Despite the title, these pixels are anything but lazy. This is a site of my own photos, my own art, my own written text and more. There are no memes. This is not a portal to someone else’s brain. It is an outlet for my own creative soul. I plan to post words and pictures about things that interest me and all the projects I'm exploring in multiple formats: long, short, deep, and shallow. Share and enjoy.

Pre-dawn Mountain Hijinx

Posted
1 year ago
Stewart Predawn
Departure
CYPR (Prince Rupert)
Arrival
CZST (Stewart, BC)
Flight Time
1 hour 7 minutes

It was pitch black when I took off. This was unavoidable, because I wanted to squeeze in one quick flight Northbound before I met for my regualr Sunday run club. That left me with barely two hours to fly a 90 minute trip, and out on the West Coast where I landed yesterday it was still before dawn.

The obvious disadvantages of this are, yes, when you are flying a flight simulator currently best known for it’s graphical fidelity it really does seem a shame to travel without daylight available to let you see those graphics. And yes, flying over mountains in the middle of the night with naught but the instrumentation to guide you makes for a bit of a white knuckle ride (until you gain some serious elevation and cover your safety margins.)

On the flip side, night time flights are going to be a reality of real-time flight simming... I’d better get used to it.

And, oh... that sunrise.

Dawn at 7000 feet, somewhere over Northwest BC

Prince Rupert had little to show my depature but some air-strip lighting and a distant view of the town below me, lit as you’d expect, some speckled glowing speckling the shoreline of this coastal town.

I ascended up to about 10,000 ft and followed my flight plan to the letter as I turned North towards Stewart, BC.

https://youtu.be/ydZHIiukbwk

I know almost nothing about Stewart, but in the simulator it is home to something interesting an important. For some reason it’s airport is what is known as a “star” airport. I have yet to encounter a star airport in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and I do not know what that means specifically... save for one thing: if you visit 25 of them in the course of playing, your unlock on of the (currently) 43 achievements. So I was not only curious, but incentivized.

Flight Number
L106

Northern Bound Fog

Posted
1 year ago
Northern BC
Departure
CYZT (Port Hardy, BC)
Arrival
CYPR (Prince Rupert, BC)
Flight Time
2 hours 36 minutes

I was expecting some part of a long coastal flight en route to the North to be much less interesting. I suppose that is what is most interesting about using a simulator to simulate an experience outside of your comfort zone: you discover the remarkable.

What was I expecting?

A long jagged coastline, as I flew over a blue-green ocean, trees and rolling hills, and some kind of spectacular view emerging from something I thought would be familiar but new.

What did I find?

I departed from Port Hardy airport to clear skies and turned North, but in less than an hour I found myself approaching a thick bank of clouds hanging out around the 4000 ft altitude mark. My plan —again expecting the scenery to evolve into a repeating pattern of coastline — was to ascend above the cloud layer and pursue a calm, simple, high-altitude flight to my destination.

Instead, I fought with the weather. The plan struggled to climb much above 8000 ft, rarely emerging from the pillowy clouds and certainly not high above them as I had planned. I was burning up my precious fuel, and stalling out int he process barely able to maintain a proper airspeed.

Plan B found me opting to descend and tackle things more visually.

I dropped to around 2000 ft and hugged the coast, now shrouded in a low cloud and in some cases fog. The result was an ethereal trip through a unique and magical-looking landscape, tracing a route a few kilometers off my planned flight plan but relying on the stunning visual landscape to guide me — and my increasingly fuel deficient plane — towards the small Northern BC town.

https://youtu.be/6YruxMWdObc

I landed, still a bit rough and still needing some practice, but landed.

Flight Number
L105

Islands in the Sea, West Coast Style

Posted
1 year ago
West Coast Cruise
Departure
CYVR via CYAZ (Tofino)
Arrival
CYZT (Port Hardy, BC)
Flight Time
2 hours 21 minutes

I was out for a run with friends last night and we started talking flight sim. Well... correction. The guys started talking flight sim, while the ladies made fun of us for talking about flight sim. Apparently it’s not everyone’s jam.

Gender bias aside, one of the guys asked me a couple questions about my choices. Are you really flying ALL of it? And why in such a slow plane?

Approaching Tofino with some brilliant cloud art.

Because, yes, I admit that I could jump around and skip over the long boring parts in the middle, but NO I’m flying all of it, every kilometer of my flight plans, take off to landing, no matter the scenery (and I think some less remarkable passages across the Northern ice floes of Alaska are coming up in the next weeks... so, yeah.) And if I skipped over bits, what would be the point? Anyone can do that? Not everyone is going to fly the whole world!

And why not a faster plane? Well, a few reasons for that, too. First, I want to hit some small airports in obscure places. Those jets and faster planes might be tougher to land on dirt or snow runways. Second, this is a kind of recreation of a slow adventure. You sightsee from a low altitude and slow speed fly-over, not from a high altitude cruise. Finally, hitting the open skies in the Honda Civic of airplanes is probably closer to something I would do in real life. The Cessna 172 is not a sports car, not a bus, not a pickup truck... it’s the mid-level coupe of airplanes, which is more my style.

Countless small islands dotting the coast and inland coast skirting Vancouver Island.

I took off away from the sunrise out of Vancouver this morning and crossed over the Strait, crossed over the island, and boogied up the West Coast looking for whales.... are there whales in this sim? Call me Ishmael.

As I approached that coast for the first time I emerged into some mountain-hugging clouds, almost a low fog wrapped around the coastal mountain range as green-topped summits peaked from the puffy white weather. It speaks volumes to flying in “live” weather, weather generated from the real weather data available to the sim. I would never have chosen that. I would have picked blue skies and missed it. Reality can sometimes do better than our creativity, it seems.

Rain and low clouds descending into our final destination.

Turning inland, I leaped over the mountain range that is the island-proper, and as the clouds increased, the wind also picked up and offered a bit of rain that wasn’t much more bother than to obscure some of the amazing scenery.

My landings are improving, and I was able to bring the plane down (with guidance still on) into the small ariport. I use the guidance, not because it flies the plane for me, but rather because it acts as a learning tool. I’m still flying the plane, of course, but the projections of the landing corridor are helpful in tackling one of the trickier parts of the flight sim experience: touching down without crashing in a chaotic mess.

https://youtu.be/9JiLIBdq5IY

I didn’t crash. Instead, I parked the plane and logged off for some time in the tiny port town.

Flight Number
L104

West Coast Tailwind

Posted
1 year ago
YVR
Departure
CYLW (Kelowna)
Arrival
CYVR (Vancouver)
Flight Time
2 hours 7 minutes

Driving home from Jasper yesterday afternoon I got the notion stuck in my head that I wanted to get to Vancouver sooner than later.

That said, I don’t think speed precludes enjoyment of the trip. I wanted to get beyond the familiar, and until I start heading out from Alaska, there is something very familiar about Alberta, British Columbia and everything between my house and the far tip of Vancouver island. Part of this trip is about flying... the other part is about flying around the world and into the unknown.

Cruising somewhere over the interior of British Columbia

So, again, I wanted to get to Vancouver as quickly as possible because it represented a kind of gateway ... a threshold ... to the bigger, wider world. Beyond Vancouver, the real adventure begins.

There’s no clearer illustration of that truth than even as I flew from Kelowna to Vancouver in the third leg of flight in less than twenty-four hours — nearly six hours of flying out of the the last eighteen if I’m being honest — I could still comfortably point out the landmarks, name off the rivers, remember where I’d been and what I’d seen in real life.

Looking back on a low flight over Vancouver.

But this project is beyond that. I haven’t even left Canada yet (and won’t for a few more days) but I did follow my flight plan, fought with Air Traffic Control over my altitude for nearly two hours, and eventually got clearance to land at YVR.

There was a lot more air traffic, of course. Lots of people are checking out Vancouver. Fewer are putzing around Edmonton and central Alberta. I even had a near miss upon landing as another plane pulled out of the taxi just as I was clearing the numbers for my touchdown.

https://youtu.be/CWEWcPSpviw

So, three flights in less than a day is probably too much. And when I take off from Vancouver, sure I’ll buzz by some familiar sights on the Island, but when I turn North it will be to explore lands I’ve never actually seen with my real eyes. A long coastal trek. An icy ascent into the North of my country. A buzz through Alaska... then?

The adventure really begins.

Flight Number
L103

Photo Expedition: Wilcox Pass Epic

Posted
1 year ago
Wilcox Hiking

We spent another pandemic weekend in the mountains, playing the social distanced tourist in our own province, not crossing any borders, wearing masks, and staying six feet away from others whenever humanly possible.

In some cases, we stayed much more than six feet away from others, such as when we took on an eight klick round-trip hike up to the top of the Wilcox Pass just south of the Columbia Icefields Glaciers, with a view of the same.

I dragged multiple cameras up for the hike, but the best pics by far were the dSLR photos.

With my other cameras I captured some video (the GoPro) and some sweeping panoramas (with my iPhone) which I use for desktop backgrounds on my multi-screen desktop computer setup.

The lighting was nearly perfect for a stretch of over an hour, and the vistas (and the speedy gait of my hiking companions) made for multiple opportunities for expansive, epic shots with a view yet still a contemplative subject staring off into the scenery.