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Welcome to our website. Your designation is THX_1138.
I haven’t flown a plane in just about a year. I’ve done some trips with Ken supporting from the right seat but I haven’t been at the controls. My biennial flight review is due in ten days and I’m already well past my comfort level with currency and proficiency. How did this happen?
The main reason I haven’t been flying is that as cool as being a pilot is, flying a little plane is kind of a pain. It’s impractical transportation. It’s fun to just go up and look around but less so in the Bay Area; the combination of weather and airspace makes a Sunday drive a bit of a challenge. And I’ve already done my $200 hamburger runs to every nearby airport. After my big solo Texas trip I’d sort of met the challenge I had set for myself from the beginning.
The related reason is it hasn’t been as fun for me as I hoped. My instrument training stalled out, a common problem with GA pilots; once I’d learned all the fun stuff I was facing lots of hours of grueling practice. I also have never gotten completely over the small anxiety one feels getting in to a little plane. I’m a good pilot and well trained, but the nagging safety concerns in the back of my mind casts a bit of a pall over what should be something just for fun.
I feel badly about not flying. I’m privileged to have a license and a medical and a plane to fly and the money to pay to fly it. I know lots of folks who scrap and save and hustle for every flight hour and here I am squandering my opportunity. I’m sure I’ll go back to flying some time, maybe on an Alaska adventure or around Grass Valley where the airspace is simpler or maybe just for sightseeing with friends. It’s just not where my head is at right now.
My Parisian friend Evelyne just took a big Route 66 trip, a long dream of hers to drive the Mother Road. (Oddly, Route 66 is a much bigger myth for Europeans than Americans.) I love road trips so was glad to be able to join her for a portion of the trip, from Las Vegas to Santa Monica.
The highlight of the day was lunch at the Bagdad Cafe in Newberry Springs. It’s just a little roadside dive of dubious cleanliness, but it’s awesome because it has become internationally famous thanks to the German film. They get 100+ guests a day from France, Japan, Germany, all over the world, in the middle of nowhere in the Mojave. The owners have recognized the good thing and are welcoming and have decorated the place with mementos brought by visitors. Really cool experience and the chili burger was pretty good, too. (We met Ken at the Barstow/Daggett airport, about a 15 minute drive away.)
The lowlight was buying gas at the Hi Sahara Oasis, the worst gas station in America. It’s the only gas for miles and we were getting towards empty, so I don’t begrudge them charging $5/gal. But the staff was incredibly rude and the place just reeks of bad karma. Avoid.
Honestly, the drive was not awesome; the Mojave is long and boring with very little to see along the badly paved old road, not even many remnants of settlements and amenities. It didn’t help we were starting in Vegas, two hours north of the actual route. If I were doing it again I’d skip the empty road in the desert and focus my time more on surface streets in Needles, Barstow, and Los Angeles. Or else take two days; 380 miles is too long for one day. By the time we got to LA we just took I-10 across town to be done with it.
Evelyne said she had a splendid time from Albuquerque to Vegas, lots of beautiful sites along the way. And I have to think the portion from Chicago to Oklahoma is still vital, nice towns and things to see and do. Maybe I’ll do that trip myself some day.
BTW, the best free guide for Route 66 I’ve found is Route 66: An American Treasure published by AAA. It’s got a good high level map and information. There’s a whole industry in much more detailed maps and guides for Route 66 but the AAA maps are a good start.