Air mail, Center Island-style: When UPS packages come on the San Juan Airlines plane, the pilot hops out and totes them to our mail shack. The Nuthatch cabin is about 200 feet into the woods from the far end of the field in this picture.
AIR TRAVEL WAS A KEY PART of my life as a travel writer, and planes and helicopters continue to play a role now that I’m living at The Nuthatch cabin on a little island in the San Juans. The roles are different, however.
While Barbara and I still fly away to interesting places now and again, the primary purpose planes play in our daily lives is to deliver packages sent via UPS and FedEx. (The U.S. Postal Service delivers to Center Island by boat.)
Even if I’m sitting in my favorite wicker chair in our living room I know when the orange plane from San Juan Airlines is delivering our UPS packages. We can clearly hear the pilot buzz our grass airfield to clear it of grazing deer before he lands. That little orange plane sounds like a RAF Spitfire strafing a beach.
With the popularity of Amazon Prime, the volume of packages delivered to our island has soared. We even use it to order cat food and bird seed, both of which we go through a lot of.
Helicopters, too, are now part of our lives, though we hope to never see the inside of one. That’s because we just signed up as members of Airlift Northwest, a UW Medicine-affiliated air-evacuation service, which serves our islands with helicopters based in Bellingham and Arlington. For $79 a year, they’ll cover whatever air-evac cost isn’t covered by our personal medical insurance in the event of an emergency. From Bellingham, a helicopter flying 150 mph would cover the 25 miles to our island in 10 minutes.
It seems a prudent precaution when you live in a place where the only medical equipment consists of the DIY defibrillator in our clubhouse and the bandages in the bottom drawer in our bathroom.
Best wishes, loyal readers, for good health and never needing a helicopter ride.