Around Home

We've been home for almost a month today, and still seem to be resting around home a lot. Gradually though, we're putting the house back together and getting out more. For a variety of reasons, before our Big Adventure we'd made quite a mess of our place. When we returned and added a plane-load of stuff, it was almost overwhelming.

Happily, we've not only put it all back together but done some cleaning and organizing chores we'd been putting off for years - and we seem to still be going. We've hosted several visitors and more are headed our way. In between, we've been taking drives including one along El Camino Cielo from Montecito to Hwy. 154 - one of our favorite perspectives on home because you get spectacular views in every direction.

We even took a short local flight just before Thanksgiving, landing at Santa Ynez and Santa Paula. It felt like "home" in a strange way, to climb into Flash and take off with only a general idea of where we'd go. We saw familiar territory with fresh eyes, and discovered things like this barn that's obviously many years old.
How then had neither of us ever noticed it after descending low over it for hundreds of landings at the Santa Ynez airport perhaps a quarter-mile away?

Taking off again we noticed a bridge or dam across the river flying from this familiar airport past the familiar Lake Cachuma.

Continuing up the valley, at Gibraltar Lake we noticed for the first time that there are small trees growing from that dam's concrete shoulder.

By the time we approached SBA at sunset, it felt as though we'd been gone several weeks again. Familiar places within a mile or two of home looked different, like peaceful Laguna Blanca in Hope Ranch where the shadows of night settled beneath us.

As the start of 2010 approaches, we have refreshed yet again our sense that "there's no place like home."


The Other Third

Update 12/02/2009: This is the last post about our 5-week flight across the U.S., and to read it in sequence you can click here.
This is an approximation of the other third of our path on this Big Adventure, the part from Maine down to Florida and to Mississippi where the actual GPS track starts. You'll notice we backtracked a bit in the Northeast by going to CT for a few days (and two different airports in Waterbury), then back up to MA, down to RI, across to Martha's Vineyard (MA again), out to Nantucket and back, up to Hyannis and then down to Long Island. For simplicity our three jaunts along the Hudson (down and back one evening, then back down the next day on our way to DE) are shown with just one line.

If you're interested in the larger-size versions of these three maps, download them because I'll be deleting them from the Photo page in a few days (these smaller versions will still be here on the blog, but you can't really see much at this size). If you don't know how to download them, I put directions in the description for this most recent one on the Photo Page (click the thumbnail photo to see the medium size with the directions, then click the "All Sizes" icon at the top margin of the medium pic to see the full size one and download it per the directions that you read on the medium size one - Won't it be nice when computers can talk like on Star Trek?)


Hops To Maine

The white line is an approximation of our track from Santa Barbara to Bar Harbor, ME. The red dots are airports. From Prescott we went toward Chaco Cyn before turning direct to Santa Fe even though that leg shows as a straight line, and of course there were plenty of other places where we wandered to look at stuff that caught our fancy. I did include the major detours to look at Pittsburgh and the Fall colors in northern New Hampshire.

Partial Return Track

Above is a track from the GPS that shows part of our return path from MS to CA. Unfortunately, most of the trip was lost due to the GPS only holding the most recent portion and deleting the rest. Had I but remembered this "feature" it would have been easy to create a new track every day or two and have the whole trip. I'd planned to use the GPS track for figuring out where each photo was taken, but that's not going to happen. Instead we just have our fading memory of where each place was. I can figure out some stuff based on written records and the time stamps on our photos. sigh...

Airports Visited

Here are the places we landed after leaving Santa Barbara, in sequence. First is the airport code, for example SBA, then the airport name, Santa Barbara in this example. In cases where the city name isn't clear from the airport name, like Love in Prescott, I've added the city name in parentheses. As you might guess, we chose some airports just for their fun names such as Las Vegas in New Mexico.


CMA - Camarillo, MYF - Montgomery (San Diego), RNM - Ramona


PRC - Love (Prescott)

New Mexico:

SAF - Santa Fe, LVS - Las Vegas


DHT - Dalhart


O45 - Hooker


LBL - Liberal, 9K8 - Kingman


EVU - Northwest MO Rgnl (Maryville)


FNB - Brenner (Falls City)


IOW - Iowa City, DBQ - Dubuque Rgnl


CHU - Houston County (Caledonia)


JVL - Southern WI Rgnl (Janesville)


PWK - Chicago Executive


3HO - Hobart


BEH - SW Michigan Rgnl (Benton Harbor)


AKR - Akron Fulton


BFD - Bradford Rgnl


DDH - Morse State (Bennington)

New Hampshire:

EEN - Dillant-Hopkins (Keene)


BHB - Hancock County (Bar Harbor)

New Hampshire:

PSM - Portsmouth Intl


ORH - Worchester Rgnl


OXC - Waterbury-Oxford

MMK - Meriden Markham


6B6 - Minute Man (Stow)

Rhode Island:

PVD - Green State (Providence)


MVY - Martha's Vineyard

New York:

ISP - Long Island Macarthur

HPN - Westchester Co (White Plains)

New Jersey:

VAY - South Jersey Rgnl (Mount Holly/Lumberton)


ILG - New Castle (Wilmington/Newark)


2W6 - St. Mary's (Leonardtown)


RIC - Richmond Int'l

West Virginia:

BKW - Raleigh County (Beckley)


PBX - Pikeville


0A9 - Elizabethton

North Carolina:

AVL - Asheville

South Carolina:

GMU - Greenville, 99N - Bamberg County


09J - Jeckyll Island


7FL6 - Spruce Creek, MLB - Melbourne, TLH - Tallahassee, PNS - Pensacola


2R5 - St. Elmo


DRI - Beauregard Rgnl (De Ridder)

NEW - New Orleans


MCB - McComb


AUS - Austin, SAT - San Antonio, MRF - Marfa, ELP - El Paso


MZJ - Pinal (Marana), E60 - Eloy


BLH - Blythe, IZA - Santa Ynez, SBA - Santa Barbara


Numbers Game

We've started counting things, and as of tonight here are a few numbers:
  • Days away from Santa Barbara on this trip: 35.
  • States where we landed at least once on this trip: 37.
  • Airports landed on at least once: 60.
  • Most hours flown without landing: 3-1/2.
  • Most hours flown in one day (with breaks): 6.
  • Fastest speed (with tailwind): 180 mph.
  • Approximate hours flown at maximum speed: 18.
  • Approximate hours with headwind: 1-1/2.
  • Approximate hours with tailwind: 80.
  • Hotels used at least one night: 20.
  • Nights in tent: 0.
  • Nights in accommodations provided by friends & family: 14.
  • Approximate number of miles we flew on this trip: 9,100.
  • Approximate number of photos taken with two cameras: 9,500.
  • Miles covered by bicycle: 7.
  • Days bicycle used: 2.
  • Countries visible (not counting Oz): 3.
  • Number of U.S. states where we haven't flown a small plane: 7.
  • Number of countries where we've flown a small plane: 2.
  • Number of posts to this blog about this trip so far: 46.
Things I'd like to figure out (but probably won't):
  • Months, miles & expenses required to roughly duplicate this trip by car.
  • Number of people who have ever flown in a small plane.
  • Number who have landed in more than one state or province in a small plane.
  • Number of people who saw at least one page of this blog.
  • Hours invested in editing and posting words and pictures.
  • Number of photos anyone else will ever see.
  • Number of photos we will ever look at again.
  • Number of times one or both of us exclaimed in wonder and/or delight.


Last Leg

We woke at 6am in Blythe, wondering why we felt so rested so much earlier than any other morning on our trip. It was pretty surprising then that we didn't actually take off until 1:30pm! We could probably recreate all we did during those seven hours plus, but it would take a lot of effort. Just a bunch of little stuff and an easy feeling based on no set schedule, no impending weather, and plenty of time for the short hop home.

Here's how it looked as we turned briefly back toward the East to fly over the town for a different look at where we'd just been.
Flash was parked minutes before this, in front of that large white arched hangar with a door open and another plane parked out front. You can see the end of a runway, but not the perpendicular one we just took off from. Down the frontage road angling to the left up the pic you can just make out the town beneath the distant hills. The river doesn't show, but it's fairly far beyond the city and surprisingly the verdant banks near the freeway are given over mostly to RV camping.

Here's a shot looking North at the town center where we shared an especially good chicken tostada last night at Rosita's for less than $4.

Heading toward home, we saw lots of interesting desert features pass below. Some of the pix came out ok in the relatively clear air, but not long after Palm Springs things changed. I've sent a few other pix to EdHat.com (see Local News or the "More Words" link here), and posted a few larger ones on my Photo page (see the "More Photos" link here).

Over LA the smog was so thick we thought for quite a while there was a wildfire burning. It had a defined edge that you can see at the left of this pic. My guess is the wind was moving it to the left and then winds just a bit higher just below the 6,500 feet we were at blew it back toward the right creating the edge effect you can see.

By the time we neared Ontario's busy airport, jets descending below us virtually disappeared as their passengers were getting those tray tables latched and preparing to breathe visible air.

We flew over Lake Cachuma and feasted our weary eyes on our favorite places across the mountains to the sea. After stopping in Santa Ynez to fuel up Flash for her next adventure with another Club pilot tomorrow, we delighted at the sights of scenic Santa Barbara all over again.

The welcoming sunset was delicate, with wisps of cloud on the peaks, air brush colors above, and the SBA control tower blinking just above trusty Flash's protective wings. She seemed at once happy to have flown us so far and safely, to catch a night's rest on her home spot, and to anticipate feeling the touch of a different Club pilot for the next few days until her routine annual inspection Monday. That's when she'll get some extra pampering, and we might go out to pat her nose appreciatively one more time. We added 75 hours to her tachometer reading on this trip, flying many more hours than that by going slowly rather than full power.

Tomorrow we'll start making a list of every airport we stopped at, and trying to write up some of the experiences we didn't blog for our own savoring. If anyone's still reading this, you'll probably be treated to a few more words and pix from the trip. We'll also probably respond to some of your previous Comments, and Anne says she might add Comments of her own as a way to share some of her memories without learning to do a full blog. For now, sweet dreams...

No Place Like


We stopped in Santa Ynez for fuel, so this was taken as we approached SBA from the West. You can see the edge of the nasty LA smog we flew over coming in from Blythe. I'll blog the day in an hour or two, but wanted to tell anyone who's wondering that we're home safe, happy, tired, and overflowing with happiness and sweet memories!


California Dreaming

Flash kept some fast company today, starting with this Navy jet that rolled past as we prepared for takeoff from El Paso.

We enjoyed being routed over the city before turning West, because it gave us a glimpse of the downtown we'd wandered yesterday on foot. It also provided a safe and fast view of the border crossings where cars, trucks, trains, buses, cycles and pedestrians funnel down for what can be a multi-hour test of patience.

We had intended to fly low to enjoy the desert scenery, but after a few thousand miles droning over scattered shrubs (about ten minutes of clock time) we climbed higher. Flying a mile up helped us enjoy the scenery more and also speeded our crossing of the desert. As on nearly every flight of this Big Adventure, yet again we had tailwinds! Crossing from NM into AZ we saw one of the few clearly delineated state lines of this trip, looking toward Mexico. The AZ side has big round irrigated fields while NM looks more natural.

In the mountains about 20 miles toward Tucson from the state line is a vast area of stone pillars we hadn't seen marked on the charts or noticed on the maps Anne brought. We took many pix, and this snap of two stone armies facing off across a ravine is a small slice.
Now that we're home, we've learned that it's the Chiricahua National Monument.

Rather than spend the night in Tucson we decided to land for fuel just past there and press on to make for a shorter flight home tomorrow. The airport we chose happens to be the final resting place for acres of jets. While some were being torn apart, others were prepared for storage until the economy recovers and some were getting routine maintenance. Very surreal place, especially for a pilot. Flash seemed a bit sad to taxi freely among her faster parked cousins, and eagerly leapt back into the air when we discovered the airport no longer sells fuel.

It felt good to land in California, and we're enjoying the least expensive hotel of the many on our trip. We had permission to set up the tent right next to the plane at the Blythe airport, but decided that wouldn't provide much sleep since there's a construction crew doing night work on runways and the airport comes to life in earnest at sunup. So tonight we dream of home, unlimited sleep, our many adventures of the past month, and having easy access to more stuff than fits in two backpacks or a small plane. Will we ride around town on our new old tweaky tandem bike?

Blythely Returning

We're in Blythe enjoying great (and so inexpensive!) Mexican food at Rosita's. Next check in to a hotel (almost dug out the tent, but decided to maintain our unbroken record of not camping). Once settled I'll explore today's pix and follow up. Hope to reach SBA by late afternoon, and I can already see our emerald city appearing beyond the Santa Ynez range. Just wanted to post a quick note sharing our excitement about being back in CA!



Dear Diary - I've been remiss in blogging recently, so here's some backlog of words and pix. A few years, er... days ago we took off from New Orleans and got a better look at the Katrina aftermath. Right at the airport was sad evidence of this plane that apparently didn't fly out in time. I wonder where it had been before this tragic end.

Nearly all of the city visible from the above has been either rebuilt or cleared away. Here and there are driveways that end in flat empty lots growing grass instead of families. I don't know what the city looked like before, but to my eye the bare swath at the left was probably a thriving neighborhood.

We left late after sleeping in from Halloween, but the nearly full moon was high and bright in the clear air so we pressed on past Houston's distant sprawling glow.

After a great night's sleep at Staybridge pampered by the exceptional staff, morning saw us exploring Austin on our bike starting at the Capitol where a kind woman paused to snap us riding by (here you go, Nancy).
I hope this conveys some of what catches people's attention, when they see us on one bike with two comfy seats and both pedaling. The only missing item from a standard tandem is that the trusting person in back holds onto my "handlebars."

We loved the Bike & Hike trail along and across the Colorado. Didn't know that river runs through Austin?

That evening (11/2) we arrived in San Antonio for another sweet time with family (we're sure scattered across the country!). We strolled the River Walk, had dinner, and saw the Alamo where there were guards on duty and a steady stream of people pausing to read and contemplate the plaques.

Taking off this morning we got a distant glimpse of downtown, with the Space Needle on the left.
Didn't know that's in Texas? It turns out there are lots of familiar places in TX, including the Colorado River and the Space Needle. People here like theirs better than the "copies" you may have heard tell of in Colorado and Seattle.

Heading toward Dryden we noticed vast areas with "topographical" lines. I'm no geologist, but to me it looks like evidence this was once an enormous lake several hundred feet above where the Rio Grande now runs.

Having left San Antonio relatively early, and a bit surprised that we weren't tired after our relatively short night's sleep, we decided to divert south near the Mexican border toward Big Bend. I have zillions of pix with assorted geological features, so if you love such stuff let me know and we can enjoy a two month slide show together. For now, here are a few I like in this size and maybe I'll post a few more on the Photo link. We turned back northwest again before reaching the park, so most of these pix are telephoto shots into the hazy distance.

Jagged edges, layered rows of ridges into the distance, and tall cliffs seem to fascinate me most. Any psychologists care to analyze that?

We arrived in El Paso in the afternoon, but by the time we chose a hotel and got the shuttle into town past a horrible looking accident on the freeway it was nearing sunset.

We walked around the downtown area looking for an authentic Mexican restaurant named Leo's that was recommended by everyone we asked on the street. Like many people we saw along the way, the four in this photo shoot seemed sad somehow.

In the end we'd walked right past Leo's because it was closed, so after exploring several blocks of loan and pawn shops next to bridal, beauty, curio, ammo and dollar shops we surrendered to an affordable though average meal in the hotel. We had talked about walking across into Juarez, but the first man who'd recommended Leo's reacted with shock when we mentioned it. "You look like tourists, and that's not good," he said. He went on to inform us of several thousand murders there so far this year, and we decided to stay with our fond memories of walking the bridge for a fun afternoon twenty-some years ago.

Where will we fly tomorrow? Where will we land? Will we take an hour or two somewhere to ride our bike, take a cab, or otherwise explore someplace at ground level? Any suggestions?



Here's another pic of the morning market we enjoyed in Tallahassee.

Our flight to New Orleans was mostly hazy, but this rippled shoreline near Biloxi fascinated me.

Landing at the smaller Lakeport airport, we saw some evidence of Katrina but from the air mostly things seemed either rebuilt or removed. Our cab driver into Big Easy shared heartbreaking stories of his personal trials from the storm and aftermath. Still, he spoke of resuming his tuba playing to join a band. He gave us tips on where to go for the best parties and music. Before long we roamed the French Quarter and beyond, joining the sort of glorious celebration that New Orleans does best. Sometimes all eyes were on the street, and sometimes everyone would celebrate a balcony display.

Some of the costumes were dark, and some of the revelers were silent and serious.

We saw jesters watching and walking amid the smiles and cheers, with almost sad expressions. I wondered if there were more such participants in festivities since the storm, with so much suffering still fresh.

The juxtaposition of life and death walks these streets, as it has since early days.


Happy Halloween!

We had more fun in Tallahassee today, because right across the street in the park was a super farmer's market with all the usual stuff plus arts 'n crafts and this kid getting face paint. As you can see, I've spiked the color to symbolize the merriment here in New Orleans where we landed at dusk. We had a very remarkable stop in Pensacola where we drove into town and saw Anne's great-grandparents' home and talked with a neighbor who knew them. Also very remarkable for us (still hard to believe) is that we happened to reach New Orleans on Halloween! So once I send this brief check-in we're off to stroll Bourbon St!

Meanwhile, here's the view from our inexpensive hotel.


Turning Toward Home

Today we waited for weather to clear at Melbourne and then made a dash to the northwest trying to reach the front edge of a slow moving storm front so it would pass us overnight. To get around a rainy patch we went due west for a while and ended up passing not far south of Disney World.

Even with the distance and haze, we recognized two of the four massive areas in the complex.

Turning northwest toward the panhandle, we saw smoke stacks in the hazy afternoon sun in a somewhat developed part of the otherwise mostly wilderness Gulf coast.

Sundown approached as we drew near Tallahassee, so we decided to stop here rather than press on to the corner of AL. As with so many impromptu choices on this trip, it was enchanted. Little did we suspect that tonight is a Big Deal related to team homecoming. Several blocks of the downtown (serendipitously right outside the hotel where we got a good rate) are given over to a festival. At one end a bandstand with cheerleaders and other performing to loud music. An inflated trampoline with Spiderman "dancing" from the kids bouncing inside seemed to keep the beat.

At the other end a bandstand with live rock performers.

In between kids of all ages, food, crafts, face painting and general merriment.

What a great start to our return journey! Tomorrow we might reach New Orleans in time for Halloween. Will we be swept up in some celebrations there? If you know anything about this, please post a Comment!


Beach Day

Went to the beach, and Anne waded in the warm Atlantic. Flash is all serviced and eager to get flying again. We went on a quest for Key Lime pie, but not finding any of the "genuine" meringue type maybe we'll make a hop down to Key West tomorrow and get some.

Today we saw many aspects of this area, ranging from old Floridian seaside homes to the ultimate in New Florida this evening: Disney World.

This was a very full and entertaining day, and our precious hosts tirelessly showed us a small slice of what they love about living here. Delightful!


Different Places

Greenville was cool and foggy this morning, then suddenly brilliant clear. We hopped in Flash and headed South, curious whether things might be different. They are! Crossing into Georgia, we opened the air vents for the first time since leaving San Diego. It's hot! Not just the fact it's in the 80s, but especially the humidity. Attracted by the Halloween-ish name, we decided to make our first stop in Jekyll Island, GA. I was startled to see masts moving behind the trees lining the runway, and realized it wasn't a pirate schooner but a shrimp boat.

On the other side was a sweet little airport office with a long row of golf carts parked outside next to the aircraft parking. Inside was air conditioned, and our trip almost ended there.
As you've guessed though, we soon got our courage back and braved the humid heat. I can assure you, our first order of business was to get the "fan" running!

Our next stop was in Spruce Creek, FL for my FAA medical certificate. Now we've seen a few airports, and they're all different. The one in Jekyll with its shrimp boats and golf carts was more different than most. But the one in Spruce Creek easily out-differents them all. It's not just a runway, nor does it have the typical few aircraft hangars and a fuel pump. No, this is an entire small town for pilots and their planes. We taxied along one of the main "streets" with car lanes on both sides of us and all the typical resources of a small town just beyond the car lanes. Say you need cash - just taxi up to the bank. In my case, we taxied up to the doctor's office. I guess the closest thing I can think of is the typical movie western town, where hombres ride up to a business and tie their horse outside. If this place were in Santa Barbara, we'd wish we could afford one of the many houses that also connect via taxiway to the runway. The humid heat helped us taxi past the real estate signs.

It was fun knowing that every person we saw on the "street" loves to fly, and is completely comfortable with the idea of an airplane moving down the middle of their main drag as another plane turns into a "driveway." As we took off, I looked back smiling at how these people have built their lives, businesses, homes and swimming pools around their flying. Oh, and after the doctor had taken care of me, he hopped into his Piper Cub to join his buddies flying in formation.

As we passed Cape Kennedy, having missed the news I wondered if the new NASA rocket might still be there. I guess it had recently left one of the launch pads we saw. There's an airport nearby that people fly to for watching launches, and it got me thinking again about whether there's something similar near Edwards where people fly to watch the rare west coast shuttle landings.

Nearing our final destination of Melbourne, FL we were struck by another difference about this part of the country: lots of water housing. That is, small lakes and canals are built into subdivisions so that many homes have some sort of waterfront.

So tomorrow I'll look into getting Flash her routine oil transfusion, and we'll go exploring the area with our sweet hosts who absolutely love the different life they have here. Their car and home have excellent air conditioning.