John & Anne Wiley


SB Sights

People worry. Folks we’ve met in other parts of the world ask if we worry about living in California. Topics often begin with earthquakes, and more recently may also include wildfires or the other disasters that have visited us here in the Santa Barbara area. In the instant after hearing such questions our thoughts usually turn to sights like this.


9716 A Favorite Scene

Anne has the best view of this just after we take off from SBA runway 15. The UCSB campus is simply breathtaking, especially given that we’ve explored it extensively on foot, bike and watercraft. Our dear Molly graduated there too, which always adds a level of sweet nostalgia.

After clearing this and other precious memories from our minds, we smile and reply that disaster fears haven’t reduced our delight in living here. Instead we prepare for and manage the risks as best we can, just like folks facing hurricanes, tornadoes, sea level rise etc., who love where they live. Lately we’re also seeing more rocket launches from nearby VAFB. We watched this one by SpaceX from our front yard when it came into view above mountains between here and Lompoc (snapped w/telephoto).


9916 SpaceX Launch Clears Mountains

The changes in the trail are always different and sometimes spectacular.


9923 SpaceX Into Thin Air

Altitude, atmospheric conditions, and rocket power level make for changes in the trail.


9934 SpaceX Space Edge

Long after the rocket is no longer visible from here, the trail often hangs in the air expanding and bending in the varying winds at the altitudes it passed through. One sunset launch created a magnificent colorful trail you may have seen pix of (alas, we heard it but didn’t go out to snap pix). Instead, here’s a more typical view of what the aftermath looks like.


9938 SpaceX Skywriting



Fire Water Mix

You probably saw this region in the news (and this blog), first for our drought and then our fires. For example, flying near Camarillo the Woolsey Fire provided a tragic sort of beauty looking toward Point Dume.


Woolsey Fire

Wind was whipping the water from the Oxnard area toward sunset beyond the Channel Islands, making for a otherworldly scene.


9575 Surreal Sunset

The coastal slopes of our own Santa Ynez Mountains had begun to recover from the horrific Thomas Fire, but were still mostly bare. Tangerine Falls just to the right of the bottom center, was scrubbed clean and nearly unrecognizable.


9688 Thomas Fire Recovery

By 11/22/2018 the popular Casa de Maria retreat center was struggling to recover from our Montecito debris flow disaster, caused by a torrential January downpour on those bare slopes.


9668 La Casa de Maria 11/22/2018

Hiking the Tucker’s Grove trail later that day provided a welcome reminder of how our creeks usually look. San Antonio Creek was relatively untouched by the fires and floods of that year.  Just looking at this pic again now, of the lively boulder alongside it, triggered a deep nourishing breath of serenity.


9695 Silent Boulder Garnish


Scene From Above

Here are a few more aerial views, starting with the geometry of field and stream in the CA Salinas Valley.


5074 Nature & Nurture

The last pic I ever snapped from Tripp was of the Laguna Blanca area of Hope Ranch on a smoky and hazy day, that for me evokes the mist of memory.


5187 Era’s End

As weather finally began to hint at drought relief, from a safe distance we enjoyed the look of clouds beyond the Santa Ynez Mountains.


8976 Beyond the Divide

It’s nice having the long zoom lens of the Sony RX-10m4 for pix like these.


9421 Cachuma & Clouds

A few days later we enjoyed this somehow rakish view of Lake Cachuma.


9004 Angles & Reflections

Though it was from a Cachuma dam release to replenish ground water in the Santa Ynez Valley, it was nice to see a thin strip of green amid bone dry scrub.


9495 Thirsty Land



It’s surprising to me how much has happened since the last post here! So finally today a little time opened up to share more pix since the end of our last big Tripp trip to the Pacific Northwest and UK/EU airline adventures. We were deep in an epic drought back in July, with wildfires running amok and smoke hanging over our brown hills.


4804 Veiled Brown

People were enjoying our beaches though, like this one next to the marina.


4966 Shape of Water

August brought much more of the same.


5007 Watersports

Including wildfires that felt overwhelming despite the courage of firefighters rushing toward the dense smoke.


5115 Defender

August also sadly saw our last flight in beautiful Tripp. There’s a story in the performing arts about how to get the most from every show: make it for two people. The person seeing it for the first time, and the person seeing it for the last time. Though we hope to see many more flights in small planes in coming years, harvesting pix of familiar sights from that last Tripp flight is extra special now.


5128 Kelp Harvest

Hendry’s Beach (Arroyo Burro) evokes the relaxed mood in our zoom pix as we rode our magic carpet offshore that last time.


5140 Relaxing



Endings & Beginnings

Our last day in London began the end of our memorable 3-week adventure in the UK and EU. Taking the tube from our hotel to Heathrow was surprisingly nostalgic, as we mingled with commuters, locals and a few visitors like us.

81941 Last Tube

81941 Last Tube

It felt like hours, and like seconds, before we were high over Greenland. Talking with the few other passengers huddled at the back, conversation turned to the melting glaciers.

053237 Greenland Browning

053237 Greenland Browning

Did sagging in the channels and ripples on the surface indicate it’s moving faster?

054122 Quickening?

054122 Quickening?

Is the vast size of it reassuring or scary? The discussion was perhaps made more somber by the fact we were awake while most passengers slept. In another “instant” hours later, we were descending into Phoenix for our connecting flight when the Grand Canyon passed below.

151704 Grand Canyon

151704 Grand Canyon

I can’t make out the lodge through hazy airline windows from this height. But that horizontal line from the right-center edge is the Grand Canyon airport (KGCN). I thought about how much more we’d enjoyed the canyon view from Tripp’s open windows, and the adventures we’ve enjoyed after landing at that airport and Marble Canyon. In a “moment” we took off again, glimpsing through scratched plastic the distant mountain outcrops we’ve seen closely from air and ground.

175139 Phoenix Takeoff

175139 Phoenix Takeoff

Our hearts quickened as we turned over the Santa Barbara Channel gliding down through the sunset to SBA, where the runway was already in gathering darkness beneath a cold blue moon.

185358 Day & Journey End

185358 Day & Journey End

This landing also marked a full beginning of our transition from Tripp to Tiger. That is, starting to take ever more and longer flights in the club’s AA5-B Grumman Tiger. Like this one a week later when we saw fluffy clouds announcing the impending start of rainy season.

9421 Riding The Tiger

9421 Riding The Tiger

Soon I’ll start sharing more pix from these recent flights, along with some older favorites from our last flights in Tripp. For now, thanks for sharing our UK/EU Adventure. 🙂

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