John & Anne Wiley

2018/07/19

Long Way Home

This trip seeing new facets of our beautiful planet in flight (intimately but not bound by it), visiting precious family & friends, and exploring new places… wasn’t all we dreamed. As with each of our trips, it reinforced a big life lesson that flying has brought us: embracing what Is. That comes to us in the differences between the trip we dream, plan, take, remember, and dream about after return. So of course it was both more, and less, than we dreamed or planned.

So it was that The Dalles dawned almost clear of the smoke that greeted our landing in yesterday’s dusk.

4297 Cleared Takeoff

4297 Cleared Takeoff

Climbing toward the West for a look at the famous Columbia Gorge, the pages of time formed a crumbling book on the North bank.

8658 Book of Time

8658 Book of Time

Other wizened formations evoked a castle with columnar basalt exposed at the base of the towers, reminding us of the volcanism still shaping this region.

8659 Stone Castle

8659 Stone Castle

A tributary I’ve not looked up the name of, also adorns the North shore of the mighty Columbia with rapids that test the best kayakers.

8670 Water Power

8670 Water Power

Relaxing when it combines with the Columbia, it releases on the banks much of the sediment it rushed downhill and polished its canyons with.

8672 Bank Deposits

8672 Bank Deposits

In the once more increasing smoke, distant Mt. St. Helens provided yet another ominous reminder of this region’s geologic activity.

8734 Napping Volcano

8734 Napping Volcano

In the river below our wings, some of the larger islands had buildings where Mark Twain might like to retire.

4314 Home Island

4314 Home Island

Even as the economy has diversified and changed, there are still large sawmills along rivers here.

4330 Busy Sawmill

4330 Busy Sawmill

To keep with our planned flight, we’d already climbed too high for a close look at the famous waterfalls in the gorge. Even so, this one looks good in a zoom pic.

4344 Waterfall View Rooms

4344 Waterfall View Rooms

Farther down river we could increasingly see clouds that we’d hoped would be clear, so we continued climbing to fly well above them.

8714 Cloud Complication

8714 Cloud Complication

The next waterfall we spotted looks more likely to be a popular public attraction. It continues above and below this section snapped between the trees.

4377 Spectacular Falls

4377 Spectacular Falls

Now it was obvious that the clouds lingering beyond the forecast along our route called for a high transit out to the coast where the air was clear and tailwinds were promised.

8739 More Clouds

8739 More Clouds

We took a last look at the river now far below, where locks and dams harness some of its energy.

8759 Columbia Dams & Locks

8759 Columbia Dams & Locks

After an alert but uneventful transit to clear air in the Roseburg area, we continued southwest to the coast and turned to follow it more directly toward home again. This is a beautiful region from the air, where we see many wonders hidden from the casual drive we so enjoyed before flying. Including of course the cave-garnished and weathered West side of the cliffs and countless islands of various sizes & shapes.

4467 Prince Island

4467 Prince Island

After enjoying an unfolding stream of such sights, soon we passed Shelter Cove and once again longed to land at 0Q5 and spend some time exploring the black sand beaches and other relaxing attractions there.

4519 Shelter Cove 0Q5

4519 Shelter Cove 0Q5

We could of course overwhelm you with many more pix of visual delights we thrilled to on this trip, but I’ll offer only two more. First another look at distant San Francisco from just offshore, included here even though it’s hazy from moisture and wildfire smoke. It’s an usually high perspective for us since ATC cleared us across the path of the airliner parade leaving SFO.

4592 SF From High

4592 SF From High

After a brief fuel stop at KWVI Watsonville, we began seeing the familiar hills and vineyards of home as sunset blushed the terrain around Atascadero.

4618 Warm Welcome

4618 Warm Welcome

Our tailwind topping Broadcast Peak provided a weather warning. Turbulence was sudden, though relatively mild since I’d slowed and remained high above the ridge. Only after reaching the coast did I descend into the stronger turbulence where air temperature went from the 60s to the 90s. Happily that was a short transition and we landed in the cool coastal breeze so common at KSBA. A very warm welcome home to our cool little hometown. 🙂

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