Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

01 October 2017

End Of Season Blues

When I tell people that I work in the desert-y part of Washington State they look at me like I'm crazy and with a puzzled expression go, “Whaaaat?” I think most people assume that all of Washington is dreary and rainy like Seattle, or mountainous like St. Helens and Rainier. 

But, umm, no. The Cascade Mountains block most of the weather from the coast.  Out here between the Cascades immediately to our west and Spokane to the east, there's 150-miles of flat dirt and sagebrush. If not for the Columbia and Okanogan Rivers, nothing would grow here. And stuff only grows along those rivers. Otherwise, you'd be forgiven if you thought you were in Arizona or New Mexico, without all the cactus but with more Mexicans.

So it's dry here, okay? In fact, we haven't had any rain in Brewster since June 8th. Oh, it's sprinkled occasionally, but no actual rain days. And none to speak of in the forecast. Because of the lack of rain, we didn't do much flying at all during the cherry-growing season.  It was boring with a capital "B."

The customer I was assigned to rents two helicopters from us. One of them only flew five hours and the other one (mine) did not fly at all. This is a contract that can generate up to 100 hours per ship per season for us. So five hours was basically nothing.

I normally hang around after the season is over. I help in the demobilization of all of the helicopters, RV's, fuel trailers, crew houses and such. Then I assist in washing the ships, taking their rotor blades off and then putting them away until next year. Unlike most every other helicopter operator in the world, we only use ours for about two months out of the year.

My boss also does cropdusting. Last year, we picked up a contract to apply a nutrient called boron to 8,000 acres of orchards. The ground is very boron-deficient up here. I played “loader-boy” which is not a highly sought-after position in aviation. It involves a lot of things that go into keeping the spray ship working. There's a lot of cleaning involved.  And a lot of climbing...climbing up and down ladders to load the chute, and up and down on the airplane. It's not hard “work” per se, but it's definitely a young man's game. And I am not one of them any more.

The customer was late delivering the boron to us, so we didn't even start spraying until late October. I ended up staying until the first week of December, which was too late for this southern gentleman. It was fuckin' cold, pardon my French. I won't make the same mistake this year.  The good news is that the we only do boron every two years, and this ain't one of them.

I promised myself that I'd leave here “around” my 62nd birthday, which was back on September 11th of all dates. Well that came and went as the boss and I were on a week-long road trip to Little Rock, Arkansas to pick up some airplane parts. Fortunately there is not much left to do.  I've been wasting my time and my boss's money.  My new plan was to be out of here by Halloween. Thankfully, it looks like I'll be gone sooner than that. 

I'd like to say that I'm sad to see my time up here end. But frankly, I've got those end-of-season blues.  Just like every time each year, I'm eager to get home to Florida.


Ed said...

You would have felt right at home in my part of Iowa this year. The last measurable rain was in mid May and only a week ago did we get a measurable rain in the form of 5+ inches over about 12 hours. In-between, our lush green was a dead brown. Have a safe trip south.

Bob Barbanes: said...

Wow, Ed, now I know why you use that profile pic. Over five inches in 12 hours...yikes! The kind of rain would send us Floridians running for the hills...except there are no hills :-(

Bob said...

As you know, I’m one of your biggest fans here on the blog and I have loved reading about your experiences in Washington state and cherry season. Seems like each season has been a bit different. I know you’re ready to head back to FL, and glad you are soon to be headed that way. Safe travels.

Bob Barbanes: said...

Thanks, Bob! As usual with my timing, Hurricane Nate seems to be bearing down on the Gulf Coast. So I think I'll hang out up here just a tad bit longer to see what happens. No sense going home to a house without power...or a roof!