Today - Day 6 of my trip - was a perfect flying day, and it ended at the Pacific.
When I took off from Olympia, it was cool and clear, with a light haze layer I quickly climbed above. I could see a number of snow-covered volcanic peaks as I climbed.
At the recommendation of a corporate jet pilot at Olympia, instead of heading straight to my destination, I aimed for Mount St. Helens.
The diversion was well worth it, and the view was spectacular of the mountain with part of the crater wall missing - signs of the devastation from the 1980 eruption are still evident, nearly 40 years later.
From the slopes of Mount St. Helens, I descended down over lower hills into the Salmon River valley.
Forty-five minutes later, I landed at McMinnville, Oregon (KMMV). The Evergreen Air Museum, home of the Spruce Goose, is across the street from the airport, and they sent a van to pick me up. The museum is great, with dozens of aircraft under the wings of the huge flying boat - the collection is well worth a trip to see.
I didn't have time to tour the Space building with jets and spacecraft, but the older aircraft are more interesting to me, anyway. I did pay extra to get a chance to sit in the pilot's seat of the Goose - how could I pass that up?
The tour guide took my picture - note the pipe behind the pilot's seat. Howard Hughes, a notorious germophobic, had a separate filtered air system installed to provide germ-free air to him at the pilot's position.
This is the starting crank for the Spruce Goose. No, really - it is. The crank starts the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), which in turn provides the power to start the eight 3,000 horsepower engines.
After that, I took off for the remaining 55 miles to Newport, Oregon (KONP). As I approached the low hills of the Coastal Range, the Pacific Ocean appeared - my flight to the Pacific had reached the Pacific.
Those were the only clouds I saw all day - a single row about 1,200 above the beach. Once over the last of the hills, I turned southward and flew
down the beach to enter a downwind for runway 34 at KONP, Newport Airport.
Enterprise had a rental car waiting for me at the FBO, and after checking in at the motel on Agate Beach, I went down to the Bayfront for dinner. There was a beautiful sunset today over the beach in back of my motel - a perfect end to a great flying day.
I'll be here in Newport all day tomorrow, and on Thursday morning I'll head south to Berkeley.