August 2, 1998
It was a lousy night of sleep for everyone, but maybe tonight will be better. We left Kirensk and headed to Olyokminsk for fuel and then to Yakutsk to sleep. We are on the downhill side of the commemorative flight. Andres, the translator, says there was too much publicity about this flight in Russia and he’s tired. When we look at how everything has worked out, we are amazed. There is no way this project should have worked, but here we are on the last of the commemoration flight. We are looking forward to getting back to Alaska. When we hit Nome, we will know that it was a success. We have good friends and have had good times in Russia.
Khalide and I got to the mud runway in Olyokminsk 20 or 30 minutes ahead of everyone else. Poor Mary Beth. We are greeted again by townspeople, the Mayor and dancing girls. This is where I noticed the people here look more like they are from Mongolia.
They gave us more gifts and I don’t know what I’m going to do about hauling everything. I guess I’ll have to leave my Mom’s Russian Eggs here – just kidding. We fueled up and headed on to Yakutsk in marginal weather. We had to go on, since we heard we were getting a hotel with a mattress and hot water, and maybe even be a phone! After a while, I really do crave the “luxuries.”
We followed the river and did just a little scud running, but Yakutsk was beautiful. We flew in formation over the airport then 1,2,3 on the runway. There was media again and Siberian girl scouts, WWII female pilots, a dancing girl that did a throat clucking thing and the traditional friendship bread and a drink that was terrible.
We met a man at the airport who had a Maule Brochure and he crawled all over Mary Beth. He wants to purchase three for their airport and was thrilled to see one. I wonder if they need someone to ferry them over?! ME, ME, ME!!!! We are spending two nights here to rest and play, as all 17 of us are tired. This hotel has a fax, so I can catch up with everyone. Nikki is scouting for a sauna and Jeremy is looking for a riverboat.