October 2016 - Exploring Further West

Nov 1, 2016

Captain's Log Starship 1XE, Day 14 in the month of September in the Earth Calendar Year of 2016.

Hidden wonders. A whirlwind trip filled with surprises, old and new landscapes, timely flights and strange weather. If you have ever flown 50 hours in a couple of weeks you can probably relate to what I am about to say. If you haven't, then hang on.

It is always a pleasure facing new challenges especially when you are making a difference. Our flight route took us to historic areas adjacent to national parks, and from urban greenbelts to remote landscapes near the Canadian border. Up at dawn, fly till noon, upload photos and then catch up on emails till mid-afternoon; whenever possible try to keep up with Janey, exploring on the ground what we see from the air, work out, eat, sleep for a bit, and do it again the next day.

National parks have been an ongoing theme for us this year as it is the National Park Service Centennial. It has become critical to address landscapes adjacent to national parks, and to create 'buffer zones' that will ensure the integrity of the parks and their ecological complexities. The importance of these lands is many-layered, and what is unique is that these public lands are owned by all Americans, and it is our responsibility to ensure they are still here for future generations to enjoy. I digress. Back to the 50-hour flying trip - greeting every sunrise from the runway, and then multiple flights over the designated stunning landscape of the day and onto the next location, landing in small 2,500-foot air parks to towered airports in the San Francisco metropolitan area.



Examining Community Separators in Sonoma County, CA

The issues were as diverse as the creation of green belts in urban and agricultural areas to flying over a proposed copper mine in one of the loveliest valleys I have ever seen (the Methow); flying the press over recent victories in the Mojave Desert to building support for the Scotchman Peak Wilderness near the Cabinet Mountains and Coeur d'Alene; and then south again over the wild High Divide from Salmon, Idaho, to Yellowstone.

It was gratifying to the soul to meet such committed people, whether working to protect the Bodie Hills, just east of Yosemite, to the inspired communities of Methow Valley, Washington, who are rallying once again to protect their hidden gem near North Cascades National Park.

Arriving home, our fall leaves were on the wane but I was left with the visually stunning memories of my most recent magic carpet ride over our lands, our country and the unimaginably varied landscapes that is our American heritage.



Bruce Gordon