Repost: From Palms to Pines

“A first time racer’s personal account”

“You have to go down to 350 feet for the flyby,” I reminded gently. “I am not going any lower“, pat came the response while Grace stayed steady at 400 feet. “We’ll be disqualified if we are not at or below 200 feet for the flyby,” I said a trifle forcefully.


It was a beautiful, pleasant day. The heat wave we were expecting hadn’t caught up with us yet. Earlier in the morning, fog over Santa Monica had cleared rapidly, affording us an early departure on our first leg to Merced. With luggage stowed in baggage compartment, cooler with ample water in the rear seat and neck strap comfortably around our shoulders to keep us cool from the heat, we had set off from Santa Monica with anticipation for the race ahead. This was the first time I was participating in an air race, but for Grace this was old hat, as she had flown the year before.

Skirting past the Van Nuys and Burbank airspace, we sped towards the Gorman Pass. Having scouted the area the previous day, we had no trouble finding the pass. Staying as low as terrain permitted, we raced through the pass and headed towards Merced which was the checkpoint for our first flyby. Once past the Gorman Pass, the terrain flattened out and all that lay ahead were green fields, haze and beckoning skies. The haze layer hung steadfast over the surface washing the fields below with gentle whitish hue. Staying high enough to avoid the airspace below and slightly above the haze layer, we made it to Merced in good time for lunch. The first flyby at Merced called for a pass at 350 feet MSL at full throttle over the adjacent taxiway. Grace finally acceded after realizing that the elevation of the airport was 156 feet and we nudged closer to 350 feet and sped down the taxiway at 110 knots. I could feel the rush inside me as my heartbeat quickened. This was racing indeed!

Continue to read here.

Down the Deschutes River

Crater Lake was formed as result of the collapse of the volcano, Mount Mazama many, many years ago. Mount Mazama belongs to the Cascade range and was built over a long period  of almost 400, 000 years. The caldera that Crater Lake is composed of, is supposed to have been created almost 6,000 or 8,000 years ago.

craterlake I had the distinct pleasure of both flying this route as well as driving it from Northern California. Believe me, each experience has it’s own advantage. For example, seeing Crater Lake from the air provides the most stunning views of the bluest of blue waters. On the other hand, driving up to Crater National Park and trekking down the slope of the Mount Mazama to the water’s edge provides views of deep, blue , clear water, and sheer cliffs surrounding the lake of such immeasurable beauty, it is hard to make a  choice.


One summer, my family and I made the fun road trip up north: getting some history visiting the state capital in Sacramento, California, driving further north past Mount Shasta and the turquoise blue waters of Lake Shasta up to Medford, Oregon. The next day, we drove up to the Crater Lake National Park. Seeing Crater Lake at eye level affords some of the most, breathtaking views of the pristine, blue lake.


After  a strenuous  1.1 mile hike down the Cleetwood Trail, you can take a two hour boat ride, getting a fantastic perspective on the history of the crater with a park ranger. By virtue of once being an active volcano, the boat ride is aboard a kerosene operated boat, in order to not trigger any unwanted volcanic activity. Although, I had hoped for some whitewater rafting down the Rogue river, that couldn’t be.


So it was a happy occurrence, that we flew an exciting Palms to Pines airrace flight from Santa Monica, CA to Redwood, CA, past Lake Shasta, Mount Shasta that finally culminated in Bend, OR.  The next day, we headed out to the Deschutes River for some white water rafting.  I admit, I was nervous. It was my first white water rafting experience. But I am happy to report, I needn’t have worried: I made it through without falling in!

After the successful flight, Grace and I made our return back to the Central Coast with a slight detour over Crater Later, past Mount Shasta, Lake Shasta and down south.


Like I said before: each experience is incredible and unrepeatable!