Pandora Moving Services, part 3
This is part of a 5 part series on my adventures helping my friend move. Check out part 1 and start there!
Our plan Saturday morning was to get up at 4:30am, get to the airport by 5:30am, and get off the ground as soon as it was light. Remember, that we were doing this to avoid all of the heat of the day. Also, today was going to be the day that I helped pack all of @norintha's things. Hopefully, we would get to Denver before the weather got too exciting, land, and start packing. Unfortunately, reality had a few hiccups on the way to accomplishing this.
Trouble getting out
The first problem we had was that @coda didn't get any sleep that night. They were up all night long and didn't sleep for a minute. This made getting up that morning a bit more challenging than it could have been.
The next problem we faced was getting back onto the airport. As I mentioned in part 2, we could not easily find any way off the airport that gave us a way to get back on, and we were too tired and hungry to spend too much time searching.
The only thing we did find was this:
Yeesh. $200. Well... Looks like we were waiting until 6am after all... But after a few minutes where I stared at the barbed wire fence around the airport and considered ways to jump the fence... I decided to call the $200 callout number and tell whoever answered that I didn't want them to “come out” and cost me $200 or whatever, and just wanted to know how to get onto the airport.
Luckily, the person that answered the phone had a good answer! He gave us directions to a special door with a keypad, and the code to get in. It was already 5:45am, but we were gonna get out early after all!
A quiet morning
The takeoff was unremarkable, and afterwards, @coda slept/dozed while I flew for about 3 hours. The terrain I saw was breathtaking.
This was just west of the great salt flats. Just gorgeous mountains.
Now starting to fly over the Great Salt Lake of Utah.
More of the Great Salt Lake.
The mountains just to the east of the salt lake. Continuing east.
Beautiful terrain over Wyoming
More Wyoming terrain. That state is so beautiful.
Here's the track route for this segment of the journey
Time for things to get messy
As we got within an hour or so of Denver, @coda woke up and started getting ready to fly. I could see up ahead that we had some weather brewing, and having my “autopilot” ready was quite important.
Up ahead, near the city of Cheyenne Wyoming, storms were a brewing. Down near Fort Collins, a thunderstorm had developed next to the mountains. Little bits of it seemed to be breaking off to the north and heading towards Cheyenne, then east. With @coda behind the controls, I turned my attention back to all the sources of information at my disposal: ATC, Flight Service, and ADS-B NexRAD weather.
The closer we got, the worse it looked. The rain was thickening up more and more. I searched for a way in, and saw a path where the NexRAD was showing a gap we might be able to fly through. It lead roughly from the Pine Bluffs airport to the Gill VOR. As we flew closer and closer, I heard and watched another airplane successfully navigate that path going the other direction. I figured we should go for it.
However, as we got closer, the rain to the south looked more like a wall, and no gap was found. Talking to ATC, they suggested we continue east into Nebraska and turn south around Kimball, Nebraska. This deviation added at least 30 minutes to our flight, but it got us around the worst of the weather.
We continued our descent into Denver. I'd like to say that my landing at Rocky Mountain Airport was nice, but it really wasn't. Perhaps because of the high altitude or perhaps because of my exhaustion, I wound up bouncing it down the runway. Ah well. Any landing you can walk away from, right? 😆
Our course wound up looking like this
Down in the Valley
After landing and securing the airplane, I met up with my coworker Joelle who would be helping us out with her truck. @coda hopped a taxi/uber/lyft into downtown to spend some time on the town while Joelle and I started a 2 hour drive north into the Denver Mountains
The drive was beautiful and rustic. Joelle's truck got covered in dirt and grime. We arrived at the house and helped @norintha pack her things.
With the truck loaded up, @norintha said her goodbyes, then we left to go back towards the airport.
Back at the airport
Wouldn't you know it, as we were heading back to the airport, another thunderstorm started to brew up just southwest of the airport. Being in a truck, and not a plane, made this infinitely safer, but it looked like it would be a pain in the butt loading the airplane with all the stuff while it rained. Also, the rain storm kinda looked like some sort of Pac-Man trying to eat the airport, IDK.
Luckily, we somehow managed to arrive just in time. The composite radar showed rain descending over the runways only but nothing was hitting the ground, and we were north of the runways on the ramp. We drove out onto the ramp and quickly loaded up the plane. @coda had even finished hanging out in the city and came back to help out and get dinner with us afterwards.
Somehow, we managed to get all the crap in the plane before any rain fell on our heads. I carefully weighed each box and calculated the weight and balance for the airplane with each box, making sure that all the boxes met the appropriate weight requirements for flying in each location they were in. It was wild seeing the plane so full to the gills with all that stuff, but it also felt really neat.
The plane finished, we decided to get dinner near the airport. I did a yelp search and saw a British pub basically on the airport grounds! We drive over there in Joelle's car and had a delicious British dinner. It was worth it. All 4 of us were exhausted from all of the work and travel that day.
After dinner, I looked up where our hotel was. I knew it was near the airport, as it was another “free” hotel I got in walking distance so we could get out early in the morning again. As we walked back to Joelle's truck, I discovered that we were... already there. The pub we just ate at was literally the restaurant for the hotel we were staying at. I waited until we were at the truck and pretended to give directions for how to get to our hotel. “Okay, what you're gonna wanna do is... stay right here. We're here!”
@coda departed the party and went to the Denver International Airport to catch a commercial flight home. @norintha and I tucked into the quaint English-themed hotel. The bed was soft and while I didn't get a full 8 hours, I definitely got a really good night's sleep.