The cherries are all picked, the helicopter is back at home base, I’m no longer living in an RV in an orchard somewhere. So ends Bob’s Great Cherry Drying Adventure. And now the question is…
There’s really nothing for me to do here. I might as well head home. I should head home. There’s “stuff” to do in P’cola. But I don’t know if I will. At least not directly.
My friend Mike called with a line on a short-term job flying sightseers around some national monument. I might go do that just for the fun of it. Then again, I have a friend down in Arizona I’d like to go see, plus another one in Dallas. That’d really be the long way home. I may take the bike…I may not. There are other options.
I got a grand total of about 20 hours flying the S-55 up here. I never did get to fly that one painted up in U.S.M.C. colors. It doesn’t matter – you cannot see the exterior paint from the pilot’s seat. Maybe next year. And yes, there will be a next year.
My money situation is such that I don’t have to rush home and get another full-time flying job. I was worried about that. The pressure is off, at least for the time being.
My friend Mike and our pilot Luke are gone. Mike found a flying job up in Alaska and left halfway through the season. A couple of weeks ago Luke was in one of our helicopters that was damaged in a hard-landing. He wasn’t injured, but beat-feet outta here the next day. Stephen got himself killed. Travis left quickly one day once his contract was over. All of a sudden Brandon and I are the only two left, and he’s got one foot out the door as we speak. Then it’ll just be me. Instead of a big, end-of-season party/barbecue/blowout with all the gang, everything just sort of fizzled out. Meh- things don’t always go according to plan.
We have a lot to do before next season. I have taken on the task of writing a training manual and a general operations manual. We need both. We grew a lot between last year and this. Next year, we’re going to be bigger still. There’s a lot to this cherry-drying thing; it’s not as easy as it might appear. I want to help the new pilots we have coming onboard next year, giving them some of the information I had to learn on my own this year. But manuals can be written anywhere, even in Pensacola, at my leisure.
I guess I’ll pack my bags. It’ll be hard to leave. I’ve really grown to love it up here. Winters are hard though, and I want to get out of here before it starts getting cold. But I’m really looking forward to coming back next May.