On the flight home from Arizona with my husband and little girl...
It seems like an eternity since I was in Tucson, AZ representing Alaska in the Mrs. America pageant. Yet it has barely been 3 1/2 weeks! Sheesh, a lot has gone on in the meantime. Let me tell you a story about my latest adventure, or may I say misadventure (or would that be mrs.adventure?)
My husband and I flew both of our airplanes to go moose hunting near the town of Delta Junction in the interior of Alaska. We couldn't get to where we wanted to land in the mountains because of bad weather, so we camped at the runway in Delta Junction for the night. I made a dinner of freeze-dried food for my husband and I. Two hours later we were both quite afflicted with food poisoning and stayed that way for 18 hours straight. Let me tell you that it's NO FUN being that sick while you're camping. Especially when you're trying to take care of a perfectly healthy 1 year old.
This should have been the item which told us "go home, this hunt isn't going to work out", but we are a stubborn bunch, so we forged ahead when we stopped heaving our guts out.
When the weather lifted, we made it to our destination easily and proceeded to set up camp for the week. Most of our hunts are like "car camping" in the wilderness and we take the slant that if we don't harvest an animal we at least had a fun trip.
Everything was looking pretty good for the first day. We saw a moose (not legal to harvest), went on a hike with our daughter and managed to keep a bit of food in our stomachs.
Then it started to rain... usually this is no big deal, but it IS Alaska and it IS late September, so rain is not a good thing. Why? Because it turns to snow way too soon.
Snow on a backcountry landing area when your airplane is on wheels is bad news. Especially the wet heavy stuff. The increase in drag on takeoff is debilitating to performance. When we woke up to 6 inches of snow and it was still falling, our moose hunt quickly turned into a debacle. We now had to figure out how to pack down the takeoff area and get the snow off our wings. Not to mention, we had no idea how long the bad weather was going to last.
I found a chunk of wood left behind by another hunter, tied it to my waist and drug it up and down the landing area as often as my strength would let me, then my husband took his turn. We packed a pretty good takeoff area, as long as it stopped snowing! My wonderfully tall husband found a bucket he could stand on to scrape snow and ice off the wings of our airplanes as well, in anticipation of a break in the weather.
So we waited until the snow finally abated enough to allow us to take off safely and we beat it back home. The nearly 3 1/2 hour flight from our hunting area back to the town of Talkeetna gave me ample opportunity to count the number of things that were trying to tell us to go home a week earlier, but I guess bad weather, food poisoning, and even more bad weather were just par of the course for this humble "beauty queen".
The moose definitely had the upper hand this year!