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This is a collection of my blog entries related to short or long trips I, or Jennifer and I went on.
I have some master pages for some specific locations/trips:

Paris over many years | Australia over many years | Canada over many years | Japan over multiple trips | Italy in 2011 | France in 2013 | Indonesia in 2013 | Japan in 2013 | Japan in 2014 | Taiwan in 2014 | Indonesia in 2014 | New Zealand in 2015 | Japan in 2015 | Costa Rica in 2015 | Singapore in 2016 | South Korea in 2016 | Japan in 2016 |

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2005/12/11 A car-less week in Santa Monica
π 2005-12-11 20:15 by Merlin in Flying, Trips

My goal was to fly to the Google Santa Monica office, and spend a week in LA without a car. Since the office was across the runway, I just took my skateboard and flew there. It was cool to have actually spent an entire week without renting a car in LA :)


Monday:
Weather was good, and despite a not very good night, I felt that it might be the first day of me not being sick anymore (which considering how much I pushed things the previous day, is nothing but amazing).

The flight went fine, and was scenic. I got in Santa Monica airport 2H20 later, but I never had to go through security, didn't have to check my luggage in, go back to the carousel, and hope it was there for me, I just tied the plane down, took my stuff and my skateboard, and skated to work, almost across the street (it was slightly more complicated than that as it was also across the runway)
My landing was a bit rought, I flared high even though I know better (while I was fine when I started the flight, I did get a bit tired by the end), and dropped a bit when the plane settled on the runway (no bounce though)




161 knots ground speed (185mph/300kph), sweet!



The rest of the pictures from that flight are here


Tuesday:
By then I was doing fine, maybe LA weather cured me :)
I just worked and gave the first one of my 3 talks.
Commute to work from the hotel was a 5mn skateboard ride. Sweet!


Wednesday:
That evening, I biked to Santa Monica promenade for some sightseeing and a couple of crèpes à Café crèpe, while watching some new episodes of Top Gear and Fifth Gear on my laptop


Thursday:
Before going to work to give my 3rd talk, I took the bike that one of my coworkers nicely lent me, and went biking the Santa Monica boardwalk end to end.
It was nice and quiet.





The pictures from that ride are here


Friday:
I used the morning time to do a flight to Santa Catalina. Since I heard that one needed a checkout to go there, and flying through LA and over LAX could be tricky if not done exactly right, I elected to go there with a local instructor.
I figured it was cheap insurance, and I don't regret it.
I flew right over the LAX runways, made it to Catalina, and had a buffalo burger at the restaurant by the airport, and did a few patterns there. It was interesting practising there due to the crosswind, downdraft on final, and holes in the runway :)















The rest of the pictures from that flight are here


Saturday:
Since I got invited for the Santa Monica Google christmas party, I had saturday to kill, so I figured I would go to Universal Studios again, since I hadn't gone in quite a while (about 8 years).
I found a coworker to go with, which came in handy since I didn't have a car, and we showed up there around 09:45, about 45mn after opening time, which wasn't too bad (I'm a being there a 09:00 sharp to take advantage of the whole park, guy, but it's about being a bit flexible).
Well, my resolve was going to be tested further, my friend forgot his pre-printed ticket in the car before walking to the park, so he had to go back to get it.
Since it had taken us a while to walk to the park, I knew it was going to take a while, but I figured I'll just let him go fetch the ticket while looking around the universal city boardwalk. I figured, no reason for me to trail him back to the car. Problem is that he had no idea where he had parked the car (as in what parking complex it was in), and he kind of neglected to tell me that. Long story short, another 45mn later we were in the park after he came back a long time after he left, telling me he was lost, and I took him back to were we were parked to fetch the ticket.
On one side, I was a bit peeved to have lost about 2H of park time by the time we got in because I decided to be social, but in the other hand it was a good excercise in testing my cool and putting things back in perspective. In the end, due to the park not being too crowded (december), and "front of the line" passes, we got to see all of it anyway.
My rating of universal is ok. A couple of attractions were a little lame, while most others were decent to good (I was also somewhat partial to the blues brothers revival since I'm a big fan, see the video clips in the picture library)














The Mitsubishi Eclipse from the Fast and the Furious

The rest of the pictures and videos from Universal Studios are here


Saturday Night:

Then, that evening I went to the local google christmas party at the silent movie theatre in Hollywood. It was my first time seeing a black and white cartoon and a Laurel and Hardy movie in a theatre with a real pianist playing to the pictures. Quite nice...
Some of my coworkers also made a few short movies reacting well known movie scenes, but changing the topic on the lack of swag that they get. That was quite funny.





The other pictures, and video are here


Sunday:
Sunday was time to fly back to Palo Alto.
I snuck in the airport from the main entrance (on the wrong side of the runway) so that I could skateboard around the vehicle taxiway (not the plane taxiway) around the airport so that I didn't have to do the much longer loop outside the airport (especially as it went way downhill and uphill, which with a big backpack and a skateboard wasn't something I wanted to do).
When I was almost all the way around, I could see an airport vehicle, probably alerted by the tower guys, who was driving towards me, probably to find out why a wacko was skateboarding around the airport :)
He did go away when he saw that I reached my plane, and was loading and preflighting.

The flight was interesting since there were a few different things wrong with the airplane that I found during preflight, or found out about during flight, some more minor than others:
  • one of the fuel gauges didn't seem to work and always showed full (I just had to make sure I knew how much fuel I was using, how much I had, and rely on the other tank's gauge for computation)
  • The CHT (cylinder head temperature) gauge looked like it didn't work (not too important as long as I made sure to keep track of oil temperature, and EGT)
  • One of the doors had a tendency to half unlatch during flight, but thankfully not to the point that it would open
  • The front landing gear strut was very low and didn't look like it would absorb anything but a fairly soft landing
  • The engine seemed to burn a quart of oil per flight (ok, I made sure I had extra oil to carry and would top up/check the level each time)
  • The airspeed indicator was acting up a bit. This one is touchy as it is a reason it itself not to fly the plane. Luckily, it was only sluggish on takeoff and would show 0 speed until I hit 40-50 knots, but it worked fine in flight and slower speed on landing. Otherwise, I had the backups of using the GPS indicated ground speed, and my eyes (which I'm ok with during the day)


While I would regularly have made the return flight at night, with the above list of things not quite working, it was just not a good idea.
For instance:

  • even with GPS backup and lights, losing your airspeed indicator at night just isn't that great
  • Having a fuel gauge go bad, and maybe have the other one get stuck mid way, and then the engine use twice as much fuel as you had planned, would have dire consequences. Sure, I'm reaching a bit here, but doing a forced landing at night because you ran out of fuel is not something you every want to have to do.

The flight itself went fine, it was a little less than 2H30. When I arrived in Palo Alto, I knew I had to be very gentle on the front gear, so I did a low approach at short field speeds (60 knots), full flaps, and landed with power to do the softest soft field landing I could, and indeed, it was probably one of my best soft field landings, which made sure I would not abuse the little travel left in the gear strut.
(this is another one where if the winds hadn't be calm, I would have had to cancel the flight, or redirect the landing destination elsewhere instead of chancing a possibly very rough landing on a possibly not well working strut)





The rest of the pictures from that flight are here

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