I try not to make a point of bragging, but in this case it's unavoidable. This summer had to be one of the best (if not THE best) of my life.

I guess it all began where most summers begin- at the end of spring. The snow was melting quickly in CO, and I had just gotten back from China, Hong Kong, and Korea where I had met with First Drop factories and explored a few more pieces of Asia.

As soon as I got back, I passed my FAA checkride and was awarded with a lifetime US private pilot's license. YEAH! The first thing I did was take a few good friends (Graham Owen and Tyler Koyoma) flying around the foothills of the Rockies near Boulder/ Ft Collins.

One of the best parts of flying is teaching friends to fly. Koyoma pilot's his first plane.

After a few touch n' gos in Longmont, they swapped and it was Graham's turn to grab the yolk.

Looking out over Ft Collins and the foothills...

Graham picked up on it very quickly and had no trouble taking off, flying the pattern, etc.

After a few days, I packed up all my stuff into the Suby and headed East towards the midwest. I decided to call my hometown of Madison, WI home base for most of the summer. Lots of good people, good beer, good weather, and good times. Also good golf.

One very lucky baby rabbit survives an attack from our lawn mower after it's family burrowed in the back yard.

Although early summer is the slow season for First Drop, I was kept plenty busy with redoing the website and business/shopping cart back end, perfecting and photographing samples, and coordinating/ interviewing new factories across the world.

The midwest is known for it's beautiful and plentiful lakes for a reason, and we definitely found ourselves on many a day with a few good friends on a ski boat, canoe, or even jet skis. Eric shows me how it's done on his stand up.

The midwest also happens to be one of the best parts of the world for GA (general aviation) flying. The elevation is low (performance is high), there are thousands of airports/ airstrips, no real obstacles to worry about (like mountains), and lots of great destinations to fly to. After a quick check-out at Wisconsin Aviation at the Madison airport, they granted me permission to take out whatever planes I wanted, 24 hours a day.

On this particular 19th day of June (my birthday), I grabbed a few friends and flew to Milwaukee for a fancy dinner downtown, next to Lake Michigan. Our trusty Archer awaits on the tarmac.

A nice departure off runway 18 puts you right out over downtown Madison, the Isthmus.

After a few touch n' gos at the Watertown airport, we headed East to Milwaukee. Lake Michigan appears on the horizon as we near General Mitchell, Milwaukee's international airport. This was my first time flying into such a large and complex airport, but I managed to put us down on the correct runway just after the sun set.

After a delicious several course meal, we hopped back in our complimentary brand new 2010 Ford Fusion club car and took off into the night.

We asked for a North departure and flew out over the bay, with downtown Milwaukee's skyline to our left. After a turn to the West and 20 minutes later, we were back over Madison. With the Madison control tower closed, we were free to do full throttle, steep turns directly over the capitol.

After a landing in Madison, we hopped in the car and headed down to the very bars we were just circling over for a few birthday drinks.

Some may live their entire lives in/near Madison without knowledge of infinite hidden gems nearby, like this swimming hole/ cliff diving spot. Adric, Allison, and I decided to pay a visit and cool off on this particularly sunny, hot day.

Getting down into it might be sketchier than the actual cliff dive.

Allison,Adric, and I take the plunge.

As the temperatures began to soar, we began to spend a LOT more time in various watery places around the midwest. On this weekend, it was my good friends Alex Bohn's birthday. With a secluded family lake house on a beautiful private lake at our disposal, we gathered the crew, packed the cars, and put on our drinking hats for the weekend.

Our friend Todd is a 5 star chef in New York, and was kind enough to fly back to Wisco to be our personal cook for the weekend. He didn't spend all of his time in the kitchen of course…

I on the other hand spent zero time in the kitchen. I had much more important things to do, like float around the lake, dive from docks and trees, and ruin my liver all weekend.

Rick with the look back, real classy.

Adric can't help but stunt- day or night.

With the summer just beginning, there was plenty more fun to be had. Part 2 coming soon...


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