Saturday, February 10, 2018

Monday, February 5, 2018 – Cal & Wilbur Fly to Eagle, Rachel stays in Fairbanks

Rachel’s entry: Cal & Wilbur are flying with a charter service, Everts Air into Eagle today.  Everts Air has the contract to fly mail to Eagle, and the guys will be traveling in the mail plane. Our host, Jean was sharing how she grew up with the Everts daughters, and how it is a wonderful flying company - that’s good to know!

Last night it was decided, Bob would take the guys to the airport on his way to work.  The airport is approximately 30 minutes from our host home.  Jean leaves the house at 6:00 am, and Bob leaves between 7:00-7:30.  Breakfast items were in the refrigerator, waiting to be re-heated this morning.  Everyone was up at 6:00.  Between Bob and I, breakfast was on the table by the time the guys were dressed.  They put their final gear on right before they walked out the door.  Wearing snow/ski pants, is just part of the game!  The inside of the plane is not freezing but it is not warm. In Alaska you need to be dressed appropriately, preferably too warm than not enough. You never know what lays ahead for which you need to be prepared.  In Iowa, it is often mentioned how each car should have a winter survival kits, it is even more important in Alaska.   

After the guys were on the road, I had plans to go back to bed for more sleep.  Bob & Jean’s home is in a remote area in the hills/mountains north of Fairbanks, therefore, there is no need to pull blinds at night.  This morning after I turned off the lights in the bedroom, ready to crawl into bed, I glanced out the window into the darkness and saw 4 legs in the snow very near the rented SUV.  It was still very dark, but I had not seen this before.  Standing there near the SUV, but by the trees, was a young moose eating the snow off the trees, and likely the young pine needles.  It was too dark to get a photo for which I was disappointed.  After 10 minutes of eating, he began walking around the house in the cleared driveway area.  I went upstairs trying to get better photos, but the darkness was too much.  He continued walking around the house and eating as he went.  Finally, he was in a position where he was surrounded by white snow, thus allowing a better photo of him.  He continued into the thicket, eating as he went, and then wandered over the ridge. I watched him approximately an hour.  The attached photos are the best I could get of him.

By noon I was at the Rotary Club of Fairbanks – College.  There meeting is held at the same location as the Club we visited last Friday morning – Ravens Landing.  Their speaker today was with Fairbanks Tourism office.  She had a great presentation.  She was delighted to know we were visiting during the winter, as Fairbanks Tourism is spending money on promoting “Alaska in the Winter”.  This club is the reverse of many Clubs -there are 60% women and 40% men. Their foreign exchange student this year is from Chili. 

After Rotary I went to an antique shop before going to the shop of our host Bob, the engineer.  Bob, a civil engineer, has worked in many capacities here in Alaska, but now he has his own business.  He designs and fabricates sewage systems compatible with this artic climate.  He even designs and sells them to locations in the northern part of the lower 48 States.  His newest experimental project has been designing an indestructible plastic boat with an inboard motor, that will even go over logs and trees floating in the water, as well as over rocks, without damaging the boat.  Their testing operation is incredible.  These boats are wonderful in the shallow rivers of Alaska.  Now they need an exceptional marketing plan. 

My next stop was another antique shop of which I did not finished – I need to return tomorrow!  I had a great day in Fairbanks.  Today was the first I had driven.  I did not realize how cold the steering wheel could be!!  If you owned a vehicle here, the minimum would be heated seats and heated steering wheel!

We will see what tomorrow will bring.  I have several ideas of what I want to do, but we will see. 

Cal’s Entry: Fairbanks to Eagle Alaska.   

We were up at 6:00 Monday morning to be ready to catch the airplane for Eagle at 9:00.  I took a shower this morning, as I do not know when I will have another shower - maybe not until I get back into Fairbanks on Thursday. We had breakfast before Bob drove Wilbur and I to the airport.

Rachel was planning on taking us to the airport, but Bob was going that way for work, so he took Wilbur and myself to the airport.  It was still dark while we waited to board the plane.  The check-in was very easy, but since Wilbur and I had some provisions for the friends we were staying with in Eagle, we were overweight.  There was a slight charge for the 30 plus pounds we were overweight.  By 9:05 we were in the plane ready to take off.  It was a 1 hour and 5 min flight.  The sky was clear, and the view was spectacular.  We had to be something under 8,000 ft because several of the Mountain peaks seemed to be close, and they were around 6,000 ft.

The landing at the Eagle snow-covered gravel airstrip was uneventful, and Burr, our host, was there waiting for us.  We went straight to their house and sat around the table and reminisced for around an hour.  We had a light lunch before Wilbur and I went to their cabin for a short nap.
Our Cabin

The Long-Drop (Out House)

Not too bad if it were not - 30 deg F

Our Host's House

Around 2:00 we went for a walk, first to the old school house where the Quest checkpoint is located, then we headed for the library, because it has wi-fi, but we found that the library is closed to anyone other than officials during the Quest, so we could not use the wi-fi.  We continued to walk down to the Yukon River. Along the river bank is the town store & restaurant & hotel (when open during the summer the hotel has 43 rooms, who knows why so many rooms in a town with a population of 100+).  After having a snack, we returned to the Lidic cabin to do some reading and catching up on the blog.  What I am writing on this blog will be blended with Rachel’s account and posted later when we have wi-fi.

It is -15 F, which is very cold when we were walking into the slight breeze.

Old School House - Check Point

Straw and dog food for the mushers

Favorite Mode of Transportation with a Pull Behind Sled

Main Street Eagle Alaska

The Yukon River

The New School, 1989

At around 6:00 we all went to the new school building for dinner.   Each day during the Quest, the students with adult supervision, prepare a dinner for the volunteers and whoever wants to eat there.  Dinner this evening was meatloaf, corn, mashed potatoes with gravy and a blueberry desert.  The turnout was not very good this evening since there was a carry-in dinner at one of the churches in the village.  People sat around and visited for quite a while after dinner.  I had a chance to talk with the logistics Quest person and one of the veterinarians. The big question is, when will the first musher arrive?  The current talk is that the lead musher has a three-hour lead and is scheduled to arrive sometime around 7:00 am, which is around 3 hours later than usual.

The Eagle school has K-12 in one building, with 20+ total students.  They started the year with 3 seniors but are now down to only one.  They have a Principal and two teachers, one elementary and one high school.  The Principal helps the high school teacher with the social studies since the high school teacher is most comfortable with the math and science.  The building was built in the 80’s and is in great condition.

After dinner we walked back to the Lydic house.  By 9:00 I was fading and decided to go to the cabin.  By 9:30 the lights were out and we both went to sleep.  I did not know how it would go sharing a bed with my brother after 60+ years, but all went fine.

Wilbur got up to go to the long-drop (out house) at around 11:00 or 11:30. He awoke me, because the Northern Lights were shinning.  I got up, put on my boots and coat, grabbed the camera and went out to see if I could get some good photos.  The lights were just bright enough for photos.  Hopefully we will see them brighter another night, giving better photos.

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