Doing the “Bay Tour”

My sweetheart took me flying last week. We began with what Northern California Air Traffic Control refers to as a “bay tour” — a trip from Oakland that goes across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate BridgeWe had planned to follow that up by flying south down the coast to Half Moon Bay. Only when we crossed the bridge and looked south, we could see fog all the way down. There was even a wisp of it at the top of the bridge as we crossed.

So since my sweetheart only flies VFR — that’s without instruments — we went north up the coast and had lunch in Petaluma instead. (The “V” in VFR stands for “visual,” meaning you have to be able to see the traffic around you, something it’s very hard to do in fog.)

We had lovely views of the inlets and bays, along with the towns, along the coast.

Pacific coastIn Petaluma, the airport is small, so it doesn’t have a tower to give pilots instructions. That means that each pilot taking off and landing has to announce what they’re doing and watch the other people carefully. We waited for someone else to land before we came in.

That airport also has golf courses on three sides. I’m not sure if they’re all one golf course or not. We saw a very small plane that looked like a golf cart with wings (sorry, no picture) and wondered if it was just using the airfield to go back and forth among golf courses, since we never saw it take off.

Petaluma golf coursePersonally, I think having golf courses near airports is a good thing. Both need space, and living too close to an airport can be annoying. Also, I’m glad to see that they’re letting some of the golf course go brown in the drought. The bright green spot in the background is some kind of crop — lots of farming and dairies around Petaluma.

On our way back to Oakland we came  over the hills instead of along the coast. As we got back to the San Francisco Bay, we saw the fog coming across the Golden Gate. The bridge in the foreground is the one to San Rafael from the East Bay; the Golden Gate is where that band of white clouds is in the middle. Notice how much hazier the picture is than the earlier views.

Golden Gate reduxAlthough the advent of fog kept us from going to Half Moon Bay — a place that I’m very sentimental about on account of reading Dashiel Hammett stories that took place there — we were still very glad to see it. After several days of bright sunshine and high temperatures, fog at 2:30 in the afternoon (when this picture was taken) meant that the natural air conditioning of the Bay Area was about to come back on. And, indeed, it was much cooler in Oakland when we landed.

My thanks to the pilot for a great Bay Tour. Also for lunch in Petaluma!

the pilot

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