Michigan City   Sioux Falls   Billings   EBR-1   Craters of the Moon   Mount St. Helens   Copalis   Convention   Arlington   Friday Harbor   Victoria   Butchart Gardens   Chemainus   Haida Gwaii   Louise Island   Saskatoon   Munising   Pictured Rocks  

to the story's beginning            back to Mount St. Helens

If you don't need services, the very best airport to use for visiting Mount St. Helens would be Toledo, Washington. This is the closest airport to the mountain. But there is no ground transportation, and almost no choices for lodging if you're not camping. They do have a Twin Beech on the field that looks pretty good, though. There is also a Grumman Cheetah that has clearly seen better days.

If the wind favors runway 6, every takeoff comes with a view of Mount Rainier.

On the day we arrived at the flying convention, there was a strange feeling of time on our hands. There was nothing on the schedule until the evening mixer, so we had all day and less than 100 miles to cover. We filled some of the time by touring a couple of Washington airports, starting with a leisurely late breakfast at Lana's Café, right on the field at Hoquiam. Despite the warning, the waitress actually brought us what we ordered. The diner's name is probably a reference to Lana Turner. The décor in the place is all from 1940's movies.

Who's that on Lana's sign? I think we saw her last night in Chehalis.

The first picture in this story was taken where we parked, next to the runway at Copalis State Airport . I've been warned to watch for pedestrians crossing the runway there to dig razor clams. The runway is just a designated part of the beach, and it's a good idea to leave before the tide comes in. The people in these houses have it all. Direct runway access, stairway to the Pacific Ocean, and some of the best sunsets in the world right out their front door.

"Use caution for birds and wildlife in the vicinity of the airport."

This is not the runway.

The runway is about a hundred feet to the photographer's right.

Where else can you find a beach with a wind sock?

Planning this trip had some interesting challenges. Normally, I can just toss the bags in the back seat and go. This time, it made sense to put as much weight in the baggage compartment as possible, to exploit the lower drag (better gas mileage!) that comes with aft C.G. For one leg, I needed to carry extra fuel in the cabin. Then, the gasoline went into baggage and the bags rode in the back seat. It was handy to have a weight and balance calculator available. I used it a lot more than usual on this trip.

Speaking of fuel efficiency, I knew that airports would be far apart in some places. The POH for our Tiger doesn't have performance data for "miles per gallon", so I derived some. Having read Dr. Byington's excellent article on the subject, I knew that I would have to slow down a lot to squeeze the most distance out of every drop of avgas – maximum miser power for a Tiger is about 40% BHP, producing a speed not much better than 90 knots! As it turns out, the situation isn't really that bad. The POH does give data for airspeed and fuel burn (gal/hr), and it's easy enough to divide one number by the other for miles per gallon. As the graph shows, this figure doesn't change a whole lot below 65% power. That's in the 120-knot range for a Tiger, which is much easier to live with.

I don't have any iGadgets, so I can't use ForeFlight. This trip required a lot of charts, but not enough to match the cost of an iPad. I was able to shorten the time for route planning, however. SkyVector makes plotting just as easy as ForeFlight. Simply locate the ends of your flying day and rubber-band a few waypoints. Flight segment tracks and distances are right there. Of course, it still remains to transfer them to paper, but that's child's play. Almost.

Once we get away from our usual flying area, I don't recognize most of the identifiers for weather stations. This map was useful. It's from NOAA's ADDS site, which has an interactive map to display FDs.

I use Skew-T Log(P) charts for IFR flying, but never really thought of them as a VFR tool before this trip. With no significant clouds at either end of it, this leg is an easy VFR flight if you know ahead of time where the tops are. A glance at this skew-T plot shows the temperature and dewpoint far apart above 6000 feet, an easy candidate for VFR over-the-top. If you'd like to learn more about this most useful source of information, there are tutorial links on the main page given earlier. Scott Dennstaedt published a comprehensive three-part introduction in IFR magazine a few years ago, here, here, and here.

This year's flying convention met at Arlington, Washington, an excellent choice. The airport is the site of the Arlington Fly-In, one of the EAA's "Big Three." It's also the home of the Glasair factory. So Arlington has a few good reasons to like little airplanes, which may be why there's an airplane on the city seal. Our convention was timed to immediately follow the EAA fly-in, but this didn't appear to affect attendance much. So far as anyone could tell, there was only one airplane whose pilot attended both events. This was a bit of a surprise after last year's gathering at Oshkosh, which was timed the same way. There were more "overlap" airplanes at that one.

In the past, there has been some fuss about the location and timing of the AYA convention. Those complaining probably wouldn't attend a convention if it came to their home town, but they like to gripe. A few years ago, when we gathered in Red Deer, Alberta, the malcontents were especially bitter and vocal about the distance to the convention.

It occurred to me that there was none of that grousing this year, even though Arlington was farther for most AYA members than Red Deer. By great circle distance, Arlington is farther than Red Deer from

It's closer than Red Deer if you're from

For us, the distance is about 2100 nautical miles point to point. We flew a little farther because of our sightseeing, but now 45278 will be tied down in one spot for a few days. The stuffed Tiger inside is a reminder that we're at a Grumman event.

The convention hotel had all we needed, and more. We didn't try the sushi.

Looks like the airport has a part-time control tower. Nobody was home while we were there.

We didn't find out why the barn was there, either. There was definitely no farming going on.

Our planes were parked in an area that's normally reserved for aircraft even smaller than ours.

The ultralight hangars have no doors, except for one guy with a custom-built wall.

As usual, I don't have many photos from the convention itself. That's what Don Metz's daily coverage page is for. We had events and announcements, …

… an auction for the scholarship fund, …

… and, of course, the annual business meeting.
This year, there were a few unpleasantries to sort out over elections, and it came out that the AYA had a few things to learn about internet security.

Not all of the business was somber. These gentlemen were a hit with their sleeves, which really are sleeves – you can buy those "tattoos" at any good party store.

A lot of airplane type clubs have the kind of convention where people arrive, park their planes, and ignore them for a few days while they play golf and go to wine tastings. One of the things we like about the AYA fly-in is that it's about flying, complete with plenty of activity at the airport. Barbara and I usually volunteer to help with these events. This year, we judged a spot landing contest, giving us a close-up view of the runway while competitors tried to touch down on a line we laid out for them. We also got a nice view of the Cascade Range. The numbers on the edge of the runway are the ruler that we made to measure how close the landings were.

It seems there's always one interloper. "Our" runway was officially closed for the contest, but nobody minded. All this guy wanted was to take off into the wind.

This was a dog-friendly convention, with four or five dogs flying in with their subjects owners. Here, Kim (human) is spending a little quiet time with Aurora (canine).

Kim was waiting her turn for the Broken Towbar event, where contestants race to push a plane backward through a devilish serpentine course. The nose wheel on these planes pivots at the front, and isn't steerable. This event is tougher than it looks. There's also a contest to find all the discrepancies on a plane that's been doctored for the occasion. There were over thirty problems with this plane that would make it unairworthy, and nobody found all of them.

There was a new contest this year, to see who could tie a plane down the fastest. All three knots had to be acceptable tautline hitches. This is one of the best knots for the purpose, but it was new to many of the entrants.

Before we knew it, it was time for the closing banquet. We relived the past few days, caught up with some old friends we hadn't seen since our last convention three years ago, and made a few new friends to look up at the next one.

More speeches and more awards. Jörg Trauboth, our new President, presents Gregg Erikson with the Lauren Larsen award. Gregg is very active in the Chicago area, keeping the Great Lakes Grummans Gathering.

We took a couple of side trips while we were at the convention. One was an afternoon in the town of Arlington. When we leave here, we'll visit a town that's famous for murals. It's nice to see that Arlington has some of its own. It's a pleasant town. There seem to be a lot of antique stores, and there's also an old-style ice cream shop.

Too, there are ducks all over the place. Just about every store seems to have a duck or two. Or a duck and a rooster.

Or only roosters.

Naturally, one store had something for pilots in the place with an airplane on its city seal. Just as if we were back in Ohio.

This year's convention was a day longer than usual, to accommodate an all-day tour of four airplane factories and museums. Feeling a little saturated with airplane stuff at this point, we flew out to an island instead. Arlington is in a beautiful area just north of Seattle. There's mountain scenery to the East. To the West are the Straits of San Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands.

Our destination is one of those islands. We're headed to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, but first we'll take a look at Mount Vernon, on the Skagit River. Then we flew over Anacortes, on Fidalgo Island. There's a bridge to Fidalgo Island, so many visitors never realize they've left the mainland. Founder Amos Bowman named the town for his wife, whose maiden name was Anna Curtis. But everything else around here seems to have a Spanish name, so he changed the spelling to fit in. If you can remember Anna Curtis, you can pronounce Anacortes.

A few minutes later, here's Friday Harbor. You can see the town, just beyond the first harbor. The airport is in this picture too, but the runway is oriented left-to-right, so it's hard to see. The airport property starts just below center frame and runs to about the middle of the frame. As you can see, it's only a short walk to town.

The first building to notice is not a control tower – there's no air traffic control at Friday Harbor. This building belongs to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, who want a good look at every airplane and crew to show up here. The airport is only seven miles from the Canadian border. We didn't arrive from Canada, so we kept on going. We'll deal with Customs soon enough on this trip.

We tied down in an obvious place on the northwest side of the airport. This is the side were you will find Customs, the passenger terminal, and Ernie's Café. On the way out, we noticed another transient parking area on the northeast side of the airport. This looks like it would halve the time to walk into town.

There's a VOR in the region called Whatcom. Like all VORs, it has a three-letter identifier: HUH. Linguists have recently started to think that HUH is a universal word, understood in all languages. Huh?

We were a few days too early for Arco's Atomic Days, and we were here a week too soon for Friday Harbor's airport open house. Some people are always late to the party. How did we end up early?

We walked by some artwork on the way into town. There are a lot of moving parts in the first one. It definitely got our attention as we passed by.

The Camperdown Elm, or weeping elm, presides over the Robin's Nest, a garden and gift shop on Spring Street. This tree is believed to be over 130 years old, but nobody knows for sure just who planted it and when.

In Dundee, Scotland, in the middle of the 19th century, a forester employed by the Earl of Camperdown discovered a mutant, contorted branch growing along the ground. He grafted this branch to the trunk of a Wych or Scotch elm. The weeping form is a natural characteristic of the grafted, upper part of the tree. It's not trained that way, and would not be possible from the rootstock alone. This tree cannot reproduce. Every Camperdown elm in the world is part of the very first one from that Scottish forest, and must be grafted to a Wych elm tree to get started. As the graft grows, the Wych elm branches are cut off, until finally there are only Camperdown branches.

We didn't find the Camperdown elm right away, but we stumbled on a couple of interesting specimens while we looked for it. This huge tree is in front of a county building. Its leaves and nuts look like hickory; but the shape is odd for a hickory, and this tree also has a "weeping" aspect. Its drooping branches make abundant shade, a welcome relief on this hot, windless day.

This was our first encounter with a madrona tree, named for the Spanish word madroño (strawberry) because of its red bark. This species grows only on the "wet side" of the Cascades, from northern California to British Columbia — where it is called Arbutus. We don't know it yet, but we're going to see some spectacular examples of this tree pretty soon.

We spent some time at the historical museum, which documents life on San Juan Island in the late nineteenth century.

They rotate displays in the main house from time to time. For summer 2013, the theme is Victorian weddings.

Mainly, the visitor gets a peek at daily life here, 150 years ago.

These flatirons are over the door between kitchen and parlor.

Half a dozen more buildings are on the museum grounds. The barn was closed for reconstruction, but the carriage house was open.

There's a little building called "Living History" that has some antique word processors …

… and an old switchboard.

The first, smaller building is a milk house. The larger one behind it was the San Juan County Jail. The jail is solid. A Friday Harbor man once tried to help a friend escape from here. He backed his truck up to the window, hooked a chain to the bars, and pulled.
Nothing happened.

The jail still holds a couple of model prisoners. Well, they're models, anyway.

About the time Friday Harbor was growing, the Hudson Bay Company imported large numbers of men from Hawaii, as a cheap source of labor. These laborers were called Kanaka, a Hawaiian word that means, simply, man. At first, only Hawaiians used the term, to refer to one another. When white people used the word, it was usually derogatory.

Many of these men married Indian women. Several generations later, their descendants can still be seen in British Columbia and Washington. Joe Nuanna was the child of one such marriage. He was a small, thin man, known around town as Kanaka Joe.

William Fuller went missing while British troops were being evacuated in 1872. Several days later, a search party found his body under a pile of large, heavy rocks. He had been shot in the back of his head. Fuller's murder was still unsolved in May 1873, when this man, Harry Dwyer, was found shot to death in his field. Neighbors sent for the sheriff and hurried to the Dwyer house, where they found his wife Selena, also dead. She had been shot and then beaten to death. All signs pointed to Kanaka Joe, who promptly fled to Victoria. He was caught and extradited to Port Townsend. While he was being held in Victoria, Joe confessed to all three murders. He was quickly convicted for them, and sentenced to hang.

These men were central in bringing Kanaka Joe to justice, if that is what happened. From left to right,

Edward Warbass, first county auditor, led the search for Kanaka Joe, and contacted Canadian authorities to arrest him in Victoria.

Charles McKay, first county commissioner, went to Victoria and persuaded Kanaka Joe to confess to the murders.

Stephen Van Buren Boyce, first county sheriff, presided over Joe Nuanna's trial and hanging.

There had never been an execution in Port Townsend before, so the entire town turned out to watch it – over two hundred people. Sheriff Boyce and his Jefferson County colleague, J.J. Van Bokkelen, led Joe to the gallows. Then something went wrong. They used a new rope, which was stiff. When Boyce knocked away the bolt to let Joe hang, the rope didn't tighten and snap the condemned man's neck as it should have. Kanaka Joe simply started choking to death. Boyce then jumped up onto Joe's shoulders, adding his own weight in an attempt to finish the deed quickly. Still, it took twenty minutes for Kanaka Joe to die.

There was never another hanging in Port Townsend.

Before leaving the museum, we went to school.

Edward Scribner, a car­penter and shipwright, built this cabin on another part of the island in 1891. It had two rooms and a sleeping loft. After twelve years, he and his wife lived there with nine children. They moved into town, where they added another three children to the fajmily in their new, larger quarters. The cabin was moved to the museum grounds in 1988. The interior furnishings are all modern reproductions built by Fred Yockers, a retired schoolteacher. Mr. Yockers channels Bert Cahail, who taught school here at the end of the 19th century. Mr. Yockers runs an outreach program, conducting occasional lessons for local students in grades 1–5. All of them dress in period clothing, and cover topics that would have been taught in 1896.

– photo from San Juan Historical Society Newsletter

The chalkboards were not decorated as fastidiously as the ones we saw at EBR-1, and it looks like the students didn't all give the teacher their full attention. Maybe he didn't deserve it. June 5, 1896, was a Friday, not a Wednesday.


Nobody really knows how Friday Harbor got its name, but that doesn't stop people from trying to explain it.

While we were at the harbor, a whale-watch cruise went out, followed by a whale watcher watcher.

Bob Sloan built this fine schooner in 1977, aiming to combine modern luxury with the elegance of 19th-century coastal schooners. He named the boat for his friend Spike Africa, a colorful character known up and down the West Coast as the "President of the Pacific Ocean."

You can book a cruise on Spike Africa if you like. Or you can do it yourself. A sign on the small boat says, "we can teach YOU to drive this rental boat."

If you arrive on a boat, this will be your first impression of Friday Harbor. →

Your second impression will be that it's all uphill.

You can ignore the hills if you rent a scoot coupe to get around. Be sure to have it back before dark, they won't let you keep it overnight.

on to Victoria

Michigan City   Sioux Falls   Billings   EBR-1   Craters of the Moon   Mount St. Helens   Copalis   Convention   Arlington   Friday Harbor   Victoria   Butchart Gardens   Chemainus   Haida Gwaii   Louise Island   Saskatoon   Munising   Pictured Rocks   References