This is extremely frustrating. We’re stuck here in Cranbrook due to the weather. It’s great within ten miles of Cranbrook, but anywhere else is crap. The big problem is all the friggin’ heat and moisture in the air which causes the clouds to build up as the air runs into the mountains. It’s clogging up the Crowsnest and the route north has cloud right down to the ground at Radium.
There are a bunch of C-180s and C-185s here for a Skywagon convention that ended last night. They want to go in every direction, but they’re all stranded, too. I’m spending all my time waiting in the terminal where I can get internet access for the laptop.
We can access all the BC highway cameras and all the other weather info we need, too. As frustrating as it is, it sure takes the guesswork out of it.
Things may improve later this afternoon after the current bit of rain and moisture goes through, but there’s another one within a couple of hours behind it. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
We made it home this eveing, but our planes did not. They`re still stuck in Cranbrook and we drove. We`ll have to go back next weekend and retrieve them.
A bit of a bummer, but really just another chapter in the story, with one more to be written. I`ll send a full update later, with photos. But I just wanted to let everyone know for now.
Here`s the skinny for today. As I indicated earlier, the weather at Cranbrook was crap and getting crappier. At about 1145 we decided we couldn`t wait any linger and we also knew we weren`t flying our planes home. We started looking for an alternative means of transport.
Geoff found out a ride on a Dash 8 would cost about $375. To rent a car from Budget would cost about 60 dollars, plus a $650 drop-off fee. I called the National car rental agency and luckily, didn`t get through to the gal at the counter. Instead I got call forwaded to their head office who quoted me a total price of $250. I booked it.
We headed out to the planes and tried to get in touch with the girl who was supposed to be at the rental counter. We moved our planes and started tying down when a Rans S-6 with two guys on board pulled up and started tying down right next to Geoff`s Champ.
Geoff started talking with them while I finalized things with the National girl. She told me I was lucky in the fee because the normal drop-off rate is $1000! Then Geoff comes over and says we have a free ride to Calgary.
One of the guys in the Rans owns an RV dealership in Cranbrook, learned of our predicament and just said, `Well you better take my truck to Calgary, then.“ He didn`t even ask our names! He`s the patron saint of general aviation in Cranbrook and believes in helping out pilots wherever and whenever he can. He says `pilots don`t steal from other pilots`. Utterly incredible!
He`s perfectly fine with us driving back on Saturday to retrieve our planes and return the truck.
On the drive back, we had about 45 minutes when it wasn`t raining. We never would have made it through the Crowsnest Pass. The cloud at Sparwood was right down to the ground and it was raining like hell. Not much better once we got out onto the Cowboy Trail, either. And when we crested the hill at Okotoks I looked to see Kirkby Field getting pounded by a big cell.
No doubt, we made the right choice. And we had several buckets of unbelievable good luck fall into our laps.
We`re not looking at this as a disappointing end to the story. It`s really just a charming and unexpected new chapter. We`ll hopefully write the last chapter next Saturday when we go to fly our planes back from Cranbrook next weekend.
I`ll be sure to let you all know how that goes.
By the way, thanks to everyone who commented on the blog posts for this trip, and for all your encouragement and support. Special thanks to Al Perreault who posted each of them on the CRUFC website for the world to see.
This trip has been an adventure beyond anything we imagined, and I`m glad you could all share in it.