The Perfect Layover in Gunnison

Hi! This is Chris Ashbach again. I’m back with another perfect layover idea. This time, I’m in Gunnison, Colorado. Gunnison is a year-round tourist destination that offers everything for the outdoorsman, from world class fly fishing, to hiking and skiing. Trans States Airlines has a regular layover here that arrives about lunchtime with a departure the next morning so you get to have the afternoon to explore this jewel of the Rockies.

Our layover hotel is just north of downtown Gunnison. From the hotel, there are three things within walking distance that are worth visiting; downtown Gunnison, The Powerstop, and the Gunnison State Wildlife Area. For the more adventurous, I’d recommend trying fly fishing. You can also visit Crested Butte, or just take a tour around on the free Gunnison Valley RTA bus.

Near Our Hotel

Downtown Gunnison

Downtown Gunnison is an easy walk from our hotel. If you prefer, the van driver is usually more than happy to offer crews a ride to town though. Gunnison offers a few restaurants and some shopping. It’s a good way to spend a couple of hours on a nice afternoon. If you are looking for recommendations, check out The Twisted Fork which offers Asian influenced American food. For great pizza and an outdoor patio, visit High Alpine. On a recent trip, I really enjoyed The Bean cafe. It is a little more hipster and has some great coffee and crepes.

The Powerstop

After several Captains told me it was one of the best burgers they had ever eaten, I had to try The Powerstop. While The Powerstop is an old gas station, it won’t take you more than one bite to know they make an absolutely killer burger.

Hike the Gunnison State Wildlife Area

A short walk northwest from the hotel will bring you to a dirt road that leads both wanderers and seasoned walkers to this wildlife area. It is a gorgeous walk and a large loop through the wilderness. During the winters, you will see cross-country skiers. Other times of the year, you may see couples out for a sunny walk, along with the occasional runner.

The wildlife area is very flat and is easily accessible. Clearly marked paths help keep you on the right track as you explore some of the natural beauty Gunnison has to offer. If you visit, make sure to walk all the way to the west, toward the large cliff face. Nestled next to the towering rock cliffs of the mountain you will see the Gunnison River tumbling and churning past you. It’s a perfect place to sit and read a book while the warm sun beats down on you next to the cool mountain water rushing by.

Make a Day Trip Through the Gunnison Valley

If you are a little more adventurous, you have to see some of the rest of the Gunnison Valley. It offers a lot of outdoor recreation, shopping, and history to explore.

Getting Around the Valley

The Gunnison Valley has a free bus that is scheduled throughout the day. Getting on the Gunnison Valley RTA is simple; the nearest stop is a stones throw from our hotel. The front desk has a schedule and can give you directions if needed. The RTA runs between Crested Butte and Gunnison and makes several stops along the way.

I caught this bus at the corner of Spencer and Main. Along the bus’s route, three stops worth noting for our layovers: First, the historic district of Crested Butte. Second, the Crested Butte Mountain Village and finally, the Three Rivers Resort in Alma for fly fishing. This stop is a flag stop and you have to tell the bus driver or the bus will continue without stopping. To get picked up here, just wait at the stop to waive the bus for your return.

Visit the Crested Butte Historic District

Crested Butte was originally settled in the late 1800’s as a hard rock mining town. Today, visitors can step back in time and experience the sense of adventure the first explorers must have felt when they see this historic town. To get here, simply take the valley transit bus and get off at the “Crested Butte 4 Way” stop. As you exit the bus, you will be directly in front of the Crested Butte visitors center, which is at one end of the four-block-long historic district. Enjoy shopping, dining, and even a gourmet donut shop while you are in town.

I’d like to tell you that I had enough self-control to avoid Nikky’s Donut Shop while I visited. But that would be a lie… Look at how good these little guys are!

Mountain Village in Crested Butte

Mountain Village in Crested Butte is the entryway to world-class skiing on Mount Crested Butte. Nestled at the foot of the ski resort, Mountain Village offers direct access to the hills. I tried to get a half day pass. So you know, between the rentals and the pass, it came to about $180. You can check ahead of time to see if they have any specials at 877-547-5143. If that is out of your price range, you can still visit the public square and the patios with scenic views of the resort. It’s a great place to people watch, get something to eat and enjoy some fresh mountain air.

Fly Fish the Gunnison or Taylor Rivers.

The Three Rivers Resort and Outfitting in Almont has a fly shop that offers guides, rental gear, and plenty of advice for a new fly fisherman. Many people don’t know that the Gunnison Valley has some of the worlds best fly fishing and many of Colorado’s record fish have come from the Taylor River, a tributary to the Gunnison River. I took the crew out last January for some winter fishing and made this video to share what a beautiful place this is.

Why is the Taylor River such a unique place to fish? It is protected from large amounts of fishing pressure by its remote location and the Taylor Park Reservoir which feeds the lower Taylor River. It has produced many trophy fish because it is filled with high-calorie mysis shrimp. Many decades ago, in an effort to bolster Colorado’s fishing, mysis shrimp were introduced to the reservoirs as food for the trout. These shrimp were originally harvested from the Great Lakes and thrive in very sterile low-nutrient waters and were thought to be a perfect match for the very pure mountain water reservoirs. For various reasons, only a handful of reservoirs successfully hosted and then fed the shrimp to these trout downstream. The Taylor River is one of the success stories of this project leading to very large and abundant trout for anglers to hook.

With trophy-sized Rainbow, Brown, and Brook Trout calling us just minutes away, I convinced the Captain to split the cost of a rental car with me. We did some serious team building by renting fly gear and hitting this exceptionally rare honey-hole of a river with a couple of fly rods. We braved the mid-January cold and headed up to the Taylor River reservoir. To get there, drive 15 minutes to Alma, rent your gear, and then continue 20 miles up Country Road 742 to the dam. The road twists and turns along the river bank among the high peaks of the mountains on both sides. As you drive, you will see well-marked let-in places to fish. I recommend starting at the top by the reservoir and working your way down.

Learn More About Working at Trans States Airlines

Culture. Community. Camaraderie. You’ll find it all at Trans States. Click here to learn more about careers at Trans States and to apply online.

This article was written by Chris Ashbach, MA; a First Officer at Trans States Airlines, professional speaker, blogger, and photographer. If you liked “The Perfect Layover In Gunnison” please read “A Winter Wonderland in Sioux Falls.” Chris owns the travel site VacationTripReviews.com and a food blog FourKidsAndAChicken.com. In addition, Chris owns LiveDan330.com and his brand has been recognized by the Wall Street Journal, Investment News Magazine, and IZEA, Inc. You are welcome to read more about Chris on ChrisAshbach.com. Chris is also a featured gardener in the upcoming book on Straw Bale Gardening by New York Times best-selling author Joel Karsten.

 

Winter Wonderland in Sioux Falls

 

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First Officer Chris Ashbach

My name is Chris Ashbach, and I’m a First Officer with Trans States Airlines. If you’ve ever flown with me and tried to lift my bag out of the closet on the aircraft, you know that I bring around 20 pounds of camera gear with me whenever I fly.  Before joining Trans States Airlines I was a professional travel blogger.  Now that I’m a First Officer at Trans States, I’ve combined my love for flying and my love for travel into a monthly blog article highlighting some of the amazing destinations that we serve, along with not-to-be-missed activities for overnighting crews.  First up … Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

 

Falls Park in Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls is a thriving city in southeast South Dakota. The city is famous to Midwesterners as a stopping point along Highway 90 for road trippers before they get to the infamous Corn Palace in Mitchell as they continue on their way through the plains and the Black Hills toward the Rocky Mountains. For tourists, the city of Sioux Falls is most famous for its rambling waterfalls that stretch over a rare quartzite rock formation in what is now Falls Park. But the city is much more than just a rest for weary road trippers. Trans States serves Sioux Falls with regular flights supporting the vibrant economy of this little-known gem of a city.

While most people don’t think of the Dakotas as a particularly exciting winter destination, if you do make the trip, the warmth of the people is all you need to survive the cool weather. For a perfect day in Sioux Falls, I recommend a visit to Winter Wonderland in Falls Park, followed by a chance to warm up in Downtown Sioux Falls with some great barbecue. Both are an easy walk from our crew hotel.

Winter Wonderland in Falls Park

Falls Park is one of the most searched-for attractions in South Dakota. Visitors can find Sioux Falls’ namesake here as they watch the Big Sioux River tumble and toss through the rocky outcroppings of the park. The below photo was taken just after sunset, truly one of my favorite times of the day.

These falls are the gem of Sioux Falls, and are the very place the city was first formed. A stone building where the first settlers milled their crops still stands by the bustling river. Today the city celebrates its history and the natural beauty of this place through what is now called Falls Park.  With lighted, paved paths, Falls Park is the perfect place to walk, bike, or run around historic sites and waterfalls, day or night.

If you visit from early November through early January, you’re in for a special treat.  The city’s “Winter Wonderland at Falls Park” adorns the beloved falls with holiday cheer, and features over over 25 miles of lights and colored LED spotlights.

From the crew hotel, head north about one block on Phillips Street, and then catch the trails from the park entrance. Find the plowed walkway through the field on your right, and you will descend into a rare quartzite patch worn bare by the river. After a short walk, the falls will appear in front of you as they fall away into the lower levels of the park.

The largest part of the falls’ drop is found near an observation deck down this path. Don’t miss a stop here. It’s beautiful.

Perched on a nearby hill you can stop at the Falls Park Visitors Center and observation deck to warm up before you continue on. The city built this outlook to take advantage of the beautiful park and downtown area past it. Outdoor speakers play holiday music, and I saw more than a few couples out walking, just enjoying the fresh nighttime air and magical views.

Warm Up In Downtown Sioux Falls

After your walk through Falls Park, head downtown to warm your belly at one of Sioux Falls’ fantastic restaurants. On your way, don’t just take the streets back. Enjoy the rest of the Winter Wonderland by walking the paths south to 10th street and then cut west one block to get downtown.

Downtown Sioux Falls is loaded with great restaurants and eateries. The downtown area starts one block south of our layover hotel on Phillips Avenue. Some of our crews’ favorite eateries include JL Beers for a good craft burger and MacKenzie River Pizza. During my most recent layover, I stopped at BackYard BBQ, right in the heart of Phillips Avenue, for some authentic BBQ.

On the way back from dinner, don’t miss CH Patisserie for a French macaroon or another tasty treat to enjoy back in your room.

After a good nights rest, we were back as a crew for our hotel pickup headed for Joe Foss Field. A few legs later and we were ready to explore another city the following night.

Learn More About Working At Trans State Airlines

Culture.  Community.  Camaraderie.  You’ll find it all at Trans States.  Click here to learn more about careers at Trans States and to apply online. 

This article was written by Chris Ashbach, MA; a First Officer at Trans States Airlines, professional speaker, blogger, and photographer. You can learn more about Sioux Falls Tourism on Chris’ travel blog. Chris also owns LiveDan330.com and his brand has been recognized by the Wall Street Journal, Investment News Magazine, and IZEA, Inc. You are welcome to read more about Chris on ChrisAshbach.com, or enjoy his food blog, FourKidsAndAChicken.com. Chris is also a featured gardener in the upcoming book on Straw Bale Gardening by New York Times best-selling author Joel Karsten.

Flight Crew’s Actions Will “Give the Gift of Sight to Someone who Needs it”

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When a Trans States flight diverted to Raleigh, a quick-thinking flight crew ensured that a critically important shipment of transplant tissues was saved.  The shipment contained corneas, which were en route to a medical center in Providence when the flight was diverted.

Fortunately, Flight Attendant Binh Kbuor noticed that the shipment had a notation asking for any delay information to be sent to a telephone number on the box.  Binh showed the notation to Captain Jason Secondi, who immediately followed up with MNX Global Logistics, the company that had coordinated the shipment.

In the below note, the COO of MNX Global Logistics explains how Binh and Jason’s actions ensured that the valuable tissues were saved and could be used in a future surgery.

“We were shipping corneas for transplant, when the flight was diverted to Raleigh. The pilot, Jason Secondi, took it upon himself to call the consignee in Providence from his personal cell phone and let them know the corneas were delayed. That information was passed to us at our call center, and we were able to speak directly to Jason several times.  He was extremely helpful, and although the intended surgery was missed, we were able to recover the shipment from a ground agent in Raleigh and return the corneas to the lab in Birmingham and salvage the precious tissue. Without Jason’s actions, this tissue would have been lost.

We always appreciate our partnership with American Airlines Cargo, but at times like this, we must recognize Jason’s actions, going above and beyond, to assist us with this precious shipment.

As always, we thank you and your team for all your support, and a very special thank you to Jason for going the extra mile and assuring the tissue wasn’t lost and guaranteeing the gift of sight for someone who needs it.”

Mechanic Chris Gage Goes Above and Beyond to Reunite Lost Wallet with its Owner

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When maintenance found a wallet on one of our aircraft without any contact details for the owner, Trans States mechanic Chris Gage went above and beyond to track down the owner.

As the former CEO of Baxter International, and now a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg school of Management, I was truly surprised about something that recently happened to me.  I was on a United flight in one of your planes from Chicago to Charlotte, and when I arrived at my hotel, I discovered I had lost my wallet for the first time in 50 years. 

I called United, they searched the plane and found nothing.  I was going to cancel all of my credit cards and stop payment on the several checks in my wallet, but I was running to give a speech and didn’t have time. Since my phone number was not in my wallet, I gave up hope. To my complete surprise, the next day I received a call from Chris Gage.

He told me that one of his colleagues had found the wallet, and he wanted to send it to me ASAP.  When I asked how he located me, he stated that he had tried a number of ways to track me down, and when he found an AAA card in the wallet, he called them and was able to obtain my mobile number. 

I have never met Chris Gage, but he struck me as a true values-based person, someone the world clearly needs more of. 

When I thanked him, he told me he was just doing his job and didn’t need to be thanked.

Chris represents the values that drive us as a company – integrity, honesty, and perseverance.  Chris is just one of hundreds of Trans States employees around the country going above and beyond for our passengers each and every day.

Year in Review – Our Favorite Posts from 2016

We had a busy 2016!  We introduced you to some one-of-a-kind people and highlighted some extraordinary happenings within our company.  Let’s take a look back to some of our favorite posts from TRANSmissions this past year.

Preparing for Your First Part 121 Ground School – An Instructor’s Perspective

In what was far and away our most read and shared blog entry of the year, Trans States Airlines Flight Instruction Manager Paul Epperson shares his tips and advice for what to expect and how to prepare for the adjustment into 121 ground school.

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Trans States Provides Simulated Flight Experience for Children with Autism

Some of our Raleigh-based crew members had the opportunity to be a part of a very special event co-sponsored by American Airlines and the Autism Society of North Carolina.  The event simulated the airport experience for children with autism so that they would know what to expect the first time they boarded a commercial flight.  The children also had the opportunity to board a Trans States Embraer 145, and were shown exactly what would happen during the first 20 minutes of a real flight.

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Shriners Debut Aviation-Themed Parade Float, With Help of Trans States Employee

Trans States’ Sam Curless helped the St. Louis Shriners Air Patrol when they were in dire need of a new parade float. Through his connections, Sam was able to help organize a build of a new float, made out of an Embraer 145 fuselage. The float made its debut at the St. Louis Thanksgiving Day Parade to an excited crowd, and a group of Shriners kids who got to ride it for the first time!

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Trans States VP of Safety Marks 70th Birthday by Flying 70th Aircraft Type

Trans States Airlines Vice President of Safety Craig Tompkins recently accomplished a pretty lofty goal that he’d set for himself in 2014 – to fly 70 different aircraft before his 70th birthday.  Craig reached his milestone right on time, flying aircraft type #70, a Cessna 170 on floats, just before his 70th birthday in October.

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Former Marine Turned Aircraft Mechanic and College Student: Meet Brandi Rector

Before becoming a aircraft mechanic for Trans States Airlines, Brandi Rector spent six years in the United States Marine Corps as a helicopter aerial gunner and mechanic.  Now she dedicates her time to ensuring that our aircraft operate safely and efficiently, all while attending full-time classes at Saint Louis University.

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We’ll be back in 2017 with more posts dedicated to the extraordinary individuals who call Trans States home.  Happy New Year!