Aerial Exploration: Toronto to San Francisco

Flying out of Toronto

Flying out of Toronto

After spending a few days in Montreal in early 2011, I connected through Toronto on my way back home to California. For once, I had a good window seat and the center of the country was not covered with clouds. We flew over the Great Lakes — Michigan and Superior — and then southwest toward San Francisco. Because we flew west into the sun, I had enough daylight to take pictures from start to finish.

If you click on the photo to the right, you can see Toronto’s most prominent features — the CN Tower — extending above the Toronto city skyline as I flew out of town. From there we headed west.

Crystal Lake, Michigan
Crystal Lake, MI
Wikipedia Google Maps
Apparently there are fifteen different lakes in Michigan named Crystal Lake. The largest, in Benzie County, is shown above just off the shores of Lake Michigan. Since there are apparently over 11,000 inland lakes in Michigan, I guess I can forgive the state for reusing a few names. Apparently, this lake used to be known as Cap Lake because of the frequent whitecaps visible. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is at the top of the picture.

Door Peninsula, Wisconsin
Wikipedia Google Maps
Located on the eastern edge of Wisconsin, the Door Peninsula extends from Green Bay northeast into Lake Michigan. The city of Sturgeon Bay is in the middle of the peninsula — the city is hard to see but the bay should be obvious. In 1882, Sturgen Bay Ship Canal was completed cutting the peninsula in half and making the upper portion an island.

Coyote Knolls East and West, Millard, Utah
Wikipedia Google Maps
In the afternoon light, these three vertical formations stood out against the flat Utah landscape as I gazed down from my window seat. The one of the far right is called Coyote Knolls East and the one in the middle is Coyote Knolls West. I did not find a name for the third one. These sit southwest of the Great Salt Lake in Tule Valley. (Not to be confused with Coyote Knoll about 60 miles northeast.) A knoll is a small hill or mound. Looking east from these knolls will provide a nice view of Swasey Mountain.

Rhodes Salt Marsh, Mineral, NV
Wikipedia Google Maps
Rhodes Salt Marsh can be found just south of the town of Mina off route 95. During Nevada’s mining gold rush, this area was called Virginia Marsh. A man named A. J. Rhodes set up a business of delivering salt to the mining mills in Virginia City by camel.

Near Tracy, CA
Wikipedia Google Maps
In the fading sunlight, the hills take on a brainlike contour. The mountains separate the Bay Area to the Central Valley. The city of Tracy, CA is at the top middle of the picture. The three lines that cross the image diagonally are (from left to right) Interstate 580, and two canals which are part of California Aqueduct.

Mission Hills, Sunol, CA 
Wikipedia Google Maps
The Missions Hills and Sunol, CA are east of Fremont, CA and Mission San Jose.  The Sunol name is more famous to commuters in the San Jose area because of the Sunol Grade — a steep slope facing commuters returning from their jobs in San Jose to their homes in Pleasanton or Livermore. Commuter trains also stop in Sunol. The San Antonio reservoir can be seen on the right side in the image. Mount Diablo can be seen in the distance.

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