USA Travels  2003




July 17   Joan�s brother, Jim and his family live in the San Diego area of California. He was recovering from shoulder surgery and his frustration level was at its highest. We both had shoulder surgery within eight months of each other a few years ago and know only too well what a difficult time it is for three months after the operation. We were off to cheer him up and lend a hand.

A Hug before departure at Boulder

Just after the break of daylight we took off with Joan at the controls and Ueli juggling the charts. We headed direct to Prescott, Arizona a stretch that we had traveled many times, just 500nm ( 930 km). First across the Rocky Mountains in the direction Durango and then across Navajo country with it's distinct pattern of erosion. The weather held up until Flagstaff, Arizona. There it rained so hard that any bug having splattered our windshield disappeared in a matter of minutes. Joan was more than happy as she had already filed IFR. After landing in Prescott (KPRC) we headed into town to check into one of those �Historical Hotels�. One thing we have learned on our travels that in these well noted special places the beds are often uncomfortable and usually  too small. However, here the quality of the food and atmosphere was terrific and the staff was simply wonderful. It was also quiet.



Arizona Navajo LandsPrescott is a nice little town with an ambience of an old western theme interspersed with a feeling of the southwest. There are a multitude of diverse shops. The thing that impressed us most was the friendly help in each store. Especially noteworthy is a great little coffee shop where they roast their own coffee and the employees will proudly explain the art of getting the different flavors. That evening we saw a concert in the open square and the fresh cool air coupled with the music was just what we needed. Prescott appeared as a neat little place about 20 years back in time. You can take in most of the town in an afternoon and take along a good overall impression.



Flight Base at Palm Springs

July 18  The next leg was planed for McClellan-Palomar Airport (KCRQ) in Carlsbad, California. Ueli battled strong winds along the route to Palm Desert VOR. After getting the latest weather update for Palomar, it was not in the cards to land there. The coastal fog had not cleared and was not expected to lessen in the next hour. We chose the alternate.  N85S worked hard against the wind into Palm Springs (KPSP). Once parked, unpacked and hangared, we rented a car for a three hour drive to Vista, north of San Diego where Jim and the family live.



Sea Horse at aquarium  Jim with his adoring friends

The next four days were great fun with restful visits and lots of time to catch up on things. Jim�s wife, Mary Jane took us on an unexpected sightseeing excursion to the Scripps Aquarium. It was fabulous and we must have taken over fifty pictures of various fish and unusual under water creatures to add to our scuba diving folder of Jelly Fishinteresting creatures having seen. The trip to see Jim and the gang was super for all of us and upon our departure we could see Jim�s spirits much improved to speed up his healing.                       



SR 71  BlackbirdOn the way back to Palm Springs Airport to fetch our plane, we stopped at March Field Museum and looked at some great old planes. Although it rained most of the time, the stop was well worth it. Being around those treasured old war birds was spectacular and an honor to say the least.

Food and Wine at Napa ValleyJuly 22   The weather was fine as we headed north. Joan set the GPS to Napa Valley, California (KAPC) a trip of 400nm (740 km) where the wind again was giving her a run for the money. After landing, tying down the plane with cold white knuckles, we discovered a missing screw on one of the inspection covers. Finding the proper one in the surplus screw box of the local mechanics maintenance chest was not easy but we made it. Soon we were off to check out Napa.


At the source of the vintageThe bed and breakfast accommodation was charming, clean, and friendly. Wine and cheese was served late afternoon in the lovely atmosphere of the living room like lobby. For the next four days we did what everybody visiting does: Check out vineyards in the verdant, manicured Valley and taste their product. Each winery is unique and most have a special atmosphere where one might like to spend a part of each day simply reading a favorite book while updating the culinary knowledge. Napa Valley is definitely another one of our favorite places to visit, dine, be spoiled and capture pictures of a most remarkable area.


Jrg is explaining his Olive Plantation

Ueli�s cousin, J�rg resides part of the year in Cloverdale, to the northwest of Napa. (The other half of the year he lives in Switzerland.)  He is a bona fide cattle rancher who has developed a profound passion for growing olive trees. It is hard to believe that he is a lawyer, hotel owner/manager and his own handyman who drives an old clunker of a jeep no thief would be interested in. It was a terrific experience to spend the day with him exploring the ranch. Upon leaving, he gave us some homework to find a �build it yourself helicopter� to keep track of his cattle the comfortable way. His horse was getting old, he told us. We reminded him that he would need to learn to fly. We don�t think it registered


At the windy Golden Gate Lookout

Before continuing on our flying journey we could not resist a trip to San Francisco. It takes about an hour and a half to get into the City if you choose the right time of the day. The usual weather prevailed with winds that were chilling to the bone. We walked and rode the streetcars up and down countless roads and this time, our pockets started to wear a bit thin and our arms began to stretch from the souvenirs. To avoid added damage we delayed further exploration for some other time. Anyway, it was so cold that we literally ran to the car, raced across the Golden Gate, not forgetting the compulsory picture stop and joined the late afternoon traffic north to Napa.

We had to get ready for the next day. How would the weather be? What route should we take?



  Visit our other trips
Westcoast Loop part 2 Napa - Portland - Kalispell - Billings - Boulder
Santa Fe Boulder - Santa Fe - Boulder
Aspen Daytrip to Aspen
Pittsburgh Boulder - San Joseph - Indianapolis - Pittsburgh - Des Moines - Boulder
Cleveland Boulder - Salina - St. Louis - Cleveland - Cincinnati - Kansas City - Boulder
Four State Swing Boulder - Dutch John - Wendover - Ely - Marble Canyon - Montrose - Boulder



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