Deanie and I packed up and took off around 9:30 AM. We climbed to 9500 ft. and headed northeast up past Inyokern and Ridgecrest, south of China Lake and then headed east past Trona and the Trona Pinnacles. We passed south of Death Valley and headed straight for Las Vegas. Deanie flew a good chunk of the way, so I've got a backup for my autopilot, at least in smooth VMC. At Vegas we turned northeast toward Mesquite, following I-15 almost to St. George, UT and then turned east again for the last leg to Kanab. I love flying over the desert - the landscape is just so beautiful and interesting. The visibility is always great - it's a lousy day when it's under 60 miles.
9500 ft. is 500 ft. over the top of the Vegas Class B, so we could look down on the strip and McCarran airport, as well as Nellis AFB. St. George is apparently building a brand new, huge airport, so I was a bit confused as we flew past, since the airport didn't seem to be in the right place. We quickly figured out that the old one was still in service and the new one wasn't opened yet - it's supposed to open in January. After passing Colorado City (polygamy capital of the US, apparently), we saw the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, which consists of over 3000 acres of pink sand dunes, surrounded by sandstone cliffs in a rising valley to the north.
Kanab is right on the AZ border, and is very close to Zion, Bryce, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Parks, as well as Lake Powell to the east.
10 minutes later we were on the ground in Kanab with 15 - 20 other canards. We landed around 12:15 PM local time after a 1:50 flight. We picked up the rental car we were going to share with Mike/Sally and then I had some lunch provided by the airport. Deanie didn't eat, since it was hotdogs and she's a vegetarian, so after we ate and headed over to the Aiken's Lodge to settle in, we walked around town a bit to get her something to eat, which we did at Grandma Tina's restaurant.
I've now been to Kanab four times. In 1973, when 16 years old on a camping bus trip, we stopped in town for an hour while on our way to Zion, and I had the best piece of peach pie in the universe at what is now "Houston's" restaurant. In 1980, while on a two month motorcycle trip with my best friend, I made him stop in town so we could get a piece of peach pie. Amazingly, we found the restaurant, but it had changed hands and they only had cherry pie. Passable, but not "the best peach pie in the universe". Then in 1996, while on vacation with Deanie and my son Zach, we stopped in town but didn't bother looking for peach pie. And now, for this fly-in. My peach pie quest has long since been mothballed, but we did look at Houston's menu (which was pretty miserable).
Anyway, while Deanie was eating, Mike and Sally landed so I retrieved the car and drove the 3 miles south to the airport to pick them up. By late afternoon everyone had gathered at Aiken's Lodge and were hanging out near the pool, shooting the bull, talking airplanes, and swimming. We had pizza for dinner and then David Orr led a bunch of us on an evening/night hike up the sandstone cliffs north of town. Once we got away from the lights of the town, there were an unbelievable number of stars visible, and I say that as someone who has a lot of stars visible from his deck in Tehachapi on moonless nights. I managed not to injure my left knee while on the 4-5 mile hike, even coming down the steep parts of the trail. Very pleasant.
After some more yakking near the pool, everyone hit the hay around 10:30 PM, to get ready for the "timed event" to start at 8 AM.
Sunday morning, having decided that I really didn't care how fast my COZY was, or at least that I wasn't willing to wake up at the crack of dawn to find out, we woke around 8 AM, met up with Mike and Sally and headed to the airport. Mike and I were going to fly around to do some sightseeing, and Deanie and Sally were going to get some high quality breakfast in town, rather than the pancake breakfast at the airport. They took the car and left us around 9 AM.
The pancake breakfast was actually pretty decent - the airport manager does a nice job (both the airport and the town are very solicitous to the fly-in, providing free shuttles to and from the airport to the lodge as well as the two meals at the airport for a nominal fee). Deanie and Sally went to the Parry Lodge for breakfast, which they later informed us was a huge mistake - canned fruit at the buffet, etc. - they should have had pancakes at the airport.
I don't have anything to say about the "timed event", since I wasn't there that early and everyone was back by the time we got to the airport.
At any rate, after breakfast, I gave Mike his first ride in a COZY (hard to believe). He took right seat and besides commenting that my O-360 was smoother than his, flew most of the flight to Lake Powell (Page, AZ) and back. He said it flew pretty much like a Long-EZ, and he liked it. We buzzed around, looking at the amazing landscape (including Navajo Bridge over Marble Canyon over the Colorado River, upstream of the Grand Canyon) for about 45 minutes and then went back to Kanab.
Deanie and Sally picked us up and then the four of us drove out to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park - about 30 minutes out of town. We took a 1/2 mile hike through the dunes, reading the explanatory plaques along the way. Very interesting, and very nice sand to walk in. We went back to town and Grandma Tina's for lunch and then hung out at the pool for a few hours with everyone else. The total aircraft count was 28-30, we believe, and there were about 40-50 people total.
Around 6:30 PM we all wandered into town to Nedra's Too Mexican restaurant, where we had a room waiting for us. We had a very nice dinner and then Char Spencer read the results of the "timed event". Sadly, a Glasair III took first place, at over 230 mph, but given the size of his engine, well, no-one was too upset.
Everyone at the dinner gave Gary and Char Spencer a big hand for organizing everything - the airport, the hotel, the timed event, the refreshments, the restaurant - everything. Although Char downplayed her role and claimed that the town and airport did everything, it was fairly obvious that Gary and Char had done a LOT of work to get everything organized and running smoothly - these things do NOT organize themselves.
We all walked back to the hotel, hung out and talked by the pool for a while, and then hit the hay for a relatively early rise.
Mike and I agreed to leave around 9 AM Monday, so we met at 8 AM and drove down to the airport. After a preflight and some fuel, Mike and Sally headed off around 8:45 AM. We added some oil and waited a few minutes to make sure that Don Herzstein could get his engine started after finding a dead battery and having to borrow a starter pack from the airport manager.
After Don got his engine started, we took off around 9 AM, climbed to 8500 ft. and headed west, retracing our steps past Colorado City, St. George (where we climbed up to 10.5K ft to get over the VegasClass B and the mountains to the west of Vegas), Mesquite, Vegas, and Trona, getting back to Tehachapi in just over 2 hours with an average 10 kt. headwind. Deanie flew for about an hour. Mike and Sally had parked the Long-EZ and left before we got in.
We all had a great time at the fly-in, and thank Gary and Char Spencer again for organizing it. We'll definitely be making this a yearly occurrence.
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