Idaho Flying Trip September 6, 2016

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I finally got a break in the Sheridan weather that allowed me to take off to the east without encountering the low ceilings and rain that have been plaguing me on so much of this trip. My plan was to visit Devil's Tower in Wyoming and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota before heading southeast into Nebraska.

As I neared Devil's Tower ceilings and visibility started to deteriorate. It's an amazing sight, even more impressive than the views in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". On the VFR Sectional Chart there's a curious warning that says "FOR REASONS OF NATIONAL WELFARE, PILOTS ARE REQUESTED TO AVOID FLIGHTS WITHIN 3 NM OF DEVILS TOWER NATIONAL MONUMENT". I'm not sure what "national welfare" means when applied to a national monument. Is there really an alien spacecraft there?My hopes of seeing Mount Rushmore were dashed by an enormous bad weather system covering a large area that looked as if it was centered over Mount Rushmore. The low clouds, rain and thunderstorms were heading north toward me but I was able to fly northeast and avoid them.
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I diverted around the weather system to Pierre SD where I refueled and chatted with the FBO owner, Jim, whom I met in McCall during a social gathering. He gave me a fuel discount, bottled water, cookies and offered the loan of a courtesy car. I appreciated the offer but I needed to continue on to the overnight stop in Iowa. I was getting tired of hotel rooms and looking forward to going home.Jim does aerobatics in air shows around the country in his T33C Bonanza. He flew his Cessna 180 with it's big 550 engine to Idaho for some back country training just like I did. His website is JPAeroSports. Jim is a friendly guy who owns the nicest FBO that I stopped at along the entire trip.
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From Pierre I headed southeast to Atlantic Iowa (IA) where I spent the night. I arrived about 5:40 pm and the FBO was closed; however, I was able to call ahead from the air using my iPhone and Lightspeed Zulu .2 bluetooth headset connection. The FBO manager left the terminal unlocked and the key to courtesy car on the counter as well as recommending a local hotel.It was windy when I landed gusting to over 20 knots with a slight crosswind. With all my Cessna 185 fire flying and Maule flying in windy conditions over the last 10 years, gusty crosswinds in a tail wheel aircraft aren't the fear factor that they once were.
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