Final Flight

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Final Flight

Day 16

Route
KSAF KEDC KEFD
660 nm, 4.5 hours, 44 gallons 

Final Flight Path and Route:  KEFD KSAV KAVL KVVS KMCD 83D KTVC KSTP KCOD 44.81667N/109.4109W 44.8448N/109.61594W 45.03058N/109.86752W 44.99908N/110.03268W 44.71023N/110.5063W KWYS KWMC KTVL KPAO KSZP KAVX KSMO KFLG KSAF KEDC KEFD

Final Flight Path and Route: 
KEFD KSAV KAVL KVVS KMCD 83D KTVC KSTP KCOD 44.81667N/109.4109W 44.8448N/109.61594W 45.03058N/109.86752W 44.99908N/110.03268W 44.71023N/110.5063W KWYS KWMC KTVL KPAO KSZP KAVX KSMO KFLG KSAF KEDC KEFD

After mechanical problems, weather delays, unexpected twists and turns, we safely arrived back at our hangar and ended up following this route across the country.  Our desire in posting our flight was to share with our families and post a possible itinerary for anyone else interested in a similar trip.  When we went searching for past examples, we found someone's experience on a southern route, but not as many as we expected.  We used 2 weeks, 3 buffer days for delays, an RV-6A capable of 150 knots/hr @ 8.5 gph, and about 3 to 6 hours per day of flight time.   If you're interested in a similar route, you can read from the bottom up to get a few ideas.

Our initial plan before any real-time modifications en route

Our initial plan before any real-time modifications en route

Considerations for flight planning

  • AOPA has an awesome website for evaluating possible destinations and a map based interface that makes it easy @ https://www.aopa.org/go-fly/destinations/travel-and-destinations-map
  • Blogs on fly-in destinations are great idea generators like this or this
  • Definitely build in buffer days in case of bad weather, mechanical delays, an awesome place that deserves more time, or fatigue.  We could have stayed at Yellowstone for over a week, probably a summer. 
  • It helped to have a tent and sleeping bag. 
  • AirBnB and Uber helped tremendously but it helped to reserve a car at Yellowstone and update them with our delays. We had a few advanced reservations that we chose for very particular reasons, but it would have been very difficult to make advanced reservations everywhere. Plus, having reservations everywhere would have constrained the trip to that exact plan rather than allowing some flexibility that is both inevitably needed and welcomed, as it adds to the adventure of it all.
Goodnight Houston

Goodnight Houston

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Santa Fe, NM

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Santa Fe, NM

Day 15

Route

KSMO (Santa Monica, CA) KFLG (Flagstaff, Arizona) KSAF (Santa Fe, NM)

Weather & Terrain
We had a few storms to avoid on this trip. We landed in Flagstaff for fuel and lunch just before one hit. We waited there a couple hours as it blew past and then continued on toward Santa Fe. New Mexico had a storm 100nm long strung across it. We set out planning to just go as far as the storms would let us. We watched the radar closely and It ended up moving northeast just quickly enough to clear up Santa Fe and enable us to land there for the evening. 

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The terrain was stunning moving across Arizona and New Mexico. As we left California, we got to fly over much of the expansive city of LA (including the Hollywood Hills), a sight that never fails to impress in its enormity. Red rock plateaus, canyons, and other rock formations were scattered all across Arizona and New Mexico. But perhaps one of the best terrain views was a flight right over Meteor Crater (also known as Barringer Crater), the best preserved meteorite crater on earth, about 37 miles east of Flagstaff! 

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Why we chose this stop
We were originally thinking of going to Mineral Canyon, Utah as our last major stop on this journey, but after a couple of delays along the trip, decided to head a little closer to home for our final evening. Santa Fe was one of our top choices, as Anna had only been there very young and Anil had never seen it, and it was a known as a beautiful place with a walkable downtown. Luckily, the storms cleared out enough for us to land there, but had they not, we were armed with some other ideas in the area.

Smooth/Not-so-smooth

Santa Fe was indeed very easy to navigate. Uber is prevalent there so we were able to catch a ride from the airport to our B&B and then walk all around the historic downtown with ease. The high elevation made the summer cool and evening extremely pleasant. 

Eats and Sleeps

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We stayed in a B&B named Casa de la Cuma decorated in characteristic southwestern art with adobe walls. The owners were extremely kind, provided delicious breakfast in the morning, shared their museum passes with you for free, and the overall stay was perfect for our last evening of this journey. 

We got a taste of some authentic New Mexico Mexican food for dinner at The Shed, a place that came highly recommended situated near The Plaza downtown. 

Highlights

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  • Santa Fe is a vibrant city! Every night of the summer, they have free live music in The Plaza. The night we were there, a folk band from Austin was playing. They had a great crowd gathered, people were dancing, and we loved getting to just stand outside and listen to them while soaking up the city's energy. Saturday morning, we walked around an artisan market in The Plaza, which was equally lively. In another area of downtown was a wellree traveling art exhibit from Spain's Prado museum.
  • The adobe buildings that are scattered throughout the hillsides and downtown create a unique and memorable vista in this place.
  • The striking Church of St. Francis positioned in their downtown. We spent time walking in and around it at dusk. 
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Santa Monica, CA

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Santa Monica, CA

Day 14

Route

KAVX KSMO (Santa Monica)
40 nm, 30 minutes, 5 gallons

Weather and Terrain 

Both Catalina and coastal LA weather is cloudy in the morning which invariably clears up by noon.  Our stay at both places was no exception.  ATC routed us directly from Catalina to the shore which took about 15 minutes over water, then over to SMO via the Special Flight Rules (make sure you downloaded that chart on Foreflight). 

Why we chose this stop 

We wanted to visit my sister and her two beautiful children in the Santa Monica/West Adams area so we chose SMO.  There are certainly cheaper FBOs and landing fees in the area by far but this is a pretty cool airport.  There is even a documentary about it on Netflix.  It was good to refuel from the Catalina out and back before doing a long leg. 

Smooth and not-so-smooth 

It was a short flight so there wasn't many hurdles.  It was important to reserve the shuttle from Avalon to AVX ahead of time and have those LA charts planned and ready to go for a busy ATC. 

Eats and Sleeps 

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We stayed with family and there are a ton of fantastic places to eat in Santa Monica but Rose Restaurant just off of Main st is a sure winner.

Highlights

  • Beautiful California summer weather.
  • Endless restaurants and more beach.
  • priceless time with family
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Catalina Island, CA

Day 13

Route

KPAO (Palo Alto, CA) KSZP (Santa Paula, CA) KAVX (Catalina Island, CA)
300 nm, 2 hrs, 22 gallons

Weather & Terrain
The weather was cloudy in the morning but the clouds had burned off by noon. The terrain was mountainous, which was beautiful to watch roll by.

Why we chose this stop
Catalina Island was discussed by numerous articles out there as a great place for general aviation pilots to fly. Additionally, Anil knew about the island as his sister lives nearby and had long had an interest in visiting it. 

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Smooth/Not-so-smooth
The runway on Catalina added some adventure to our flying. There were a number of potholes and a hump midway down its length which deceivingly makes you think you are about to run out of runway. Luckily, thanks to pilot reports, we knew about these in advance so were able to plan our landing prepared for these added adventures.

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We no sooner landed than we met a couple of fellow RV pilots named Scott and Dawn who were at the "Airport in the Sky" awaiting the shuttle down from the mountain into town (which comes every two hours). We hit it off quickly and enjoyed conversation for the next hour while sitting outside on the airport's lovely patio surrounded by fabulous views, quickly passing the time waiting for our shuttle and forming a quick friendship.  

Eats and Sleeps

We stayed in a hotel in Avalon, which is the main town on the island. The hotel had a great California feel to it, with a cool breeze blowing through its walkways all day, and it was perched right next to the beach. 

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One of our best meals was shared at a place called the Bluewater Grill - Avalon with our new friends Scott and Dawn. We passed the evening sitting right on the water eating delicious freshly caught fish and enjoying the cool air. 

Highlights

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  • The island exceeded our expectations. We could have stayed for days (though I think we could say that about every place we've visited this trip!). There is a feel to it as if you've suddenly stepped onto a Caribbean town; the pace of life and vibe is relaxed and carefree. We enjoyed just walking around the town and taking the beauty in.
  • Our morning run along the beach.  The sound of the water lapping against the rocks in some places followed by views of the docked boats with the morning sky and ocean as their backdrop just created a sense of peace that we'd like to hold onto. 
  • Seeing the bison as we drove through the island's mountainous terrain! Yes, bison. The ride down from the Airport in the Sky to the town of Avalon takes you on about ten miles of dirt roads weaving through mountains. In these mountains thrive over a hundred bison, originally brought here in the early 1900s to support a movie set. They were then left on the island and, without any predators, multiplied.
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Stanford

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Stanford

Day 12 

Route

KWYS KWMC (Winnemucca, Nevada) KPAO (Palo Alto, CA)
660 nm, 48 gallons, 5 hours and a 3 hour delay for repairs.

Weather and Terrain 

The skies were dotted with scattered storms but few convective areas.  Our RV propeller doesn't hold up well in the rain because of its composite nature.  We used ADS-B weather to navigate through the storms without a problem. 

Beneath us the terrain changed from beautiful flowing rivers akin to Yellowstone to more arid terrain and sharp craggy mountains.  3 hours out was Winnemucca where we landed.  En route to Palo Alto was even better, if that's possible, with the vista of Lake Tahoe and then the cities of NorCal and the Bay Area airspace where I learned to fly.  

Why We Chose This Route 

Palo Alto is a beautiful place and having went to school at Stanford; it would be fun to visit.  Our friends Dahni-El and Molly were also in SFO.  Winnemucca is about midway between the route though not as well staffed as we hoped.

Smooth and Not So Smooth 

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The nose wheel went flat when we landed.  Nothing went wrong with the landing.  However, there was no mechanic in Winnemucca able to respond when we landed.  They did have a full mechanical tool set for building an RV that they graciously let us use.  With some consultation we decided to remove the nose wheel and do the repair ourselves.  We foraged for the right rachets to pull off the nose wheel skirt and remove the wheel.  Then we took the wheel to Les Schwab tires and waited an hour for the 13 dollar repair.  Cheapest airplane repair ever and probably Les Schwab's first airplane repair. We hustled back to WMC with our tire and installed it.  All said and done it took 3.5 hours and we were back in the air for Palo Alto!

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It happened to be emergency medicine grand rounds when we arrived in Palo Alto so we stopped in to see our friends and learn a little about Acute HIV.  Stanford campus was beautiful as usual.  

Eats and Sleeps 

Its easy to find great food in the Bay Area.  However, I didn't realize that room prices for a budget motel would be 300 per night. AirBnB is probably the way to go but we needed some serious showering after Yellowstone.   

Highlights 

  • Palo Alto weather is fantastic,  always
  • Dinner with our friends Dahni-El and Molly at Shizen vegan Sushi restaurant included both good friends and good food--I didn't know you could do that with Sushi! 
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Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone National Park

Days 10-11

Route

KCOD (Cody, Wyoming) to KWYS (West Yellowstone, Montana) via waypoints over the Rockies at:

44.81667N/109.4109W 44.8448N/109.61594W 45.03058N/109.86752W 44.99908N/110.03268W 44.71023N/110.5063W

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Weather & Terrain
We left early in the morning so the winds were calm and weather VFR. The only weather challenge was continued haze from the wildfires. We flew at around 14,000 feet with oxygen so had a couple to a few thousand feet of clearance above the mountain peaks we were maneuvering through. The mountains were strikingly beautiful. We passed right over much of Yellowstone National Park.

Why we chose this stop
Anil had never been to Yellowstone and Yellowstone was one of Anna's favorite national parks, so she was excited to return. Plus, we had read you could land at West Yellowstone Airport, just minutes from the West entrance of Yellowstone, and pilots could camp for free in its forested campsites nearby, an rare opportunity for us to get to experience.  

Smooth/Not-so-smooth
All generally went very smoothly. The nature of our plans in this place allowed us incredible flexibility, for which we were grateful and also turned out we needed (given the previous weather delays). Because we were camping, there were no worries about lodging durations and dates with which to contend. The Yellowstone park pass is good for a week, which was plenty long for the time we had available, and Avis was extremely helpful with the rental car. Weeks before our two week trip, one of the few advanced reservations we made was a rental car at Yellowstone because we had been told they would quickly sell out in the summer time at that location. When we knew we would be delayed by weather, we called and they were extremely helpful, seamlessly moving our arrival and departure dates around with no stress or cost. The best part came upon arrival though: the Avis agent Douglas asked us if "Bumblebee" was alright for us. Not knowing what he was talking about but grateful for a car in general, we said yes. We then looked outside at a bright yellow Camero. "Bee" became our ride around Yellowstone for the next few days.

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Eats and Sleeps

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We set up camp at one of the sites near the airport. The airport camping was great: peaceful, lots of sites available, picnic tables, fire pits, and a great view of the mountains just on the other side of the trees.  

We had the pleasure of eating lunch both days at a couple of the Yellowstone lodges. The first was the Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone's historic and classic lodge with intricately weaving woodwork making up its inner decor. The second was at the Mammoth Hot Springs lodge. Both meals were fabulous, only enhavced by our hunger after long mornings of hiking. 

Highlights

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  • Yellowstone remains one of Anna's favorite places and has been added to Anil's list of remarkable sites he's experienced in this world. Both full days in the park were spent hiking around richly colorful hot springs, geysers, hissing steam vents, forested overlooks, waterfalls, and canyons. We were amazed by the diversity of the park as you travel through it, noting huge areas where the earth is steaming in one place followed by dry brush areas in another area only to come upon expansive forests and rocky canyons in the next. 
  • We came across three wolves! There are only 105 in the entire park, and we were fortunate enough to stumble upon a pack of three one morning. We were close enough to get to make out their faces and behaviors using binoculars, but far enough to stay safe and not interfere in their lives. They ate on a carcus and then settled to rest in the tall grass, looking as if they were ready for a National Geographic photo. 
  • Probably our favorite thermal area in the park was Porcelain Basin within the Norris Geyser Basin area. This is the hottest and most dynamic area of the park, and we were in awe of how much it seemed as if we were walking around another planet when we walked through there.
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Cody, Wyoming

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Cody, Wyoming

Day 9

Route

KSTP (St. Paul, MN) KRAP (Rapid City, South Dakota) KCOD (Cody, Wyoming)
700 nm, 52 gallons, 5.5 hours

Weather & Terrain
The weather on the leg from Minnesota to South Dakota was as good as we could have asked for. Clear skies, winds in our favor, and almost no turbulence. After our stop in Rapid City for fuel & lunch, however, we encountered far more clouds, some turbulence, and a high degree of haze. The haze, which we later found out was from Montana and Wyoming wild fires, glazed the sky in front of us and stretched from ground to clouds above. 

Minnesota

Minnesota

South Dakota

South Dakota

Wyoming

Wyoming

The terrain, as we crossed from east to west across the northern portion of the US, changed dramatically. As we flew over and out of Minnesota, we noted many of its 10,000 lakes. We then moved across rolling, rocky brown hills of South Dakota flanking green farmland. Finally, Wyoming presented us expansive areas of few houses or towns, with interesting rock formations, canyons, and mountains as we neared Cody. 

Why we chose this stop
Tomorrow, we will cross the Rocky Mountains and we wanted to get as early start as possible for that leg of the trip in order to hopefully catch better weather and winds. Thus, after a long day of flying from Minnesota, we decided to stay the night in beautiful Wyoming just on the east side of where we planned to pass over the mountains the next morning. As a bonus, we would get to soak up the peaceful and wide open landscape of Wyoming for an evening.

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Smooth/Not-so-smooth
The haze from the fires presented us a new weather challenge. 

We happened to land in Rapid City while the nearby Sturgis motorcycle rally, the biggest gathering of its type in the country, was taking place. So we took it in from the air.

Eats and Sleeps

We were recommended a pizza place called Inferno near Rapid City airport for lunch. It was an all in one pizza joint + gas station, and they sure turned out some good pizzas. 

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We stayed the evening at an Air B&B about 20 minutes outside of Cody. The view from the home overlooked Wyoming farmland, mountains, and rock formations for miles. 

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Highlights

  • Awesome runway in Cody surrounded by mountains. 
  • Ever-changing terrain as we flew across the US. 
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Minnesota

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Minnesota

Day 8
3 hours, 320 nm, 28 gallons, 12,500 feet en route

Route
KTVC (Traver City) to KSTP (St Paul - Signature FBO)
300 nm, 3 hours, 28 gallons

Weather
A wall of heavy precipitation and IFR weather on Lake Michigan with tops at 12,000 (which were reported to be 4,500) which we crossed at 12,500.

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Why we chose this stop
I grew up in MN, and in the summer, MN is one of the most beautiful places in the country.  That's true for the fall, and also depends about how you feel about winter.  The Superbowl will be here next year; it's going to be fun, though we did miss it when it came to Houston last year.

Smooth/Not-so-smooth
Landing at STP is a great location, the Signature FBO helped us find a car on short notice, and we we made it into the city in no time. We were told that at some of the other airports nearby it was harder to  get a rental. We were even able to run around Lake Nokomis before meeting up with my stepdad.

Eats and Sleeps
There are so many places to eat in this city.  We chose Cosetta's and Al's breakfast.
Hotels Tonight did the trick to stay downtown at the Radisson, started by MN's own Curt Carlson.

Highlights
The flight over Wisconsin into STP was amazing, the ground covered with gorgeous farms, trees, and lakes.  Coming into STP, the twin cities were clearly visible with both skylines lining up ahead.

Had to stop by my old house 4206 Longfellow Ave, South Minneapolis

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Traverse "Cherry Capital" City, MI

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Traverse "Cherry Capital" City, MI

Day 7

Route

KMCD (Mackinac Island, MI) 83D (St. Ignace, MI) KTVC (Traverse City, MI)

Weather
Our great fortune thus far turned a bit today, as we finally got hit by a bout of storms. A long and large strings of thunderstorms rolling in between us and our desired destination, Minneapolis, presented a new challenge and prevented us from going very far west today. 

The famous Mackinac Bridge as we flew by on our way to Traverse City

The famous Mackinac Bridge as we flew by on our way to Traverse City

Why we chose this stop
Knowing we wouldn't make it all the way today, we sought to get as close to our next destination of Minneapolis as possible. We first tried to head north from KMCD, but quickly encountered lower than projected cloud bottoms, so we stopped for lunch right across the lake at St. Ignace and allowed ourselves the time to reassess the map and weather patterns. We then decided to head south back through the lower peninsula. We projected we could reach Traverse City well in advance of the storm, and Traverse City came highly recommended. A city of orchards (it's the Cherry Capital of the world), with sand dunes nearby and perched right on Lake Michigan, the combination of it all intrigued us. In addition, the FBO was highly recommended as a friendly place to stop. In the end, we encountered far more than we even hoped for in the city. 

Info
Both 83D, in St. Ignace, and KTVC were very friendly. At 83D, they kindly let us borrow their green 1984 Oldsmobile so we could grab lunch. 

Smooth/Not-so-smooth
While the weather was not ideal and our planned route became one day delayed, it ultimately opened up a new adventure in a beautiful place that we wouldn't have experienced otherwise.  

Eats and Sleeps

We stayed this evening as the only guests at a nice bed and breakfast called a Breath of Heaven. The owner, Scott, was a US Marine chaplain, and it was a joy to get to know him.

Highlights

  • A lovely evening listening to the rain while sitting on the back porch of Scott's home and watching the clouds roll by. 
  • Cherry Capital!  We could have enjoyed cherries in this place for days. From the cherry sauce on my fish to the fresh cherries at breakfast, we were amazed by the many creative ways the fresh fruit here could be enjoyed and could have spent days exploring the orchards. 
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Mackinac Island, MI

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Mackinac Island, MI

Days 5-6

Route
 
KVVS (Joseph Hardy, Connellsville, PA) KTOL (Toledo, Ohio) KSLH (Cheboygan, MI) KMCD (Mackinac Island, MI)

470 nm, 3.5 hours, 34 gallons

Weather
Partially cloudly, bottoms at 4500. VFR airports with moderate turbulence en route.

Why we chose this stop
Anna had dreamed of coming back to Mackinac Island with her husband since she first came here in 8th grade with parents, siblings, Grandma, & Bata. Really, she dreamed of having her honeymoon here. There must have been something about the relaxation, beautiful scenery, bikes, no cars, Victorian homes, and fudge that screamed romance to her. Ultimately, while we didn't select this as our honeymoon spot, it was still a place Anna hoped to return with Anil by her side. Thus, it was an obvious choice for this adventure around America as soon as we realized this tiny island has a small airport on top of all those wonderful qualities mentioned above.

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Info
KMCD is indeed a small airport nestled in the less inhabited, tree lined part of the island. It offers no fuel and no staffed FBO, but the runway & parking area are well kept and the views as you're coming in for landing are amongst the most remarkable we've ever witnessed. On top of that, when you radio via the UNICOM about 30 minutes out for landing, they'll send a "taxi", aka a horse drawn carriage, to pick you up from the airport and take you into town upon arrival.

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Smooth/Not-so-smooth
I wouldn't say the flight path here was "not smooth", just a bit less direct than optimal. We needed to both a) avoid Canadian air space (hence our initial heading towards KTOL) and then b) ensure we had fuel to take off again when we leave Mackinac Island. With no fuel available at Mackinac Island airport, we stopped just across the water on the upper peninsula at KSLH to quickly fuel up before embarking on the final 14 nm (~6 minute) trip across the water to land at Mackinac Airport.

Eats and Sleeps

We stayed our two evenings here at two different bed and breakfasts. Both were >100 year old Victorian homes with quaint rooms and delicious breakfasts in the mornings, and both just the right distance from the heart of the town - not too close so as to be taken over by crowds, but not so far as to need to travel far to reach anywhere (really though, with an 8 mile circumference, nothing on this island is far). 

We spent as many meals as we could sitting outside with views of the water. The weather here is a far cry from Texas summer: cool, dry, and sunny, and we tried to soak up every minute of it we could. Our final meal at the Carriage House at the Iroquois Hotel was perhaps our favorite meal, as we sat outside watching the sunset reflect off the nearby lighthouse and enjoyed some local fish and not-so-local steak. 

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 Highlights

  • The view coming in for landing at Mackinac Island! We soared from 1900 feet to landing with the cobalt blue water stretching out for miles beneath us. As we approached the island, cliffs of green trees jutted up out of the water, creating a stunning contrast in colors. 
  • Biking, running, and biking some more around the island. We spent most of our second day here active, exploring the interior and exterior routes of the island. The sights and sounds were magnificent, punctuated by the sounds of lapping water against the shore's rocks and the deep blues and turquoise colors of the water with the sun glistening off it.
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Fallingwater: Connellsville, PA

Day 4

Route KAVL (Asheville,  NC) KVVS (Joseph Hardy, Connellsville, PA)
2.5 hours, 300 nm, 20 gallons

Weather
VFR with lots of cloud surfing at 7000 feet, making for beautiful green, rolling hills below.

Why we chose this stop
We decided not to go to Plymouth, as it would make the flight legs too long. This change in flight plan would give us more time to spend at our destination.  We searched www.funplacestofly.com for good airports between Asheville and Mackinac. Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater came up as an option, reached via a short drive from nearby Joseph Hardy Airport in Connellsville, PA. Also, Mamouth Caves sounded exotic and appealing in KY (there was a nearby Bowling Green Airport). As Anil had long been interested in seeing Fallingwater, it ultimately won out as our next stop. 

Info
KVVS is a fantastic airport, primarily because of the people who work and hang out there. Bud, the airport manager, walked right out to greet us when we landed and helped us arrange a car, gave us local travel advice, and shared quite a few stories with us.  I don't think I have ever had a better experience or a more helpful person at an airport. He even loaned us a car overnight so we could make it to Fallingwater & our AirB&B. There is an Enterprise rental car company in town, but it is tricky to arrange pick-up/drop-off.

Smooth/Not-so-smooth
AirB&B on the fly turned up many farm houses in which you could spend the night in the Connellsville area.
We quickly realized upon arrival in the area that transportation via Uber would not have worked so we're glad and extra thankful to the FBO for our ride.

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Eats and Sleeps
On the fly AirB&B was definitely the way to go in this area with a lot of available options that could be reached by a 30 min car ride. We ended up selecting a small farmhouse positioned within a 52-acre  organic farm nestled in the Laurel Mountains. The grounds offered lots of area for walking and exploring; we even stumbled upon a pond and some benches at an overlook from which we watched the sunset. After eating out the past few nights we decided to buy a few groceries at the local store Santarelli's and cook pasta with their homemade sauce for dinner and asparagus for breakfast (Anil's idea). There was also local honey, local syrup, and produce there.

Highlights

  • Meeting all the RV fliers at KVVS including Bud and Myron.
  • Experiencing Fallingwater. We gained a new level of appreciation for this architectural masterpiece. The way nature has been interwoven into this meticulously planned structure was remarkable, and we were both really glad to have seen it in person. 
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Asheville, NC

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Asheville, NC

Days 2-3 (July 30th 2017 Sunday)

Route
2 awesome days in Asheville KAVL! We traveled straight from KSAV to KAVL and made it in about 2 hours. Next stop KVVS to see Falling Water (Frank Lloyd Wright)

Weather
 
Sunny, cool, and glorious.  There hasn't been a cloud in the sky, the weather is a perfect 70-80 degrees and the fresh mountain air is perfect.

Why we chose this stop
We stayed an extra day because there was so much to see from a day trip to the Biltmore to a day hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  

Smooth/Not-so-smooth
In my effort to pack light, I forgot socks, so a quick stop at CVS helped with fixing that problem.
The rental car has been perfect to see the mountains and find good hikes

Eats and Sleeps
The Beaufort House is a fabulous B&B that does gluten free meals. Their breakfasts were delectable (Belgian waffles, quiche, homemade gluten free granola), all enjoyed whilst drinking coffee and orange juice juice from their sunny breakfast room. Similarly, we had a dinner at an entirely gluten free restaurant named Posada, which might be the best food we have eaten in a year at least.  

Highlights 

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  • The Blue Ridge Parkway. We spent a day driving this scenic route and hiking along the way. This time of the year the bees and butterflies have filled the forest with their energy.  The brightly colored flowers are beautiful throughout the forest. Our hikes to Craggy Lookout (360 degree views of the blue ridges) and up to Mt. Mitchell (the highest peak east of the Mississippi) provided spectacular views and were fun to do together.
  • We explored the grand Biltmore estate. Perhaps even more grand were its gardens. You could get wonderfully lost in the manicured yet natural acres surrounding the estate. 
  • While enjoying dinner at Posada, we got some great input and advice from some fellow restaurant patrons and decided to change our route from Plymouth to include Fallingwater. This new stop could also serve to shorten some long flying days on our way to Mackinac Island.
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1st Stop, Sweet Savannah

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1st Stop, Sweet Savannah

Day 1 (July 28th 2017 Friday)

Route
 
KEFD (Ellington Field, Houston) KHBG (Hattisburg, Mississippi) KSAV (Savannah, Georgia)

740 nm, 5 hours, 50 gallons

Weather
Very, very hot, but clear skies all the way.  Turbulence and haze @ Georgia

Why we chose this stop
We both had always wanted to see Savannah.  It was also on the eastern seaboard so it was a good place to start and enabled us to see the Atlantic Ocean on this jeant around America.  There were also a few amazing airports, including SAV and Hilton Head, which drew us in. Finally, the historical and cultural appeal grabbed us - America's first planned city?!

Smooth/Not-so-smooth
Hattisburg was a great stop midway between EFD and SAV.
Defintely forgot our canopy cover for a rainy day tie-down

Eats and Sleeps
We stayed in a beautiful AirB&B on one of the many islands of Savannah. Close by were a look out tower, waterways, and so much greenery it was hard to believe. On top of that, it was close to the historic downtown part of Savannah, so offered the best of both worlds. Phillip, the co-owner of the AirB&B, was also an Uber driver, so he kindly picked us up at KSAV's Sheltair FBO, dropped us downtown, and took us back to the airport the next day.  As for food and speaking of downtown, at the suggestion of some new friends we made while watching the sunset on the island, we visited The Bohemian, a bites & bar local situated on the top floor of one of downtown Savannah's beautiful buildings. From its balconies, you could watch the ships roll in to town. It was a good place to see the city and from which we explored downtown on foot. 

Highlights

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  • On the island called the landings, at the coast, near the water, there is an area of docks where the sunset crept over the water. A few smart people enjoyed a late night picnic on the second story terrace.  We weren't so smart as to bring a picnic but the view was spectacular!
  • Meeting and getting to know our AirB&B hosts, Phillip and Beverly. They went above and beyond to help us get to see some beautiful sides of Savannah. Beyond that, through the course of our car rides and over coffee & breakfast in the morning, we enjoyed great conversation and a new friendship. 

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Comment

Transcontinental Voyage

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Transcontinental Voyage

Hello.  Thanks for reading our blog.  Having recently gotten married, we decided to fly across America in an experimental Van's RV-6A, with 50 pounds of luggage and 2 weeks of vacation.  We expect bad weather, a few delays, some unforeseen challenges, and a whole lot of adventure.  After an online search for possible ideas, we found many beautiful airports but few past examples of a circuitous US flight route.  I'm sure many people have done this but we wanted to share our particular adventure in case you are interested in something similar or if you are one of our family members who is slightly worried about us (wink wink Laura). 

Our planned route, to be traveled over the course of 16 days or less, is below. We'll leave Houston and travel east first. The flight plan is subject to change based on weather, time, new curiosities, and the like. That's part of what we love about flying.

Adventure is worthwhile in itself.
— Amelia Earhart

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