John & Anne Wiley

2014/04/28

Air Power

That little cloud above Cheyenne Mountain near Pike’s Peak gives pilots a glimpse of the power air can contain. An updraft created that lovely cloud over the mountain, and this was on the relatively calm day we first flew across the Rockies. Somewhere beneath that mountain is NORAD, wielding another sort of power (nukes).

0581 Air Power

0581 Air Power

Today the winds are at least twice as powerful, so we’re exploring the region by car: Boulder today with Maddie aka Queen of Goats, and last night our beloved PCQ & Marra hosted us for a delicious dinner in their designer digs.

202959 PCQ & ML

202959 PCQ & ML

But back on that day we arrived, we also flew over the US Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs where we saw this stadium.

0486 USAF Stadium

0486 USAF Stadium

Nearby (by air) is this fascinating formation we’re told is called Garden Of The Gods.

0573 Garden

0573 Garden

But nearer still to the stadium is the iconic USAF chapel that from this angle looks like some sort of giant white room heater.

0600 USAF Chapel

0600 USAF Chapel

Also close by is an airport any pilot could love, with several runways including that inviting green rectangle that contains four lovely grass runways. This is the birthplace of many a great pilot.

0492 KAFF Airport

0492 KAFF Airport

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2014/04/26

Pilot Infection

One of the things many pilots love to do, is infect someone with the love of flying. Today I’m working on two prospects. They’re our gracious and fun-loving hosts in Castle Rock just south of Denver. Though it was easy to see from forecasts and looking outside that we’d encounter turbulence, by far the best way to determine whether a given day is fun for flying is to fly. Driving to the airport together, I pulled over to snap this.

0538 Castle Rock

0538 Castle Rock

Pretty cool to see Pike’s Peak in the distance beyond the striking Castle Rock. An hour and some later we flew over it on our way to Royal Gorge.

0544 Castle Rock

0544 Castle Rock

Rather less impressive, as our hostess Stacey remarked. But the infection process had already taken hold because both she and Cam also commented on how thrilling it is to see everything from above. They’d also been quite impressed with the stellar service at the XJet FBO where Tripp’s parked for our stay. It turned out we turned back not far from Pike’s Peak because the turbulence was taking some fun out of it for some of us. But we did get a different view of Pike’s, after only half an hour or so flying relatively slowly.

0593 Pike's Peak

0593 Pike’s Peak

We saw many wonderments along the way of course, and as we neared our fun XJet base at Centennial Airport the air smoothed a bit so we decided to extend a little for views of Denver.

0642 Metro Denver

0642 Metro Denver

Because we’d been there by train already, Anne and I recognized some landmarks like the Garden-something amusement park at the upper left. A little closer, the skyline view was perhaps as much a treat for Cam and Stacey as for us.

0645 Denver Skyline

0645 Denver Skyline

Back at the airport while tucking Tripp in for a rest we talked about the infection process. The fact they still have interest in learning to fly after a relatively bumpy ride is a very good sign. As the trio huddled near Tripp for this snap, it seemed to me she too was hopeful they’d find their own magic carpet and fly to meet us for some adventures like those we’ve just had with Zubair and family. 🙂

0680 Infectious Trio

0680 Infectious Trio

2014/04/24

Rocky 1

Having avoided flying the Rocky Mountains in Colorado since getting my license, we’re happy to have enjoyed a safe and comfortable passage today taking in scenes like this.

0291 Rocky Road

0291 Rocky Road

This does look a bit like rocky road ice cream, due to the Arizona dust that’s been blowing into the western peaks lately (and increasing the melt rate of the scarce snow they got this year). But my caption for the above pic has to do with what some pilots call IFR. Not the kind where you fly in clouds, but the life insurance technique known as “I Follow Roads.” In the very rare event of a sudden and total engine failure, the highway we were following would offer a landing option beyond rocks, trees and snow. The airports are reasonably close together along the highways too, which I also like. Happily, our trusty Tripp performed flawlessly and easily climbed over the highest pass. She’d have probably enjoyed continuing up to her 17,000′ rated limit, but was happy to accommodate our needs for comfort and safety just above 12,000′ at the high pass.

Starting at Durango, we climbed out to the east for a look at Chimney Rock.

0252 Chimney Rock Ridge

0252 Chimney Rock Ridge

The rock (presumably named for the one on the left) isn’t very impressive compared with the many we saw in AZ, NM and UT. But to early European settlers it would have stood as an attractive landmark among the CO forests.

0241 Chimney Rock

0241 Chimney Rock

To my 21st century eye, the rock blade next to it was more interesting, because of what appear to be many small caves that may once have held dwellings of ancient peoples.

0239 Rock Condos?

0239 Rock Condos?

Up until the 1960s many such places were looted and even dynamited, according to our captivating storyteller Ranger Franks at Mesa Verde. So it was cool to see these structures similar to some of those at Chaco Canyon.

0213 Ancient Ruins

0213 Ancient Ruins

Looking it up now I see what was once thriving community of several thousand was recently made a National Monument, according to the wiki page. After a turn past this landmark we headed back to fly over Durango and then turned to loosely follow the highway North past Silverton and then East again near Montrose through Monarch Pass. The tailwind had picked up to about 30mph, yet the ride was mostly smooth. Surely much different an hour or two later when mountain winds really picked up.

135907 Denver Sky

135907 Denver Sky

As expected, we have several thousand pix so far on this trip and it will probably take many weeks after our return before we’ve sorted, culled and shared them. But right now it feels really good to have made a quick and easy transition across the Rockies to Denver, where we’re enjoying this sky. Also the fact that, unlike that jet etching a high line you can just make out at the right edge of a cloud, we’re on the ground. It was a fun and mostly smooth flight, unlike now with the high altitude wind and severe turbulence that’s whipping up those beautiful (from here) cloud shapes. 🙂

Now we visit friends and family in this area for at least a couple of days, waiting out the forecast rain. Maybe we’ll find time to post more pix of our trip so far, or maybe we’ll post some pix of adventures we’ll have discovering the Denver area.

2014/04/23

New Page

The first time we flew into Page, this place was unknown to us. Page is new for us because we’ve seen it from “both sides now,” as Joni once sang.

8571 Slot Top

8571 Slot Top

Climbing out of Page headed for Cortez over the slot canyon named Antelope, we saw the very stairs we entered it from (just right of the fork at upper left).

We also turned a new page this morning in Cortez, as we bid a warm farewell to our fellow explorers. I’ll fill in more about the time in between (slow internet prevented that before now). But for now here are some pix as they discovered the joys of Mesa Verde.

9213 Into the Past

9213 Into the Past

Some people who saw us all together seemed to wonder (tho none asked) if we were their grandparents. We sure felt so ourselves at times, yet other times it was as though we were the age of the kids. Most times it seemed to me we were Zubair and Momina’s age, though I doubt they felt any of these illusions. For us it was a journey into our own family past, and a glimpse of the future when new families will walk where we once did.

9240 Face Book

9240 Face Book

Sometimes I’ve not been able to read the often impishly smiling face of Zain, but here in these ancient ruins his awe and fascination were clear. He avidly interrogated the exceptionally knowledgeable, friendly, patient and frankly magical ranger we’ve ever met. I recall thinking, “This kid’s going to be a scientist.” Makes sense, because his engineer dad has an insatiable curiosity.

9242 Like Father

9242 Like Father…

We have many other pix of this family we love so dearly, but here’s perhaps my fave of the many reviewed so far. You can see the tenderness in Anne’s touch as they pause pose for a moment immersed in time, on the stairway to heaven in an ancient Kiva.

9278 Generation Bridge

9278 Generation Bridge

2014/04/21

Grand Times

Filed under: 4C Adventure,Flying,Happiness,Has Photos,Nature,Random — John @ 06:16

We’re having grand times with Zubair and family, today including flying directly over the Grand Canyon (finally!). On prior visits we flew along the edge, but today finally flew right over it at the minimum altitude. While it was indeed grand, frankly we again found Marble Canyon more beautiful. It’s narrower, we can fly closer to it, and less haze seems to find its way into that part of the canyon. No time to post pix of that tonight, but here’s one I like near Page.

7045 Small Scale

7045 Small Scale

We landed at Marble Canyon Airport, but after a couple of hours there decided to make the short hop over to Page. Tomorrow we hope to stroll Antelope Canyon, then Tuesday start flying again. Maybe also fly around the Lake Powell area tomorrow if there’s time.

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