Friday, December 14, 2012

Home From Monterey


Spending a few hours in downtown Monterey was downright wonderful. But then, to make the day even better, we got to go flying!

I love this picture of Gladys. It makes her look huge…in a good way!

No, it doesn’t make you look fat, Gladys!


We were supposed to leave around 2:00 PM today, but it ended up being about an hour after that. Which meant that I had lots of time to enjoy all of the airplanes coming in and out of Monterey this afternoon.

This is a Pilatus PC-12, which is a rare machine in the aviation industry. It only has one engine, on the nose, instead of the two engines that most general aviation turboprop airplanes have, like a King Air. They are everywhere and great to have, from what I hear from both the pilots and passengers.

Both Pilatus and King Airs are wonderful. The PC-12 can seat up to eight and has a giant cargo door in the back. I’ve seen people load a full-size motorcycle through it. Pretty impressive!


Well, speaking of King Airs! This is their largest of the family from Beechcraft, the King Air 350. Because they are cheap to operate but still pretty fast, lots of King Airs are seen around airport ramps. They are little work horses as well and can seat eight people in back, plus a ton of bags.

A turboprop is when a jet engine powers a propeller. It is more fuel-efficient but can’t go as fast or as high as a true jet. They work really well for shorter hops but can stay up for about seven hours because of their fuel burn. I would hate to be up that long when I could probably do the same flight faster by a few hours in Gladys.



Hello, pretty sunbursts and sign! It has been a nice couple of days here in Monterey.


This Citation Ultra/Encore is a cute little jet. See the tail number? Any time you have a “QS” on the end, it means that the airplane is owned and operated by NetJets Fractional Ownership. They usually have red-and-black paint jobs as well, in case you can’t see the tail number clearly.

NetJets is pretty cool…you buy a “share” of an airplane and then get allotted a certain number of hours in that airplane. You can always take a bigger or smaller airplane for a particular trip, if you want, and the price will be adjusted for that trip. You pay an annual fee, plus whatever your individual trips cost.

It solves a lot of headaches for people who fly but not enough to justify owning their own plane.

Personally, I would find it very easy to justify owning my own plane!


I am surprised at how many airliners fly into Monterey. Even Allegiant flies here, and they fly into Mesa, too! Now this getaway weekend with Hubby is becoming more of a possibility…

Truth be told, I’d rather go to Disneyland.


Well, hello, McDonnell Douglas MD-80! What a pretty (and loud) thing that you are!

Do you know why? These are still old low-bypass engines, which have to move a whole lot more air to get the same results. That’s why they are so loud…lots of moving air!

Most airplanes now have a high-bypass area engines, which allow more air in at once and, thus, don’t have to be so loud. And now you know.

That wasn’t enough? Check out more information on both turbofan engines.


This is still the prettiest girl at the dance today.


The Monterey Airport is so beautiful, but it has terrain. I always prefer leaving terrain-filled and unfamiliar airports during daylight hours so that we can see what’s going on. We are actually taking off away from the mountains today, so we will get a wonderful view of the beach!

Remember…mountains always win.


Airport runway signs are color-coded to help you get around. The black sign is where you are, or a location sign. This sign shows that we are on Foxtrot Taxiway. And runway signs are always in red, because you never want to accidentally cross onto the runway. That would be bad news, folks.

Also, if we wanted Runway 10R, we would turn left to get to it because it is on the left side of the sign. To get to the opposite end of the runway, Runway 28L, we would turn right. Does that make sense?

Direction signs, like upcoming taxiways, ramp signs, etc. are usually in yellow. And they all light up at night so they can still be helpful!

And now you know.


Boy, I’m chatty today. It’s a good thing that it’s Friday, huh? Let’s taxi to Runway 28L for departure over the ocean! That will shut me up! *snort*


Wow, this is just gorgeous! Had I taken a picture in the opposite direction, we would have been looking into the sun towards Cannery Row.


You can see that we have a thin layer of puffy clouds to get through on our climb today. We made our right turn to join the departure to get out of this airspace. Above Monterey itself isn’t very busy, but it is controlled by Southern California Approach Control, or SoCal. And they are dealing with airplanes from San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose…so very busy airspace indeed!


This is almost the same shot, but just as we are entering into the cloud layer. I love that you can still make out the shoreline. So pretty!


Soon, we were above the light cloud layer and still in the climb. Aren’t these clouds pretty? Luckily, they weren’t very bumpy today.


Oh, neat! This is called the Pilot’s Rainbow! It happens very rarely, as the airplane has to be at just the right angle between the sun and clouds. And the clouds actually have to be just the right puffiness to make it really visible! Gladys is the shadow at the center of the rainbow…so pretty!

Of course we would name a rainbow after us. Why is anyone surprised?


As we continued our turn, the views of the beach just kept getting better and better. Look at how big those waves are! Is this the North Shore of Hawaii?

Let me check a map…

Nope. Not Hawaii. The water is way too cold for that.


It’s amazing how just a different angle of light can completely change a picture. I still love it, but now it looks all late-afternoonish and dreamy.

Cannery Row, where I was just a few hours before this flight, is just inside that little bay towards the top.


Well, it’s time to kiss the ocean goodbye. But not literally, because you might actually kiss a fish.

And you know how I would feel about kissing a fish…

Ew and a half.


It was a beautiful flight home, since the sun was setting behind us as we trucked along. And we passed some other airplane contrails. Where do you think they were heading?

I always play that guessing game!


Ha! We’re higher than this guy! Probably because he is already descending for an airport in the Bay area. Oh well. We’re still higher, and I’m going to count it.


Oh golly. This is one of my favorite pictures from the evening flight home. It is the sunset behind us, as seen through my icy window. Isn’t that pretty?

Ice crystals can make the prettiest shapes…it makes me think of that part in Fantasia where they are ice skating and making frozen lines!

I’m sure that we all think of cartoons when pondering life’s true beauties.

Totally normal behavior.


As we continued to fly east, we lost the sun pretty quickly. Which made for some beautiful shots that could never be properly captured by a camera. I’ll just say this…the sunset took my breath away!


Soon we were receiving heading vectors as we arrived into the Valley of the Sun. Hi, home!


In case you didn’t know, Phoenix is a very large city. We’re the fifth-largest city and the seventh-busiest airport in the entire nation. We done got lots of folks!

It’s always fun to see it all lit up from the sky. From Gladys, the best views take place!


Sigh. Let’s just enjoy this for a moment.

Just kidding. We are too close to home to relax now! It’s busy coming into this airspace, and I get to talk on the radio a lot. You could probably guess how much I love that!


This pretty girl made it down. We got five passengers and their bags loaded into their awaiting cars and then prepped Gladys for a few nights here at home.


She said hi to some of her friends in the hangar. I told her to stop associating with the Beechjet.

Giggle giggle. Just kidding.

I had a blast flying one for five years! But I am so much happier at my present job…it is a dream come true for sure!


I mean, look at this thing! What’s not to love?! I feel so blessed to get to do this for my living. Talk about perfection in every way!

Any fun weekend plans?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Downtown Monterey is Pretty AND Sweet


I certainly don’t want you to think that I was a stick in the mud just because the temperatures were half of what they should have been. It didn’t keep me away from exploring a pretty neat little tourist trap…Downtown Monterey, California.

On the day that we headed home, I got a few hours to wander around and take seventy-gazillion pictures. It never gets old, really. What a neat place to visit! And even though we were just a few days before Thanksgiving, this town was packed.

And I can see why. This would actually be a great place to visit with a beloved.


Enough with the jibber jabber. Let’s get to the good stuff…boats!

Just kidding. I’ll have pictures of food shortly.


We passed the harbor on our way to Cannery Row, which is an adorable shopping and tourist district found where the old fish canneries used to be.

They were pretty creative with the name, I must say.


Here is a distance shot for you. We stopped at this Mexican restaurant just shy of Cannery Row to eat lunch until we realized that we were at the ocean and should probably have fish.

Just kidding. Only one of us likes fish, but I agreed that we could have Mexican food any time at home. Besides, I wanted to try something unique while visiting such a neat little place.


So we went our separate ways for a few hours. I prefer it like that so I’m not annoyingly slow to anyone while I wander around. This is one of my favorite ways to explore…just take it all in until something sounds wonderful enough to try!


There were lots of cute little eateries and cafes. Originally, I thought that I would try this place, Austinos, but nothing really caught my eye on the menu.

The “Ice Cream” vinyl on the window had absolutely nothing to do with me stopping here first. Nothing, I say.


So I continued exploring. I passed this giant tourist shop full of everything from t-shirts to license plate holders. They have really exploited the fact that lots of people come here to visit and probably like mementos after the fact.

I’m so glad that I’m not a “collector,” so to speak.

I take lots of pictures, and that’s really all that I need to remember such a nice time. Occasionally I break down and invest in a t-shirt, but only if it’s one that I can’t live without.

So that rarely happens.


This little shopping district was next on my walking list. It had been recommended to me by the hotel customer service lady to try The Fish Hopper for lunch. I walked past and even took a gander at their menu. But, with a name like The Fish Hopper, you can imagine the main ingredients on their offerings for lunch.

Man. Maybe I just need to grow up and try fish. But just the smell makes me sick, so I can’t imagine actually paying for food that smells awful to me. And then, since I paid for it, I’d probably have to attempt to eat it, too! Yuck!


This is a chain restaurant, but one that is appropriately placed here in Monterey. I would say it’s easier for them to get some fresh fish options compared to their sister restaurant in, say, the Mall of America in Minneapolis.

Hi, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company! No, thanks. I won’t be coming any closer.


My stomach was starting to growl pretty loudly at this point, but I couldn’t resist taking some beautiful pictures of the ocean. Over on the opposite lookout is that Mexican restaurant that we had originally stopped to try. Now I’m on the little boardwalk in front of a bunch of little shops.

Pretty view!


The sailboat was sure beautiful as it peacefully went by. Sometimes I think that it could be fun to live by the ocean. But the desert isn’t so bad, either.

And, according to Gorgeous George Strait, we do have some ocean-front property somewhere in this state.


This was the entrance to The Fish Hopper. They have a clam chowder sample lady out front to lure unsuspecting patrons inside. I was onto them, though.

I said, “Self, I bet there’s fish in there. Stay clear.”

And I did. This is proof that I sometimes I listen to myself…even in situations other than buying things at TJ Maxx!


Oh wow. This is gorgeous. I love the sound of waves, I do.


Since nothing near The Fish Hopper sounded like something that my stomach could keep down, I walked on through Cannery Row. I love these old, quaint, historically-charged locations.

This entire street used to be full of various fish canneries. In fact, the last cannery was canning squid and didn’t close its doors until 1973. That very same building is where the present-day aquarium stands, which opened in 1984.

And now you know.


Although I was really enjoying the sightseeing, it was time to grab some lunch! I decided to try a local favorite (just kidding…how could I possibly know what the locals like?) by stopping at Captain Bullwackers Restaurant.

I think that I just liked the name! How can they not have good food with a name like that?


The inside of this place definitely felt more pub-like than restaurant-like, but I was glad to have a menu in front of me at last!

The pub-like feeling was only increased by sitting next to countless British visitors on “holiday.”

It was actually really fun to listen to them talk while I ate my lunch.


When the waitress brought my bill, she asked if I was with them. Do I really look as old as these nice, retired Europeans?!

Wait, don’t answer that…


This was my favorite piece of “decoration” inside the whole place. It’s a pontoon that has a sailor saying, “Where in the heck am I?” on the side.

Pretty dang cool, yo.


Since I hadn’t gotten ice cream earlier, I knew that my calcium levels were at an all-time low for the day. How better to fix it than with a plate of fettuccine alfredo? My thoughts exactly.

It was actually pretty good, despite the sausage and bubble being eaten next to me. With clam chowder. And beer. Because 11:00 AM is not too early for a beer (or four), apparently?


Goodbye, Captain Bullwacker! Thanks for having me today.


This was an old cannery building that has now been turned into a mini mall with several touristy stores.


And I liked that this ocean-front part of town was very pedestrian-friendly, despite there being a ton of cars circling for a rare open parking spot. They always stopped for walking people, which the local emergency rooms appreciate, I’m sure.


It’s hard to read the sign, but I let my nose lead me to this cinnamon bun store for a post-lunch treat.

Tractor beam. Sucked me right in.


Honestly, I have no idea in the world as to how I ended up in here. It certainly wasn’t because this was my view as I tried to walk by.


I  had high hopes for this place. Especially because just a month previously, I had finally tried the first Cinnabon in my life.

Why on earth didn’t anyone tell me that I would like them so much? Wait…maybe it’s a good thing that you didn’t tell me.


Anyway, I forked over $6.50 for this pecan roll. And then I wanted my money back. I mean, I managed to choke it down. And a few grunts may have escaped my sticky lips. But it certainly wasn’t worth the price of a small apartment in Kentucky.

If you know what I mean.

I guess that they do have to pay rent on Cannery Row…


I did like their decorations, though.


Monterey is famous for being the final resting (and writing) place of John Steinbeck. You know…the John Steinbeck who wrote The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden and Of Mice and Men. He even wrote a few books based on the fun area of Cannery Row. I doubt that it was this fun when he lived here, but one can pretend.

And, if you lived in the Dust Bowl during The Depression and lived to tell about it, maybe living on the beach in Monterey in the fifties wasn’t so bad.

He kind of looks angry to have been statue-tized, in my honest opinion.


But you know that this made me happy…it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet, and they were putting up the Christmas tree! See? I’m not crazy for wanting to do that in August!

This tree was quite something, too.


Oh, what? I’m by the ocean again and should probably take some more pictures?

Well, OK.


I thought that these seagulls must have been having a nice conversation as they admired the incoming waves.


Or maybe not. This guy was probably offended at their joke and flew away.

Seagulls can be pretty crude at times. I’m sure that you all know that, though.


This is one of my favorite pictures from the day.


And, as I headed back to the car for our drive to the airport, I passed the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. I didn’t have the time or the $20 to go inside today, but I would like to eventually when I can spend the day.


And here is the Aquarium entrance, or should I say, the entrance to a building that used to can squid just forty short years ago. If it smells in there, now you know why.

It’s now time to head to the airport to get Gladys ready for a our quick flight home.

What did you think of Monterey? Do you want to go visit now? I know that I wouldn’t mind a trip back to see more.

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