I’ve had a few blog posts about my trips with the Flying Samaritans, but recently we flew down to Mexico, just for fun, with some good friends Kristi and Scott from Lake Tahoe. We’ve spent many powder days skiing with them, both on and off the ski resort, but we never seem to get together often enough once the ski season is over. This year was a terrible ski season, so we didn’t really see them much at all. So we thought a weekend in Mexico would be a fun way to spend some time together.
But first we had to leave. We woke up on departure day with rain and zero visibility. The forecast of “40% chance of rain with mostly cloudy skies” wasn’t happening. Even worse, I couldn’t just sneak out IFR from Placerville into the California central valley where the weather was better. I needed to fly over to South Lake Tahoe to pick up our friends and that meant snow, icing, and big rocks in the clouds. It is only a two hour round trip drive to get them, but luckily it cleared up enough that we were able to sneak through some holes in the clouds, fly over them, then drop down into Lake Tahoe clear of the clouds. We did notice fresh snow on the mountains – so it felt good to be heading to Mexico!
The trip down was great with a tail wind and short side trip over Yosemite. We had a slight scare at Ensenada, an official port of entry to Mexico, when the immigration officer declared that we shouldn’t be there, that we were in Mexico illegally and that we should have immigration forms with us. Man I wish I knew Spanish. I thought perhaps Ensenada wasn’t a port of entry any longer but I had failed somehow to see that in my flight planning. However, at some point he opened up his drawer and there was a stack of the immigration forms. What the hell? I still don’t know if he was messing with us (me), or wanted a higher fee or what, but from then on the process went as it usually does. Which is a musical chair type of march from flight plan control, customs, airport authority, accounting, and the commandante’s office, visiting most stations at least twice collecting numerous stamps and dispersing pesos and dollars along the way. I’ve learned it helps greatly to have all your documents pre-copied and available to them to keep (entry permits, proof of Mexican insurance, aircraft registration, pilots license, etc.).
Two hours after this, and five hours after leaving the snowy mountains of Tahoe, we were enjoying a Mexican sunset at the Estero Beach Hotel with fish tacos and Margaritas. As it got cooler the Margaritas shifted to the hot tub. Fantastic.
On Saturday we had a tour guide (Blue Water Divers) pick us up at the hotel and take us south to a remote cove for some awesome sea kayaking. Whales abounded, although I don’t have a camera with a long enough lens to capture them.
Unfortunately the trip home was very bumpy with the Socal ATC frequencies filled with reports of turbulence up to 15,000 feet. I know its not my fault, but I feel guilty subjecting my passengers to such discomfort. Luckily by the time we got back to Tahoe the wind had died down (I was a bit concerned about Tahoe) and the descent and landing was OK.