Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Canyons, Cactus and Missle Silos

FL270 somewhere in northern (eastern) Idaho. The first thing I notice about the US rockies is that they are not as geographically defined as they are in Canada. In Canada they seem to sit row upon row with valley after valley and mountain chain after mountain chain. Here its pretty much straight south of Calgary and its scattered mountains and then a huge plain which is still relatively high above sea level (around 3500-4500 feet). Here is a zoomed in shot of some orographic lift in a rather cloudless sky.

Looking east towards Wyoming. Weathered mountains in the foreground. Looks a lot like Virginia, and the Carolinas.

Not sure what this is, aluvial fan ? But it looks like half the mountain side has eroded and just dumped sand. Pretty cool to see though. So far on the trip everything is new and it's been awhile since I am completely preoccupied as a tourist. Photo credit goes to the co-pilot.

We were just talking about how the roads all lead to some little circular pattern with a few buildings on it. I snapped some pictures of a salt bed looking runway and some buildings and was saying maybe this is where I pictured seeing missile silos opening and World War 3 beginning. Just as we said that we looked at the moving map as we flew over Atomic City, Idaho. According to Wikipedia its not a "city" by city standards. Population 25 freakin people. The average annual income is 9,400 bucks ! Glad I am fortunate enough to fly over it and not be one of the residence. Compared to all the flat land flying you can see how the screen is more brownish. Its the same as a regular map that shows elevations and what appears to be terrain around 4000-5000 feet is just the flat valley floor and no mountains at all.

Not the Grand Canyon but just to the east of it. Truly amazing colours and landforms here. The clouds have started to thicken but we are given just a glimpse of what is below. Amazingly on our flight we passed almost smack dab in the middle of Grand Canyon National Park. There is two airports right close by and you can do aerial tours in Twin Otters with extra large windows. The parks service has a web cam so you can see the Grand Canyon for yourself right now.
After viewing the the Parks web site I think with the amount of tourists on the ground I probably got the best view of it all with no lines or other people getting in the shots. These shots are limited of the Canyon but the return flight produced much greater returns :)

This is further up from the park but is still gorgeous none the less. I found it amazing just how random the land is around these parts. For instance, Flagstaff is surrounded by flatness but yet has a huge single mountain looming just to the north. If traveling by car it would probably be extremely boring and then bang the earth drops out beneath you and the Canyon is in plain sight.

Straight over the Colorado River in the middle of Grand Canyon National Park at FL280. You can see the tiny river meandering its way through the deep Canyon floor. I went to an IMAX film where they took you through the Canyon and it started off I think flying over the flat lands and suddenly plunging deep into the Canyon and flying just over the water. It is simply amazing and would recommend it.

After which seemed like the bumpiest and slowest decent we finally break out in the Arizona sunshine ? Apparently Phoenix gets 8 inches of rain a year and sports 85 percent sunshine. Well when we arrived and during the approach I have never seen so many blinding rain showers and the temperature was 10 degrees. Of course the ground guys and customs blamed us but I was just glad it was 40 degrees Celsius. This shot is on the arrival towards KPHX and is out a ways from Phoenix but already it sets the tone for what we will see for the next two days....nice houses, and golf courses.

Our resort had 3 interconnected balcony's and it was the first time in a while I could sit outside, have my coffee and read the news. Reminds me of my days in Kelowna where it was never really cold and the mornings were great to enjoy before it gets too hot. It only reached 18 degrees Celsius in the two days we spent there but it was a change from the -20's we had been experiencing for the past month. I know, I know....to you in Yellowknife who read my blog I know that isn't cold but its all relative ! Who really wants to brag about how cold it is ? Really ? I would rather just wanna move somewhere warm :)

Just under the approach for runway 21 in Scottsdale (KSDL). A beautiful day, the sun is setting and I am taking pictures of a Cactus. Some of them look life like in shape as you will see in the next post :) More to come... an Arizona and Grand Canyon sunrise...
Fly safe. Don't do anything stupid quickly.

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