July 18, 2002
This certainly was a trip of hurried departures for one reason or another. Today’s challenge: The Sierra Mountains. Apparently, the afternoon brings regular thunder storms to the mountains. The coastal winds push the developing heat of the Sacramento Valley into the mountains where they meet with cooler temperatures and form something terrible for small planes traveling at 9500 feet. We don’t like thunderstorms (they tend to break off wings) so we needed to get through the mountains before the afternoon’s events started to take place.
Little did we know at the start of today’s trip that we were about to embark on one hell of a ride. Here’s the scenario: Our GPS device ran out of battery power so knowing our location became much more complicated; Nevada is a horrible state to get lost over because very few things exists as natural landmarks; There were serious storms all over the place.
Amidst the ducking and dodging of rain showers, after dark clouds, after high winds, after tremendous turbulence…we end up in a restricted zone and get a quick (emphasis on quick) visit from two fighter planes who zing by our nose at about a million miles an hour. We turned around!
After some mid-air recalculation, a few prayers, and lots of bouncing, we managed to reconnect with our route. Eventually, we found the Sierra Mountains and took a beautiful 9500 foot tour of Lake Tahoe. I’m fairly certain you can see all the way to the bottom on a clear day. Tahoe truly is a paradise unto itself.
An hour later, we found our home airport… A sight for travelled eyes. We landed safely one last time, took a deep breath, cleaned out the plane, and went to Taco Bell.