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Sherry's Little Cactus Cafe, Bouse, Arizona

An Indian Hills Airpark Great Breakfast Flight Outing

By Ron Kilber

Sunday, September 10, 2000

Another very interesting day is anticipated here at the Indian Hills Airpark (2AZ1) in Arizona. First, I fly with two other airplane owners and airpark residents to Bouse, Arizona for breakfast (half way to the Colorado River from 2AZ1). Our 7:30 a.m. departure is uneventful. Bill Goodman, at the controls of his Honda-powered experimental Gull (Earthstar Aircraft, Inc.) is first off Runway 22. At the controls of my Cessna 150, I'm next. Last is Neal Fivecoat in his Cessna 150.

The short en route flight westerly (about 15 minutes) over a small mountain range and the Sonoran Desert is pleasant and smooth. Visibility is dramatically reduced from Arizona's typical flying weather. In other words, it isn't unlimited as is the case 300-plus days of the year, but about 20 miles today, instead. The wind is brisk (10 to 15 mph out of the east), owing to a low-pressure area dominating the region. Cumulus clouds abound, and choosing one or two to fly under provides extra lift to gain plenty of nice altitude quickly. Just the same, great VFR flying weather.

Landing at Bouse's dirt strip (actually gravel) is into the wind easterly over the power lines. After using available chains to tie-down, which is highly recommended as defense against Arizona's notorious dust devils (miniature tornadoes capable of demurring small airplanes for breakfast), it's a short walk past the U.S. Post Office to Sherry's Little Cactus Cafe on Highway 60 in beautiful downtown Bouse, AZ.

These parts of Arizona are sparsely populated this time of the year. In fact, Sherry's Little Cactus Cafe has been closed since late spring, opening only last week to snag early-bird snowbirds early. Besides us, only three other tables are occupied. This establishment with its enclosed patio might serve one-hundred patrons, provided it is winter season when snowbirds are as plentiful as snowflakes in Minnesota.

The menu is plain-Jane, reasonably priced, and the food is served hot and tasty in this well manicured, clean-looking eatery. My only complaint is that they practice here what so many other sit-down purveyors practice today in growing trend -- placing coffee cups and water glasses upside down on the table. Sure, if the table is clean, it's not a problem transferring germs and whatever to surfaces that come into contact with mouths. With near epidemic outburts of illness with origin in

Who today hasn't heard about at least one of these: hepatitis A, cholera, E. coli, botulism, salmonella, cryptosporidium (as in bad Milwaukee water), Ebola virus and -- probably the worst -- Mycobacterium ulcerans, the flesh-eating bacteria resistant to everything but the scalpel. I'm paranoid? With Imodium AD (anti diarrheal) dominating network TV advertising these days, I don't think so. It takes about a million episodes of food poisoning daily just to pay for one single spot while Tom Brokaw talks.

Anyway, I'm too thirsty in this Arizona heat to think about germs, and right-side my glass so I can have some water twice.

Bouse is not a bad little town. It's situated on U.S. 60, connecting L.A. on the Pacific Coast with Norfolk, VA on the Atlantic Coast, via Phoenix and Amarillo, TX where it trips over Route 66 (L.A., to Chicago). In fact, had Hollywood chosen this route instead of "Route 66" for their early TV series, Tod Stiles (Martin Milner) and Buz Murdock (George Maharis), a couple of wanderlust adventurers with a Corvette, would've immortalized "Route 60", instead.

General Patton put this place on the map during WWII when he trained tank soldiers in the desert in nearby Camp Bouse. The armored tank along side Route 60 in Bouse is a tribute to those who valiantly fought and won the world's freedom during WWII.

After we walk back to the airstrip, departure seems every bit as uneventful as our arrival. Bill's got the slowest airplane, so he departs first. Neal's next in his 150. I'm last in the pack, and wouldn't you know, my airplane won't start? The battery is too weak to turn the engine. So, I hand-prop, but every time the engine pops, I can't get to the cockpit in time to give more throttle to keep it going. I feel like that guy with the jeep in "The Gods Must Be Crazy". Naturally, no one else is around, and the other guys are already en route home, oblivious to my problem. What I need is another pilot to operate the controls while I hand-prop the engine.

After about an hour, Bouse resident Del Brandon arrives with his electric gulf cart, complete with jumper cables. He's a pilot, figuring ahead of time that I need help. Such a guy! Within minutes, my engine is purring, eager to fly me home.

Once in the air, I have NO indication that the alternator is working, so I turn the master switch off to prevent the battery from going stone dead. Of course, airplane engines run just fine without electrical power (excepting engine spark to the plugs, which is provided by not one but two independent engine-driven magnetos), so it's no problem flying home with a discharged battery. The gyros, radio, fuel gauges and other electric stuff don't work, but the airplane flies the same without.

Only problem is on landing at Indian Hills. Without battery power, my electric flaps can't work. But that isn't all bad, either. I just land a bit faster than normal. It's just a little harder on the tires and brakes. Airplanes! Wonderfully engineered machines!

Once on the ground back at Indian Hills Airpark, I meet up with Bill and Neal, who say they were just about to mount a SAR (search and rescue) mission to find out what had happened to me. They also say that next time at least one pilot will circle the field to make sure the last person makes it off the airport okay.

As it is, all turned out fine. But on a remote desert strip, things could've been different -- without a gulf cart with lots of batteries handy.


Copyright (C) 2000 Ron Kilber Non-commercial reproduction permitted in its entirety with this copyright notice intact.

12:31PM 9/18/00

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