A Falco Pilgrimage,
Chino to Oshkosh

Day 5: Lander to Jackson WY
At 7:30 we were rolling down Lander's runway 03. Another high altitude takeoff so I just gently let SMR lift itself off and climb very slowly while it gathered energy. The density altitude was 7000'. Interesting stuff for us sea levellers.

Anyhow, in moments we were heading West again and making a slow climb to 10500. Another issue we are noticing are highish cylinder head temperatures though our tour of the USA. I like to climb it very slowly with an indicated airspeed of about 120 knots. It keeps the temps down and you make reasonable forward progress while having a good visibility over the snout. It seems to work out well. The climb rate isn't high like that but we don't need it either.

Starting the big climb into Jackson

The flight up the valley toward Dubois was very pretty with some terrific colours in the rocks and soils.

On climb to Jackson hole

We slowly climbed the little machine up to 10500', the highest it had ever been. The granite was stretching skyward so ten five was about as low as we could get over the rock. The top of the saddles we flew over were quite remarkable in that while it was high, it looked like fairly flat land with trees, grass and streams.

10,500 feet, SMR has never been this high

No sooner than we got to 10500' and we were on our way back down again in order to join the circuit at 7600' without being at warp factor 10. The controller at Jackson seemed perplexed that the foreign registered aircraft was so small. I guess he's used to a lot of executive jet traffic.

First view of the Tetons

After touch-down we were guided into a park with all the big money. Obviously Jackson Hole is popular with the rich. We can always pretend I guess.

With the big boys in Jackson

The FBO staff were great but since we weren't really used to the idea, and I still don't really understand it, we did most of the 'putting the aircraft to bed' ourselves. The staff just chatted and gave us a lift to the FBO building.

We signed up with the FBO and walked up to the terminal to get our car.

Breakfast in Jackson

The bartender from the night before had given us a great tip for a breakfast spot so we headed that way. What a great spot. A stunning view of the Tetons, the mountain range peaks that enclose the western edges of the valley, while eating pancakes. Nice!

Central Jackson

We went for a bit of a drive after breakfast to find our hotel, even though it was too early to check in then went for a look at Jackson town.

What a cool little town. It is very much cowboy country with wooden sidewalks and all the old style buildings. The more modern buildings are more of an alpine style of log and stone. It's a shame they let cars through as it really would be awesome if they closed it out for vehicles and set more of a cowboy theme in the town center. Still, despite the opportunity lost, it's fun.

The scenery is certainly very beautiful. What I say next is not meant in any way to detract from this but is more of a description for NZ readers. The feel is a lot like the Southern Alps of New Zealand. One of the peaks of the Tetons could easily be Mt. Aspiring. While they are obviously taller, the basin elevation is higher also so it appears similar in height to Mt. Aspiring. One river running through the valley could easily be the Kawarau River. The area is a lot bigger and has a more wide open feel to it. It is also a lot hotter than anywhere in the southern Alps would achieve.

Sara and Hurricane Elizabeth

I think we were both getting a bit punch drunk with all the sights and scenery that we had seen. It had been a great primer for future holidays, but I think we wouldn't truly understand it all until we've had a chance to reflect.

The rest of the day was spent wandering the street taking in the atmosphere before a few drinks with Alfred's daughter Sara and her family. It was fun meeting her daughter Elizabeth. She obviously keeps Sara, Stephen and probably Alfred entertained and on their toes.

We were both looking forward to a great sleep in our fancy separate rooms. Big comfy beds, flat screen TV, you name it. But did it happen? Nope. I had a fairly broken sleep and Darryn reported similar. I was awake at 05:00 so I had a look at the weather. I was ready to go by 06:20 so I rang Darryn, and he was ready to go, too. We headed for the airport. It was a touch chilly at eight degrees at that time of the morning. Typical alpine weather.

The rental car girl said it was beautiful at the airport at 5 AM as there was a big thunderstorm brewing West of the Tetons with the lightning adding to the beauty. I wasn't that impressed as I could see the storm moving closer so we were keen to split ASAP yet again.




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