John & Anne Wiley


Shall We?

We’re seriously contemplating a “North by Northwest Adventure” – another long flying trip – this time in Tripp. This time going to the aviation extravaganza that was called “Oshkosh” when I first began dreaming about it 30 years ago. Now it’s apparently AirVenture, but is still at KOSH airport in Wisconsin. The dream right now is a two-day flight out, several days tenting KOSH and flying the area by day (maybe into the DC area), then up into Canada and across to at least Edmonton. Probably then on to Smithers, BC and then detour back to follow the Alcan Highway up to Alaska before heading home down the West Coast. Lots of planning already happening beyond what was required for Big Adventure I, due to the border crossings and possible DC flying.

So we’re seeking your help. Shall we go for it? Which of the two initial tentative routes on the map below do you suggest, and why? Where are the places we must see on the fairly direct flight to KOSH, and the slower flight from there? Any stops with on-airport camping that you’d recommend on these routes? Should we carry a bear gun even though we’ll be flying the highways? Any other questions we should be asking?

BA2 Route v.2

BA2 Route v.2 (click to enlarge)

So above are the current options on the table. As with most images on this blog, click to enlarge and keep clicking until you’ve seen the largest version. The orange line from SBA to OSH is our second idea, enabling a glimpse at more states (yes we’re going back in early Fall!). Also possibly a detour in SD to see Badlands and Rushmore at least from the air. This will be our first time flying there, though we’ve toured by car before we met. You’re invited to Comment or use the Contact link to reach us privately. More news as it happens…


Swept Up

Filed under: Aviation,Flying,Has Photos,NxNW Adventure,Random,Tripp — John @ 02:54

We’re getting swept up in the idea of flying another Big Adventure. Now in addition to requesting your ideas of places to see, we welcome any ideas on what to call this one. Big Adventure II is our name so far, but something new would be much more fun. How about “Northwest Passage?”

As you can see, we’re still wanting to cross into Canada from Oshkosh and then go West by Northwest. Now we’re considering a short hop across inhospitable terrain from Prince Rupert to Ketchikan, instead of the long flight to Fairbanks and Anchorage along the highways. Maybe on the next trip, if we do visit AK and get a taste of what flying there is like. By all accounts, AK has a pilot’s frame of mind so we’ll access a large amount of expertise by making a short wilderness crossing.

Our current vision is through Edmonton rather than Calgary, but we wanted to investigate that option too, and there’s a chance we’d go to AK via Edmonton and return via Calgary and South through Glacier Park based on feedback and lots of variables.

By downsizing the AK part and minimizing wilderness, we’ll probably also feel more comfortable to forego carrying a gun. So here’s the current vision, with the highways in blue and our approximate route in shades of green (light green on the homeward leg). Any pilot will know that this will change a lot based on airport and fuel options, and weather. Low/slow pilots like me also tend to make changes based on whimsy (see it, like it, go look, maybe land if there’s a suitable airport), and hunch (this looks like a cool town to explore). Even so, it’s likely that our actual flight path will be considerably shorter than the driving distance given by gMaps.

TripRoute-v3 N by NW

TripRoute-v3 N by NW



Filed under: Aviation,Flying,Has Photos,NxNW Adventure,Random,Tripp — John @ 01:20

NOTE: this isn’t the first post in this “North by Northwest” story. For that, scroll to the bottom of this page and read each post in reverse order until you reach this one at the top again. After reading this one, scroll to the bottom again and click the “Previous” link to repeat the process there until you’ve read all the pages. If you have trouble understanding this, welcome to the crowd (and look at the step by step directions on the “Adventures” link in the right column of every page). Crazy system, eh?

Long ago in a land nearby, a boy sat in a chair looking out the window. Outside were birds and clouds, and in the classroom where he sat the subject was Geography. Today is very different: I fly among the birds and clouds, love education in general and am thankful for teachers in particular, and have also rediscovered Geography. For me there’s nothing quite like flying around in a region to put it on my mental map, and get me interested in studying its geography.  Sure, I still mix up some of the places less familiar to me like Wisconsin and Michigan, but having now flown there I can take a moment to tour the mental map. Of course, after a few days in Oshkosh next week that part of my mental map will be clearer. 🙂

So today I also realized that if you’ve been following any of this you might enjoy perusing our gMaps tentative route yourself (duh!). Let me know if it doesn’t work for you to click this link. It’s fun to zoom in and check stuff out, and you’ll soon start guessing where we’d deviate to look at stuff or land and explore on the ground.

I’ve also started looking at terrain. Even though we’ll be flying among some fairly high peaks, by going along the general track of highways it’s likely we’ll be crossing major ranges at their lowest points. When we flew the Big Adventure in Flash, such things were much more of a concern. Tripp adds a significant margin to our ease in crossing mountain ranges, so it’s fun to imagine a route with maximum scenic wonders.

Below is our approximate route so far, in gMaps Terrain view (in the “More” menu). It’s nice to see where the mountains are, but the Maps view with terrain and other “More” features turned off was nice for clearly showing where there are parks. We discovered long ago that there are good reasons why parks are set aside, and often those reasons are especially spectacular from the air. Anne has kindly volunteered to research the parks along our route, in case we want to divert to see something here and there along our general track. Interestingly though, we’ve found that some incredible views aren’t on the maps or travel guides because those are designed for motorists, hikers and cyclists.

Trip Route v.4 - Terrain View

Trip Route v.4 - Terrain View

In coming days I’ll start researching airports along our route, and that too could produce some deviations from this initial highway track. It’s guaranteed we won’t be following all those jagged curves, because it’s fun to fly in straighter lines except when we wander off to look at something. Can you tell we’re getting excited? 🙂


Bingeing & Fish Hooks

We finally got some of the stuff on the “To Buy” part of our list for the trip, and we might have gone just a tad overboard. Did we really need mosquito hat covers?

Something we enjoy on “altered” State Street, is overhearing snippets of conversation. Sometimes we notice ours too. Like as we passed a guy sitting on a bench waiting outside some apparel store for his wife. I said, “It’s comfy, but I can’t take it off!” Now that snippet in itself is entertaining for us, but the context was our jocular discussion of what it would be like to wear a velcro jacket. By now maybe you’re wondering how this relates to shopping for the trip.

In the sporting goods store, we talked for probably ten minutes about whether to buy fishing hooks and line. In retrospect, the dialog must have been riddled with snippets we’d enjoy hearing from others as we passed them in the aisles. “We’d need a license.” “Not if we’re fishing for survival.” Now you might get a hint that there was a darker side to this particular dialog.

The route we plan to fly will always be within gliding distance of roads and settled areas, as was our plan for the Big Adventure. Even on that flight in generally more developed areas than we contemplate in this one, there were a few times we wandered off to look at stuff. One region that comes to mind is Big Bend in TX, where we got into some fairly remote areas. As pilots might guess, I climbed to increase our options but am glad they weren’t needed. So since we don’t fish for sport, as Anne contemplated a scenario where fish hooks would be useful, her mood darkened. Fortunately we worked through it, and since the minimalist fishing gear was small, light and cheap we went for it. More options.

So tonight we begin piling stuff to sort, weigh, and then try to pack into Tripp. For the Big Adventure flight we had our small car packed to the roof with stuff, and were surprised when it all fit comfortably into Flash. This time we might fly without the back seat, which would produce even more space – and probably more ease in loading. It would be nice if we can also load it in such a way that we don’t need to unload lots of stuff to get at something we need. We also need to decide whether to bring a tarp, because one of the cool things about a C-172 like Tripp is how easy it is to create a cozy place beneath a wing just by adding a tarp. Soon we’ll visit a few other stores on our List Quest, but maybe we’ll dial back the binge factor after looking at the pile from today’s craze. As always, comments, suggestions and warnings are welcome. 🙂


Lists & Panic

Filed under: Aviation,Flying,Inner World,NxNW Adventure,Random,Tripp — John @ 19:16

Today’s themes seem to be lists and panic. Our lists, that we had been making some progress with crossing items off of, are starting to explode. So many things we’d forgotten, spring back to mind and find their way onto our lists. That could feel overwhelming, but a bigger inner stress is trying to build in us: what about all those things we’ve thought of and not added to the lists?! Something comes to mind, and before we can add it to the list there’s some distraction. What if one of those items is something crucial? Then we breathe deeply and remember that we’re not flying out into the tundra wilderness, but across thousands of miles dotted with big cities, airports and lots of resources. Just this morning we admitted to ourselves that some of our preparations for the trip will probably happen on the trip.

So the panic subsides a bit. Then we look at the maps (and increasingly charts), and the magnificence of what lies ahead moderates the magnitude of it. As a July AOPA pilot magazine article noted, long flying trips are just a collection of short flights. Each is a mini-adventure punctuated by discoveries of people and places at landings along the way.

Each day, as more is made ready and yet more arises to do, we bump along between moments of accomplishment and overwhelm. What will today’s preparations reveal?

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