe. I was thankful for my IFR rating as I definitely needed it for our return as I did my first actually needed approach to minimums (outside practicing with instructor) back into Calhoun.
Another epic adventure in the books!