J and D's Corner

Our Photo Attic - Stuff from Here & There

To The Bahamas (circa 2004)

Scratching a long-time itch, John & Dani in our 1965 C-182 and Pat & Paul in their C-210 embarked on a fairly unstructured 6000 statute mile trip from our home base in Southern California across the continent and out into the Bahamas.

The following is a synopsis; if you are a glutton for such things CLICK HERE to view John & Dani's detailed day-by-day trip log on their website.

Departing Rosamond on April 4th, 2004, we first stopped for a couple of nights at Bullhead City, AZ.  Following this we pushed on to Santa Rosa, NM for another overnight, then to the Dallas suburb of Roanoake, TX where the two aircraft got to relax for a several days while Paul & Pat visited with their son and family, and John & Dani visited old LA buddies Greg & Donna.

At this point what little structure we had built into the plan came somewhat unraveled when the two parties got separated due to arriving bad weather, with the C-182 scud running out under an arriving cold front and the C-210 staying (prudently) on the ground as the fast-developing low slammed a lid on Dallas.  While Pat & Paul got more time with their kids, for John & Dani it was an overnight at Montgomery, AL.  Next day we cruised down to Kissimmee, FL, where we had an Orlando-area condo booked for the week.  Kissimmee's Gateway Airport (KISM) and Kissimmee Aviation are highly recommended if you are flying that way for Disney World or whatever.  We called ahead 407-847-9095 and they had our tiedown and an Enterprise rental car waiting when we arrived on Sunday.

Disney World Complex Florida Kitsch I Florida Kitsch II Epicot

While J & D did some Disney and got together with relatives, Pat & Paul fought weather for several days, finally arriving Wednesday with some weather stories (the bad type) and unexpected overnights enroute (Paul is not instrument rated).  On Thursday evening, fellow Skypark residents Dale & Sharon arrived at Orlando airport via kerosene queen and our Bahamas group was complete.

Fantasy of Flight Hangars Sunderland Flying Boat A Brace of Trimotors Tuskegee Airmen P-51 Dale Relives WW-II

The next couple of days was spent attending Sun-N-Fun in Lakeland, FL, dining with some pals from our Australia trip, visiting a couple of aviation museums, and putting in a little time at Disney World.  Sunday, April 15 was our condo checkout day and, with Pat, Paul, Dale & Sharon in the C-210 and John, Dani & a bunch of baggage in the C-182, we lifted off from Kissimmee, Bahamas bound.

Sun-N-Fun Airshow Sun-N-Fun Flightline Sun-N-Fun Adam Jet Sun-N-Fun Refreshment Time Sun-N-Fun Bamboo Bomber

Flying a direct course to our first stop, Walker's Cay, took us over around 150 miles of open water, but being near and in radio contact with each other greatly eased any misgivings about that single engine out front. GPS is another great mind-easer, leading us directly to the tiny island. Walkers turned out to be a great place to enter the Bahamas, with friendly folk, quick and easy customs at a shack only yards from our tiedown and a comfortable resort just beyond.  We enjoyed it so much we stayed two nights rather than the intended one.

Walker's Cay Walker's Cay Yacht Club & Resort The Gang at Walker's Cay Walker's Cay - The Party Villa Walker's Cay Beach

From Walkers we flew down the Abaco chain and across to North Eleuthera, where we refueled and had a Coke.  We had planned our next overnight to be at Hawk's Nest resort on Cat Island, and we made a brief stop there, but it is a small resort and they had been fully booked by a touring group of four or five planes. Our next choice was Stella Maris resort on Long Island, only 60 or so miles further along.  Stella Maris is a very dependable stopping point, with a good airport nearby and enough rooms to insure there are almost always accommodations available.

The Airstrip at Spanish Cay - Tight Quarters Eluthera South Point Light Hawks Nest Patio & Pool Stella Maris Resort Stella Maris Airport

Two nights at Stella Maris and we were off to Pittstown Point Landing on the northwest tip of Crooked Island.  Crooked Island is near the end of the Bahamas chain so is a bit far for boaters, meaning most guests arrive by air.  We all felt we had found the "real Out Islands" when we parked the planes adjacent to the resort, had lunch and hit the beach. Nice rooms, excellent food, super friendly people, HIGHLY recommended. We stayed three nights and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Pittstown Point - The Lighthouse Pittstown Point Final Approach The Gang at Pittstown Point Pittstown Point - Park at your Door Pittstown Point Lighthouse from the rooms

Pittstown Point Snorkling Pittstown Point - Rooms & Beach (& bathing beauty)

Next stop was our only pre-scheduled stay, at Peace & Plenty hotel, Georgetown, Great Exuma.  Dale owns a lot a few miles south and checking up on it was a focal point of his trip. Dale & Sharon rented a van, which was good because transportation would have been a pain had it been necessary to rely on taxis. Georgetown is "big city" for the Out Islands and after Pittstown Point it was quite a contrast.  The island of Great Exuma is moving upscale with the completion of a huge new Four Seasons resort at the north end of the island, bringing heavy metal jets to the Georgetown airport ramp.   

Crossing Long Island Great Exuma Four Seasons Resort Pat & Paul ready to depart (Note 12" numbers) Staniel Cay Accomodations Staniel Cay - Relaxing

After three nights at Georgetown the two aircraft parted ways, with Pat, Paul, Dale & Sharon heading back Stateside in the C-210 while John & Dani continued for a few more days in the Bahamas.  Next Bahamas stop was a one-nighter at the small but nice Staniel Cay Yacht Club, located at the north end of the Exuma chain.  We did some relaxing, boating and swimming and then hopped a few miles back south for another single-night stay at Farmer's Cay. 

Farmer's Cay Yacht Club is a funky, kick-back setup with only three guest rooms, a bar and a dining room.  Owned by a gentleman named Roosevelt Nixon, a descendant of the original settlers of the Cay, it is family-run and a friendly place to spend a couple of days.  However, staying on Farmer's Cay is strictly an amuse-yourself proposition.  We did have a bit of excitement when the power shack burned down, but fortunately Roosevelt's son is the local power company tech and we had limited power back just as night fell.

Farmer's Cay Harbor Farmer's Cay Grave Farmer's Cay - Hot times at the Generator Shack Stella Maris Atlantic Side Surf Stella Maris - Swimming Cove

Our final Bahamas destination was a return visit to Stella Maris resort.  This time we rented a car and pretty much "did" the island from tip to tip, a two-day deal.  There are beaches, caves to explore, another resort (Cape Santa Maria) to check out, and various other scenic things to look at.  As a bonus, we were on hand when fellow Skypark owners Paul & Victoria arrived in their RV-6.  They were on the way back from their own island-hopping tour in the company of eight or ten other RV flyers from around the country.

Stella Maris / Long Island Church Long Island - Cape Santa Maria Resort Long Island Columbus Monument Last Flight of the Twin Beech (Stella Maris Airport) Polished Prop v.s. Salt Spray Paul & Victoria Depart Stella Maris

From Stella Maris we flew back to Fort Pierce's St. Lucie County Airport for US customs, then stayed around an extra day for some sightseeing.  From Fort Pierce we crossed Florida to Ft. Myers where we visited for a couple of days with some old military friends, Ron (AKA "Rockin' Ronnie" at AFRTS Wheelus...a LONG time ago) and his wife Sunny Lee.  Then it was back across Florida again to Whitham Field  in Stuart, where we did more visiting, this time with ex-ABC-TV cohort David & his wife Anne. They are in the process of setting up their retirement home, complete with 37-ft. trawler docked behind the house. Cool.

Typical Tropical Nassau - The Big City Ya Wanna Table with a Window???  OK, here it is. Ft. Myers - Edison Museum Edison Museum - DC Generator David & Anne's Waterfront

Meanwhile, Pat, Paul, Dale & Sharon had been having their problems with a combination of weather and a pesky engine glitch, eventually traced to an intermittently cross-firing magneto.  Everything worked out and they finally did arrive back in California, having spent several unscheduled days grounded enroute.

John & Dani, having worn out our welcome in Florida, headed back in the general direction of California on May 10th, stopping for fuel and a comfort break at Tallahassee and overnight at Jackson, MS.  Next morning we departed IFR into a low overcast and continued on to Grove, OK, home of ex-Skypark residents Concha & Gary.  Their home, adjacent to the Grand Lake of the Cherokees, has become the quasi-official mid-continent stopover for pilots, and they treated us to a fine time for the next couple of days. We did a "dinner cruise" on the lake, Dani & Concha toured local wineries, and I got a personalized tour of the area in Gary's Luscombe.  Shortly after returning we were treated to a very dramatic 3" rainstorm which caused flooding and toppled a huge tree in the neighborhood.  Hangars are considered a "must have" in Oklahoma.

Gary & Concha Gary & Luscombe Lake of the Cherokees - Typical Development Lake of the Cherokees - Arch Dam Greg at Work

Turning our bed at Concha & Gary's over to the next pair of visitors (I told you it was a hotel) we again departed IFR into a 600 foot overcast and headed down to McKinney, TX for...you guessed it....more visiting.  This was a return visit to the home of our old SCUBA diving pals Greg & Donna, who overfed and over-watered us (Texas firewater, that is) for a couple more days.

Finally, on May 17th, it was time to head homeward for real.  Departing McKinney, again IFR (what's with this weather, guys?), we zig-zaged our way through the murk across the Dallas metroplex before being routed northwestward.  After stopping for fuel at Plainview, TX (billed by the FBO operator as "the only place I know where it rains mud"), we struggled against headwinds as far as Winslow, AZ where we went to ground for the night.  The next day we made a brief comfort stop at Kingman, AZ and by noon on May 18th we were back home at Lima-zero-zero. 

Bullhead City, Arizona Lima Zero Zero - Home Again

Stats for John & Dani:  Total trip days elapsed: 44  Number of legs flown:  28  Total flying time:  53 hours, 34 minutes.  Total fuel burned: 574 gallons. Total cost of the trip?  Don't ask.  But the Bahamas were fun and we may well do a variation of it again.

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