Sunday, July 03, 2005


My week of vacation started on Monday. First order of business was to get myself to Rosholt, SD, to visit with Dawn's parents for a day or two, and then accompany Dawn back here in our Blazer (she drove rather than flew because she had some things still back east that she wanted to bring here). I was supposed to get off work at 2:45PM, Sunday; I was hoping to get into Fargo that night.

So I had a brilliant plan: I'd run to catch the 3PM flight to Seattle, then Northwest's 4:20 flight to Minneapolis, to connect to their last flight to Fargo. At first, all the stars seemed aligned. It was a good weather day, the plane didn't break, and even the winds aloft cooperated to let us get into Portland a bit early. After running the parking checklist, I bolted for the Seattle flight's gate, getting there at watch them push back 10 minutes early! Instead, I jumpseated on United PDX-DEN-MSP, then flew on Mesaba MSP-FAR the next day.

Here, Gary and Rick (United 757 crew), review their weather avoidance systems in preparation for an arrival into Denver hot on the tails of a big ole' thunderstorm. Twenty flights from United alone ended up diverting; our timing was just right to make it in.

An excellent example of mammatus clouds, as seen from the 757's jumpseat on the way into Denver, with a nice rainbow below.

Lake Traverse is directly on the border between Minnesota and South Dakota. Dawn's parents recently sold their house in Wheaton, MN, to live full-time in their cabin on the South Dakota side of the lake. On days like this, I envy them.

I abhor North Dakota. I spent several years there while attending UND, and vowed I'd never go back to Grand Forks if I could help it. Still, the state does have it's moments of beauty, such as this sunset seen from I-29. So much for "red sky at night, sailors delight" - a few hours after this, we were driving through severe thunderstorms.

Montana, like Colorado, has a Front Range. This is on Wednesday morning, on I-90 between Billings and Bozeman. I see Montana from the air all the time; it's nice to get another perspective on the state.

Both of these pictures were taken near Missoula, where I-90 parallels the Clark Fork of the Lewis & Clark River. Montana really is a gorgeous state; I love flying there in the summer. It's winters, however, overshadow ND and MN in their ferociousness. Layovers in Butte when it's -40d F aren't too fun.

Almost home! Late afternoon on Wednesday, we enter the Columbia River Gorge east of The Dalles, OR. Notice the contrast in vegetation between this picture and my pictures of the west Gorge a few weeks ago. The Cascades act as a rain curtain, making for vastly different climates beween the western & eastern portions of Oregon and Washington.

What to do when you run out of room for your wife's stuff in the back of your Blazer: pile on and around, a la Beverly Hillbillies!