Someone new had turned up at the airfield and came over with our groundcrew man; Gray had promised him a ride. So we pulled the craft back on to the runway, waited for our plane to taxi on out and off it went again on the end of the tow rope. I spent about 20 minutes watching the glider twist and turn. When it landed I thought that was it, but when Gray pulled up for the second time he invited me up for another time. It was just as magical as the first and although we just circled over the city there was so much to absorb that it felt like no time at all before we descended.
I helped Gray tow the plane back to the hangar, he wiped a few things down, locked what needed to be locked and we closed the hangar door and headed back to his car. I was so full of thanks and buzzy enthusiasm; it was like he had turned me back into a teenager. But the afternoon was not over yet and I was keen to squeeze every morsel out of my day off so while the light held I wanted to explore more. Gray picked up his old black dog from his house and we drove about 20km north west to a state park. I say we drove north west, but of course given the grid pattern of tracks we had to do substantially more to reach there. The terrain was similar farmland as I had been seeing all week but rather than finding it monotonous I sought out the little details in the landscape; every little creek with a cute cluster of trees, all the individual building styles. Like neighbouring Minnesota, there had been a sizeable immigration of northern Europeans over the last 150 years and they brought their lifestyle with them and tailored the landscape to feel homelike. I’d see huge Dutch barns , some with ornate barrel shapes on their ends which could have sat handsomely in a street in central Amsterdam. They were painted those deep autumn colours that make them stand out in the snowy depths of winter – and in the fall light were glowing maroon.