A Couple More to Come

Back home.  Catching up.  Reflecting.

I’ll add another post soon.   My thoughts on flying in America and the people and towns we visited.

I’ve just over 1100 images to sort and edit but my glasses were last seen in Lander, Wyoming.   So when my new ones turn up I’ll get into that.

Keep watching!  Not quite done…

Mission Accomplished

20120802-132708.jpgSun in my eyes but you get the idea

Mission Accomplished

Back in LA.

3400 nautical miles. 25 hours flying.

We never made one turn to avoid weather.

We never saw wind, on the ground or at altitude, above 15 knots.

Not a bump.

Not bad!

Our decision to bypass Lake Havasu was probably a good one. We are both tired – probably not helped by being above 6000 feet, even on the ground, for the last few days.

So we will have a day around LA before heading home.

This mornings flight was just over two hours from Cedar City, Utah to Chino, California.

As usual, the morning was clear blue – no sign yet of the thunderstorms that will rumble over during the day. Our cab driver gleefully told us “I’ve got some rock and rolled tuned for ya” so we headed out to the airport with Steppenwolf keeping us company.

20120802-132849.jpgCedar City, Utah

Most of the flight today was over desert. We both kept a close eye on landmarks such as roads and towns so we always had a plan should we need to make an unplanned landing for any reason. As Duane told us “Water? Nah, if you end up in the desert you need a .45 – there’s no point prolonging things out there”. We made sure we were always close to a busy road.

20120802-132954.jpgNevada Desert

Our flight plan took us fairly close to Las Vegas ‘s busy airport. Several times, our traffic alert system blurted out a warning and we looked up to see Southwest Airlines 737’s passing just above us.

We passed just south of Hoover Dam – it was hiding in a canyon, but we got the idea.

Flying in LA’s busy airspace should be daunting. However a quick call to “SoCal Approach” air traffic control saw us cleared right through busy airspace direct into Chino. No “sorry I’m too busy, remain clear” here!

So we are back in Starbucks. My eyes are watering from my frozen throat ( or ice cream headache, whatever its called) I’ve suffered from every time I’ve had a grande coconut mocha frappe with no cream.

It’s going to take a few weeks to really consolidate all the places we’ve seen and the people we’ve met. I certainly learnt a huge amount about America and its people, politics and problems in those hours spent around Duane’s kitchen bench. Thanks Duane – our time with Mary and yourself was definitely a highlight. I can spot an Obama bumper sticker a mile off!! Let me know when you get that iPad. I’m sure there’s an “Obama App”! AND your coffee was the best I’ve had while in the USA!

Not much more to add really. I guess I’ve said it all as we’ve updated our respective blogs each day. Perhaps in a few days when we are a bit more rested.

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Jackson to Cedar City, Utah

8 degrees in Jackson Hole this morning. I thought it was summer in the USA!

A number of people had asked us what our next port of call was after Jackson When we told them we were headed for Provo, the replies were mostly the same.

So, here we are in Cedar City, Utah. Many miles from Provo.

We left Jackson at 7:30 am as a thunderstorm made its way along the Tetons. Our track to the south was clear and the reports for our first stop of the day, a small airport called Nephie, was good.

Given we were already at 6000 feet above sea level, it was only a short climb to our cruise altitude of 8500 feet. Even so, we needed to weave our way through mountain passes before we could settle on a straight southerly track toward Nephie.

Nephie is just south of Salt Lake City. It is no more than a small airport in the desert – just a small settlement of perhaps two hundred inhabitants. We only needed it as a fuel stop as gas is about one dollar per gallon less expensive than back up the road.

The highlight today has been flying through Provo Canyon, a mountain pass about as wide as the Karangahake Gorge between Paeroa and Waihi, but with steep mountain slopes either side that climb at least 3500 feet above us – and we were at 8500 feet. The photo does not do it justice!

20120801-134915.jpg Provo Canyon with Salt Lake beyond

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After our fuel stop, it was George’s turn to drive so we swapped seats and headed for Cedar City, Utah. The terrain is slowly heading back towards desert – a sure sign our adventure is nearly at an end.

20120801-135207.jpg Out In The Desert – Nephie Airfield

I noted a number of mountain slopes scorched from recent fire – probably why at Cedar City airport, fire fighting aircraft look to be permanently based.

After settling the aeroplane in for the day, we have assumed the position at the Starbucks closest to our hotel. I’m suffering the ritual frozen throat (ice cream headache) I manage every day and the afternoon thunderstorm has fired up on the hills behind us.

Tomorrow was supposed to be Lake Havasu, however with temperatures forecast there in the mid forties, we have decided to head directly back to Chino, California. Tomorrow will be our last day! We will have a couple of nights in the LA area and head home, arriving in New Zealand on Monday morning, flight loads permitting..

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park

Michael Dickson – I tested those beers you asked me to! Yep, they were OK, especially at 6000 feet above sea level, the elevation of Lander.

We left Lander early as usual. This was George's leg and he kept the airspeed up to help keep the engine cool as we climbed to the highest the little yellow plane has ever been. 10,500 feet. Straight up, then fairly well straight back down after crossing the mountains toward Grand Teton National Park and Jackson airport. Just a quick 45 minute flight and we were greeted by a follow-me car that guided us to our parking spot for the night, in between a multitude of business jets that have carried their owners to this mountain escape.

Mixing it....

We grabbed a rental car and headed in the direction of Moose Village, just out of town and recommended to us by the bar staff back in Lander. It was certainly something to sit outside and have breakfast under the Tetons – it is where I shot the top image.

Check in at our hotel was not until late afternoon so we headed out of town to take in the scenery. Certainly reminds me of Queenstown back in New Zealand, both in scenery and the town itself.

Just a quick update toady – I'll include a few pics. The obligatory afternoon thunderstorm has just rolled into town so a quick shut eye before catching up with friends of George's for an early drink.

Tomorrow, we head to Provo, Utah. We are within a few nights of arriving back in LA. We just have to survive 44 degrees C in our last stop, Lake Havasu.

Final Approach to Jackson Hole

 

Downtown Jackson

 

Lander, Wyoming

Sink Canyon, Wyoming

This morning we said farewell to Spearfish and made an early start toward Lander, Wyoming.

The weather radar, which we can see real-time on our iPads, showed possible thunderstorms south of our intended path so we made sure we were airborne as early as possible before the heat of the day turned them nasty. That paid off as we were treated to a smooth flight out of South Dakota and into the state of Wyoming.

Lander is another small town, population 9300. Pretty well a single main street. We have, on our friend Duane's recommendation found a great looking restaurant and micro-brewery which we will head for tonight.

A few posts back I mentioned the “Fixed Base Operators”, or FBO's that exist at most airports, providing fuel, maintenance and hangarage to pilots passing through. Another service at smaller airports is the “crew car”, which is an old car that is provided free of charge for pilots passing through. These are normally only available on a day basis, not overnight, but the kind folk at Lander have given us their old Buick for the night.

After settling in to our hotel, we took a drive out to “Sink Canyon” about 15 miles out of town. A few signs warned us of bears and other wildlife, so we decided against the 2 mile hike to a waterfall I wanted to photograph. Given Lander is at around 6000 feet above sea level, my guess is that at the end of the road, we were probably 10,000 feet up. Both us and the Buick were low on breath!

Our wheels at 10,000ft

We stopped at a car park about midway up where hikers had left their wheels and headed into the mountains, obviously not as afraid of becoming bear poo as we were. There was a beautiful river right next to the road so I perched my camera on a rock (no room for a tripod) and settled down to grab a few shots. Just as I did that, a noise reasonably familiar from TV shows grabbed my attention. A rattlesnake? I had managed a couple of quick shots so decided that would do and quickly packed my gear up before heading at a reasonable pace back to the car. We made the car just as the skies opened up and a huge thunderstorm settled in.

Back in Lander, we found a great coffee shop – I asked the owner if there were rattlesnakes up in Sink Canyon to which he replied “oh yeah, they're everywhere up there”. Probably was what I heard, especially when Mr Barista made a perfect imitation of the sound I had heard. He reckons they're more frightened of us – I'm not so sure. My departure was fast enough to lose my lens hood off my camera. I was, however, brave enough to head back after the rain stop to try and find it, but my guess it was floating off downstream. Never mind, $20 on Trade Me.

Looking down through Sink Canyon toward Lander township

 

Sink Canyon Stream

 

Swing Bridge, Sink Canyon