There have been forest fires just southeast of Eugene the last few days, enough to make the whole sky hazy.  John took me flying this morning, and we had to keep a close eye on where the visibility got bad so we could stay away.  We didn’t see any actual fires, but the smoke was everywhere.  These pictures were taken around 11am today, a day without clouds.

That third one is Spencer Butte.  Contrast that picture with this one, taken from the top of Spencer Butte on a day without forest fires.  Same camera, facing approximately back to where the plane would have been this morning.

I’m not going to be sad to move out of forest fire country.

Flying is cool, though.

We go on separate adventures at the same time

I had a really good riding lesson today.  This was my fourth lesson on Olive, an actual horse-sized horse, and I’m getting much more comfortable on her.  A woman I hadn’t met yet, who was sitting and watching with Wendy, complimented my release after a set of jumps.

I don’t know what that is, and I didn’t stop to ask just then, and I don’t want to look it up now.  If it’s something I’m doing well naturally, I’m afraid that if I look it up, I’ll start thinking about it and do it badly.  There’s so much to think about that if I can delay thinking about something, that can only be good.  Except that now I have guesses about what it is, and I’ll probably overthink it, so maybe I’m better off if I look it up.

Okay, I googled it (and my guesses were wrong).  It has to do with not pulling on the reins (and then the bit) as you go over the jump.  Wendy taught me to move my hands forward on the neck and hold the horse’s mane to avoid pulling the reins accidentally.  Apparently that’s called a crest release (long or short depending on how far up the mane you hold) – she left that part out.  So okay, I’m already doing it and thinking about it and it’s all good.

John took the plane out this afternoon at the same time (I dropped him off at the airfield, drove to the farm, and then picked him up when I was done), and he found me and flew circles around the farm while I rode.  He said he could see someone on a horse jumping, and he assumed it was me (it was).  We saw the plane and waved madly with no idea if he could see us.  Turns out he could, and he tried to make the plane wave back.  I thought I saw a wobble, but it wasn’t as dramatic-looking as it felt to him.

Anyway, it was cool, and it made for a good afternoon.

Seriously, why isn’t this a thing?

I went flying with John not that long ago (and I didn’t get airsick!  YAY!), and even though the plane has GPS, I was trying to navigate by landmark.  (GPS is cheating.  Plus, what if it failed?)  I mean, we were within sight of I-5 the whole time, which certainly helped, but what if we headed east or west for a bit?  I know Eugene well enough by now that I can pretty much identify the highways and the river, the stadium, the mall – I know where we are, what we’re flying over, and where we’re going.  But what if we were flying into Corvallis or Salem or any airport we’ve never been to?  Little planes fly low enough to follow roads, but how do you know which road is which?  We’re not low enough to read signs.  So I was thinking – we should put identifying codes on the roofs of big buildings, like they do with buses.  (Pop quiz, hotshot: How do I know about the numbers on buses?)  Those building codes can go on maps and there you have it – no one gets lost.

That’s it.  That’s my big idea.

We can fly, we can fly, we can fly

John finally got to take me flying.  We went up early this morning, before the winds picked up for the day.  We were up for an hour, just long enough to tool around and sight-see a bit.  The airport is about 15 minutes south of Eugene, so we started north, flew over the house and a little past, then headed farther south to Cottage Grove, where we flew over Will and Christina’s house, and then back to the airport.  It was fun!  Of course it was fun.







Small things

Small thing #1: It’s St. Patrick’s Day and EVERYONE is wearing green and when I went for a run at lunch (wearing green, of course), the weather was lovely and warm and EVERYONE was outside and EVERYONE was smiling at EVERYONE else.  It was pleasant.

Small thing #2: John’s flight test guy called this morning to reschedule John’s exam and check ride (which were supposed to be tomorrow) because he’s sick and can’t fly.  John is relieved (more time to prepare), annoyed (he was READY for tomorrow), and anxious because our deadline is approaching and he NEEDS to get this out of the way before we leave town.  The flight test guy is aware of the deadline, and he has penciled John in for three different days next week.  He’ll be well enough (and the weather will cooperate) for at least ONE of those days.

Big news!

John passed his pilot’s exam this morning! YAYYYYYY!!!!  He’s got a few more lessons to go (some navigation stuff), and as soon as he’s comfortable solo, he does a check ride with a different instructor, and then he gets his license.  This will be the recreational pilot license.  He’ll get the regular private pilot license after we move.  (Here, I googled that for you.)

This takes some of the stress off of John (both having the exam behind him and getting the rec license first) and will give him proof of competency he can take to the next school.

In other news, it’s stupid-cold today.  I was going to get up when John left for his exam this morning and run before work, but the wind chill was in the single digits.  NO THANK YOU.  So instead, I went at lunch time, when the wind chill was in the teens.  I wore a long-sleeve shirt and TWO jackets.  My body was warm, but my face was cold.  It’s creepy to run wearing a ski mask.  I don’t really know how to get around that problem.  Scarf wrapped around my nose and mouth and cheeks? Hat pulled low over my forehead?  I suppose it’s less creepy than a ski mask, but I’ll still look like I’m going to rob someone.  I’ll even be dressed for the getaway.


Flying solo, literally

John soloed today!  He’s back home, alive and well and super-excited.  He texted me a picture of his empty co-pilot’s seat right before his first solo take-off.  That’s the only notice I got.  (I mean, I knew it was possible today, wind-dependent, but that’s how he told me.)  I didn’t have much time to worry (which may have been the point), and I can truthfully say I didn’t worry much.  I’m confident in his (and his instructor’s) assessment of his skills.

He has a couple more boxes to check, a few more hours of practice (both solo and with his instructor), and then he should be licensed.  It’s in sight!  The weather has to cooperate, though.  Flying in winter might be tricky.

Hooray for John!

Any day now

John had his pre-solo check ride Friday afternoon, and it went well enough that if it hadn’t been so windy, he would have flown his first solo flight right after it.  They decided it was a bit too gusty to do it yesterday, and I think I’m a little relieved.  I’m not worried about it, exactly.  I have every faith in John’s abilities, and I trust his instructor to know when John is ready, but I think I’d like to be at the airport when he does it.  Just in case.  I think.  But leaving that aside, John is ready to solo!  Already!  This is very cool.  Soon we’ll be able to hop in a plane to visit people instead of the car.

I think he’s been learning in something like this (assuming Google Images is really showing me pictures of a Piper Warrior):


And here’s the (student) pilot himself:


Columbus Day rocks, but not because of Columbus

Molly and Jess and I had the best Columbus Day.  It was beautiful out (see exhibit A), so we spent a few hours sitting at a sidewalk table, drinking wine and playing a game called Dreaming Spires, where we built Oxford University.  It was great.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Seriously nice day.  Despite the ONE mosquito who’s still hanging out in OCTOBER of all months, just waiting for me to show up.  She found me.  Her patience was rewarded.

John had a pretty good Columbus Day, too.  He had to work for a while, but then he had a flying lesson, and (as you can see from that picture), it was  a GREAT day to fly.  AND his instructor finally said something helpful to him the other day (new instructor next week, thank goodness), so his landings today were much better and he feels much more comfortable with it.  Soloing is just around the corner.  Yay John!