I've finally gotten to use my pilot's license for what I originally planned: actually going places! As a student I was on a short leash and since getting my ticket it's been hard to line up a plane rental, good weather, and the right mood to go somewhere. But this week has been great: 1000nm of flying, 10 hours.
Monday was a big flight I'd been anticipating for weeks: taking Ken up to Grant's Pass, Oregon to pick up his plane. My first time out of state, my first time over real mountains, and my first time flying over 10,000 feet. The route we took following I-5 never requires you go over 7000' or so, but that's still serious terrain and you get within a few miles of Mt. Shasta, a volcano at 14,200. Unfortunately we weren't able to land in Oregon because there were clouds below us, but I dropped Ken off in Redding to rent a car. Frustratingly the weather cleared an hour later!
Today's flight was a classic lunch run to Santa Maria. Nothing too challenging, but a good long distance and a pleasant trip to somewhere different. I finally got what I've been looking for; getting bored in the cockpit. I need to start bringing friends with me on trips like this. (Feel free to ask!)
Next week Ken and I are going with a CFI on a group flight to Colorado, 5 days of challenging mountain flying. If the weather allows we'll be doing things like flying through Independence Pass, where the low spot is at 12,093'. And then next month we're flying to OshKosh for AirVenture, probably three days there and three days back again. It's not particularly cheap, fast, or convenient, but it's fun to fly yourself.