Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Heading back

I don't know what all the fuss about on-stop flights is about. You take a flight of any length over an hour and a half and a chance to get out, use a civilized washroom and stretch your legs is usually pretty welcome to me.

Maybe I should look into buying a small plane and doing trans-pacific service to Asia with stops every hour and a half along the coast, Alaska, Russia and China. Stops would be to airports where thery would be equipped with pre-manufactured lounge facilities for the guest. a couple of ATCO trailers done up inside with some brass, glass, mirrors and a bar. Air We'll-Get-There...Eventually

You also don't get as many take offs or landings on a direct flight as in a milk run, and frankly thats half the fun of flying..

Sitting on my Westjet flight, I managed to get myself an exit row seat. The window seat in the exit row is even better, as they have removed the seat in front f you altogether.

When I was checking in online last night I noticed the seat was open so I selected it and waited to see what they were charging for the privilege of exit row seating these days. I don't know if they've changed things, but I didn't have to pay anything... maybe they only charge you if you pick exit row as part of advance seat selection. I used to always give them my ten bucks to advance select , just to make sure I get a window, as its a pretty big deal for me. I finally realized that if you just wait till you check in, particularly if you take advantage of checking in online 24 hours in advance, that there is almost always window seat open. Someone told me the other day that a lot of people avoid window seats to make he bathroom trip a little more convenient, being closer to the aisle. I think I'd rather look outside the window and hold it, than spend anytime in the lav.

I'm due to land in about an hour or so, having stopped in Calgary briefly on the way.

I'm pretty sure this is the rocky mountain trench.

Then it'll be a quick trip over to the Hilton, where I stashed my coworkers car for the week. After the debacle last time of paying 75 bucks to park the car at the airport for a week, I had little better plan worked out this time.

It all kind of depended on what time I hit the road and made it into the city. If I had two hours or more before my flight, I was going to park in a parkade downtown, where I hoped I could get a spot for 25 bucks or so for the week. I would then take city transit out to the airport. Having taken this bus route on my way out, I was familiar with the time and route, it would work out pretty good.

If I had less than an hour before my flight, then I had called a few of the airport hotels and found one where they would let me park for a week for 50 bucks, and they had a quick shuttle service to the airport.

Less than half an hour and it would be airport parking at full price.

I only made the hotel option and waited for their shuttle driver. Turns out it was on-demand, and I was the only one there, so ended up getting a private ride over to the airport. My plan quickly fell apart when it came time to tip her, and I didn't have any change. I felt bad and couldn't stomach stiffing her for the tip, so I ended up tipping her twenty bucks. I saved a total of 5 bucks on parking, but I just realized I am going to have to give something to the return shuttle driver to get me back to the hotel...probably a more reasonable amount...say 5 bucks??.

50 parking + 20 tip + 5 tip = 75 bucks.


After I grab the car, its off to find a Mr. Lube or something and get my coworkers car an oil change. I promised him I would and its only fair, he's lent it to me twice for over 2000 kilometres of driving. Hopefully I can get that taken care of quickly and be back in South NorthTown by 9 pm or so tonight.

We're scheduled to go up north again tomorrow and start closing down camps. Boats need to be cleaned and engines, seats, tanks taken out and returned to base for winter maintenance, Windows need to be boarded up for the winter and generally “ mouse-proofed “ so they don't chew the things down by spring. Outdoor stuff, BBQ's, picnic tables, fish cookers, etc, will need to be brought inside the cabins as well.

We'll also be doing some dock repair at some of the lakes over the next week or two, hopefully the waters have receded enough that this can be done in waist-deep waters instead of neck-deep! I'm hoping to get some sunshine for this part as well, but the water is warm enough these days that its not that big of a deal.

First week of September, we are supposed to go back up north for a few days and base out of one of our northern cabins for four or five days and do day trips out to the surrounding cabins and close them down as well.

I can t believe this summer is already starting to wrap up. I've learned so much about operating out here, not just the flying, but all the other parts that go into the outpost business. I remember a guy telling me once that the airplane is just a tool, like a plumbers truck. You don't become a plumber just to drive the truck. Most of the real “bush pilots “ I've met up here that are involved in this business seem to fit that bill. They like to fly, are skilled at it, but thats the least of their worries on most days.

I'm hoping that this summers experience and references will get me something by next spring. Perhaps away again, now that the Lovely Wife and I know it can be done, but hopefully something closer to home.

We've also started looking ahead for the next year and a half and things are starting to gel in the form of plans and timelines that would take us overseas again for a couple years. So far, we are both very excited at the prospects of moving somewhere like Africa.

If we went in a year and a half or so, maybe the economy will have started picking up again,as from what I read on internet forums, thing are pretty slow over there right now. Perhaps I'd have another season in over here, along with the flight hours that that would give me.

Maybe we'd both make a trip out sometime between January – March of 2011 and spend a few weeks out there hitting up the local operators in places like Botswana and Tanzania. If we're lucky, I'd get hired on as a pilot and she'd pick up something as well, maybe at a lodge or other tourist type job as well. Its a long way away and depends on a lot of things coming together, but its nice to have a carrot again.

While I was home in Vancouver, TLW and I went on a hike up on Cypress Mountain. Up was very much the direction that the hike was in, but the views and little lakes at the top made it all worthwhile.

We came across a couple of characters up there, the french family on vacation, the loud obnoxious Raven that came right up to us, yelling and squawking away, and also, nailed to a tree, Spaceman Spiff.

When we were almost to the top, I pontificated how something worked hardest for was worth so much more in the end. That the view and rest at the top was all that much sweeter because it was a 45 minute uphill hike to get there. Now I consider, perhaps thats just something we tell ourselves to feel better about the amount of energy we put into something when it could have been had for a lot less. Its nice to feel like you earned something sometimes, but I'm going to hedge my bets and keep my eyes peeled for downhill routes at the same time I think.

The hike did remind me why I love BC so much. It truly is spectacular.


  1. If you ever need any pilots for 'Air We'll-get- there eventually' it sounds like a interesting route. Would Tokyo and Hong Kong be in this itinery?

  2. I can't believe the summer is almost over either! Not that any of us got a summer this year...man. I think I dreamed it was snowing in aug and no one batted an eye.

    awesome pics as usual. :)

  3. Arg. I heard it snowed in Newfoundland the other day...isnt August supposed to be the height of summer??

    I'm hoping my return to the West Coast in September might allow me to squeeze out one more month of summer weather...

    I love Tokyo, and Hong Kong is on my hit-list as well. I cant think of a more civilized way to get there than in a Baron, with 15 stops enroute!