Well, a few days back at home in the sunshine.... Nice to be home. I really missed my Lovely Wife as well, so it was more than good to be able to spend some quality time with her.
We didn't really have a lot of plans for the time, so we were winging it a little as we went and all our tentative plans depended on the weather.
We ended up going for a nice little trail walk along the dykes near Pitt Meadows Airport, ( thats right, I took my wife to a romantic walk alongside an airport. ), kayaking in Burrard Inlet and a little drive down to La conner in Washington State.
Popped into the Pitt Meadows airport while we were there ( of course ), and i realized that for all the billions of circuits and a couple full stop landings I have made at this airport, this was only the second time I've ever been in the terminal building. This was one of my favourite airports to go and do circuits at when I did all my training at Boundary Bay. CZBB ( Boundary Bay ) was usually a bit of a gong show, with all the training that goes on there. There would often be four other planes in the circuit, with varying degrees of English proficiency, long taxi's out to the end of the runway, and often a good sized lineup to depart as the tower frantically tried to work in departures and arrivals around the five planes doing endless circuits ( guilty ).
So, a quick 6 minute flight over to Pitt Meadows and I often had the place to myself. With a short crosswind runway ( well, 2200' was short for me at that stage of the game ) there was also good opportunity for crosswind practice, along with some short-field practice as well.
But yeah, nice airport, nice terminal, and some nice trails along the river surrounding it.
Eww. ( The slug, not my toes... )
The Lovely Wife and I have been having some very serious chats of late to do with how this summer is progressing for both of us. It's definitely been a challenge, for both of us, on a couple of different levels. I'm still sitting on the fence as to whether this summer of sacrifice, on both our parts, is going to reasonably " guarantee " a leg up on a flying job for next year.
I would have liked to be one of those guys that walks into their first job, through a contact, lucky timing or a red-hot economy, but that never panned out. So, its the grind upwards for me...But I have a partner in everything I do, and she is making as much or more of the sacrifices in this deal. I wish I could guarantee that all of this is going to pave the way to rainbows and unicorns for next summer, but unfortunately, all I can do is prepare as best I can, work as hard as I can, learn as much as I can and hope to make the right choices.
Anyhoo... back to our awesome visit..
We got the bug one cloudy morning to go out and rent a 2-person kayak and go for a paddle up Deep Cove. We looked around at the local shops in Deep Cove and they were a bit pricey, almost 100 bucks for four hours. Thye also wanted my credit card number just to enter me in their POS computer, even though I told them I wasnt really sure yet if I was going to rent. She tried to get me to give her the number anyways " just so you're all entered and ready to go " and that turned me off quite a bit... I mean really? who does that?
Ended up finding a good little place down at the very end of Burrard inlet, not quite deep cove, but still a nice area for paddling. It ended up costing us 80 bucks, all-in and we had the kayak and all the gear for as long as we wanted, all-day basically, just be back before dark.
I t was a little unnerving that we were allowed to head off into the ocean, without either of us having any experience in a kayak whatsoever. We've both canoed quite a bit, and it was actually quite easy, so nothing to fear really.
It was an awesome paddle, cruising around amongst the moored sail boats and along the docks extending from their multi million dollar homes. Found a couple nice private beaches that had no road access, so they were all ours. So private in fact, that we actually went skinny-dipping, in broad daylight, practically in the middle of the city... very liberating. The water was actually nice and warm as well, once you got in... It was a nice change to have crystal clear water as well. Standing there in neck deep water and I could look down and see the little crabs scuttling past my toes. Out here, the lakes are a deep reddish-brown and you're lucky to see your toes if you're standing in waist-deep water.
Ended up being out for almost 5 hours, very relaxing.
We also drove down to La conner, WA. Fun little drive into the Excited States of America.
I don't know why, but the Slow Down sign just struck me as almost surreal. I think they should post these signs all over the place...
Stopped at the first gas station we came to after crossing over and loaded up on Road Trip Snacks. Beef Jerky, Payday bars, Cherry Coke. Felt a little sick after that...big surprise. Do like those payday bars though!
La conner is just a little touristy small-town. I'm not sure what its claim to fame is, some sort of annual lilac-festival, I think.
It was really beautiful and we had some fun driving past all the old farmhouses and acreages, daydreaming that they would be affordable and picturing ourselves out there. Saw a few houses for sale in town and the prices were anything but affordable. One condo in town was almost 400,000USD! This is a town of like 4 or 5000 people in rural Washington state. We drove down one dead-end road and came upon three schools, all built next door to each other, the elementary school, the junior high school and the high school. It was kind of neat, seeing a little town like that, no homeless people, no run-down homes, no " bad " side of town, no shuttered up houses or businesses. It was almost spooky in its picture-perfectness.
Going down into the states, they were all business, with their license plate cameras snapping away as you drove up to the sunglassed border guard and his rapid-fire questions and deadpan expression.
Coming back into Canada, the woman in the booth asked where we had gone. I told her " sightseeing ". She replied, " What did you see? ". There was a male customs office in the booth with her, with his feet propped up on a ledge and leaning back in his chair. We had a funny little conversation about how their was nothing in La conner to see. My wife interjected and told them, " don't listen to him, he wouldn't even get out of the car ". They laughed, I went red, and they waved us back home with a smile.
I had one day where The Lovely Wife was working and I wasn't sure what to do... Till I happened to be reading AvCanada ( you know..."just happened " to be reading it...its not like I read it EVERY day or anything..GAWD. ) and someone posted the fact that the boundary bay airshow was on that day ( Thanks Skywolfe! ), woohoo! Airshow!
Had a fun day out there, bumped into a few people I knew, saw some airplanes. Good times.
It even has a little backwards-facing booth for the spotter? long line operator? to sit. ( it might not be backwards-facing, you never really know with helicopter types, it might actually fly backwards and the booth is right-way-round...haha
Airshow pictures always seem to end up even more boring than scenery shots, or close-ups of flowers. It was kind of neat to watch the aerobatic routines and be able to appreciate what the view must be like as the world tumbles and the feel of the g-forces at the same time.
My visit back home seemed long at the time, until it was time to leave, and then it seemed like I had only just got there.
I pretty much repeated the journey out, in reverse. Fly out, pickup the stashed car ( started, woohoo! ) and the six hour drive back here.
The flight was good, no crazy seatmates or anything. While boarding there was a baby seated directly behind me and it was NOT happy. I felt bad for Mom as the baby was really almost screaming. I think me and everyone within earshot ( that would be pretty much the whole plane,. the kid had a set of lungs ) was thinking "uh-oh, this is going to be a loooong flight” As soon as it pushed back and started up though, the little guy quieted down and I didn't hear a peep out of him the rest of the flight.
For Wildlife on the way back, the count was 2 moose, 1 buzzard and a momma fox and her cubs ( kits? ). I got a shot of Momma as I drove by, but the little ones had already scooted off into the bushes.
This shot doesn't really capture it, but a train on the prairie really reminds me of growing up in Alberta.