Catching lift and cruising between the clouds, I progress southbound to Marshall, then east, arriving at Ann Arbor with plenty of altitude. It's already been a terrific flight, but with a little more effort I can make this my longest of the year. Should I put on another sixty miles? A short sprint to Adrian and back would do it.
5:30 p.m.: Adrian is below me. But I'm only 1,000 feet above the ground. I've broken the rule that says, "At the end of the day, get high and stay high."
The sun's angle to the ground is so low that there's very little heating. I've been working really hard for the last twenty minutes to find a decent climb, but each one proves to be marginal. I'm barely maintaining my height and may have to "land out" away from the airport.
I'm not having fun. I search for anything on the ground that could emit heat. Finally I spot a bonfire burning ahead. Perfect! It's sending up a column of smoke, which triggers a thermal.
I carefully maneuver over the bonfire, and my hard work pays off with a climb to 5,000 feet. Relaxing now, I can enjoy my "final glide," a straight, smooth flight home.