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> PIlot Station
post Jul 11 2005, 06:15 PM
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So we made it to Pilot Station. It was an uneventful ride to Pilot Station, except there were tons and tons of lakes and small rivers to look at. It amazed me for how long outside of town that I could see evidence of human impact from the plane in the form of four-wheeler tracks. But, after about 15 minutes in the air, it was pure wilderness.

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The runway in Pilot Station is dirt, but it was a smooth landing, and Martin Kelly, the Tribal Administration Council head was there to meet us with his truck. That was lucky for us because we had to bring in all our own food, so we had two coolers in addition to all of our other gear. The landing strip is about a half mile away from town, so we would have been in trouble if we didnít have a ride. First we went to the old post office building, but it was locked and no one knew where the keys were, so then we drove over to the Catholic Church and decided that we would stay there for the night. It seems as though the church is the one place in town where there is accommodations. Many of these small villages have traveling priestsómeaning one priest covers a whole bunch of villagesóand therefore comes to town about one Sunday each month.

We also found out as we were unloading that there was a bingo game going on. After we unloaded our stuff and got something little to eat, we headed down to the Bingo game. Iíve learned that it truly is hard sometimes when you are in a new place and wanting to meet the people there, to outreach and go to things like Bingo, because you feel sort of stupid walking in and not knowing what to do, like where to buy the bingo card or how to play the way they play. However, it seemed as though all the locals were pretty happy to see us there as they all had smiles on their faces. We bought ten dollars worth of cards and sat at a table with three natives who were great. They helped us along and were laughing at us the whole timeówhich was just about perfect. Unfortunately, we didnít win anything, but we had a good time and managed to show our faces and introduce ourselves to many of the villagers. Unbeknownst to us, word got around quickly that we were at the Bingo game, as everyone in town seemed to know, whether they were at the Bingo game or not.

So, we got home at about 9:00 p.m. and Martin Kelly had warned us that the kids sort of come out at night. He was right. At about 10:00 p.m. there were kids all over the village, on four wheelers and on their bikes just hanging around. And, they literally stayed out for most of the night. Apparently the kids sleep all day and do their socializing at night. Of course it is light or dusky all night long, so it really isnít that much different than daytime.

Pilot Station is a town of 500+ people and the population is growing. There is both a city council and a tribal council that are the governing bodies. There is a store, but the store is apparently very expensive. So, most of the food and supplies are brought in by barge or airplane, so either way things arenít cheap around here. Due to the way supplies are brought in here, there are times when supplies run out. For example, the town has been out of gas for a few weeks now. There was supposed to be another barge of gas coming on July 2, but it hasnít shown up yet, so people just wait and try to conserve what they can. The electricity is run by a diesel generator that makes it so there is always a hum in the town. About 5 times a day planes show up, so it isnít uncommon to hear a plane overhead from time to time! The main mode of transportation around here during this time of the year is clearly four-wheelers. That is the introduction to Pilot Station, Iím sure Iíll learn more about the village in the next few days.

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