Sacramento to Seattle
Enterprise tour of the Pacific Northwest
It's been eight days of heaven. We're
on the way home now, leaving Seattle to a beautiful sunset, receding
behind our eastbound Jet. The people, the sights, the flights, it's been
probably my top 3 Enterprise trips.
I've filled in some of the cracks and added pictures that had to wait
until free time allowed. If I never do another trip I'm darned grateful
for journey's done to date. Of course I am hoping for many more, but
marvel at what's been.
Here's to seeing you at the next fly-in!
July 19 Hank's Place
On our way, passing through Klamath falls at the moment. Too busy
having the fun to write about it. Plus I've got to get to the
PPGplans.com project. Hopefully I'll get those plans up today if I have
an internet connection wherever we wind up.
Hank and Pops who put on Hanks Fly-In are wonderful folks. Absolutely
wonderful. Beautiful place, too, with hospitable hosts and lots of great
company. Bummer it was so brief. Those Sunday afternoon Root Beer floats
sure were a real treat.
Hank's son Mel gave a great dissertation of local geology which I'm
sorry I missed. Bruce Barnett gave the overview and then on Sunday
afternoon, we had time talk. Over those floats no less. Ahhh.
On to Hat Creek for some evening soaring.
Passing Upper Klamath Lake right now. How
gorgeous is that?
Much more to come but, for now, here are some pictures by Brian
Thivierge who knows his way around a camera.
Brian Thivierge's Pictures on Flickr
Varied terrain made for fascinating
flying within only a few miles of the air field. Plains, volcanoes,
pillow lava and more than I can remember kept pilots entertained.
July 19 Hat Creek
Bruce Barnett has been telling me about this place for years. It's only
about a half-hour from Hank's place and a relatively easy drive up. Mind
you, paraglider pilots define "good road" far more
optimistically than anyone else. By their definition it was great,
meaning passable without oversize tires and 4-wheel drive. But the Enterprise, a 27 foot motorhome, was none to
thrilled about it. Even worse was driving to the landing zone
on some crushed rock affair. I use the term "crushed" loosely. That, by the way, is one huge
landing zone. No problem getting there from launch, either, as
it's right below. You could launch, pull big ears, and still have to
Mind you, I'm extremely thankful to have that road. Any road you can get
a motorhome up on can't be all that bad. And kudos to the forest service
for maintaining it and the local club for maintaining the site.
After finally making it up there, we found nary a single paraglider--just hang gliders,
about eight of them vying for a turn at launching. One particularly friendly hangie, Page, gave us a bunch of site pointers
including the paraglider launch only a hundred feet away. Thanks for
It was gusty and even the hang gliders didn't launch for a little while.
I talked by phone with Gregg Peterson who lives nearby and flies the site a lot.
He provided even more information.
While the hang gliders were launching I got my wing out to kite for a
while. Then when I got it up and found conditions not that bad, I went for it.
Bumps were a two on the
bump scale and lift was plentiful. Staying up
was no problem for any pilot exhibiting consciousness. But Tim was still
on the ground and, for him to fly, I'd have to top land. Gregg had said
it wasn't that hard but, presumably, he meant when the conditions
mellowed. I wanted to land before that point and have to admit, found
doing so quite challenging.
I spiraled down to just above landing level then went into big ears.
Coming out of big ears at 30 feet or so I got shot right back up. No go.
I didn't want to go too far back behind launch for fear of rotor. After
several tries, I found just the right altitude, big-ear and "flapping"
combination to top land. My body was in rotor, easily felt from the
sharpish gusts on my face, but the wing was just in bumpy air. The Spice
is small but it's lifty, too. I'd love to watch some experienced locals
do it and see their method.
Tim decided not to go yet so I relaunched and flew for longer, waiting
for it to mellow some but still be soarable. I top landed again but it
was still a bit sporty and Tim decided not to go. To avoid the nasty
2-mile motorhome bounce to the LZ, we drove down together and headed
Hang Gliders and me. I was the only
paraglider to fly, mostly, I suspect, because the rest of them had
gotten their fill on previous days. It was somewhat strong at first but
mellowed sufficiently by about 7pm. Photos mostly by Tim Kaiser.
July 20 Crater Lake
Come up over the rim and you'll just want to stare. Crater lake is
incredible, geologist heaven, I suspect, owing to the many exposed
layers of earth. But for our eyeballs, it's an
explosion of color, expansive shapes and sharp features that make you
We didn't fly this day even though we could have. That's a sign of hope
for my eventual return to normalcy. But then we didn't need to
fly--after cruising around Rim Road for a while we came upon the main
attraction, a hike to their 8000 feet high fire observation platform.
It was so cool to sit there, seemingly on top of the world, just taking
in this fantastic scenery. The walk up itself was cool. Literally—snow
is all over and, in one place, the path carved right through a snow
July 21 Crescent Lake to Portland's Sauvie Island
Morning's perfect air motivated us to find a sunrise launch. I'm using
SkyVector.com to look at sectional charts along with Google Earth to
further check out sites as we travel. This airstrip is surrounded by 150
foot tall pines but is wide enough to do a steepish 360 in. Perfect.
We didn't travel that far because trees were everywhere and we wanted to
always be in glide of a pineless landing. But we didn't have to go far
given the splendid scenery right there above the field.
What a transformation. You're driving along these two-lane roads,
tunneling through pine forests that limit visibility to occasional peeks
at the surrounding beauty. Then we launch our little magic machines into
a spectacular panorama. It was really quite incredible.
After flying, Tim landed first and I came around for play and a spot
landing while he snapped off pictures. That was fun. Next up: Portland.
Local paramotor pilot Martin Blasczyk took us to one of their local
haunts on Sauvie Island. It was a beautiful farm owned two attractive
gals who were most welcoming. When he told me their age I about fell
over. Lets just say they could be easily be grandparents.
He also let me try his late model Pap paramotor which hopefully I'll get
some comments up on the reviews page. Nice running machine. I did a
bunch of pictures with fly-bys in various configurations while Tim and
Martin took pictures (thanks guys!).
Winds were blowing pretty good, yielding a 3 on the bump scale with
occasional 4's. That's not much fun, so we waited and all launched about
a half-hour before sunset. Bumpy but beautiful with Portland behind us.
July 22 Beach Flying, Seaside, OR
This morning we met up with beach bum, surfer, builder, and portland
paradude Steve Nueman. He was spending time with friends in a house
right on the beach. We got there after he'd finished his morning surf
and he took us to a paramotor-friendly beach near Seaside, OR. Brad Hill
runs a paragliding school there but, unfortunately, was not out there.
We could see at least a mile through the cool, misty fog so it wasn't
ideal. But I'm not traveling this far not to fly so I lit up my machine.
And it's beach flying. I don't get to that very often in Chicago. Like
never. Steve started his flying here so didn't waste the time and Tim
didn't want to, either. After a flight on my Machine, Steve let me try
his Kobra paramotor. I did a couple flights to get pictures of the
geometry while airborne and try out some different maneuvers. Another
nice machine. The motor was "missing" a bit at higher power but it
wasn't noticeable in thrust.
1) Tim at an overlook south of Seaside before meeting up wtih Steve. 2)
While walking out for a good view, Tim spied this disgusting critter and
had to capture its essence. Yuck. 3) Got out on the beach for a quickie
with my own gear. 4-6) Steve let me take a couple spins on his machine,
a Kobra, that I'd been wanting to try out for a review.
July 23 Sandy, OR
The plan was for a sunrise flight at Sandy, Oregon, with Martin and
another local pilot, Gabe Evans. This beautiful little airport is
nestled against some rolling hills and bounded by the Sandy River. If
only we could see all that through the almost drizzling fog. Bummer. Not
surprisingly Gabe and Martin begged off the 1.5 hour drive. I may still
yet go flying here but it's nice taking a break and writing. Today I've
got to finish my Paramotor column so this is a good time.
The rest of today will probably be touring the area including Mount
Saint Helens. I've flown over it probably several dozen times in the
Boeing and it will be nice to see it close up, to walk it and imagine
the geologic processes that worked here.
This afternoon we met up with Martin and Steve for lunch
(unfortunately, not launch) in Portland. It was cloudy so afterwards, we
followed Steve to another launch site near Sauvie Island with the idea
of possibly getting some air. I had to dry my wing out anyway so I kited
for a while to feel what was going on. It would have been completely
safe but not so much fun with probably 2-level bumps. Increasing
sunshine meant that would only likely worsen. Both Tim and Steve decided
against it so I didn't go either. No matter, I'd gotten my morning air
so I wasn't desperate.
Next up: Northbound to the big blow--Mount St. Helens.
July 23, Mount St. Helens, WA
Here I sit atop an incredible overlook, gazing down the maw of Mount
St. Helens. Or what's left of it, anyway. Do the wonders ever stop? It's
one thing to see before and after pictures of this once-mighty mount,
it's quite another to feel engulfed by it. Something like a cubic mile
of earth first slid down then exploded hell, fire and brimstone
northward all over this area. What they've done here to allow access is
On the way up we were shocked to see a paraglider. The Cascade
Paragliding Club, it turns out, has an "arrangement" with Warehaueser
Lumber that lets them "recreate" there. The launch looks benign but a
local pilot explained how it's worse than it looks. The fellow who was
in the air was joined by another who climbed out a bit at first but then
both sunk out. The hike sounded like more ordeal than I was interested
in so I skipped it. Besides, we were trying to get to the best vantage
point for viewing St. Helens before Sol sinks out.
I get such a charge out of working on stuff while moving the picture
window of the Enterprise through this incredible scenery. It's
distracting of course, and I spend lots of time gazing when splendor
exceeds some value, but I do get stuff done. Not the least of which is
this log which I have no business writing.
An opening with greenery covered hilltop slides by. We're descending
back down State Route 504, in an area that was heat blasted that fateful
day in May, 1980.
I have stuff with enough priority that it warrants attention. But
hey, how often am I gonna be here? Lets face it, probably not for a
number of years.
The valley sprawls below, meandering dried muck is everywhere.
Back to work now.
1) Tim on left, me (Jeff) on right at
one of the many overlooks. 2) Me pointing at the mountain. 3) Tim with
the paraglider having just launched. 4) Captain Kaiser in command of the
Enterprise. 5) Instead of driving to the top, we found a spot, parked
our butts atop the roof and marveled. 6) The view out my window from
which this log and much of my material frequently originates.
On the way to Seattle.
July 24, Near Seattle, Washington
The cherry has been consumed.
After taking the Boeing tour north of
Seattle, we met Seattle paramotor pilot Jim Childs who led us to one of
his local haunts for an evening flight. What a treat!
This is one
gorgeous area and the weather was perfect. Well, almost perfect. Where
we were, and for our whole flight, the sun was shining brightly
underneath an overhang from a growing thunderstorm to our North.
cruised all over the area until finally Tim whined (appropriately) about
the darkening northern sky and we landed, still in bright sunshine.
Afterwards we enjoyed dinner at the "Buzz In" airport restaurant (not
where we flew). Ahhh.