Something to Read When You're Bored

March 3, 2008, 1:35 pm
Filed under: Life, Travel | Tags: ,

Yesterday I was lucky enough to get flown down to Seaside, Oregon for the afternoon by Ari, whose piloting skills I’m developing more and more respect for (I was kinda nervous the first time I flew with him). It was a pretty awesome day. First of all there was the obvious cool factor of traveling to Seaside in just over an hour when the drive would normally take about 4 hours. Plus I got to enjoy the super awesome views from a tiny little airplane and learn a bunch more about how to fly (I almost have the entire pilot alphabet memorized – alpha, bravo, charlie, delta, etc… – and I really like how they always say ‘niner’ instead of ‘nine’) We walked into town from the teensy airport and did the typical things you do in beach-y little tourist towns – some shopping, some walking on the beach, and eating really yummy unhealthy food.

We had a near misadventure when I went to put my shoes back on after walking on the beach and discovered that one of my awesome Reef flip flops with the bottle openers on the bottom had fallen out of the mesh pocket on the side of my backpack. It probably happened when I tried to ‘rescue’ a live sand dollar we found and wound up frantically trying to evade a wave that looked like it could more than match the height I had rolled my pants up to. But by the time we discovered the loss we were on a pretty limited timeframe and really didn’t have time to go looking for the lost shoe. But I was too heartbroken at the thought of losing one of my awesome bottle-opening sandals to give up that easily. So I piped up with ‘Hey, I’m a runner! I can go find that shoe in no time!’ and took off across the beach. Luckily I discovered the errant shoe getting washed around in the waves not too far away – running on the beach is hard enough as it is and bare feet and falling-down pants didn’t help. So I made it back to the seawall panting and a little sweaty but happily victorious in my shoe mission.

The rest of the afternoon in Seaside included a lot of fun conversation and tasty food, then it was back to the airport. The flight back was super awesome. We saved enough time to be able to take an indirect route back to Seattle so Ari flew us over my hometown, Montesano and we called my parents to tell them they should go outside and wave at us flying by. I was already pretty excited just to have spotted my parents house from the plane, and I became positively giddy when I could actually see my parents out in the backyard (really I just saw a couple of dark dots on the lawn but I could tell it was them) and I could even make out their awesome dog Milo running around in the yard, undoubtedly chasing a giant stick (my dad told me later that it was a 3 1/2 foot chunk of 2×4). We circled the house a couple of times, with me practically jumping up and down in my seat I was so excited. I felt a little bit bad that we didn’t do the same thing for my Sister’s house, but maybe we’ll have a chance some other time. I found the whole thing ridiculously thrilling.

As if circling my parents house wasn’t cool enough, next I got to fly the plane. I took the yoke and helped (or at least attempted) to keep us on course for a couple of minutes. I was pretty terrible at keeping the plane straight and level, but that meant I got to do a lot more because I was always trying to correct something and then correcting again because I had over-corrected. I think that might have been the point where I really started to appreciate Ari’s flying skills. But it was amazing to feel how the plane responds to the controls, it totally refuelled my desire to someday learn how to fly. And I love that flying is one of those activities where you really have to be aware of weather conditions and the environment around you; that human connection to nature and the elements tends to be missing from so many pieces of modern life, I love it when I have a real reason to need to know what the weather is up to because it will actually affect me.

Finally we came in to land at Boeing field and Ari did some crazy maneuver where we approached the runway from the side (basically perpendicular to the runway) and then did a quick turn just 35 or so feet off the ground almost immediately before we touched down to line us up with the runway. It was pretty slick and I accused him of showing off (and he admitted that he was a little bit), but I think it was mostly because of the approach instructions he was given by the air traffic controller. All in all it was a completely awesome day and I’ve decided that dating a pilot is pretty much one of the coolest things ever.