John & Anne Wiley

2018/02/27

Island Colors

Santa Barbara is our favorite region to fly. Among the many reasons is the delicious set of Santa Barbara Channel Islands just a few minutes from SBA. March 29, 2017 we decided to fly out and see if they were still green from the Spring rains, and maybe even spot some wildflower blooms.

Every takeoff from SBA immediately greets the observer with 360 degrees of magnificent views, plus of course the view up into the blue (often with a garnish of a few clouds) and back downward for a new perspective on the familiar scenes below.

7529 Down to UCSB

7529 Down to UCSB

Views like this of the Campus Point part of UCSB are always beautiful, though on this day we were climbing at full power and thus already higher than usual above the foot and bike paths, surfers, SUPs, rolling waves and placid lagoon.

Soon we saw a giant pod of dolphins swimming and leaping toward the West across our path.

7745 1/3 Dolphin Frenzy

7745 1/3 Dolphin Frenzy

This is only about a third of the pod, cropped to give a sense of the size while also showing a tiny bit of detail. In the full-resolution pic you can see that many of them are under the water, while this pic shows mostly the ones breaking the surface. Wonder what the frenzy was about!

Our eyes were still darting to and fro taking in the wonders as we descended along the North shore of San Miguel Island, one of our two favorites among the four clustered off our coast (Anacapa is the other). I’m seduced by the flat striped West end that presented this angle when we turned back eastward along the South shore.

7784 East San Miguel Island

7784 West San Miguel Island

In this particular view I see a coyote leaping left about to gulp a big meal (the high tide islet formed by Point Bennett just offshore). Off in the distance beyond I snapped this zoom of stony Castle Rock across to the North.

7793 Sea Caves

7793 Sea Caves

There are lots of sea caves on the islands, and this little rocky companion boasts quite a collection. I presume they’re used by lots of wildlife. Dustings of white lead me to guess that plenty of birds hang out on the rocks between meals, or maybe longer to raise their families. Here’s a wide shot with Castle Rock at the top center, showing some of San Miguel’s colors that day.

7794 San Miguel Colors

7794 San Miguel Colors

I like how the variations in ocean color complement the shades of sand and life. Many of the grayish hues along the beaches are actually large groups of pinnipeds digesting their lunch in the warm sun. Here’s a closer look at the island colors, with a soft wash of purple, blue and yellow wildflowers.

7797 San Miguel Bloom

7797 San Miguel Bloom

Now a zoom of this little cove with its striated rocks, surging and receding waves, arroyo meanders, and dappled textures in greens, browns and blues.

7809 Tidal Cove

7809 Tidal Cove

A few leisurely minutes later we were looking back toward the Northwest at this glorious long view, already on our way East to the other islands.

7839 San Miguel to NW

7839 San Miguel to NW

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2018/02/26

Shadows of Color

Coming home from our 2017 mountain wildflower flight March 24th we saw Neverland. That former playground of Michael Jackson’s that had seemed drab when last we saw it, had burst into brilliant colors as if leaping from the shadows of memory.

7452 Train Time

7452 Train Time

I don’t know if the clock was accurate, but someone had clearly been working to keep it spiffy. Perhaps they were aided by the recent rain. Another floral name was also back in bloom, though seemingly less pampered out where colorful carnival rides had once cast their shadows and now is bare concrete.

7436 Missing Shadows

7436 Missing Shadows

The petting zoo now appears an Old West ghost town.

7402 Fantasy Town

7402 Fantasy Town

Mansions by the small lake while also quiet, seem especially well tended. Are they awaiting return of days gone by, or preparing for new dreamers?

7433 Leisure Life

7433 Leisure Life

Without pausing to ponder such questions we flew on past Nojoqui Falls, thrilled to see it gracefully spreading slender fingers of water again.

7475 Nojoqui Falls

7475 Nojoqui Falls

Winging through Gaviota Pass we greeted the ocean again where it met the colorful hills of last Spring at Hollister Ranch.

2414 Hollister Ranch

2414 Hollister Ranch

One last reminder of that rainy aftermath was Lake Los Carneros as we prepared to land back at SBA. The marsh beneath the footbridge was still mostly dry, but the lake did look less parched and bedraggled than in the exceptional drought of a few months earlier. Swimming above so much green erased brown to bring us briefly beyond the shadow of a drought.

2417 Lake Los Carneros

2417 Lake Los Carneros

2018/02/20

Fun, Flowers, Family

March 10, 2017 we flew to Santa Paula so Tripp could visit her excellent mechanic (A&P/IA) Glenn Fuller for some TLC. Leaving SBA we enjoyed seeing so much water at Goleta Beach, with the creek outlet open wide (on the right side) rather than the typical solid line of sand there.

6678 Open Water

6678 Open Water

I’ve popped in this pic of the hills above Carp just because anyone who’s seen that area since December knows how tragically different it looks now.

6712 Carp B4 Thomas

6712 Carp B4 Thomas

Life was struggling to recover from a prior smaller fire even then, atop the hills near Ventura and that area looks quite different now too.

6726 Charcoal & Poppies

6726 Charcoal & Poppies

Sometimes military aircraft use SBA for practice, or just stop in for a refreshing break at one of our restaurants on a long flight. At the end of this flight we saw some USMC Harrier jets, but I didn’t get any good pix. Luckily when we joined the taxi line for another short flight the next day they were back and I caught this moment.

6775 Jets 4 John

6775 Jets 4 John

I really like how these jets seem to be posing just for me, knowing how much I was enjoying their synchronized show. 🙂

On the 14th we flew again! Rare for us to go so often, but this time it was to San Diego for a visit with family. Some really fun times with our new nephew especially, but also of course many aerial delights on the flight there including this look at beach bluff mansions.

7049 La Jolla Luxury

7049 La Jolla Luxury

A funicular like that down to a beach fort is rare in CA, and I’m curious how they managed to get it past the Coastal Commission. Maybe it’s associated with the university and/or marine research work there?

2017/09/07

Happy Home

Even after our incredible “O.U.” adventure to Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia with lots of flying fun, we were still glad to be home. In fact, we started flying here again the very next day.

3745 Happy Home

3745 Happy Home

There had been some rain while we were gone, and things were delightfully green. Up in the hills the town’s most popular waterfalls were flowing.

4049 Popular Pools

4049 Popular Pools

A week later the greening had continued, framing our familiar airport KSBA.

1212 Greener

1212 Greener

The next time we flew, the foothills were a rolling riot of green.

1449 Green Blanket

1449 Green Blanket

Subsequent flights added clearer air for even more spectacular views of our favorite places.

4520 Clear Coast

4520 Clear Coast

Looking up State Street toward the mountains was breathtaking.

4526 Up State

4526 Up State

The placid waters off Goleta Beach were soothing.

4754 Goleta Beach

4754 Goleta Beach

At the end of January, we spotted a less-known creek pool quietly inviting visitors.

4836 Quiet Pool

4836 Quiet Pool

In mid-February there was a big gathering at western Isla Vista.

5049 I.V. Surf Gathering

5049 I.V. Surf Gathering

The U.C.S.B. campus was especially beautiful that day.

5054 U.C. Splendor

5054 U.C. Splendor

Back near town, Shoreline Park offered a sparkling green introduction to Our Town.

5093 Emerald City

5093 Emerald City

Some days there are schools of fish so big they make shifting shapes like this one sheltering near the pier.

1188 School Shape

1188 School Shape

Often the pelicans, gulls and other birds join with dolphins and other predators at such schools for a fish feast.

5109 Feeding Frenzy

5109 Feeding Frenzy

A big storm soon after muddied the water for a major change of scene.

5377 Brown Out

5377 Brown Out

A bridge project downtown was set back when the storm runoff washed away forms just when they were ready for the concrete to be poured into them.

5450 Bridge Setback

5450 Bridge Setback

But local surfers were treated to some memorable rides.

5490 Surf City

5490 Surf City

I’ll continue this catch up with more pix from our flights this year, in the next post. It’s fun to see them again while sharing them here, reminding us yet again how happy we are to be Home.

2017/08/28

Love & Letting Go

Feelings ran high, beneath the surface, as the family gathered for a last night and morning in paradise. So between collecting our things and tidying up, we paused for a few more moments enjoying the kids’ delight.

104846 Last Moments

104846 Last Moments

All too soon our last farewells were done. We began dispersing across the West in jets high over the deep waters as this journey slipped into memory over the horizon. Our own afternoon jet pointed a wing toward the parking spot of the GA plane we’d flown to Hāna at sunset.

135051 Wing Memories

135051 Wing Memories

It seemed a heartbeat until we passed yesterday’s GA takeoff, climbing toward home.

135833 Last Glance

135833 Last Glance

Watching the world turn far below, waves of memories reflected on the Pacific. At some point clear sky changed to dotted clouds yielding to a solid barrier between us and the sea. After sunset I felt the start of our descent toward LAX and opened Avare on my phone to follow along. We changed planes and in a blink we emerged again into rain below the clouds to the welcoming lights of Goleta.

FinalRwy7-SBA

Final, Runway 7, SBA

Even in the dark it was easy to pick out the familiar places we’ve flown over in small planes, and visited on the ground. As wheels touched home I snapped one last memory on this trip of a lifetime.

Touching Home

Touching Home

Writing this months later, I dimly recall the Dreams we had of that journey. I recall transforming those dreams into a solid Plan, and unfolding and adapting that Plan into a trip we actually Take. Now we Remember the trip and notice those memories softening into an evolving Dream.

It seems to me we try to hold onto the people, things and memories we love. At the same time we learn that change is constant, and often painful. Loving is the easy part for me. So perhaps the lesson is: Love is about Letting Go.

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