My next stop was Cortez Colorado. After refueling and a short nap I took off to see how far I could get. I was hoping to make Santa Fe but the expected storms did indeed form and by late in the afternoon they formed a pretty solid wall just to the east of Four Corners Airport. I decided that I would try to through a large hole in the line until I saw some cloud to ground lightning all along the line. I thought that perhaps by this time, it was now about 5:00 PM, that they would be dying down and all I was seeing was some remaining rain. As that was not the case I make a quick 180, called Four Corner’s tower and within about 15 minutes I was on the ground.
Tonight was to be another first for me. I actually got a hotel room! The nice young lady at the airport offered me a courtesy car and their crew discount on a room and I could not resist. I was just too disgustingly dirty to pass up that offer. While filling out the form for the courtesy car I realized that I had left my cell phone in Cortez Colorado. Oh well, what to do. I called back to Cortez, they found the phone and put it where I could get to it early in the morning. Nothing else I could do. I greatly enjoyed having a room and my first real shower since Chico California over a week ago. I was also able to take a swim and wash all of my clothes and get a really good night’s sleep.
The next morning I was at the airport to see the sun rise and was airborne shortly thereafter. I flew back to Cortez, retrieved my phone and headed east. It was a beautiful flight and although I was upset at the time, now, looking back about a month later, I realize it was nothing but a little avgas and time. I made it to Santa Fe and had a snack in their airport cafe. I think my departure out of Santa Fe was my highest density altitude takeoff so far. About 9000 feet more or less. I have to say that the tower controller I dealt with there was about the nicest I dealt with on my entire trip. The worst you ask? San Carlos airport in the San Francisco Bay area. Just sayin’.
Shortly after departing Santa Fe I flew through some rain showers that were the remnants of the previous day’s storms. I even chose to fly through the edge of one of the rain plumes just to clean off some of the dust. Seemed to help and it sure was fun.
My next stop was Plainview Texas. About an hour before arriving at Plainview the mountains and canyons of the west gave way to the high plains. Covered with thousands of circles of irrigated land. Flat and otherwise dry. In Plainview I borrowed the courtesy car and went into town for lunch and then took a short nap. Keeping a close watch on my cell phone. I realized that I got a call during my nap the day before in Cortez and then just put the phone on the arm of the recliner before drifting off back to sleep. That is where they airport manager found it. No repeats needed.
After departing Plainview it started to sink in that this was it. The trip was all but over. I was going to spend a couple of nights in Denton Texas with my daughters before heading back to Coulter Field but this was really the last leg of the trip. So here is one last picture of me. Scruffy, but clean! I actually spent some time flying S-turns along my route and some other nonsense I won’t comment on. Perhaps I was trying to lengthen the trip if even by just a little.
I arrived back at Coulter Field a few days later with lots to do. Only a few days left before departing for South America. This photo was taken a couple of days after arriving home. I had just done an oil change and wanted to burn off a little more fuel before putting Niner-Zero away for a few months. That was my excuse anyway.
Here she is, half folded and put away until I return. With the wing folded it is easier for my hangar partner to work on his airplane. With both wings folded I could just put her on a trailer and take her back to my garage. But, it is not going to be that long. Thanks for all of the encouraging comments and emails. It’s been fun! I hope to head back out next summer and do it again!