Saturday Drive to Silver Lake

After my awesome Friday, flying in the morning, camping in the evening, we had to make Saturday every bit as good.  But without the flying, Mrs. Flying Dutchman doesn’t like flying so much.  Since it was forecast to be hot again we decided to drive higher up into the mountains.  Our destination was only an hour away; Silver Lake.  When we arrived we found a lovely 75 degree day rather than the 98 degrees it was forecast to be back at the trailer.  We hiked along one of the roads along the shoreline and then moved to different section of the lake and did some rock hopping and took in the beautiful sights.

After spending several hours at the lake it was time to head back but not before swearing to come back after tourist season is over.  Even the drive back down the mountain was beautiful.

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Sunday Morning

On our last day we just hung around in bed for a while, had a leisurely breakfast, and then watched church on our phone.  Afterwards we packed everything up, got the trailer ready to travel, and then drove back down the mountain to Modesto.  It was a wonderful, relaxing weekend.

Awesome Friday

Morning Flight

This was a great Friday.  Due to some personal business I was FORCED to take the day off.  Okay, no one forced me, I forced myself.   But since I was home anyway, and I didn’t want to wake Cristy, I decided to head out to Oakdale to test out my new Electronic Flight Bag.  An EFB has all the info a pilot needs including airport information, temporary flight restriction, NOTAMS, and most important of all, up to date navigation charts.  The EFB I use runs on my iPad and it’s called Foreflight.  Foreflight will display your aircraft’s GPS position right on a navigation chart, what’s more, it integrates with the airplane’s transponder to display ADS-B data on the chart as well.  What’s ADS-B data, you may ask?  It’s basically real-time traffic position data that is transmitted by air traffic control every time their radar sweeps the sky.   Today was to be the first time I display traffic on my EFB and it worked like a charm!

I booked the Cessna 152 out at the airport at 6am and by 6:30am was climbing out and heading south for a quick flight to Turlock and back.  As I said this was mostly just to test the ADS-B functionality of my EFB.  I was amazed how many airplanes it picked up.  It won’t pick up every aircraft in the sky but it will pick up a good portion of them.  In fact, it picked up one that was dead ahead of me and at my same altitude.  I scanned the sky carefully and was finally able to see it!  Another aircraft heading into Turlock.  You can see it in the photo below depicted as N543RR.

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I continued my approach into Turlock, landed, taxied back, and took off again for Oakdale.  Fiddling with my new EFB the whole way back.  I was an early adopter of ForeFlight years ago and I can’t believe how may features they have packed into it now!  After arriving back at Oakdale I put the plane away and began on the second part of my awesome Friday!

 

RV Trip to Gold Country Campground Resort

On my way home from the airport I swung by the RV storage yard and picked up our Lance travel trailer.  I had reserved two nights at Gold Country Campground Resort.  We packed up our food and clothes and then headed up into the Sierra Nevada foothills to try to beat the heatwave we were experiencing down in the Central Valley.  Unfortunately, our campground was not high enough in elevation to beat much of the heat.

We checked in at the campground office and were given a map to our site.  I asked if it was a pull-thru or back-in site and the young woman told me it was a back-in site.  So after finding the site and backing in, I found that the utilities (power, water, sewer) were on the wrong side of the trailer!  It was actually a head-in site!  I pulled out and went round the loop again and pulled straight into the site and then everything lined up perfectly.

After getting set up we cranked up the AC to cool off.  It was 97 degrees outside!  We took a nap first hoping to sleep away the hotted part of the day.  It was still hot when we woke up so we jumped into the truck and drove into town to get some ice cream.  Munnerlyn’s Ice Creamery was just a few miles away in the town of Pine Grove.  We stopped in and got some vegan blueberry ice cream.  It is non-dairy and made out of coconut and blueberries.  I’m NOT a vegan but this stuff was delicious!  All of their ice creams are hand made onsite and it is worth a trip if you are anywhere within a 2 hour drive!

After dessert we decided it was time for dinner.  We drove down to Jackson and had dinner at Highway House Restaurant and Bar.  Afterwards we drove back to the campground and sat out under the awning while the sun went down.  Then we watch some Netflix shows I had saved on our iPad and then we turned in.

More to come…

Flight to Auburn, CA

Had a great time with my flying buddy Jordan this past Saturday.  We rented the trusty little Cessna 152 from Oakdale Aero Club and flew out to Auburn for breakfast.  It’s called the Wings Grill and Espresso Bar and they serve a great breakfast.  Jordan and I got there before the breakfast rush and sat out on the patio and watched the takeoffs and landings while we had breakfast.  What a GREAT way to spend a morning.

I don’t know which was better, eating breakfast and walking around the airport looking at the airplanes and talking to the odd pilot here and there, or the flight over and back.

Who am I kidding, I know which was funner.  Have a look for yourself.  Here are two videos, the first taken by my camera, the second by Jordan.  Enjoy the trip!

(And yes, I AM going to work on my on-camera personality!)

Scott’s Video:

 

Jordan’s Video:

Pinecrest Lake Hike – 07/11/2019

Last week I had some time off so Cristy and I decided to head up to Pinecrest Lake.  We wanted to get out of the house for a day and wanted to go on a hike so it seemed the perfect place to go.  Pinecrest is located just off Highway 108 in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  We didn’t think it would be too crowded mid-week… we were wrong.   But it wasn’t so crowded that we couldn’t find a parking space next to the lake.  With some patience that is.

We had stopped at Schnoog’s in Sonora to pick up some lunch.  We ate our lunch sitting on some rocks watching all the moms and kids cooling off in the lake.  After lunch we decided to hike to Cleo’s Bath since we were feeling energetic and had never been there before.  So we struck off past the marina and headed towards the dam along the west side of the lake.  Those that have ALREADY made the hike to Cleo’s Bath already know what we did wrong.

It was a beautiful day for a hike with weather in the upper 70’s at this point.  We enjoyed the beautiful scenery looking down at the lake from the trail on our way to the dam.   I found the helipad to be kind of amusing as it was so small and on the edge of the dam!

We finally made it to the dam and then saw a sign pointing towards Cleo’s Bath.  We dutifully followed it along the north shoreline of the lake.  The trail started going upwards so we thought we were making progress, then the trail went back down towards the lake.  Hmmmm…..  But then the trail started going upwards again!  Then downwards again.  After about an hour and a half of up and down and losing the trail once we finally made it to the east side of the lake and had gone almost 3/4 of the way around the lake when we finally came upon a sign that read… Cleo’s Bath!  By this time we were pretty beat and were not looking forward to an uphill hike with no water.

We decided to continue on around the lake and declare victory.  And it really was a victory for us as we’ve never been quite in the shape needed to do even moderate hikes.  The trail around Pinecrest lake is no slouch.  It has all the earmarks of a challenging trail but it is mercifully short.    We’ve decided we will go to Cleo’s Bath in a couple of weeks but this time we will start off in the RIGHT direction!

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Red Hills Ranch Easter Picnic 2019

I have know Jack and Myrna Moyle for over 20 years.  They have treated me like family from the moment I met them.  Every year they have an Easter Picnic for their family and friends.  The picnic happens on the Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Day (Easter) and about 150-300 people usually show up.  This past year we’ve had a lot of rainfall and the wildflowers were on spectacular display.  Please enjoy a few of the photos I took at the picnic!

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The big Easter egg hunt!

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Thanks again Jack and Myrna for making this such a wonderful year!

The Beauty In Our Backyard

We love to travel; to visit and see places we’ve never been.  Sometimes though, there are some pretty amazing things to see in your own backyard.  Maybe not your literal backyard but close to home, if you only look.

This past weekend Cristy and I took a walk through Oak Grove Park in Ripon, Ca.  It isn’t in the most pleasant part of Ripon being located next to their sewage treatment plant. But even there we could find beauty.

You can just make out the trail that runs off into the grove of oak trees for which the park is named.

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However, for this walk we stuck to the paved path that runs along the Stanislaus River.

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With all the recent rain our drought-stricken state has received you could easily mistake this for England.  This area is normally covered with brown grasses.  The Stanislaus River is running very high right now.  Normally these trees are not in the water.  Water managers are releasing a lot of water in anticipation of the thaw of the heavy snow pack we received in the mountains this winter.

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It’s hard to believe that at one time boats navigated these rivers. The rivers used to be so large that there were several ferries in the area to get people across them.  Agriculture and water management (dams) have pretty much turned the river into a canal.  Still, a very beautiful canal.

Be sure to stop and take a look you your backyard and see if you can spot the beauty that almost certainly is there.

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Calaveras Big Trees

Well, the day’s plan started out as being a drive up to Cottage Springs to survey the campsite for an upcoming Ham radio event in June.  I wanted to see if the location was suitable to bring our Lance travel trailer.  But those plans soon changed as we drove up into the Sierra Nevada mountains.

We drove north through Escalon to Farmington and turned right on Highway 4.  It was a beautiful spring day with wildflowers everywhere.  We headed up into the foothills and decided to stop for lunch in Murphys.  We decided on Alchemy Cafe.  I had a delicious Ban Mi sandwich and Cristy had a salad with a generous helping of pork bellys on top.  Hey, it worked for us.

After lunch we continued up Highway 4 until we got to the road leading to the campground.  Um…. no dice.  We won’t be checking on that campground today. Probably not for another two months.  So we took a few selfies and moved on.

 

So now we needed a plan “B”.  Since we had passed Calaveras Big Trees State Park on the way up we decided to head over there and do a little hiking.  When we got there we learned that only the visitor’s center and the nearby North Grove was open that day.  We decided to stop in anyway.  We’ve been here several times but we love coming back.  We’re certainly glad we did because as we were deciding what to do a park volunteer came up and asked what we’d like to see.  We told her we’d come hoping we could do some hiking.  She said most of the lower trails were muddy but even though the rest of the park was closed to vehicle traffic we could certainly hike up the road and see as much of the park as we liked.

So that’s exactly what we did.  We hiked up main road that wraps up and around the visitors center.  We came to the top of the hill and stopped at the scenic vista parking area which is just above the grove next to the visitor’s center.  We didn’t see anyone the entire time except for an elderly woman walking her dog at the top of the hill.  We really enjoyed the quiet hike.  We talked about how amazing God is that even in this little area there was so much diversity of plant life and all the animal tracks we saw in the snow.  He spoke all those into existence but lovingly scooped the dirt into His hands with which he made us.  We were taken aback by how even a fallen world can be so beautiful.  We can’t imagine what a restored Earth will look like.

We spent some time admiring the view but since we didn’t bring any water with us we headed back down the hill.  Round trip the hike was only about 4.5 miles but there was plenty of scenery and we got to stretch our legs.

 

Back at the visitor’s center we stopped off in the warming hut and were given free hot chocolate and hot tea.  I opted to make a donation anyway to make sure there was enough hot chocolate, hot cider, and hot tea for others in the future.  We then drove down to Valley Springs and stopped off for a quick snack (it was 4pm by now) because we hadn’t brought any with us.  Cristy needs her afternoon snack!  Then we enjoyed a nice leisurely hour and a half drive home through the backroads of California’s vast Central Valley where we live.  It’s so fun to take my wife on dates even after 31 years.

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