California to the Bahamas
(A.K.A. "The Three Amigos Do
June 5 - 23, 2007
Picture Gallery Here!
The Three Amigos have traveled the world in search of
adventure, or at least good diving. Having visited most of the
good diving destinations in the world (at least the ones that
tolerate Americans), we find ourselves revisiting old favorites.
This trip involved revisiting the
Bahamas, but in a new and unique way.
We flew my plane from northern
California, across the US to Florida. We took a
commercial flight for the over-water leg to the Bahamas. After a week of diving,
eating, drinking and merriment, we returned to the US and took the
long way back to the west coast, visiting various points of interest
along the way.
Some of the interesting things we experienced
Here is a rough itinerary for the trip:
Day 1 - 6/5: Nico and I flew down to Camarillo,
picked up Jerry, and flew to Tucson. We had some locally-made
cactus vodka martinis with dinner.
Day 2 - 6/6: The Three Amigos departed Tucson and
flew to Houston, where we visited friends. At our first fuel
stop, in Pecos TX, we were joined by a flight of Marine helicopter
gunships, which was impressive to see. We also stopped for
fuel in Burnet, TX and flew IFR from there to Houston due to clouds.
Day 3 - 6/7: Flew from Houston to Ft. Pierce, Florida with
fuel stops in Lafayette, LA and Panama City, FL. The legs from
Houston to Panama City were both IFR and involved dodging
thunderstorms. The leg from Panama City to Fort Pierce was
VFR, but involved steering around a huge line of cells over central
Florida and a night landing at Ft. Pierce.
Day 4 - 6/8: Jerry & I drove up to watch the Space
Shuttle launch. The launch was amazing, as always!
Day 5 - 6/9: More diving in Palm Beach.
Unfortunately, while boarding the dive boat, Jerry falls overboard
and ruins his camera!
Day 6 - 6/10: Fly to Andros Island in the
Bahamas. The Continental Connection flight kept getting
delayed and delayed. Finally, about four hours later, we are
called for boarding. It turns out that we are the only three
people on the plane!
Day 7 - 12, 6/11 - 6/16: Dive at the
We had a great time at the lodge. It was
just our kind of place. The other guests were eclectic and
interesting, the staff were truly friendly and made us feel like
family, the diving was good and the weather mostly nice. We'll
definitely be back someday.
On a strange note, we ran into an older version
of the Three Amigos sitting across the bar from us at the lodge.
They too are three old friends who meet up for dive vacations at
various places. They were from the same three regions as us,
and were sitting in the same order. Spooky!
Day 13 - 6/17: Return to Florida.
A group of us from the lodge were waiting for our flight at the
airport in Andros. Once again, the airline was several hours
late and it was nearing dinner time. We had gotten used to delicious
conch fritters appearing at 6pm each night at the lodge, and as a
joke, one of us phoned the lodge to ask about having fritters
delivered. They heard about us being stuck at the airport with no
food, and sent someone over to drop off a plate of hot conch
fritters, a bunch of sandwiches, and a cooler of beer. Wow!
Day 14 - 6/18: Depart Ft. Pierce FL
Pensacola FL. We were IFR this leg, and as we were about an
hour out of Pensacola, I determined that widespread thunderstorms
would preclude our landing at Pensacola, so we diverted to Marianna
FL, rented a car, and drove the 90 minutes to Pensacola.
Day 15 - 6/19: Because of
widespread thunderstorms, the dive operator cancelled diving.
So instead we toured the
Naval Aviation Museum,
saw "Oceans 13", and had a great dinner at the
Day 16 - 6/20: We made two dives on the
Day 17 - 6/21: Flew to Carlsbad, NM.
We stopped in Natchez, MS for fuel, and in Stephenville TX for fuel
and real Texas barbecue! All three legs involved substantial
IMC and the Natchez to Stephenville leg involved several reroutes
due to fast-moving thunderstorms and much steering around storm
At the Stephenville airport, they loaned us a
gas-powered golf cart to drive to the barbecue restaurant, a drive
that involved off-roading and getting stuck in the mud. On the
way back we took the highway!
Day 18 - 6/22: Explored
Carlsbad Caverns. We did
both the self-guided tour and the
Kings Palace ranger-guided tour. The caverns are huge!
Day 19 - 6/23: Flew home. We
stopped in Safford AZ and Blythe CA for fuel, then in Camarillo CA
to drop off Jerry,
then finally back to San Jose.
Overall, an amazing, fun, and exhausting trip!
I bought the
496 especially for this trip. It was truly worth every
penny. In particular, the downlinked XM weather was
indispensable. That capability enabled us to safely keep to
our schedule and not get stuck overnight in some backward town.
Hours flown: 42.0
Approximate fuel burned: 588 gallons
Number of landings: 19
Picture Gallery Here!