John & Anne Wiley

2017/09/19

Drought Relief?

More and stronger rains came in February, offering the promise of an end to our epic drought.

5538 Promise

5538 Promise

But also a warning that the rains might be so strong that they’d bring flood damage but not the prolonged gentler rain needed to end the drought.

160212 Warning

160212 Warning

Still, it was easiest to focus on the beauty. That rainbow over Tangerine Falls beckoned us to fly up for a closer look at the glorious changes going on in our mountains.

5529 Tangerine Top

5529 Tangerine Top

Atop the falls, ancient stones seemed to be laughing as their lichen grizzled cheeks leapt to life. Looking from that rarely visited top down the full length to the popular pool at the base, we breathed deeply of the moist air.

5542 Tangerine Mist

5542 Tangerine Mist

Even the seldom seen occasional small falls nearby was roaring.

5530 Rare Sight

5530 Rare Sight

Climbing to check SB’s Santa Ynez River water supply, we glimpsed our first snow since New Zealand’s “O.U.” adventure.

5757 Distant Snow

5757 Distant Snow

We delighted to see the dusty riverbed flowing brown amid green.

5683 Earth Colors

5683 Earth Colors

The middle of three dams on the river wore a welcome white veil.

5740 Gibraltar Spill

5740 Gibraltar Spill

Returning from our brief tour, our most popular South slope falls had grown from the prior trickle into leaping torrents.

5557 Leaping Waters

5557 Leaping Waters

Still short of a flood though, there were quiet pools of fresh water in many places.

5843 Refreshing Pause

5843 Refreshing Pause

A possibly accessible spot we’ve seen from the air and been wanting to visit was even more beautiful than usual.

5862 Hidden Haven

5862 Hidden Haven

Back at SBA the integrated estuary seemed to embrace the nourishing water just before it returned to the sea.

5649 Last Stop

5649 Last Stop

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2017/09/07

Happy Home

Even after our incredible “O.U.” adventure to Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia with lots of flying fun, we were still glad to be home. In fact, we started flying here again the very next day.

3745 Happy Home

3745 Happy Home

There had been some rain while we were gone, and things were delightfully green. Up in the hills the town’s most popular waterfalls were flowing.

4049 Popular Pools

4049 Popular Pools

A week later the greening had continued, framing our familiar airport KSBA.

1212 Greener

1212 Greener

The next time we flew, the foothills were a rolling riot of green.

1449 Green Blanket

1449 Green Blanket

Subsequent flights added clearer air for even more spectacular views of our favorite places.

4520 Clear Coast

4520 Clear Coast

Looking up State Street toward the mountains was breathtaking.

4526 Up State

4526 Up State

The placid waters off Goleta Beach were soothing.

4754 Goleta Beach

4754 Goleta Beach

At the end of January, we spotted a less-known creek pool quietly inviting visitors.

4836 Quiet Pool

4836 Quiet Pool

In mid-February there was a big gathering at western Isla Vista.

5049 I.V. Surf Gathering

5049 I.V. Surf Gathering

The U.C.S.B. campus was especially beautiful that day.

5054 U.C. Splendor

5054 U.C. Splendor

Back near town, Shoreline Park offered a sparkling green introduction to Our Town.

5093 Emerald City

5093 Emerald City

Some days there are schools of fish so big they make shifting shapes like this one sheltering near the pier.

1188 School Shape

1188 School Shape

Often the pelicans, gulls and other birds join with dolphins and other predators at such schools for a fish feast.

5109 Feeding Frenzy

5109 Feeding Frenzy

A big storm soon after muddied the water for a major change of scene.

5377 Brown Out

5377 Brown Out

A bridge project downtown was set back when the storm runoff washed away forms just when they were ready for the concrete to be poured into them.

5450 Bridge Setback

5450 Bridge Setback

But local surfers were treated to some memorable rides.

5490 Surf City

5490 Surf City

I’ll continue this catch up with more pix from our flights this year, in the next post. It’s fun to see them again while sharing them here, reminding us yet again how happy we are to be Home.

2017/08/28

Love & Letting Go

Feelings ran high, beneath the surface, as the family gathered for a last night and morning in paradise. So between collecting our things and tidying up, we paused for a few more moments enjoying the kids’ delight.

104846 Last Moments

104846 Last Moments

All too soon our last farewells were done. We began dispersing across the West in jets high over the deep waters as this journey slipped into memory over the horizon. Our own afternoon jet pointed a wing toward the parking spot of the GA plane we’d flown to Hāna at sunset.

135051 Wing Memories

135051 Wing Memories

It seemed a heartbeat until we passed yesterday’s GA takeoff, climbing toward home.

135833 Last Glance

135833 Last Glance

Watching the world turn far below, waves of memories reflected on the Pacific. At some point clear sky changed to dotted clouds yielding to a solid barrier between us and the sea. After sunset I felt the start of our descent toward LAX and opened Avare on my phone to follow along. We changed planes and in a blink we emerged again into rain below the clouds to the welcoming lights of Goleta.

FinalRwy7-SBA

Final, Runway 7, SBA

Even in the dark it was easy to pick out the familiar places we’ve flown over in small planes, and visited on the ground. As wheels touched home I snapped one last memory on this trip of a lifetime.

Touching Home

Touching Home

Writing this months later, I dimly recall the Dreams we had of that journey. I recall transforming those dreams into a solid Plan, and unfolding and adapting that Plan into a trip we actually Take. Now we Remember the trip and notice those memories softening into an evolving Dream.

It seems to me we try to hold onto the people, things and memories we love. At the same time we learn that change is constant, and often painful. Loving is the easy part for me. So perhaps the lesson is: Love is about Letting Go.

2017/03/28

More Mt. Aspiring

After lots more time poring over topo maps and gMaps, I’m confident that the pic titled “1665 Clouded Majesty” is Mount Aspiring. Here are more pix of it, approaching from the North and passing to the West.

1649 Glaciers & Mt. Aspiring

1649 Glaciers & Mt. Aspiring

I haven’t found a name for that glacial lake, but apparently the peak is flanked on the left by Volta Glacier with Thermal Glacier on the right in this view toward the South. This next pic is like the one in the prior post but closer and with more detail.

1676 Mount Aspiring Peak

1676 Mount Aspiring Peak

Approaching the West flank we got this view revealing how deep the snow is on top.

1732 West Flank

1732 West Flank

Further down that side where North West Ridge meets Shipowner Ridge we spotted the brave red Colin Todd Hut. It’s perched on a rock outcrop between the Bonar Glacier and what’s left of the Iso Glacier.

1739 Colin Todd Hut

1739 Colin Todd Hut

It’s apparently used as a base camp for climbers headed to the summit from this side. In this last wider shot as we passed looking toward the East, you can barely make out that hut at the bottom. Makes the climb look truly daunting, and so different from the comparable elevation 8,847Mount Pinos a mere 40-something miles away from KSBA. That distance is similar to flying direct from Wanaka to Mt. Aspiring, but the active and much more recent glaciers slice rugged terrain that argues for the indirect route we flew.  Here in California that altitude looks like an easy hike even in Winter, but in NZ it looks like Everest.

1769 Aspiring Summer Climb

1769 Aspiring Summer Climb

Christmas Eve on this peak in the Haast Range of New Zealand’s Southern Alps is their Summer, begging the question of what a Winter climb would be like. Anyway, in the next post I’ll share a few pix from the Milford Sound part of this flight.

2017/01/07

Over Under Adventure

If you were wondering why we haven’t posted anything here since Halloween, we have a great excuse: we’ve been Over down-Under (hence the name “Over Under” aka “O U” for this Big Adventure). That is, we had a grand 5-week+ trip that included Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia! It all began with takeoff crammed into a commuter jet from SBA to LAX.  *Note: To read any of our Big Flying Adventures in sequence click here, for this one click here.

123007 SB High & Fast

123007 SB High & Fast

We prefer Tripp low and slow hereabouts, but it was a change of pace to be instantly above the clouds bidding farewell to Home through plexiglass rather than Tripp’s open windows. But as you’ve guessed, this journey followed our standard 5-step model starting with:

1. The Trip We Plan.

That step began long before Halloween but intensified as departure just after Thanksgiving quickly approached. Even with many months on this step, the last few weeks were increasingly crazy but we managed to board that flight with just two small checked bags and two backpacks.

2. The Trip We Take.

Soon we were zipping out across the Pacific in a much larger jet, to land at HNL and immediately drive our rented car across the airport to Moore Air where I’d pre-arranged a check-ride in a 172. Our plan was to then rent that plane and fly all the Hawaiian Islands. The trip we took was different. Lifting off from HNL the weather was marginal as you can see in this view of Diamond Head.

6745 Distant Diamond

6745 Distant Diamond

It got worse, and the flight instructor’s goal seemed to center on proving that only airline pilots are qualified to rent their island-weathered planes. So my focus quickly shifted from flying to photography, knowing that the plan was out the window (which unlike Tripp’s, would only open a few inches). Even so, the views were thrilling and minutes later we were low over the North Shore.

6814 Oahu North Shore

6814 Oahu North Shore

I’ll probably say this more than once, but it’s puzzling why anyone would visit a beautiful place and not fly in a small plane. Especially with two of us, so that charter and tour prices are more than renting a plane with pilot. Many glorious scenes and countless pix later we were nearing HNL when ATC told us to circle over Ford Island. If you know something about history or aviation, that will have special meaning as it did for us.

6897 Ford Island Tower

6897 Ford Island Tower

The iconic control tower seen in so many WWII movies is next to an excellent aviation museum. Nearby is the somber Pearl Harbor site memorializing the Navy’s losses on Dec. 7, 1941.

6883 Pearl Harbor Memories

6883 Pearl Harbor Memories

Anne’s recently departed Dad and her grandfather both served here as officers during that conflict, so the family is steeped in stories. A reverie settled over us as we circled where Japanese aircraft once did.

6926 Weeping Arizona

6926 Weeping Arizona

The empty gun turret and stream of slowly weeping fuel oil bear silent testimony to the frantic men who met their end beneath these waters.

Times change, with the many Japanese residents, visitors and friends in HI and the U.S. mainland sharing our hope for an ever more peaceful world. On that note, after landing we drove to the iconic Aloha Tower where I shot panoramic videos from the four sides of this free tourist attraction. Here’s a screencap toward Waikiki.

153801 Aloha Tower View

153801 Aloha Tower View

Next we visited the famed Royal Hawaiian where we’d gone together soon after meeting in cold Seattle, for a warm romantic adventure.

6944 Royal Hawaiian

6944 Royal Hawaiian

Now even more dwarfed by the surrounding high-rise towers, it still commands an amazing view from its infinity pool where time seems to stand still as people ride the long waves to shore.

6952 Long Ride

6952 Long Ride

Our own long ride had just begun on this first long and varied day. In coming posts we’ll share some highlights with you. 🙂

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