Wednesday 11/24/21 was always a big question mark. It was the only day of the week that had any real chance to be flyable and give us the opportunity to at least go somewhere for lunch. We had hoped to at least be able to get to someplace local like Skagit (to try out the new restaurant there), Pt. Townsend, Orcas Island, Chehalis, or maybe Forks.
On Tuesday the forecast actually looked really good with only high clouds, mostly above 10K, so we got the idea that we might be able to make to Albany, Oregon fro lunch. We got up Wednesday morning and guess what? The weather wasn't as good as forecast. Who could have seen that coming. The forecast for the upper level clouds was pretty spot on, but there was also widespread fog and low clouds through the whole Puget Sound region and all the way south at least as far as Albany.
We briefly allowed ourselves to think that this would burn off and we would still be able to go. You got it, no such luck. In fact, as we were talking about it it got worse at the destination and wasn't clearing very quickly here. With the early sunsets this time of year we have a pretty narrow window to make something happen.
OK, so Plan A is a bust, let's try Plan B. Plan B was to go back to Chehalis. It's not anything spectacular, but at least it is far enough to get the engine good and warmed up and the battery charges. Carl had the foresight to call ahead and ask if the restaurant was open. Turns out it was a good thing he did. They weren't going to open until 3:00 today. Since it was only 10:30 at the time that didn't seem like a very tempting idea.
OK, Plan A and Plan B down and we haven't even left the hangar yet. We headed a few miles north the Skagit Bayview airport to try the new restaurant there. The clouds were lower than expected and it turned out to be bumpier than expected.
Approaching Skagit I called the AWOS and it said "wind Calm". Due to the general flow we planned to use 11. By the time I got there s few minutes later it was anything but calm. On base there was some pretty good wind shear and turning final the wind was really bouncing around. There are rows of trees on either side of the runway at the west and and it can (and did) get squirrelly down in there. Still, we both landed with no difficulty.
We taxied up and it immediately didn't look good. There were no signs of life coming from the restaurant. We walked up and, sure enough, they were closed today and tomorrow. Who does that? Most people close Thanksgiving and the day after, not the day before. Oh well, how about plan, wait, where are we, oh yea, Plan D, Pt. Townsend. Wait, that won't work, it is still 900 overcast at Pt. Townsend.
Now running out of alternatives, we launched for the short flight to Orcas Island to try our luck there. They were calling the wind 180 & 13. The runway we prefer, 16 (because it goes uphill) was pretty close, only 20 degrees off. Shouldn't be too bad. On the way up there however, the water looked very angry with white caps bursting all over. It seemed that the best idea was t save this one for some other day.
We climbed above the clouds and headed south. We crossed the Strait at 7,500' and headed west past Pt. Angeles. In fact, it looked like we might be able to get into Forks, but the forecast was for some pretty stiff winds directly across the runway.
From there we decided to head home. While I didn't like the idea of not getting anything to eat, at least we got to fly. That was by no means certain a couple of days before.
When we got back to Arlington the wind was 100 @7 and people were still using 34. That didn't seem like something I really wanted to do. Fortunately Carl called and asked about it and the person using 34 said he would change to 11, so Carl said he would make for 16 and so did I. From there the landing was pretty uneventful. It seemed to be much calmer around Arlington than it had been most of the other places we had been that day.
This was also the first time I had tried flying with my new GoPro Hero 10. At first, I wasn't too impressed, it quit recording shortly after I got airborne. This is apparently a pretty common problem with GoPros, all of previous ones I have used have done it. Fortunately, when I started recording out of Skagit it stayed on through the whole rest of the flight.