Monday, January 16, 2006

Westward, how

So, this has been a long time coming. One thing about DC's experience so far in aviation, is that the majority of it was spent in either training, or waiting for the retest. So far, he hasn't had much chance to just enjoy. Now, we are getting ready to do the enjoying, and do it in style.

We've been discussing a trip west for several months, and we kept that in mind while looking for a new plane to buy. We wanted to be able to do significant travel in this plane. Now, with the schools merging, and my finishing checking the instructors out in the Diamond aircraft, the opportunity has finally come. We have done plenty of day trips, and the occasional overnight. (Once, by accident- literally). Now the time has come to do something worthy of our intentions.

Both of us are capable of taking a huge chunk of time away, so we decided to spend 3-4 weeks just flying around. He wants to see the Rocky Mountains. We both want to see anything we haven't seen before. I desperately want to see Oregon, since that is the only state I've never visited. But most areas out there, I haven't seen since I was a child. So we are making a beeline west, planning to spend time flying around and having fun. If we get sick of each other quickly, then we come back earlier. If we are having fun, then we keep going, maybe extending it to two months.

Planned departure is tenatively set for sometime between Saturday this week, and Tuesday next week. First goal, is to get some distance from the places we already know so well. We figure with the climb prop on this plane, and trying to keep fuel burn under 6 gallons per hour, we will average about 100 knots. So day one's goal is either St. Louis or Memphis. If the weather cooperates. That's probably 7 hours of flying, figuring on a headwind. Add in some landings at various airports along the way, just for fun, and that will be maybe 9 hours.

Day 2, maybe bleeding into day 3, we head toward Denver. Thats where the fun begins. Plenty of airports around there that will be too short or too high an elevation for us to handle in this plane at max gross weight. Plus, plenty of rather forbidding terrain, especially in winter. So we have a bit of a plan, but no idea how feasible it will all be.

From past experience, I know there will be plenty of days that the weather will stop us cold. A single overnight can easily turn into 4-5 days. But we aren't in any hurry.

We won't be able to head directly west from Denver, since most of those airports are too high up for us. So the plan is to head south, toward Albuquerque, NM. I remember the Double Eagle airport (KAEG) just west of there, and the nice cafe they have, and I sure wouldn't mind visiting there again.

I'd like to turn back toward the north there, and track up along western Colorado, into Utah, and maybe back down near the Grand Canyon. I got cheated out of a good view of the canyon 3 years ago, and it would be nice to solve that. maybe we can manage an overflight, if I can figure out the rules on that.

Ideally, the next area I would like to see is Death Valley. There, we have the lowest terrain in the country, (282 feet below sea level), a scant 75 nautical miles from Mt. Whitney, the highest in the lower 48 states, at 14,491 feet. And I'm thinking that winter in Death Valley might prove more enjoyable than summer.

If all goes well, we will make our way to the coast, and fly the coastline up toward Seattle, but with plenty of side-trips inland, maybe to Lake Tahoe, or anywhere else that strikes our fancy. From there, who knows? So much to see, I hardly know where to begin. Yellowstone, the badlands, etc. One goal, though I don't know how feasible it is yet, would be to fly the Snake River Canyon. The river is, in places, more than 7,000 feet below the highest mountains on either side. Deeper than the Grand Canyon, and narrower, from what I hear.

So much to do, and plenty of time to do it. I plan to give updates on here some, and Rich may do a few, when I can't get to an internet connection. In the meantime, anyone with ideas on what to do, where to go, etc, please feel free to comment and give me ideas.


At 8:09 AM, Anonymous Richard Smith said...

EXCELLENT!! Nice to see you writing again, its been way too long! The world has been waiting to read your updates, so keep writing!!

At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would highly recommend Tahoe. I went there in the summer and it was really beautiful. I'm sure it's great in the winter too. Oh and welcome back! It's good to hear from you. -elizabeth

At 1:21 PM, Blogger adr said...

Welcome back to the blogosphere. Looking forward to the postings on the westward adventures.

At 2:03 PM, Blogger MexiAlice said...

i hate you. i want to go fly out west...but you already know that.

At 5:30 AM, Blogger kiwiruth said...

Hello, it's great to see you are back! Look forward to hearing about your trip!


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