Tuesday, July 17, 2012

From North to South(ern) California


Our flight to Bremerton was just half of the work day. Once we got some fuel, some bags, and some people on board, we were headed south on our way to Van Nuys for the night.

As you can see from the dreary skies, we had no problem fighting dozens of people in the traffic pattern today. I love weather like this…curl-up-with-a-good-book-and-hot-chocolate-and-fireplace weather.


I wanted to cool down some drinks for the passengers in case they got thirsty on the ride. It would take us about two hours to fly from the Seattle area to the Los Angeles area. Cold drinks were a must.


Gladys almost looks depressed in this shot of the dreary sky. Don’t worry. She knows that a good tan and sunshine are just a few hours away. Isn’t this airplane the most beautiful thing that you’ve seen today?!

I lucked out and got to fly over Mount Everest again!


I also got to fly right over Lake Tahoe. Can you see it on the far left? And just to the right of it is the Tahoe Truckee Airport. I’ve landed there, too. When I tried to eat lunch at the airport café, they were closed because a bear had broken in the night before and helped himself to most of their food supply.

You can’t make this stuff up, people! A bear!


We are getting closer now. These are the lush farmer fields near Fresno. They grow everything here from oranges to pistachios to avocados. I guess you could say that I have a great love and appreciation for this part of the state.


As always into busy airspace, we were given a clearance for an Arrival into the Los Angeles area. I still managed to get some short cuts out of it, but that was only because we were landing in between their air traffic rushes.

See how Gladys can display our approach charts so large? Man, it’s great. We also have the iPad to back them up. You can see the Van Nuys Airport to the bottom-right of the chart, but these things are not to scale.


We fly right through this mountain saddle every time we come to Van Nuys. Which is a lot, actually, so I’m starting to become familiar with this area. We are facing south in this shot. Los Angeles is in the far distance (near all that small hog smog). We landed just past these little mountains.


But first we passed a mine. I think mines are so neat to see from the air. You can pick up more detail from here! Well, of the mine, anyway. Those tiny specks down there are probably giant dump trucks.


Once we passed the little mountains, the population really started getting crazy. Look at all those houses! People way up here commute to LA, which would be about an hours drive in no traffic from here. Yuck.


Hi, Van Nuys Airport. Can you see it? We are doing the Visual Approach to Runway 16R, which is 8,000 feet long. Plenty of room for us to land.


So we did. Land, that is.


And, like always at Van Nuys, this place was hopping! They have two runways, thankfully, so the little guys use the parallel runway to practice their landings without taking up valuable time on the big runway. Because some big airplanes come in here about every twenty seconds! It is a very popular corporate and famous-people airport to use.

In fact, just after we arrived, so did the Saints quarterback Drew Brees (I found out later that he was in town for the ESPY Awards), and Britney Spears. Neither of them came into the FBO, but it just shows what a happening place this is.

Drew came in on a tiny Citation, which made me like him. He brought six of his buddies, which was just admirable to stuff seven big football players into a tiny Citation. Oh no. What if he is just cheap?

Britney arrived on a big Challenger. Not so cheap.


The Pentastar Aviation ramp is always packed with airplanes of all sizes. It is a fun place to visit, I tell you. Here are a few Gulfstreams, some Citations, and even a Phenom 100.


After arriving, I opened the airplane door and ran out to open the baggage compartment. A car-and-driver were waiting for us, so I loaded the bags into the car and helped him get back out the gate to the treacherous roads of Los Angeles.


Then I cleaned up Gladys and got her ready for a night under the stars in Van Nuys.

After a looooooong half-hour ride to the hotel in the shuttle (I would go crazy in traffic like this), I finally arrived at my lodging location for the evening. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 5:00 AM, so twelve hours later meant that my stomach was growling and ready some sustenance.


The room was pretty nice, and I loved the cheap rate! Through the FBO, we can usually get a great price at local hotel rooms. Though I’ve been to Van Nuys more times than I can count, I have never been able to spend the night. So I was pretty excited for something new and fun to try.


As soon as I threw my bags in the door and changed into some shorts (it was 98 degrees. No kidding), I walked about 0.67 miles for some grub. This is the busy Ventura Boulevard, which I walked on to get to my late-lunch destination.


My choice was the California Chicken Café, after a few people at the hotel recommended it. It was within walking distance, so I headed out to enjoy a lovely meal. It certainly didn’t disappoint.


It is a cafeteria-style restaurant, where you place an order and then take a number so they can deliver it to your table when it is freshly-made. Even in the middle of the afternoon, there were several people enjoying a meal. It reassured me that the right place had been chosen.


And then this arrived. The California Chicken Salad with feta cheese and warm pita bread. Oh my heck, this was delicious. I opted for a vinaigrette to keep it healthier. And man oh man, was it good. They even had cooked rotini pasta in here. What a great idea to add to a salad! And the chicken was big chunks of high-quality white meat.

I guess you could say that I enjoyed my only meal out today!


Later, when I arrived back at the hotel, it looked like this right outside my door.


Right? I’m not the only one who sees that, right?

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