Saturday, December 22, 2012

Northbound 2012 Final Push Home

Day Six, Fly to Abbotsford

Coming out of Olympia we tried three different passes to get through the Cascades to the East and finally gave up.  A couple times I think we could have made it if I had known the way (had some local knowledge), but it was getting pretty low.  I wanted to get through because I had filed with Customs to leave the US just South of Penticton.  I was worried I would get in some sort of trouble, but there was no way to change the departure info.

We briefly considered going back to Oly (which was nice), but figured we'd find somewhere near the border to regroup and try to go to Abbotsford instead of Penticton.  I took a look at the nearest airports on the GPS and saw Arlington which sounded familiar.  It had gas so we headed in...

And found ourselves smack in the middle of a flyin!  They had gas AND a restaurant.  And they let us use their wi-fi to file more customs paperwork and all that big brother crap.  It was pretty fun, and the weather began to clear just as we had eaten and watched almost everyone else fly away. :-)

Day Seven, Fly to Watson Lake

We spent the night in Penticton, then blasted through Williams Lake on up the trench to Watson Lake.

I like Williams Lake.  Real mellow little terminal that has seen better days I think.  Easy to get gas, there are a couple ticket counters and waiting areas but all pretty much abandoned the two times we've been there and there are some tables so we've stopped for snacks a couple times.

Then we went up to Mackenzie to fuel up for the trench.  It was blowing over 20, but right down the runway so I didn't really notice until I got up on the wing to refuel and froze my ass off.  A Supercub taxied up and I waved to them that I would hurry (and I WAS!!!).  I walked over to them and it turned out to be Bob Breeden and Greg Swingle headed to Valdez for the STOL contest.  A couple (?) years ago the kids and I flew into Greg's wedding near the Knik Glacier behind my house in Palmer.  The Breeden's have had some Alaska adventures, including losing a Cub to a calving glacier.

Greg is a fun guy and makes great flying videos - search Vimeo or YouTube for "Ohio Bush Planes"

It was a smidge low coming out of Mackenzie but soon cleared up.  Pretty much.  We circled around near the pass in the trench for a while until we could see through a bit better, but it was wide open the rest of the way. This is the S end of Williston Lake.

They caught up to us at Watson Lake along with my friend John Payne who was ferrying a plane up from the states.  I didn't know John was around, but he recognized my plane (he's flown it) and texted me that they were spending the night at the Watson Lake terminal.  Jake and I had already had a restaurant dinner and were watching TV in a hotel room, so I told them to have a good time without us :-)

The next day was foggy and we waited around for it to clear up.  Following the road there are a couple high spots that weren't open so we had to backtrack a couple times to go around.  In my limited experience the lowest weather has always been between Watson Lake and Whitehorse.  The Canadian weather lady was really concerned - she kept trying to talk me out of going to take a look because I wasn't a local.  I finally told her "Look, I know what I'm doing. You might see me back in Watson Lake this afternoon, but you won't see me on the evening news."

Day Eight, Home!

We bought 600 dollars worth of gas in Whitehorse and filed with Customs for Northway.  I was in a hurry since it was late in the day and Northway Customs closes at 4PM I think so I got really frustrated using the Whitehorse terminals to file with US Customs.  Jake told me yelling "fucking government" probably wasn't such a good idea in a government building.  :-)

We had the nicest Customs guy in Northway. He told us "Your friends said they had to fly around a little to make it through, but there were here 6 hours ago".  John made it to Palmer via Fairbanks before we got home direct. In a plane that goes about 25% slower than mine :-)

The Customs guy waited until after he was supposed to be closed  for this Goose he knew was coming. He really was a good guy.

We wanted to get home so we just ran wide open the last 90 minutes or so and made it to Palmer.