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We have been in Missouri visiting our children, grandchildren, my mother and other friends. Our visit has been punctuated with numerous trips for repair of our motorhome. We've been in the shop three times now to get the Carefree awning properly installed, painted and adjusted. Our KVH dish has taken two repair trips. An oil change and wheel bearing service took two trips. Each trip requires picking up and moving to the repair shop and then returning to base to set up house again.

Normally we move once during this visit, from my daughter's driveway to my mother's driveway or vice versa. We got all our visits, friends, relatives and repairs done, but we were always under pressure to get from one place to the next. There were very few lazy days spent relaxing in the shade and listening to the birds.

Today we had the final two maintenance stops. The Carefree awning had a pivot pin dropping out of the support arm. It was fixed in a few minutes by two techs who knew what they were doing. Then it was off to Clarke Power for the wheel bearing job. We got there early and checked in. Louise decided to stay in their comfortable waiting room rather than accompany me to the airport to sit in their pilot lounge while I did a little flying. She normally loves to fly if we are going from place to place, but today was "batting practice," as she likes to call it. The FAA says that if you make three takeoffs and landings in 90 days you can keep flying. In truth, the takeoffs are easy; the landings are the challenging part of the flight.

I left for the airport early, a bonus for me. One of the rules for safe flight is to have your mind totally on the flying and not have distractions dividing your mental abilities. Safe flying is an exercise in mental discipline. It does require your total attention. Having the pressure of a time schedule causes pilots to cut corners and make poor decisions. These have a way of coming back to bite you at just the wrong time. So after considering the day's schedule and putting myself in a time box, I was having second thoughts about the wisdom of flying. Should I cancel and hope to fly somewhere else in the next two weeks?

At the airport, I took my time preparing for the flight. It was my first flight since getting checked out at this airport in June. Once all the preparation was done, I climbed into the cockpit and began to run through the checklists. Flying is serious stuff. You can't just say, "Wait a minute, I'll pull over here and look at the map." Everything has to be at your fingertips so you can stay mentally ahead of the airplane.

I took off from the incredibly rough runway and flew to a nearby airport with better runways to make several landings. The first landing was not my best. That is why we practice. The second and third were better. Now I had to return to land at the home field, that rough, narrow runway.

I made a wide circle over the countryside to enjoy the view. I'm flying out of St. Charles, Missouri. This is the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Everywhere I look I'm seeing flocks of white pelicans, some on the water, other flocks in flight. Thousands of white pelicans were on their way south to our winter home in south Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. Over there is a huge tow with its barges making its way north up the Mississippi River. Water is everywhere, with two major rivers running near full. It has been a wet summer in the Midwest and the rivers show it. This is one of the major perks of flying. I love the scenery. Even dismal places look awesome from 2,000 feet in the air.

Landing at St. Charles Municipal airport, I am on my game. I make the required soft field landing to save the nose gear from the abuse it would get on this rough runway. If I touched it down at high speed, the relatively fragile nose gear could be damaged. It takes a fine touch to keep the nose wheel up but not so far up that it brings the plane up into the air again. I was pleased with the landing.

I taxied to the ramp and parked the plane. Once all my belongings were gathered, I stepped out of the Cessna 172 and as I did, I realized that I hadn't thought of the motorhome once in the last hour and a half.

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