Staying Ahead of the Break

Southbound on a Greyhound bus, rolling across the midsummer breadbasket green of the Salinas Valley, plugged into Dorian Michael’s lick-splitting “Staying Ahead of the Break” as my headphone soundtrack. Blue sky hangs motionless as endless acres of kale, asparagus, carrots and god-knows-what pass by under the synchronized pirouette of impossibly-long mass-agro sprinklers. There’s road enough ahead to keep us busy for as much time as we’ve got, and the day’s made for traveling.

Today I’m only going as far as San Luis Obispo. Retrieving the “family plane” from some avionics work that the folks down at KSBP have been doing to get all the boxes that go “boop” to do it together. GPS, electronic flight display, autopilot – we’ve got the works now. Not too far from the old pilots’ dream/nightmare of a plane that you roll onto the runway, push the levers forward for full power and slide the seat back for a nap – the plane will wake you when it’s time to land.

You know I like to hand-fly the plane as much as possible, but these gizmos can be really handy when you’re in pea-soup IFR getting hammered by turbulence with unhappy, airsick kids in back. That always seems to be when Center calls saying “56Y, begin immediate climb to 9537 feet, amend clearance to fly V27 to GRPFL intersection, v38472 to EKSIDFWMC intersection, v3.14159265 to Timbuktou, then as filed – please expedite…”. Yeah, it can come in handy to reduce the workload a bit.

But for the moment, this is a road trip. Southbound on 101, and all I have to do is watch the miles roll by. Sometimes that’s nice too.

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