John & Anne Wiley

2018/12/05

Inverness

“It’s my fault.”

Someone once told me that statement is the husband’s secret to happiness. I’m happy to say it in jest, because Anne’s open heart and mind enable us to talk about everything until consensus emerges. So this time the quip is that during initial planning for this UK/EU Adventure I wanted to visit Inverness and she didn’t. Now that we’ve both greatly enjoyed this lovely city in the Scottish Highlands (and the thoughtful dialog that brought us here), “taking the blame” is my playful “told you so.” 😀

105639 LHR to Inverness

105639 LHR to Inverness

It didn’t add all that much to the cost of our trip, so a night’s sleep after our whirlwind London walking tour we were winging out of LHR up over the English countryside. Far too soon, high and fast in this jet, we descended over the heather nearing the wide mouth (Inver) of the River Ness.

115518 Scottish Highlands

115518 Scottish Highlands

We both enjoyed every moment of the journey: London hotel to LHR, flight, and bus into the city. But I’ll spare you those pix and go next to what greeted us outside the bus station.

6772 Scottish Air

6772 Scottish Air

The general air of healthy, friendly, hardy people bustling about uncrowded sidewalks contrasts with stolid stone buildings, noble statues, and flags snapping in the brisk wind. It’s instantly refreshing. Those signs on the left point out the direction and walking times to various local points of interest in the native Gaelic and English. We wandered smiling, popping into the occasional shop in large part just to taste the flavor of routine life here.

104650 Colorful Streets

104650 Colorful Streets

An easy stroll from here is the river, where a beautiful pedestrian bridge beckoned us to explore the more residential side.

6788 Footbridge

6788 Footbridge

Instead we detoured a few steps to check out perhaps the city’s oldest active church.

6793 Old & Older

6793 Old & Older

The building on the right is older than most in the U.S., and on the left stand remains of one with 1607 carved on it and tombstones silently crumbling to sand inside.

From there we wandered more of the city’s daily life. In time we strolled back to that footbridge, and paused out over the Ness for a longer look at the residential side.

6828 Along the Ness

6828 Along the Ness

Back on the downtown side an imposing brick castle (now refurbished government building) stands guard on the distant hill.

6829 River Ness

6829 River Ness

Walking along the river we got a closer look at the castle and imagined how everything looked at various points back into the distant past.

6847 Proud Castle

6847 Proud Castle

Eventually we explored our way toward our B&B that seemed so exotic when booked from home, now nestled among assorted tidy homes. We’d already exchanged friendly looks, greetings and some conversation with locals but when we noticed this dude’s dog he proffered what was easily the most demonstrative wave and posed for a pic.

DSC06871-b.jpg

Most yards had flowers in front, and glancing over the fence as we passed this back yard glimpsed the owner’s little heaven.

6877 Scottish Sanctum

6877 Scottish Sanctum

Unlike many (most?) cities, fences here are of a height to establish dominion but low enough to invite conversation if agreed by exchange of mutually approving non-verbal eye contact.

After friendly dialog with our host, depositing our light luggage and freshening up, we headed back toward town to seek out dinner. We enjoyed a gourmet meal with glorious view of the Ness & castle, a sound sleep in our comfy room, and a morning meander around the castle. In front of the castle wall atop the hill we snapped these views before heading to catch our train.

6895 Castle View

6895 Castle View

6908 Along the Ness

6908 Along the Ness

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2018/10/20

Tripp Trips

“The only thing constant is Change,” say the sages. So it is that we’ve sold our magic carpet, the Cessna 172Q named “Tripp.” This stalwart steed carried us safely all over the North American Continent, over the Rockies, and over water to Newfoundland, the Bahamas, and Alaska. She’s now joined a younger family with plans to fly Europe and Africa. That’s her new “dad” waving goodbye as he takes her East.

5246 Tripp East

5246 Tripp East

Before the sale was finalized and she joined her new family, we took Tripp on a last local flight. It was a “soft” hazy day, somehow perfect for our brief farewell to a treasured friend and phase of our aerial explorations.

5122 Soft Finale

5122 Soft Finale

To further soften this transition, we got re-acquainted with the SBFC Tiger AA5B and our old friend “Flash” the C-172M. In fact, we’ve already been taking brief local flights in both of them though so far we’ve favored Tiger. He’s a little faster than Tripp and climbs quickly to the local peaks for views like this.

9421 Tiger Treats

9421 Tiger Treats

We’ll miss the easy comfort, broader photo options and stability of Tripp, but her departure has brought us one more gift.

170927 Trip East

170927 Trip East

Cash from Tripp’s sale helped us afford a trip East to the UK & EU. I envy the flight she’ll take there, lower and slower. Down where we used to fly so intimately with the earth but not bound by it. The flight to London was higher than in this pic, and fast, flirting with darker daytime skies at the edge of space. Happily our three week adventure brought home many new and very different memories that I’ll post about next.

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. 🙂

2018/07/18

Okotoks to Dalles

After a warm and wonderful visit, and surprisingly for us not a single flight in this beautiful area, we took off on the first leg toward home.

8513 So Near

8513 So Near

The gateway to Banff in the nearby blue Canadian Rockies seemed to almost be teasing us beyond the green hills surrounding Okotoks. But those playfully shaped white clouds indicate turbulence, and the wind over the mountains would’ve made for uncomfortable flying at best. So between occasional bumps during our climb, we enjoyed taking in the sights like this bend in the river.

8550 River Green

8550 River Green

Soon we’d all but forgotten about the fact wind and storms had precluded sharing the delights of flying Banff & Jasper, and were enjoying the prairie sights again. Like this railway bridge across the deep furrow created by the river somewhere West of Lethbridge.

4119 Rail Bridge

4119 Rail Bridge

River meanders over flats are always visually interesting for us too, especially when the fields are a riot of color.

4127 Snake in the Garden

4127 Snake in the Garden

Having flown this route once in the endless white blanket of February, we had an idea why these silos are brightly painted.

4158 Winter Contrast

4158 Winter Contrast

Again smoke and storms nudged us South and then West. We bypassed Missoula this time but followed part of our prior route near Helena where smoke stained peaks still sported white Winter mementos.

8568 July Whitecaps

8568 July Whitecaps

The region West of the Rockies and South of Spokane is always fascinating from the air, and the lowering light of the long northern Summer evening makes them even better.

4216 Summer Shapes

4216 Summer Shapes

This one evokes a laughing face for me.

4222 Dimpled Joker

4222 Dimpled Joker

The ever deeper shadows were further accented by thickening smoke adding to the reddish hues of approaching sunset.

4248 Textured Terrain

4248 Textured Terrain

Every element of each scene reveals the interplay of nature and agriculture. Each mile brings some familiar elements, always arranged in completely new ways on the varied terrain.

4259 Variations

4259 Variations

OK, maybe you’re still among the likely majority who find prairies boring (we’re clearly not, but are sharing in case you’ve never flown them). So I’ll offer just this one more, in the hope you might find some hint of art in this gallery of goodness.

4261 Splay Play

4261 Splay Play

Just after a glorious deep red sunset we lined up for the airport at The Dalles, OR. Said to be the only city with its airport in a different state (WA), it huddled beneath the dormant volcano of Mt. Hood as if reminding us what it could do.

4283 Dalles Sleeping Giant

4283 Dalles Sleeping Giant

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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