Friday, December 3, 2010

Spearfish and Devils Tower

Spearfish, SD and
Devils Tower, WY

Flown:  July 27-29, 2001
Aircraft:  Piper Arrow - N106AW
Approximate round trip mileage: 648nm
Approximate flying time:  6:30

    This turned out to be our last trip in a rented aircraft.  An airplane that sadly would meet its end in the mountains of Utah a couple of years later.  It was also the trip that helped narrow down our choice of aircraft to buy.  Up to this point we'd flown in a Cessna 182 and were pretty happy with it, but I  was also considering buying an Arrow.  This trip would help decide it, and on the way home Brig made it clear she preferred the 182, a month later we bought one. Reasons given were visibility (not as good with the low wing) and interior space (better with the Cessna).  But we had a great trip with this airplane anyway.

    This was our first combination flying/camping trip.  First we flew over the Badlands of South Dakota, it was alright, but not much compared to what we'd seen prior over the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell.  Then we flew towards Mt. Rushmore, it was smaller than we'd thought it'd be and not as easy to find, but was still impressive.  Just west of that was the Crazy Horse monument, still being built.  That was large and easy to find.  We then landed in Spearfish, SD and were greeted by some nice people and a rental car.

From there we drove to Devils Tower, but were delayed as Interstate 90 was nothing but dirt in some places and under construction in others.  Finally we arrived at the KOA campground at the base of Devils Tower, pretty weird to be up close to something that you've only seen in pictures and movies.  Every night they played "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", which was filmed there, and it was funny to watch people turn around during the movie and look up at Devils Tower, expecting to see UFO's.  It was pretty ominous, looming over the campground at night.  It got so dark there, Anthony and I saw what we could only figure were orbiting satellites.  They were too fast and high and underlit to be airplanes.  They pretty much looked like distant moving stars.

    After our stay at the campground we drove back to Spearfish and flew home.  On our way we diverted and flew right over Devils Tower.  Anthony expected it to be hollow on top like a volcano, but it's flat.  Pretty uneventful flight home, except for Brig's demand for a C182, which I was more than happy to comply with.