This past summer we loaded into the Bonanza and flew out to Yellowstone for a week.
Our first stop was in Provo, Utah, so Sophie could reconnect with some college friends and show me around her old haunts.
After that it was a short hop up north to the park. We met my parents and my sister's family there (the poor souls drove all the way from California!). My dad rented a really cool house for us all right next to Hebgen Lake just outside West Yellowstone, Montana.
This was my first trip to Yellowstone. I'd never seen (or smelled) natural hot springs, mud pots, or any of the other wild thermal features before. I found it all fascinating and beautiful.
We hired a fishing guide to take us fly fishing one day. None of us had ever been fly fishing before. Walking through the water and remaining bone dry in the waders was a bit surreal. Andrew proved to be the best fisherman, although that might not be saying a whole lot considering my dad and I are notoriously cursed!
My goal for this summer was to take the family camping. Naturally, fly-in camping would be ideal. I scouted out what looked like a fantastic destination: Nehalem Bay State Park on the Oregon coast. The runway is in good shape, there are 6 camping spots right next to where you park your plane, and you can walk to the beach. Does it get any better than that?
We took off on a lovely Friday afternoon in June and departed the Bay Area.
Our flight took us along the Pacific coast for a little over 3 hours. It was gorgeous, albeit a little hot. 4WR doesn't have A/C! (...yet?)
Unfortunately, the coast didn't stay that clear the entire way to northern Oregon. At some point a thick layer of fog crept in. As we were nearing our destination, I started tuning the radio to the ATIS frequencies of various airports that we were overflying. Ceilings were down to 100 feet! Nehalem Bay has no instrument approaches, and I'm not instrument rated yet, but that's not even relevant with ceilings that low. The fog extended as far as the eye could see out over the ocean, but only about a half mile inland. The rest of the state was completely clear. Unfortunately, our destination was in that narrow strip along the coast that was totally socked in. When it became clear that the fog was there to stay, we decided to pick another destination. We diverted to Portland!
Landing at PDX was fun. The tower let me cut in front of a 737 on 10 mile final, which made the pilot of said jet a little uneasy. He asked about my location several times. The tower reassured him that I'd be well out of his way before he arrived. I did them a favor and flew a short approach and turned off the runway immediately.
I've spent my fair share of time in Oregon, but almost none in Portland. So it was fun to explore the city.
Overrated, in my Bob's-biased opinion
We lucked into the annual Rose Festival and Parade. There was lots of fun stuff going on downtown.
We met up with some Bay Area friends who recently relocated to Portland.
And I got to meet this guy at the Rose Garden.
When it was time to head home, we turned east after takeoff from PDX and flew down the gorge and out to Mt. Hood. We circled the mountain at 9,500' before turning south and back to the Bay. 4WR got us home in about 3 hours. What a time machine!
It didn't work out exactly how we'd intended, but we had a great time regardless. I'm still hoping to get some summer camping in, but it will have to wait for a less foggy day. We absolutely loved Portland and we hope to visit again soon.
I'm ashamed to admit this, but I went almost a full year owning N4WR without giving him a full bath. I'd washed the windows numerous times and done some spot cleaning, but I'd never taxied over to the wash rack and hosed him down.
In my defense, and to the previous owner's credit, 4WR was shiny and spotless when I picked him up in Indiana last year. Then, during the fall and winter months, flying in the rain kept him pretty clean. And the unfortunate fact that he sits out in the rain dissuaded me from washing him. However, when the rains slowed this summer, the dirt started to build up quickly. It was time for a wash.
So I taxied over to the wash rack, which is right next to the tower at PAO.
And I gave 4WR a thorough scrubbing. It was a dirty, difficult job that took me nearly 3 hours. An older German gentleman brought his Cessna 172 over, washed it, and left, in the meantime. But the results were worth it: clean and shiny!
After I finished, Sophie, Max, and the Haines family stopped by to inspect my work.
Micah and I went for a short joyride around the South Bay. It sure felt great to fly such a clean airplane. I'm pretty sure it flew a few knots faster, too.
I picked them both up in Santa Clara after work, and we headed to
KPAO for a fun trip in N4WR.
We started with a Bay Tour, flying directly over the city, around Alcatraz,
and along the Golden Gate Bridge before heading south along the coast
with the setting sun to our right. It was lovely.
It was a fun trip, and I was reminded how fortunate I am to be able to live and fly
in such a beautiful place. I mounted the GoPro further out on the wing this time for a different
perspective. Here is the video of the flight: