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David_Nelson 09-23-2012 11:26 PM

Over yonder and back - my 1st xc
With all the fairings nearly complete, my boss getting on my case about needing to take vacation, the Wife going out of town for the week, and the WX outlook looking good, what else to do but to spread the wings a bit.

The original plan was to depart Taylor, TX (close to Austin) explore the southwest, camp out at Kern Valley, CA, head north towards OR and WA then make my way back down the east side of the Rockies back home camping along the way. That was "the plan", anyway.

Given the remote,and sometimes hostile, country I was going to be flying over, a lot of priority was given to survival and ability to repair things. So much priority was given to these tasks that I essentially forgot to "plan the fun parts of the trip", per se.


I departed out of Taylor about 30 minutes after sunrise and set my sights to Carlsbad, NM to meet up with a friend that I've known since grade school. Cruising along 10,500, layers of clouds pass below me. I'm landing Carlsbad, NM 2.7 hours later; that's normally 8-9 hour car ride.


Departing Carlsbad, NM early the next day, I made my way towards Grants, NM to check the very cool canyons. On my way, I stopped in at Carrizozo, NM to fuel up. While approaching Carrizozo, there was this very peculiar ground formation. It was described to me as a "young lava flow" by the FBO. It is difficult to see in the picture, but off in the distance one can see where the lava originally came out of.


SE of Grants, NM, I started seeing these beautiful landscapes. You may recognize some of them from Findley's recent video post.

- to be continued -

David_Nelson 09-24-2012 12:11 AM

Reload this Page Over yonder and back - my 1st xc - part 2
After Grants, NM, I headed up to Blanding, UT to fill up with cheap ($4.95) gas. I then flew through Monument Valley then made my way NW towards Zion National Park. About this time, things are getting a bit bumpy due to heating.

Departing Blanding to the SW, there's this "wave of rock".


Overflying the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area. Off the wing tip, in the distance, I'm starting to see some convective activity. Eventually, this will be the direction I'll be heading towards (ie Las Vegas). On this trip, I made it a habit to tune 122.0 and 121.5 on COM2, an SL40, and enable monitor function. About now I started paying more attention to FlightWatch and the flight is still a bit bumpy.


This is perhaps my favorite picture from the entire trip. I believe this to be a portion of Zion National Park. I'm now heading toward Las Vegas and the convective activity is starting to increase and small isolated showers are starting to form. I'm still monitoring FlightWatch and it's not sounding very promising.

- to be continued -

David_Nelson 09-24-2012 01:08 AM

Over yonder and back - my 1st xc - part 3
Shortly after crossing into Nevada, I called up FlightWatch to get a better idea of what was going on in Las Vegas and the Twenty-nine Palms area. The word was not good so I made a u-turn and landed St, George, UT. Once on the ground, I reviewed ForeFlight and NEXRAD to see if there was an alternate route to Kern Valley, CA. There sure is a lot of restricted airspace in these parts. Sure enough, there was a route if I headed NW over towards Bishop, CA then followed the valley to the south towards Kern Valley, CA.

Happy 100 Hr B-Day to N711VZ.


I came across this patch that generates small dust storms. About 10 mins prior, I could just barely make out this dust cloud. As I got closer, it started making its way towards the NW. As it was dissipating into the hills, another dust cloud was beginning to form.


Landed in Bishop, CA and filled up. I called the FBO at Kern Valley and got the "come on down, we'll settle any $$$ in the morning"; so, I proceeded to make way South through the valley. The flight is still bumpy and I'm still going around some isolated showers. This one had crossed the valley and was headed back over the mountains.


Landed Kern Valley, CA. If you ever land here, have a thorough plan of how you are going to get out of and into your plane if you plan to park at the FBO as there's a pretty good slope. Just saying. Parking for the camp sites is level, though.

With the plane tucked away and the tent pitched it was time to relax a bit. It was about this time that I had come to the stark realization that I had failed to plan the trip. With my late arrival, the FBO was closed. When I called earlier, I didn't think to ask about a courtesy car or a nearby restaurant. Dinner comprised of granola bars, dried fruit, and water. What I _really_ wanted was a big steak and a beer. Also, the 9.1 hours of "bumpy" flying really took its toll on me. A quick check of WX showed that central CA was forecast to have rain. I was planning to make my way North and do factory visits at Catto and Van's. But alas, this was a holiday weekend and if I stayed in Kern Valley for the day to wait out the WX in central CA, I feared that those places would be closed on Saturday. Frustration set in and I called it a night and went to sleep.

Around 2 AM I awoke to see this bright, round, light signing into my tent. My first thought was, "Why is this fellow shining his flashlight into my tent at this time of night?" I quickly realized that it was the full moon, instead. When I awoke and stuck my head out of the tent in the morning, I swear the air smelled like pancakes and syrup yet there wasn't a breeze nor a nearby restaurant! The FBO was a bit of a ways away and this smelled like it was next door. Very nice.

I packed up, loaded the plane, and made my way to the FBO for some breakfast and to decide what it was I was going to do. I decided to make my way back to Austin given the current state of things. I got to see some incredible country. I also learned a lot. There will be other times to check out the NW.

I departed Kern Valley, CA to Tehachapi, CA to gas up. From there, I made my way to Deming, NM and finally to Taylor, TX.


Guadalupe Pass


Before beginning my decent into Taylor, TX, I got this picture of Hurricane Isaac.


Thoughts and reflections:

- Plan the "entire" trip.
- These things that we build in our garages/shops/living rooms/basements are pretty neat.
- Autopilots and apps such as ForeFlight on the iPad are indispensable.
- There is not enough film (or memory) to photograph the Southwest.
- I got over my fear/hesitation of MOA's
- I learned a lot from studying the SW sectionals. Lot's of new symbols.
- Use that radio. I sometimes got a kick out of hearing the very casual pilot reports on FlightWatch.
- Other than in the vicinity of airports or jets leaving behind contrails, I never once saw another plane.
- Keep building!

LifeofReiley 09-24-2012 07:27 AM

Very Nice David... :)

Sorry I missed your call, been Dove Hunting down South. I take your question has been answered. :D

panhandler1956 09-24-2012 07:39 AM

Great trip report! I love it out West!

txaviator 09-24-2012 09:26 AM

Looks like a fun trip, David!

I see you are based at on the lookout for my white and red C-140, which as of last Saturday now resides at Taylor! I sold it to Jack F. out of Roundrock, and he's hangaring at Taylor.

Hated to sell it, but RV-12 firewall forward packages aren't cheap, and I've got to pre-plan for that :D

longranger 09-24-2012 12:53 PM


Next time you're through Tehachapi, give me a shout. If that was Labor Day weekend, you missed a chance to help me close out a fuel tank.:D

BTW, if you find yourself on one side of R-2515 (Edwards AFB) and want to get to the other (say, Barstow to Tehachapi) on a weekend, give Joshua Approach a call on 124.55 and ask if they're allowing transits of the area. If they are they'll give you a minimum altitude (6-7K ft) and send you on your way.

Vlad 09-24-2012 07:44 PM

Timely post David. I will be replicating part of your trip in couple weeks. Thanks for thoughts and reflections.

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