Chapter 1: Bobbi writes
My brother and his wife are cruel people. All Charlie and Andy want to do is stay on their farm and raise children, crops, and horses. He served three two-year terms as Director of Protection and could have been reelected many times more if he would run. He wouldn't. Neither of them will go exploring. If I didn't love them so much, they would make me angry.
It's the winter of 2050 and I also found that no one is keeping up our history. David says there are more important things than to keep up a history that no one reads. My mothers are just as bad and Bennie will not challenge them. He just walks around his farm happy.
Of course, David and I have our own farm that he has made successful through hard and intelligent work. We are coming upon our ninth anniversary and have no children yet. On this issue, David's wildcat will not bend. There must be one more trip before I start having babies!
SJ and Jacob have been married for five years and they want to travel even more than I. We are putting together a plan. The C-130's are ready being regularly used as cargo planes along with other planes. SJ and Jacob are regular pilots. They have recruited good crews of other, mostly young, people to fly both planes on an exploration mission.
My sister and her husband were frequent guests at our farm. After being resistant, David had come on board with the idea of the trip and was helping with the planning. We were talking about Asia with a crossing over the Pacific Ocean or Bering Sea through Alaska into Russian Siberia. There had been no news from all of that area since the Day and many are curious. Even my parents and grandparents were interested in our trip. My brother and his wife were in our discussions because they were so sensible and smart. SJ and I hoped that would change their minds and Charlie and Andy would make the trip. David was another who didn't make comments often but was worth listening to because of his insight. One night after making love and during pillow talk, I asked, "David Dear, would you be co-leader with me on the expedition? I have been asked to sound you out on the idea. People would be happier if we led rather than with me leading."
"I hadn't thought about, 'Cat. You've always been the one up front for us."
"David, I have never knowingly taken a stance that didn't have your agreement and support. People are pretty sharp. They know you are smart and that I look to your judgment. Your wildcat may not be tamed but she listens to every word you speak and even some you don't speak.
"There are many people who will derive comfort from your involvement in the leadership of the expedition including me. SJ and Jacob want you on board. I think your grandmother, my parents, and my grandparents would all be happier. You've been involved in the planning and all your ideas have been incorporated into the plan. You should see those plans through from a management perspective."
"Let me sleep on it."
"David, you can sleep on it later. I want another round with your body." We did sleep later cuddled tightly together.
A month later, it was late spring and we were co-leaders. To my surprise, David and I were among the older ones on the trip. The planes were loaded and tanked up as were the vehicles they carried. Plenty of warm clothing was packed along with light weight clothes. SJ and I are my mothers' children. Given a chance, we showed skin. Our husbands were used to it and enjoyed it. My favorite mode of dress was what Momma Janice called a string bikini with a gun belt with a pair of automatic pistols in holsters on my hips. On my feet were heavy socks and combat boots. David loved that outfit. If we were alone, it was always considered by him an invitation to ravish me. He does that so well.
We flew out of the Protection airport to Port Lavaca adding three more couples there. We stayed two days enjoying the hospitality with our friends. While there, we found that George's two youngest sons, Ed and Joe, had refurbished a boat, the Yellow Rose II, for distance travel. They planned to circumnavigate South America stopping frequently.
The ship was a large sailing vessel with a diesel motor. The Rose would carry a crew of twenty-five with plenty of room for provisions. It was also well-armed. There were four wheelers and motorcycles in a cargo hold with plenty of gas. Radios were everywhere. They planned to leave in another week with Ed's wife, Margie, to perform secretarial duties. The youngest son, Joe, had never married though many young women had been interested. He admitted that he liked many of the young women but hadn't found the right one for a wife.
Our next stop was El Paso. The people in El Paso had prospered and multiplied after the peace that came as a result of vanquishing the Plainsmen.
It was interesting to see many of them who were also grown and married after so many years. A few people travel by plane but most stay in their homes. My parents were fondly remembered. All of my other siblings were married with children except for Elaine and she was pregnant. They were happy to farm and had no desire to travel like SJ and I. We spent an enjoyable night there before flying on to the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix.
It was another happy community of people. Most of the people from Lake Havasu had moved here and that location was thought to be vacant. We spent another fun night talking and laughing. In the morning, we would start into areas where no one had gone for years.
We landed in Los Angeles at LAX. We were seeing no signs of people. The runway was rough with cracks from small earthquakes. We found fuel but that fuel was gradually going bad or becoming contaminated. David was having misgivings because of fuel but only discussed the issue with me. He said, "My worry will be later when we leave Alaska. I am concerned about entering Russia without knowledge of fuel or airports. Siberia is not an easy land."
We left for San Francisco in the morning. The airport was in terrible shape. David's guess was an earthquake though he admitted it could have been a storm. We flew across to Oakland's airport and found that it, too, was not usable. We did a big circle while discussing what to do and talking to Mallard over the radio. We finally decided to fly north to Portland, our next planned stop.
We were now officially concerned. That meant publicly.
Portland's airport was fine and landing was no problem. It was early April and the temperatures were cool but within our expectations according to our information. We were happy to find plenty of fuel for our planes. We bunked in a terminal for the night and didn't see signs of any people. We were able to contact home by radio on forty meters but we and they were faint. Grandfather Jack Mathews expressed surprise that there wasn't a community anywhere close and asked us to fly around some tomorrow when we would go on to Seattle.
We slept quietly that night though did maintain an armed guard with our planes locked and a married couple in each one. In the morning, we woke up and left for Seattle after breakfast. We flew in some big circles to attract attention and looked for smoke or anything that would suggest the presence of humanity. There was nothing to see and we made our way to Seattle. This airport was in acceptable shape and had usable fuel also.
We decided to make an easy day and performed some light maintenance on the planes and ourselves. Our next leg was to Juneau in Alaska. Since some period before the Day, no one we knew or had heard from had been to Alaska. It was also nine hundred miles from Seattle.
We left in the morning to fly into the unknown. That sounds scarier than the reality. We flew for just over two hours without stopping and saw nothing but empty land. We saw signs of and actual herds of animals but no signs of people. There could have been people following those herds but we didn't see any sign of that. We weren't sure that a primitive group would be noticed. However, we saw no signs of fires or encampments. We reached Juneau and Duck landed after buzzing the runway a few times. The airport had seen better days. As Momma Janice would say, we came in low and slow. SJ and Jacob bumped us down and, while we had seen no one, David wanted us to follow our protocol for landing. We did.
Myra and Tom Jefferson had the front seats of the Humvee while David and I rode in the back. All of us were in full protective gear. I was the least armed with a knife and pistols. My main armament was like Momma Janice's in my hands and feet. I also had her figure. David liked my body and I enjoyed the results.
SJ released the ramp and the shackles were loosed. We rolled out to check the area. Duck's guns were tracking and we made an effort to stay out of their line of fire. We drove in toward the terminal looking at everything and for anything.
We saw animal tracks but no signs of people. Time had not treated the airport well. Our landing had been bumpy and I was glad we had four-wheel drive and traction control for the Humvee. We rode up to the terminal and saw that some of the roof had fallen in. There were areas where we could spread out for the night though. We would look more later.
We went out to the runway and marked a landing zone for Mallard. Then we left to look for fuel after announcing that zone. We found a fueling area and found fuel. We tested it and found enough to fill both our birds twice with a little left over.
We now moved away from the landing field and out further. We still saw no people or signs of people. We did see indications of a lot of animal traffic. We declared the place safe and everyone stood down. We began fueling our big birds.
David and I walked around looking at everything. We had read about this place noting that there was no highway access to Juneau. The article from the old Wikipedia site indicated that though the city was on the mainland, it had no road access due to the geography! It felt windswept and cool at the airport. David and I talked it over. There would be no lengthy exploration in this area. After all, we had seen nothing to suggest that people lived anywhere close.
We did check out the terminal more carefully and found a place for us to sleep for the night. We would continue our trip in the morning flying to Anchorage.
Anchorage was a bigger airport. We were still not seeing any indication of people. The nice thing was fuel stores that were very large. The airport seemed to be in better shape even though our information suggested that the temperature variations were more extreme. We parked the planes after making our usual tour in the Humvee. It was cool but David was worried about Russia, both for fuel and about weather.
Our earlier concerns had abated but other ones had developed.
Actually, it would be Siberia and there was an element of risk in the next leg. Our next leg was almost two thousand miles, almost two-thirds of our range. We would have to land "over there" and find fuel to get back. It could be a long walk if we didn't have fuel or if anything bad happened. The only solution we had discussed was to remove all the fuel from one plane and leave it there. The other one could be used to return to North America. Any other issue would involve both planes and could be worse. We would talk tonight.