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The Journey

By HUNTER REDFIELD – Student Contributor

The last day of school came, and although there was nothing to get ready for school, I woke up half an hour earlier than normal. After getting a last day of school picture, I got into my truck with a bag filled with two cleaned rainbow trout and made my way to my great grandma’s house to give them to her since she loves fish so much.

After talking for a while, and soon saying goodbye, I made my way to school to find kids playing corn hole in the parking lot, more than anxious for school to be over. I went from class to class throughout the day, and finally the announcement was made that school had ended and summer was soon to begin. But even though school was dismissed and the halls were empty, I walked to the wood shop to say goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Piercy and talk a little more about my summer job and also what Mr. Piercy thought I should get at Starbucks in Chicago (a grande skinny vanilla latte), after my plane touched down.

And soon after goodbye and good luck were said, and I walked down the hall for the final time as a junior and got into my truck, heading home and saying goodbye to my dog Max before my dad took him to my grandparents for the night.

Soon my sister was home and I loaded my suitcases into the car, and we made our way to Pittsburgh. We stopped at Field and Stream to get some last minute necessities, and then at a restaurant to get some dinner, before arriving at my mom’s friends house for the night.

We sat and talked before deciding to go get ice cream and then returning back and getting a shower before going to bed. I woke up to the sound of a bathroom sink and very soon after an alarm sounded at 2:30, but like a stain, I wanted to stay on that couch forever.

Soon enough I rolled over and got ready, getting into the car and we made our way to the airport to go through TSA and then find my gate.

Time moved like a snail, but still was moving too fast for my liking. The flight attendant came over the speaker telling me that my time in PA had come to an end as I gave my mom and dad a hug and walked toward the gate to board my flight, and for the first time ever, sitting down in a plane.

Very soon after, I could feel the plane slowly creeping backwards, and I slipped my window open to see a bright orange sky as the sun began to rise. We made circles all through the runway and finally had reached our spot to take off as the engines rumbled and we took off down the runway and slowly lifted into the air.

I watched the ground as we flew and every little valley was filled with fog, but just above it, the sky was still bright orange from the sun that had yet to fully rise. It began to rise as I looked out the window to a spot we had once trolled for walleye with one of dad’s friends.

What had seemed like seconds after, we were over a NASCAR track and then soon started making a descent and landing. I got off the plan and entered the airport knowing I had time to burn between my flights, so I made a couple calls home as I walked around and looked for food and some coffee before deciding on getting a cappuccino and a small container of honeydew for breakfast, then going to my gate and waiting for the time to come.

The flight attendant called out the groups and we boarded for what was soon to be a six hour flight. We made our way into Saskatchewan and soon the ground could no longer be seen because of cloud cover. The woman seated next to me asked where I was going and I told her only to find out she works at a King Salmon Lodge.

Soon, mountains could be seen through gaps in the clouds and the cloud cover dissipated as we entered Alaska. Snow covered mountains could be seen with every glance taken out the window, and slowly the white mountains turned more and more green and roads were visible.

Once again, we made a descent and touched down on the runway. I grabbed my bags and made it off the plane of people anxiously awaiting the door to open. Once in the airport, I walked around looking for lunch and finally decided I didn’t have much time left.

My food came out and I was very hungry, however, it was cold and I had to go, so I stood up, throwing it away and getting an Uber to take me to the Iliamna air taxi. I checked in and once again waited on departure time to arrive.

Our pilot had arrived back and all eight of us boarded the plane. We pulled onto the runway and watched as commercial flights took off and finally our turn came, and we made it down the runway and into the air cruising over mountaintops.

The men in front of me were more than anxious to get to their lodge as they talked about what was for dinner each night. I watched out the window as the same scenery went by of mountains. I could see a dark cloud in front of us, and soon we were being tossed all over the place by turbulence. But once outside the cloud, it was smooth sailing until I looked down and saw houses which harbor the 109 people that live in the town of Iliamna.

A runway came into view, and before I knew it, we were standing in it unloading our bags. We made our way inside the office and I looked at the caribou mounts and different jewelry they sold before a man told me Brian would be back shortly to pick me up.

A white van pulled into the parking lot and I watched as Brian opened the door and came in to greet me. We loaded my luggage into the van and made our way down gravel roads to where the float plane was, and soon loaded my things, as well as lots of groceries, into the plane before taking off and flying over Lake Iliamna.

I could see the bottom of the lake in many places because of how clear the water was as we made our way to the lodge, and soon we turned and dropped, coasting onto the water and toward the lodge where the staff awaited our arrival.

I opened the door and crawled out while meeting all the guides. We unloaded the plane and, soon after, I was helping Mackenzie clean dishes then go down to the lake and try to catch fish for a little while. When talking to the one guide named Sam, I realized it was a 11:30 at night in Alaska and 3:30 at home, so I headed for bed after an exhausting day of traveling, knowing that I was over 3,300 miles from home.

 

Columnist Hunter Redfield is a student at Cranberry High School and a member of Cranberry Chronicles, the school’s journalism/publications group.

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