Saturday 11/20/21 was the best day we have seen in a while. There were still a lot of clouds around, but it wasn't windy and it wasn't raining, so we decided to try for lunch. Carl had already called the restaurant at Chehalis and they were indeed going to b open, so we once again sallied forth, etc., etc.
I don't know how we survived in the days before ForeFlight. We were able to get a look at the satellite picture and saw that though there were a lot of clouds around, there were also a lot of holes. We would make the trip on top of the clouds, because it is usually smoother up there. There looked like a number of holes to the south and west of Chehalis, so we should have no trouble. There were big holes over the water north of Olympia, but Olympia itself was calling it 1,500 overcast, so we really didn't want to mess around below the clouds.
Climbing out of Arlington it looked a little dicey as there was a higher layer of clouds above the layer I was climbing through. At first, I couldn't tell how much room was between the two layers, but once I got a little higher I could see the tops of the Olympics, so it was obvious the upper layer was higher than it appeared.
I had to go up to 6,500' to clear the clouds, so that meant staying to the north of the Class B instead of going under. As we got to the west side of the sound, over by Bremerton, it became clear that there were a lot of clouds, but the sound itself was clear, so there were options if it didn't clear up as it was supposed to further south. I was surprised, and quite pleased, at how smooth the air was.
The clouds weren't really all that thick and in many places I could see the ground through the clouds. Getting closer to Olympia, it was looking like the clouds were getting thicker and higher about where we wanted to be. I still couldn't really see any holes, but once I got south of Olympia, there was a big hole between Olympia and Chehalis, so I started down.
The wind was light so I briefly entertained the thought of going straight in to 16, but soon heard other traffic calling in for 34. No matter, I was really too high for a straight in to 16 anyway and could use the extra space to descend and slow down.
There was a good bit of traffic at Chehalis, but I managed to find a space where I was well separated from anyone else. I made it down, but couldn't quite make the first turn off. I thought about turning around and back taxiing a couple hundred feet, but I was in no real hurry and went to the next turn off.
We got to the restaurant to find that it was open just like they said it would be. We got pretty good service and were in and out in pretty good time.
We had been watching the weather while we waited, worrying a little that the holes in the clouds might close up and make getting home more difficult. The satellite picture seemed to show just that, so we headed out straight home with a few contingency plans in place in case the holes we expected didn't materialize.
Shortly after we took off we could see that the area between Chehalis and Olympia was much more open than when we came in, but it was still pretty dark and foreboding to the north, particularly around the Olympics. Once we got past the sub base though, it was clear that there was nothing to worry about and there would be no trouble getting home. The satellite picture doesn't really show the difference between high clouds and low clouds. What had happened was that while we were away the high clouds increased, but the low clouds dissipated. What that meant was that though there were no holes all the way through, at the altitudes we were using the sky was mostly clear of clouds.
As we came back to Arlington, there were a lot of airplanes coming in at the same time. I was afraid that the gas pumps would be crammed with people so I was planning to wait and get gas later. On downwind, I looked and was surprised to see no one at the pumps. Carl got there a little before I did but when I got there still no one else was there, so I topped off then and there.
Pictures are here.
Video is here.