An Interesting Day......
|Mount Rainier and a beautiful DC-3 at Thun Field.|
Saturday afternoon, the day before, the Washington State ferry folks broke one of the 130 (approx) car ferries. Normally there are two ferries running every half hour each way. Instead of running the remaining ferry a bit faster and heading across as soon as the boat was loaded, they decided to stick to the one round trip per hour schedule, just as if the second boat was still running. Needless to say, cars were backed up for miles and it took many hours to finally get to the dock for the fifteen minute crossing. With that in mind, we decided to arrive at the ferry dock at least an hour in advance of the 7:30am trip, since the Sunday morning boats aren't usually too full, but with only one boat running they may be more full than usual. That plan worked fine, and we made the 7:30 run without problems, other than having to sit in the car on the ferry dock for longer than usual.
The drive to Puyallup was mostly uneventful, although I missed one of the exits due to a combination of fog, construction, and poor signage. At the next exit I was able to loop back around and get back to the correct exit and on our way. By the time we got to Puyallup the fog was starting to burn off, and it looked like we were in for a pretty nice Fall day, not a "Gully-Washer" lake last Saturday at Kitsap.
The Paul Bunyan steel matches are usually only five stages long, and the stage layout is always something different. Double-taps, triple-taps, five on the same plate, plates close together, plates spread out all over the place, you never know what to expect. This time there were a lot of medium difficulty size plates usually quite close together, and sometimes one "Orphan" plate off on one side or the other. All of the stages were very very fast. Since it is only five stages, they let you enter the same class twice with the same gun, or enter multiple classes with different guns so you can get in a lot of shooting. I entered Open class twice and KeeWee entered it once. Interestingly, all rimfire pistols and all centerfire open guns (optic sights, compensators, etc) are all in the same class. Some of the regulars weren't there as they were of hunting deer as it was opening weekend. Even so ,we had approximately fifty guns entered, which isn't a bad turnout for this late in the year and the weather always being an unknown.
Scott and I had a lot of fun seeing who could get the fastest single run on each stage between us. Scott is an absolutely amazing shooter, and even though he was shooting a Glock 35 in .40 caliber, a much slower setup, our times were often within hundredths of a second apart. On a steel match this is a very bad strategy if you are trying to win, as when you throw caution to the wind trying for fast runs you also get a lot of slow runs mixed in as you tend to miss a lot and have to take extra shots. The strategy for winning is to try to get four good runs per stage first, then go for it on the fifth run knowing that if you mess it up it gets thrown out anyway. We were shooting most every run like it was our fifth run! Since fast misses are always more fun than slow hits, we had a lot of fun, but had a lot of misses, too!
It seemed like the match was over quickly, and our squad picked up all of the target stands and plates and carried them to the storage shed so the guys who set everything up wouldn't have to.
A lot of the scores had not yet been totaled, but I had a look at KeeWee and my scores, and KeeWee had done very well. When I said that they were fast stages, I wasn't exaggerating. My total time on one of my entries was 45.01 seconds. That figures out to 9 seconds per stage, or 2.5 seconds per shot string. I wish I could get those sort of times on the full scale Steel Challenge stages! Since all of the scores hadn't been totaled, I have no idea where I finished, but we sure did have a lot of fun flingin' lead downrange!
After the match we stopped at the restaurant at Puyallup/Thun Field for lunch and airplane watching. If you enjoy watching airplanes, the restaurant at Thun field is outstanding. Just outside the picture windows is the gas pump, a tie=down area, and just beyond that is the taxiway and runway. In addition to the usual Pipers and Cessnas, there was an amazing variety of aircraft of all types coming, gassing up, and departing. There were several RV's, a Navion, a Stearman, a J3 Cub, a Super Cub, A Pitts s1-S, a ten or twelve passenger twin turbo-prop, and more. Parked in from was a beautiful DC-3. Last month we watched a Helio-Courier land, re-fuel, and levitate back out. Truly a great spot to eat and watch airplanes!
After lunch we drove back to Mukilteo to catch the ferry back to Whidbey Island and home. We had no idea how long it would take to get back to Whidbey, but it was approximately two hours to drive North, get on to Whidbey across the Deception Pass bridge, and then drive the length of Whidbey to get back home. There is a cell phone info access number for the ferry system, and that said it would be a two hour wait to get to a ferry. I'd just as soon wait the two hours as spend it driving, so we decided to get in line. The ticket seller figured it would be about two hours too. The ferry system had added a second boat to help, but it only carried thirty cars, so it would help a little bit, but not a lot.
After we had been in line for about an hour they announced that the second big ferry had also broken down, and we were now down to one ferry with a 30 car per hour capacity. I did a quick estimate, and I figured there were at least 300 cars in line and perhaps 150 of them were ahead of us. The two hour drive was looking better all the time! Unfortunately we were solidly boxed in, so getting out at all was a problem. Some of the cars started shifting around, and a few cars got out to drive around. I figured once we got clear, we'd probably do the same. After a bit, though, they announced that the big ferry was back in service, as they were able to fix whatever had gone wrong. About 15 minutes later the big ferry docked, and they started loading. To our relief, we were able to get on board, and fifteen minutes later we were back on Whidbey. Fifteen minutes after that we were home.
If the Swiss can build a 35 mile long tunnel under the Alps, why can't we build a three mile long tunnel (or bridge) from Whidbey to the mainland?