The Sun was Behind Me

In August, I combined a business trip to Oregon in my Cessna 170 with some airport hopping. I loaded my 10 speed bicycle, tent and sleeping bag and about 9AM on Friday departed Palo Alto, CA with the sun behind me, and headed Northwest for Ashland, Oregon. The first stop was Weed, CA for some 80 octane. Bill manages the FBO in Weed and will drive customers across the Interstate 5 for lunch.

Medford, OR was just and hour from Weed and I was able to borrow a courtesy car t Southern Skyways to drive into town and inspect an apartment building for sale. Later that afternoon, Ashland was only a 15 minute flight to the Southeast. The forest fires North of Medford created some restricted visibility and I was glad to have the sun behind me.

With N325DE secure at Ashland, out came the bicycle. Somebody at the airport recommended a restaurant called Tommy’ near the outdoor theater, so off I went with my windbreaker and wallet. It was a warm, clear evening, and the 3 mile ride into Ashland was invigorating after sitting for most of the day. The fresh Halibut and Henry’s was delicious while watching a preseason game at the bar in Tommy’s (not much Coors in Oregon). A little before 8 PM, a walk up the hill by a park presented the Shakespeare outdoor theater.  The Twelfth Night was a wonderful comedy, but it was 11 PM when I walked back to my bike still locked to a tree outside Tommy’s. The full moon illuminated the road and the hills around Ashland as I rode back to the airport.  I had spotted a grassy area behind the FBO, and within 10 minutes of putting down my ground cloth, mattress and sleeping bag, I was fast asleep. The silent P in Henry’s woke me up about 3 AM in time to watch a partial eclipse of the moon.

Slept a little later than usual, but washed up in the FBO and bicycled back to town for breakfast. Arrived back at the plane by middle morning for a departure to Sisters, OR about 20 degrees magnetic with the sun behind still behind me. The fires North of Medford were still cooking pretty good, and air traffic was restricted below 8000 feet AGL within 3 miles of the fires. Met a Realtor at Sisters and looked over several investment properties and home until 4 PM. I planned on renting a motel this evening for a hot shower, until the owner of the Sisters airport mentioned that the big white house across from the airport had been converted to a bed and breakfast. I walked over and introduced myself to Frank and Marie Conklin. Their new “B&B” was perfect. I was the only guest that night and received special attention. Frank was a SAC pilot several decades ago and was interested in my Franklin powered Cessna 170. The hot mountain water shower along with a steak in town revived me.

Stayed in Sisters until the sun was high in the South before heading 25 miles Northwest for Redmond for fuel.  Found another courtesy car for a 15 minute trip into Bend to check out another apartment building and cranked up the Cessna 170 for a 10 minute flight to Sunriver. Sunriver is a fantastic resort community built along the Dechutes River. The airport is located adjacent, and there is a bicycle path that circles Sunriver. Out comes the 10 speed again, and with the aid of several quarts of drinking water, I did the entire loop. About 3 pm the Sun was high in the Northwest and the air smooth when I departed Sunriver for Palo Alto.  You guessed it: The sun was behind me.