Twenty years ago, Cat Herder and Collin were just getting settled into life in western Colorado. The previous two years were spent living and working in Uruguay, and it was a fun time to launch a new chapter in Collin's home turf. Until then, Collin was a professional engineer, flying for fun. It wouldn't be long before those roles reversed.
An Australian honeymoon spent with GOANA Tours sparked an idea, and after a couple years of work, Parkwest Air Tours and (later) Colorado Flight Center were born. Collin went from being an instrument-rated private pilot to one with so many initials and ratings to follow they no longer fit on a business card. And today, he flies with AeroFlite, Inc. as a wildland fire-fighting pilot, and spent the past summer jumping between the cockpits of the RJ tanker and the CL 415 water scooper while serving as duty pilot for the Pilatus support plane in his "off time."
The past four years took us out of Colorado, and now we're headed back. The movers come in two weeks, and we will (at least initially) settle into urban life in Denver. Going forward, Collin will be a dedicated scooper pilot, which should calm the schedule and allow for some higher quality home life. We look forward to getting back to the Centennial State, and reconnecting with the many people--friends, family, customers--who are so very meaningful to us, as are the beautiful mountains and red rock country we so love to fly.
What does this mean for Parkwest Air Tours? Nothing is certain but the uncertainty. But which ever way the wind blows this Cat Herder, know that if you are reading this post, you are likely someone who has impacted our lives greatly and made the Parkwest chapter such a valuable one, for us and for your fellow tour mates as well.
A very Merry Christmas to you all, and we'll look forward to connecting up somehow, somewhere, at some point in the future.
But not before we finished up our fun time in Fairbanks, saw all 92 miles of the Denali Park Road (twice!), marveled at incredible wildlife and awe-inspiring scenery, shared many hearty laughs, and exchanged some heartfelt goodbyes. It was a great group! Until next time...
We reversed course over the McCarthy Road (a bit smoother and certainly less dusty due to the rainfall), and made our way back out to "The Rich", and northward to Fairbanks. We made several stops en route, for picnic lunches, pipeline views, a mosquito bite in Delta Junction. A couple of easy days in the Golden Heart City is just what the group needs right now.
Much like the epic free day we had in Valdez, Kennicott--aka Wrangell-St. Elias National Park--treated the MSR2 gang to a fantastic day. Some hiked glaciers, others explored the National Park interpretive trail, others clambered around the nearly-dilapidated and nearly-century-old mill structure from the copper heyday. And some of us went flying over the vast, icy wilderness of the Last Frontier.
We're off to Fairbanks tomorrow and the official Midnight Sun. The sun rises tomorrow at 3:15 a.m. and sets the following day at 12:23 a.m. Crazy amazing, this Alaska!
Halibut hunters Mark, Kathie, Chester and Suzanne set out for 12 HOURS on this gorgeous Valdez summer day and scored one halibut per person. Well done, gang!
How can I describe a day like today
Driving the roadways of Alaska while on holiday?
Okay, so Cat Herder IS working, let's not forget that fact.
But having some fun while on tour, is something she's never once lacked.
Departing Alyeska, via the Seward, and the Glenn Highway New and Old
Arriving at the Rich: "head south," the Milepost told.
We saw rivers and glaciers, moose mommies and calves;
We lunched at the Matanuska, shared quite a few laughs.
By the time Valdez loomed in the windshield ahead
The numerous sights we'd seen began to throb in my head.
I told Dede: "No More! I can't bear one more view."
For today's many scenic moments had started to stew.
Too many vistas of snow and glaciers and so many moose
Swirled in my head, something I didn't want to lose.
So when we spied that last waterfall down the mountain, spilling forth
We said, no more stops today (and, besides, we'll see it again heading north!)
It's been the best of Alaska days, under this now midnight sun.
I think the MSR2 tour (so far) gets a Thumbs Up from everyone!
The gang's all here, the weather is divine, and the food up top of Alyeska Mountain at the 7 Glaciers Restaurant was outstanding. Off to a great start for this MSR2 - 2018.
Chinooks 1-8 will launch for a day outing to Hope tomorrow. Look out Alaska, the Parkwest Road Rally has arrived!
Cat Herder (aka Marisa) has been guiding pilot tours in the American West for over twenty years. Keep tabs on your Parkwest pilot friends, National Park news and other tidbits here!