John & Anne Wiley

2016/09/26

About Okotoks

We’re settling back into our happy life as Santa Barbarians after the flying trips to Canada and then a week after returning, back North to San Francisco. Enchanting times, and colorful dreams with some restful days, so now back to where we left off: Flying from Grants Pass to Okotoks, AB.

1973 Seattle & Bellevue

1973 Seattle & Bellevue

The first leg, from Grants Pass to Renton on the Seattle outskirts was so smoky we only have one pic from the flight. So instead I offer the above pic on a clearer (tho still smoky) day, when we took off for the last leg North. We’d had days of delights with friends and family, and the lure of special times with more dear family helped get us moving again. Anne once lived out in the woods near Snoqualmie, where now housing developments and shopping malls are taking over but there’s still the familiar view of noble Mt. Si.

1987 Mount Si

1987 Mount Si

By now you’ve noticed that the colors are so tweaked as to be a bit weird, but my hope is that the foreground is a little less the drab camera view than the beauty our eyes beheld. Farther along I-90 wasn’t much better, but still so majestic I had to share this view typical of what we see above and beyond highway vistas that are themselves beautiful.

2048 Above Highways

2048 Above Highways

We turned North at Coeur d’Alene and stopped at Cranbrook to clear Canadian Customs. Then winding along within sight of the highway (but in a much straighter line) we passed views like this East through the Rockies.

2194 Canadian Rockies

2194 Canadian Rockies

As we approached the Prairie this last butte saluted our journey.

2210 Butte Salute

2210 Butte Salute

We collected countless precious memories in Okotoks, and one of my favorites was this visit to the Erratic.

2242 Family Rock

2242 Family Rock

2016/09/23

More SJC->SBA

Here are a few more pix I like from our San Jose to Santa Barbara flight. First up, this smoky but still (to me) interesting look at the dotted clouds and dappled shadows somewhere near the tiny town of Marina, looking toward Salinas.

3734 Marina to Salinas

3734 Marina to Salinas

Then another angle on the so far unbeatable Soberanes Fire showing how smoke clinging to valleys accents the different hills and mountains.

3735 Smoke Variations

3735 Smoke Variations

Meanwhile the main plume charges off across the valley to darken the day of people in that direction. Note the pattern at the bottom-right corner, and then ponder with me what created this apparently man-made feature.

3739 Sand Barcode

3739 Sand Barcode

Later down the Big Sur Coast we got this view of Nepenthe showing how the fire was stopped before crossing the first high ridge up from the beach. We’re glad to know one of our favorite stops along that enchanting drive will be awaiting our return.

3783 Nepenthe Spared

3783 Nepenthe Spared

Soon we’d all but passed Big Sur, reaching the San Simeon area with this rock outcrop that somehow invites climbing and exploration.

3822 Caves In Rock

3822 Caves In Rock

As for Hearst Castle itself, here’s another angle showing the still empty iconic swimming pool and you might be able to make out some of the tourists wandering the grounds.

3854 Hearst Castle Reopened

3854 Hearst Castle Reopened

Do you share my fascination with the patterns of kelp created by currents in the waters off Cayucos?

3882 Kelp Art

3882 Kelp Art

Speaking of which, here’s a look at the town and nearby reservoir again revealing the smoky valley beyond the now dwindling Santa Lucia mountains.

3885 Cayucos

3885 Cayucos

Last for today a zoom pic of Morro Rock, where native peoples have long climbed up to hold sacred events amid the Peregrine nests.

3896 Morro Rock

3896 Morro Rock

2016/09/22

Beauty & Beast

The beauty of the Big Sur Coast greeted our Wednesday flight from SJC to SBA. But look at the mountains just above the coast and you see the ashen scars of the beast named the Soberanes Fire, still pumping smoke all over the lower half of CA. According to the LA Times it’s the most expensive firefighting effort in U.S. history, and it’s still going strong as you can see.

3767 The Soberanes Beast

3767 The Soberanes Beast

We decided to try the coast, since at takeoff from SJC it looked like the thickest smoke was over Salinas Valley. Bingo! Though both fuzzy with coastal humidity dotted by clinging clouds, and hazy with the lingering smoke that spews in one direction and then another, views like this at Point Sur were refreshing after so many smoky months.

3769 Hwy.1 Spared

3769 Hwy.1 Spared

Unlike prior Big Sur fires we didn’t notice any places where fire had reached the road, though it’s been closed sometimes for firefighter access. Traffic was relatively light, but plenty of people were touring this enchanted coast. Not far South another monster named the Chimney Fire got this close to the popular Hearst Castle.

3861 Hearst Castle Saved

3861 Hearst Castle Saved

That’s the “castle” at the bottom-left, and the red along that grassy ridge is where they stopped the flames. Thanks to valiant efforts by fire crews, there were able to save the landmark and we saw tour buses carrying visitors on the road from San Simeon. A few minutes later we started seeing thicker smoke from the Canyon Fire at VAFB, cloaking the feet of the Sisters range from Morro Bay to SLO.

3889 Shrouded Sisters

3889 Shrouded Sisters

We were happy that the plume had been knocked down so that we could fly in relatively clear air across the Santa Ynez range (peeking above the distant smoke) and glide into SBA and the gentle greeting of Our Town.

2016/09/15

Lockheed P-2 Neptune N807NA

Filed under: Aviation,Flying,Has Photos,Random — John @ 19:47

For our fellow aviation enthusiasts, here’s a long zoom pic of a venerable aircraft. This Lockheed P-2 Neptune (appropriately operated by Neptune Aviation Services of Missoula), tail number N807NA (sn.131424), zipped past us near Lake Shasta powered by a pair of┬áR3350-32WA radial engines (jets apparently removed) on the way to a fire. At this distance in the smoke we’d probably have missed it, but ATC let us know to look.

9973 Lockheed P2V-5 Neptune

9973 Lockheed P2V-5 Neptune

I’m especially curious about the life story of this plane, given the extensive action reports on this WWII era designed and many deployments including the Korean, Vietnam and Falklands Wars as described in the Neptune wiki. This type also held the un-refueled piston-engine long distance record from 1946 until 1986.

Day’s End

Here are the last pix from our first day of flying, from Santa Barbara to Grants Pass, OR. I’ll start off with this intriguing look at the interaction of farming and nature somewhere a few miles East of Chico, CA. I just love the leopard texture and the variations in color.

1602 Leopard Landscape

1602 Leopard Landscape

Like nearly all the pix from this day, I’ve tweaked the colors to eliminate what I can of the smoke that made even nearly straight down pix like this hazy to the camera. Since I can’t quite forget how smoky it was, here’s another smoke source. Adding to the wildfires that made the distant mountains in the bottom half of the pic below hazy even above 7,000′ where we probably were when snapping this next pic, there was smoke from ground level up to 1,000′ or so from agricultural burning like this burn in the top half and you can see it clinging to the ground in the bottom half. It’s somewhat amazing to me that people can live down there breathing that stuff for extended periods.

1573-71 Double Whammy

1573-71 Double Whammy

We were happy to be above most of it, and still able to enjoy scenes like this cartoon figure etched in a flooded (rice?) field.

1577 Simpsons or Schultz?

1577 Simpsons or Schultz?

Before long we were even higher to clear the mountains dotted with alpine lakes like this approaching Scott Valley.

1636 Alpine Lake

1636 Alpine Lake

Crossing into Oregon we could see the distant Cleveland Ridge Fire beyond Medford adding to the much thicker smoke coming from the Gap Fire back across the CA state line in Klamath Forest.

1879 Cleveland Ridge Fire

1879 Cleveland Ridge Fire

As we began descending toward Grants Pass, we got this good look at Applegate Lake.

1889 Applegate Lake

1889 Applegate Lake

Like the iconic Lake Shasta and other water resources North of the SF Bay Area, this one has gained from more normal rainfall last Winter. We’ll share more and better pix of those waters when we get to the return flight in coming posts.

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