Colorado Getaway


With the fall rush mostly behind us, and a 4-day weekend with no school, we were in need of a great stress relieving weekend. We didn't want to take any additional school days off, so that limited us to somewhere we could go and be back within 4 total days, with 2 of them partially taken up by flying.

I've always loved the mountains near Denver, but it's been years (even decades) since I've been there other than just passing through or flying by.  It was time for the kids to get a quick visit to the Rockies!  Even as an active RV flying pilot, it still amazes me what the RV-10 or other RV's for that matter, can allow us to do.  I talked to some friends about where to go, and pulled up a United States map, explaining the travel time it takes to get places in the RV-10.

When you look at where you can be in 2/4/6/8 hours, it's really truly amazing.  We've flown to Orlando, FL and been able to beat the airlines speed to get us there, because we'd have a 1.25 hour drive to the airport, a 2 hour pre-boarding delay, a baggage claim delay, and then rental car delay, and drive to destination delay to factor in.  With the RV-10 you go from your nearby home airport, directly to the closest airport to your destination.  It saves you more time than you'd believe.  Now, the times in that image are based on 160kts of airspeed, and of course we don't do over 5.5 hours or so on a leg, so you'd have to add in a fuel stop, but you can basically be anywhere in the 48 in under 10 or 12 hours, even with fuel stops.

For this particular trip, I had 4 hours as our targeted max distance, because that gave us plenty of daylight to get there and find something to do in the afternoon, and a faster trip home, which was important because the WX forecast wasn't good for later Sunday night or Monday.  This way we could enjoy Friday, Saturday, and at least some of Sunday before we'd have to bail out and head home, which is exactly what ended up happening.

Sorry that some of these photos are out of order....the timezone of the camera doesn't auto-update but the timezone of the iphone pictures does.  Below is a funny pic of what happens when 2 phones in the plane get attached to 2 different towers in different timezones.

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Departure day came and we had some excellent weather.  For some of the trip we had headwinds, and some we had tailwinds.  After taking off, we did spend a bit of time VFR on top, above a solid and broken undercast, so that was great too.  Knowing that the ceilings were fine below, and that we had plenty of fuel to fully overfly the undercast was worries about getting caught not ready to jump on an IFR plan.

We had the fuel to make the trip to the destination non-stop, but opted to swing through Sterling, CO for a quick lunch and fuel, as we knew the fuel price was a little lower, and from a prior trip we knew that they had a courtesy car and plenty of restaurants.

Funny to compare the picture by the FBO below, with this one from 2006, the first year we flew our RV-10.  Not only that, but this picture was taken at nearly the same time of the year, so that puts these pictures almost exactly 7 years apart!

 2006 vs 2013

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The flight in went great, with no turbulence by the mountains. I was amazed at how light the winds were, considering it was fall.  We took the West route around Denver, so we could fly by some mountains and see the valleys up close as we flew in.
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That night we drove down to Colorado Springs to get a hotel.  One of our trip goals was to drive up Pike's Peak (always wanted to do that) and that would be our first thing of the day.  Driving up was very awesome. The lower areas are just winding and twisty, but not extremely steep, but you would easily burn out your brakes if you didn't use low gear coming down.  Driving up further, it gets a bit more spooky, with sharp cliffs by the road, and much more steep and winding roads. As you can see below, we stopped for a quick snowball fight on the way up.
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Reaching the summit, the view is incredible at 14115' tall.  It's within 300' or so of the tallest peaks in the Rockies.  I was totally blown away by how far you could see, and of course we were winded from the high altitude.  Taking slow deliberate steps and breathing consistently helped a lot, as did the occasional stop to rest. :)
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Below is a cool panoramic picture I took from the iphone.  I was also suprised at how flat-topped the mountain is.  After a bit of time at the summit, it was time for the drive down.  This fall I bought a 2014 Chevy Volt, and I was wishing the whole time that I could be driving that can literally almost fully charge a Volt on regenerative braking along, on the descent from Pike's Peak, as I've been told by other Volt owners who've done that.   It would have been even more fun going down the hill in that car.
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As we were heading back down to the flatlands, we stopped and drove through the Garden of the Gods. This is a place we'll have to come back and spend more time at. It was a completely beautiful area with lots of great looking rocks cliffs, spurs, balanced boulders, deer, and trees.  Lots of people were in this area and I can see it would be a great recreation area to have in your back yard.  I may have to consider moving out that way some day if job situations change for me.
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Our primary activity planned for the trip was Indoor Skydiving in Denver.  We'd done this in Vegas, but it didn't compare to the great wall-to-wall air setup that Denver has!   We booked our time and everyone had a blast!  This has got to be one of the most absolute fun activities our family has ever done.  We do plan to skydive for real some day, but I think as I get on other trips, I'll try to book 1/2 hour blocks in some other skydive areas so that we can do more of this.  Here are some pictures of the indoor skydiving.  I highly recommend everyone do this!

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The rest of the trip was uneventful....we hung out at a local park, saw some prairie dogs, and had a great flight home...making it in about 4 hours with a combined headwind/tailwind situation again.

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