Friday, February 22, 2013

Heading Back to the Pacific Northwest


It’s time to hit the road again, after getting home last night from my latest trip. This will be Days Three, Four, and Five on the road of a sixteen-day working stretch! How fun!

I packed my bags and said goodbye to the house. This was just last Friday afternoon of the long holiday weekend. We would return Sunday night, just in time for my eleven-day trip to begin early Monday morning!

Isn’t this fun? I can hardly stand how much fun this all is.


I was in the cabin folding blankets and seatbelts when I noticed that the passengers have a pretty cool view, too. Here I am way in the back two seats looking towards the cockpit. El Capitan is up there, prepping the avionics for our flight to Bremerton today.

Yes, Bremerton! It’s been over five months since we’ve been to Bremerton!

But I had Hubby with me last time…and that was a pretty fun weekend, too. We even went to Seattle together. What a treat!


Because we had six people and one dog in the back for this quick weekend up to Bremerton, Hubby didn’t get to come on this trip. He probably didn’t mind at all, either.

This Navy jet landed while we were getting Gladys ready for our 2.4-hour flight today.


The only downside that I can think of is that it won’t be a relief from the awful Phoenix weather by escaping to Bremerton this weekend. Last summer, I couldn’t get enough of the place! It meant avoiding 120-degree temperatures at home, and enjoying perfect 60s and 70s in the Seattle area instead.

You’ve probably already figured out that I really love that part of the country.

While taxiing to Runway 21 for takeoff, we saw this guy doing an aggressive base-to-final for landing.


And then we were off! Can you see the airport down there? We are already climbing through 6,000 feet and talking to Phoenix Departure.

I think that we have the best controllers in the nation.

But…actually, all controllers are pretty stinking awesome. That would be a tough job!


I took a last picture of some not-covered-in-white-stuff landscapes as we left the Valley of the Sun and made our way to the great north.


Ha! But we didn’t have to wait long to see some snow on the ground. This is the skiing resort mountain near Flagstaff called Snowbowl.

It’s prettier (and warmer) from the air.


Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ll look out the window to your right…

Our next landmark was the beautiful Grand Canyon. It’s pretty from up here, too, but it isn’t too shabby from down on the ground, either!


And this shot, taken from outer space, shows even more of that white stuff down below.

Honestly, what’s the appeal?

(As I type this from freezing Philadelphia…I am reminded at how much I love when I can feel my fingers. Man, I hate being cold).


We had a little headwind today…we were heading 313 degrees, and the wind was coming from 349 degrees at thirty-nine knots.

Please don’t ask me to do that math. That’s why we have arrows on the MFD in the cockpit.


Hopefully this will give some reference as to where Bremerton is located in relation to Seattle. It is just west of Seattle…only a short hour-long ferry ride! The blue star represents the airport where we land, and the Bremerton proper is just seven miles north of that.

Can you see that little water inlet there? That’s the Bremerton Harbor, where we will spend the weekend in the hotel near the water. It’s so pretty!

Man, I love this place. I have missed it indeed.


Of course, we have some pretty mountains to pass as we get closer to the Seattle airspace. After we passed the BERYL intersection and were clear of the military airspace near Nevada, we were given a direct route to Bremerton.

But, as we got closer to the busy Seattle airspace they gave us new routing. Nothing too bad: just direct Olympia VOR, then direct to Bremerton.

That keeps us to the south and out of the way of traffic entering and departing busy airports near Seattle.


I was on the side opposite the sun for our flight today, and being at Flight Level 400 means that some ice is bound to form on my side window. But you can still see a pretty winglet out there.

Hi, pretty winglet!


Man, that view just makes me shiver.

Or want ice cream. I’m not sure which.


Flying towards the Olympia VOR cuts us across the south side of the city of Tacoma. I’ve already told you that I could happily live here in the summers.

And look! They even have an airport! This could be fate speaking…


This is the bridge to Tacoma Narrows. Can you see Seattle way in the distance? What a pretty part of of the world.


How cool! You can see the tiny Tacoma Narrows Airport from this view! I almost went there in a Beechjet once. But, luckily, the boss finally agreed that going into such a tiny place would be foolish.

It’s always a bad idea to be foolish in an airplane.


Because of such a gorgeous day, the traffic pattern at Bremerton was packed. And I mean packed! I didn’t have time to take any pictures because I was so busy trying not to run over little airplanes practicing landings.

One nice little Cessna guy got off the runway just in time for us to touch down. How nice of him! It feels great being fifty knots faster than everyone on final, too…

We buttoned up the airplane and prepped her for two nights on the ramp. We had the passenger’s car battery replaced earlier in the week so that they would have reliable transportation for their short stay!


My heart strings almost ache when I see this building. We were here so much last summer that it became a second home to me! It feels like I’ve come home by returning to Bremerton this evening. What a treat.

Hi, Avian Flight Center! We’ve missed you, too.


Like they always do, the FBO folks took wonderful care of us. They even let us use a crew car for the weekend so we wouldn’t have to rent one! Isn’t that nice?

It’s nice. Trust me.


The perfect ending shot of a perfect flight to Bremerton. It’s going to be an awesome few days here.

Doesn’t it feel great to be back?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Think That He Likes Me


Happily, Hubby and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day. I mean, I don’t really need someone else to buy me chocolate, since I seem to have that arena covered. And we both think that spending only one day a year treating someone special is just silly. We’d rather spend every day, all year celebrating our love.

But I must admit…when I walked through the door at 8:00 PM on Valentine’s Day after being gone for work for a few days, I was pretty tickled to see my hunky Hubby slaving over a hot stove to make me a yummy dinner.

Yes, ladies. He cooks, too. And no, you can’t have him. He’s taken.


His gourmet selection for me this particular evening was prosciutto-wrapped spinach-and-cheese-stuffed chicken breasts. And dinner was just as incredible as it sounds.

This is quite the smell to arrive home enjoying.


We started out with salads, which he made with spring mix, tomatoes, feta cheese, Craisins, and olives. I topped mine with Greek feta dressing, and Hubby poured a little bit of ranch dressing over his.

Isn’t this thoughtful? Any dinner is better with salad as a starter!


And it was incredibly yummy. Healthy, too.

Way to go, Hubby.


After searing the chicken, Hubby added a lemon juice sauce to the pan and covered it with the lid. This will help the chicken finish cooking while locking in some moisture.

Did I teach this boy well or what?


We had some apple cranberry fizzy juice leftover from the holidays. Yes, we really are that awesome that we have food left over from Christmas.

Hubby cracked open the bottle to pour in our fancy goblets.


And, to commemorate the evening, a foam heart was formed on the glass. How cool is that?! It’s almost like everyone in this house is saying that I’m loved!


While I quickly unpacked my bag and threw a load of laundry in for my trip the next morning, Hubby started to dish up our romantic, homemade dinner.


It’s safe to say that he did pretty well. This was so delicious!


To accompany his fancy chicken, Hubby pulled these butter-roasted potatoes out of the oven. Did he get that memo about my love for spuds? These were simply heavenly.

And he made them up without using a recipe, so double-bonus.


Yep. That’s melted butter covering perfectly-seasoned oven potatoes. I am wiping a tear away even now as I think of them.

I know that I’m not supposed to have favorites, but these potatoes were pretty up there on my list of things to warm my heart for the evening.


In my honest opinion, this whole dishing-up phase really took too long. I was excited at this point to sit down with a yummy, made-by-Hubby meal with muh man.


Now we’re talking. We are sitting at the table, admiring his handiwork. We even remembered to remove the toothpicks before we ate, which were used to hold the chicken breasts in place while they cooked away.


It looks good enough to eat.

Hubby, you rock.


But now the fun really begins…getting this into our mouths! Hubby made the first cut, and then we oooed and aaaahed over the gooey cheese spilling out.


Can you believe that this entire meal is healthy? Well, other than the butter-drenched potatoes, perhaps. But we all need a little natural fat, too. I would consider the entire meal healthy.

Especially because it was made with so much love. What a great man I married.


My chicken was delicious, but Hubby decided to add a little more of the lemon sauce on top of his. He is a very saucy man. And by that, I mean that he loves sauces.

Sheesh. What did you think saucy meant?!


This man knows me so well. He got a piece of red velvet cake for us to enjoy tonight. He must know that I happen to love red velvet cake. Who doesn’t?

It was the perfect ending to an incredible meal…made just for me by my sweetie pie.

For a couple who doesn’t really celebrate the holiday, it was nice to have such a lovely dinner waiting for me after a long day at work.

He’s a keeper, fo sho.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pretty Sunsets from the Western Sky


It was a quick overnight trip to Van Nuys. I had a fun day exploring (and eating some delicious food, too). But now it’s time to head home.

Just in time to do laundry and head out again tomorrow for the long weekend on the road! I love this job.


The FBO formerly known as Pentastar was one busy place today.

Guess who this Gulfstream IV belongs to? I’ll give you a hint…he is a famous comedian who loves Jell-O. And his last name rhymes with Flosby.


Every time an airplane left, another quickly replaced its spot on the ramp. California is a popular destination. Who knew?


I spent a few minutes in the pilot lounge, tracking down some hotels for our upcoming trips this next week. We waited at the airport for a few hours today, and then our passengers arrived early!


The FBO is next to the train tracks, and the entire building shakes when one goes by. And they’re very loud. I guess that they like to make their presence known, huh?

Airplanes aren’t like that at all.


We were there in the late afternoon as all of the locally-based traffic helicopters took off to do their evening commute work. Van Nuys is a very busy airport.

Today, it was even busier than normal. We waited over half an hour at the beginning of the runway before So Cal Departure could fit us in for takeoff.


But I didn’t know about the future delays when I took these pictures. Ignorance really is bliss!


I love having real stairs on this airplane. The Beechjet had little fold-down stairs that were nothing but a headache. They broke all the time and felt really flimsy.

Gladys’ stairs, in stark contrast, are beefy and gorgeous. It’s just one of the many things that I love about her.


This is another reason…the massive baggage compartment! It’s probably three times the size of the Beechjet and can fit at least a dozen bodies.

Or so.


When we contacted Ground Control to begin our taxi to the active runway, we were told that we were number seven in line for departure, and the delay would be about fifteen minutes. Just like Teterboro, which is a reliever corporate airport near New York City, Van Nuys is always the first to get the shaft when the Los Angeles airspace gets too busy.


There were some pretty sunbursts and and Gulfstreams to admire on our taxi to Runway 34L this afternoon.

Isn’t that paint job cool?


There are six FBOs on this airport, and we passed a few of them as we taxied to the opposite end of Van Nuys today. Lots and lost of big airplanes park at Signature, but we don’t know why! Signature is always way more expensive for fuel…and everything else!

We avoid them like the plague, if we can.


There are a few L-39 fighter jets for sale on the field, if you’re in the market. I’ve flown one of these airplanes a few times when I worked for Eclipse. The customers did upset-recovery training in the company’s L-39 to help them become even better at getting out of sticky situations.

So I could share with them what to expect, I got to do the course, too. It was awesome!

Except that I am so not a fighter pilot.


And these are just a few of the countless helicopters based on the field. In addition to several traffic helicopters, which are already in the sky, several private helicopters are based here. I think these are similar to those rich guys in NYC who commute via helicopter.

Can you imagine? What a rough life!


We were third in line on our side of the runway, and there were three other big airplanes waiting on the other side. We watched and listened on the radio as airplane after airplane landed…but none took off.

Basically, the airspace above us had become saturated. And So Cal Departure wasn’t taking any newcomers. So we all got to patiently wait at the beginning of the runway until the controller started to let us each get out of there.


As you can see from the timer on my Primary Flight Display, it was quite a wait! And a few times, new airplanes asked about the progress up above. The Van Nuys Tower Controller got mad at them and told them to wait, and he would get us out as soon as he could.

Amazingly enough, I kept silent on the radio for the entire duration of our wait.

No one will believe that, I’m sure.


This guy was number eight in line, and we heard him get cleared onto the runway (line up and wait) right after we departed. Once the airspace loosened up a little, the Tower Controller got all of us out in about ten minutes.


As we taxied onto the runway for our turn, we could see several other jets that had lined up behind us to wait their turn.

We are lining-up-and-waiting on Runway 34L while the airplane that just took off in front of us gets a little head start.


Airborne at last! And with the evening sun at our backs, we made our way towards home.


We headed towards the coast before being turned north to join the arrival into Phoenix tonight.

Is it pollution or romantic mist near the water?

You decide!


Goodbye, Los Angeles! It will be a few weeks before I’m back to visit you again. Hang tight until then, yo.


Our flight home had some bumps, but you can see why in these clouds. Do you see how calm they are until these little wisps pop up randomly? Those pleasant-looking wisps are indicative of some gross air system moving through.

And moving air systems usually means anything but calm air.

But the beginning sunset is pretty, huh?


Oh my stinking heck. Isn’t this gorgeous?!


This one is fuzzy, but I really love how abstract it looks! We are very close to home…flying over Deer Valley Airport on our way to the east side of the Valley of the Sun.


This one isn’t quite as blurry. You can almost make out a mountain or two down there.


And here we are done for the day! I was back here just the very next morning for a weekend trip, so I only had a few hours at home before we were back at it again.

It’s a busy month, and we’re right in the thick of things! But what a nice evening flight home. Even with the wait, we were back on our ramp at 7:15 PM. back to the skies tomorrow!

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