Alex and The Chicken Strip

Alex came to visit! What fun. He flew his shiny, new “Pistachio” (Kodiak) to Cal Nev Ari.

We had great food, lots of music, and dancing in CC’s new “nightclub” living room.

The next morning all of us climbed into the Kodiak and headed to Death Valley to experience Chicken Strip! A place I have wanted to go to for a long time.

Alex and CC doing flight testing

The runway appears to be about 2000′ long and the gravel is in good shape thanks to RAF and their support of this very special place!

The hot springs are luscious! There are several pools, a tub, a plunge pool, and places to stretch out and play in the shade.

From Chicken Strip, we flew to Lone Pine for fuel. When there was no Jet A we went on to Bishop, then back to Cal Nev Ari.

What a treat to see Alex, fly in his new airplane, and get to enjoy a magical place in the desert with two of my favorite people!

Thank you Alex!!

Goodby to Janet

The first time I met Janet, I was in Brevard NC to skydive, with Scott, into his 10-year high school reunion.

Brevard HS reunion

A few years later, I was back in Brevard to marry her youngest son. She made our wedding happen for us.

The first time I met Bob and Janet

She did all the heavy lifting: from choosing the tablecloths to finding a baker willing to make a wedding carrot cake (no small feat in Appalachia in 1988.)

She stayed in my life after Scott’s death. Emailing, texting and calling me to remain current with my life.

Hurricane ridge in the 90’s

This last month has been a difficult one for her, in and out of the hospital, and finally hospice and her passing.

She had a great life full of love. She birthed and raised the person I loved most in the world. I am grateful to her for so many reasons. I believe she thought she would rejoin her son in her afterlife. I hope, for her sake, that is true. 💕

Hiking a mountain with a first-time hiker

I have been up spirit mountain several times. It overlooks Cal-Nev-Ari and I’m pretty sure no one in town has never climbed this peak.

CC really wanted to join me for a climb, so off we went – along with Kat- one of CC’s good friends.

He had never hiked anything in his life. This was a big bite……I kept saying “this is going to kick your ass” and he was all-in.

Kat has been hiking 3 days per week since March 2022, and I have been biking 10 miles to the trail-head, climbing and then biking back. CC was in tough company.

Yet, he summited!!! With sheer determination and a lot of swear words!! He made it to the top!

I was blown away. Approximate 3000’ elevation gain and loose, often unsure rocky footing, CC gritted it out. The story of his life.

I felt bad for putting him through the torture, but he’s already bragging about his accomplishment.

An amazing human. Go CC!!! The only resident of Cal-NevAri to ever scale the mountain that overlooks his town.

The Drive Home with Candice as my co-pilot

Candice agreed to accompany me on my trip from Cal Nev Ari to Seattle. It’s a long drive, and I was so happy she agreed to accompany me.

Prior to the trip, I called her to let her know about Westie having a few “issues” that could leave us stranded. I assured her, that if something happened, we would rent a car and get home one way or another. Candice was a fantastic travel partner! Flexible, game for anything, curious and FUN!!! Thank you, Candice, for being my travel buddy!

I picked her up in Vegas and let her know that our first stop was the auto shop. The oil pressure sensor was acting up, so I had it replaced. It gave us an excuse to stay the night in Vegas, which is always fun.

Day 1 on the road, first south to drop off my bike at a friend’s so I would have it upon my return in one week. Then North, on a Google Map that I mistakenly had put in a destination we were not planning for. Oh well, we ended our night in Fallon, NV. (BTW: nothing in Fallon to speak of that’s very nice – especially the place we stayed).

Foggy weather engulfed us for about 50 miles along this route. At one point, a trucker passed us on the RIGHT – pushing us into the oncoming lane in fog so thick, we had our flashers on. WTF! No one was coming in the opposite direction, lucky for us, but that truck was insane!!!!

Day 2. Reno. We stopped for coffee with Audrey (my burning man boss from 2022), and a short run. Then, off to Summer Lake Hot Springs! The springs are fabulous and this place is gorgeous! Add in a full moon and it just doesn’t get better!

Day 3. On to Bend to see Alex (burner, airport manager for a couple of months before me) and a friend. His Alpaca Ranch sits above the Deschutes River and has two houses and a lovely runway!

Alex asked if we wanted to go flying in his brand-new Kodiak – YES!!!! Off we went.

As we were driving out of Bend, we had the brilliant idea of staying at Timberline Lodge on our way through. They had a room!!

Oops, the damn oil pressure sensor started going off again……we stopped at Marks Auto in Madras (a great place), and they told us to just keep going. It was a LOOOONNNNGGGG 60 miles to the Lodge, but we made it!

The next morning, the car was having trouble running. Ugh. The last thing I want now is to be stranded on the side of the road. I called UHaul and asked if they had a truck and a trailer I could put the van on. They had one 30 miles from the lodge. Yes, hold it for us. We are on the way!

We drove into the Uhaul lot, drove onto the trailer, and were on our way in less than 30 minutes. No more worry about the van dying. What a relief!

Westie is now parked at Boeing Field in my airplane parking spot. A couple of westie friends are going to see if it is capable of one more drive to my Dad’s to be put away until I can get a new engine and transmission installed.

I love Westie! I love Candice! Road trips are the best – any way you get home……safely!

Happy New Year

As I scroll through the posts on this blog for 2022, I realize what a great year I have had.

So many amazing experiences, and even more importantly, I have so many, absolutely, THE most fabulous people in my life.

As 2022 closes, the word that comes to mind is gratitude. Thank you for being in my life, and for being my supporter and friend. My love for you is endless. Here’s to a great 2023!!

Holidays with CC

It has been a fun weekend! It was Christmas for sure, and we maximized the opportunities.

Starting off, we went to Vegas for a roller coaster ride, dinner, and two shows. Not wanting to drive back late at night, we stayed at the MGM Grand and had a great time watching people in the casinos.

CC researching what to do next

The roller coaster was a blast, dinner was amazing (Jambala)! and the shows were mediocre. Didn’t matter, it was super fun!

Saturday took us back to CC’s to get ready for Xmas day and our flight to the Grand Canyon. One important part of the day was CC making African Stew over the fire in the backyard. The secret is the smoke and (of course) it was delicious.

African Stew

Flying over the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon was a thrill!! The Grand Canyon has become a dear place to me, and seeing it from this perspective was especially rewarding. It’s about a 40-minute flight to the canyon from CC’s in his Experimental 170B. I got to fly the entire route. A great gift!!! The temperatures were in the high 60s and we had a picnic on the edge of the canyon.

Pearce Ferry Landing strip

Day three of our adventure was an all-wheel-drive trek to Lake Mojave. Not a long drive, but a rough one. The high temperature for the day was 70, so we were hoping to get some sun.

Along the way, we stopped and shot some targets. I have only shot a firearm one time in my life, and after a very heated discussion about guns, I agreed that being exposed would be a good thing for me. I shot a 22-shotgun, an AR 18, and an 8mm handgun. My aim was good, and I was hitting the target 8/8 times, consecutively with the 22. Overall, I still find guns extremely scary, and I am even more than ever, humbled by their power.

We had the beach at the lake all to ourselves. We had a picnic, did a bit of hiking, and then headed home for a quiet evening around the fireplace.

CC’s reality is so very different than mine. I’m curious, and open to new things and have found exploring his world no less than an amazing adventure and a whole lot of fun.

Run, mountain bike, ski, repeat

New Mexico is a playground! Cha Cha lives adjoining 1000’s of acres of BLM land. It’s breathtaking and has enough trails that there is no reason to repeat any of them.

Front porch sunrise
Out for a run

Nearby the house is a big mesa. I have been using the mesa as a training bike ride. It’s a grunt, and really good training for a future ride I’m planning in January.

Skiing, though not (yet) great, was on our agenda for Saturday. Ski Santa Fe allows uphill travel any time, so up I went!! It was a spectacular day and after two laps up and down, we finished off with dinner in Santa Fe at Cowgirls.

Mountain biking on my second favorite ride near Taos filled my day Sunday. The Rift Valley ride is 12+ miles, all single track, with stunning views into the rift and the great Rio Grande. (BTW: my favorite ride is the South Boundary Trail).

Now the weather, especially high winds, are rolling in, so rides and skiing are on hold.

Off to the Ojo Caliente Hot Springs!! A fantastic consolation, courtesy of New Mexico.

Oh, poor Westie

The star falls quickly sometimes. Poor Westie. Transmission fluid started flinging out of the transmission about 500 miles from Cha Cha’s place.

It took me a few miles to figure out what was going on……..

I texted my Westie friends – and they gave me good advice. Outside of Gallup New Mexico, I started calling transmission shops. One told me to call Pep Boys. They were open and willing to help.

First, I stopped at an auto parts store and bought transmission oil and a pump.

When I rolled into Pep Boys, they were happy to lift the van and help me fill the transmission with oil. The guy helping me was clearly new at his job, and lifted the van so high he snapped my skylight…..oh well….. a small price to pay to get this help – and they didn’t charge me.

We got the fill bolt out, and two quarts later, the transmission was full. I was back on the road to Cha Cha’s.

Monday morning, Westie went into a shop known for their westie work. The owner has his own synchro and shows photos of it to his customers. I think he knows his stuff.

The shop replaced all of the fluid in my tranny and found my case was very loose. After a 100-mile test drive, we found a seal leaking. I am sure the vent tube is plugged. I have asked over and over that the shop find, and clear this, but they can’t seem to hear me……I will find it myself, I guess before I hit the road again.

In the meantime, I am biking, hiking, trail running, and basking in the sunshine and beauty of New Mexico. Hanging with Cha Cha is always a joy. I love this place and know that Westie will be fine for the trip back home.

Westie is a super star

I left Issaquah with snow on the ground and taking my Dads advice headed south down I5.

The Siskiyou pass was the only gnarly section. My synchro proved to be valuable as I passed semi’s going up hill-yet very slowly.

I wanted to take a photo, but couldn’t let go of the steering wheel long enough. Fog, heavy snow and dimming light made for serious focus.

I made it to Red Bluff on day one. Hooray Westie!! My hero!!

Day two was super boring going through strip-mall town after strip-mall town. Ugh.

Then….a ghost town with a campground. Sweet!! Calico ghost town. Mines were everywhere, and a nice surprise at the top of the hill I ran up.

Calico ghost town

On to Cal Nev Ari. I ended up driving through Nipton!!!! So beautiful and funky there!

Nipton

Then, Cal Nev Ari and CC’s place.

CC in the kitchen

Tomorrow: on to Cha Chas’s in New Mexico.

A mountain for the first day of year 62

A mountain climb! From CC’s house, you can see Spirit Mountain, and I really wanted to get up there!

I had a very tough time finding any information on this hike. Apparently, not a lot of people do it. I was determined. I finally found a photo of a route. Good enough for me.

CC let me take his Hummer to the trailhead – he had work to do and doesn’t like heights……

The trail leaves from a dirt road called “Christmas Tree Pass”. From the car, there really was no trail. I kept going in the general direction my map photo was leading and found some cairns. Turns out, there were cairns the entire way up. The route was easy after all.

The trail was rough and steep in a few places, and toward the top, eased off and was a joy. The summit was a bit windy, so I bundled up.

The entire trip was 4 miles, and 2,166 feet elevation gain. The perfect first day of my 62nd year!