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Posts Tagged ‘airplane’

Uplift

It was time to spend a Saturday doing something other than Work on the House.  So, we jumped in the plane (at the crack of noon) and headed to Cheyenne.  Although a brownish haze blanketed the entire area, it was a good day to look around at the landscape of northern Colorado.  The snow brings out terrain details that are not so obvious otherwise:  hedgerows, roads, paths, tilled fields, etc.  I’m still pretty sketchy on regional geology here, but my understanding is that landforms in Wyoming preserve areas of the original high plains, which previously sloped down eastward from the Rockies.  Later uplift led to speedy erosion of most of the high plains that existed throughout the continent just east of the mountains, but not in eastern Wyoming.  There, the original high plains surface still exists, and is known as the “gangplank” since it serves as a ramp that allows travelers to go gradually from lower elevations to higher (around 8,000′ near Laramie, WY).  Our airplane trips let me identify some of that over the larger landscape.

terrain and wind farm south of Cheyenne

To get back to human affairs: downtown Cheyenne was rather quiet and half-shut-down on the Saturday afternoon preceding the President’s Day holiday.  But we wandered around window-shopping and reading historic marker signs, trying to decide where to get something to eat.  The historic train depot was mildly busy, with a visitor center/museum at one end, a restaurant at the other, and this in-between:Since the Korean restaurant was closed on Saturday (you may be thinking “???” and so did the locals whom we asked about the Korean restaurant…), we picked the brewpub at the depot for a late lunch of pulled pork and sweet potato fries.  Although the building is no longer used as a depot for passengers, the railyard is still active with hundreds of freight cars with the Burlington Northern logo, which we could see coming and going from our table near the window.

Meanwhile, another symbol of the West is strewn about the downtown area: giant cowboy boots decorated with appropriate subjects.  I’ve seen this kind of thing in other cities, usually with old carousel horses: local artists decorate them, they are auctioned off to raise money, and then the finished products are displayed around town.

Grumman parked at Cheyenne airport

We followed our late lunch with some errands, and then a walk in Lions Park, where noisy ducks and geese entertained us with their take-offs and landings on the partially frozen lake and we read the signs for some of the specialized gardens currently buried under a foot of snow.  Then, the sun just having dropped over the horizon, we said our goodbyes to the violent-orange fellow Grumman parked next to us at the airport (but not its pilot, whom we never saw) and got in the plane for our trip home.

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Nice Day for…

… an airplane ride!  Yes, the airplane is back from the dead, back from Oregon, and Bo is back too.  We flew east of Denver, out to the plains, checked out the small airports at Platte Valley and Fort Morgan.  The plains are not as exciting scenery as the mountains might be, but I did not want that kind of excitement today.  Besides, the plains are nice to see from the air, because you can really get a good idea of where the river is meandering (and where it used to be), where the little erosion canyons start and end, and how many farms, feed lots, and oil rigs are out there.  And then when you turn around to head for the home airport, the wall of mountains are there with the glow of the setting sun behind them.

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Bo’s Grumman Yankee is as old as he is– 41 this year– and it’s never had an update on its interior.  So, a few months ago, he hired a local upholsterer to re-vamp the seats, side panels, and dashboard top.  In order to get the plane into the shop, the wings were removed, and in order to poke around in the engine with another older and wiser Grumman owner Bo has befriended, the cowling also came off.  That’s why the plane looks a bit… umm…. unfinished in this photo.  If any of you want to compare this view to one in which the plane is intact, look here.

So, the interior has been freshly renewed (photos coming sometime in the future), in a soft gray ultra-leather that clashes with the exterior, which now looks somewhat battered in comparison (I am approximating a halfway point between my opinion and Bo’s, since I think the plane is Just Fine as long as it works properly, whereas he is, I think, ultra-critical of its appearance).  So, there may be some sort of painting project in the works before it will be made airworthy again (sigh).

Meanwhile, the entire plane– broken into its individual parts– is stowed in our garage, which happens to be very large for a garage.  But putting the small plane in the large garage makes the plane look bigger and the garage look smaller.PS– Not to worry!  There are more posts about our Hawaii trip coming soon!

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Shasta

Today was supposed to be a perfect day to hop in the plane and spend the day at the coast.  But as is sometimes the case, the weather didn’t quite cooperate; morning fog blanketed our neighborhood, while at the coast the wind was building up into a rage and the rains were coming.We decided to take the plane out anyway, just for a joyride.  We ended up down near Mount Shasta, which seemed to be getting ready to have some weather of its own.  Notice the cloud-cap forming at the peak, a sign that moisture is building up and the wind is pushing it around.We banked around the windward side of the mountain, unable to rise high enough to look down from above (aren’t mountains great for humility?), then came back toward Lava Beds and Klamath Falls, where the furry white lake of fog was slowly making its way to the south and the airport.  You can spy Shasta’s neighbor, Mt McLoughlin, in the distance

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Stop #1 on our vacation trip,  about 2-1/2 hours away by plane, was an historic town in gold rush country.  Literally, the town consists of a California State Historic Park, and it includes commercial entities that must abide by rules of the historic district.  So the mercantile, bank, saloon, and hotel all conform to the appropriate time period (the prices on the wares sold inside are appropriate to modern times, however).Columbia airport

It was a good first stop, in part because it was so close, but also because the airport was so close to town; in fact, the two are connected by a “nature trail” (more on that later).  One thing about doing a “road trip” by airplane is that you have to consider your destination stops carefully.  Some really cool places have a landing strip but no airport, gas, or car.  Others have an airport but car rentals are either non-existent or prohibitively expensive.  On the other hand, some airports are either within walking distance of someplace you want to go, or there is a courtesy vehicle available for limited trips in the area, or there is a business owner or airport manager who is willing to give you a ride into town.  Doing a successful air trip means figuring all these things out, which is one reason I was so squirrelly for the first few days while Bo figured those things out– by finding a wi-fi signal and tapping away at his laptop, or having  conversations with airport employees or other pilots, or making phonecalls to various businesses or airport offices.img_1553

img_1563So, our first stop was a success.  We walked all around the park and had some great mexican food (outside the historic district), and figured out where to stay that night.  My favorite part, though, was the hill on the east side of town with the schoolhouse and the cemetary.  I felt like we were getting closer to a sense of the real history of the town.img_1565

My second favorite part was the boulders strewn about town.  At first I thought they were just strange.  Then I realized that the whole area has been subjected to placer mining, which in some places means that the ground has subsided 10 feet or more due to being washed away by high-pressure water flows.  Some of the boulders are tailings, remains of this highly destructive form of mining.  This was certainly the case with the scene along the “nature trail” between the airport and town.  And finally, my copy of The Roadside Geology of Northern & Central California informed me that much of the rock in that region is composed of limestone that is highly reactive with small amounts of acid, even the amount that is present in rainwater.  That’s the explanation for the oddly eroded shapes.

Note: all the photos in this blog are linked to my online photo album.  If you want to see larger images, or peruse the whole album, just click on the photo!

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