John & Anne Wiley

2012/08/07

Alberta Joy

I’ve written much about the joy of flying, including the joy of flying to Alberta to visit my daughter and her young family. Today we hope to add Joy to our joy of such a flight. Our friend Joy is joining us on an adventure flying from SB to Edmonton, AB (Canada, y’no). As with all our big flying adventures, this one is improvisational. Due to vagaries of weather and our own whims, we often don’t know where we’ll be landing or even our exact route. This trip adds the variable of smoke.

Smoke & Fires

Smoke & Fires

As you’ve probably deduced, this is a map of smoke and fires right now. Since the smoke depicted is usually quite thick, we avoid flying in those areas for extra safety and also for the joy of flying in clear air. Planning an approximate route for a flight, I mentally overlay the smoke with the other main factor.

Noon Clouds

Noon Clouds

So while we’d like to fly along the coast to avoid the smoke and hotter weather inland, clouds will complicate that. The circles and colored dots represent airports, and as you might guess we avoid the ones with color (though sometimes blue’s ok). Since our primary goal is the joy of flying, we want to look at things. Clouds or smoke detract from that. So if we do start off today, you can bet I’ll be checking on both factors often at every stop along the way. Another big factor is wind, but usually it’s not a deal breaker the way smoke and clouds are. The end result is we might be flying relatively fast to stay ahead of clouds and smoke as they change, or slow with many and long stops to wait for clouds and smoke to dissipate.

As the trip unfolds, we’ll also be adding scenic detours. High on that list is another tour of Banff and Jasper, to refresh memories like this from the NxNW adventure:

0544 Mt Robson

0544 Mt Robson

2012/08/08

Fast SLO Trip

Filed under: AB Joy Adventure,Flying,Happiness,SB Region — John @ 07:00

Well, we didn’t leave SB until just before dark. So our flight was all of an hour, including a long slow climb over SBA to gain altitude for extra safety in the dark passage North. Once up at eight thousand we stopped circling and zoomed at about 140mph to SLO (San Luis Obispo). Since it was dark, I hadn’t set up my camera (though I’d probably have been able to get some good snaps). I was pretty busy flying, talking to ATC, and navigating anyway and probably wouldn’t have snapped much.

So here’s a verbal image for you. Taking off the sunset colors came into view in the west, because when it’s dark on the ground there’s still light aloft. Turning toward the coast for the circling climb over SBA we enjoyed the lights of UCSB and IV, with Hope Ranch and Santa Barbara twinkling into the distance. The dark outlines of the mountain ridges were still visible against the deepening purple sky. Lights inching along Hwy.101 made veins of life in the darkness toward Gaviota.

The gals commented on how different our familiar town looks from the air at night. There are sharp outlines at the edges of the developed areas, and landmarks disappear. I pointed out some roads as we flew over them on our second round, starting with Fairview. That helped them figure out some of the other roads and neighborhoods, and before long they recognized shopping areas and other major features. When we turned North the lights of Santa Ynez, Solvang, Buellton, Lompoc and even Santa Maria were in clear view by the time the mountains were slipping silently beneath our wings.

Our AB (Alberta) Joy adventure thus began with a fast trip to SLO. Tomorrow we cruise up the coast perhaps to Florence, OR. The photo ops begin. πŸ™‚

 

2012/08/09

Prop Advance

I’ve mentioned it before: the sensation that what you did this morning was several days ago. This morning we were in SLO. Tonite we’re in Coos Bay, OR and SLO seems like yesterday. The fact we were actually at home last night before leaving for SLO is really weird.

The flight? Well, no words. How about some pix?

1644 Wet Mouth

1644 Wet Mouth

This broad river mouth you might recognize from the drive along Big Sur. Since the gals had almost all of the view (maybe Anne will share a few of her pix sometime), little spots like this where we cut across bits of coast that stick out gave me visual relief from the vast beautiful Pacific. It’s near the lighthouse (forget the name at the moment) and Bixby bridge.

1649 Bixby Bridge

1649 Bixby Bridge

The slight haze and ocassional fluffy wisps made the whole scene a soft caress. Monterey looked a lot better than this pic, but even this brings a quiet sigh from somewhere deep in my psyche.

1657 Monterey

1657 Monterey

Across the bay, Santa Cruz felt like yet another world and another day. Here’s the lighthouse, one of the few parts I got a good look at. When they’d offer having me fly inland a little so I could see the coast, I’d remind them of my plan to fly home the same route. I assume Joy will move to my side, so poor Anne will have an eyeful of the Pacific. πŸ™‚

1676 Santa Cruz Light

1676 Santa Cruz Light

San Fransisco was simply breathtaking, even from my side. Even so, this is one of the few pix I took because I did a slow climbing turn back toward the bridge to clear Mt. Tam and have my own look. Again Anne probably has some killer shots because she was much closer when we first passed the bridge.

1700 Golden Gate

1700 Golden Gate

I made this pic of the bridge a little bigger than the others in case you’d like to click and see the larger size. I didn’t snap many more pix until we were approaching Coos Bay and the etched colors in this wetland caught my fancy.

1716 Wetland Wonder

1716 Wetland Wonder

We missed most of the smoke, and nearly all of the clouds. Coos Bay was perfectly clear when we landed, and before we’d even bedded Tripp down for the night and walked inside there were puffy orange clouds gathering over the control tower. I like how the wide angle lens makes the tower seem to lean into our small plane terminal building as if cuddling up against the cool breeze.

1722 Coos Cuddle

1722 Coos Cuddle

By the time we settled into the hotel, the airport was reporting solid low (900′) overcast. Anne thinks I’m magic for having planned our arrival so perfectly. I didn’t tell her my head was full of alternatives all along our route as I watched weather and smoke oh so carefully. Nor did I mention that if the clearing forecast two hours before our departure tomorrow morning doesn’t materialize, we might be grounded here for weeks. But I’m thinking positively, and will dream deeply about clear skies and fair winds like those that filled our eyes and hearts with Joy today. πŸ™‚

2012/08/10

Too Much Fun

Sometimes flying I feel as if the Happy Police are going to pop out from behind a cloud and arrest us for having too much fun. It’s simply amazing how often we’re experiencing raging bliss while aloft. Sure, I’ve said it a million times, but words just don’t measure up. Alas, nor do pix, yet I keep trying. πŸ™‚

Here’s an example. What we saw is somewhat represented by this, but the camera brings out haze we didn’t even see and words fog up the memory of the joy elicited within our hearts.

1762 Canon Beach

1762 Canon Beach

Now maybe some of you have driven along this beach as we have. Breathtaking to be sure. But from the air, despite this uninspiring pic, it’s transcendent. This does at least capture some of the serenity it evokes. As with almost all of our flight, the gals had the views and photo ops. But the OR coast does have lots of rocks offshore that passed on my side, and you DO know about my fascination with rocks. πŸ™‚

1754 Holey Brothers

1754 Holey Brothers

I was happy to have caught this angle that shows how both islets are holed all the way thru. This next one looks like the one without cave could almost fit like a puzzle piece into the other.

1760 Fitting Islets

1760 Fitting Islets

I like how the pelican V complements this pointy rock next to the Morro Rock miniature at Canon Beach.

 

1770 Pelican Parade

1770 Pelican Parade

The colors were constantly changing as two layers of clouds played with the light, and as our angle in relation to the sun moved. But the water itself was different colors at different places along the coast. My fave pic of the water is this view most people never see, past the back side of the rocks toward the beach.

1787 Canon Beach Backside

1787 Canon Beach Backside

If you click to see the large version, you can make out a lifeguard vehicle and a bunch of people doing something in the shallow water. Further offshore is another island with a lighthouse, and a very different patina.

1793 Heavy Guano Light

1793 Heavy Guano Light

The birds have coated it so heavily, it shone bright white in the flashes of sunlight thru the clouds. I don’t know if it’s true, but I developed a theory that the islands further offshore tend to have smoother shapes. The idea is that birds favor rocks where few other animals (esp. predators) venture. Over millennia the acid in bird droppings eats away at the rock so that it is worn smooth by rain and weather more quickly than rocks near shore where few birds nest. So you can see that part of the fun is thinking about stuff like this. Altogether, it’s just too much fun.

2012/08/11

Well Spoken

Today, after a wonderful organic breakfast with friends at their riverside home near Fall City (outside Seattle) our plan was to reach Cranbrook, British Columbia for the night. After a quick visit with a dear nephew in Renton we rushed to the airport and got Tripp ready. Taking off was glorious in the fairly clear air.

1814 Mercer to Seattle

1814 Mercer to Seattle

Looking across Mercer Island, Seattle actually looked better than this pic. I know, complaining about my camera skills doesn’t improve the viewing experience for you. πŸ™‚

1844 Mt. Si

1844 Mt. Si

Above is a clearer shot of iconic Mount Si just past Fall City on our route to Spokane. The views through the pass were even more crisp as you can see in this random shot from the dozens I snapped.

1853 Crisp Pass

1853 Crisp Pass

As we were beginning to emerge onto the prairie at the east side of the pass I finally put on a polarized filter to cut the haze for this next shot.

1888 Altered Reality

1888 Altered Reality

In terms of clarity and the effect of haze, it’s much nearer to how everything looked on our mountain passage. But as you can see, the color looks really strange. Compared to what we saw, I’d even say it looks a bit fake. True, I also tweaked the color a bit trying to correct for the shift from the filter. I left the filter on for the rest of the flight, so you might notice a strange quality in some of the pix. It helped a lot with this next one tho, because there was a small fire nearby and it was smokier than it looks in the pic.

1917 Grand Coulee

1917 Grand Coulee

Grand Coulee Dam conjured up images for me of a tall concrete structure wider than Boulder Dam. As you can see, I was wrong. I hate being wrong. πŸ™‚ Actually I already knew it looked like this, having watched an interesting PBS docu about it. So at the left is where the river used to run. Now it gets a trickle, with the rest going into that canal angling down to the right from the dam. It goes into tunnels that then pop out again nearby in a continuation of the canal. The idea was to make a verdant valley where there had been desert. It worked, but one does wonder what the old river looked like and how life has changed along its course. After a less fascinating transit across the dry plain we were greeted by the riverside oasis named Spokane.

1925 Verdant Spokane

1925 Verdant Spokane

It’s really beautiful from the air, and fun to walk the zillion bridges and gawk at the many waterfalls. I only dimly recall attending the World’s Fair there back in my 20s, so it’s interesting to visit remnants of that too.

1934 Hotel & Togetherness Walk

1934 Hotel & Togetherness Walk

It turned out we arrived too late for our Cranbrook plan, because Canadian Customs there keeps banker’s hours. Now when we’re flying, all Joy sees of us is the backs of our heads and we don’t see her much at all though we can all talk with some minor difficulty. So we decided to walk from our hotel (3-winged multi-story building just above and to the left of the thing that looks like a white upside down boat) to a nice Italian restaurant. After a great meal we went looking for a thin cushion for me to sit on that might increase my comfort on the now longer flight we’re planning tomorrow to reach Edmonton. What I imagined would be a time for conversation and togetherness walking to Pier One (white roof just across the river at right) looked like this.

1947 Different Agendas

1947 Different Agendas

Joy was worried that the store would close at 8:30, Anne was on the phone with her sister, and I paused to snap this scene so unrepresentative of the noisy traffic rushing across the bridge in chaotic surges.

1941 False Impression

1941 False Impression

Happily we did get into the store, the call ended, and I stopped dallying for photo ops. Joy decided to walk back to the hotel, so Anne and I enjoyed a leisurely (and now serenely quiet) stroll along the river walk and thru part of the World’s Fair area. Tho you won’t hear that enchanting call of their quiet familial honking as they flew low over our heads on the silent foot bridge, Anne wanted me to snap these geese to share with you.

1954 Geese

1954 Geese

See them? “It takes a long exposure to get a decent shot when it’s almost dark out,” I replied. Yes, the fuzzy shapes to the right of the red-tipped circus tent looking thing are geese and not freak clouds. I like the effect, and hope you can imagine being there with us. Still, I’m glad to have a digital camera rather than wait for prints from film. πŸ™‚

1962 Train/Trolley

1962 Train/Trolley

Near the circus tent thing this passenger train/trolley thing went by occasionally ringing a most gentle bell. It added a magical note of charm to the friendly darkness that was now draining color and dimension from the world to replace it with mystery and a soothing closeness. Back in the hotel I snapped this view out the window, and you can see the arched red sign for Luigi’s at the right.

1968 Looking Back

1968 Looking Back

Like our adventure from Seattle to Spokane today, it seems much longer than a couple of hours since before sunset when we walked over to Luigi’s for dinner. Right now I’m looking back at Luigi’s, looking back at our waking near Fall City, and further back to the start of this adventure. Past some gaps I can see almost the whole way back to the start of My Journey. I enjoy looking back occasionally, because it helps me enjoy being Here and Now. πŸ™‚

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