Well, Mike left Quinhagak on Saturday instead of Sunday when we found out that the 'runway' in Quin would be closed down today (Sunday). It was probably good it didn't give me time to get sad about him leaving. It has been nice to have a friend around. No one really ever figured out why the runway was closed, at least from what I have heard.... hope it wasn't a terroristic threat anything... When flying into Quin it appears that you are landing in the middle of the tundra, well I guess you are but because our runway is so far out of town it seems like it truly is in the middle of the tundra, which it is but....okay never mind I'm not going to be able to pull that one together. Our runway here is gravel and about a 1/2 mile long. A small house sits near it that no one ever goes into that I've seen yet, so I'm not sure what it's purpose is, maybe an airport? Or maybe it's a sort of warming shack in winter?? Back home we had warming shacks at the outdoor ice skating rinks. We'd lace up our skates with the help of Dad who inevitably tightened them enough to cut off all circulation, that in combination with the frigid temps outside made a few quick laps around the rink all our tiny feet could handle before making a bee line back to the warming shack, howling all the way for Dad to "Loosen My Skates!!! My Feet are Froze!!!" Aside: Dad, why did you only take us skating when it was -30? Sorry, I digress... back to the present, our runway is set about 3 miles from town (remember we don't have a lot of roads so this is a looooong journey by road for us) which makes finding a ride out sometimes interesting but we have great couple here (Kevin and Lily) who work for the airlines (which we have 3 of that fly in and out from Bethel only). It then becomes Kevin and Lily's job to run all around the village picking up departing travelers and mail in their Ford Ranger, then transport them out to the plane. From there, they pick up people and mail arriving and transport them back to town. God bless them. Being the truck is a Ranger you often get to ride in the box, that is always a treat no matter how old you get. Here we go again this takes me back to childhood summers at Gram and Grampa's farm, all of us cousins riding in the back of Uncle Jeff's old white pick-up out to Hayes Lake to go swimming and cool off on hot summer days. As kids we always thought that Uncle Jeff and Auntie Peggy were finally taking us to "Hayes" because of our relentless begging which we managed to keep up all day long "Can we go to Hayes Lake? Can we go to Hayes Lake? etc." However, older now and well... I like to think at least a little bit wiser, I appreciate it wasn't so much due to our wearing them down as it was strategy on their part, a sort of streamlining the bedtime routine. As evening neared they would, at last, load the whole lot of us- sweaty and filthy from running all over tarnation- through horse pastures, hay fields and gravel pits the whole day long in to the box of the pick-up and cart us off to our desired destination. What a treat to ride along, wind in our matted dusty hair and dirt streaked faces, giggling about the day's adventures. With this evening trip to our beloved Hayes Lake voila' we were, in a few short hours bathed and thoroughly worn out, sleep came easy. Smart move on the grown up end. Don't think I don't have that trick tucked away for future use. Again back to the here and now...hum, on second thought, come winter I might revoke that whole fun-ness idea about riding in the box of the truck.... Anyway, once at the 'runway' appropriate etiquette ensures that you help unload the plane and load up the truck before boarding. Generally you call Kevin and Lily at their home to ask when your flight will be in. There are exact times posted but those are really just estimations dependent on weather and now I guess, if the runway is actually open that day?? We had to call them and get him switched to a flight out Saturday. Thankfully they are really good about getting you on a plane at some point that works. He had time to pack up his gear, say good byes to the neighborhood, and take one last hike to the beach where he left this message to be washed away in the tide:
I'll miss Mike it was fun to have him here. Thanks for joining us in Quinhagak, Alaska, Mike. Please give my best and hugs to everyone back home. And to the rest of you...
"Try hard to get here before winter;)...and all your friends here send greetings. God be with you. Grace be with you." 2 Timothy 4:21-22