Friday, September 21, 2012

Bring-Your-Hubby-to-Work Day

I really lucked out this time. I am working a long weekend away from home for Labor Day, but I get to bring Hubby along for the ride!


Considering that he’s never even seen my airplane, let alone been able to come with me for three days away, I was just a teensy weensy bit excited about this news.

I’m so glad that he works for a bank so that he can have major holidays off! It makes spontaneous weekends away like this much easier.


After our flight this morning from California, I drove home to repack and to pick up Hubby for our half-hour commute back to the airport. The time got bumped up an hour, so Hubby had to leave work a few minutes early. It all worked out.

I was stoked to  have him along! He’s never been to Seattle, and now I get to show him all of the wonderful things that I love about that place!


I always check the oil before and after each flight. The prime time to check is about ten minutes after the engines have been shut down, since that gives the most accurate representation of where the oil level truly is.

This Phenom 300 is well-designed, and even checking the oil is easy. Nobody has to get messy…just look at the gauge!


To help get all of the flight plan loaded before the passengers arrive, and to be able to turn on the air conditioner inside the airplane without draining the battery, we had the Ground Power Unit (GPU) plugged into Gladys.

It’s just a giant battery cart that we use every place we can to assist in starting the engines. We might as well use someone else’s electricity than waste battery power!


But enough talk on the ground…let’s go to Bremerton with my sweetie!


Just like every day in the summer, Phoenix was about to get pounded by some fierce thunderstorms. You can see them building in the distance. Usually, it’s a lot worse. But we’re headed in the opposite direction and will be enjoying temperatures in the seventies all weekend.



We climbed through some pretty clouds that were soon eating our dust. Even with six people and a few bags in back, this little airplane can climb with the best of them.


And soon my sweet-talking got us a shortcut…cleared directly to destination!

Do you see the little arrow by KPWT? What means we’re headed directly there now. We get to skip Flagstaff and BERYL.


I was a little nervous about transitioning to the “ram’s horns,” as these type of flight controls are lovingly nicknamed. But after a few landings, they feel really nice. It’s easy to get used to something that has been so carefully designed,

Embraer does the same type of yoke (control wheel) in all of their airplanes, whether small for corporate aviation or large for airliners.


We passed the Columbia River on our way to the Pacific Northwest today. I kept wanting to point things out to Hubby, but he was way in back, and I didn’t want to take off my fancy noise-canceling headset to yell points of interest to him.

Luckily, my bosses showed him things along the way. They’re just cool like that.


And these mountains were quickly on our route, which means that we’re getting closer to Bremerton! I love the wispy clouds in the bottom right-hand side of the picture.


We pass very close to the Tacoma Airport. Again, I would be quite happy living in Tacoma. It’s near enough to Seattle that I could go play any time I wanted, but it has more of the wide-open spaces that Hubby prefers.

I’m all about making us both happy!


It’s always so much fun descending into Bremerton because of the beautiful Puget Sound beneath us.

We were soon on the ground and taxiing to the ramp. I had radioed ahead to have the great folks at Avian Flight Center bring out my passengers’ car, and it was waiting for us on the ramp.

I love the sunburst! It’s almost like you can hear an angels choir that Hubby is here with me for such a fun weekend!


We were chocked and soon had their car loaded. Since they also have a place up here, very few bags are brought with my passengers. It’s nice that they have clothes in both homes!


Did I mention that this guy is with me? I’m tickled.


We’re hungry, so let’s head the seven miles into Bremerton! I love this drive with the gorgeous, tall, green, smelly trees. By smelly, I mean that it smells like Christmas year-round in these parts with so many pine trees.

And I’m completely fine with that.


Like we always do, we passed a great view of the retired aircraft carriers at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. It’s hard to get a picture from the highway, though!


I was able to get us rooms at the Hampton Inn for $85, which makes me happy. And I asked for a high floor so that we could enjoy the beautiful ocean views.

When checking in, we discovered that this weekend happens to be the Annual Blackberry Festival here in Bremerton! A great weekend just got even better!


I love the view of the harbor. You can see all of the vendor tents below that are ready for tomorrow’s festival. I can’t believe our perfect timing! Now we will have even more fun!


I was really excited to take Hubby to my favorite Bremerton restaurant, Toro Lounge, but I should have realized that he wouldn’t like the whole small-plate idea.

We decided to split the Caprese Salad, the Truffle Papas Fritas (best french fries that I’ve ever had), naan bread, and the beef empanadas.


I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, and it was way better having Hubby there eating dinner with me. The last time I was here, which was my first visit, I sat allllll alone in a booth. But the food was amazing, so I knew that I needed to come back!


I am glad that we were feeling adventurous in trying new things, but I think I would pass on the naan bread with olive tapenade next time. My bread was really dry, and the tapenade was, like all tapenades, a little salty.


And the Caprese Salad was yummy. I’ve never had smoked bell peppers on top, but it added a lot of flavor to one of my favorite dishes.

We scarfed down the empanadas before a picture could be taken. I felt like I had enough food for now, but we ended up getting Hubby a burger just a few hours later as we explored downtown Bremerton together.


Not too far from our hotel is a nice park by the harbor. So you have any idea how much better it is to see these places while holding Hubby’s hand?


He was pretty excited about it, too.


The park has several gorgeous fountains that spontaneously erupt with water about every three minutes (I guess they aren’t spontaneous, huh?). I love that they purposely made them look like submarines. And the lighting underneath just makes them look even creepier.


It was such a beautiful evening, and seeing the ocean together was really nice. I forget how lovely it can be outside during the summer, so it’s always great to escape the Phoenix heat for a few days.

It was fun to show Hubby all of these things. He has never been near this area before, so everything was cool to him. And everything is always cool to me, so we enjoyed a nice evening together.


We climbed the stairs up to the Bremerton Transportation Center next. I love this sign font and wish I knew what it was called. I have downloaded a few art deco fonts to try to find this particular one, but no such luck.


With the festival starting in the morning, we decide to delay our trip into Seattle for another day so we can enjoy the festival tomorrow. This is the ferry dock, where we will catch the ferry to Seattle when we’re good and ready.

Isn’t it pretty all lit up at night?


The harbor is always beautiful, but especially so in the evening.


And from where we stood to take pictures of the harbor, we were this close to our hotel. I love its location on the water! So much to see and do here, and it is very affordable, too.

What more could a hotel offer?!


Over the past few years, lots of construction has been done on this waterfront area to improve the look of things. And this fountain in the courtyard between buildings certainly entertains lots of people with its mesmerizing bursts of water.

It was the perfect view to end our evening of exploring Bremerton. I was so happy to have Hubby with me for this weekend. We don’t get to travel together very often, so this is a double treat!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Few Hops to California


I was able to visit an airport today that I’ve never been before. We are headed to Santa Monica to drop off the two passengers, then reposition an empty airplane to Van Nuys for an easier commute for them tomorrow morning.


Occasionally, I even get to enjoy some eye candy here on my own ramp at home. This is a Westwind, which always looks like the belly is about the strike the ground. Aren’t you just waiting for that to happen?!


I always give Gladys a good scrubbing before the passengers arrive. She is fresh and beautiful and ready for her not-so-busy day.


And off we go! We left at 9:00 AM this morning, which is pretty early compared to our usual flights. I love that I work for people who don’t feel the need to leave at six.

Actually, I love every aspect of this job.


We made our usual route to the Los Angeles area and passed some pretty clouds along the way. I didn’t have to worry about these clouds for later today, since we wouldn’t be coming home until tomorrow morning.


If this was a thunderstorm, we would be twenty miles away from it! But this guy was harmless, so we were able to get close as we made our way to California.


I love when they let us stay fast on our descent. Sometimes, we get stuck as the slow guy and are shunned off course until all of the big boys for LAX can get past. Not today! We were the speed of heat getting to Santa Monica!


Soon we were over Palmdale before our final turn into the valley of smog.


Since this was my first time to Santa Monica, I didn’t know what to expect. But I found out that there are tall buildings on final approach for the runway! And I was very glad that we were landing here during daylight hours.

I hate going into new airports at night. It’s much harder to see what should be done!


Santa Monica is tiny and is close to the beach. You could tell that if the smog wasn’t so bad this morning. The beach is just beyond our touchdown point today. Can you see it?


We made it on the ground and enjoyed a quick taxi to the FBO. Thanks to $8 pricing for a gallon of fuel, we opted to simply pay the ramp fee and be our on way to Van Nuys, where they give us a wonderful fuel discount as well as wonderful service.


We parked next to a Hawker Premier. These are made of carbon fiber and are the first larger-than-tiny airplane to do so. I remember when these first came out about ten years ago. They were a huge deal!


After our credit card was slid, we were on our way again. I think we spent a whole ten minutes on the ground here, and five of that was loading the car for my passengers.


We were soon taxiing to the beginning of the runway for takeoff. And we passed some big, pretty airplanes along the way! Citations, Bombardiers, and a Gulfstream. Apparently, there is a lot of money at Santa Monica…


We waited our turn for release and were soon airborne. We had to wait for this pretty Citation to land first.


Welcome to the Santa Monica pier! This is as close as I’ve ever been, and as close as I will probably ever be. I don’t think I’m nearly cool enough to spend quality time here.


Besides, it’s prettier from the sky anyway.


We just had one tiny mountain range to hop over in order to land at Van Nuys. It was a beautiful day, and the hills were green and golfy.


Soon we had Van Nuys in sight and were cleared for the visual approach to Runway 16R. Can you see the runway?


We taxied back to our normal FBO, Pentastar Aviation. They are great here. And probably half the price of Santa Monica for fuel!


While the ramp wasn’t very busy, we decided to get fuel for our flight home tomorrow morning. Have I mentioned how very much I love single-point fueling?!


We come here often enough that I wonder sometimes if Gladys considers herself part California Girl.


Like this massive Californian Gulfstream IV. You could put a swimming pool inside one of these beasts!

And I’m sure somebody, somewhere…has done just that.


Enough chit chat. Let’s go eat some lunch! I hate trying normal chains that I could get at home. I almost hesitated when Marie Callendar’s was mentioned by the line guy.

But then I remembered that all of them closed in Phoenix. So I better take this wonderful opportunity to eat here today!


Bonus! Their Backyard BBQ promotional was going on. Which meant I could get a free piece of pie with my meal. I don’t know how one could possibly say no to free pie.


This wasn’t the pie that I got (they were stingy and didn’t let us get fancy pie for our free piece), but it looks heavenly, doesn’t it?

My Mama introduced me to Banana Cream Pie when we were in Snowflake for my wedding reception four years ago.

I haven’t looked back since, except to regret the twenty-five years of my life that were a complete waste without Banana Cream Pie.


I got their Turkey Sliders, which were good because they had some nice, crisp coleslaw on top to add a yummy texture with the barbecue sauce.

Ciabatta bread makes everything better, by the way.


After lunch, it was time to head to the hotel. It had been such a grueling day and all.


This was my first time staying at this particular hotel, but it was very nice and close to the airport. Holiday Inn has a great points system, too, so it’s easy to get free rooms rather quickly.


And I had a nice, sunny California view from my hotel room. I always request as high of a room as they can give me. Views are important!


“Early” the next morning, it was time to head home. Today would be a long, fun, busy day, but first we had to head home before our other trip could begin.

A trip where Hubby gets to come along…isn’t that fun?!


This Sikorsky Skycrane helicopter arrived just before we left. These things always look so neat in flight…like they don’t belong in the air! But they can haul a ton of weight, so they are allowed to hang out at airports.


Our passengers were able to finagle their way through traffic and arrive mostly on time. So we waited in line at Runway 16R for departure.


This Cessna was landing on the smaller parallel runway. He wasn’t in our way as he continued for closed traffic on 16L.


As always, the freeways were packed in this place! I’m glad that I’m flying above it and not stuck below. I hate to stick my tongue out at these people for my better-than-theirs predicament, but you know that I did.


It’s kind of tricky to leave this busy airspace, too. There are altitude restrictions until we get to a certain point, then we begin a turn and can continue our climb. Luckily, Van Nuys isn’t nearly as bad as LAX.


Turn turn turn!


We were in a bank angle that provided a lovely view of just sky.

You’re welcome.


And soon we were parallel to Van Nuys airport on our climb to the north to exit the valley before we could turn east towards Phoenix.


It’s so early in the morning that the mountain mist hasn’t even had time to burn off! (I think we were wheels-up at 9:45 AM…so early)!


We soon had the Valley of the Sun in sight, though it was a very hazy morning here, too. I can’t make fun of California smog if we have the same thing going on at home!


We entered a base leg for Runway 21. It’s a tricky turn because there are mountains just to the left of our position here. And mountains always win, remember?


I wonder how long Tower will ask us where we are parking before they finally let it sink in that we are based here. I tell them every time that they ask…maybe they have a few hundred controllers, so no one has heard it from me before?


Aw, Gladys. I love you.

I’m headed home to pick up Hubby, and then we’ll be right back for another flight this afternoon!

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