As I mentioned the other day, a friend of mine was kind enough to invite me out for an evening jaunt with her gang. So we drove up to Birchwood Airport, a little place outside of Chugiak, just across the road from the shooting range. (Yes, the same range that would wake me up every Saturday morning with machine gun fire last fall when I lived at the bosses' place. Alaska is AWESOME!)
Anyhow, from there we piled into a Cessna 172 and a PA-12 (basically a roomy Super Cub) and flew back down past Anchorage and across the inlet to the little town of Hope:
Stick near the mountains, and you don't need to talk to anyone, so it was a pleasant trip down. Lars took three passengers in the Birchwood 172:
Meanwhile they were gracious enough to let me ride with friend's feller in the Piper, an awesome nimble little thing. So as to spend as little time over the water as possible, we turned southeast and followed the mountains until we got to the shortest crossing point. The idea is that if the engine quits, you want enough altitude to make land on the far side. The side benefit is we got to look at sheep on the mountainsides along the way (those would be the little white dots in the lower center of the picture):
Then we cross the inlet:
And settle into the Hope airstrip. A mile or so walk through the woods then down the road brings us to town, basically a little smattering of houses and a cafe/bar. Hope is a tiny little settlement, the remains of a gold mining town once upon a time. It's like a lot of similar places I've seen through the years in Idaho and Montana, now surviving mostly on tourism and as a "bedroom community" of sorts. Unlike those towns though, it's also home to some folks who commute to and from Anchorage with their own little planes, whose daily commute is the trip we just took. Very cool! At least, it is when the weather cooperates. The drive around the inlet is a long one.
We had dinner at the cafe (excellent seafood chowder by the way), then went for a walk. The boys found themselves an old rusting engine on the ground:
I think they even figured out what it used to belong to - clever!
Now, my friend would prolly track me down and gut me with a rusty wing rib if I posted the darling picture of her and her sweetums, so here's a goofy one of YT -
You see that orange vest that makes me look like a cow? CAP requires you to carry all manner of survival gear on their flights, preferably on your person, so I just brought this along out of habit. It even has a little "pull to inflate" cord that turns the thing into a lifevest in the water - for all the good it'd do in the cold Cold COLD waters of that inlet. "You know what that's for, right?" teases the pilot... "that's so the search crew can find your body after you freeze to death." Alaskan humor, gotta love it.
Anyhow, eventually we get tired of clowning around and head back to the airstrip. We chat some more, swat lots of skeeters, and watch the owl that's come out to take a peek. Lars asks for a picture of his takeoff, but sadly my batteries die just as he's building up speed. So no more pictures I'm afraid.
Finally back home around 2:30AM or so, so work Saturday morning was... difficult. Still, it was an incredible trip! Life up here definitely has its high points, I'll say that!
God Bless all, hope to see ya soon.