Okay God, I’m Listening!

Just a month or so ago I got a letter stating it was time to renew my aircraft insurance from First Flight Insurance Co.  I dutifully did this because… well… it’s insurance and accidents happen.  Last week I got a letter from them saying that First Flight had elected to stop providing insurance to the Part 103 (Ultralight aircraft) community.  The US Ultralight Association to which I belong said that they are scrambling to find a new insurance carrier but in the mean time, no ultralights would have insurance.  I didn’t think much more about it other than I would just wait and see what USUA came up with as far as insurance companies.

Then, this past Wednesday I get a text out of the blue asking if my P3 Lite Powered Parachute was still for sale.  I was tempted to say no because I’ve been getting sporadic interest in it from an ad I placed on a PPC equipment for sale website.  But they had incorrectly listed my location as Albany NY.  So I was getting calls from guys in New York who would ask lots of questions and then hang up when they found out I was in California.  I had decided not to sell the P3.  I’ve really been enjoying flying it.  But then I got this text asking if my P3 was still for sale.  I first told him that the aircraft is in California and then asked him if he was still interested.  He responded yes.

There ensued a long text exchange (during one of the busiest weeks I have had at work in a long while) between the prospective buyer and I.  I didn’t really believe he was serious until he started asking when he could come pick it out and was cash okay?  So this (Saturday) morning he showed up at 7am, handed me the agreed-upon price in cash, loaded up my powered parachute and drove back to Arizona.

At first I was just kind of amused thinking about how fast these events occurred.  But then I started thinking about it a little deeper with respect to the Providence of God.  The timing is just TOO coincidental.  Since I don’t believe in coincidence or luck, I believe it is God’s Providence.  That within two weeks my aircraft insurance should be cancelled and refunded, by the way, and my aircraft sold… well…  it just feels like this was God’s plan for me.  I have spiritual ears and I’m using them to listen to what He’s trying to tell me.

So… what’s the plan now?  Am I done with aviation?  Nope.  In fact I’m going full circle.  In my aviation career I have rented, owned, built two fixed wing airplanes, sold them, got into parachute aviation, and have now returned to renting fixed wing again.  And really when I think about it, my whole reason for going with the parachutes was to have a way to fly that was very portable.  Renting airplanes in different parts of the country is even more portable.  I don’t need any special place to store an aircraft, don’t need to bring any tools to maintain it, and no maintenance records to track.  I’ll miss owning my own aircraft for the bragging rights if nothing else but in reality this really lifts a burden from me.

I’m going to be contacting a local flying club that a friend is a member of and begin flying with them.  I’ll be flying a Cessna 152, which is essentially the same aircraft I learned to fly in.  It’s a whole circle of life thing.  Looks like I’ll be ending my aviation career as I began it.  And there is nothing wrong with that.

Stay tuned for more pictures and video from the next chapter of my aviation story.

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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Aeronautical Contact

It’s been somewhat breezy in California’s vast Central Valley this past week but the winds died down this past Sunday evening and I took advantage.  I loaded up my powered parachute and high-tailed it out to New Jerusalem Airport.  I got off the ground at about 6pm.  The winds near the ground were mildly rowdy, and I mean mildly.  As I climbed up through 300 feet MSL ( above mean sea level), the air became silky and warm.

I brought along my Icom VX-6R Ham radio HT (handi-talkie) to try to make an aeronautical contact.  I was circling the field and called out on the SARA repeater frequency.  I got an immediate call back from KM6MHT.  A gentleman by the name of Mike whom I talk to on the radio every now and again on my commute home.  He said I was pretty scratchy but readable but since we both heard each other we can log it.  Since the radio was so heard to hear I decided to just put it away and enjoy the evening flight.

I flew around the New Jerusalem area (just southeast of Tracy, California) and enjoyed the sunset.  The air was perfect, there was no traffic, it was so peaceful.  I shot three landings for practice and then decided to put my PPC away before it got dark.  It was then that I found the only flaw in my day… the mosquitoes!  I put my PPC away in record time and jumped into my pickup truck to escape the onslaught.  It was a perfect end to the weekend.img_20190331_185446

Searching The Heart

I wanted to put in a plug for my wife’s blog, Searching The Heart.  She hasn’t updated it in quite a while but that may change very soon.  If you have a special needs child or would like to understand the heart of a mother of a special needs child, then head over to her blog and take a look.  She has a lot of wisdom packed into that blog.  As stated, she will be updating it soon.

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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Jackson Rancheria RV Park

We just got back from a two night stay at Jackson Rancheria RV Park.  Jackson Rancheria is a casino owned by a local tribe of Miwuk Indians.  I have to admit, we’re not casino people and we didn’t venture to the casino.  But the RV park is top notch and the owners should be proud of what they have created.  We were greeted warmly when we arrived and I did not have to ask a single question.  Christina, who checked me in, answered every question I had before I even asked!  The RV spots are spacious and there is ample room between spots.   We had a back in spot on the east edge of the park.  The wide concrete pad was level and was surrounded by grass.  We were also given a garbage bag when we checked in just in case we didn’t have any.

As I was setting up a familiar face walked into my campsite.  It was my old buddy Bob!  Bob and I were aviation buddies back in the day.  We even owned an aircraft together for a brief time until my OCD couldn’t handle it any longer.  We chatted for a bit and thin I finished setting up.  After getting set up we took a walk around the park on their nature trail, after visiting with Bob and his wife some more.  The trail loops around the perimeter of their park.  We stopped in the office and helped ourselves to free popcorn.  Then we headed back to make dinner and catch up on some movies.

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The next morning after breakfast we drove down in to Jackson and walked around their downtown district.  It was nice but not much was open on Monday morning.  Seems the weekends are their big days.  Afterwards we drove to Sutter Creek which had a larger historic district and more stores were open.  We had lunch, shopped a little, then drove to Lake Tabeaud Day Use Area for a little hike.  It was overcast but still kind of warm and balmy.  The landscape was rich and green with all the recent rains.  We drove home for more dinner and movies.

The following morning was “go-home” day.  We slept in, had a late breakfast then packed up and drove home.  We really enjoyed Jackson Ranceria’s RV Park and since it’s so close to home we’ll definitely be back many more times!

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Life’s Little Joys

We can’t always travel the globe when we like.  I don’t have the money for one, and secondly I have no time.  Personally I love to hike.  I don’t have much time for hiking either.  So I try to grab little moments of joy when I can.  Like the field behind the hospital where I work.

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Besides the verdant green fields next to the dirt farm road there is a low drainage canal full of trees and rabbits.  There is also the San Joaquin County Jail on the far side of the field to keep me company as I walk.  Under the trees there is a lush growth of miner’s lettuce.

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There is also an abandoned bridge here and paved roads that lead nowhere and are slowly disintegrating.  It’s a really interesting place to walk.  And peaceful.  And many days, that’s just what I need.