John & Anne Wiley

2016/10/30

Remarkably Ordinary

I was thinking today about how flying can become remarkably ordinary. For most people, flying means being hundreds or thousands of miles away in a fraction of the time to drive. For those who get over any irrational fear, this remarkable experience tends to quickly become ordinary. Not for us. Why? Well, there’s the constantly changing stream of vast and fascinating diversity of stellar views that people will drive for hours to see from a “Vista Point.”

0765 Alpine Lake

0765 Alpine Lake

Then there’s the travel aspect. We saw this alpine lake South of Grants Pass on the same day we landed about 600 miles away in Santa Barbara. That’s about 11 hours by car just for the driving without all the detours, visits and exponentially more striking and numerous scenic wonders we so enjoyed. Also on that day we visited with three Uncles in two states and three counties, took off just before noon, arrived before dark, and saw countless more scenes of remarkable beauty like this.

0788 Earth, Water, Life

0788 Earth, Water, Life

After the third Uncle visit we headed directly home along the parched and smoky Sacramento Valley. The interactions of terrain, agriculture and nature offer endless fascination. This view is so different from yet evocative of, the quietly immersive joys of standing in such places.

3348 Quiet Meander

3348 Quiet Meander

Also on this stretch are innumerable human fascinations, like Mc Clellan AFB where the story of airfield changes over decades is so visible from above.

3312 Mc Clellan AFB

3312 Mc Clellan AFB

For those who share this interest I’ve circled in green at upper left the place where dedicated volunteers and sponsors maintain the lively Aerospace Museum of CA. A smaller blue circle below that is where more aircraft are parked close together in front of a hanger. The purple circle shows areas off a taxiway where aircraft used to be parked during the military era of the now mostly public airfield, like the ones where B-17 bombers once parked at the Santa Maria Airport. The yellow arrows point out old pavement that was probably asphalt runways before newer concrete ones were built.

So much beauty, adventure, travel and other remarkable experiences are available to those who enjoy aviation. Yet for so many people it can seem scary or ordinary. We feel so incredibly fortunate that for us it is somehow both relaxing and exciting!

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2016/10/29

Say Uncle

Child bullies used to issue that demand when they had a victim pinned, but sometimes the pain was easier to endure than the shame of the tearful word, “Uncle!” Smoke seemed to have us down on this flight, but every time we thought of that word it seemed better. Like this pic of Grants Pass along the Rogue River as we took off after a fun night stopover with a dear Uncle.

3063 Grants Pass

3063 Grants Pass

But looking along our route South the smoke was thick as ever.

3061 Smoke Signal

3061 Smoke Signal

No, that’s not cloud on the horizon. There was a big fire off to the right, and as we climbed higher to scope out options we talked about trying the coast but decided to fly parallel to I-5 and stay high if needed. We stayed above it as Shasta bravely peeked out at us.

3077 Smoke Shrouded Shasta

3077 Smoke Shrouded Shasta

It had finally thinned some by the time we got this look down at Lake Shasta, now with much more water than our last passage.

3160 Lake Shasta Fuller

3160 Lake Shasta Fuller

We have more pix from this flight, but they’re so smoky as to be annoying for me. But we were spared a relatively boring flight home high above smoke by two of the many things we love about flying a small plane: flexible stops, and getting low. Yes, we decided to visit another Uncle and it yielded one of my fav pix from this day’s flying.

3209 Animal Island

3209 Animal Island

I love the colors and textures of it, and how sometimes it transmorgrifies into tufted fur along the spine of a giant half-submerged animal. It’s in Clear Lake, but as you can see the water was somewhat less than clear that day.

3215 Clear Lake Wake

3215 Clear Lake Wake

That dark vertical line next to another small islet in the lake, is the wake of a small boat that recently departed the dock. Minutes later on our descent we arrived at the iconic little airport, and perused the small aircraft “boneyard” as we wait for our Uncle to arrive for a brief visit.

3243 Aircraft Boneyard

3243 Aircraft Boneyard

After a refreshing lunch break chatting with him about old times and what’s new, we took off again for the short hop over to have a few minutes with our third Uncle of the day – in Marysville. More smoke of course, though thinner, but as we descended toward that airport this farm caught my fancy.

3304 Ancient Shapes

3304 Ancient Shapes

Small farms can evoke ancient times when our species settled down from hunter-gatherer to agriculture. Did a boy walk from Clear Lake to the Yuba River to visit an Uncle back then?

2016/10/28

Seattle to South

Well I’m a little surprised at how long it’s been since the last post! Maybe in part because of the difference between how beautiful the views were, and how marginal our pix came out due to the pesky smoke from lingering wildfires. Lifting off from Renton out over Lake Washington was probably the best view we had.

2745 Lk.Wash. & Cities

2745 Lake Washington & Cities

Seattle at the left and Bellevue at right seemed clearer than they were, because the foreground lake looks crisp. But a zoom pic of Seattle shows how much smoke there is, even after I’ve tweaked at it in a photo editor trying to minimize haze more as it looked to the eye.

2743 Smoky Seattle

2743 Smoky Seattle

Before heading South we enjoyed a short flight out to Snoqualmie Falls taking the dear friends we’d hiked there with for an aerial perspective, and this was among the glorious views out in the clearer air of the valley.

0626 Snoqualmie Falls

0626 Snoqualmie Falls

After dropping them off back at Renton we headed toward the South over Auburn on a slow climb where the thickening air was clearer above the lowest smoke layer, enabling this long zoom of Mt. Rainy-er free of rain (and even low clouds).

2750 Lk.Tapps to Mt.Rainier

2750 Lk.Tapps to Mt.Rainier

In a spot with thinner smoke and a better sun angle I even managed to get this slightly better long zoom pic.

2777 Mount Rainier

2777 Mount Rainier

The smoke still makes the colors strange though, and our eyes magically made it look more spectacular. This wider view has more natural colors.

2789 Mountain Memories

2789 Mountain Memories

Every flight North and South along this corridor brings memories of hiking, camping, driving, and of course flying here when the air after a rain was so clear you could almost see stars in daylight. Maybe our eyes partly see memories and automatically edit out some of the smoke.

Mount Saint Helens still shows effects of the dramatic eruption, though we could see many signs of new growth in the debris flows.

2911 Mount Saint Helens

2911 Mount Saint Helens

Soon we flew past Portland memories and resolved again to go back and take in all that’s new in that exciting and dynamic city. We’ve heard of people being “over” Portland, but not in the sense we were – and it’s unlikely we’ll ever be “over” it in the sense they were.

3011 Not Over Portland

3011 Not Over Portland

From here we got back into ever-increasing smoke all the way to our overnight stop in Grants Pass.

 

2016/10/03

Seattle Sights

Our return to the Seattle area was another homecoming, including more quality time with family like this suburban neighborhood hike.

135715 Family Fun

135715 Family Fun

Our few more days there seemed to both fly past, and to open toward eternity.

2730 Serene Elk

2730 Serene Sunset Elk

We connected with friends there not visited in decades, and some with whom we’ve kept in touch or reconnected in recent years. We hiked up to Twin Falls catching snippets of quiet conversations on the trail, and standing in awe of the rain forest beauty.

161154 Twin Falls

161154 Twin Falls

We also took some time exploring alone together, including a leisurely walking tour reconnecting with Seattle Center.

130447 Gehry Fantasy

130447 Gehry Fantasy

The EMP was still our favorite among things to see there, as we joined many others in snapping lots of pix like this view interacting with the Space Needle and monorail.

131219 Still In Motion

131219 Still In Motion

This lovers moment might be partly influenced by Gehry’s fluid design.

131351 Lovers in Red

131351 Lovers in Red

On the other side of this architectural sculpture we paused to watch kids of all ages enjoying a compatible playground installation.

132208 Creative Playground

132208 Creative Playground

Relaxed, rested and refreshed, we prepared for another flight to complement these delightful days.

2016/10/01

Another Rainier Day

The weather after crossing the Rockies to KGPI was rainier but still fine for flying, so we took a short detour a little to the Northwest.

2491 Green to Blue

2491 Green to Blue

The idea was that we might enjoy new scenery along the valley up to Eureka and then back down through Kootenai National Forest along Lake Koocanusa where the Kootenay River meets the Libby Dam. But blue smoke was still dulling the green so near Stryker we turned toward Libby. We still saw interesting shapes straight down where the smoke doesn’t show as much, like this artistic feature.

2534 Green Scream

2534 Green Scream

I couldn’t recall whether William Clark had left his legendary expedition with Lewis to explore the Clark Fork and may have stood on those rocks below the Noxon Rapids Dam.

2570 Noxon Rapids Dam

2570 Noxon Rapids Dam

We stretched our brief flight across the North tip of Idaho by heading to Sandpoint for fuel, and the river mouth on Lake Pend Oreille was beautiful.

2579 Lake Pend Oreille

2579 Lake Pend Oreille

We passed North of Spokane, and on the way to our turn into the I-90 mountain pass at Ellensburg we saw what looked like a plume of smoke from a new fire. After passing it near Wellpinit we could see that it was wind-blown ash from a large recent fire that had crossed the Spokane River at Cayuse Cove.

2628 Green, Ash, River

2628 Green, Ash, River

More smoky but interesting miles later we passed the welcoming sentinel of Mt. Rainier, for more fun with family and friends in the Seattle area.

2692 Mt. Rainier

2692 Mt. Rainier

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