I recorded my last North American leg (for a while at least) in two jumps across the expansive open lands of Alaska... but mostly in cloudy weather.
Cessna 172 Skyhawk
I’ll probably write this here a hundred times, but whenever I expect a dull flight, it’s always anything but...
Today was the day I began my Alaskan traversal... a multi-leg flight diagonally across the main landmass of the state from Anchorage towards Nome. It was impossible in one flight. It would have taken four and a half hours and a fuel cheat of some kind. And never having been to Alaska my expectation of that journey was one of an endless flight over a snowy wasteland.
Saturday. I had considering making two trips instead of this giant leap towards Anchorage from the small coastal airport where I’d last landed, but there seemed to me something epic about burning an entire long-weekend morning with some zen-like cruising.
I Google'd "Yakutat Alaska" before I locked it into my flight plan and discovered that it is yet another small Northern town. What was interesting, however, was that about half way between Sitka, Alaska where I was, and Yakutat, Alaska where I was considering going, was a US National Park called Glacier Bay.
Google "Glacier Bay" and you'll be met with a collection of epic photos of chunks of glaciers cracking off into the ocean while cruise ships watch from a distance.
Oh... now you've heard of it.
It’s no small thing crossing an international border these days.
I set out on a virtual trip around the world nearly two weeks ago, and the whole point (well, some of the point... a big part of the point) was to do something I couldn’t do in real life: go somewhere. With the pandemic lockdown, sure we can travel to the supermarket (in a mask) or for a weekend hiking (socially distancing from everything and everyone) but to get on a plane and go somewhere far away is a literal impossibility.
Not a virtual one, however.
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.
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.
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?
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.
I dreamed about flying. Literally. A couple restless hours of tossing and turning in bed in the middle of the night had me awake last night with dreams of flights, flights gone wrong, and other flying related anxieties.
Naturally, I took off again shortly after breakfast.