Michigan City Sioux Falls Billings EBR-1
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
– 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.
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."
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