Monday, April 2, 2012

Thermals to Thermal

This weekend I loaded up the Baron and took a little weekend jaunt down to Palm Springs.  I thought I'd do a little writeup because it's pretty much the perfect weekend getaway spot for this time of year.  We departed a cold and drizzly bay area just before a big storm blew through, leaving behind 50 degree temps and buckets of rain for 88 degree endless sunshine, all just two hours by Baron.

I decided to land at Thermal airport which is 20 or so miles south of Palm Springs.  I could have gone to Bermuda Dunes and Palm Springs International and been closer to my destination, but who likes to spend $30 a night for a tie down and $8 a gallon for gas?  Not me.  Thermal Self Serve is really good, don't let the name fool you.  You need to pump your own gas but otherwise it's basically a full service FBO and they even have a little putting green.  I called ahead and the rental car was waiting for me.  Super nice guys there, and only $10 a night for tiedown or $30 for the week.  If your plane can fit, they charge you $10, not like Signature which charges you double the $25 rate if you have a twin even though you take the same amount of space.  I even saw a king air squeezed in...  and a gaggle of warbirds even came in for gas, cool!

Our destination was Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirage... (  this is an awesome resort and very family friendly, complete with a large swimming pool and their own water park.  The water park has two water slides and an endless river, as well as a kiddie beach for toddlers.  It was built in the 1930's and just oozes with period charm.   I'm not a big golfer but it looks like it has an amazing golf course too.

The weather was perfect.  I was a little concerned about turbulence because the last time I flew in here we got tossed around by some major thermals.  This time it was smooth as butter flying in.  Also got to check out Joshua Tree national park which was about an hour drive away.  Very cool place, it was like a Dr. Seuss fairy tale land, these photos don't come close to doing it justice.  The wide open spaces and desert landscape are really surreal.  I really want to go back and camp.

A low pressure system blew through northern california on Saturday bringing heavy rain, ice and general miserable weather up north.  As the system moved in it brought some major wind and dust storms to the Cochella valley so I was a little concerned about turbulence on the trip home, Palmdale was seeing gusts to 70mph and calling for MVFR due to dust. NWS issued a severe weather warning for high winds.  Despite that, the trip home turned out to be reasonably smooth though with moderate bumps in the valley but nothing more than light chop over 10k.  I needed to climb to 12k to get over the slag that was left over from the storm, and up there that meant a big 60 kt headwind.  2 hours down, nearly 3 hours back, but at least it was smooth!

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