January 10-14, 2018
In October 2017, I flew to Stevensville, MD, to Bay Bridge Airport, and got a good look — and a demo flight — of a 2016 Cavalon which was being used for training. They wanted to move up to the next-year’s model and so were selling this one to make way for the new one. I bought it on the spot, knowing the value of it and knowing it was a good deal.
The downside of buying an experimental/amateur-built aircraft is that you can’t do the condition inspection yourself. So I will have to take it to an A&P each year to have it checked out. On the good side of it, I know that this gyroplane was built by one of the top engineers from Germany, so it’s probably better built (or, maybe I should lay my cards on the table and say, WAY better built) than if I had done it. And that gives me a lot of confidence in the aircraft.
I wasn’t quite ready to take possession of the Cavalon in October — I was still on a multi-month RV trip through the U.S. west — and they weren’t quite ready to replace it, so I did a simple lease-back to them so they could use it occasionally until I was ready. I was finally ready on January 8th, so the idea was to fly commercial, get to Bay Bridge, get some transition training, then fly the Cavalon back to Houston. The ferry flight was planned to take, well, as long as it takes. I knew that only in the best of all possible conditions, it would take 2 days, but because of the time of year and higher likelihood of sub-par conditions, it could take as long as 5-7 days.
I packed everything I thought I might need (and I probably… no, absolutely… took too much) and grabbed a one-way ticket to BWI via Southwest Airlines, arranged a Lyft to Stevensville, then showed up Tuesday morning, Jan 9, for some transition training with Bob Snyder. at the AutoGyro-USA headquarters at Bay Bridge Airport.
Transition Training, Jan 9
I had flown with Bob on the demo flight, so we were acquainted and after talking for a while about a variety of topics I had on my mind about the Cavalon, we jumped in and took off. He took me through the pre-start checks, the start-up, taxi out, and he did the first takeoff and landing. It had only been a month since I had put 20+ hours on a Magni M-16 gyroplane, so I was mostly up-to-speed, but I had to unlearn the M-16-specific elements, and learn the elements unique to the Cavalon. It is certainly a lot more complicated than the simple ultralights and LSA fixed-wing aircraft I had been flying since 2000, but I have no doubt that after a couple of months of flying it, things will again “seem” to be simple. Acclimation takes a bit of time, but it does improve the experience considerably.
Elements that were different between the Cavalon and the Magni include: The Cavalon sits a bit higher than the M-16, and that (surprisingly) was a bigger issue than I thought it might be; the Cavalon is a 2-seat, side-by-side, whereas the M-16 is a 2-seat tandem; also, the M-16 is open-air while the Cavalon is fully enclosed. These last 2 elements made for a very different “sight-picture” and that took some getting used to. I don’t recall how many stop-n-go’s we did, but we spent about an hour doing them, then took a break, and then another 1.1 hours. Both my landings and takeoffs have a lot to be desired… they’re not pretty… but they are safe, and Bob was satisfied with my skill level.
Roughly, my original plan
Referring to the map below… the top-right corner shows the Washington, D.C. area where I originated from. My original idea was to skirt just north of Charlotte and Atlanta, dodge a few military operation areas in Mississippi, then a final dash home. But sub-par weather kept forcing me south throughout my transit.
The First Morning, Jan 10
Yesterday morning, the 9th, it had been very foggy. Forecasts said it would be foggy in the morning of my departure as well. So I guess it was for that reason that I got up a little later than I should have. Then I had to eat, get my stuff in the car, drive the car to the hangar, unload it (but I didn’t take time — yet — to get it put away), then drive the car back to the rental place, and they had to drive me back to the airport. Whew.
This is the moment when I realized I had too much stuff. It took me a while, but I finally got everything situated. My transition instructor, Bob, happened to be nearby and took a look and suggested that the 2nd (passenger side) stick might not be completely free. He then said that it comes off easily, so we removed it and I re-situated my stuff again. Then I hooked up all the electronics and found out that all my careful testing was for nothing. For reasons I couldn’t figure out at the time, the battery pack wasn’t charging the iPad (my navigation display). This process took an inordinate amount of time.
I knew the iPad internal battery would last at least 4 hours, and that was long enough. Plus, my smartphone had the same capabilities for navigation as the iPad, and it would last 8 hours. So I figured it was good enough. I finally made the decision to leave, but it was late… so late. Wheels-up ended up being about 9:50am, fully 2 hours later than I would have liked.
The First 30 Minutes
Being the first time in the Cavalon solo, I’ll admit to being a little nervous. Without a passenger (or instructor), the plane was a lot lighter. My stuff put back some of that, and a little extra fuel added a bit more, but overall it was still about 120 lbs lighter, and that affects just about everything. It’s not a big effect, but a lot of small effects.
I followed a checklist, got everything going, spent time warming up the engine, then eventually found myself at the hold-short line, and radioing that I was taking off. It wasn’t a pretty take-off; given that I was lighter (which should have helped, in theory), the weight difference changed my “sight picture” so I was a bit sloppy. But, I was off into the wild, cold, grey yonder.
I circled to the left, cleared the pattern, then turned south, right over the snow-covered eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. I was dressed for the cold, with 3 or 4 layers on, so it took 5 minutes or so before I started feeling it, which then made me remember that I have cabin heat! Turning that on made me happy, and a couple of minutes later, I was fairly warm. A new experience for me in an airplane flying in cold weather. It was about 35-40 degrees outside, but a toasty 70 degrees inside.
The Cavalon behaved a little different from the day before. It did feel lighter in a couple different ways, most of them good. But one thing wasn’t so good, a little porpoising. With gyroplanes without a stabilizer, it wasn’t uncommon. But mine has a pretty robust stabilizer, and I didn’t remember feeling it yesterday, so this concerned me a bit. However, most of the time, porpoising is caused by either the pilot him/herself, or by the particular power/attitude situation, or both. I knew this, so decided to just settle down and see what worked itself out. Other than that, there were no surprises. I knew from prior experience with flying new aircraft, they all have idiosyncrasies, and at first the pilot will be hypersensitive to them, but eventually — as long as you don’t try to over-compensate — the aircraft and the pilot will soon figure it all out. I just needed to give it a bit of time… and I had a lot of that ahead of me!
The Bay and Other Bodies of Water
My first real shock was looking outside at the landscape from 1500 feet… the snow, the ice, the icy water… ice floes… and, well, ice! And cold water! Yow. And how wide the Chesapeake seemed to now be and by the presence of a lot of ice on the water. Wow. Did I mention the ice? Being from Texas, this is something I never see. So my original plan got adjusted almost right away. Rather than launching across the two small bay’s and then a right-turn across the wide Chesapeake, I opted instead to follow the contours of the shore a bit closer in order to make shorter hops across the various bodies of water. That ensured I was always within gliding distance of some land should my engine decide to quit. (Intellectually, I wasn’t that worried: the plane has 260+ hours on it and was maintained by one of the best mechanics around, but being human, the emotional content is also at play.) Being under Class B airspace, I couldn’t go too high, but I managed to be at about 3,000 feet when I crossed the largest part of the bay.
In the screenshot image below, the departure point — Bay Bridge Airport — is at the top of the purple line: a blue dot. The big red arrow points to the purple line, which is my originally intended track. The big turquoise arrow points to the turquoise line, which is my actual ground track. You can easily see the difference!
I had to make that 90° turn (right after the turquoise arrow) and the leap across the bay because the orange area at the bottom of the image is restricted airspace into which I am not allowed. Heh, “leap”… it was still a long way across and the plane doesn’t doing any leaping, but since I was now out from under the Class B airspace, I could at least gain some altitude, which would help if there were an engine issue.
Completing my “jump” over the last part of Chesapeake Bay, I see just below and to the right is a nuclear power plant! Pilots are discouraged from flying over them, and especially from loitering in the area lest officials think you’re up to no good!
Then another water crossing, the Potomac, with St. Clements Island in the middle of it.
Shortly after that, I cross over the imposing Rappahannock River, just as icy as the bay.
For the rest of the day, I’m done with large bodies of water, and I’m glad!
At this point, the exciting parts of the first leg are pretty much over. My task now is to maintain course, watch for traffic, keep my radio tuned to the closest airport, check out AWOS and altimeter settings occasionally, scan engine instruments on a regular basis, keep the aircraft trimmed, monitor for any changes in the weather, keep myself warm and hydrated, and even look at the scenery when I can. Roughly in that order!
There were no surprises throughout and only one change toward the end of the leg. My original refueling point — KMTV, Blue Ridge Airport — had come under a general IFR-Mountain Obscuration weather alert (these types of weather alerts are called AIRMETs). I didn’t want to have anything to do with that, so I checked out what other alternative airports were outside of that area, and picked Danville Regional (KDAN). (Prior to the start of the trip, I had spent a lot of time going over alternatives, so I knew it would be a good one.)
As I expected, most of the porpoising had gone away and I was getting used to setting things up for hands-off flying. (That isn’t literal… only if you have auto-pilot can you do that, but you can trim things enough that 10-15 seconds of hands off won’t skew things too much.) A better expression would be to say “well-trimmed flying.”
My navigation platform (iFly GPS on an iPad) was working flawlessly (and my smartphone acts as a redundant backup, and it was great, too), but the external panel mount for it combined with the natural oscillations of a gyroplane resulted in a lot of bouncing. After a while, though, I got used to it and it never really made a difference in my ability to read it.
There were a lot of wired connections for the iPad, ADS-B in, my smartphone, etc., that were not working exactly like I had planned and tested, and that bugged me. But I found a work-around that would keep my batteries charged, so that let me relax a little. The ADS-B in GPS wasn’t working, but luckily my iPad has GPS and it was working fine. (Some time in the future, this will all be internally wired, so it won’t be as much of an issue.) Oh, and, I also have a fist-load of FAA sectionals in my flight bag… if everything went out, I’d still be able to find my way.
My headset has bluetooth, and I could play music off my smartphone and hear it in the headset… and, at some point, I might actually listen to music for the really long legs, but for now, I’m still learning and getting used to stuff, so I just stay alert and (as you can see) take an occasional photo. I think I was settled in!
About an hour before approaching the refueling stop, I decided to take advantage of the sandwich I had brought along, and had my lunch while the battleground of Appomattox passed me on my right. I was now really glad I had thought ahead to do this, because my late start meant I was pretty hungry by this point. I quickly consumed my tuna-salad sandwich, and was then better ready to prepare for the tasks needed to be dealt with prior to my next landing.
Just a couple of miles east of Danville, VA is KDAN — Danville Regional Airport, — which as you can see has two very long runways (well, for me, anyway), and this was my first refueling stop. My landing was okay, but nothing to write home about. I pulled up to the FBO and could see they did not have a self-serve pump, but before I could even get out of the plane, someone had come over to help me. I told him where to attach the static line (a safety wire which is supposed to prevent static from causing mischief). I then had to explain that there are two tanks connected by a tube, and that when you think the tank is full, you then have to wait about a minute, and let the two tanks inside equalize, and then top off. He was extremely friendly and helpful, listened carefully and followed my procedure to the letter.
I dashed inside for a quick bathroom break, smiled at a couple that were in the waiting area and were pointing at and making friendly remarks about the gyroplane, paid my bill and was off. This turned out to be my longest leg of them all, so it certainly felt good to get up and move around. I didn’t need to use a courtesy car, but I almost always ask if they have one, and they did! Then, as I kind of expected, while paying my fuel bill, they started asking me a lot of questions about the Cavalon, and I answered them as best I could. Very friendly and helpful people!
I also took a few minutes to check my route and realized that most areas to the west were still under IFR conditions, so I knew I needed to continue south. I quickly picked out KCDN – Woodward Field – near Camden, SC and gave them a call to ensure they had a courtesy car I could use. They did! I gave them an ETA and headed out.
The Second Leg of the First Day
My take-off from KDAN was without incident, and the terrain remained more or less the same rolling hills.
Danville is at the far southern edge of Virginia, and I was flying South-Southwest across North Carolina for most of this leg, and my final destination for the day was near Camden, South Carolina. So this was a 3-state leg! The air was relatively smooth, but still quite cold and I was definitely loving the cabin heat. But when I turned on the cabin heat, there was a very loud static noise in my headset. This would not do! So I played with it — as much as my flying would allow, anyway — but I could not figure out what the issue was. So, I would fly along until I got pretty cold, then I’d turn on the cabin heat and deal with the noise for a while. Then I’d turn off the cabin heat. This was especially important near airports where I had to listen. However, I noticed that when another aircraft was transmitting, the static noise would go away as long as they were talking. But I didn’t know if that would happen when I was transmitting, so I just made sure the cabin heat wasn’t on when near an airport.
The Cavalon also has heated seats! And while that sounds nice, I discovered that it wouldn’t keep me as warm all over as the cabin heat. It was better than nothing, of course, but I didn’t actually use the heated seat very much at all. However, I did accidentally turn them on a few times without knowing it — after a while, I wondered why I was getting so hot! But I figured it out and became more careful about accidentally hitting the switch.
Coming into the Camden area, I neglected to get an overall photo of the airport (KCDN), called Woodward Field, but it is much like KDAN, with two long runways. After another lackluster landing, I pulled into the area in front of the FBO and saw the self-serve gas tank so directed the plane over there. Someone from another plane came over to chat with me as I refueled. It was quite cold and the wind was blowing pretty good, so I had put on my heavy coat and gloves. That helped. The pilot left and the FBO manager came over to find out if I was the one who had called him earlier. I was, and it was a lucky thing. If I hadn’t called, he’d have already left for the day and I wouldn’t have been able to get the courtesy car.
As it turns out, this became even more important since some weather was moving into the area. The next morning, I headed over to the airport but knew that I was not going to be continuing my trip. The FBO manager was exceedingly helpful and suggested that I put my plane into a hangar until the weather cleared. I thanked him then taxied the plane over to the hangar and tucked it in. Here are a few shots of the Cavalon inside the hangar.
I realized later that this was one of three WWII hangars that used to house Army Air training planes! On the wall inside the FBO there are lots of pictures of what the airport — at the time, it was the Army Air Forces Flying Training Command, Southeast Training Center — looked like. In this one, from 1941, you can see the hangar on the far right… it’s the same one my plane was in!
Nothing like a being inside a bit of aviation history to enhance an experience.
The weather got worse and it rained for most of the next two days. Finally, on January 13, the skies cleared. I wasn’t completely hotel-room-bound during my layover. I did manage to find out that Camden has some more history, but from a much earlier time. The Civil War, you may ask? Nope, even earlier. It turns out, there is a historical site dating to the Revolutionary War at Camden! I visited for a couple of hours and got a lot of nice shots, and filled an educational gap I didn’t know I had. Here are a few of the best shots.
It was a nice diversion from the motel room, but soon enough, on the morning of the 13th, I was up, up and away once more. But not without a minor incident. I was taking off and was about 20 feet over the runway when my door — the right-side door — popped open! The Cavalon is designed so that if this happens, the pressure of the airstream will keep the door from flying up, which is a good thing. But there is a one-inch gap and cold air was streaming through it and hitting me square. It isn’t difficult to close the door — er, well, obviously a little more difficult than I had thought! — but I really didn’t relish the idea of fighting with it while in the air. So, still over the runway, I decided within a couple of seconds to do a precautionary landing.
There was plenty of runway left, but I was now going at a pretty good speed. I gently but steadily pulled the throttle back and within a few moments was gliding down. But I wasn’t going down very fast. I knew I wasn’t experienced with this aircraft so I didn’t want to try any shortcuts, so I just cranked up my patience and let the airspeed bleed off in its own time. It felt like it took a long time, but I finally was able to set up for the final flare, and touched down at only a slightly higher than normal speed. I turned off the runway on to the taxiway almost immediately, and as soon as I cleared the hold-line, I slowed down and firmly shut the door. The FBO manager had been watching my take-off, so he radio’d to see if I was okay. I very briefly explained the reason for the precautionary landing, and then taxied back so I could again takeoff. This time there were no issues. On the tracking map below, you can see how I took off then landed and taxied back (the green) to the beginning (where the yellow plane icon is).
Day 2 Leg 1, heading for Thomaston-Upson County Airport
For this leg, I was turning a little more toward the west, skirting just north of Augusta, GA, and heading for my mid-day refueling at Thomaston, GA. On this route, it was still rolling hills, but not quite as high. I passed north of Columbia, SC, and was able to briefly admire some homes on Lake Murray. Near the half-way point, I crossed over the Savannah River and Lake Thurmond, which also meant I was crossing the border into Georgia. A little while later I was over the Oconee River and Lake Oconee, again admiring some very large homes right on the water. Now I was getting close to the Thomaston-Upton Airport and prepared for landing.
One new thing I learned on this leg regarding my static noise created by the cabin heat motor: if I unplugged the 12v USB plug in the cigarette lighter, then the noise would go away. This would turn off the recharging for my smartphone, but otherwise was a better solution than just putting up with it! Now when I turned on the cabin heat, I would just unplug the USB adapter, then plug it back in when I turned off the cabin heat. Generally, this made life a bit more comfortable for me. The recharging time I lost was trivial and was really only there for backup.
This leg was almost as long as the first leg on my first day, but not quite. Thomaston airport was smaller with only one runway, but also there were fewer distractions. I had to look around for the self-serve fuel pump; I’m glad they had a big sign next to it or I’d have never found it. After refueling, I taxied over to the FBO and hopped out. I had another sandwich with me, but it really needed to be heated up, first. The wind was quite cold and blowing stiffly. As I approached the door to the FBO, I noticed they had some nice rocking chairs in front. Upon entering, I saw about 5 or 6 pilots sitting around doing a little “hangar flying” (i.e., talking). They asked me a couple of questions about my plane, but I couldn’t help myself, I asked “So, how is it you guys aren’t enjoying those rocking chairs out there?,” full knowing it was the blast of cold air that kept them inside. “Oh, we decided to give them a break,” was the reply. We all laughed. I found the tiny lunch area and heated up my sandwich, then gulped it down.
Another, very nice, FBO… this is at Thomaston-Upson County Airport
Again, it felt good to walk around and stretch the muscles. After lunch, some tepid coffee and a bathroom break, I headed back, glad that I had gotten off much earlier today. The afternoon sun would be in my eyes, but not so bad… if I got going. So I got going.
Here are some shots I took on this leg:
While I had been eating lunch at the FBO, I again looked ahead on the map to figure out where I was going, so I could call the next FBO to see if they had a courtesy car. My sights had been on an airport to my west, closer to Montgomery AL, but the IFR warning was still dogging me, so I looked a bit further south. I ended up deciding on 79J — South Alabama Regional Airport near Andalusia, AL — and called them. They too had a courtesy car that they didn’t mind me using for the night, so I mounted up and continued heading south-southwest.
Day 2 Leg 2, heading for Andalusia, Alabama
I was wheels-up by 2pm and continue to see vast forest and rolling hills. 50 minutes later I was passing Columbus GA to my south and crossed over the border to Alabama. While there were some breaks in the hills and forest, overall it wasn’t too much different from Georgia. Near the end of the leg, I started seeing more fields, a lot of them with beautiful contours. Except for some haze, it was a beautiful (though still cold) day. Here are some shots from this leg:
South Alabama Regional (local pilots seemed to call it ‘Andalusia Field’) is a single-runway airport but had an old runway that was mostly out of service except for a small spot allocated for helicopter landings. Overall, it seemed a little busier than many airports of its size.
The FBO guy, Brett, came out to say hello and eventually brought the courtesy car over to me so I could unload the plane. So, yeah, super nice guy and very helpful.
I’m now 65% of the way home, and hopefully this will be my last overnight stop. I am ecstatically happy that the plane and engine are performing flawlessly. I checked into a local motel, then headed to downtown Andalusia for dinner at Big Mike’s Steakhouse.
Day 3 Leg 1 and refueling in Gonzales, Louisiana
At this point there isn’t much more south I can go, but the entire reason I kept heading south was because of the less-than-acceptable weather to the north. Now I’m in southern Alabama, and my next stop — Louisiana Regional Airport — is about halfway to my home airport in Texas. I’m now heading mostly west and the morning leg is fine, with the sun behind me and to my left. I get off the ground without any issues, today, and it’s about 8am. For the first time, I’m kind of ahead of schedule!
For the first hour, I’m still seeing lots of contoured field, forest and some hills, but as I approach the Mobile River — which flows into Mobile Bay — the land suddenly lays down and starts to quickly become a bit swampy. As I trek across the border into Mississippi, I spot the serpentine Escatawpa River. Though there are some low hills through southern Mississippi, the ground gradually gets more and more wet. By the time I pass over the Pearl River and into Louisiana, the area of forest and dry land become fewer and fewer. Soon enough — about 45 minutes from my refueling spot — in the distance I see the vast Lake Ponchatrain.
One nagging item becomes resolved! The static noise in my headset when the cabin heat is on. Before I left for the 1st leg of the day, I decided that the small bluetooth adapter that is powered by the USB plug, and was supposed to feed sound from my iPad into the intercom, well, I had not used it yet so decided it didn’t need to be plugged in any longer. So, the first chance I got to turn on the cabin heat, I realize that the static noise is gone! So, that turned out to be the culprit, somehow. Now, I don’t have to remove the USB plug, and when the cabin heat is on, there is no static. Hurrah!
I pass by Lake Ponchatrain’s northern tip, getting a look at the north end of the long causeway that heads south toward New Orleans, then continue SW and touch the northern tip of Lake Maurepas. Another 15 minutes or so, and I’m landing at Louisiana Regional. Although anxious to refuel and keep going, my body also needs to be refueled and I didn’t bring a sandwich today. I borrowed the nice courtesy car from the FBO and head into Gonzales for a quick bite to eat. I get back and am about to get into my seat when a Louisiana good-old-boy comes over to chat.
While a large part of me wants to cut it short and head out, anxious to get home, I fully realize that if I left immediately, I’d be at my home airport quite a bit sooner than I told my family and friends. So, I take the time to be cordial, and we have a nice chat about gyroplanes and Rotax engines. Once again I’m amazed at how friendly and helpful everyone in the aviation community is. This is a great past time if for no other reason than that!
Here are some shots for this morning leg of Day 3:
Afternoon of Day 3 and the last leg of the journey
My last leg takes me almost due west, and would be a straight shot except for a few airspaces I have to negotiate. I have to avoid Lafayette, Lake Charles and Beaumont airports. Not to mention almost every square mile I’ll be flying over from now until just shy of my home airport will be swamp. Really bad swamp, too. But my engine has been working flawlessly and I’m confident that there will be no issues. Still, it’d be nice to have some floats!
The first body of water I encounter is the biggest of them all (in the US), the Mississippi River. It’s twisty and vast. Ocean-going ships look like canoe’s on it. After that, I traverse the Atchafalaya River Basin, the largest wetland and swamp in the U.S., up to 20 miles wide at some points. I’m flying a little higher than normal, to give me options… just in case. But the airspaces I have to negotiate want me low, so I have a conundrum. I steer a little away from these airspaces to allow me to keep some altitude, but doing that puts me over more swamp and water, so it’s a no-win situation. I’m now really relying on my engine, but there is no hint of anything wrong… it just keeping humming along and I’m making good time.
About two hours after I left my refueling spot, I’m crossing the final state border, over Sabine Pass and into Texas. Soon I spot the Intracoastal Waterway and fly over some national wildlife refuge’s, with massive flocks of birds casting about for a good nesting spot. 15 minutes later, I see the other Chambers County airport, and I know exactly where I am, just 10 minutes away from home. My friend Chuck, in his Mooney, has come out to say hello, and he flies by me a couple of times.
I got a little anxious and landed a bit long, but I’m down and safe and Chuck lands right behind me. He lets me taxi past him (there’s no taxiway at the home airport, so we have to taxi on the runway) when it’s safe, and I come up to my hangar to see several members of the gyro club, my brother, my wife and a few friends all waving at me. I’m a little overwhelmed by how many showed up to see me arrive, but it’s a great feeling, too. I probably should have done a better landing, given that I had an audience!
Here are some shots from my last leg, mostly over swampy land:
My brother took these:
My final route
The turquoise line in the map below is my actual track… you can see it varied considerably from my original plan and added about 300 miles to my journey.
Oh, yes, there always has to be a reckoning!
1335 mi total actually traveled
73.61 knots, average speed for trip
18:42 total time (Hobbs: 19.99)
3:07 average time per leg
4.40 average gph
83 gallons total used
NOTE: Since I’ve not been flying and/or writing stories in Texas-Flyer for quite a while, some new technologies have come along that kinda/sorta compete with what I’ve been doing with Texas-Flyer. The best platform (for me) that I’ve found is called Ramblr. As of this moment (1/30/2018), I have 179 trips documented in Ramblr. And I’ve also documented all six legs of this trip in Ramblr.
Now, to me Texas-Flyer is story-centric with photos supporting the story. With Ramblr, it’s really photo-centric, with some text thrown in to support the story. The same story is told, but from two different perspectives. I’m totally torn between doing just one or the other (mainly because I can’t decide), so I’m going to try to do both for a while. Bottom line, a lot of the same information that you read here will be in Ramblr, and a lot of the photos in Ramblr are to be found in this story. Maybe you can give me some feedback on which method you prefer?
Overview map that I did with Google Maps: