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Old 07-02-2012, 03:51 PM   #442
crbnunit
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Posts: 6,547
Vehicle Year: 2019
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The banner was successfully handed off to our Canadian members! Good to meet and hang out with you guys! Expect us to show up on your doorstep for a tour of Whitehorse sometime!

Lima and I flew out to Gulkana on Saturday morning. Tehetna Pass was open! Yea! Weather sucked at Gulkana and the possibility of getting through Isabel Pass looked grim. There was a bunch of pilots already sitting around the FBO waiting for the weather to clear. We had a legal ceiling at Gulkana so we decided to probe the route a bit, knowing we had the highway and several strips in route to use as well as the ability to reverse course. Turns out we were able to slip through with no problems!
We landed at Tok Junctiuon. Very cloudy, dark wet and ominous. It was obvious it had rained a lot recently but wasn’t raining at the time…

We tied the plane down and walked across the street to “Fast Eddie’s” Restaurant for lunch. After a good burger, we went back to the plane, grabbed our camping gear and headed back across the street to the camping area. We set up in “primitive” camping surrounded by an ocean of class A motor homes. Yea, real primitive! We got camp set up and guess what! It started raining! I don’t believe it stopped from that point until… Well, it is probably still raining in Tok!

Hooked up with our Canadian friends that evening and I’m pleased to say they hate the French as much as we do! LOL! We chatted and visited until about midnight before I had to “retire”. I guess Canadians have a more “delicate” constitution than we Alaskans because they rented a cabin… Either that or they are smarter than we are. Na, Wussies!

The next morning we got together and ate breakfast at Fast Eddie’s. I won’t mention who couldn’t eat theirs. The waitress took one look at the crew and brought a pitcher of water to the table. “I know dehydration when I see it!” Bless her and I tipped her well!
Did I mention it was raining?

We went back and broke down camp and cleaned up after the evening’s festivities. The guys were nice enough to transport our now very sodden gear back to the airplane. We were looking at the sky wondering if we were going to be able to get out of Tok on Sunday when Lima had the bright idea to drive the banner to Delta Junction to the end of the AlCan highway and see the pipeline from Prudo Bay to Valdez. Surprisingly, the crew was willing to drive 200+ miles out of their way to do this so we all piled in and drove to Delta Junction, hoping the weather would be better when we got back.

About 40 miles out of Tok, the weather improved and by the time we got to Delta Junction, the sky was blue and the sun was shining! It was actually hot! We went, we saw and we returned to Tok. 40-50 miles out of Tok, the weather turned to crap again. Low clouds/fog almost to the deck and rain. They dropped us at the plane and we said our goodbyes. They took off to the Top of the World Highway to drop down into Dawson Creek for the night. Dawson Creek was the site of the great Klondike gold rush in the late 1800’s so the banner will visit yet another historic site on its journey!

We were left standing in the rain, hiding under the wing of the plane to stay dry-ish. We decided to go back to Fast Eddies for lunch and wait out the weather. Well, the weather didn’t get better. We actually hopped in the plane and taxied to the runway to “check it out” but returned to parking when we “saw” without ever taking off. 30 minutes or so later (it was about 1800 now) we were getting fed up and decided to probe the weather again. We knew the weather would improve to the North but to the West, where we needed to go was awful.

We taxied out again and lifted off into the rain. It was very apparent we weren’t going west back through Isabel Pass so we turned north toward Delta Junction, 200+ miles out of our way! Weather was nasty for about 40 miles and then cleared right up!

A word about Delta Junction. It is the home of Ft. Greeley, Ladd Army Air Base and our Strategic Missile Defense. I had never flown through this area. It is surrounded by MOA’s (Military Area of Operations) and we only have a very narrow corridor to fly in. All manner of high performance aircraft from helicopters, A-10’s, F-16’s, F-22’s, KC-135’s, C-130’s, C-5’s, C-17’s… Operate in this area and a little bug smasher like mine is a speed bump. To top it off, our corridor terminates in the air space of Ladd. So, with the missile defense silos clearly visible in the distance, we were fully expecting to be intercepted by Blackhawk gunships or F-16’s at any moment… We squeaked through and no one shot us down but the weather deteriorated again as we turned south.

We were scud running again with 1000’ ceilings going into Gulkana and through the Tehetna Pass but we made it back to Anchorage about 2330. Epic.

Hopefully our Canadian counterparts will have good things to report. Photos to follow.
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