Darryl and the boys

The weekend after Christmas afforded another great opportunity to load up the helicopters and head for the Arizona desert to get in some tent camping, helicopter style. In this case it was a new experience for me as my best friend Darryl and his son Josh would be joining Tommy, Riley and me in a second helicopter.  Our good friend Bob was allowing Darryl to borrow his helicopter so we could make this a two-ship, and hence a five person camping trip.


Leaving Deer Valley

My part of the trip started out at Deer Valley Airport (KDVT) located northwest of Phoenix Sky Harbour Airport. Tommy, Riley and I hoped aboard N756TB, my Mooney Bravo and pointed our noses westbound. We left just ahead of this little weather system that had been brooding to our North for a few hours. It was time to be on our way.


Riley’s first trip in the Mooney

Since this was Riley’s first trip in the Mooney, he got to ride shotgun on our way to Palomar Airport, our home base. (KCRQ) It was an amazing ride, some clouds and a beautiful sunset over the Salton Sea made for a great trip back to California.

The Salton Sea from 12,500′

The next morning, we packed up the boys and headed to our favorite waterhole in Escondido – Starbucks. After eating a wonderful and nutritiously balanced meal, we headed for the airport. For the trip out, I would carry all of the camping supplied in the back seat of the 500 (since the Enstrom does not have a back seat and its baggage compartment had the auxiliary fuel tank installed). I would take Riley as it was his first helicopter trip and Darryl would take Tommy and Josh in 18PD.


Josh, Tommy & Riley


On the way out to our camping spot, we landed in a ravine  just before arriving at Blythe airport to let the boys stretch  their legs and get some fresh air. Long helicopter trips for people new to that style of travel and movement can be a bit much sometimes. The nice thing about the helicopters is you can pretty much land them anywhere, airport and runway not needed!


Our second ship – N18PD



A beautiful sunset


Once we landed at our campsite and got everything set up, it was time to watch a beautiful sunset and get our campfire going. Darryl and I had already visited the new campsite, verified that there was no one around for many, many miles and set up a fire ring and collected a bunch of old, dead wood for use as fuel!


Enjoying the fire


We had a very enjoyable evening of camping. The boys hiked about, got some shooting lessons from the master himself (Darryl), stuck themselves with cacti pretty good (drawing blood in several cases) and generally had a fantastic time. We brought all of our food, water, etc in with us and sat down for a nice meal made from Mountain House dehydrated camping food. It did not take long for our MSR multi-fule stove fueled by 100LL to boil the necessary water for the food. Anyone interested in camping should check out Mountain House, the food is absolutely amazing and the cost in very good.


Breakfast time…


After spending the night in 35 degree weather, we were up and about looking for something warm to drink. In actuality it was not bad at all since we had REI and Northface 20 degree sleeping bags. About the only thing the bags did not save us from was the ongoing snoring of Darryl which kept everyone (but him) awake through the night! The boys have all suggested a different tent on the other side of the landing zone for Darryl for our next trip!


A short stop on the way home


Heading back from the camp site to Carlsbad, we once again made a quick stop for some fresh air. The boys took the opportunity to scout around a bit and find some old cow bones which promptly went into their pockets.


Catching up on their sleep


Ah…on our way back to Deer Valley after a good weekend of camping. Tommy and Riley are both sleeping, the vibration and drone of the Mooney has that effect on some people, just ask my sister!


Joey in the Mooney