If you had told me five years ago that I would be living for six months out of the year up in Washington State (the Pacific Northwest!), flying 60 year-old helicopters in the summer and working as a cropduster loader-boy/gofer the rest of the time…well, I might not have dismissed it out of hand as impossible! but I would have been very skeptical at least.
Five years ago I was happily ensconced in a “good” job, flying a Bell 206 JetRanger for a rich guy. The job had not yet turned sour. The boss had not yet required me to go up to the headquarters just to hang around during the week even when we had no flights scheduled (not that I had any other official duties). The boss had not yet begun to resent the amount of money he was paying me for the little amount of flying we were actually doing. The boss had not yet begun dreaming up “other” tasks for me to do to keep me busy and justify the “enormous” amount of money he thought he was paying me (he wasn’t).
And anyway, the thought of leaving Florida would have been incredible. I love Florida! I especially love that part of Florida where I live: The part that has not been overrun and spoiled by development, where you can still find a secluded stretch of beach to lay out and get some sun and watch the Navy jets and helicopters fly over, even in the dead of summer.
But here I am, at the beginning of November, 2013, still in Washington – have been since May. The hot, clear and dry days of summer are but a memory. Every day is “cold” now. There’s ice on the windshield every morning; you have to let the car warm up a bit before driving off, and you always have to wear a sweater, even indoors. It gets briefly up into the low 60’s every day, but often the days are steel-gray and bitingly cold. It’s the humidity, I guess. And the days are getting short.
Alternatively the days are sparklingly clear…beautiful! But cold. And it’s not even winter...yet. No snow...yet. But it’s coming, and I want to be gone from here before that happens – no offense to anyone who lives here permanently.
Granted, the locals don’t consider it cold, but to this guy…this guy whose blood has been thinned by over twenty-five years of (albeit sub-tropical) Florida sun…it’s friggin’ cold. One of the guys gave me a coat that he’d grown out of, which spared me the expense of going and buying one of my own, something I’d rather avoid.
We were working hard during September and October, getting the helicopters inspected, worked-on and then put away in a hangar, which involved taking the rotor blades off. Plus there was a bunch of other miscellaneous work to be done.
But now that’s pretty much finished and it’s nearly time to go. They’re already asking me when I can be back. My flippant answer is, “When the snow’s all gone.” Which is not really flippant; it’s what’s going to happen. I’m thinking middle of April. Could I live up here full-time? You know, I probably could. And sooner or later I probably will. As much as I love Florida, I really love it up here too. And I never would have predicted that five years ago.