The Last Frontier

Friday, December 31, 2010

Flying Home in a Bush Plane

We charter a plane about twice a year to go into town for groceries, supplies and mail. Last summer I wrote a post about our upcoming shopping trip (Click here if you'd like to read about how we shop for 6 months to a year at a time). Here are a few pictures of my trip with the boys, starting at the air taxi at Lake Hood in Anchorage, and ending when the boys and I arrived home. Our shopping trips usually last about two or three days, so we're always more than ready to get out of the city.

I've read that Lake Hood is the busiest float plane lake in the world. I don't like busy places, so I'm not sure why it's my favorite place in Anchorage. Maybe because it's our connection to home and the way out of town. Even with all those small planes coming and going, it seems peaceful to me. After several days in the city, I breathe a sigh of relief as soon as I drive through the gate and around the lake toward the air taxi. 

Sign at the float plane lake in Anchorage
I always get a kick out of this sign at Lake Hood in Anchorage
 We don't have a car or truck of our own because we don't need one very often. When we go into town, we usually stay with friends and borrow their car to do our shopping. We try not to stay with the same folks more than once a year so we don't wear out our welcome.

When the car we're borrowing is full, we come to the air taxi and store everything in their shed until we're ready to fly home. We usually fly in a Cessna 185. I knew I was cutting it mighty close on the weight limit this time and was going to have to leave some of our groceries in town. What a surprise when the owner told me that the 185 wasn't available and we were going home in the Beaver, and at no extra charge. Hooray! ! ! If I'd known we were flying in a Beaver, I'd have done more shopping! A Beaver can haul about half again as much as a 185.

Loading the plane to come home after a shopping trip
Loading the plane at the air taxi in Anchorage.

This is the view of planes parked at Lake Hood as we were taking off.
Taking Off
Taking off. Float planes parked on the lake.

There's a strip for wheel planes, too. This is one of the "Parking Lots" for wheel planes.
Parking Lot
Wheel planes parked at Lake Hood

Leaving Anchorage and heading over the water toward home.
Good-Bye Anchorage
Leaving Anchorage

The boys were excited to be heading home. All of our stuff is packed behind the seats. As you can see, we had plenty of extra room this time. Usually it's packed full. They even load things in the floats.
We're on our way
Ready to get home!

After about 10 minutes in the plane, the engine lulls the boys to sleep.
Nap Time
A good time for a nap.

This is one of my favorite views in the world. As soon as we come around the mountain, we get our first glimpse of the lake we live on. Actually, we're about 3/4 mile back in the woods off the lake, but this is close enough for me!
First glimpse of home
First glimpse of home --- my favorite view in the world!

Ready to Land
Getting ready to land on the lake.

Chuck and our dog met us at the lake and began unloading.

Unloading the Plane
Unloading the plane.
The plane is almost unloaded. Jed had plenty of energy after that 45 minute flight. Once the plane leaves, we load up our backpacks, haul everything up the hill, and then head down the trail toward home. If our old 4-wheeler is working, we load up the cart, too (or the snow machine in the winter) and Chuck makes a few trips with that. But, I think it finally bit the dust this last fall. Next summer we'll be hauling everything on our backs again like we used to do.
Almost everything is off the plane
The plane is almost unloaded.

The pilot's heading back to Anchorage. We say our good-byes. Probably won't see him again for another 6 or 8 months. I used to look forward to trips into town and getting things we've been out of for a long time. Now, I put off those trips as long as I can. I'm content to stay home, even if we don't have everything we want. We have everything we really need right here. This life is such a blessing.
See ya in about six months . . .
Good-bye. See ya in 6 months.


  1. OK, that takes a lot of good planning to only shop twice a year! The pictures are beautiful. I can see why you enjoy the trip. How long are you in the air?

  2. Hi Jenn. Thanks for visiting. That trip was cloudy and rainy, so not as many good pics of the rivers and mountains. It usually takes about 45 minutes. Once, we had a good tailwind, which cut the trip in half, but the pilot had to take a different route going back to Anchorage. Another time we had a very nauseating trip bucking headwinds. That was a miserable 1 1/2 hour trip.

  3. I love your posts. I can not imagine being that organized. How many trips did it take for you to learn how to get what you needed?

  4. Wow, Jenny - that is amazing, and BEAUTIFUL! I can only imagine that kind of life...but I'm sure, not really. One would have to actually live it to know what to even imagine! Your work is so physically demanding, yet the peacefulness of your life is incomparable. Always enjoy reading about it! Thank you, so much, for sharing :-)


  5. I love the pictures. Thanks for telling me about them. I still want to hop in one of those planes and come visit. I can't wait till my son and I can go out to the lake and watch the planes land and take off. What fun. When I dropped off the jump drive we had to sit at the new gate they were putting in so a plane could take off.


  6. I guess I didn't comment here. I love flying in those small planes. I had hoped one of my kids would love to fly, but so far the oldest two are two chicken and Josiah will probably be too tall. I love taking the ERA flights from Anchorage to Kenai. I've flown to Mexico in a small plane for medical work - that was so cool. Wish I could take one of those planes and come visit you with my family some day. Thanks for posting this. Very wonderful insight to your life.

  7. That would be fun! I'd love to have you and your family visit. I'm sure our boys would have a great time with your family! We'd have to set up another tent, though. Our wall tent wouldn't sleep all of you. :)

  8. I came to your blog courtesy of Treppenwitz, an Israeli blogger who applauded you for knitting headwear for IDF soldiers. Much impressed by your blog.

    Two items: 1. Air taxi; and 2. Inverter.

    1. Air taxi. I'm interested to know the make and model of the aircraft you use for your air taxi. What is it, please?

    2. Inverter. (You probably know this already.) On the boat I used to live on, we used an inverter. But if the inverter goes out AND you have battery power (do you?), you can run your DC powered items (such as a computer) directly from the battery. You have to match the adapter's output voltage and amperage; I don't know if you have the electrical kit to do that. You can find the output voltage and amperage on the bottom of the computer's power supply if you are running a laptop. (Mine takes 18.5V and 3.5A.) If you have a desktop, you will have to open the tower and search the power supply (hint: the power cord runs right to it). Hope that helps.


  9. Thank you very much for visiting and taking the time to comment. We used to fly in a Cessna 185 before we adopted our boys as newborns), but I incorrectly said that's what we fly in now. Actually is't a slightly larger plane, a Cessna 206. A DeHavilland (spelling?) Beaver is what we fly in if we have a much larger load.

    Our inverter had a charger on it. When we ran the generator through it, we were able to charge the batteries farily quickly. Without it, we have to use an ordinary car battery charger, which takes much longer, therefore uses much more gas. We have a satelite internet system, and so far, we have not been able to find a 12 volt setup that will work for it. Still looking, though. We have had it plugged into the wiring that goes from the batteries and through the inverter, before it died. So we use the batteries. We do have our laptop wired directly to the batteries with an adapter. We hoped to be able to run a desktop computer, but some folks who have a vacation cabin nearby tried that with a similar setup and set it totally drained their batteries very quickly, and the computer didn't work well for even the few minutes it ran.
    You liveed on a boat? That must have been quite an experience. We have some friends "down south" who used to live on a houseboat, but sold it recently.
    Thank you, again,

  10. We had 24V gel cell batteries on the boat. Two banks of two wired in parallel to kick over the diesel. One for regular use, the other for backup. The boat was a Pearson 396.

    The things that suck power on a computer are the disk drive and the display. To reduce disk access, install as much RAM as you can. Old CRT displays suck a lot of power. The flat screens, not so much. Set your power so the screen goes dark if you stop typing for more than 2 minutes and set the harddrive likewise.

    Your site interests me 'cause I dream of retiring to Alaska.


  11. Thank you for that information. I hope you make it to Alaska for your retirement.
    Best wishes!

  12. What a fantastic site i have stumbled upon!!!. Your way of life looks amazing. I have been fascinated by Alaska and homesteading for along time, thanks to the discovery channel. I unfortunately live in a city in the U.K booo
    Best wishes simon


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