The End is Near

The end of my cherry drying contracts, that is.

I came to Washington State in the beginning of June to start a pair of cherry drying contracts. I was fortunate enough to get a third contract wedged in between the first two, giving me almost seven solid weeks of work.

Well, “work” is not quite an accurate term. I was on standby for all three contracts, but only flew 5.2 hours on two days during one contract.

Thank heaven I was getting standby pay. Without it, I would have taken a heavy loss this summer. But with it, and thanks to the availability of a pilot willing to share ferry costs on both 10+ hour flights between Washington and Arizona, I’ll stay in the black.

My third contract officially ends on Monday, July 28 at nightfall. Unless the weather looks threatening, they’ll likely cut me loose a few hours earlier. It doesn’t matter. I’m not leaving until Tuesday.

But in the meantime, I figured it might be a good idea to drive my orchards, just to see if there was still fruit on the trees. I was in Wenatchee today, so I drove past the one near Wenatchee Airport. There are two cherry orchards across the street from each other. I’m not sure which one is mine. (Heck, it’s hard to tell from the ground when all the photos I have are from the air!) One of them still had plenty of cherries, the other had none. I continued on to Quincy and visited two of my three orchards there. Both were heavy with cherries. One of them is likely to be picked soon — fruit boxes had been laid out neatly in the rows between the trees.

As long as there’s fruit on the trees, there’s a slight chance they’ll ask me to stay on. Although I don’t mind staying an extra day or two, I really don’t want to stay longer than that. I feel done with this place, if you know what I mean.

My trip home will be completed in multiple steps:

  • Tuesday: Fly the helicopter from Quincy to Seattle. Then take Horizon back to Wenatchee and drive back to Quincy. I hope to get all that done on Tuesday, but might have to take an early morning flight on Wednesday to get back to Quincy.
  • Wednesday: Drive the trailer to Walla Walla. That Washington town consistently comes up as a top choice when I go through the quiz on the Find Your Spot Web site. I was there in 2006 during my Midlife Crisis Road Trip and I liked what I saw. But I was only there long enough to do my laundry and visit a downtown independent bookstore. This time, I’ll stay two nights and check it out.
  • Friday: Drive the trailer from Walla Walla to Salt Lake City. I’ll be staying with the family of one of my editors, Megg. She’s going to take me hiking on Saturday.
  • Saturday: Drive the trailer from Salt Lake City to Page, AZ. If I get a late start from SLC, I’ll spend the night on the road and get in sometime on Sunday.
  • Monday: Fly in Mike’s plane from Page, AZ to Wickenburg. I need to get Alex the Bird home.
  • Friday: Fly with Mike on US Air from Phoenix to Seattle.
  • Saturday-Sunday: Fly with Mike and another pilot from Seattle to Page, AZ. I’m hoping to spend the night in the Reading area, where a buddy of mine is on a fire contract. I think we’d all get a lot out of seeing how a fire operation works.

I still have four chapters of a book revision to finish. I goofed off in Wenatchee most of today, but I expect to finish up over the weekend. There’s another book right after it, but I’ll get that started when I get back to Wickenburg and finish it when I settle down in Page.

What do you think?