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Two Week Flying Vacation - Day 1

Date: July 21st, 2012

I've been flying to OSH regularly now, both from MA and CA since 2003. My wife Deanie has never flown there with me, being uncomfortable with long flights - 3 hours is doable, but 2 hours is preferable for her. I usually fly to OSH in one day, which is 5 hours in the air from MA (one leg) and 9.5 - 10.5 hours in the air from CA (one stop). The most she's done is fly from OSH to MA or NJ after the show with a stop for lunch along the way - two 2-2.5 hour legs in a day are doable, if not optimal.

At any rate, to entice her to come to OSH with me from CA, I planned a 5 day trip, with no more than 2.25 hours/day of flying.

The first day we took off at about 7:30 AM from Tehachapi, heading for Sedona, AZ. We had been there once before (flew into Flagstaff and drove the Sedona) and it was beautiful, so we decided to stop there for a day/night and check it out again.  The flight from Tehachapi skirted Edwards AFB to the south (they seem to have the restricted area active more on weekends than they used to - I haven't flown through it on a weekend in a long time) and then headed east, pretty much following I-40 after Barstow, over Mojave National Preserve (of "booming dune" fame) and over the Colorado River to Kingman, AZ. We were at 7500 ft to Kingman, but after Kingman the land rises to about 7K ft elevation, so we climbed to 9500 ft for the last 1/2 hour. Just prior to Flagstaff, we turned southward to Sedona and flew over the canyons just to the north of the town.  The airport (KSEZ) is basically an aircraft carrier - 5K ft. long on top of a bluff, with cliffs on either end of the runway and mountains off to three sides. Beautiful, and not a little intimidating if you haven't flown out west much.

We arrived in Sedona around 10 AM, fueled up for the next day's flight, got our rental car and spent the day cruising around. There's a great drive north toward Flagstaff on 89A up Oak Creek Canyon, with an overlook at the top of a bluff maybe 15 miles north of town. There were storms that had blown in and rain showers all over the place - just gorgeous. We wandered around town, went to some art galleries, ate lunch, and then took a drive southward to Montezuma Castle National Monument - there's a Native American Cliff dwelling there that's pretty damn impressive. Then we drove up to Tuzigoot National Monument where there's another set of Native American ruins. We completed the driving loop by driving up 89A back into Sedona, where we had dinner and checked into the Baby Quail Motel (I try really hard not to stay in chains - this place was very nice, even if I did have to help them reset their wireless router).

We went to bed after a great day of touring.


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