SoCal to Houston to SoCal – The Scenic Way

February 2021

ForeFlight Route

Trip Summary

Day 1 

Lake Riverside (54CL)

Yuma, AZ (KNYL) – Fuel

Flying J Ranch (E37) – Overnight Camping

Day 2

Flying J Ranch (E37)

Glenwood, NM (E94) – Hike

Negrito Airstrip (0NM7) – Snow Landing & Photos

Grant County (KSVC) – Fuel and nice pilots lounge

Big Bend Ranch State Park (3T9) – Tried to camp but didn’t work out

Terlingua Ranch (1E2) – Camped and enjoyed Bad Rabbit Restaurant

Day 3

Terlingua Ranch (1E2)

Eldorado (27R) – Fuel

Red Sands Ranch (1SX4) -Coffee break and meeting point 

Gillespie County (T82) – Overnight in Hangar Hotel

Day 4

Sugar Land Regional (KSGR) – Fuel and overnight in hotel 

Day 5

Temple, Texas – Friends private strip

Day 6 

Temple, Texas

Hutchinson, Texas (KBGD) – Fuel and lunch at Texas Rose with FBO courtesy car

Colorado Springs, CO (KCOS) – Fuel and overnight at AirBnB

Day 7

Weather/ Rest Day

Day 8

Colorado Springs, CO

Lake County Airport (KLXV) – Highest airport in North America (9,934’)

North Fork Valley (7V2) – Fuel and overnight at Hotchkiss Inn. Courtesy car.

Day 9

North Fork Valley (7V2)

Mineral Canyon Strip (UT75) – hike and lunch break

Cedar City (KCDC) – Fuel and overnight

Day 10 

Cedar City (KCDC)

Lake Riverside (54CL) – home

Trip Report

The impetus for this trip was a 3 month checkup for tongue cancer at MD Anderson. 

The morning of our planned eastbound departure the wind picked up. It was between 13-16 mph from the East and was forecasted to slightly reduce throughout the day.  After packing and loading the plane we took off just after noon to see how far East we could get before dark. Our goal was Flying J Ranch (E37) but had alternate locations along the way just in case the headwind slowed us down too much. 

We bounced our way to Yuma, AZ for a quick fuel stop and made it to E37 just fifteen minutes after sunset! E37 is a rural airport with 2 or 3 dirt strips and no lights. We didn’t take the best scan of the airport to look for the optimum camping spot and we ended up camping at the end of one of the runways knowing that no one would be coming in after dark and we’d be leaving in the morning. After landing we explored a bit and found a fire ring and a picnic table along the side of one of the runways. Even though the airport is in a rural location, it’s near a small rural housing community and road, so there was some road noise, but not too bad. There is even a cool C-119 and neat weathervane that’s worth a look.

Breakfast at Flying J Ranch

After a nice coffee and instant oatmeal breakfast we took off to head for Glenwood, NM (E94) where we had plans to hike on the Catwalk National Recreation Trail. Foreflight had some notes about mud but we completely disregarded until we landed and mud started flinging off our AK bushwheels and splattering the underside of the wings. It wasn’t too bad but will require some cleaning. Of course, we arrived and found that we had no idea where this hike was from the strip. With limited cell reception we found that we were a couple of miles from the Catwalk and we started heading that way but decided to take our own little adventure hike so we could get back in the air.

Mud on the tires at Glenwood Airstrip

After Glenwood, Tobias was on a hunt to find a snow landing at Negrito Airstrip (0NM7), 8,143’. Sure enough, there was snow! Tobias came in with speed and I looked out the window to determine if the snow was too deep to land. This was our first time landing in snow and we’re glad it all worked out. Tobias did a great landing and taxied off the runway so we could take pictures. The snow ended up only being about 4-6 inches deep but Tobias still had to get to 2,300 rpms to get the plane to start rolling after we parked. The take off was quite fun as it reminded Tobias of his seaplane days when the snow began to let go of the tires, just as the water would let go of the floats. 

Our first snow landing in Pocahontas

After the snow stop we enjoyed a nice tail wind down to Big Bend Ranch State Park 3T9. On the way we stopped at Grant County (KSVC) for fuel and to use their wonderful pilots lounge to reheat some food for a quick lunch before loading up for our final leg of the day. 

We arrived to Big Bend Ranch State Park (3T9) and was a little surprised at what we found. We did zero research on this location other than it was recommended by some folks in the Airplane Camping Facebook group. We were shocked to find a paved runway and what looked to be the camp spots about ½ mile to 1 mile away from where a couple of planes were parked. We landed to scope things out. Just as we were sorting out where to tie down the plane so we could camp under the wing a Texas State Park Ranger rolled up in his F-150. He was nice guy who kindly explained that we couldn’t camp under our wing. We had to camp at a designated camping spot which was about a 15 minute walk and that reservations are typically required in advance but that they could make an exception and we could sort out the reservation and payment in the morning. 

We were not in a position to carry our camping gear and we wanted to camp with our plane. Fortunately, we knew of another strip about 20 minutes east called Terlingua Ranch (1E2). As soon as we saw the Terlingua Ranch valley and the surrounding mountains, we knew this was where we were meant to be! It’s stunning!

Great food at the Bad Rabbit

We arrived just as the office was closing as they do cabin rentals as well, so we asked if they had any issues if we camped with our plane. No issues with camping in the tie down area. We set up camp as the sun went down and went into the Bad Rabbit Restaurant for dinner to enjoy a beer, burger and steak dinner. It was fabulous and would totally recommend this strip to all! It should be noted that there were not any facilities for camping. We brought our own water and used the bushes as our restroom. They do have WiFi which is extremely spotty in the tie down area but gets better as you get closer to the settlement.

Enjoying the morning rays at Terlingua Ranch

The next morning we enjoyed the sun after it rose above the mountains while we decided what our next adventure was going to be. I (Jackie) wanted to go hike Christmas Mountain, but that was going to be an all day affair, and Tobias wanted to keep flying. We used the WiFi to call a friend just to say hi. He happened to know someone in Texas who he put us in contact with. Next thing we knew, we had a flying date set up! Off we went to go get fuel.

After a scenic flight over Big Bend National Park, which was stunning because there was still snow from the super cold Texas storm that had passed through, we headed off to Eldorado, Texas (27R) for a fuel stop before meeting our new friend Tres Clinton, with Fly C3, at Red Sands Ranch (1SX4). Red Sands Ranch is a private airstrip which is owned by a guy named John who arrived not long after us. It was great to meet him as we were a little uneasy getting permission from someone who wasn’t the owner to land at a private strip. After meeting John and hearing that he just listed his strip on the RAF website and was building some basic camping facilities for folks to use, we settled down. Below I’ve included a screen shot from the RAF website with some of the info for Red Sand Ranch. It’s a beautiful setting with huge oak trees. Definitely worth a visit!

Pocahontas at Red Sands Ranch

Screen shot from the RAF website for Red Sands Ranch

After enjoying coffee and cookies, Tres arrived with his beautiful PA-18 super cub and we took off to hit some backcountry strips. After enjoying a wonderful tour of the Texas hill country, which looked pretty flat to us since we’re from California, we met up with our other friend who was going to escort us to Fredericksburg, Texas (T82) for a wonderful evening eating German food and staying at the famous Hangar Hotel. 

The next morning we had to wait for the weather to clear as it was windy and overcast. Around noon we were able to launch to head to our final destination, Houston, Texas. We chose to land at Sugar Land Regional (KSGR) and had a wonderful experience with them organizing a rental car and a hotel. The next day, after successful appointments at MD Anderson we took off north to visit a friend at his Barndominium with a strip. 

The next day we launched early as we had quite a bit of land to cover. Our goal was to get to Colorado Spring, CO. On the way we stopped in Hutchinson, Texas (KBGD) for fuel and a lunch break. What a wonderful little FBO, very modern and they even had a courtesy car we could take into town. We had a nice lunch at the Texas Rose. 

Upon returning to the airport, we found the wind had picked up to 23 knots gusting 28 or so which made for a bumpy ride for the first bit. After a while it smoothed out and we found an old cabin to explore along the way.

We had to check out this cabin!

Finally we made it to Colorado Springs! At that point in our trip we had flown every single day for at least 2 hours and I was very ready for a break. With forecasts of snow coming, we booked an Airbnb for 2 nights and had a rest. 

I would have liked to have stayed another night but the weather had different plans. After a full day of rest, the weather over the Rockies was looking good just for one day with high winds forecasted for the following days. As soon as Colorado Springs turned Marginal VFR, we took off and headed east towards blue skies and to get above the clouds. Once above the clouds we could see the Rockies and headed back west. Tobias was on a mission to land at the highest airport in North America at Leadville-Lake County Airport (KLXV). Once we landed we used the restroom while the FBO printed out his Certificate of Navigation for this accomplishment.

At the highest airport in North America (9,934’)

Our goal for that day was to get to Mineral Canyon (UT75) to camp. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned with our late start and headwinds. Due to an unhappy copilot (me) who was rightfully freezing in the back of the Carbon Cub with 17-degree weather over the Rockies we stopped at North Fork Valley Airport (7V2) and was greeted with the nicest airport manager who arranged a courtesy car for us to use overnight. We stayed at the Hotchkiss Inn which was a little pricey at $100 a night but it was very nice with a good heating system. We enjoyed a great dinner and breakfast at Zac’s BBQ. If you make it there you must have a slice of pie! It’s amazing!

The next morning we thawed out our wings and took off to Mineral Canyon. We enjoyed a nice lunch and little hike down the Green River and had plans to camp. As the day went on we realized there will still time to get farther west so we took off. We hadn’t decided if we were going to stop in Cedar City or St. George. After a VERY bumpy ride due to strong gusts and 40 knot head wind we decided to stop in Cedar City for an overnight. 

Mineral Canyon pie and coffee time!

With our trip winding down, and high winds in the forecast our plan to camp one more night never happened. After our overnight in Cedar City we went straight home as extremely high winds with gusts up to 60-70 mph were in the forecast. 

Overall it was a great trip! The main lesson we learned was that heated socks are necessary for high altitude winter flying in our Carbon Cub EX-2. We also have plans to modify the ductwork so the passenger can actually get some of the heat. 

Thanks for reading! If you want more, please tell your friends to sign up for our newsletter! We have lots of adventures coming in our future. And of course, give us a follow on Instagram @cubtrekking or on Facebook at Cub Trekking.

Happy Tail Winds!

Jackie & Tobias & Pocahontas 😉

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