Friday, July 8, 2011

Watson Lake

The sound of Watson Lake is the silence of wind and sparrows, as rain falls on distant hills. I asked the radio as I landed long where the fuel was, and they said, "Just look for the big white tank that says AVGAS." The fuel tank I needed was behind me, so I went left instead of right, toward the big tank that said AVGAS 100LL. This tank belonged to the forestry fire-fighting base, as it sat next to the Jet A tank and three tanks of fire retardant for water bombers. The only person on duty came out to wave me off, but we got to talking instead. Well, some talking, and a lot of watching the distant rain, and waving idly at mosquitos.

The entire airfield is huge, for all the crosswind runway is closed and the control tower stands vacant (but unlike the WWII hangar barely inhabited by a very few planes and a great many swallows nesting above the doors, near-pristine.) Inside the terminal with its motion-activated lights, the walls are covered with pictures from the lend-lease program, and inset glass cases with artifacts. It was utterly silent, and felt like a monument to flight - not even a museum, but rather something lovingly gathered and preserved, in pristine condition, to a town once thriving, to a distant past when air travel was not an intrusive, abusive trial, set in a museum exhibit to the history of flight in the Yukon.

In a low side wing, there are signs of life - the television keeping the person behind Watson Lake Radio awake. The Community Aerodrome Radio Station folks in the Yukon have all been very friendly, very accustomed to solitude, and very willing to talk about anything to a live human being. The brothers who man the afternoon and graveyard shifts were no elections to this rule, and shared in-depth history and background on the weather patterns, from the vicious spring fog to the frequency of thunderstorms, and on life in general.

Out by the gazebo by the lake, two gentlemen from Massachusetts and the most mellow Jack Russell terriers ever were camping with their 182... the first example of the breed I can remember seeing with small tires and wheelpants. When not modified for the bush, they can haul serious amounts of stuff at very high rates of speed! They very generously shared their dinner, and we talked late into the night on aircraft maintenance, sattelite components, balloon launching in Antarctica, dogs, guns, and people.

No matter how nice the night (and it was beautiful), I elected to forego the 5 star camping experience for a warm, dry couch with no beautiful views of the long sunset, no campfire, no haunting cries of loons... and no mosquitos, no rain, and thermostat controlled warmth. Romantic, after two nights camping, I am not.

4 comments:

Peter said...

Glad you're making good time, love. You'll be home soon!

Jenny said...

It's only romantic when you don't *have* to do it. :)

Glad you're doing well.

Old NFO said...

Camping... :-) I know people that consider Holiday Inn as camping out...LOL

Rev. Paul said...

What Old NFO said. I once dated a girl whose idea of "roughing it" meant "no place to plug in the curling iron." She's not the one I married. :)

Your trip sounds wonderful, just the same.