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 circle.

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 that.

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.

Top Landing

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 out.

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 gape.

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 bank.

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 great.

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.

We 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.


1. Everybody was gone, Tim and I had Hat Creek to ourselves. Time to play. What a beautiful place.

It's challenging to kite on a hill because the wind is blowing upwards making your wing want to kite well forward, pulling you with it. That's why it requires a lot of brake, on the verge of stalling it, while leaning back to avoid being pulled of the hill.

This was good practice for me because I'll readily admit that I'm not used to it. It was fun, too.

Thanks to Gregg Peterson and local hang glider Page for giving local site info.

2. Jeff Goin, Hank Strong, Bruce Barnett in Hank's gorgeous house. It's off the grid but sports every modern convenience. Photo by Tim Kaiser

© 2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!