ORD To LAX – The Scenery

Yesterday I showed pictures of airports (and their associated towns and cities) as seen from my recent flight from Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD) to Los Angeles International (LAX). Today, let’s look at other stuff you can see on the ground, not necessarily all aviation related.

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OK, so O’Hare is another airport, but this view of only a portion of it shows just how freakin’ huge it is. We had just taken off on one of those runways before turning left and left again to head southwest toward Los Angeles.

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The Mississippi River is an easy landmark to spot. We passed over it just north of St. Louis.

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When it’s clear below you, you can just follow the interstate highway system to keep track of where you are. I know, the folks up front in the big commercial jets all use GPS and an autopilot with backup systems to the backup systems’ backup systems. But for a little guy like me, if I’m flying at 8,000 feet instead of being up with the jets at 38,000 feet (probably a good thing, because I could get sucked into an engine and then we’d both have a bad day) with minimal backup systems and high tech, all of these nice, straight, divided highways are very useful.

The big highway here is I-35, the town is Cassoday, Kansas (population 128), and the smaller road running parallel to it and then crossing it is Kansas Highway 177. The small V-shaped lake at the right is Fox Lake.

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Once you get into far western Oklahoma the plains start to vanish and the landscape gets carved up. These canyons are near Kenton Oklahoma, where the New Mexico, Kansas, and Oklahoma borders all meet.

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Once you cross into New Mexico, it’s still relatively flat (for the moment) but it’s a chaotic landscape.

Easy to fly over at 38,000 feet, 425 knots, and air-conditioned comfort – must have been a real pain to travel in a wagon behind a pair of mules. Keep that in mind the next time you want to bitch about the TSA or not getting as much leg room as you used to.

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This feature stuck out like a sore thumb, but even though I knew more or less where we were when I took it, it still took some hunting on Google Earth to find it. It’s the Capulin Volcano National Monument, sixty miles northwest of Clayton, New Mexico, just south of the Colorado border.

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Just to the east of Taos, New Mexico, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains push up to well above 10,000 feet, with several peaks above 12,000 feet. Wheeler Peak is the highest point in New Mexico at 13,161 feet.

At first I thought there were patches of snow up there, but I doubt it now, even given that altitude. I guess it’s possible (anyone in the Taos region able to correct me?) but I suspect these are buildings of some sort, masquerading as patches of snow.

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Once you get into Arizona it’s lots of land suitable only for lizards and snakes. (In my humble opinion.) Out here, water is more precious than gold, even before you get into a four-year drought. The dried up river beds still have some moisture, so that’s where you see the tiny swaths of green, often alongside a distinct flood plain.

This one is the Big Sandy Wash, notable enough to be a landmark listed on VFR flight charts. The small town at the bottom is Wikieup, Arizona (population 305) and the highway running alongside the left (west) side of the Wash is US Highway 93.

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Finally back over California, the Mojave Desert stretches from the Colorado River to the metropolitan areas of Los Angeles and San Diego along the coast. The only reason the Mojave is “shrinking” is because people keep building cities in places like Palm Springs and irrigating the crap out of them in order to build golf courses.

Here we were north of Twenty-Nine Palms, above the Cleghorn Lakes Wilderness Area. (Cleghorn LAKES? I can only assume this is someone’s idea of a joke. Perhaps they have a yacht club as well?) In the upper right corner, just above that long cloud, you can see the Twenty-Nine Palms Salt Evaporation facility. Just beyond is the historic Route 66 and the ghost town of Amboy.

I’ll give credit to all of those who traveled this course on foot, on horse, and in covered wagons. They were tougher men (and women, and children) than I am. A comfy window seat at 35,000 feet works just fine for me, thanks.


Filed under Flying, Photography, Travel

2 responses to “ORD To LAX – The Scenery

  1. Jemima Pett

    Great pics. I once did the trip the other way around – some years ago, it’s true. We went over Bryce Canyon – fantastic views! Although, come to think of it, I think I went to St Louis before I went to Chicago on that trip… time, memory, you know… (sigh)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! If you ever get the chance, go see Bryce Canyon and/or Zion National Park. Spectacular scenery, a great place to do astrophotography. Everyone goes to the Grand Canyon, Bryce & Zion are just as stunning and less rarely seen.


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