June 22 - July 6, 2011 - Santa Fe Trail -- Southwest Trip

Five years ago I flew the Oregon Trail in the Citabria.  Last year I retraced Lewis & Clark's journey up the Missouri River in the RV all the way to Idaho.  This year would be the Santa Fe Trail.  In addition, I would fly some of the southwest, a part of the country I've never really seen before.  For years and years I have wanted to see Monument Valley so that was definately on the list. 

I used Bill White's book "The Oregon Trail by Airl" to fly the Oregon Trail back in 2006.  He also has a book called "The Santa Fe Trail by Air" which I used extensively in preparation for this trip.  In fact, about six months ago Bill White himself emailed me to say he had enjoyed reading my Oregon Trail web log.  I told him I wanted to fly the Santa Fe trail and he emailed me an updated version of the Santa Fe trail waypoints, which were much more extensive that what was in the book.  I loaded them all into my GPS and they really made the trip. 

A year ago, my Mom gave me a book called "Thunder and Blood" by Hampton Sides.  It was an extremely interesting and well-written book about the history of the American southwest.  I'm sorry to say my history knowledge about this part of the country was pretty weak.  I greatly enjoyed learning about the southwest.  This book was really the inspiration for this trip. 

Pilot Getaways magazine was a source of many ideas for the trip:  I have most of their issues and there were articles on Santa Fe, Gallup, Sedona, Page, the Grand Canyon, and Stearman Field.  The articles give great ideas on where to stay, what to do, where to eat, how to get around, and how to fly in. 

It took me awhile to plan this trip.  It was complex -- there was a lot I wanted to see and do. 

Gradually the plan evolved into this:  I would fly the Santa Fe Trail in the RV to Santa Fe.  Lynnette would fly commercial to Albuquerque where we would link up.  Then we would spend four days touring the southwest, using the RV to travel from place to place:  Gallup, Monument Valley, Sedona and Phoenix.  Next we would visit my parents in Sacramento, California.  Lynnette would fly there on commercial and I would fly the RV -- checking out the Grand Canyon and flying the California Coast -- enroute.  After a few days in Sacramento I would fly the RV back to Maryland.  


Click on the following links to see what I saw:

  • June 22 :  Essex Skypark to Booneville, Missouri
  • June 23: Boonville to Great Bend, Kansas
  • June 24 : Great Bend to Raton, New Mexico
  • June 25 : Raton to Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • June 26 : Santa Fe 
  • June 27 : Santa Fe to Chinle, Arizona - Canyon De Chelly
  • June 27 : Chinle to Gallup, New Mexico - Painted Desert/Petrified Forest
  • June 28 : Gallup to Monument Valley, Utah
  • June 29 : Monument Valley to Sedona, Arizona
  • June 30 : Sedona to Mesa to Page to Boulder, Nevada  - Grand Canyon
  • July 1 : Boulder to Santa Paulo, California
  • July 1 : Santa Paulo to Sacramento, California - California Coast
  • July 5 : Sacramento to Red Oak, Iowa
  • July 6 : Red Oak to Essex Skypark, Maryland



As with my previous two long trips, I was lucky with the weather, and was able to fly the plan just as I had planned it. 

One big advantage I had on this trip over the 2006 Oregon Trail was the RV's speed and performance.  The RV was literally twice as fast as the Citabria.  Which allowed me to do a lot more than I could have in the Citabria.  We were able to get to places like Monument Valley, Gallup and Sedona by 9AM, which gave us the entire day to sightsee. 

The RV's ability to easily climb over any mountains along the route was very nice.

Finally, unlike in 2006, I had on-board weather, SPOT, which allowed family and friends to know where I was at all times and AOPA directory on-GPS.  These technologies were extremely nice to have and made the flight much more pleasurable.   On the ground, I used weathermeister.com  and airnav.com for weather and flight-planning respectfully.