Sunday, August 17, 2008

Flying Visits in California

This weekend, we made a flying -- and I mean flying -- visit to California. It was almost too rushed to take photos, but we have a few. On Wednesday afternoon after work, Case loaded the plane and flew from Las Cruces to San Bernardino, where Jolene met him. (She had worked at home in Fullerton that weekend.) Then we backtracked to Palm Springs where we checked into a hotel, getting up early the next morning for a job interview.

After a full day of interviews, we hopped into the plane again at about 6:00 p.m., climbed up out of the desert heat, and flew to the Napa Valley. Getting in at about 9:45 p.m., we drove to the Vineyard Country Inn in St. Helena, slept, and then got up for another job interview on Friday morning.

The Vinard Country Inn, by the way, is worth the visit. It's all vine-covered Victorian architecture, slate roofs, English gardens, & comfy suites with king beds and fireplaces.
The Napa Valley was a treat, especially since this time the interviews didn't last all day. We had some time to bum around and have a good meal at the Rutherford Grill -- also recommended.

It's a rather pricey area, though. In the morning, while Case was in interviews, Jolene toured with a realtor. She looked at all the houses in St. Helena that we might be able to afford ... both of them, in fact!

After a second night at the Inn, we took off midday for the short hop over to Sacramento, where we spent the evening with Jolene's family. And then on Sunday, we had to fly the 6 hours back to Las Cruces for work on Monday.

Case decided to take the direct route over the desert and Grand Canyon -- the North & South Rims are faintly visible in the photo below, taken through the plane's window-tinting.Case was surprised to find his planned route across Grand Canyon blocked by a "TFR" (temporary flight restriction). The note linked it to a "search and rescue effort"; we later found out it was the one caused by the Havasu flash floods. A slight diversion took us across at another FAA-approoved Canyon crossing, wedged between the minimum altitude required to protect the Canyon's residents and back-country hikers from the noise of flight-seers and the cloud layer above.
After a fuel stop in Flagstaff, Arizona -- also worth a visit, according to our brief inspection -- we buzzed over the "First Proved, Best-Preserved Meteorite Crater On Earth" (click the photo for an expanded view). A short time later, the controller gave us direct routing to Las Cruces (ordinarily, we'd have had to fly to Albuquerque and then south), so we arrived back as the moon rose over the eastern peaks.

It was a lot of flying, a lot of talking, and not much time to think, but we managed to squeeze in two interviews, a mini-vacation in the Napa Valley, and a visit to family without missing too much work. If at least one of the two interviews bears fruit, it was worth it.

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