Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Minam River Wedding Part 7

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm on Spring Break this week. We're busy getting ready to take a truck full of boxes over to the Squash House on Thursday. Before we leave I thought I would post the last part of our Minam River Wedding. We probably won't have internet service again on this trip, so I won't be posting again until at least next Monday. I plan to take a lot of photos of some of the progress in updating the Squash House, so there should be a lot to talk about when we return!

Minam River Wedding – Part 7

It was time to leave our beloved Minam Lodge until the next visit. Our wedding, with all of its excitement and minor mishaps turned out better than we could have ever hoped. It certainly was something to remember and being that it will be eight years this August, we still remember even the little details!

Dick, our pilot, flew in that morning and was invited up to the lodge for breakfast, which is usually the case for the pilots who fly lodge guests in and out. A well fed pilot is a happy pilot! Breakfast was terrific as usual – fresh bacon, sausage, eggs, toast, pancakes, juice and coffee. In fact, it ran a little later than usual due to the large number of folks who had arrived the previous afternoon. Otis also made a deal with Dick to fly out some additional items, which took a little more time.

In the high summer, which is August for this area, flights in and out of the Minam are done preferably in the early morning. The reason for this is that when flying out of a box canyon, a plane needs all the lift it can get. Hot air is less dense than cool air, and does not provide good lift for planes. In the early morning, before the air has a chance to heat up is ideal for flying small planes in these types of conditions. With the late breakfast and Otis’ extra request of Dick, it was nearly 10:00. We had to get going – it was going to be a very hot day and it was already quite warm.

We said our goodbyes at the lodge and then Otis and Teresa walked us down to the plane. As we were loading up, we mentioned to Dick that Otis made the perfect preacher for our wedding ceremony. Otis heard this and immediately interjected that Dick was not to mention any of this around town – Otis had a reputation as a tough, backcountry guide to uphold and he wasn’t going to take any ribbing about getting into the wedding business. We had a good chuckle and boarded the plane.

Dick was again flying the small Cessna we flew in on as the larger turbo prop was still in maintenance. He explained that we would taxi to the spot where we touched down flying in, take off toward the box end of the canyon, hop over the small hill that separated the Minam airstrip from Red’s airstrip, and land at Red’s. Then we would turn around and take off from Red’s toward the open end of the canyon. With the heat and the lift needed, we wouldn’t have to worry about clearing the trees at the box end of the canyon. He radioed Red’s to raise any pilots and their planes that might be on the landing strip – making sure it was clear for us to land and take off again. There was no response, which was an indication that no one was there. Its standard protocol that radios must be kept on if planes are on the landing strip at Red’s and/or the Minam.

Mr. Squash was up front and I was in the rear seat. We taxied down to the river, Dick throttled the plane into power, made the hop over the hill and what did we see below, but a plane with two horses and riders next to it – right where we were to land! The stall warning on the plane squealed loudly in protest, indicating we were losing lift – remember – we were only making a hop over the hill, so we were barely in the air. Mercy. There were only two options at this point – crash into the plane and horses, or pull up and try to make it out of the boxed end. Of course, Dick deployed the latter option. He pulled up, we were heavy with Otis’ extra load, the morning had grown quite warm and the trees loomed up quickly in front of us. I saw Mr. Squash open the air flow above him – he was sweating bullets. I remember looking down and thinking if I put my hand out the window, I could touch the trees. Was this the end? Had all of this been for nothing? Dick throttled the engine as hard as he could, put as much bank into the plane as possible; we ratcheted our way along the tree line. Just a little more lift was all we needed – and maybe a prayer or two. Finally, after what seemed like eons, we cleared the trees. The look of relief on both Dick and Mr. Squash’s faces was priceless. We were going to make it - and we did!

I’m sure glad you’ve enjoyed this story. It was a lot of fun to tell. Otis and Teresa retired from running the Minam Lodge several years ago, however it is still in operation and quite a few changes have been made – you can now sleep in a teepee if you wish, and they’ve even added a hot tub! Sadly, Dick passed away two years later. I’ve included a few links below if you’re interested. The first is a blog post about the horse ride into the Minam which I talked about in Part 3 and includes some great pictures. The second is an article about the history of Red’s Horse Ranch and the third is the website for Minam Lodge.

http://mckusterranchlife.blogspot.com/2007/07/minam-river-lodge-07-trailride.html

http://www.lagrandeobserver.com/Features/Portraits/Big-Minam-horse-ranch

http://www.minamlodgeoutfitters.com/

17 comments:

Des said...

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Squash. What an awesome adventure!! Thanks so much for sharing it!

Purple and Paisley said...

loved, loved, loved the entire story...each and every chapter...even tho i didn't always leave a comment (sorry about that - some days blogger was being uncooperative for me), i read each and every word! i am so happy you and mr. squash found each other and are living such a wonderful life...☺♥

Jane's Fabrics and Quilts said...

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story, I enjoyed it so much. have a safe trip to the squash house.

Anonymous said...

I too have loved reading the whole story! Thank you for sharing. You have a gift with words, it is almost like we were there with you.
Have a great day.
Donnelly

Linda said...

It was such fun reading this Candace. The flight out sounds like ti was a rather hairy one, I think I would have been praying my face off.... Now for what is probably a dumb question, what's the squash house?

Ulla said...

My stomach cramped when I read about the flight, even though I knew you both are alive and well!

Kaaren said...

I'm not sure which mode of transportation I would choose after seeing both the plane ride in and the precarious paths and trails that the horses must follow to get in and out. And then the story about the plane ride out. Yikes!

Super story Candace and I'm sorry there isn't another episode. Wait! There is! And they lived happily ever after...

Thanks for sharing. Safe trip to and from the Squash House.

Stephanie said...

A wedding to NEVER forget! Happiness and near death experiences all in one adventure. Thank you for sharing your story.

Kay said...

This has been so enjoyable to read. I love hearing about people who make unconventional choices in tradition-loaded situations. Congratulations.

Carrie ~ Cricketwood Prims and Gardens said...

Wonderful story Candace, thanks for sharing with us peeps. On a wing and a prayer could be the title to the last chapter.
Have a great time this week, hope you have some lookers into your home while your away. I will enjoy the links.
Hugs, Carrie

Carrie P. said...

That was fun. Thanks for sharing. I did not like that plane ride in or out. Too scary for me.
Have a great weekend.

sewtakeahike said...

The perfect exciting end to the perfect wedding Candace! Thank-you so much for taking the time to recount your wedding memories to us all!

Cindy said...

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful, fun and loving story, Candace. What great memories. Aren't memories wonderful? (LOL - especially when we can remember them...LOL)

Trisha said...

Thank you for sharing your wedding adventure! It was so enjoyable!

Eileen said...

Just got through reading all about your wedding. Wonderful story Like others said Happily ever after. Thanks for shareing.

Eileen said...

Just got through reading about your wedding. What an adventure. Thanks for sharing. Many Happy returns.

Patchworkpeg said...

Wow! What a wonderful wedding adventure! You are also quite the storyteller! I didn't comment on each part, as I was too eager to get to the next part! I know you have been married quite a while now, and this has been posted almost 2 years, but many happy wishes for you all! This is my first time visiting your blog, and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself this evening! Thank you so much!!