It was already after 5 PM by the time I wiped down the Dove and went over to check out the FBO. Again, there was no after-hours access to the pilot’s lounge or rest rooms, but the young lady working behind the counter at McCall Aviation
told me about a great pizza place across the street that I should check out. I made a mental note of it, then walked out to explore the airport.
I saw a lone soul watering plants outside of a large, red, barn-like hangar with the word, Pioneer, stenciled on the roof. I walked over there and started talking with him.
His name was Gary, a pilot for the company, McCall Mountain Canyon Flying Seminars
. When I asked Gary about the hangar, he told me that it was built in the 1920’s, that it once served as the original training site for the first Smoke Jumpers
. The building itself was now condemned after last year’s snowfall, the weight of which snapped two trusses in the building and threatened its collapse. He showed me what the inside looked like.
The original 1920’s woodwork remained throughout the interior, and the wallpaper pattern was an old 1920’s representation of the original Lewis and Clark expedition paintings.
Gary and his fellow pilots were sleeping in a 5th wheel trailer parked behind the hangar until the company decided to either completely raze the building and start anew or restore the hangar for posterity. Meanwhile, the Husky planes he and his partners were using to train bush pilots were taxiing in and parking in another hangar far across the other side of the tarmac.
Gary asked me where I was headed. When I told him that I was flying through America for 40 days, he said I could sleep on the grass in front of the barn-hangar. “Lots of guys do,” he said. I thanked him. Then, like the young lady in the FBO, he said I should go try out the pizza place across the street. My belly was barking again. I figured I might as well give the place a try.
On the way, I found a shed intended solely for transient pilots who wanted bicycle transportation in McCall. I wondered what kind of bikes they had in there. I thought I would come back after dinner and take one of them out for a spin.
I went into Hometown Pizza
and started looking at the menu. There was a line inside, and nearly all the tables were full.
There was only one seat left vacant in a far corner of the room, so I sat down and looked at the menu. After about 20 minutes, I got back in line. A young woman and her three boys were standing there by the door. She asked me if I needed to order. I urged her to go ahead of me, but she told me she was waiting for her husband to show up. She asked me if I was a fireman, and I told her that, no, I was not. I gathered that she and her husband were locals, and that they came to that pizza place a lot. We talked about the cold weather in McCall, and when she asked what I was doing there, I told her about the 40-day flying mission I was on. That was about when her husband showed up and came through the door. I ordered a taco salad, then went back to sit down at the vacant seat in the corner.
After the family ordered their pizza, they went into the larger dining area where they apparently already had a table reserved. I got up to fill my water bottle, and just as I sat back down, the woman approached me and asked if I would like to join her family for dinner in the other room. I said that, yes, I would enjoy that. So I did.
I ate dinner that night with Jennifer, her husband Jerry, and their three boys, oldest to youngest, Jayger, Jace, and Jayton. After telling them about my flying mission across America, I learned that Jerry was the Director of Maintenance
at the McCall Airport. He told me that there was a restroom and shower facility that I could use by the same hangar where the Huskies had parked earlier.
told me that, after dinner, they were selling fireworks at a stand around the corner to raise money for the boys’ hockey club. They shared with me their great enthusiasm for guns, for hunting, for motorcycling, and for living in the great outdoors of the American Northwest.
I thanked the J’s
for their company and told them I would ride by to see their fireworks booth before nightfall. Then I left and went back across the street to the airport to get a bike out of the shed. It was time to explore the City of McCall, Idaho.