4/30/05 San Antonio, Tx
It's the first day of my journey. Lots of preparing, for the plane, the BonanzaBago Camper, communications and computing. Finally got it all together and launched from SNA this morning at 6:45am. Nice clear weather and always relaxing to fly in the morning. Mostly smooth conditions during the 3 1/2 hour flight to Deming, NM, just west of El Paso, TX. Nothing to see in Deming, so just fueled up at and departed for San Antonio. Bumpy ride thru the climb, all the way up to 11,500 feet. I could see nearby clouds slightly higher, so I climbed up to 13,500 and it smoothed out. Only stayed there for 25 minutes as I didn't bring oxygen. Deming to San Antonio took 3 hours. The folks at Hallmark Millionaire are very nice. They let me use their "snooze room" upstairs and the crew car to check out the RiverWalk. Lots of nice restaurants along the RiverWalk. Time to plan out tomorrow's trip to New Orleans.
5/01/05 Galveston, TX and New Orleans, LA
Day 2 brings shorter and less challenging flights, with lower terrain and one more day since the cold front moved through. Launched around 10am to arrive in Galveston just in time for a bike ride to the beach and lunch (1 hour 17 minutes). It was very windy there and not a real nice nice day on the beach. I had lunch in their historic district called the Strand. Most building are from the late 1800's. Good fuel prices for autos and planes, $2.09 auto, $2.76 plane. The flight to New Orleans was 1 hour and 45 minutes with smooth conditions and clear skies. I put my backpack on and rode the motorized bike into town (7 miles). It's important not to ever stop, if you want to get there with your belongings. Lot's of people hanging around with nothing to do (middle of the day). Visited the French Quarter, enjoyed Shimp Creole and later, beignets, at the Cafe du Monde. Off to Bourbon Street again to enjoy the party. Maybe off to Florida tomorrow, we'll see.
5/02/05 Pensacola, FL and Clearwater, FL
Off to a late start after staying up late for the Bourbon Street festivites. It was a long bike ride back to the airport as I got lost again. I was close, but not close enough. I tried to find a mechanic to help me check out my spark plugs, as I thought it might be running a bit rough, but none of them returned my calls. I pulled two plugs, cleaned off some fuel deposits and departed for Pensacola, where I did find a mechanic. He couldn't find anything wrong, but did protect some spark plug wires that were getting cut. Seemed to run good after that, but hours and hours of flying makes you start to sense things that aren't there. After lunch, I departed for Clearwater, FL, in the Tampa Area, and arrived 2 hours later. Nice Airpark, with green grass everywhere. Seemed like a good place to test out the Bonanzabago, so it will be my first night in the plane. It's warm and slightly humid, but should be comfortable. About 3.3 hours flying today from New Orleans. Mostly a travel day today.
5/03/05 Safety Harbor, Lakeland, and Key West, FL
Had a pleasant night sleep in the Bonanzabago, first time sleeping in it on the road. It was cool enough and not too humid, so just opened one mid-window and installed a screen. No bug bites! I rode to Safety Harbor today to visit my cousin Susan, who owns a beautiful art gallery and framing shop on Main Street. It was nice to see her and catch up. The local airport guys gave me the hot tip on flying thru Tampa's Class B airsplace for my flight to Lakeland, but I stuttered during my request to Tampa Aprroach, and knowing I was a tourist, they sent me around the long way. Took 26 minutes instead of the 16 minutes I had planned. Cheap fuel by Florida's standards, at only $2.90 per gallon. After fueling the plane, and letting some nitrogen out of the nose strut, I ate upstairs of the very nice Lakeland Terminal, I think it's called Tony's. The FBO downstairs was nice enough to let me use the crew shower since the Bonanzabago doesn't have one. I should have listened to all my friends, always do your flying before noon! I left Lakeland at 3:00pm and the buildups were all over. I tried to fly at 7500 and get above them, but that didn't work, so I descended to 2500 and flew under them (not the big build-ups, just the broken clouds. Once I got close to the Everglades, the weather got much better, with hardly any clouds (few). I climbed back up to 6500 feet, put on my life jacket, and flew direct to Marathon, then to Key West. I did see the tethered balloon that lives in a restricted area near Key West. It was only up at 3500' of the 15,000' that is protected. It looks like a blimp. Rode my bike to the Hyatt and checked in. Toured the city on my bike, saw all the sights, went to Sloppy Joe's (famous bar) and had fun. The weather is suppose to come in so we'll see how that changes the plan. Stay tuned...
5/04/05 Opa-Locka (Miami), FL
They were right about the weather moving in. I went on a bike ride around the island (key) in the morning then launched for the mainland at around 11:30am. The weather over the keys was good, but became three thousand scattered to broken on the mainland. Miami Approach descended me to 2000 feet, so I circled thru a large hole, and flew most of the overland route under the clouds. I rented a car and am staying near downtown and Biscanyne Bay. There were thunderstorms tonight. Drove to South Beach and Miami Beach tonight. The weather is suppose to be bad for another full day, before it starts improving. No photos to publish today, just a travel day.
5/05/05 Miami & Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Another day in Miami to wait out the unusually bad weather. I heard this storm brought one month's worth of rain to the area. Thirty-eight out of 40 Cessna 172s in the training fleet at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, were damaged and grounded by pingpong-ball-size hail on Wednesday. When the sun finally came out, I took a stroll on South Beach. Lots of topless girls getting a start on their summer tans. You can find all types of people at South Beach, if you know what I mean. Drove to Fort Lauderdale, nothing too special, a bit like being in Orange County (without the "special"). Couldn't get back to The Sheraton Downtown as they closed all the streets for a running event. Had to park 10 blocks away and ride my bike (good thing I had it with me) back to the hotel. Left my wallet in the car, so had to ride back to recover it. Rode back later to recover my car. Not a good day. I found the people to be less than helpful, money-hungry and hard to deal with. Sorry, but that's how I see it. I'll be happy to move on to sunnier places.
5/06/05 Port Lucaya, Grand Bahama
Off to the Bahamas, finally! At around noon, I flew from Opa-Locka to Fort Lauderdale to pick up my life raft and because it will be my customs clearing point upon my return. Soon after takeoff, I opened my pre-filed border crossing flight plan with Miami Flight Service, and climbed to 7500 feet. Had a good tail wind and was doing 203 knots during my gradual descent. Time enroute was 30 minutes, not counting the very long downwind leg they had me fly. The air traffic controllers are nice and ok to understand, but not very informative (unlike our good friends at John Wayne Tower). Clearing customs took around 25 minutes and they were very friendly and unintimidating (unlike the guys in Ensenada). They didn't even check my bags, even though I had to present them. I also got a crusing permit, so I can visit all the islands at will. Total cost at the airport, $10 plus $3 tip, way cheaper than Mexico. I hopped on my motorized bike with my backpack on, and headed for town. Even though I asked several people where the tourist area of Freeport was located, they didn't really know. Turns out, it's in the center of town, not near the water, and closed this time of the year. I found my way to Port Lucaya, the beachfront, very nice touristy area. I'm staying at the Weston Lucaya Beach and Gold Resort (see photos). Very pleasant here and seems safe outside at night (in the resort area). A little beach action tomorrow and maybe a flight to Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco.
5/07/05 Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Great Abaco
I enjoyed some beach action at the resort, then rode to the Freeport Airport, filed a flight plan to Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco Island. Over night fee was only $8 and everyone was friendly, as usual. With some tail winds, landed at Marsh Harbor 35 minutes later. Just showd customs my cruising permit, got some fuel at $3.80 per gallon, and rode into town. I hopped on a ferry to a small cay (pronounced KEY) called Elbow Cay. There was some doubt as to whether they would let me take the bike aboard, but they finally said ok. I got a nice room at Hope Town Harbor Lodge, on the third floor, with a great Altantic Ocean view (see photos once I upload them). I met a couple who sailed their 43 foot C & C (or is it CNC) from Dana Point. There are lots of nice and friendly people here and I keep running into the same ones (small island). You can walk across the island in about 1 minute. On my return ferry trip, the skipper asked me to take the wheel while he collected money from the 20 plus people on our 50 passenger boat. We were in about 10 feet doing 20 kts. It was fun driving all those paying passengers around. I might fly to Treasure Cay, on the other side of Great Abaco, tomorrow. We'll see. BTW, it took over 2 hours to upload the photos from here. Bad Internet connection.
5/08/05 North Eleuthera and Bimini
I had a good nights sleep last night with the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. Hope Town is certainly one of the jewels of The Bahamas. After a short bike ride to the North End of the island, I boarded the ferry for the return trip to Marsh Harbor. After talking to the locals, I decided to fly to North Eleuthera, about 30 minutes away. Once there, I rode to the ferry dock, and took it across to Harbour Island, the only populated area around. It wasn't nice and the rooms were nothing special, or worse, so I reversed course and got back in the plane. I flew to South Bimini, a 1 hour flight, my longest over water flight yet. I crossed directly over the Berry Islands, and they have 2 public airports. Once again, rode to the ferry dock and went across to North Bimini, the populated area. Most of the island is in bad shape and looks like a rather poor neighborhood, except for the small American fisherman area, and that's where I am staying. It's called the Bimini Big Game Resort. They have a nice restaurant that I plan to visit soon. No internet access here so this message will be posted later. I'm planning to flying to Ft. Lauderdale to clear customs, return the raft, then off to Orlando to Universal Studios and to visit with my relatives. Hope Town was the nicest place in the Bahamas that I visited.
5/10/05 Orlando, Florida
I'm in Orlando now after landing in Kissimmee Gateway and renting a car. I'm staying at a new resort on the Universal property called The Royal Pacific Resort. Went to the Universal Studios Theme Park today (5-10-05) with my cousins Lisa, Peter, Jake and Julia, also visiting Orlando. Our California version of Universal Studios is actually a movie studio. I don't think that is the case out here. There are three beautiful resort hotels along a canal, with The Universal City Walk and two theme parks at the midpoint. Water taxis shuttle guests between the various attractions. There are lots of nice restaurants and clubs as well. The City Walk is open until 2:00am each morning. Although it is great out here, it will be good to get back into reality. I haven't figured out where I'm going tomorrow, but maybe Vero Beach, to check out the New Piper Aircraft factory.
5/11/05 Savannah, Georgia
Since the Piper Factory was not giving tours today, I decided to begin heading North, out of Florida, and ended up in Savannah, Georgia. I landed at the international airport and rode my bike around 7 miles to the Doubletree Hotel, were I will spend the night. The Savannah River flows adjacent to the downtown historic district and lots of touristy candy, ice cream, t-shirt shops, and nice restaurants. It was warm out today but not too humid, comfortable for a walk along the river. I may take city tour via bus tomorrow, we'll see. So far, Savannah seems to be a pleasant place to live or visit. I went to the local bike shop to have my front gears checked out, as a pressed fitting has come loose. They were unable to repair it, so Howard is bringing me a spare off my other bike in a couple days, when he and Laini visit Georgia. Time to find some food, so off I go to the River Walk. Photos to follow...
5/12/05 Charleston, SC
I wasn't quite sure where I was going this morning, even up to the last minute. I was going to check out Hilton Head, but finally decided to go to Charleston, SC instead. The plan was to fly into the fancy Charleston Executive airport, check out the town, then fly to a small airport for my Bonanzabago campout. Turns out, this airport is very friendly and quiet. The guys at Mercury were very nice and accomodating, and said it would be ok to sleep in my plane. I rode my bike about 10 miles into town and finally got to try Sticky Fingers, a BBQ joint that my brother highly recommended. Yummy, good stuff. All the people have been very friendly and nice to me throughout the whole area. The downtown area has a lot of history, dating back to the 16 and 1700's. Once again, I did not take the official tour, but just rode my bike around and read all the plaques. It's amazing how interested people are in my motorized bike. I could have sold hundreds of them since I started this trip, espcially in the Bahamas. At about 7:00pm, I returned to the airport, and got comfortable in the upstairs pilot's lounge, where I watched TV and ate dinner. I noticed a shower upstairs, and since I didn't have a hotel, asked the guys if I could use it. They said sure. I'm writing and uploading yesterday's and today's update from inside the Bonanzabago, wireless internet access and all. Isn't technology amazing! The weather is suppose to begin coming into the NC area tomorrow, and even into SC, so I may need to migrate south for one day, before I fly to Greensboro, GA, to meet up with my brother and sister-in-law. Lights out, time to hit the hay. Good night...
5/13/05 Hilton Head, SC
Thanks to the guys at Mercury Air Center, my stay was pleasant. I appreciate full service FBO's now more than ever. It's Bike (Harley) Week in Myrtle Beach so I launched around 11:00am to join in the fun. The weather was reported 1700 Broken, but was really about 1000 overcast when I arrived. I managed to land VFR, but wasn't that interested in riding into town, considering the weather. I asked for IFR-to-VFR on top, southwestbound, and flew to Hilton Head, SC, where the weather was much nicer. There is a stationary front in the area of Myrtle Beach making things bad. I paid $4.00 per gallon at the Carolina Air Center, but it's a nice place, they got me a hotel, and I only ordered 10 gallons. Hilton Head is mostly private, gated communities, with very little public access. I did spend some time on the public beach however. I tried to ride my bike to the Harbor Town Lighthouse, but the security guards wouldn't let me thru their gates. You need to have a car and $5 to see the lighthouse. Unless you are a golfer or tennis player, other than the beach, there's not much to see here. Tomorrow I will fly to Greensboro, Georgia to meet Howard and Laini. Something odd about east-coast beaches compared to ours, late in the afternoon, everyone turns their beach chairs away from the water, towards Newport Beach, California, where the sun is always shining.
5/14/05 Reynold's Plantation Resort, GA
Departed Hilton Head this morning at 9:00am but couldn't get IFR to VFR on top, so had to launch with Special VFR and found a large hole out to sea. One hour later, landed at Greene County Airport in Greensboro, GA, a quiet friendly field. Was met by Leroy, the airport dog, who was happy to be petted. Howard and Laini arrived soon thereafter. We're staying in a very nice new 2000 sq ft house in Reynold's Plantation (the brown one in the photos), a planned private community that includes a very fancy Ritz Carlton. I went kayaking on Lake Oconee while Howard and Laini played golf. I also went on a long bike ride around the area. Howard left the BBQ on to try to burn off someone else's drippings, and forgot about it for hours. Good thing we didn't burn down the neighborhood. At least it's very clean now. On Sunday we visited the 2004 Golf Magazine's Dream House, a very large custom home, complete with golf locker room, and overlooking a hole at the local golf course. It's sold now, so tours will end next week. Glad we had a chance to check it out.
5/16/05 Vonore, Tennessee
A cold front moved through last night, making the way for clear skies and smooth air during my 55 minute flight to Monroe County/Madisonville Airport, Tennessee, a 3500 foot strip, surounded by green grass and trees. Fuel was $3.40 per gallon, so I had the friendly manager of the airport fill her up. Only $5 per night for tiedown, the first night was waived. I'll be staying with my retired friends, Fred and Cheryl, who just finished building a custom home on Tellico Lake. Fred was at the airport to greet me when I landed. They live in a private golf community, similar to Reynold's Plantation in Georgia. It's quiet and peaceful here, only occasionally broken by the sound of a bass boat zipping by, on their way to catch some big ones. Fred and Cheryl just bought a new 21 foot Fish n Ski boat that we took for a spin this evening. After sunset, we went out in front and watched the fire flies buzz around, something I had only seen on the Pirates of the Carribean ride before. Although there's no gun rack mounted to the rear window of Fred's truck, he does have to carry a cold storage bag, in order get frozen food home safely from the not-so-local supermarket. I plan to be here in Vonore until Friday, weather permitting. 5-18-05: I couldn't find one of my duffle bags full of clothes, so borrowed Cheryl's Mustang and drove back to the Monroe County Airport, where I found my luggage, in the plane. Fred and I installed a new propeller on his neighbor's boat. I heard something at dinner today I have never heard before, "Please pass the grits, honey." 5-19-05: Fred and I launched his new boat and had lunch at a nearby clubhouse on the lake. In the evening, we joined 100 other Rarity Bay Yacht Club members at Calhoun's on the lake for their annual dinner bash. 10 of us took the neighbor's pontoon boat for the hour journey. Fun and good food for all. I was planning to continue my trip this morning, but the weather is bad, with thunderstorms everywhere. Tomorrow morning may be better. 5-21-05: Most of the bad weather moved thru last night so I packed up and headed for the airport. "LB" (little bit) and Warren at Monroe County Airport were very nice and helpful, and I hope to return someday to visit them again. Excellent FBO! Thank you Fred and Cheryl for your hospitality and for making me feel like a real Tennesseen (new word I just made up). Off to North Carolina now...
5/21/05 First Flight, NC and Ocean City, NJ
The weather wasn't good enough to land VFR at First Flight, so I decided to fly into Suffolk, VA instead, but about half way thru the flight, the weather cleared up, so I landed at Dare County, NC for fuel, then another 5 minute flight to First Flight, NC, home of the Wright Brothers' Memorial and Museum. It was exciting to be at the site of the First Flight, since aviation is so important to me. I toured the museum, checked out the monument which stands near the site of the first flight, replicas of their Kitty Hawk cabin & Hanger, and the track where the first four flights took place. Afterwards, I departed for Ocean City, NJ, 10 miles south of Atlantic City, NJ, where I enjoyed the wooden boardwalk, ate some pizza, and tried to pronounce "Cawfee" the correct way. There are signs everywhere telling you what you can and can't do. I guess some folks around here need those extra reminders to be civilized. I'm writing this report from the comfort of The BonanzaBago, just about ready to get some sleep. This airport is very quiet, right next to the beach, and should be a good place to sleep aboard. Good night... 5-22-05: It was windy and rainy most of the night, but the BonanzaBago was comfortable. You have to turn off your earthquake senses however, as the wind does rock the plane a bit. There's a low spinning up some bad weather north of here, so may have to wait it out a day.
5/22/05 Atlantic City, NY and Sharon, MA
The weather is not suppose to be nice for the next few days in New England, but since most of the bases are 3500 feet and higher, I decided to have lunch in Atlantic City, then continue on to my cousin's home in Sharon, MA, near the Norwood Airport. It was only an 8 minute flight from Ocean City to Bader Field Municipal Airport, just blocks away from Atlantic City. This is the same airport where recently a Cessna Citation Jet failed to stop in time, and went off the end into the water. I spoke with the unicom guy and he said that jets were not permitted to land there, and that the pilot landed downwind. I enjoyed walking down the boardwalk, lined with casinos and pizza-by-the-slice vendors. I had never been to Atlantic City, so now that I have, I won't ever have to go back. While I was eating lunch outside at the Hard Rock Cafe, looking like I had slept in a plane, a gal stopped and stared at me, finally telling me that she thought I was Rod Stewart. I guess when I don't shower or shave, that's who I look like. I'm not sure if it's good or bad to look like Rod. My original plan was to go to East Hampton, NY or Martha's Vineyard, MA, but the weather wasn't going to make for a nice visit. My Uncle Bobby called to check on my whereabouts, so I decided to switch things around a bit, and visit my Uncle Bobby, Aunt Elaine, and cousin Bradley in Sharon, MA before some of the other stops. I avoided the New York Class Bravo Airspace, so wasn't close enough to see New York City or the Statue of Liberty, but did fly over Long Island, NY and Providence, RI and was able to see Martha's Vineyard. I stayed at 2500 to 3500 feet most of the way, but did climb to 7500 for a short time to get over some weather. It rained during a lot of the flight. I've learned that you cannot overplan these kinds of trips. Wake up each morning, check weather, then decide where you're going. It's not helpful to have accomodations reserved, as it puts pressure on you to get there, not a good thing in the flying world.
5/26/05 Newburyport, Massachusetts
Thank you Uncle Bobby, Aunt Elaine and Bradley for your hospitality over the past few days. It was nice visiting with you. The weather continues to be poor throughout the Northeast due to a low pressure, staying offshore, spinning moisture and wind onshore. I always seem to find the worst weather and I've done it again. In order to continue on with my trip and not fly in bad weather, I rented a car at Norwood Airport for a couple days. I'm in Newburyport now, visiting with my cousins Lisa, Peter, Jake and Julia. Last night trees fell, seawalls broke, and boats came off their moorings. When the weather clears, I plan to fly to Provincetown (at the end of Cape Cod) and Nantucket Island, just south of there. 5-28-05: It was nice to visit with my cousins, and catch up with all the latest. The kids are growing fast and doing well. I watched Jake play "C" league baseball last night, he was one of the stars of his team. Julia is taking ballet lessons and goes to pre-school. They brought me out for fish tacos, and although good, the east coast hasn't quite got them figured out.
5/28/05 Provincetown, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and Newport, RI.
Finally, the sun came out. I had a busy day, visiting four airports, Provincetown, MA, at the end of Cape Cod, Nantucket Island, MA, the outermost island, Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, MA, and Newport, RI. They are all interesting and beautiful. The Chappaquiddick Island Ferry is a copy of the Balboa Island Ferry in Newport Beach, CA. One of the captains told me that they flew out to Balboa to check it out before building theirs. I'm sleeping in the Bonanzabago tonight here in Newport, RI. I plan to check out the downtown area again tomorrow.
5/29/05 Niagara Falls, NY
I had a good night's sleep in the Bonanzabago last night, with cool outside temps and the ocean air. I decided to launch early and miss the afternoon thunderstorms. Good thing I did, as they did arrive, in the Northeast and in Western NY. Flight time was 2 1/2 hours against a 20 kt. headwind. Flight conditions were smooth, but I did have to circumnavigate some clouds at 4500 feet, my altitude. I didn't want to fly any higher as the headwind would have been even more. The gal at Tech Aviation got me a good rate at the Holiday Inn at the Falls. Fuel is $4.02 per gallon! I didn't buy any. I checked in after a 20 minute bike ride from the airport, and once I did, it began to rain. I put on my rainsuit and went for a long walk (6 miles) to Canada and around the Falls. Niagara Falls are spectacular. It's a must see. The Canadian side is like a kids version of Las Vegas, with arcade games, haunted houses, Ripley's Believe it or Not, pizza-by-slice, and gift shops. Getting into Canada was immediate and free, getting back in to the US cost 50 cents (any combo of US or Canadian currency) and took about 15 minutes. After I told Customs I was born in Hollywood, they could tell I was a star, and let me right in. It rained pretty hard for awhile. I'm not sure what's up tomorrow yet, weather or flight plan wise. Stay tuned and have a nice Memorial Day Weekend.
5/30/05 Davenport, Iowa
I rode my bike to the Horseshoe Falls on the NY side for one last peak. Glad I did as the sun was shining directly into the mist, making a perfect rainbow. I took lots of photos and will put them up tomorrow. The thunderstorms were forecast again today, so I left early and flew west, just south of Lake Erie. I stopped at Wood County Airport in Bowling Green, Ohio, where a very nice college girl fueled my plane and set me up with a crew car. She's studying for her CFI Rating and already had her multi-engine, commercial instrument. After lunch I flew over the weather at 10,500 feet, passed south of Chicago, watched all the arrivals and departures zip by me, one United Airbus, just 500 feet above me, and landed at Davenport Municipal Airport. Very very very helpful FBO staff, with fueling, tiedown, crew car, cookies, directions, etc. Top notch FBO, better than the big boys. I'm sleeping in the BonanzaBago tonight. Should be comfortable. Might fly to South Dakota tomorrow, but won't know until I check weather better. Good night...
5/31/05 Sioux Falls, SD
A low pressure and associated cold front is blocking my path to Mount Rushmore, so after a 1 hour and 48 minute flight, I landed at Sioux Falls, SD for the day and night. I rented a car and got a hotel room. More to follow...
6/1/05 Mount Rushmore, SD
I departed Sioux Falls this morning on an IFR flight plan as the weather was 700 overcast, with the tops around 4500 feet. I filed for 6000 and had a smooth ride in the clear on top. Flight time was 2 hours, but before I landed, I took an aerial tour of the National Monument, keeping at least 1/2 mile away and not lower than 7700 feet when above it. Very accomodating FBO, had a rental car ready for me, fueled my plane, and offered the use of the facilities after hours, TV, couch, bathroom, computer. First I stopped at the Crazy Horse Memorial, a partially completed mountain carving of an Indian Hero, by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and later by his family. He was asked to carve Crazy Horse into the Black Hills by Lakota Indian Chief Henry Standing Bear and began work on the project in 1947. 7 of his 10 children, and his wife continue to work on this gigantic mountain carving. Then I went to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, a carving by Gutzon Borglum, who began working on it in 1927. After seeing Niagara Falls, I didn't think I would be seeing anything so awesome soon, but this is. I sat on a bench and just stared at it for awhile. When a tourist asked me to take a photo of him and his wife next to the Abe Lincoln impersonator, he handed me his camera and said, "just put the cross-hairs on Abe's head and shoot." I don't think Abe would have wanted to go through that AGAIN. The Black Hills are beautiful, the air is clear and crisp, and the people are very nice. I like South Dakota. I'm sleeping the BonanzaBago tonight. The FBO has a shower. Yipee! The weather is still coming in, so unknown what tomorrow holds, but if good enough, I may fly to West Yellowstone and visit the park.
6/2/05 Yellowstone Park, WY
I slept well in the Bonanzabago even though the overnight temperature was 45 degrees. After an early morning departure, I flew for 2.4 hours and landed at West Yellowstone Airport in Montana, a couple miles from the west entrance to the park. There was weather over the entire park, so I flew above it at 12,500 feet. It was snowing during my approach. It was just about freezing when I stepped out of the plane. It wasn't going to be a Bonanzabago night tonight. I rented an SUV, got a room at the Holiday Inn, and began my tour of the park. I visited Old Faithful, the various geysers, saw the upper and lower water falls, saw bison, a wolf, a bald eagle and other small animals. The fire in 1988 burned most of the park, but it is recovering nicely. There are two 120 mile loops to drive if you want to see it all. I was tired and only drove the southern loop. It was snowing some of the day. If you've never been here, I recommend visiting. The weather will be a factor once again tomorrow, so I don't know where I'm off to tomorrow. I'm targeting for Oregon, but may fly home if the weather is not good enough.
6/3/05 Newport Beach, CA - Epilogue
There's a thick marine layer covering the western half of Oregon, all the way to the coast and another cold front is expected to arrive soon, making for poor bicycle riding and outdoor activities. Therefore, I decided to fly toward the only place where the weather is (almost) always good, Southern California, my home airport in Newport Beach (SNA). After 3 3/4 hours, I landed at North Las Vegas Airport (VGT), bought fuel, had lunch at the new cafe above the terminal, and flew the final 1 hour and 20 minute leg back to John Wayne, Orange County Airport. It was bumpy going into and out of Las Vegas, but smooth otherwise. "Bonanza 44GN, 19er right, cleared to land." It was great hearing those words, after being away for 35 days, especially from the familiar, always very friendly, air traffic controllers at John Wayne Tower. Out of respect for my plane, I made sure the landing was as smooth as possible, afterall, she safely transported me over 7800nm, the distance from here to India. After taxiing to the ramp, I shut down the engine, said a few nice words, put on my backpack for the last time, then walked out to find a ride home. I saw more of the country in 35 days than most people see in a lifetime. I met the nicest people, from all walks of life, ate delicious food, saw beautiful places, and learned how to really fly. Thank you for riding along with me and for your support while I was traveling. Stayed tuned for the next BonanzaBago adventure, scheduled for later this Summer...