Thursday, January 26, 2017

Changeable Weather

Morning broke with fog down to lake level. Little by little it began to rise.

Looking south down Powell Lake towards the Shinglemill marina.

By noon, freezing fog changed to low scattered clouds with higher overcast.

Looking up the east arm of Powell Lake towards the high country.

Then patches of blue heralded some sun for the afternoon, just in time for rain clouds to return overnight. Weather sure is changeable this time of year. -- Margy

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bird of a Different Feather

Landing at small airports is always exciting. They remind you of how things were before 9/11 and security at commercial airports closed them to the public. Most private strips still allow you to enter the tarmac and for some airplane watching.

Another interesting feature of small airports is you can find some unusual aircraft. They may be old models or former military planes lovingly restored. On our recent flight to Skagit Regional Airport we saw a very unusual modern aircraft.

A Triton Aerospace A500 at Skagit Regional Airport.

Thanks to Google images I was able to identify it as an Adam A500. It's based on an composite airframe originally designed by Burt Rutan in Mojave, California. That's pretty obvious if you've seen any of his other designs.

Adam Aircraft Industries went bankrupt and then out of business in 2009. Their product designs and manufacturing equipment transferred to a Russian owned company but everything quickly transferred to Triton Aerospace (AeroMarine), a former composite yacht builder, located in Burlington and Anacortes, Washington.  Ah, there's the connection to Skagit Regional Airport.

Plans to start building the aircraft again began in 2011, but costs led them to move their manufacturing plant to Zhuhai, China. Currently, they are manufacturing light sport aircraft. Even though they have the rights to start building the A500 once again, I do not find any evidence. That makes viewing one these "birds of a different feather" a very lucky encounter.

Are you an airplane buff? Where are some of your favourite airports for ramp walking and aircraft viewing? -- Margy

Friday, January 20, 2017

Skagit Regional Airport

 997 in her hangar at Bellingham International Airport.
One of the benefits of returning to Bellingham is flying our airplane, 997. While we're in Powell River, she patiently waits in her hangar for an aerial excursion.

It may be winter, but we had five days of sunshine, even if it was quite cold. We used the time wisely.

The first flight was in the pattern to practice take-offs and landings. The next was to fly to nearby Anacortes Airport to join our friends Ken and Sam for lunch.

Our third flight was multi-purpose. We wanted to continue working on our currency with take-offs and landings, we wanted to exercise 997 and all of her systems, and we wanted to go out for breakfast.

Skagit Regional Airport was our destination of choice.

Skagit (KVBS) is located thirty miles southeast of Bellingham. It's on the coastal plain near the mouth of the Skagit River and Padilla Bay. The elevation is 144 feet (43.9 metres) and Runway 10/28 is 5477 feet (1669 metres) long.

The airport with the Skagit river valley in the distance.
Skagit can be a busy place on weekends with student pilots and visiting aviators, but it was relatively quiet for a Sunday morning.

We had breakfast at the Flyer's Restaurant and Brewhouse (of course, we passed on the brews).

Wayne's prime rib hash and eggs and my Eggs Benedict hit the spot, and the runway view with 997 sitting out front was awesome.

After some much needed exercise for 997 and practice for her pilots, we headed back to our home base in Bellingham (KBLI).

Final approach to Skagit Regional Airport.

Then it was time for 997 to settle in for a long winter's nap. Sleep well and dream about your next flying adventure in the Pacific Northwest! -- Margy

Friday, January 13, 2017

Come Fly With Us

Piper Arrow 997 in front of her Bellingham hangar.
Flying is one of our passions. It started for Wayne after he got out of college and he was working with his older brother running a small grass strip airport in Greenville, New York. A side benefit was that his brother taught him how to fly.

Wayne passed the passion along to me when we were dating and he also became my flight instructor.  It's nice that we can share this common interest and enjoy the pleasures that flying can bring.

Come fly with us in our Piper Arrow. She used to live with us in Southern California. Down there she got to stay outdoors on the tarmac in the warm sunshine, but up here in the Pacific Northwest with lots of rain and cold she lives in a nice protective hangar.

When we come to Bellingham we get to take her out and fly the Pacific Northwest skies. We've been lucky with the weather this week. It's been cold, but clear. That let us fly twice so far.

The first time was to practice takeoffs and landings to maintain proficiency. Here's a quick video so you can ride along.

The second was to fly to nearby Anacortes Airport to visit with our friends Ken and Sam.

Want to experience more flying adventures in the Pacific Northwest? Check out Wayne's book Flying the Pacific Northwest.  In it you can "take the controls of a Piper Arrow as your personal flight instructor leads you to out-of-the-way spots in a recreational aircraft." It's a good read for pilots and aviation enthusiasts alike. -- Margy

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Woodstove Cooking: Firebox Baked Potatoes

Our Kozi woodstove.
This time of year, our woodstove is going pretty much 24/7 up at the cabin on Powell Lake. That is especially true this winter with sub-zero temperatures day and night.

Our woodstove is the "heart" of our float cabin home. Without its warmth, we couldn't live here in all seasons. 

Our stove is a KOZI.  KOZI still makes wood and pellet stoves, but our model is what I lovingly call a classic.  It came with our cabin when we purchased it in 2001, and has served us well ever since.

On top you will find pots of water heating and coffee perking. You might even find a pot of chili cooking.

Potatoes baking inside the woodstove firebox.

But there are lots more ways to cook using a wood heating stove.

Using my Imperial thermometer.
This week we used the inside of our firebox to bake potatoes for dinner. It's so easy. Just wrap a spud in aluminum foil and place it on the ledge inside the door.

To keep an eye on the temperature inside, I used my Imperial thermometer. I was surprised to see it get up to 500 degrees inside.

That's a hot fire, enough to cook my home grown potatoes in less than an hour.

Do you cook with a woodstove? what are some of your successes? -- Margy

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

BNSF Caboose 12529

Burlington Northern Santa Fe train heading into Bellingham, WA
When we visit Bellingham, Washington, we are in train territory. The main tracks run along the coast heading north to Vancouver and south to Seattle and from there throughout the United States.

I like to go down to Squalicum Harbor and park to watch the trains. While I was there last week I saw a "new" caboose on the siding. I say new because it was new to me. Very few cabooses are still in service. In their heyday, they housed the rear breakman, provided space for accommodation, and storage.

This is the not first caboose I've seen in the Burlington Northern Santa Fe yard in Bellingham. First there was Burlington Northern Caboose 10792 in 2011 then BNSF Caboose 12622 in 2012. This week I saw BNSF Caboose 12529.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Caboose 12529 in Bellingham, WA, yard.

Caboose 12529 was built by Pacific Car and Foundry in 1978 and began service with Burlington Northern as Caboose 12185 before the merger with Santa Fe. She's 39-feet long, made from welded steel with a windowed cupola on top. She was rebuilt by Western Fruit Express (BN) in 1990. Since then, it appears not much has been done.

Caboose 12529 sporting graffiti.

Caboose 12529 was working fairly recently in support of work trains in the state of Washington. Here's some of her rolling history:

8/1998   Working in Startup, WA, on a work train
8/2002   Working in Skykomish, WA, on a work train
2/2007   Working in Seattle, WA, on a work train
6/2009   Working in Marysville, WA, on a work train
8/2010   Parked in Scenic, WA, at the yard
6/2011   Working in Merritt, WA, on a work train
8/2011   Working in Berne and Wenatchee, WA, on a work train
12/2016 Parked in Bellingham, WA, at the yard

Little Red Caboose in Blaine, WA
I'm not sure if she's here as part of a work train or as a final resting place. Either way, I always get excited to see a caboose.

If you could have one, what would you do with it?  Make a restaurant like The Little Red Caboose in Blaine, WA? Make it into a cozy tiny house?

Check out this Mother Earth News article about purchasing and repurposing old cabooses. -- Margy