Travel Insanity

Too many miles, too little time.

I’m just recovering from a crazy week with too much travel in too short a time span.

Our Flight Path

Our flight path, recorded on my iPad with GPSTrack. Can you tell where we did some scud running?

It all started last Saturday, when I flew with two companions from Phoenix, AZ to Wenatchee, WA by helicopter in one day. It was almost 11 hours of flight time with mostly very brief stops for fuel. Although I had very little stick time — one of my companions did almost all the flying — I was still alert and able to fly at a moment’s notice.

It got a little tense when we had to do some scud-running in Oregon that lasted far longer than I like to be spending scud running — as if I like it at all. It never got dangerous, but more than a few times, I began scouting the remote hillsides around us, looking for a place to set down and wait it out. I was very glad when the terrain finally descended, dumping us in an area where we could get back on course.

We spent the night in Wenatchee and I parted company with my travel companions, leaving them to catch an early flight to Seattle while I took care of other things locally.

Sunday was relatively restful. I needed to reposition the helicopter to Quincy, WA, where I’d be spending part of my summer. That was just a 15-minute flight. Then I spent some time socializing at Ferguson Flying Services, where my helicopter is parked in Quincy, and the Colockum Ridge Golf Course, where my RV would be parked soon. Then a friend/client picked me up and drove me the 5 miles to his winery in town, where I spent the afternoon socializing with him, his family, and the folks who came for wine tasting. A nice, mellow afternoon.

But at 4:15, the craziness started again. I got a lift to Wenatchee Airport, where I caught a flight to Seattle with a connecting flight to Phoenix. My husband picked me up there at about 10:30 PM. Overnight at our Phoenix condo.

Monday morning, bright and early, we were on our way back up to Wickenburg. I spent the day finishing up some work on a chapter of my book and then packing. It wasn’t until nearly 9 PM that night that we were done and pulling the RV out of the hangar where it lives most of the year. We left it parked in front for the night.

Welcome to NevadaAt 6:45 AM, I was in the driver seat of the truck with Alex the Bird in the seat beside mine. We were starting a 1,295-mile drive from Wickenburg, AZ to Quincy, WA. My goal was to make Jackpot, NV that first day — a distance of 725 miles. I spent most of those miles on Route 93, a two-lane road with speed limits up to 70 miles per hour. There was no traffic and certain stretches of the road were straight and flat as far as the eye could see. We made Jackpot before nightfall. After dinner n the casino, I spent the night in the RV with Alex in comfort — in the casino parking lot.

My Rig, in Jackpot, NVThe next morning, I woke at 6:15, which is late for me. Anxious to get on the road, I rushed around making my coffee and Alex’s breakfast and then buttoning up the RV for another day on the road. It wasn’t until after I topped off the fuel tank across the street from the casino that I realized it was an hour earlier; that part of Nevada is on Mountain Daylight Time. So I got a very early start. I left Route 93 behind in Twin Falls, ID, and hopped on I-84. The route was mountainous and the truck sucked diesel at an alarming rate as I struggled to maintain speed up hills. I left the interstate just past Pendleton and got back on smaller, traffic-free back roads to head north. After 10 miles on I-70 and the last five miles through familiar farmland, I rolled into the parking lot at the Colockum Ridge Golf Course RV Park just after 3 PM.

My Route

My route, as captured by GPSTrack on my iPhone.

I was fortunate to have had good weather all the way. Towing 13,000 pounds of fifth wheel RV on wet pavement is no fun — as I learned last year. It was just starting to rain when I finished hooking up my utilities at 4 PM.

Do I need to say how exhausted I was? I’d snacked my way from Wickenburg to Quincy, eating only snacks on my low-carb diet: jerky, almonds, and cheese sticks. The only real meal I’d had was at the casino in Jackpot. My digestive system was a mess for the next two days.

And of course, I developed a bad cold, which I think I’m just coming out of now.

But on the bright side of this, I managed to get all my assets in position for the first half of the cherry drying season. I set up my RV office and yesterday I managed to knock off another chapter of the book I’m working on. I’m also in the area early enough to set up helicopter tours and wine tasting trips with the local wineries.

It’s been a rough week, but now I’m settled in. It feels good to be at my home away from home.

5 thoughts on “Travel Insanity

  1. Maria, I love your adventures. I can’t imagine flying eleven hours in one day, especially with a good part of it in marginal VFR weather. That much flying alone is stressful enough. I’m glad that you all had a rewarding flight. I don’t think I could do Washington year round. But then Tampa winters give me a pain. That 5th wheel looks nice and comfy. What species of bird is Alex? I will be looking forward to your updates during cherry drying season. Enjoy every minute of it!…. Mike

    • Mike: The kudos go to Charlie, a new helicopter pilot who had the stick 95% or more of the time. I’ve had 10+ hour days at the stick, but not in marginal VFR weather. I have to admit that if I were alone I wouldn’t have done it and if Charlie was alone I hope HE wouldn’t have done it. Having two pilots on board makes something like this not only possible, but a lot safer.

      I couldn’t do Washington year-round — at least not here. It gets COLD in the winter. Am thinking of looking around near the Columbia River/Hood River confluence, tho. Would love to have a home with both water and big trees nearby. Starting to get seriously tired of the Sonoran Desert.

      Alex is an African Grey parrot. And yes, the fifth wheel is seriously comfy. Hope to write more soon.

  2. When I was seventeen, I was driving down that steep highway in Idaho at night when a crazy, aggressive semi driver got right on my tail and stayed on it, with his fog lights shining into my car, all the way to the bottom. It was scary! Another time, when I was 15, our family was almost thrown off the side of one of those steep spots because my parents were pulling a U-Haul that was really too big for our car, and a semi came screaming down between us and the lane with traffic coming the opposite way, forcing cars on the both sides over. The other cars on the other side were against the mountain, but we were on the cliff side. Dad almost lost complete control of our car, with the U-Haul whipping it around, but finally got it stopped right smack on the edge. I can’t remember where that spot was exactly, but there was a town at the bottom where we pulled off and regrouped. Ever since those experiences, I’ve been afraid of those sort of highway roads.

  3. Do you have a definitions page for helicopter lingo we can look up when we don’t understand? For instance, I’ve read references to scud-running before, and in this post, but I don’t know what that is.

What do you think?