Bob was in Las Vegas and I needed to visit the Castle site. Adam had a research friend who was in town and interested in taking a flight. I am not sure you could pay me to ride back and forth to Las Vegas in the back seat if I had nothing to do in Las Vegas, but Steve seemed game.
The weather, on the other hand, was not game at all. We waited on the ground watching the weather radar. Adam called Flight Service and I tried to decrypt the METARs and TAFs. No good news. Eighty per cent chance of thunderstorms in the Las Vegas area until 2pm. I figured that might be okay because we could get close and land in Dagget or Jean if there was one moving through and we could wait an hour (they usually pass through and area quickly) and continue on.
The airport at Santa Monica finally went VFR (the clouds blew inland) and we went out to the plane. We pre-flighted and Adam took the radios. We climbed in a rectangle over the airport up to 5,500 feet thinking we would be on top of the clouds, but it looked like another couple thousand to make it over the uppermost layer.
We gave up that route and turned north for Santa Barbara. We figured if we headed north up the coast a bit we might get a glance inland where it was clear and make a break for the central valley. After thirty minutes it was clear that the wall of clouds was really tall and long.
We continued north and considered lunch in Santa Barbara (too early), and Monterey (it seemed too far after another forty minutes in the air. We veered inland and landed in Paso Robles. It has the best airport lunch and dinner spot (Matthews). We had lunch and headed home, but first we scooted out to the coast and saw San Simeon from the air. What a place.
There are photographs.