Day 1: Burnet to Alamosa

Posted by tall dating on Jun 8, 2013 in Alaska 2013 | Comments Off on Day 1: Burnet to Alamosa

Departure at 6:40 AM with calm wind but storms nearby that required deviating north of course. The flight to Levelland took about 3.5 hours across the high plains past Abilene and Lubbock. Windmills and vast fields being tilled by toy John Deere tractors pulling enormous implements necessary for so much ground to cover. Speed is around 85 mph but a slight tailwind helps. Levelland is quiet this morning with only a couple of guys working on a turbine spray plane. I fuel up at the self serve pump and after a quick restroom break, it’s back in the air.

Second leg from Levelland to Santa Fe, NM takes another 3 hours, plus. The ride becomes bumpy as the thermals stir the air aloft. I cruise at 6500 MSL only 1500 feet or so above the surface as the terrain gradually climbs in elevation. Mountains appear first as rugged foothills rising from the plains of eastern NM. The clouds slowly disappear and the sun warms the small cockpit until I open the window to let in the cool, fresh breeze. At 85 mph there is plenty of time to sightsee. There are two temporary flight restrictions near Santa Fe due to some early season wildfires and the ramp at KSAF has several heavy lift Sky Crane helicopters coming and going fighting the fires. It appears that all of this is contract work and there are lots of support people and equipment present. Again I buy gas at the self serve pump and reposition over to transient parking. Judy had packed lunch for me so I took a short break before loading up for the last leg into Alamosa. The temperature had climbed into the high 80’s and combined with the 6500 foot field elevation, the density altitude was at 10,000 feet. The Super Cub accelerated slowly and started a very anemic climb as I reversed course to the north. Typical afternoon thunderstorms blocked the route north of Taos and I thought I might have to divert there or return to Santa Fe. But as I flew along watching the XM weather it looked like I could squeeze between the storms and the high terrain to the west.

The airplane struggled to climb in the thin air as I took advantage of any up drafts to add to my meager store of height above the rugged terrain below. This is hard on the engine and I keep a close watch on cylinder head temps. I finally level off at 10,500 MSL and begin to relax slightly. Every downdraft steals precious altitude and brings the rocks and trees below closer. The nearby storms have the air rumpled up as well, adding to the jostling ride. Ahead lies Antonio mountain requiring a deviation to the west slightly. As I round the corner, the skies begin to clear and the ride smooths out some. Up ahead I can see the rich farmland and bright green alfalfa fields of the San Luis valley surrounding Alamosa. The AWOS reports a gusty wind with some crosswind component as well. I decide to land on the dirt runway which is slightly more aligned. As I turn final, I see deep ruts in the surface so I add power and land long to use a better section of the runway. I clear and taxi into the ramp.

This ends today’s flying after over 9 hours logged. Despite the fatigue and dehydration, I am happy with the day, but I’m ready for something to eat, a cold beer (or two) and a visit with my son, his wife and Granddaughter Zoe.

Trey picks me up and we meet Casey and Zoe for dinner. Trey lives outside Fort Garland on a beautiful site overlooking the valley. I get the grand tour, take some pictures, visit with Zoe and get to bed. No flying tomorrow which is fine with me.



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