John & Anne Wiley

2014/11/12

Return To Paradise

I’ve said it before: After flying every State in the U.S. (except HI) and all the Canadian Provinces, Santa Barbara is still our favorite.

Put differently: There’s No Place Like Home. 🙂

So as we coasted over the Oceano Dunes near Pismo Beach just over half an hour from SBA, our hearts were swelling.

7124 Home Dunes

7124 Home Dunes

Glancing up we saw the coastal Santa Ynez Range in the distance, and after a few blinks at familiar and always some new scenes we were looking back from our coast at the Gaviota Pass through those mountains.

7183 Home Pass

7183 Home Pass

A few more scenic blinks and we cruised offshore of Refugio Beach, our dancing hearts pulling with increasing magnetic force toward all that sings Home.

7205 Home Refuge

7205 Home Refuge

Now skimming to the last of our pix from the PNW Adventure, a serene calm softens my memories. If the world ended right now, my last moment would overflow with appreciation for the good fortune of a full and amazing life. Living to the limit, hard times in the past are healed and expectations for the future more easily released.

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2014/11/11

Steps To Happiness

“How far can you fly?” That’s a question we’re often asked. Around the world would be one correct answer. Tripp can fly from Portland to SB without stopping is another answer, but we don’t. Usually. It’s much more fun to fly low and slow, stopping every few hundred miles for a stretch, some exploration on the ground, and maybe a meal. When friends and family along our route can accommodate the semi-scheduled nature of nearly all our flying trips, we stop for a visit. So almost always we make long trips in “steps” of a few hundred miles each.

6868 River Life

6868 River Life

Our first step toward home from Marysville gave us this peek at the river, where people eke out a life in ramshackle camps among the trees. Soon we saw Sacramento slip by far in the hazy distance, where the upscale and wealthy set policy.

6888 Sacramento

6888 Sacramento

Tripp transforms the Seattle to SB trip from a grueling drive or cramped airliner into scenic pleasures punctuating a series of discoveries and precious memories formed in such steps.

It was a short step to San Jose, where we cherished some sweet times with a sister and family. When we took off on our final step home the next day, there she was waving warmly.

2696 Sweet Step

2696 Sweet Step

The last step triggered memories of visiting cousins in Morgan Hill. A peak that seemed impossibly high then, is now an easy glance.

6908 Morgan Memories

6908 Morgan Memories

Many refreshing and memorable views unfolded gracefully below in the hour after takeoff. Then we crossed the coastal mountains and descended toward the beach as we passed high over Hearst Castle.

7015 Hearst Descent

7015 Hearst Descent

Having taken some of the tours there, it’s always interesting to see from above at different angles on each passage. Over the beach at our comfortable quarter mile or so up, we turned more directly toward home. Tomorrow I’ll chose a few visions to share from that final hour of wonders on our PNW Adventure.

2014/11/10

Say Uncle

As we cleared the mountains near Redding, we had to say Uncle and stay at relatively high altitude. Everything is much clearer down lower where we like to fly (especially in the haze typically cloaking the central valley). But we were racing to a brief visit with one of my Uncles on our way to visit another, and higher = faster in many cases. We were covering 140 miles in an hour, rather than our typical lazy 100 or so down low. Although we saw many scenic wonders, the haze up there isn’t conducive to interesting pix. So the first I’ll share in this post is as we were taking off from Lakeport having missed Uncle #1 due to a text message mistake.

6831 Clear Lake

6831 Clear Lake

We haven’t seen him in a long time, so we really want to go back. But on this day after an hour waiting in vain at Lampson Field we zipped out to the East. Toward that end of Clear Lake is this little islet with a house that commands an expansive view of sunrise over the water.

6841 Rising Sun Setting

6841 Rising Sun Setting

As for us, just as sunset was approaching we landed at Marysville for a visit with my other uncle. Flooded fields punctuated the dust plain here and there as the distant Buttes stood witness in the haze.

6860 Fields & Buttes

6860 Fields & Buttes

As we took off the next morning after a surprise visit with family, I snapped my Uncle and Cousin watching us circle back overhead going South just after they finished waving.

6883 Fond Farewell

6883 Fond Farewell

It’s a special feeling, being with people you love who have known you all your life. Especially those who share my tradition of waving farewell.

2014/11/08

Last Mountain

The last major mountain we passed on our flight home was Shasta. So many times I’ve passed it in a car – as a kid in the back seat, my first time driving it in my own car, and more trips since including several with Anne before Tripp. So for me Shasta is an iconic mountain “friend” of sorts. A milestone perhaps. Unlike driving past, every time in Tripp is very different because it’s so easy to whimsically change our route and we can see it the whole time without trees or hills in the way. So each passage unfolds new faces.

6785 Shadow Shasta

6785 Shadow Shasta

This time one of many views we saw of it was beyond the Black Butte cinder cone that towers next to I-5. Shasta stands like some strange shadow of the cinder cone, or maybe a photobomb. This perspective reveals the “shadow” side of Shasta, reminding us that it’s an active volcano. Shasta Lake nearby is a shadow of its normal self, with many arms completely dry revealing the old road with normally submerged bridge below that railroad bridge.

6795 Surfaced Bridge

6795 Surfaced Bridge

Invisible from distant I-5, for the thousands of passing motorists the old bridge is effectively still submerged, below their view. What they can see is part of this view that still looks like a lake, yet conceals the small marina around a bend toward the bottom of the pic.

6800 Shasta Lake

6800 Shasta Lake

There the boaters are making a last stand at their inlet, carving a new road down to the water. Out the other window a few minutes earlier passed these rocky peaks of Castle Crags that I never noticed (or couldn’t see) from the road.

2570 Castle Crags

2570 Castle Crags

It still surprises me sometimes when people are afraid to fly, yet will risk their lives daily down on those dangerous roads and highways down there. Maybe some people are born to fly. The pull so powerful that even those with some fear will find their way past it up into the sky. Cruising the open air between cloud and mountain, delighting in the world beneath our wings, and wishing we could share this rare joy with everyone.

2014/11/07

Migration

Our hopscotch flight from Seattle home to Santa Barbara was a great way to visit friends and family along the way. When we used to drive on such trips, we soon tired of taking turns at the wheel and sometimes felt as if we’d never arrive. Flying now, we enjoy the journey and the destinations along our way. For example, by car we’d have missed these opulent manses on the lakeshore just over the hill from downtown Seattle.

6641 Mercerview Manses

6641 Mercerview Manses

We wouldn’t have fought traffic to visit “you dub” (University of Washington), but mere minutes after our Renton takeoff it lay before us in this beautiful watery context.

6644 UW

6644 UW

Water defines the PNW, like in quiet small lakes with Disneyesque Twain islands to explore in that little white boat in this pic.

6711 Explorer's Island

6711 Explorer’s Island

Water works also abound in the sand bars of river bends like this north of Silverlake.

6721 Rambling River

6721 Rambling River

We saw a sign of the freedom expressed by people here, in the thin crescent of mowed green atop this pointy hill far from view of the roads.

6729 Hilltop Freedom

6729 Hilltop Freedom

Looking closer we could make out an ultralight aircraft poised to bring an effectively free rush of delight to a rural aviator.

6724 Free Ride

6724 Free Ride

After our enchanting visit in Grant’s Pass, our magic carpet Tripp lofted us over lush forests along the romantic Rogue River past its namesake town.

6740 Rogue River

6740 Rogue River

A few minutes later we were in California, and it was as though someone had turned off the water. Slopes near the almost dry Shastina Lake were barren and brown, yet snow melt from Mt. Shasta cut a ribbon of green in lower ground.

6764 Drying Trend

6764 Drying Trend

We are happy to live in the last country on earth where ordinary people can (barely) afford the freedom of flight. Where dreamers like me can partake of this breathtaking experience known to our species for just over a century. Migrating toward home, the journey itself can bring delights equal to the destinations.

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