Yellowstone Trip Report 2003

by Paul A. Rosales

I remember reading about Yellowstone National Park and 'Old Faithful' as a kid in school, and I finally planned a trip to go see it in person. I invited the SoCAL group to join Victoria and I, and Friday, August 15th found us enroute with Laird Owens on wing. We met up over Rosamond at 0800 and flew north through the Trona Gap (between Edwards AFB and Navy China Lake) past Stovepipe Wells (Death Valley), Beatty and Tonopah, NV where I've worked many nights (since 1985) supporting the F-117 Stealth Fighter.

Once around the corner at Tonopah's restricted area, we flew direct to Jackpot, NV, home to Cactus Pete’s Casino. We fueled and continued on across the high desert.

It was fairly warm flying across the desert, and we were lucky to have a high overcast keeping it from being even hotter. We heard Redtail, Wolfman and Loner flying a parallel course east of us as they flew from Chino towards Las Vegas then northbound. Yellowtail had flown to the Sacramento area to pick up his brother, and we heard him too on frequency also flying towards Idaho Falls as were we. Some tall thunder-bumpers were visible to the northeast, though they were more of a concern for Redtail, Wolfman and Loner who eventually flew northwest to where we were to get around them. Lucky and I had to skirt a few, small showers less than 30nm of West Yellowstone (WYS) airport. Once inside of 20nm, the visibility started going down the tubes due to the numerous fires in the vicinity, including a large one on the east side of Yellowstone Lake. Visibility was less than 5nm at best and worsened as we go closer to WYS. We found the airport in the haze and landed with Redtail, Wolfman and Loner minutes behind us. Yellowtail's arrival was fun to watch as he fought a perfect, direct crosswind - he sure got a workout landing at WYS. We were greeted by Seismo and Red who'd flown in earlier from Denver, CO. They'd already staked out the on-field campsites which are located right next to the ramp. It was late afternoon, and we all were very hungry so we picked up our two (previously arranged) rental vans and headed to town, maybe 10 minutes or so. I stopped to take some pictures of the IMAX theater, main street and 'Cowboy Seismo':

We found a Tex-Mex place to eat, and following dinner, we drove to the IMAX theater to watch 'Yellowstone'. We arrived back to the airport after dark to pitch our tents.

The next morning, I awoke to find Yellowtail washing his airplane. I could understand why after seeing my plane 'caked' in soot from the nearby fires. The wind must have shifted as it was clear skies. I have to say that I gave in to 'peer-pressure' when others started washing their planes using the campsite we are on the ramp at Yellowstone cleaning the 'muck' off our planes;

We had breakfast in a nearby cafe then drove to the west entrance, which is minutes away from downtown West Yellowstone. Last Memorial Day weekend when visiting Mesa Verde National Park, I'd purchased a National Park season pass so we saved a few bucks getting into the park. The 'Chino' Van had to fork out some $$$ to get in :-) Once inside the park, we started driving the 'loop', counter-clockwise, and here are numerous pictures that were taken along the way;

We made the entire park loop over the course of the day and returned to town by sunset.I knew there was lots to see, and this trip was kind of a 'recon' trip to get a feel for the next time we visit and can stay longer! The next morning, Wolfman suggested a stop to nearby Driggs, Idaho for breakfast, and Lucky led myself/Tuppergal, Seismo/Red and Wolfman. Redtail, Yellowtail and Loner had to head back to SoCAL from WYS. After landing at Driggs, we had a great breakfast on the outside patio.

After leaving Driggs, Wolfman flew towards Smiley Creek, Idaho to get some more fishing in while Seismo/Red, Lucky and I flew one circuit around the nearby Grand Tetons. With the smoke from the fires obscuring the sky, they didn't look so grand though I did take a couple of pictures since we were there. First peak is at 11,355' and the second peak at 13,770'

Seismo/Red flew towards Denver, and we continued on over-flying the Great Salt Lake enroute to Las Vegas.

I forgot to mention that Lucky was enjoying his recently installed Altrack to supplement his Digitrak so he was able to get some reading in on the way to Vegas...

We continued into North Las Vegas (VGT) airport for lunch only to find the restaurant had closed days before...Lucky led the way to runway 12. Here's base to final, and you can see downtown Las Vegas at the end of the runway;

We decided to continue on to Rosamond where we had a great dinner at the Golden Cantina Restaurant (on-field). We then put the plane away and Lucky flew the last 20 minutes home to Whiteman (WHP) near Burbank. We put approximately 11 hours on the plane for the 3-day weekend which was about 5 hours there, 5 hours back and an hour of boring holes in the sky :-) We had another GREAT time traveling with GREAT friends in GREAT planes!

Keep poundin’ them rivets: It's ALL worth it! Paul & Victoria

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