Thank you for the feedback. Much appreciated. One point to mention, PF3 is unaware or surrounding terrain, it only knows the elevation of the ground immediately below your aircraft, so unless you create your flight plan correctly you could experience problems. Sounds like you did that or were lucky.
LOL - i was concerned - I filed at 13,000 (500 above MSA for the arrival airport!) and was given a climb to 9,000 on departure and then an immediate decent/maintain 8,500 - vectors skirted the rising terrain around Big Bear and I'm sure I could have done a better job with a flight plan that would have ensured I stayed at 13K until ready to descend but the airports are so close that I just used the departure point from Riverside as the only waypoint so vectors started pretty soon - that's on me. But it worked in the end and I enjoyed the flight.
Appreciate knowing that PF3 is only aware of terrain aware directly under the plane - I will certainly plan accordingly from now on.
Now if I can only get the new controller settings to calm down...the joystick is so darned sensitive after the last MSFS update.