4th Annual Red Hills Memorial Day Fly-In

Every Memorial Day weekend we all flock to Red Hills Ranch nestled deep within the Red Hills Area of Environmental Concern.  And this year we had another fantastic fly-in! Jack and Myrna were as gracious as ever as our hosts. The turnout was slightly less this year but we also pick up a few new Red Hill Flyers. Actually, with all the yellow planes that showed up we were considering changing the name to Yellow Hills.

I wasn’t able to get there until Saturday afternoon but by Saturday evening I saw parked out in the fields two Sport Cubs, a Husky, a Champ, a couple 152’s, a couple 182’s, and a Super Cub. There were also several fly-bys and stop-bys with folks just stopping briefly to say hello. We had folks from Santa Maria, Yuba City, Lincoln, Fresno, Concord, and one town way up on near the north coast that I can’t remember.

There was a fly-out for breakfast on Saturday morning and water balloon bombing and spot landing contests. Sorry all you cubs and 180’s, it was a Cessna 152 that one the spot landing contest by landing RIGHT on the line without bouncing. Way to go Chris!

Potluck dinner Saturday night was excellent with Blackwater and his wife supplying some really nice wine (for those who were done flying for the day). We sat around the table telling stories and catching up before moving over to the bonfire for more stories.

Sunday morning Myrna made some delicious scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and pancakes. Folks packed up but still hung around for a while, no one wanting to leave the peace and serenity of Jack’s little slice of heaven.

I didn’t fly this time around so I’ll leave it to the guys who did to talk about their flyouts to the local strips. Let’s not forget the adventures of those who left their wallets behind and many thanks to those who rescued them.

Many thanks to Rich and Hawk for helping to organize the fly-in, the fly-outs, and the activities. You guys are awesome!

NorCal Flooding

One aspect I didn’t bring up in yesterday’s blog posting was the adventure getting to and from Lincoln Regional Airport to view the P3 Lite.  With all the rain we’ve had in California this year we’ve got some pretty severe localized flooding.  Traffic going north bound on I-5 was heavy and slow between Twin Cities Road and Elk Grove.  There were no accidents, everyone was slowing down to look at this:

At least the roadways were clear.  Coming home was a different story.  Google took me out in a different direction than it brought me in.  I thought that would be fine because I’d miss traffic taking the back roads.  It was not all that fine:

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Luckily the deepest water I had to drive through was only about a foot deep.  What I didn’t like about it was that it was moving water, not standing water.  Providentially I, and the car in front of me, made it through the several sections of flooded roadway we had to pass.  These folks could sure you your prayers if your the praying kind.

Interim Dreaming

Since I bought an interim truck to hold me over until I can buy the big truck, Cristy and I started thinking about buying an interim trailer to hold us over until we can buy the big trailer.  My Ram 1500 has a max trailer weight of 6050 lbs so I began looking for a lightweight travel trailer I could safely tow with my Ram.  After doing some research I came across Lance Travel Trailers.  Lance is well known for their truck campers but they also make some really nice, light travel trailers.

The largest model my truck can safely tow is the 1985.  It has a maximum weight of 5700 lbs.

The 1985 is small enough to fit into most state and national park campgrounds, easily towed, yet JUST big enough to be livable for more than overnight trips.  It’s literally the biggest little trailer I could find.

Fully loaded the trailer will be over 5000 lbs.  The Ram 1500 owner’s manual strongly recommends using a weight distribution hitch for trailers over 5000 lbs.  For that I’ll go with the Andersen 3344 no-sway hitch.  This type of hitch transfers some of the trailer’s weight to the front wheels of your towing vehicle.  What’s really nice is that no modifications need to be made to your vehicle, the weight distribution hitch clamps to the frame of the trailer’s hitch.

We’re not quite ready to buy the trailer but this is the new plan.  We will still move toward the bigger truck and trailer but for now this is what we will learn the ropes on.

 

High Sierra Fly-In 2016

This past weekend I traveled to the High Sierra Fly-In as I have for the past several years.  These last two years I have travelled by ground as I don’t have my airplane any more.  This year I brought my airplane with me in the car.  That the beauty of having a powered paraglider, you can take your aviation with you anywhere.

HSF 2016 was held in the same place as last year, Flanigan Playa a.k.a. Dead Cow Lake.  It can be a challenge to drive there.  The shortest ground route takes you over some majorly washboarded roads.  There is however a much smoother route that can be driven at freeway speeds almost all the way to the lake’s edge but it is also much longer.  I took the bumpy route going in, and the smooth route when I left.  Actually getting there was quite an adventure this year.  We entered the lakebed from the north side this year rather than the south side and the directions were a little terse causing me to make a wrong turn.  I ended up on a two-wheel track that was deeply rutted and was surely not the kind of road my mini-van was designed for.   As the road deteriorated I decided I must have made a wrong turn.  I found a place to turn around and headed back, making sure to keep my speed up so I wouldn’t bog down in the soft playa dust.  I finally found the road I should have turned on and all was well.

I found where my friends Rich and Hawk were camped and set up camp in the lee of their motorhome.  The first order of business was to unpack and assemble my PPG.  This took about 15 minutes.  Then I set about rigging my mini-van for motorhome mode.  I had already taken the seats out, I just needed to rearrange things to give me a place to sleep.  It was too late in the day to fly so I just drove my PPG trike around enjoy the amused and slightly jealous looks of the other pilots.

 

img_20161022_094127As evening rolled around some fellow PPG’ers wanted to go fly and invited me along.  I was not certain I wanted to go with all the air traffic flying around.  So after they took off and I was certain wake turbulence was not going to collapse their wings, I decided to set up and fly.  I got to enjoy a very nice sunset flight around camp and out over the sagebrush.  I didn’t take any pictures.  Some moments were meant to just enjoy.  Besides, all I had with me was a brand new cell phone and I wasn’t interested in dropping it.  This was my first time taking off at this density altitude (about 4500 feet).  It took more speed and time to get the wing to fly, and for the trike to leave the ground.  In my head as a pilot I knew to expect this, but when it happened I was still somewhat surprised.  At any rate I enjoyed my flight and landed just before sunset.

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After sunset I headed over to the the nightly bonfire to catch up with old friends.  I’ve noticed that the type of pilots showing up is slowly changing.  The guys that have been around for years are their same friendly selves.  But there are new pilots showing up who gather in clusters and aren’t really there to make new friends but only to impress each other.  I guess HSF is what you make of it.

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The next morning some of the PPC and PPG guys went flying but it was just too cold for me.  I would not enjoy flying in 30 degree temperatures so I stayed on the ground.  It was fun to watch the intrepid souls who did fly.  Including this helmet cam footage of my friend Edward Ang who almost flew through a tent!

Later in the day we gathered for the STOL Drag Race.  The idea is two place line up side by side at the start line.  At the start signal they fly 3/4 mile and land just beyond a line and try to stop as quick as they can.  Once stopped they are allowed to turn around take off and fly back to the starting line.  The winner is the first to land and stop beyond the start line.

After the STOL drag I learned I was coming down with the flu.  Dang.  I relaxed as much as I could the rest of the day and waited for the evening bonfire, dinner, and fireworks. I busied myself with breaking down my Cruise Carbon Trike to get ready to pack it in the van in the morning.  I had planned to enjoy the fireworks that evening, however all I could manage was dinner.  I started getting the chills and headed back to my minivan to crawl into my sleeping bag to warm up.  I tossed and turned fitfully as the fireworks and tannerite were set off.  So, sadly I couldn’t enjoy this portion of the fly-in this year.

The next morning I packed my trike into the van and caravanned out with my buddy Joey.  We took a different way out than we had come in and the roads were much smoother.  But longer.  It added an hour to the trip for me but that was fine.  I wasn’t feeling up to washboard roads that morning.  The rest of the trip home was uneventful.

If you are a pilot or just love airplanes and things aviation, this is a great event to attend.  Just make sure you are set up for desert camping AND cold weather camping.  Bring an RV if you can.  Makes life much more bearable there.  And THANK YOU Kevin Quinn for coming up with this event and moving mountains to make it happen.

 

 

RV Dreaming

The great thing about dreams is that you can dream whatever you want.  Dreams don’t have to be grounded in reality.  Sometimes though you can realize your dreams even if only for a short time.  Cristy and I got to do just that for a few hours this past weekend.  We traveled down to Pomona to visit the Best RV Show at the Pomona Fairplex.  Or goal was to evaluate the two models of Grand Design 5th wheel coaches we had been considering.  Then we experienced the first of two surprises this year at the show.

The first surprise was that Grand Design has introduced a new model and we fell in love with it.  It’s Grand Design Solitude 300GK.

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We like the fact that it’s only 35 feet long, has a separate closet for the washer/dryer, and a telescoping TV that reveals a huge picture window when the TV is lowered.   Which is where we’ll probably keep it.  Our absolute favorite model is the new 360RL but at almost 40 feet long is just a little too long for us.  Most state and national parks cap out at 35 feet so that’s what we’re trying to stick to.

The other surprise was that we found out that Winnebago has purchased Grand Design RV.  We aren’t sure how to take this news yet.  It could be very good depending on what the intentions of Winnebago are but it could also spell the end of Grand Design as we know it.  Since we are a few years away from purchasing we have time to find out.

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As I read this press release the more I think that Thor was probably posturing for a hostile takeover of GD and they decided to ally with a name synonymous with the RV industry rather than get swallowed up by Thor.  At any rate as I already said, time will tell.

Despite this news Cristy and I really enjoyed our time away.  We got to be with each other and spend time talking or just being quiet and enjoying the passing scenery.  Car travel has kind of become our refuge from the world.  We load up our snacks, crank up our favorite tunes on Spotify and hit the road.  It’s fun to dream about when this will be our reality.  For now we get to live it in bits and pieces and that’s enough.  For now.

 

Peace and Traffic

camp-rich-beachThe first two weeks at my new job have been awesome.  Well, except for that one incident where I was cleaning up VLANs on the switches in the LAB building and accidentally deleted the management VLAN so I couldn’t get to the switch any longer.  Huh?  What did he just say?  It just means I had to take the walk of shame over to the lab building to fix what I had broken.  Luckily no end-users were harmed during my cranial flatulence.  I was able to fix it quickly and move on.

Yesterday I took my wife up to Lake Tahoe to beat the heat in the Big Valley.  Surprise surprise everyone else had the same idea!  Traffic was thick and there was no roadside parking near any of the beaches.  We got out and took a walk through Incline Village but ultimately gave up trying to make it to the beach.  Instead we jumped back into my trusty minivan and headed back to our favorite secret lake back down in in the Big Valley.

It took us two hours to drive back down there and we made it 45 minutes before the front gate closed.  We were able to park lakeside and get our chairs out and just enjoy the peace and quiet.  There were other campers along the lake but it wasn’t that crowded due to the heat.  Sitting there by the lake holding hands with my wife made the work week, all the traffic, the entire day’s journey to the Sierras and back completely worth it.  We both felt the peace of nature descend on us; the trees, the lake, the turtles, the ducks, all of it.  We spent the time talking, and not-talking.  Sometimes just sitting in silence with the one you love is so very healing and peaceful.

Even though the weekend isn’t over, that is how I will remember the week ending for us; in peace.  I thank God for that peace every day.  I’m thankful for the new job.  I’m thankful for being able to provide for my family (even though it is His provision, not mine).  I’m thankful for my family; all of them.  But I am most thankful for my wife who helps me find this peace.  Life without her would be chaos.

Hollywood!

We usually take one family trip a year.  We’ve been to Yellowstone, Sierra Nat’l Forest Redwoods, Disneyland, Maui, and The Great Smokey Mountains.  This year we decided to keep it closer to home and went to Hollywood.  We’ve never really been there and seeing the stars’ hand and foot prints was on my bucket list since I was a kid.

After a long drive down we were rewarded with not one but two bucket list items, one of mine and one of my daughters.  We first made a beeline to the Chinese Theater to see the hand prints.

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Click here to see all the pictures I took here.

My daughter’s bucket list item was to attend a movie premiere.  Well, she kind of got her wish.  As we were walking down the street we stumbled onto the premier of The Legend of Tarzan.  We saw (from across the street) Samuel L. Jackson, Alexander Skarsgård, and Margot Robbie.  The pictures aren’t very good because of the distance but this is what that looked like.

We were pretty much beat after that so we headed back to find something to eat and then crash at the hotel.

The next morning we drove down to Rodeo Drive and pretended to be rich people.  Real live rich people would not be awake when the stores opened but we had fun anyway.

It started getting warm so we continued on to our destination for today, Santa Monica Beach.  We checked into our hotel early, got our swim duds on and headed out for the beach.

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After a day in Santa Monica we finally got out of the LA area and headed up to Solvang for a day of shopping and decompressing from the LA traffic.

We stayed at the Solvang Garden Inn which had some beautiful English gardens around the entire grounds.  We’re going to go back to this place when we have a few days to spend.

We enjoyed the grounds for a while and Angela and I played one round of bocci ball then we went into town and stumbled across their farmer’s market.  We spent the afternoon and the next morning exploring the town and letting Cristy do what she does best… shop!  I also got to meet a cousin whom I’d never met before and his wife.  As the conversation turned to politics you could definitely tell we were related!

The next morning we headed down to San Luis Obispo (or SLO as we call it).  We ate at their HUGE farmers market which I neglected to get many pictures of.  It was very crowded and I wouldn’t really be able to ge a picture of anything other than the crowds.  We browsed the many stands and had a nice Thai dinner on the sidewalk.

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After dinner drinks

The next day was our return home day.  We stopped in downtown SLO so Cristy could do some more shopping and Angela explored.  I hadn’t had breakfast so I ordered a pizza and sat down to catch up on some emails.  Around lunch time we drove out to Morro Bay so Cristy could have her favorite, fish-on-a-stick at Giovanni’s.

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After lunch we began the long drive home after 5 days and 4 nights on the road.  I sure enjoy travelling but not long trips home.  I’ll sure enjoy taking my home with me when we start our full time RV travels.  But even so, memories were made and those last a lifetime.