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Frigid trip to Grand Geneva Resort



 
 
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  #1  
Old January 20th 04, 03:46 AM
Jay Honeck
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Frigid trip to Grand Geneva Resort

We were looking for a place to take the kids overnight for the MLK Day
school break. Requirements were simple: An airport, and an indoor
waterpark.

Grand Geneva Resort -- the old Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin --
recently added a new indoor waterpark for kids. (Hugh Hefner must be
shaking his head in disbelief...) This, their on-property airport, and the
fact that both cab companies in the Wisconsin Dells (AKA: Waterpark Heaven)
had gone out of business, meant that we were headed off to Southeastern
Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon.

The low scud and mist of Friday had been replaced by a huge Canadian high
pressure system on Saturday night, meaning arctic cold air in spades. Thus,
our nice (for Iowa in January) 40s had been replaced with howling
wind-chills well below zero, but crystal-clear blue skies and 100 mile
visibility. Bundling up was the order of the day, but Atlas (our '74
Cherokee 235 Pathfinder) was plugged in and fully fueled, ready to take us
wherever we pointed him!

Our flight plan showed Grand Geneva's 3500 foot runway was just 58 minutes
away, but we would be bucking a stiff quartering headwind all the way.
Thus, we figured 1.5 hours, but -- with 84 gallons on board -- we surely
wouldn't need to worry about fuel. After a few minutes of futzing with our
new Garmin GTX-327 transponder (installed just the day before), showing Mary
how it worked, we were airborne and headed for 36 hours of simulated warm
weather!

Earlier in the day I had flown in and out of snow squalls that were
literally precipitating out of clear air, but on this flight we saw nothing
at 5500 feet but blue above, and a few scattered clouds below. It was a
picture-perfect day to fly, but we were bloody thankful for the Cherokee's
fabulous heater which -- even at zero degrees outside -- allowed us to fly
in shirtsleeved comfort. Best of all, despite surface winds of
15-gusts-to-25, the air was silky smooth.

However, as we approached our destination, it became clear that the landing
would be no walk in the park. Surface winds at nearby Burlington, WI were
reported to be 330 at 15, gusts to 20 -- and the best runway at Grand Geneva
was 05. Thus, an 80 degree crosswind, with those kind of winds, would test
my somewhat rusty crosswind skills to the utmost -- but after years of
flying out of the 30' wide single strip in Sylvania, WI (C89), I figured it
was doable. Besides, there was a waterpark awaiting!

Ten miles out I cancelled flight following with Rockford Approach -- boy, it
was great having a reliable transponder again! (No more having to explain
to them why my third digit was reading something different than assigned.)
Essentially lined up for a long straight-in approach to Rwy 05, I used my
long descent to gauge the cross-wind. It soon became clear that it was
really howling at altitude, as I had to maintain an extreme crab to keep the
runway aligned.

The terrain around Grand Geneva is hilly, with downhill ski slopes a main
attraction. Thus, the crosswind was the worst kind -- it came, it went, and
it swirled. As we got lower, the winds began to diminish, and I was able to
lessen the crab somewhat, but it was still going to be an, uh, "interesting"
landing. Carrying a bit more power than usual, with just two notches
deployed, we glided inevitably toward the runway...

As we cleared the trees on the approach end, it became clear from the
brilliant sun reflection that the runway was an absolutely sheet of glass.
The rains we had experienced in Iowa on Friday had obviously been an
ice-storm up here in Wisconsin -- and the runway was covered for its entire
length with 1/2-inch of glare ice! With the cross-wind swirling at 20 knots
from my left, I quickly consulted my co-pilot, who confirmed what I was
seeing -- an absolutely lethal combination of narrow runway, high crosswind,
deep ditches, and glare ice!

The power quickly came back in, and we flew the length of the runway at
hedge-height, assessing our options. Usually we'd give just about anything
one shot, but this time I knew that any side-stress while landing would
produce an unrecoverable skid. With trees, ditches, rocks, and ice all
around, I just didn't like those odds, and we decided to divert to nearby
Lake Lawn Lodge, (C02). Their runway is Rwy 36, meaning that at least one
of the strikes against us would be erased. Within minutes we were on
downwind, once again assessing a less-than-perfect situation...

There was no ice on this runway this time -- because it hadn't been plowed
at all! A call to Unicom brought a response from a nearby pilot, who
informed us that Lake Lawn was no longer staffed, nor maintained, meaning
that the runway was in "virgin" post-storm condition. Yikes!

However, having trained in nearby East Troy, I knew from experience that an
unplowed runway could be BETTER than a plowed one, if the snow wasn't too
deep. It was obvious that the ice storm had turned to snow as it trailed
off, and left a minor amount of snow over the entire area. This would give
me the added traction necessary for lateral control on the runway, if my
calculations were correct.

As we slid down a much more controlled final approach, wind point-blank on
the nose, it felt strange to be landing on a runway that looked no different
from the surrounding terrain. With my throttle arm again half-cocked for a
go-'round, we rounded out in the flare, and touched down ever-so-gently on
to a layer of crunchy, 1/2-inch deep snow. As expected, this surface gave
me plenty of steering, and even a fair amount of braking ability, and the
landing was uneventful.

Now, of course, what to do? We were at the wrong airport, with
non-refundable reservations, and the airport was not staffed. Worse, we
discovered after chocking the wheels, the old FBO building was LOCKED, and
the temperature was hovering just above zero! With two kids in back, we'd
have to resolve the situation soon, or the engine (and us!) would be
cold-soaked and we'd be stuck there.

Luckily, the outside phone to the lodge, nearly a mile away, was still
working. I called the front desk and tried to explain my situation above
the screaming winds. The girl at the desk was at first incredulous, but
eventually believed me when I explained our predicament. I asked her if the
power outlets were still "live" at the airport, so that we could plug Atlas
in -- and she, of course, had no idea. She agreed to dispatch a maintenance
worker to come check us out, and Mary and the kids piled back into the
still-warm plane to wait.

Stomping my feet in the cold, I uncoiled our 100-foot extension cord, and
plugged Atlas into what I hoped was a working power outlet. Within minutes
the maintenance guy rolled up in a pickup truck -- no hope of a ride
there! -- and hopped out wearing nothing but a thin jacket. He was soon
pink as a carnation, as I explained what I needed from underneath my hooded
parka. Amazingly, he whipped an outlet-tester out of his pocket -- who
carries those everywhere? -- and determined that the outlets were, indeed,
still "live" -- meaning that we could stay a while without cold-starting our
bird. He then called their courtesy van on their walkie-talkie, and we had
a ride up to the lodge within minutes.

As much as we appreciated what they were doing for us, we couldn't stay at
Lake Lawn because (a) our reservations were non-refundable, and (b) they
didn't have a waterpark. So, I called Grand Geneva, and was brusquely told
that there was NO way they would come get us, and was given the number of a
cab company to call! When I called them, they informed me that the ride
over -- mere minutes away by air -- would cost us over thirty bucks! I
thanked them and hung up, by now getting severely aggravated with the whole
turn of events.

The concierge at Lake Lawn had been hovering nearby, and was astounded when
I told him that Grand Geneva wouldn't come and get us. Incredibly, he then
volunteered HIS courtesy van to take us over! Within a few minutes we were
on our way, and I tipped the guy a $20-spot, figuring his kind of customer
service desperately needed to be encouraged. I'm still astounded that he
went so far out of his way for four non-paying guests, but we will be back
to Lake Lawn Lodge soon, sans children...

The rest of our trip was as expected -- over-priced, but fun. The water
park is a gas, and it felt great to walk around in a swimsuit without
risking frostbite! They even have a hot tub with a little door that lets
you go outside -- the kids thought it was neat to keep freezing their hair
into icicles before coming back inside to thaw!

We departed mid-day Monday, after managing to shame the Grand Geneva
customer service desk supervisor into providing us with a lift back to our
plane. Amazingly, despite being plugged in overnight, with a cowl cover,
the sump and cylinder head heaters on Atlas had only managed to warm the oil
to 37 degrees! Our departure on the crunchy runway was normal, and the
flight home was (of course!) into a minor headwind most of the way.

It was an awful lot of work and money for a mere 36-hours away, but everyone
had a great time! If you have kids, I'd recommend the new water park at
Grand Geneva -- but if you're looking for a nice weekend away surrounded by
great people who will cut their arm off to keep you happy, check out the
wonderful facility at Lake Lawn Lodge instead.
--
Jay Honeck
Iowa City, IA
Pathfinder N56993
www.AlexisParkInn.com
"Your Aviation Destination"


Ads
  #2  
Old January 20th 04, 05:03 AM
BTIZ
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Jay.. you got web URLs for those places?

BTW.. it was 60F this weekend here... but no water parks..

BT

"Jay Honeck" wrote in message
news:[email protected]_s03...
We were looking for a place to take the kids overnight for the MLK Day
school break. Requirements were simple: An airport, and an indoor
waterpark.

Grand Geneva Resort -- the old Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin --
recently added a new indoor waterpark for kids. (Hugh Hefner must be
shaking his head in disbelief...) This, their on-property airport, and

the
fact that both cab companies in the Wisconsin Dells (AKA: Waterpark

Heaven)
had gone out of business, meant that we were headed off to Southeastern
Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon.

The low scud and mist of Friday had been replaced by a huge Canadian high
pressure system on Saturday night, meaning arctic cold air in spades.

Thus,
our nice (for Iowa in January) 40s had been replaced with howling
wind-chills well below zero, but crystal-clear blue skies and 100 mile
visibility. Bundling up was the order of the day, but Atlas (our '74
Cherokee 235 Pathfinder) was plugged in and fully fueled, ready to take us
wherever we pointed him!

Our flight plan showed Grand Geneva's 3500 foot runway was just 58 minutes
away, but we would be bucking a stiff quartering headwind all the way.
Thus, we figured 1.5 hours, but -- with 84 gallons on board -- we surely
wouldn't need to worry about fuel. After a few minutes of futzing with

our
new Garmin GTX-327 transponder (installed just the day before), showing

Mary
how it worked, we were airborne and headed for 36 hours of simulated warm
weather!

Earlier in the day I had flown in and out of snow squalls that were
literally precipitating out of clear air, but on this flight we saw

nothing
at 5500 feet but blue above, and a few scattered clouds below. It was a
picture-perfect day to fly, but we were bloody thankful for the Cherokee's
fabulous heater which -- even at zero degrees outside -- allowed us to fly
in shirtsleeved comfort. Best of all, despite surface winds of
15-gusts-to-25, the air was silky smooth.

However, as we approached our destination, it became clear that the

landing
would be no walk in the park. Surface winds at nearby Burlington, WI were
reported to be 330 at 15, gusts to 20 -- and the best runway at Grand

Geneva
was 05. Thus, an 80 degree crosswind, with those kind of winds, would

test
my somewhat rusty crosswind skills to the utmost -- but after years of
flying out of the 30' wide single strip in Sylvania, WI (C89), I figured

it
was doable. Besides, there was a waterpark awaiting!

Ten miles out I cancelled flight following with Rockford Approach -- boy,

it
was great having a reliable transponder again! (No more having to explain
to them why my third digit was reading something different than assigned.)
Essentially lined up for a long straight-in approach to Rwy 05, I used my
long descent to gauge the cross-wind. It soon became clear that it was
really howling at altitude, as I had to maintain an extreme crab to keep

the
runway aligned.

The terrain around Grand Geneva is hilly, with downhill ski slopes a main
attraction. Thus, the crosswind was the worst kind -- it came, it went,

and
it swirled. As we got lower, the winds began to diminish, and I was able

to
lessen the crab somewhat, but it was still going to be an, uh,

"interesting"
landing. Carrying a bit more power than usual, with just two notches
deployed, we glided inevitably toward the runway...

As we cleared the trees on the approach end, it became clear from the
brilliant sun reflection that the runway was an absolutely sheet of glass.
The rains we had experienced in Iowa on Friday had obviously been an
ice-storm up here in Wisconsin -- and the runway was covered for its

entire
length with 1/2-inch of glare ice! With the cross-wind swirling at 20

knots
from my left, I quickly consulted my co-pilot, who confirmed what I was
seeing -- an absolutely lethal combination of narrow runway, high

crosswind,
deep ditches, and glare ice!

The power quickly came back in, and we flew the length of the runway at
hedge-height, assessing our options. Usually we'd give just about

anything
one shot, but this time I knew that any side-stress while landing would
produce an unrecoverable skid. With trees, ditches, rocks, and ice all
around, I just didn't like those odds, and we decided to divert to nearby
Lake Lawn Lodge, (C02). Their runway is Rwy 36, meaning that at least one
of the strikes against us would be erased. Within minutes we were on
downwind, once again assessing a less-than-perfect situation...

There was no ice on this runway this time -- because it hadn't been plowed
at all! A call to Unicom brought a response from a nearby pilot, who
informed us that Lake Lawn was no longer staffed, nor maintained, meaning
that the runway was in "virgin" post-storm condition. Yikes!

However, having trained in nearby East Troy, I knew from experience that

an
unplowed runway could be BETTER than a plowed one, if the snow wasn't too
deep. It was obvious that the ice storm had turned to snow as it trailed
off, and left a minor amount of snow over the entire area. This would

give
me the added traction necessary for lateral control on the runway, if my
calculations were correct.

As we slid down a much more controlled final approach, wind point-blank on
the nose, it felt strange to be landing on a runway that looked no

different
from the surrounding terrain. With my throttle arm again half-cocked for

a
go-'round, we rounded out in the flare, and touched down ever-so-gently on
to a layer of crunchy, 1/2-inch deep snow. As expected, this surface gave
me plenty of steering, and even a fair amount of braking ability, and the
landing was uneventful.

Now, of course, what to do? We were at the wrong airport, with
non-refundable reservations, and the airport was not staffed. Worse, we
discovered after chocking the wheels, the old FBO building was LOCKED, and
the temperature was hovering just above zero! With two kids in back, we'd
have to resolve the situation soon, or the engine (and us!) would be
cold-soaked and we'd be stuck there.

Luckily, the outside phone to the lodge, nearly a mile away, was still
working. I called the front desk and tried to explain my situation above
the screaming winds. The girl at the desk was at first incredulous, but
eventually believed me when I explained our predicament. I asked her if

the
power outlets were still "live" at the airport, so that we could plug

Atlas
in -- and she, of course, had no idea. She agreed to dispatch a

maintenance
worker to come check us out, and Mary and the kids piled back into the
still-warm plane to wait.

Stomping my feet in the cold, I uncoiled our 100-foot extension cord, and
plugged Atlas into what I hoped was a working power outlet. Within

minutes
the maintenance guy rolled up in a pickup truck -- no hope of a ride
there! -- and hopped out wearing nothing but a thin jacket. He was soon
pink as a carnation, as I explained what I needed from underneath my

hooded
parka. Amazingly, he whipped an outlet-tester out of his pocket -- who
carries those everywhere? -- and determined that the outlets were, indeed,
still "live" -- meaning that we could stay a while without cold-starting

our
bird. He then called their courtesy van on their walkie-talkie, and we

had
a ride up to the lodge within minutes.

As much as we appreciated what they were doing for us, we couldn't stay at
Lake Lawn because (a) our reservations were non-refundable, and (b) they
didn't have a waterpark. So, I called Grand Geneva, and was brusquely

told
that there was NO way they would come get us, and was given the number of

a
cab company to call! When I called them, they informed me that the ride
over -- mere minutes away by air -- would cost us over thirty bucks! I
thanked them and hung up, by now getting severely aggravated with the

whole
turn of events.

The concierge at Lake Lawn had been hovering nearby, and was astounded

when
I told him that Grand Geneva wouldn't come and get us. Incredibly, he

then
volunteered HIS courtesy van to take us over! Within a few minutes we

were
on our way, and I tipped the guy a $20-spot, figuring his kind of customer
service desperately needed to be encouraged. I'm still astounded that he
went so far out of his way for four non-paying guests, but we will be back
to Lake Lawn Lodge soon, sans children...

The rest of our trip was as expected -- over-priced, but fun. The water
park is a gas, and it felt great to walk around in a swimsuit without
risking frostbite! They even have a hot tub with a little door that lets
you go outside -- the kids thought it was neat to keep freezing their hair
into icicles before coming back inside to thaw!

We departed mid-day Monday, after managing to shame the Grand Geneva
customer service desk supervisor into providing us with a lift back to our
plane. Amazingly, despite being plugged in overnight, with a cowl cover,
the sump and cylinder head heaters on Atlas had only managed to warm the

oil
to 37 degrees! Our departure on the crunchy runway was normal, and the
flight home was (of course!) into a minor headwind most of the way.

It was an awful lot of work and money for a mere 36-hours away, but

everyone
had a great time! If you have kids, I'd recommend the new water park at
Grand Geneva -- but if you're looking for a nice weekend away surrounded

by
great people who will cut their arm off to keep you happy, check out the
wonderful facility at Lake Lawn Lodge instead.
--
Jay Honeck
Iowa City, IA
Pathfinder N56993
www.AlexisParkInn.com
"Your Aviation Destination"




  #3  
Old January 20th 04, 05:20 AM
Jay Honeck
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Jay.. you got web URLs for those places?

Lake Lawn Resort: http://www.lakelawnresort.com/

Grand Geneva Resort: http://www.grandgeneva.com/
--
Jay Honeck
Iowa City, IA
Pathfinder N56993
www.AlexisParkInn.com
"Your Aviation Destination"


  #4  
Old January 20th 04, 07:45 AM
Chris Hoffmann
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default


"Jay Honeck" wrote in message
news:[email protected]_s03...

The concierge at Lake Lawn had been hovering nearby, and was astounded

when
I told him that Grand Geneva wouldn't come and get us. Incredibly, he

then
volunteered HIS courtesy van to take us over! Within a few minutes we

were
on our way, and I tipped the guy a $20-spot, figuring his kind of customer
service desperately needed to be encouraged. I'm still astounded that he
went so far out of his way for four non-paying guests, but we will be back
to Lake Lawn Lodge soon, sans children...


Great story Jay, but c'mon - Wisconsin hospitality surprises you? Now, if
you were from Illinois, maybe I could understand...


..


  #5  
Old January 20th 04, 08:34 AM
Gene Seibel
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Go south, go south.
--
Gene Seibel
Hangar 131 - http://pad39a.com/gene/plane.html
Because I fly, I envy no one.



"Jay Honeck" wrote in message news:[email protected]_s03...
We were looking for a place to take the kids overnight for the MLK Day
school break. Requirements were simple: An airport, and an indoor
waterpark.

Grand Geneva Resort -- the old Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin --
recently added a new indoor waterpark for kids. (Hugh Hefner must be
shaking his head in disbelief...) This, their on-property airport, and the
fact that both cab companies in the Wisconsin Dells (AKA: Waterpark Heaven)
had gone out of business, meant that we were headed off to Southeastern
Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon.

The low scud and mist of Friday had been replaced by a huge Canadian high
pressure system on Saturday night, meaning arctic cold air in spades. Thus,
our nice (for Iowa in January) 40s had been replaced with howling
wind-chills well below zero, but crystal-clear blue skies and 100 mile
visibility. Bundling up was the order of the day, but Atlas (our '74
Cherokee 235 Pathfinder) was plugged in and fully fueled, ready to take us
wherever we pointed him!

Our flight plan showed Grand Geneva's 3500 foot runway was just 58 minutes
away, but we would be bucking a stiff quartering headwind all the way.
Thus, we figured 1.5 hours, but -- with 84 gallons on board -- we surely
wouldn't need to worry about fuel. After a few minutes of futzing with our
new Garmin GTX-327 transponder (installed just the day before), showing Mary
how it worked, we were airborne and headed for 36 hours of simulated warm
weather!

Earlier in the day I had flown in and out of snow squalls that were
literally precipitating out of clear air, but on this flight we saw nothing
at 5500 feet but blue above, and a few scattered clouds below. It was a
picture-perfect day to fly, but we were bloody thankful for the Cherokee's
fabulous heater which -- even at zero degrees outside -- allowed us to fly
in shirtsleeved comfort. Best of all, despite surface winds of
15-gusts-to-25, the air was silky smooth.

However, as we approached our destination, it became clear that the landing
would be no walk in the park. Surface winds at nearby Burlington, WI were
reported to be 330 at 15, gusts to 20 -- and the best runway at Grand Geneva
was 05. Thus, an 80 degree crosswind, with those kind of winds, would test
my somewhat rusty crosswind skills to the utmost -- but after years of
flying out of the 30' wide single strip in Sylvania, WI (C89), I figured it
was doable. Besides, there was a waterpark awaiting!

Ten miles out I cancelled flight following with Rockford Approach -- boy, it
was great having a reliable transponder again! (No more having to explain
to them why my third digit was reading something different than assigned.)
Essentially lined up for a long straight-in approach to Rwy 05, I used my
long descent to gauge the cross-wind. It soon became clear that it was
really howling at altitude, as I had to maintain an extreme crab to keep the
runway aligned.

The terrain around Grand Geneva is hilly, with downhill ski slopes a main
attraction. Thus, the crosswind was the worst kind -- it came, it went, and
it swirled. As we got lower, the winds began to diminish, and I was able to
lessen the crab somewhat, but it was still going to be an, uh, "interesting"
landing. Carrying a bit more power than usual, with just two notches
deployed, we glided inevitably toward the runway...

As we cleared the trees on the approach end, it became clear from the
brilliant sun reflection that the runway was an absolutely sheet of glass.
The rains we had experienced in Iowa on Friday had obviously been an
ice-storm up here in Wisconsin -- and the runway was covered for its entire
length with 1/2-inch of glare ice! With the cross-wind swirling at 20 knots
from my left, I quickly consulted my co-pilot, who confirmed what I was
seeing -- an absolutely lethal combination of narrow runway, high crosswind,
deep ditches, and glare ice!

The power quickly came back in, and we flew the length of the runway at
hedge-height, assessing our options. Usually we'd give just about anything
one shot, but this time I knew that any side-stress while landing would
produce an unrecoverable skid. With trees, ditches, rocks, and ice all
around, I just didn't like those odds, and we decided to divert to nearby
Lake Lawn Lodge, (C02). Their runway is Rwy 36, meaning that at least one
of the strikes against us would be erased. Within minutes we were on
downwind, once again assessing a less-than-perfect situation...

There was no ice on this runway this time -- because it hadn't been plowed
at all! A call to Unicom brought a response from a nearby pilot, who
informed us that Lake Lawn was no longer staffed, nor maintained, meaning
that the runway was in "virgin" post-storm condition. Yikes!

However, having trained in nearby East Troy, I knew from experience that an
unplowed runway could be BETTER than a plowed one, if the snow wasn't too
deep. It was obvious that the ice storm had turned to snow as it trailed
off, and left a minor amount of snow over the entire area. This would give
me the added traction necessary for lateral control on the runway, if my
calculations were correct.

As we slid down a much more controlled final approach, wind point-blank on
the nose, it felt strange to be landing on a runway that looked no different
from the surrounding terrain. With my throttle arm again half-cocked for a
go-'round, we rounded out in the flare, and touched down ever-so-gently on
to a layer of crunchy, 1/2-inch deep snow. As expected, this surface gave
me plenty of steering, and even a fair amount of braking ability, and the
landing was uneventful.

Now, of course, what to do? We were at the wrong airport, with
non-refundable reservations, and the airport was not staffed. Worse, we
discovered after chocking the wheels, the old FBO building was LOCKED, and
the temperature was hovering just above zero! With two kids in back, we'd
have to resolve the situation soon, or the engine (and us!) would be
cold-soaked and we'd be stuck there.

Luckily, the outside phone to the lodge, nearly a mile away, was still
working. I called the front desk and tried to explain my situation above
the screaming winds. The girl at the desk was at first incredulous, but
eventually believed me when I explained our predicament. I asked her if the
power outlets were still "live" at the airport, so that we could plug Atlas
in -- and she, of course, had no idea. She agreed to dispatch a maintenance
worker to come check us out, and Mary and the kids piled back into the
still-warm plane to wait.

Stomping my feet in the cold, I uncoiled our 100-foot extension cord, and
plugged Atlas into what I hoped was a working power outlet. Within minutes
the maintenance guy rolled up in a pickup truck -- no hope of a ride
there! -- and hopped out wearing nothing but a thin jacket. He was soon
pink as a carnation, as I explained what I needed from underneath my hooded
parka. Amazingly, he whipped an outlet-tester out of his pocket -- who
carries those everywhere? -- and determined that the outlets were, indeed,
still "live" -- meaning that we could stay a while without cold-starting our
bird. He then called their courtesy van on their walkie-talkie, and we had
a ride up to the lodge within minutes.

As much as we appreciated what they were doing for us, we couldn't stay at
Lake Lawn because (a) our reservations were non-refundable, and (b) they
didn't have a waterpark. So, I called Grand Geneva, and was brusquely told
that there was NO way they would come get us, and was given the number of a
cab company to call! When I called them, they informed me that the ride
over -- mere minutes away by air -- would cost us over thirty bucks! I
thanked them and hung up, by now getting severely aggravated with the whole
turn of events.

The concierge at Lake Lawn had been hovering nearby, and was astounded when
I told him that Grand Geneva wouldn't come and get us. Incredibly, he then
volunteered HIS courtesy van to take us over! Within a few minutes we were
on our way, and I tipped the guy a $20-spot, figuring his kind of customer
service desperately needed to be encouraged. I'm still astounded that he
went so far out of his way for four non-paying guests, but we will be back
to Lake Lawn Lodge soon, sans children...

The rest of our trip was as expected -- over-priced, but fun. The water
park is a gas, and it felt great to walk around in a swimsuit without
risking frostbite! They even have a hot tub with a little door that lets
you go outside -- the kids thought it was neat to keep freezing their hair
into icicles before coming back inside to thaw!

We departed mid-day Monday, after managing to shame the Grand Geneva
customer service desk supervisor into providing us with a lift back to our
plane. Amazingly, despite being plugged in overnight, with a cowl cover,
the sump and cylinder head heaters on Atlas had only managed to warm the oil
to 37 degrees! Our departure on the crunchy runway was normal, and the
flight home was (of course!) into a minor headwind most of the way.

It was an awful lot of work and money for a mere 36-hours away, but everyone
had a great time! If you have kids, I'd recommend the new water park at
Grand Geneva -- but if you're looking for a nice weekend away surrounded by
great people who will cut their arm off to keep you happy, check out the
wonderful facility at Lake Lawn Lodge instead.

  #6  
Old January 20th 04, 02:47 PM
SFM
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Default

Jay,
Glad you had a good time in my neck of the woods. I fly into Lake Lawn all
the time for the NDB approach practice and for the good food at the lodge.
During the summer months me and the mrs. just walk to the lodge but it is
nice they have the phone to the front desk and will come get you.

Grand Geneva is a rip off IMHO. I had been there once for business meetings
and the staff was aloof, shall we say. Come back in the summer, stay at the
lodge and let you kids play in the lake, there are some nice beaches in Lake
Geneva.

--
------------------------------------------------------------------
Scott F. Migaldi, K9PO
MI-150972
PP-ASEL-IA

Are you a PADI Instructor or DM? Then join the PADI
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-----------------------------------
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www.hamwave.com


**"A long time ago being crazy meant something, nowadays everyone is
crazy" -- Charles Manson**
-------------------------------------
"Jay Honeck" wrote in message
news:[email protected]_s03...
We were looking for a place to take the kids overnight for the MLK Day
school break. Requirements were simple: An airport, and an indoor
waterpark.

Grand Geneva Resort -- the old Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin --
recently added a new indoor waterpark for kids. (Hugh Hefner must be
shaking his head in disbelief...) This, their on-property airport, and

the
fact that both cab companies in the Wisconsin Dells (AKA: Waterpark

Heaven)
had gone out of business, meant that we were headed off to Southeastern
Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon.

The low scud and mist of Friday had been replaced by a huge Canadian high
pressure system on Saturday night, meaning arctic cold air in spades.

Thus,
our nice (for Iowa in January) 40s had been replaced with howling
wind-chills well below zero, but crystal-clear blue skies and 100 mile
visibility. Bundling up was the order of the day, but Atlas (our '74
Cherokee 235 Pathfinder) was plugged in and fully fueled, ready to take us
wherever we pointed him!

Our flight plan showed Grand Geneva's 3500 foot runway was just 58 minutes
away, but we would be bucking a stiff quartering headwind all the way.
Thus, we figured 1.5 hours, but -- with 84 gallons on board -- we surely
wouldn't need to worry about fuel. After a few minutes of futzing with

our
new Garmin GTX-327 transponder (installed just the day before), showing

Mary
how it worked, we were airborne and headed for 36 hours of simulated warm
weather!

Earlier in the day I had flown in and out of snow squalls that were
literally precipitating out of clear air, but on this flight we saw

nothing
at 5500 feet but blue above, and a few scattered clouds below. It was a
picture-perfect day to fly, but we were bloody thankful for the Cherokee's
fabulous heater which -- even at zero degrees outside -- allowed us to fly
in shirtsleeved comfort. Best of all, despite surface winds of
15-gusts-to-25, the air was silky smooth.

However, as we approached our destination, it became clear that the

landing
would be no walk in the park. Surface winds at nearby Burlington, WI were
reported to be 330 at 15, gusts to 20 -- and the best runway at Grand

Geneva
was 05. Thus, an 80 degree crosswind, with those kind of winds, would

test
my somewhat rusty crosswind skills to the utmost -- but after years of
flying out of the 30' wide single strip in Sylvania, WI (C89), I figured

it
was doable. Besides, there was a waterpark awaiting!

Ten miles out I cancelled flight following with Rockford Approach -- boy,

it
was great having a reliable transponder again! (No more having to explain
to them why my third digit was reading something different than assigned.)
Essentially lined up for a long straight-in approach to Rwy 05, I used my
long descent to gauge the cross-wind. It soon became clear that it was
really howling at altitude, as I had to maintain an extreme crab to keep

the
runway aligned.

The terrain around Grand Geneva is hilly, with downhill ski slopes a main
attraction. Thus, the crosswind was the worst kind -- it came, it went,

and
it swirled. As we got lower, the winds began to diminish, and I was able

to
lessen the crab somewhat, but it was still going to be an, uh,

"interesting"
landing. Carrying a bit more power than usual, with just two notches
deployed, we glided inevitably toward the runway...

As we cleared the trees on the approach end, it became clear from the
brilliant sun reflection that the runway was an absolutely sheet of glass.
The rains we had experienced in Iowa on Friday had obviously been an
ice-storm up here in Wisconsin -- and the runway was covered for its

entire
length with 1/2-inch of glare ice! With the cross-wind swirling at 20

knots
from my left, I quickly consulted my co-pilot, who confirmed what I was
seeing -- an absolutely lethal combination of narrow runway, high

crosswind,
deep ditches, and glare ice!

The power quickly came back in, and we flew the length of the runway at
hedge-height, assessing our options. Usually we'd give just about

anything
one shot, but this time I knew that any side-stress while landing would
produce an unrecoverable skid. With trees, ditches, rocks, and ice all
around, I just didn't like those odds, and we decided to divert to nearby
Lake Lawn Lodge, (C02). Their runway is Rwy 36, meaning that at least one
of the strikes against us would be erased. Within minutes we were on
downwind, once again assessing a less-than-perfect situation...

There was no ice on this runway this time -- because it hadn't been plowed
at all! A call to Unicom brought a response from a nearby pilot, who
informed us that Lake Lawn was no longer staffed, nor maintained, meaning
that the runway was in "virgin" post-storm condition. Yikes!

However, having trained in nearby East Troy, I knew from experience that

an
unplowed runway could be BETTER than a plowed one, if the snow wasn't too
deep. It was obvious that the ice storm had turned to snow as it trailed
off, and left a minor amount of snow over the entire area. This would

give
me the added traction necessary for lateral control on the runway, if my
calculations were correct.

As we slid down a much more controlled final approach, wind point-blank on
the nose, it felt strange to be landing on a runway that looked no

different
from the surrounding terrain. With my throttle arm again half-cocked for

a
go-'round, we rounded out in the flare, and touched down ever-so-gently on
to a layer of crunchy, 1/2-inch deep snow. As expected, this surface gave
me plenty of steering, and even a fair amount of braking ability, and the
landing was uneventful.

Now, of course, what to do? We were at the wrong airport, with
non-refundable reservations, and the airport was not staffed. Worse, we
discovered after chocking the wheels, the old FBO building was LOCKED, and
the temperature was hovering just above zero! With two kids in back, we'd
have to resolve the situation soon, or the engine (and us!) would be
cold-soaked and we'd be stuck there.

Luckily, the outside phone to the lodge, nearly a mile away, was still
working. I called the front desk and tried to explain my situation above
the screaming winds. The girl at the desk was at first incredulous, but
eventually believed me when I explained our predicament. I asked her if

the
power outlets were still "live" at the airport, so that we could plug

Atlas
in -- and she, of course, had no idea. She agreed to dispatch a

maintenance
worker to come check us out, and Mary and the kids piled back into the
still-warm plane to wait.

Stomping my feet in the cold, I uncoiled our 100-foot extension cord, and
plugged Atlas into what I hoped was a working power outlet. Within

minutes
the maintenance guy rolled up in a pickup truck -- no hope of a ride
there! -- and hopped out wearing nothing but a thin jacket. He was soon
pink as a carnation, as I explained what I needed from underneath my

hooded
parka. Amazingly, he whipped an outlet-tester out of his pocket -- who
carries those everywhere? -- and determined that the outlets were, indeed,
still "live" -- meaning that we could stay a while without cold-starting

our
bird. He then called their courtesy van on their walkie-talkie, and we

had
a ride up to the lodge within minutes.

As much as we appreciated what they were doing for us, we couldn't stay at
Lake Lawn because (a) our reservations were non-refundable, and (b) they
didn't have a waterpark. So, I called Grand Geneva, and was brusquely

told
that there was NO way they would come get us, and was given the number of

a
cab company to call! When I called them, they informed me that the ride
over -- mere minutes away by air -- would cost us over thirty bucks! I
thanked them and hung up, by now getting severely aggravated with the

whole
turn of events.

The concierge at Lake Lawn had been hovering nearby, and was astounded

when
I told him that Grand Geneva wouldn't come and get us. Incredibly, he

then
volunteered HIS courtesy van to take us over! Within a few minutes we

were
on our way, and I tipped the guy a $20-spot, figuring his kind of customer
service desperately needed to be encouraged. I'm still astounded that he
went so far out of his way for four non-paying guests, but we will be back
to Lake Lawn Lodge soon, sans children...

The rest of our trip was as expected -- over-priced, but fun. The water
park is a gas, and it felt great to walk around in a swimsuit without
risking frostbite! They even have a hot tub with a little door that lets
you go outside -- the kids thought it was neat to keep freezing their hair
into icicles before coming back inside to thaw!

We departed mid-day Monday, after managing to shame the Grand Geneva
customer service desk supervisor into providing us with a lift back to our
plane. Amazingly, despite being plugged in overnight, with a cowl cover,
the sump and cylinder head heaters on Atlas had only managed to warm the

oil
to 37 degrees! Our departure on the crunchy runway was normal, and the
flight home was (of course!) into a minor headwind most of the way.

It was an awful lot of work and money for a mere 36-hours away, but

everyone
had a great time! If you have kids, I'd recommend the new water park at
Grand Geneva -- but if you're looking for a nice weekend away surrounded

by
great people who will cut their arm off to keep you happy, check out the
wonderful facility at Lake Lawn Lodge instead.
--
Jay Honeck
Iowa City, IA
Pathfinder N56993
www.AlexisParkInn.com
"Your Aviation Destination"




  #7  
Old January 20th 04, 02:55 PM
john smith
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Thanks Jay.
You just reminded me to add another item to my FSS weather
briefing/preflight checklist...
Inquire/Call for destination runway conditions!
  #8  
Old January 20th 04, 03:09 PM
Jay Honeck
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Inquire/Call for destination runway conditions!

Yeah, Grand Geneva had NOT NOTAM'd it as "ice covered/braking action nil" --
which kinda ****ed me off.

I've been flying in Midwestern winters my whole flying "life" (ten years),
and that's the worst runway I've ever seen. Of course, an ice-storm will do
that to you.

Still, if the winds weren't so bad it would have been doable...
--
Jay Honeck
Iowa City, IA
Pathfinder N56993
www.AlexisParkInn.com
"Your Aviation Destination"


  #9  
Old January 20th 04, 03:11 PM
Jay Honeck
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Grand Geneva is a rip off IMHO. I had been there once for business
meetings
and the staff was aloof, shall we say. Come back in the summer, stay at

the
lodge and let you kids play in the lake, there are some nice beaches in

Lake
Geneva.


When we lived in Racine, we flew into Lake Lawn all the time. Great food,
nice people. It's sad that they've abandoned the airport, but (according to
the guy that gave us the ride) they are now owned by people who don't
understand all the business it brings them.

He said that it was still well-used most weekends, so maybe they'll
eventually get the message?

And if it weren't for the water park, I'd never go to Grand Geneva again.
--
Jay Honeck
Iowa City, IA
Pathfinder N56993
www.AlexisParkInn.com
"Your Aviation Destination"


  #10  
Old January 20th 04, 03:15 PM
Larry Dighera
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default


A more prudent and experienced airman might have telephoned Grand
Geneva before departure and inquired about the runway conditions and
transportation facilities available. Perhaps next time ...

 




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