Thursday, May 27, 2010
Back in the Skies--May 26, 2010
Woke up at 7:10. Grabbed a shower, then some breakfast. Kenton had already departed long ago. The alarm had gone off at 5:45...way too early for this guy.
We didn't move too fast, though, as a group. I was ready to go, but they other guys were takin' their sweet ol' time! I mean, it was fine by me. I wasn't in any hurry to log 8 hours. We finally headed over to the airport around 9:00.
I had quite a bit to do before I could take off...it took me about 20 minutes just to get ready! I had to load my luggage, pre-flight from the guy before me (I am never comfortable takin' that easy), pay and check out, and make sure I had all of my maps and all! One of the engines was down to 6 quarts...it's supposed to be 8-12! The other side was just over 7. Ya see?!
Well, I had everything in order, so I taxied out for take-off. My plan was to climb over the mountains and go "direct." And that's what I did. I tell ya, Salt Lake City is a beautiful city! It's really quite gorgeous from above and below! I flew up to 5500 feet (assigned), then was given clearance to 8500, then to 8000, then as requested. I didn't climb too fast, but I could see that I had plenty of clearance. I, of course, had the oxygen on, too. I ended up getting to around 15,200 but leveled off due to clouds. The mountains were simply beautiful. And COVERED in snow!!! It's hard to believe that in late May. But they were caked!
I flew over to my flight plans, about 120 miles away. And I was pleasantly surprised to find them SMOOTH!!! This was nothing like Denver! I started my first line around 10:45 but had to abort it due to snow. So I headed 20 miles south. I finished a flight plan, then moved to another. Basically, I am mapping rough terrain and desert. No joke. I may have taken a picture of ONE man-made structure today?! I was flying in a Restricted Area, too, so I called up Center. The previous controller had told me to squawk VFR due to lack of radar out here. But I called them up for this Restricted Area. He told me that area hadn't been used since 1975!!! ha! But it was still on the chart, so I HAVE to call them up for my sake!
I stayed out there for a couple of hours. And all of a sudden, I had a flashback. I was looking down at the interstate below me, and I just recognized THAT EXACT SAME AREA from a motorcycle trip I had taken back in 2004. I remembered the scenery, the straight stretch, the curve. And just like that, I turned my head to look for a small town my sister and I had stopped in. BAM!!! There it was!!! Greeeeeeeeeeeeeeen Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiver!!! I verified it with the map! ha! I was so right. I knew the exact area! It's just crazy how the mind works. Here I was at 12,500 feet, recognizing a stretch of foreign road from six years ago. It was pretty sweet.
But outside of that little town, I was seriously mapping NOTHING. I kept on singing "Barren Wasteland." It was pretty much my song to the tune of "Teenage Wasteland." I mean it. NOTHING.
Around 1:00, the bumps came, though...pretty quickly. I was mapping a (very gorgeous) valley that reminded me of the Grand Canyon. Utah is just simply gorgeous...easily my favorite state in terms of scenery. Well, somehow or another, the winds were just violent over this area. It was pretty smooth on one side, but aggressively nasty on the other. Plus the easterly winds had picked up, and I could no longer maintain altitude AND airspeed. I was having to do my lines over and over again. I HATE that!!!
So I had to call it a day. I had finished one partial plan from Kenton...and finished four lines on another plan. Yikes.
I aimed the airplane towards Grand Junction, Colorado, 75 miles to the northeast. It was still pretty bumpy out there, so I tried to stick to the valley. I flew at 11,500 feet.
I came up to the airport and learned that the winds were calm. On the surface anyway. I was getting rocked over the hills. The landing was uneventful. And I was pleased with today's work. I had logged 4.6 hours. Not bad for my first day back!
I went inside and asked about hangars that we had called about last week. They said they could only promise me tonight. <sigh> I hate being told one thing only to find out another. So we'll see how this all plays out later this week. They even have a note in there that has my tail number and all. How interesting.
I actually had to wait at the airport for an hour and a half. I had picked Enterprise for a car, but I chose the one off the airport (and saved $120/week). But the other Enterprise wouldn't pick me up AT the airport (I asked if they would do it across the street) and the FBO wouldn't take me TO the other Enterprise, so I found myself without luck. I begrudgingly had to call a taxi. I HATE taxis. So over-priced. But I had my hotel for free (rewards points), so I just let it slide.
The fare was $15. I picked up the car, headed out for some BBQ, then tried out my hotel. I'm VERY pleased with it! And I'm happy about that as I plan to spend just about every day here! I have 11 free nights to use! I love it. That saves me $450 just right there! That's money in the pocket!
I looked up a church online and went to a Young Adults Bible Study tonight. There were probably around 75 people there...and not a person talked to me. So that was...well...it is what it is. I'm glad they have the service for these folks, but I left kinda sour. I even waited around to see if anyone would talk to me...or to see if anyone was going out afterwards. But they all had their friends...I was just some guy no one knew. Understandable.
So I thought about going to a bar. But I came back to the hotel instead. I talked to Jaye for an hour and a half...then winded down. I was in bed at 1:00.
The winds are forecast to be crazy fast tomorrow, though...actually for the next few days. At 12,000 feet, they are forecast to be 45 knots. That's just not possible with the Aztec. At all. So it looks like I'll have a few days of non-flying. Which honestly is ok by me. I'll make the most of them.
Alarm is set for a late 9:00 A.M.