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Randy Pflanzer
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As is becoming the norm, I didn't make it as far as I wanted.  The weather turned crappy and it started to get very bumpy so I decided to call it a day in the popcorn popper.  This was the day there were severe storms in Denver and strong winds were feeding this thunderstorm complex from New Mexico.

There are not a lot of airports in eastern New Mexico so my options were limited.  I ended up in Santa Rosa.  As you can see, the airport is completely deserted except for one small building with a toilet and a telephone. 

I went in and called a local hotel and they sent out a kid to pick me up.  The hotel was super nice, the Mexican restaurant across Route 66 from the hotel was very good and overall, it was a pleasant stay.  I was a little worried about leaving the airplane unattended out in the middle of nowhere, but it turned out okay.  Seems Santa Rosa is popular with Hollywood, as a number of westerns and other movies were shot there.

I got up early the next morning, hitched a ride out to the airport and headed for California.  There was a low cloud deck and the early morning sun glistened off of it.

I don't know what it is, but there's something magical about the sunrise in the desert.  I can see why people love it out here, although I am a tree lover and there's not many of those in these parts.

You see some very interesting mountains and bluffs from the air.  This is somewhere in western Arizona.

I landed in Winslow, AZ. for fuel and also Needles, CA.  I had to plan my entry into the LA basin because the weather this time of the year can be difficult.  With the help of the local flight instructor in Needles, I decided to run up the central valley and hop over the Santa Monica mountains near Thousand Oaks to see if I could make it into Santa Paula, the closest airport to my sister's home in Ventura.  As I got into the valley, I found a lot of scattered rain showers around.  Santa Paula was getting hit with a downpour so I proceeded to dial up the Camarillo airport and land there among splatters of rain drops on my canopy.

I spent the next 4 days visiting with my sister and my neices and nephews, whom I haven't seen for a couple of years.

I went down to the pier to take a few pictures to prove I was here.

Most days in June are overcast.  They call it the "June Gloom" when warm air moves in off the Pacific Ocean and creates an overcast layer.  But as you can see in this picture, we got a little break from the gloom.

Not wanting to waste the opportunity to get out from the overcast, I prepared to leave on Sunday for Oregon.  I watched the beginning of the Indy 500 on TV (the first time I've seen it live on TV), and then had my sister take me to the airport.  I immediately launched for the central valley of California and ultimately, Oregon.

 After clearing the foothills around Ventura, I broke out into sever clear skies all the way.  Here's a screen shot of me heading up the valley just west of Bakersfield.  The other traffic on the display are crop dusters.

 It's easy to see why most of America's produce comes from California.  Fields as far as the eye can see.  I made a quick fuel stop just east of Fresno and continued on.

In the distance, you can just start to make out Mt. Shasta.  Basically there are two mountain ranges that run up California and they come together at the northern border with Oregon, where Mt. Shasta sits.

To continue the story, please go to the next page.