Amid the global pandemic of Covid-19, we had been cooped up for several months doing our part towards social distancing. We decided to expand our social bubble from basically 0 to include a few of my family in Arizona. I got my IFR rating recently and what better way to put it to use than to fly across the entire country! We took off from Calhoun and touched down in Texas long enough to fuel up then off we went again. We lucked out and had a tailwind most of the way going westbound, something that has never happened for us before. We found a super cheap fuel stop at Graham Municipal (KRPH) for $2.55 per gallon, so that was our first stop. We also ended up stopping in Demming, AZ (KDMN) to fuel up again with cheaper fuel, although we could have made it to Tucson without the extra stop thanks to the lack of headwinds. With my newfound confidence to speak with ATC, I requested a transition through the Tucson airspace to our final destination Ryan Field (KRYN). We were cleared and got to fly directly over Davis Monthan AFB and Tucson International. It was a great view!
We stayed several nights with my grandparents and enjoyed their company immensely. Lucy and my grandparent's dog, Sam, are best friends and loved playing together again. We had nice long walks early in the morning with Grandpa, had big breakfasts and yummy dinners, and enjoyed dice, dominoes, and red wine with Grandma :) It's so wonderful spending time with them.
For almost the entirety of our trip, Brandi and I continued our remote work by waking each morning around 4:30 am (7:30 am EST) and working our 8 hours, which left us done and ready to enjoy the rest of the day after lunch. My Aunt has a house in the beautiful Star Pass area that she was kind enough to let us stay in while she was out of town, so after several days of amazing breakfasts and dinners with my grandparents, we drove over about 10 minutes to our temporary home away from home. We bounced all around to my aunts, sisters, mom, and grandparents each afternoon after work and enjoyed their company. Lucy swam nearly every day and by the end of our adventure, she went from not very good at swimming to diving down to the bottom of the deep end! We spent a lot of time hanging out with my sister and fam and it was so much fun wrenching on my BroInLaw's motorcycle project, swimming, playing backgammon, etc!
I took 3 separate scenic flights around the Tucson area with different family members that wanted to go flying and it was really cool to sightsee the area. It's so beautiful out west and the visibility and terrain are unrivaled. Of particular aviation interest, we buzzed Pinal Airpark, which housed what must have been hundreds of airliner jets that were idle.
We originally set out to spend a couple of weeks out there, but we ended up extending our visit to a month! It went by really fast and was a very relaxing semi-vacation. We barely used any vacation time since we worked nearly every day, but with all the free time in the afternoons and visiting family, it seemed like a vacation. When we finally decided to head back home it just so happened that my friend Kyle's son was with his grandparents near Sulphur Springs, TX and we were able to help them out by giving him a ride back home. Lucy and Alex had fun playing in the back seat and making a bunch of noise. Thank God for intercom crew mode! We dodged some big storm cells en-route home and again the IFR paid off and made for a much less stressful journey. The kids got a big kick out of us flying through a little patch of clouds, a recent addition to our flying thanks to the new rating.
Here are some more photos from our trip