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  #1  
Old 08-10-2017, 05:22 PM
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Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
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Default American Transience

When the wettest winter on record in northern California came to a close, and when the verdure of spring began to erupt into the blinding yellows of wild mustard across the land, I began to pray more earnestly about where the Lord would send me when summer arrived. It soon became clear that He wanted me to go deeper and further through America than the year before, and I was thankful for the blessing of being single and having the freedom to use my finances and time away from the classroom to serve him. In my prayers, it was also clear that nothing short of a full 40-day, 40-night mission would suffice such a purpose. An entirely different route this year would be taken through America. Part of that route would follow the signs of the times as announced by the stars, the sun, and the moon, following the centerline of an approaching solar eclipse---a centerline that began in Oregon and ended in South Carolina---an eclipse across America that had not happened since the end of The Great War in 1918, ninety-nine years prior.

It being the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and, not coincidentally, it being the time to begin bringing full reconciliation of all things in heaven and on earth to the glory of his name, the Lord sent me again into the realm of the unknown, into the heart of discomfort, into the depths of complete dependence upon his constant and steady protection as I traveled to share hope, comfort, joy, rebuke, warning, and a message of preparation to those I met.





In the process of that 40-day mission, I met some of the most beautiful and receptive people that a lifetime of living at home in a bubble could never bring.





I also met American history face-to-face with startling and completely unexpected encounters.



And as the Lord led me across America to show me its past and present, He also revealed many incredible visions of future suffering soon to come.



The Lord always provided me places to sleep, but as a transient, and being commanded to live as others did in this state of transience from one life to the next, I did my best to trust and obey him regardless of sometimes difficult circumstances.



In my transient state, the Lord showed me some of the most beautiful places on earth.



He took me to some of the most broken places, too.



In the end, it was because none of this had anything to do with me. It had nothing to do with me or my life or my belongings or anything even remotely attached to my name. Rather, this mission was all about him and about his plan and about my having the gratitude to be a part of it, no matter the discomfort, no matter the mystery of what lay ahead, and especially no matter of me, just another lone soul in transience and on board a plane the Lord so graciously provided me to accomplish his will.

I prayed for a happy ending. I prayed for resurrection and life everlasting.



And it came. It came soon enough.
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RV-8 N898W Descending Dove

Last edited by Scott Chastain : 08-11-2017 at 06:59 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-10-2017, 07:03 PM
krw5927 krw5927 is offline
 
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Popcorn popped. Can't wait to read the adventures that are about to be shared!
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  #3  
Old 08-10-2017, 11:14 PM
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I was literally just wishing yesterday that you would post another spectacular adventure on here!
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  #4  
Old 08-11-2017, 04:15 PM
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Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
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Default Prep Work

From dust I came, and to dust I would return.



Preparation for the 2017 flight through America actually began in the late fall of 2016. I went to the spot by Black Rascal Creek where my grandfather used to take me crawdad fishing when I was a boy growing up in Merced. There, I gathered a healthy sampling of wet soil and took it home in a bucket to dry. By May, it was ready to grind up in a Native American mortar I found years earlier in the dry bed of the San Joaquin River. A little more than a week prior to launch, I visited Black Rascal Creek with my dog, Gracie, to find focus and the much needed strength I craved for the long journey ahead.



Meanwhile, I was not able fly for over three months. In March, I noticed a very subtle harmonic shift in the Dove’s resonance through the airframe. According to calendar years and airframe hours, my logbooks indicated the need to have my propeller inspected. It turned out to be in need of a full-blown overhaul.



My father, whose guidance and instruction through the years shaped the passion I had for flight, who helped me in the long ten-year process of building the Dove, assisted again with re-assembly and offered the encouragement I needed to press forward toward the coming mission.



During that very long period of being grounded, I drove to Yosemite Park but was precluded from entering because of an unexpected rockslide that day. On the way home down Highway 140, a tug on my heart pulled me toward Le Grand, a small town near Merced that I had not seen in nearly 40 years. That day of exploration would serve as a precursor for the coming flight through America. I was led to places I could not have even imagined before, and always the same message was spoken very clearly to me when I entered and explored the depth of that brokenness: “Soon, this is how it is going to be. Everywhere.”





After ops checking the engine and prop for a solid 5 hours, it was soon time to make final arrangements at home for my 40-day absence. Packing up for the trip included plenty of dried food and clothing, survival gear, tools, and a Specialized mountain bike. Packing it all into the Dove’s interior took a little nudging and massaging, but it all worked out with some patience and a little practice.







On the night before launch, I saw the moon waxing clear and bright over the Dove’s hangar hovel, and I wondered about the next 40 days and 40 nights. I wondered about the people I would meet. I wondered about the places I might see. I wondered about how the darkness of all that mystery lying before me might soon be obliterated by the light of divine providence. And I wondered why God was even sending me out on that journey to begin with.

I was only a man, after all. I was only a man filled with wonder in a world that just did not seem to care much about what was going on in the world. And that was what made me wonder the most.

That, and what lay ahead in darkness.

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  #5  
Old 08-13-2017, 03:14 PM
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Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
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Default Day One

On the morning of 30 June, a Friday, the sky was clear and blue and inviting as I drove out to the airport for the initial launch. My propeller had been dynamically balanced the day before, and everything was packed and ready to go. I blasted out of Merced at about 1000 hrs. local, just ahead of a Pilatus PC-12. I flew north.

The air was smooth and nearly without ripple the entire way to Oregon. Mt. Shasta and Crater Lake seemed to collect the azure around them and cast it back to the beholder in a purified brilliance.





In less than three hours, I felt an unexpected call in my heart to pull back on the power and descend. I did not have any plans to land there, but I did because the call was unmistakable.



Nobody was around, so I went into the hangar. There, I beheld the yellow RV-8A that had inspired me to build an airplane some 20 years earlier. Back then, I saw her on display at Castle Airport (KMER) during the First Annual Golden West EAA Fly-In. Now, as I observed her, N58VA sat there, somewhat pathetically, without a propeller and missing a few instruments in her panel. I wondered if she were getting a new propeller soon, just as the Dove had recently been fitted with a zero-time prop.



I walked around for a little bit inside the hangar, then found the door into the main building.



There were only a couple of people in there that I could see. I went in to take a look at the place. Instead, I ended up taking the grand tour of the entire Van’s Aircraft facility by myself because hardly anybody was on duty that day. The few people who were in there either acknowledged me warmly or carried on with whatever they were doing as if I were invisible.

I found out later that the production crew at Van’s did not operate on Fridays, and Van himself was taking care of business that day in Utah.





I did not stay long. I was glad that I had come, though. It was a needed place to bring presence of mind and spirit after having lived through such an incredible journey of building and flying an airplane to call home.

Launching out of Aurora, the ground controller harangued me twice over the radio after startup. Once, I did not read back exactly what her taxi instructions were. Instead, I just thanked her after reading back the initial taxiway and the altimeter setting she gave me. Then, a little later, she gave me a hard time because I did not tell her the direction of flight I intended to take after departure. I thought maybe she was just busting my chops because there was virtually no traffic to speak of and maybe she needed some entertainment to stay awake. It didn’t matter. I told her where I was going, and when I took off to the northwest, I did not look back.

I landed again in Hillsborough (7S3) a few minutes later for fuel. After topping off behind a Bonanza, I parked the Dove under a giant oak and decided to walk around to do some exploring.







A local builder of an RV-8A, a gentleman who told me that he was just finishing up the canopy, asked me a few questions about the Dove. He wanted to know where I was from and where I was going. When I told him that I was flying through the first day of a 40-day/40-night mission across America, he invited me to spend the night. There was an EAA hangar just down the way, and a large gathering of RV’s was expected to arrive the following day.

I thanked him for the offer, but I felt a powerful need to push further on. So I did. And as it turned out, Day One was just beginning.
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  #6  
Old 08-13-2017, 03:15 PM
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Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
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Default Day One (cont.)

As I taxied out to take off out of Hillsborough, a guy wearing a cowboy hat and mowing the lawn on a tractor waved me a farewell, and I returned the kind gesture.



I firewalled the quadrant levers and blasted out heading north. It did not take long to reach the Canadian border, and soon I made my initial descent into the San Juan Islands in northern Washington State.



The islands all shared the same CTAF, 128.25, and while I made my approach for Orcas Island (ORS), I could not help but notice that only one other island sounded like it had any traffic to speak of. Indeed, Friday Harbor (FHR) was a beehive of flying activity. I began to wonder why as I touched down at Orcas. Was I missing out on something over there?

An RV-7A was parked on the grass with a few other high-wing taildraggers at Orcas Island. They had tents set up, and a sign indicated that transients were to park there. Keeping the engine running, I made a slow taxi by the terminal building to give it a once-over. There were a few people standing there by the gate looking at me go by. I saw a plane take off, and because I couldn’t stop thinking about Friday Harbor, I decided to keep rolling. I took off again over the East Sound waters and made the 12-mile hop to the south for KFHR. I followed a Bonanza on the base leg at Friday Harbor and landed.



After parking the Dove on the far side of the field, I decided that now was a good time to eat. Night was closing in, and my belly was rumbling. Over by the transient walk-through gate into town, there was a flight planning room and a somewhat dilapidated guest register on the table. I opened up my camping gear and cooked up a quick batch of chili-mac.



I thought maybe I could sleep there for the night, but the lights in the room were hard-wired to stay on. That would make it difficult to get any shut-eye. Plus, I noticed the overnight tie-down fee was $13. I thought that was a rip-off. Most places didn’t charge me anything just to park. So I decided after dinner to hop back over to Orcas. It might have a better setup, I thought.

I was wrong.



When I landed back at Orcas, the winds not only had picked up considerably, but they had completely switched directions. I landed on runway 16 and taxied back to the hard surface parking area. There, I shut down.



I wiped down the Dove, but because of the stiff 25 kt. wind, I could not put the canopy cover on. Then I found the terminal building completely locked up and empty inside with nobody around at all.





There were only the few campers in the grassy area of the field, a couple of whom were milling about and looking like they needed to think of a way to stay warm. I had to do the same. It was downright nippy there on Orcas Island.

With about an hour left before sundown, I changed into some warmer clothes and decided to walk into town for a little exploration. I walked outside the airport perimeter, and there, followed the narrow two-lane road into town.





Where I was led that first night, and what I was shown and told, amazed and astonished me beyond belief or description. It was a night to remember, most certainly; but even more so, the night I spent on Orcas Island was one I would never forget. Never.
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  #7  
Old 08-13-2017, 07:33 PM
sjhurlbut sjhurlbut is offline
 
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Default Great

Oh great and I thought I was going to achieve something at work this week. Now I'm checking VansAirforce every 10 min.
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  #8  
Old 08-13-2017, 08:19 PM
climberrn climberrn is offline
 
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Sounds like a wonderful trip Scott. Thank you for sharing with us.

Thanks again for your help in Merced.
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  #9  
Old 08-14-2017, 02:55 PM
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Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
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Default Day One (cont.)

That evening on Orcas Island, there was very little traffic on the road toward Eastsound. The rush of the wind through cypress and pine and hardwood was the most traffic that passed me by, and the quaint but elegantly built Victorian style homes along the road offered me the sense of comfort I needed after flying the first leg of the 40-day journey and finding myself already a fair piece from my own home.

I walked down the road for only about 20 minutes or so when I happened upon a house that instantly stopped me in my tracks. It was as if the house suddenly appeared from nowhere or, perhaps, had dropped out of the sky and landed silently before me in the pale twilight of the dying day.



Instantly, I felt a veil of calmness and peace and protection wrap around me with an assuring tug and command to enter the house. With it came a message: “I want you to see this. Go in now!”

So I went in.



It appeared that nobody had stepped foot in that house for years, perhaps decades. Before me I beheld a home that seemed to have been suddenly bereft of inhabitants, its contents arranged and in place, but strewn about by gale and storm and the dark pulsing surges of time and age and decay, and there arose from the darkest corners of the house a vague and stale and dusty echo of the living who no longer resided on earth. The people were transient, long ago gone. Now, I alone bore witness to the void.







I could hear the wind through the trees outside, and I could feel the passages of the old house straining to let through the puffs of nature that managed their way in through the cracked and shattered openings around me. I wanted to know why I was led to such a place. I wanted to know why I was being shown such desolation. I wanted to know why I was suddenly and irrevocably married to the surroundings that at once fascinated, attracted, repulsed, and terrified every part of my being. I wanted to know a lot.

But the reply was simple. The reply was clear: “Soon, this is how it will be. Everywhere. Show them what I am showing you. It is coming soon.”





I stepped down from the coffin-shaped gables of the upper floor and proceeded back out dreamlike onto the road toward Eastsound. My first encounter with life on the way into town was pastoral and subtly reassuring.



I entered not long after, and I was brought to the shores of the island where the warmth of human interaction and the sweet scent of brine mixed with seaweed and the call of gulls in the distance brought me gracefully back to a place of comfort and hope.





It felt good to be alive. It felt good to know that I was part of the human race again after my experience back there on the road. It felt good to see people smiling and to hear them laughing and to feel them bringing their happiness into a place where somebody like me could share in it. It felt good knowing that I did not have any reason to be afraid, no matter what was coming.

I was in Eastsound, Washington, I was alive, and that was good enough for me. It was good enough for me to feel like exploring some more.
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  #10  
Old 08-14-2017, 02:56 PM
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Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
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Default Day One (cont.)

Evening fell with a cold south wind heaving over the shoreline and gusting through the streets of Eastsound as I walked through town and peered through windows and alleyways and shop windows. I walked at a quick pace to keep up with the coming nightfall.











I found a creamery with a lot of smiling people inside. It was called the Clever Cow. I decided to go in. I came out with a waffle cone stuffed with a large scoop of blackberry ice cream.



I started making my way back to the airport. On the way, I found a second-hand bookstore with a spot on the back porch where people could leave book donations. It was also a place where somebody else in transience spent a lot of time during the day but was absent when I passed through there.



Eastsound was decked out and ready for the July 4th weekend celebration of American Independence, and the town parade and festivities were scheduled for the next day. The wind continued to whip up through the streets and snap the American flags and festoons as I meandered back toward the main road to the airport.





And as the moon waxed high above the treeline, the chill of the night began to hasten me more quickly toward the airport. I had not yet found a place to sleep for the night, but I was grateful nonetheless for having been brought safely to Orcas Island. I wasn’t worried about my sleeping arrangements so much as I was about staying warm. I had not really packed for cold weather, and it was cold and windy on the way back to the Dove. It was colder and windier on the tarmac. And it stayed that way. All night.
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