Monday, May 9, 2011

The Valdez Fly-In

My friend Carol asked me in a text last week if I was game for playin’ and singin’ at the Valdez Fly-In this weekend. What do I know? I said, “yes” with no hesitation. What’s a Fly-In, where’s Valdez, what songs do we know, how do we get there (and back)? I just didn’t ask. For me, Alaska is about adventure and everything pretty much goes right (or however it goes, I proclaim it “right”). My expectations for God to work are high, but I’m learning to stop anticipating what He’ll do and how. He likes to surprise me.
That is becoming more and more my Alaska “MO”: Don’t over-think things, don’t imagine all that can go wrong, don’t worry about the cost and the trouble and, esp., how cold it’s going to be. Just say “yes” and accept what may come. Like a gift.
Having said that, I can name a bunch of things that went “wrong”. Carol’s plane got a flat tire before she left to pick me up in the village Friday night. When we finally got back to Anchorage (our “layover”, haha), the radio stopped working on the plane. Carol had to find her walkie-talkie. Then she couldn’t get the back to snap on it, then the “new” batteries she just put in didn’t appear to work. Lest you think I have taken up with some crazy bush lady, Carol is a working commercial pilot with over 4000 hours of flight time. It just wasn’t her day.
When we finally took off for Valdez the next morning, Carol fell off a something (not sure what) while she was fueling the plane. She was okay but bruised. She landed on the hand that had just had surgery (and plays guitar). Did I mention I had laryngitis? This was a musical train wreck skidding down the tracks.
Anyway, the flight to Valdez was spectacular. I’m so used to flying back and forth to my village that I had forgotten that if you go the other way from Anchorage you go over and through the Chugach mountains. It’s a completely different experience. I posted my pix on fb but they don’t begin to relate the majestic feel and spiritual awareness of being there. It was awesome the way David understood awesome.
Then we landed and it was back to aggravation. When I stepped out of the plane I felt something wet. It was me! The coffee I had held between my knees had slowly leaked out and had soaked the back of my jeans. And these were the butt-fitting tight jeans that I was sure would make me look hot in this testosterone-rich environment. Now I just smelled hot, like espresso. I brrrrrrrrrrrr-ed my way to the terminal and quickly changed into the mommy jeans that I had fortunately brought as a backup. Whatever!
Then I reached for my camera to catch photos of setting up the tent and… camera. Okay, I just had it. It can’t be far. But I looked everywhere and ended up having the people in charge make an announcement that whoever stole my camera was going to be in big trouble. Then I found it…….. it was in my duffel bag and I don’t want to hear a word about this…ever!
We were dead tired because we had about three hours sleep the night before, so when everything was settled, we decided to lie down for naps. The air mattress in the tent had gone flat……and stayed flat all weekend. Well who needs an air mattress on cement???????
Want to know what this event was all about? So did I. It’s the bush pilot Olympics. They come from all over to compete in events like, who can take off in the shortest space? And who can land in the shortest space? I think it’s nuts, but what do I know? Was there a reason I saw fire trucks everywhere? Maybe they were having a fire fighter Olympics there, too.
We played our music (and we were pretty darn good), slept remarkably well and packed up Sunday morning. It took two trips for Carol to bring home the whole crew, her family included. One and a half hours each way. Rather than fly on further to my village Sunday night (she was “bushed”), I stayed at her house and she planned to fly me back Monday morning. When we got ready to leave, Carol couldn’t find her airplane keys. Really? That sounds just like me. It made me love her even more. She dropped me off at Spernak and the guys there were happy to see me. I missed a day of work and told my stories to the teachers at our taco dinner.
Another long weekend to proclaim “right”!


  1. I cannot thank you enough for sharing all of your experiences with me via photos and blog posts! I can never read fast enough to find out what's going to happen next! :)
    Just a couple more months and I'll be back "home" in AK, too...I cannot wait to be there and see you in all of your AK glory!

  2. WOW, now that was a full weekend! Many laughs to look back on! I can't wait to see the photos on face book. I am thinking of an Alaska trip next June for sure! Do you like the Working on the business, scared as all get out but only when someone asks me a question to which I have no answer for! LOL!