Cat Herder simply doesn't know what to do with herself at Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway without Parkwest pilots to herd around town! Enjoyed a great drive across the Alberta prairies and am comfortably checked in to my hotel in Dawson Creek, BC. Now that I've arrived at the official start of the Alaska Highway (after 1800 miles of driving), I only have 1500 more to go to Fairbanks!
So I've flown commercially to Alaska, flown the Cessna to Alaska, driven the Al-Can with Collin pulling a camp trailer, and now? Cat Herder is tackling the 3000-mile trek in the Ford Escape with Luna as co-pilot! A tough way to reunite a man and his dog, wouldn't you say?
Departing Sheridan, WY this morning after first verifying whether Java Moon, indeed, serves the best coffee on I-90!
As reported in the Fairbanks News Miner today:
With 6.57 inches of rain at the airport and counting, the period from June 18 to Wednesday is the wettest 15-day period on record in Fairbanks, surpassing the 6.17 inches that fell Aug. 1-15 in 1967 and caused the worst flooding in the city's history, Thoman said.
Bear in mind that Cat Herder arrived on June 19th and leaves in two days. Even drearier? The mood at the smokejumper base, as the heavy rains have precluded any fire action.
We go to Chena Hot Springs tonight--we think. Here's what their website says about road conditions. Probably best that I NOT double-check the fine print of my rental car contract for my little Ford Focus!
So after a couple of days of fun in the Midnight Sun, Collin got shipped off--first to McGrath then on to Bethel, after dropping jumpers on a fire way down on the Bering Sea coastal town of Toksook. So Cat Herder is hanging in Fairbanks visiting museums, making new friends, attending lectures and concerts at the University, bicycle riding and whatever else comes up. Sorta nice to have time to explore a bit, since our Parkwest trips always breezed quickly through the "Golden Heart City" of Fairbanks.
As Robert Service so eloquently put it: Strange things are done in the Midnight Sun...
You gotta love an airplane with windshield wipers!
Everyone seems to be most appalled by Collin's dorm room. I think it has a certain monastic charm about it!
Just learned that they are posting him and the airplane in McGrath (population 346) for about a week. Stay tuned for updates!!
(You can click on the photos to enlarge them for better detail.)
Today I received an email from our friends at Sun Tours in East Glacier, MT. Among other news items was the below tidbit about improvements to the Starr Browning airstrip. (I can't help but think the waves of Parkwest groups over the years helped nudge progress in the right direction.) I have so many funny memories with groups there; the lack of bathrooms or obvious tie-down spots always presented a few challenges!
The Starr Airstrip boasts a new paved and striped surface, complete with landing lights. There is fuel available as well as restroom facilities and additional parking and tie-downs. An additional hanger [sic] has been added and the facility is staffed 24 hours daily.
If you flew to Mexico with us this year, you will remember Jasson and Cliff, the UIM missionary pilots, and their families. They experienced a rough landing at a remote strip and the plane suffered serious damage. (No personal injuries, thank goodness!) Here's the latest from Jasson and Kim.
Cat Herder will bid farewell to Collin this weekend, as he leaves for a 4-month contract flying the CASA 212 in Alaska. He'll be based in Fairbanks, flying smokejumpers and para-cargo for Bighorn Airways. For those of you who flew with us in 2012 for the Best of Parkwest - Part II, you will remember touring the smokejumper base and the CASA in Winthrop, WA.
He'll be back with a couple of weeks to spare before the Wild Blue Yonder tour, beginning October 5th.