Being exhausted is a tremendous sleep aid. My head hit the pillow a little after 10pm, and I’m not sure I moved until the alarm went off at 6. We are crossing desert and high terrain, a combination for rough air, so we try to get out of Dodge early. I was moving before Scott, so I ran for coffee and muffins to deliver to the other half and returned just as Scott was becoming consicous. And we weren't behind schedule...YET. So far as our hosts knew, it was still 5-something in the morning.
We packed our food rations for the day, grabbed a couple bagels from the hotel breakfast to supplement our grocery store purchases, and made our way back to Ogden-Hinckley and CB SkyShare. The FBO did great. There wasn't a lineman to park us, so we self-parked, but they didn't make us move the airplane. They sent us off with a courtesy car the night before that took 15 blades to get started and was sketchy, but we were happy to have it as it delivered us to the hotel and back. In the morning, we walked in, droped the keys, and paid the fuel bill as the airplane was already fueled. We each did our typical tasks and it was off to attack the day.
The controllers were great to work with, which is always especially nice when you’re unfamiliar with the field and airspace. The tower coordinated clearance through the adjacent military airspace, and we were off to the VFR transition down the I-15 freeway on the east side of Salt Lake City.
We flew by the Salt Lake County Flight Park. Their website says "Flight Park is an 80 acre area in Draper. The park is designated for hang gliding and paragliding use, where gliders can fly off the winds from the north side of the Point of the Mountain." It looked like a blast, but there were so many paragliders I would have certainly bumped canopies. I don't know if that is as bad as trading paint, but I'd really rather not experience either.
We climbed up and over some terrain and stayed clear of the higher terrain. A friend calls it cumulogranite, way less friendly than the ever-grumpy cumulonimbus.
The first stop was on a mesa in Aztec, NM. Here's a place that landing short or long could put a damper on the day. There wasn’t much there, but it had the basic necessities and turned into a 23 mintue stop from shutdown to startup.
There was a bush plane flying low and fast both in the pattern and immediate vicinity of the airport. Out here it is pretty easy to maintain 500 - 1000 - or even 5000 feet away from any person or structure. He saw us taxi out and let us know he'd be remaining clear during our departure. Perfect, that's all the info we needed. He said he was breaking in a cylinder, so the operation made sense with the altitude limiting performance and cooling. It was a very healthy sounding engine, and we enjoyed the low-level airshow.
Rations at 13K included tuna packets on the acquired bagels, with mayo and mustard stirred in, and bananas. Not only does lunch in the air save time on the ground, it also makes the time in the air go by faster. Win-win!
The next stop was at Lamesa, TX, which, conicidentally is NOT on a mesa like our previous stop. It was quite cooler than our stop in Oregon, which was a welcomed surprise. I do have to make a plug for Lamesa, KLUV, for VAF pilots. This fuel stop is just south of Lubbock, with superb fuel prices, a brand new terminal building that was sparkly clean with good wifi and a couch for a nap, courtesy car, and recently resurfaced runways. Unless you require an attended airport, this is a great place to add to your flight planning options. There was nobody there, but there were 3 numbers to call in foreflight (one more than on the airnav page) if you were to need assistance, and a courtesy car was available.
A not-so-subtle reminder of the times we are in...Hand sanitizer at the fuel pump
The last leg home into 40XS was relatively easy, even though the radar rertuns paint a completely opposing narrative. We had been watching the weather build since before our stop in Lamesa, and the reds and purples just kept grabbing more than their fair share of the color scheme. We chose to deviate to the north of the exciting colors and planned to turn due south into Breakaway once we passed them.
It's amazing just how accommodating ATC is when there is actual weather around. I think you could have asked them for a cup of coffee, and they would somehow have made it appear in the cockpit. There was one pilot on frequency that had been told his destination wasn't accepting traffic (towered airport). About 10 mintues later, the controller advised the field had just opened and the reply was 'thanks, you're awesome'. The controller advised us that we'd passed the cell with the extreme precipitation, and our eyeballs out the window agreed. I could easily have echoed the words of the previous pilot. We scooted in to Breakaway without a single drop of water hitting the canopy.
We hopped out of the plane and made a beeline to pick up Skylar. She bolted out of the boarding place, galloped to the car, and leapt in. Ah, yes, back to normal.