Destination Elimination Game
The wonder of general aviation has so many facets but the one my wife and I come back to on a regular basis is that it is our time machine. General aviation makes it possible for us to take trips that would otherwise be impossible. This day started as many before it, a cup of coffee, some pancakes and eggs and the question, “where do you want to go today”? This day though, we decided to play our “destination elimination” game. We brainstorm places to go and jot them down on a piece of paper. This list included places like San Diego, San Francisco, Mammoth Mountain, Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear, Catalina, Palm Springs, Lake Tahoe, Orange County, Tijuana, Santa Barbara and Apple Valley. Once the list is created we take turns scratching a destination off the list until we are left with our destination for the day. We are not picking a weekend or vacation destination, we are sitting at breakfast figuring out where we are going for the day. Because of general aviation our choices for the day are incredibly vast. Our list included places that are 8 hours away from us in a car but the farthest place from us in the Columbia 400 was just over 2 hours away. We scratched places off one at a time and when there was only one location left it was Big Bear Mountain. We got dressed headed to the airport and took off for Big Bear Mountain. Google maps states that this trip is 2 hours 11 minutes in the car in current traffic (it is Sunday morning at 9am), I know from taking this trip in a car that 3-4 hours is more realistic. The flight from Van Nuys to Big Bear took us 32 minutes. We took a beautiful 4.5 mile hike to the ski resort, had lunch and hiked back to the airport. It was a great getaway, being in Big Bear feels like you are thousands of miles from Los Angeles, the air is crisp and clear, the pine trees are tall and fragrant and snow is something you just don’t see in Los Angeles. As if this day wasn’t amazing enough, when we took off from Big Bear at 5:15pm we were treated to the most incredible visibility that I have ever seen in Southern California. Because of a weather event called the Santa Ana winds, the smog and haze is all cleared out. When we climbed to 8,500 feet on our departure out of Big Bear and crossed the dam at the West end of the lake, we could see Catalina Island. Catalina Island is 100 miles from Big Bear as the crow flies and I could distinguish a ship between the mainland and the island. The visibility was nothing short of incredible. Because of our general aviation time machine we were home by 6:30pm, in time for dinner.