02/09/03 Family camping trip

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Finally the stars aligned and we were able to take a couple of days and a night to do some wilderness camping. Now, any place where there’s an airport and where I’m willing to take the family isn’t true wilderness, but the place we picked out came as close as can be. The airport of choice was Gravelly Valley, which lays a little north of Clear Lake and approximatly 125 miles north of SF. We couldn’t bring a whole lot of stuff because of space and weight reasons. What we decided we needed fitted easily into the plane. The kids weren’t in the best of moods but we arrived after an hour and change (or is that an hour and chance :-)
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Gravelly valley is a one way strip, which means that you land in one direction and takeoff in the other. A strip becomes a one way strip if there’s a significant slope or if there’s terrain (meaning hills) on one side. You don’t want to takeoff and fly directly into a mountain. In this case it was terrain. The good news is that the runway is 4000 ft, which is almost 3000 feet more that I would normally need. You cannot fly a straight in approach, again because of terrain. The easiest is to descent to pattern altitude (2700 ft), slow waay down (65 knots) and make a right base entry over the lake onto the strip.

While overflying the field we saw the campground, and other than that there wasn’t anything. PG&E (the local energy company) maintains the strip and the campground. After landing, we parked the plane at the end of the runway and to the left. We than walked to find the campling location. We parked the plane too far from the camping, so Michael and I walked back in soaring temparatures to fetch the plane. After npacking and setting up the tent we were basically exhausted. Sun down provided us with lower temps. Staying the night in a small tent proved cosy. Next morning breakfast in Clear Lake and back to Palo Alto.

-Roger