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.
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!