John & Anne Wiley

2018/07/14

Renton to Okotoks

We’d hoped to squeak between rainy season and fire season on this trip, but our plans were much affected by both – plus strong winds. So we were glad to get a Renton day with enough large holes in the overcast, to climb over the Cascades. If you’ve never been to that airport, like us you might enjoy seeing the large flock of Boeing 737s created there.

8430 Green Jets

8430 Green Jets

The brilliant green shrink wrap they arrive in, gives way to a spectrum of airline paint schemes. We saw a China airline one take off, presumably soon to be serving that market. Our more modest goal of Alberta began with finding a large hole in the clouds near Tapp Lake, where we could climb to cross the Cascades.

8435 Over the Top

8435 Over the Top

I enjoy tweaking Seattleites by calling this peak “Mount Rainy-er” in reference to the regional weather.

8466 Mt. Rainy-er

8466 Mt. Rainy-er

We saw glimpses through the clouds during the crossing, and even out on the prairie there were scattered clouds accenting the landscape with shadow patterns.

8483 Shadows & Light

8483 Shadows & Light

Due to fires, winds and thunderstorms we took a detour through the Rockies to Missoula rather than across Canada as hoped or our usual more direct route via Cranbrook. We fly “IFR” but not the type following imaginary lines in the clouds – for us it’s “I Follow Roads” for ease and extra safety. Near one summit was this magnificent river.

3972 High Rapids

3972 High Rapids

The river added an accent to the beauty of Missoula as we approached for a planned rest and fuel that we’d purposely kept light for easier climb over the Rockies.

8501 Missoula Break

8501 Missoula Break

The smoke was noticeable during our entire trip, but this route limited it to the thin haze you see here. On the ramp we passed the Neptune firefighter hangar where #41 looked familiar from tracking aircraft during the SB Thomas Fire.

164935 Thomas Vet?

164935 Thomas Vet?

On our taxi back out for takeoff was this tired P2 stalwart that started work with the U.S. Navy and retired out in this pasture as N96264 offering up useful parts after apparently working in SB at least once.

3993 Hard Won Rest

3993 Hard Won Rest

Back in the air now headed directly North to the cool airport community at Okotoks, more prairie sights enchanted us and reinforced our experience with the fascination of the flats.

8508 Great Circle

8508 Great Circle

Rain squalls along the Eastern edge of the Rockies further rewarded our decision to make the detour through Missoula.

4038 Rocky Ribbons of Rain

4038 Rocky Ribbons of Rain

The only rain we encountered in fact, was a downpour minutes after we landed. We waited out most of it before venturing out of Tripp and organizing for our visit as the sun peeked out.

210446 Omen of Fortune

210446 Omen of Fortune

The brilliant double rainbow arc went clear across the sky, to foretell an exceptionally wonderful family time. Our daughter and grand daughter drove us to their cozy home, stopping to pick up supplies and entertain us with a giggling bag hat.

154043 Pure Delight

154043 Pure Delight

During our stay we also joined up with dear friends we met in Santa Barbara, who now live in Boston. We planned to fly them around Banff and Jasper, but weather never cooperated so we all went to clamber on Big Rock instead.

4046 Big Rock

4046 Big Rock

Brought here eons ago by glaciers, it’s been a fascinating place for humans since prehistoric times. The Bostonians of course climbed both rocks. 🙂

4071 Conquerors

4071 Conquerors

The gals claimed the other rock.

4070 Girls Rule

4070 Girls Rule

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Seattleites

After landing in Renton it was refreshing to visit family and dear friends in the Seattle area. Our days there began with a couple who have basically built an enchanted “meditation retreat center” on some carefully tended acres in the woods next to a grand river. Just walking through their “hobbit” gate en-trance, begins to soften your breathing and soothe the soul.

3702 Land of Enchantment

3702 Land of Enchantment

After an evening of delicious garden fresh food, fascinating quiet conversation, and deep nourishing dreams we went back into town to take them flying. In minutes we had climbed over water, trees and homes to tour the Seattle skyline in clear air beneath broken clouds.

3768 Space Needle & Gehry

3768 Space Needle & Gehry

The once futuristic and now iconic Space Needle is complemented by Frank Ghery’s fanciful buildings at the base amid other new features and ongoing construction. We continued on across the water to Vashon Island where sand mingles with surf in unique shapes and colors.

3808 Vashon Beach #1

3808 Vashon Beach #1

On another beach on this small island so near the big city, other friends have built a dream home.

3836 Vashon Beach #2

3836 Vashon Beach #2

Between these beaches is the grass landing strip we’ve planned to land on before, only to be thwarted by inclement weather.

3816 Vashon Airstrip

3816 Vashon Airstrip

We were glad to get a good look at it, and to see that it’s dry, because we planned to fly there for a visit with sweet friends who own that beach home (2nd beach pic above) the next day. For now we carried on across the water to the South on a wide oval route past SeaTac Airport back to Renton.

3817 Mingling Waters

3817 Mingling Waters

The winds, currents, and water sources meet there making beautiful multi-colored patterns.

We were delighted waking to high clouds the next day, because we could finally make that hoped for landing at Vashon. On the way out of Renton we enjoyed seeing the familiar treed U.W. campus.

8401 University of WA Seattle

8401 University of WA Seattle

Our friends met us at Vashon Airport and drove us the few minutes to their lovely place with an old brown dog, and a big front porch. Also a great clear day view of Mount Rainier (yes, it’s in this pic).

3912 Perfect Front Porch

3912 Perfect Front Porch

Instead of rabbits in a pen ala Carole King, they have a magnificent garden. After a lovely visit, this time we flew back over downtown where we got a closer look at the giant ferris wheel. Before flying, such things were our only easy way to get an overview but now they look tiny far below (unless we use a zoom camera).

3928 Seattle Great Wheel

3928 Seattle Great Wheel

The skyline has changed a lot since we last flew here, and the change is speeding up. Hopefully there’s careful urban planning and these tall buildings can withstand an earthquake or tsunami, because they’re sure beautiful.

3946 Rising Giants

3946 Rising Giants

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