“Engine Failure”
June 14, 2008
“Hangar Final”
June 26, 2008
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“Dalhart, TX”

“Dalhart, TX” (June 2008)

“No taxis. No rental cars. But some hotels in town. You can take that pickup truck into town if you want. Here’s he keys.” Chuck said, as he handed me the keys to the white pickup. With 842X sitting in the hangar in the middle of plains of Texas, due to be down for a few days for repairs, it was clear I better get used to Dalhart, Texas! I took the white pickup into town to see what I could see.

It does have quite a nice little residential area behind the food-mart, with very wide BRICK streets (!) and pleasant little houses with wonderful thick trees overhead putting the whole neighborhood in a pleasant shadow of overhead greenery. It’s like a Norman Rockwell painting. The neighborhood (10 blocks by 10 blocks?) is really quite a wonderful little microcosm in the vast plains of Texas. You just have to accept that there is nothing else for maybe miles other than a little 10×10 block neighborhood. I domed Colony on Mars would be like this, in a twilight-zone episode.

There is a wonderful, tree-covered ‘Veterans Park’ where the kids and dogs like to play, and people come sometimes for picnics. An old-fashioned BRICK mainstreet runs from the park into ‘downtown’: An old fashioned collection of street-front buildings that looks like the “Main Street USA” at Disney World… a simple bit of left-over culture, and a wonderful place to stop off the beaten path for a few days to just: Relax.

With so few streets, you can NEVER be lost, and NEVER be stuck in traffic… all the hectic problems of city life just seem to evaporate. Within 1 day, you know where everything is, and if you like to relax, there is really no need to LEAVE! There is a nice little lundromat right down the street a few blocks, and a hamburger joint called ‘The Grill’ right across the street. With little traffic to speak of, no no idea of any concept of ‘crowds’, you just walk across the street and enjoy a hamburger or Iced Tea while your laundry runs.. net access seems to be everywhere, so you can sit on the porch right outside the laundromat, working on your laptop, sipping iced tea, as I am doing right this moment… IF you call this ‘working’. The laundromat has the green plastic chairs and tables of the 60’s, with a sign over by the laundry machines saying ‘Oil Field Workers use these 2 machines only’ in english and spanish. The desk at the motel has notices publishing policies for Union Pacific railroad employees, who use this place as a stopover point, apparently, on their long journeys.

The town is so relaxed and zero-stress that I am really in no hurry to go… BUT Cessna is working far too hard to get my plane in the air for that to be an issue. Within a few weeks of Cessna buying Columbia, Cessna had sent me:

->Warranty coverage, guaranteeing that CESSNA would absorb all Columbia warranty support.
->A new Cessna-400 POH, designed for my airplane to Cessna standards.
->A Cessna Service Center directory, listing the name, phone number, and location of every Cessna Service Center in the country, as well as the prime Cessna tech support number.

Within MOMENTS of my call to Cessna for help, telling them I had a grounded airplane, I had heard from 3 different people at Cessna urgently and quickly calling me back with all the info needed info to get my plane flying again… FOR FREE. Cessna is honoring all Columbia warranties, and has a BIG network of people that are ready to JUMP into action the MOMENT you call for help. I had three people from Cessna feeding all the needed warranty, support, and technical information to the local mechanic literally within MINUTES of making my first call to Cessna to let them know I was down in the field and needing support. It was really just stunning support… anyone that buys a Cessna should know they are NOT just getting a PLANE, but getting a support structure that is designed to get them up and flying ASAP if anything ever puts them on the ground.

You ever watch the X-Files? There was an episode where a Genie was trapped in a bottle (OK, an Oriental rug) and whenever anyone would summon her, they would demand their 3 wishes, and this poor girl was stuck granting people’s wishes every time she was let out of the bottle, and never had any moment to act for HERSELF. When agent Moulder asked her what SHE would wish for, if it were up to HER, her replay was simple: “I would just sit down at a Cafe by the side of the road, order some pie and a drink, and watch the world go round for a while.” …The exact opposite of the constant external demands on her to change the world.

Anyway, I am sitting here in front of the laundromat in a green plastic chair, blogging along on my laptop, sipping iced tea from the Grill, watching the occasional truck or car roll by, listening to the occasional freight train motoring on along from one part of Texas to another as a dry desert breeze blows in, and my laundry whirrs quietly in the background. I could sit here for as long as I want… nobody knows where to find me and bug me.

I found the coolest little local motel right down the street.. it’s a simple little desert Motel that is nothing more than a group of rooms around a parking lot… leave the doors or windows open to enjoy the dry desert breeze. It has a little pool and a chacuzzi, and with ‘food mart’ right down the street, I can get some Coronas later and sit in the outdoor chacuzzi in the dry desert evening, sipping coronas and catching up on my WIRED magazines.. NOBODY will tell me ‘the pool is closed’ or ‘no alcohol in the pools’… heck, there are only 3 people at the motel, judging from the 3 pickup trucks in the parking lot, including mine.

Randy has offered to fly down from Kansas in his Baron to come pick me up and take me to his place, but I decline.. why make the rush back to the hectic life?

If only Cessna were not working so quickly to get 842X back in the air, I could justify relaxing here for days… business will keep flowing into X-Plane.com whether I am working like a Genie granting other people’s wishes or not… I can go back into the bottle any time, or sit here and watch the world go round.