Fairbanks Travel Blog› entry 35 of 38 › view all entries
After a hearty breakfast, we loaded Sun Camp's devoted Cessna 180 bush-plane with the gear that I hauled and that of a driller who was heading home. Our flight south was sunny and smooth. High above mountain lakes, nameless streams, the green and golden hills along the mighty Yukon River, and wild Alaska to all horizons, the flight presented a pleasant time and place to reflect on another season coming to a close. We arrived in Fairbanks just before noon.
Fairbanks International Airport is a rare gem as far as flying goes. Besides the lengthy runway to handle passenger and cargo jumbo jets, the field incorporates two general aviation runways. One is paved and the other gravel - which serves as a ski strip in late fall, winter, and early spring.
The 180 pilot taxied to his parked van near the float pond and we quickly unloaded the plane. He gave me a ride to an air-freight company where the loose tools would be packaged and shipped to Anchorage along with the transmission.
The neighborhood bar sits on the south bank of the Chena River, not far from the airport. The small establishment has decades of character and sometimes labeled itself 'the sleazy waterfront bar'. The daytime crowd was primarily retirees and I was fortunate to find a stool. I was sad to find that Elaine no longer worked there. She was a spunky bartender with a dynamic personality that could warm a heart on the coldest of days. The Boatel had always maintained a brotherly atmosphere. Two familiar faces stood out - one from the pool and dart leagues in February of three years ago; the other, a retired aviator.
The flight to Anchorage is only about half an hour in a Boeing 737. We flew too high to stir wildlife and Mount McKinley was hidden in cloud cover. Sometimes when those Denali skies are clear, airliners will descend for a spectacular fly-by of the wind-swept summit.