I Get It Right (For a Change)

I make three good transportation decisions in the same day.

I’m just finishing up a week working at my summer job at the Grand Canyon. While I’m working, I live in my trailer at Howard Mesa. It’s a 36 mile drive or 28 nautical mile flight to work.

At the end of my work week, I fly home. Normally, I leave directly from Grand Canyon Airport at the end of my last work day. It’s a 1-1/2 to 2 hour flight at the end of a day when I may have already flown six or seven hours. The air is usually hot and full of thermals. Or thunderstorms have moved in. It’s not fun.

So here’s the situation last night. I get a bad night’s sleep, mostly because I have a headache and the wind keeps flopping the awning around. I wake fully at 5:15 AM. It’s cloudy. I make my first decision: I’m not going to fly home directly from the airport. Why? Because I simply don’t have enough time to pack everything up into the helicopter and close up the trailer.

Then I make my second decision: I’m going to drive to the airport. This one had some real logic behind it. It was cloudy and the weather folks were predicting a 50% chance of rain. There was a definite possibility that I wouldn’t be able to fly back from the airport at the end of the day. That means the helicopter would have to be left there overnight and retrieved in the morning. That would add an hour to my travel time the next morning when I needed to fly home. So I drove my Toyota, which had been parked at Howard Mesa for about a month, to work. It took exactly 41 minutes, including the amount of time I needed to open and close the gate.

Later, at the end of the day, I made my third decision: I’m going to drive the Jeep back to Howard Mesa. The Jeep had been parked at the airport for about a month. I use it on the days I fly in, as my local transportation. So I swapped the Toyota for the Jeep and drove back to Howard Mesa at the end of the day.

These turned out to be good decisions. The reason? First of all, I flew 6.5 hours and was exhausted. Certainly not feeling up to another 1.5 to 2 hours at the stick. Second of all, nasty thunderstorms were all over the area — especially at Howard Mesa. The roads were unbelievably muddy. The Toyota would never have made it up the Mesa. Heck, the Jeep almost didn’t — I skidded off the road into a ditch and needed to shift into 4-Low to get out. And flying up would have been completely out of the question.

So now I sit here in my trailer, toasty warm while it rains outside. The Jeep is covered with thick, reddish mud what will certainly turn a few heads the next time it rolls into civilization. The helicopter awaits me outside, where the dust is (hopefully) being washed off by the rain. Tomorrow, I’ll sleep as late as I can (probably until 5:30 if I’m lucky), have a leisurely breakfast, and pack everything up for my return trip to Wickenburg. The air will be cool and smooth for my flight. Sure, I’ll miss a morning at the office, but I can’t work ALL of the time, can I?

What do you think?