Thursday, December 20, 2012

It Rains In California?


It’s all sunny and blue here at home, but our destination today is getting poured on with wonderful, glorious rain! We are headed to Van Nuys for an overnight trip.

And I happen to like rainy weather, so this is going to be fun. And it’s a pretty rare thing to witness in Van Nuys. Which makes things even better.


Don’t be fooled. The weather just a fifty-minute flight away is nasty! But for now, we can enjoy some beautiful, clear, seventy-five degree weather. Ahhhhhh.


The inside of Gladys is vacuumed and sparkling clean. Let’s go fly! We are flying two passengers to some soggy meetings today.


That’s what this little helicopter did today…go fly! They were probably on a training flight, judging from the abrupt landings.

It’s really tough to learn how to fly a helicopter.

Lots of moving parts, and half of them are trying to kill you.


We taxied past one of the FBOs on the field and saw a Citation Mustang. These tiny things are popular because they are fairly cheap to operate and only require one pilot.

But Gladys costs almost the same to operate per hour! And she is huge and comfortable inside for eight people!

Take that, Mustang.


Soon, it was our turn to be in the air. This is one of my favorite pictures of the day, since I rarely get our home airport in the picture just after takeoff. Isn’t this gorgeous?!

And why are there so many golf courses here?!


We were held at 6,000 feet for a few minutes on our climb to FL340 today. Can you see why?

The airliners are always given priority. So they get to descend into Phoenix instead of us getting to climb out of Phoenix. It makes perfect sense…not!

Wow, I just regressed about thirteen years. It felt great!


Did you know that we have lots of little volcanoes just outside of town? Actually, most of Arizona is dotted with these little guys. To my knowledge, they don’t do much damage any more. I’m sure they are just sitting there, waiting for their prime opportunity to explode!

Hey, it happened with Mount St. Helens, right?


We were finally given a clearance to climb and also turned directly towards ZEPER as part of the departure out of this busy airspace. As we turned, I grabbed a quick picture of Deer Valley Airport beneath us. Busy busy busy!


We have some great camping spots just north of us. Of course, it’s way too cold to go there now. We got below freezing last night here in the Valley! That’s so awful!

Ha! I just checked. It’s three degrees in my old college town, Grand Forks, North Dakota. Maybe I should just shut my big yapper.


This is just a tease of the cloudy weather about to come. Aren’t these hills so pretty? Look at all that texture below!


This giant cold front was heading towards home, but we were slowly flying into it on our way to Van Nuys for the night.


Normally, California is all clear and gorgeous and warm and sunny. Do you know why it isn’t this time?

Because my jacket is hanging up in my closet at home, that’s why.


It’s been too long since you’ve been graced with a picture of Edwards Air Force Base. Here you go. I bet you’ll have a better day because of it!


And if you look really hard, you can see Palm Springs Airport just beneath us. Dang those clouds for getting in the way. It will be pretty cloudy from here on out. We are about to descend into a rainy, yucky mess.

I can’t wait!


Kiss the dry ground goodbye!

Another reason that it is pouring rain down there? My family is at Disneyland this week. Luckily, they only had one day of bad weather. But it wasn’t as much fun being wet even when not riding Splash Mountain.


Can you see the altimeter setting of 30.15 in the right-hand side near the altitude tape? It is pretty high pressure, which just makes this crummy weather even more of a mystery. Usually, rain and gross stuff is associated with low pressure systems, but the pressure is pretty high today!

29.92 inches of mercury is standard pressure, by the way. But I’m sure that you remember that from high school biology…


Now we are in the soup, which is what we call it when we can’t see nothin’. We flew the full Instrument Landing System approach today to Runway 16R. We barely broke out of the clouds in time to see the runway to land! These clouds were low!


Even on the ground and taxiing to the ramp, it doesn’t look much better!

I actually love weather like this…where are my sweatpants and a good book?! In that order!


The visibility was about a quarter mile in some spots. The minimums for the approach are around four-hundred feet for clouds. We broke out just above that…like around 450 feet! Just in time!

It isn’t often that you have a hard time landing because of foggy and cloudy weather. At least, it’s a rare occurrence in southern California!


It was so low that we had to hold at the ILS Critical Line while taxiing to the ramp. This holds our airplane shy of this glideslope box to the right so that we don’t accidentally block the radio signals for incoming airplanes.

They need that glideslope information in order to continue a descent low enough to actually see the airport today!

So we certainly wouldn’t want to mess that up for anyone.

Once they landed, we were cleared to continue our taxi to Pentastar Aviation, our old buddies.


And then this little Aero Commander took off after the other guy landed. Just above us are blue skies, but you have to climb above about seven-thousand feet to actually prove that!

For us, we are on the ground in this rain until tomorrow when we’ll head back home. It’s going to be a short stay, but a fun one!


Pretty little Gladys was soaked from our flight! I’m happy that she gets to rest for the night.

It’s hard work to look this good, as I’m sure she would tell you if she saw you.


This Learjet was next to where we parked, ready to fly out. You can tell they’re about to leave because they have a Ground Power Unit, or GPU, attached to help start the engines.

It takes a lot of battery power to start, so it’s always nice to use someone else’s batteries instead of draining the (very expensive) one on the airplane.


For me, my killer workday is over! Gladys is all buttoned up and ready for a night on the ramp. After getting the passengers on their way, we unloaded our luggage and headed for a late lunch and then to the hotel.

I’ll show you some delicious food tomorrow…you won’t want to miss it!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Changing a Tire with Teenage Girls


For the past few months, I’ve had a new “job” at church. I now work with the Young Women, ages twelve to eighteen. I have really been loving this calling. We’ve had some really fun activities lately, too.

Mingled in with the fun are some educational evenings as well. A few weeks ago, we taught the girls how to check the oil and change a tire on a car.


A helpful guy from church, Steve, was able to help us out with the instruction side of things. This is his adorable son, Max. Isn’t he cute? He is just as sweet in person, too.

Don’t worry. He is probably passing judgment on how badly we changed this tire tonight.


The girls and leaders alike were pretty excited about tonight. Once we got them here, that is. It turned out to be a great evening, where they had fun and learned something useful in the process!


I know that we’re not supposed to have favorites. But I really love this girl.

You can probably see why.


The girls were oh-so excited about their greasy fingers after taking their turn with the iron wrench. One of the leaders allowed her car to be worked on tonight…bless her heart.

To our knowledge, the tire has miraculously stayed on ever since.


This girl is a sweetheart. She can be incredibly shy but has so many talents. We’re working on getting her to see what we all see.

Easier said than done with teenage girls, I’m afraid!


At least we know who did all the work tonight.


This beauty, who thinks that greasy tires aren’t as much fun as they sound. I really love this girl, too. No favorites, right?


In the end, we just needed some loafer-clad muscle to get the tire to finally budge. Steve stepped in to help at the last minute, making sure that each girl had a shot to try it out first.

He also let us use his fancy car jack, since we would probably still be there had we used the car-equipped one. I can still feel the burn…


These are some of my older girls. Both beautiful and brilliant. One is the only member of the church in her entire family. The other has a 4.3 GPA and is applying to lots of Ivy-League schools this very month.

I like them both quite a bit.


Once we got the tire off, it was time to put it back in place. Here is one gal tightening up the screws after the weight of the car is back on the tire.

This was exhausting work! I just watched and took pictures and was pretty tuckered out at the end!


How many teenage girls does it take to open a car hood? None, since they never actually found the hook to release the hood from the car. This picture cracks me up, though, since they tried so hard!


Aaaaaaaaand, still trying. At least they look pretty while they’re doing it!


When the hood finally did come free, we were pretty excited about it. Some more than others, obviously.


I don’t think that a tire change was necessary tonight, but perhaps a car wash couldn’t hurt! The girls actually wrote fun things in the dirt before we left for the night. What a fun way to remember the car owner’s courage by letting them remove her tire!


Soon, it was time to check the oil and find where certain things are located in the engine. We have some pretty hilarious girls, but you can probably get that vibe from this picture.


The girls got to check the dipstick and even found out how to know which type of oil to put in. Half of these girls have their drivers licenses now, and the rest are just around the corner from it. So I hope that tonight taught them some neat things that they will remember when the time comes.


Though feet were dragged initially, I think that these pretty girls really enjoyed themselves. And I think that we all learned a thing or two about car tires in general!

I feel so blessed to get to associate with these gals (and some pretty neat leaders) several times a week. It’s amazing how we end up in places where we truly belong.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pearl Gets a Band-Aid


I have really been enjoying my “new” car. It has air conditioning, so it is a giant step over what I was driving. I still smile every time that I climb in. I guess that I am still in shock that something so beautiful is mine to drive!

Taking care of Pearl is of great importance to me. I want to keep her this nice as long as I can.


Imagine this…I’m driving this gorgeous machine on the freeway to get to the airport for work. I am following behind lots of traffic…I hate rush hour! All of a sudden, I hear the unmistakable sound of  a rock hitting my windshield.

No biggie. But then I find where it hit. And a large chunk of my windshield is already scarred!


I tried to be very careful over the next few days by not driving Pearl. Luckily, I was sick in bed and didn’t have that as an option. I called my insurance company. I can’t believe how blessed we are that we bought total glass coverage on the insurance that we just switched to!

Four days later, I went outside and found this. Despite sitting in the garage without being driven, the little ridiculous chip had spread in either direction about a foot. There was no repair option now…this puppy was going to need replacement.

Sniff sniff.


When I talked to my insurance agent, she set everything up for me. I called their recommended replacement company to get the ball rolling. Thankfully, they were available to come replace Pearl’s windshield the very next morning.


First, he got the windshield wipers out of the way to assess the damage. Already, I was feeling worried about Pearl’s vulnerability in this situation. Nobody likes to be poked and prodded and torn apart.



I was his first stop of seven today. And he had a brand-new 2012 Ford Explorer windshield hanging out on his truck.

By the way, though I didn’t want any of this to happen, I was totally impressed with how wonderful Auto Glass Excellence was in my entire predicament. I highly recommend them!

And I now have them on speed dial.


He got my windshield out and placed it on his padded stand. Then he cleaned it and removed the stickers and storage pads. Then he wiped a giant glue stick around the edges. It wasn’t really glue, because he didn’t do anything with it for almost an hour. Maybe it was to clean the edges to ensure that they would catch to the adhesive properly?

Either way, it was cool. And now I want a giant glue stick.


I made conversation with the nice gentleman making the windshield switch. He was very helpful and friendly. Man, I wish that I spoke Spanish!

Here he has already removed the rearview mirror. He held it up to me so I could guess how expensive that one piece of my car was…

I was right. $500. Glad that it was just a stinkin’ windshield that was broken today! Sheesh!


So then he started to take things apart. The windshield sits directly on the car frame and is held in place with some heavy-duty adhesive. Then it is covered on each side with lots of screws and panels to help keep it in place even more. But the adhesive is what does the hard work.

Here, we are taking off the side panels on my side of Pearl. I say “we” very loosely here, of course.


It’s always fun to see the innards of anything, but I was not thrilled about any of this. It was a terrible feeling that I didn’t know if my car would ever be the same again.

Melodramatic, I know. I’ve never had to do this before, and I didn’t realize that a windshield replacement happens to some people several times a year.

Knock on wood.


After he cut away the old adhesive and pried away the glass with a giant pocketknife, the cracked windshield was ready to come off of Pearl.

I wish I had asked his name. We will call him Henry.


Talk about an awful way to see your new car! Look at my poor little baby!


On the plus side, this option could give lots of natural breezes during driving…


Here you can see the old adhesive. It is the black squished stuff and was pretty intense to pry loose. At least, it looked like Henry was working pretty hard.


After wiping away all of the tiny shards of glass and scraping off the old adhesive as much as possible, Henry then squirted some new adhesive from this awesome gun. A giant tube of new black stuff when all the way around.


Oh, pretty little Pearl. I’m so sorry about this.

Why on earth do they allow trucks on the freeway, anyway?!


Sweet! Here is the new goop going down! See how thick it was? I think that the gun was heating it as it came out to ensure a proper line.

This was a loud process. I think that it made the neighbors jealous. Not just moats dug around the front yard can accomplish that, apparently.


It’s so smooth that it looks like a rubber tube, but this is the new sticky adhesive ready for a the new windshield to go on top!


Henry placed the new adhesive all the way around without any holes. He wanted to make sure that everything sealed properly when the new windshield was put in place. I’m personally glad that he was so diligent.


Now for the really cool part, and not just because he put on plastic gloves. It was time to get the new thing in where it belonged!


With a really cool plunger handle, Henry made this entire process look a little too easy.


But he lowered the windshield into place on top of the awaiting adhesive. Bam! New windshield!


He pushed and squished and tapped it into place until he was satisfied that it was done right. Then, he started to reinstall the panels that had been removed on the side.

Henry actually broke the passenger side when he was removing it, but he didn’t immediately have the replacement part. So he glued the old one on until a week later when I was back from work. He came over and removed the old panel and popped the new one in place. It took about five minutes. No hassle from them!


This is the cool suction cup plunger thing that he moved around to get a proper fit.

And now I want one of these, too. So neat!


For some reason, two tiny strips of painters tape were supposed to keep this puppy in place until it cured twenty-four hours later. I decided not to drive in that time, just to make sure that it was properly sealed. And then, for the first few days, I drove around with the back two windows cracked to alleviate some pressure on the windshield.

His idea, not mine. I wish I would have thought of that when I had the tiny crack!

Moral of the story: don’t skimp on glass coverage. This would have been about $470 out of pocket, but it just paid for my entire year of insurance alone. I am so happy to not have to worry about paying for something like this.

Thanks, State Farm. I’m glad that we have you now!

And I’m glad to have Pearl back to new.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...