I hear the Kern Valley Airport buys their bacon from James Store. Lots of people buy bacon from James Store. How come no one’s bacon tastes as pork-rich and thick as the airport’s bacon? Whatever the case may be, I am a fan of breakfast, period. And I am a fan of breakfast at the Kern Valley Airport, exclamation point! It’s not just because of the bacon. Which is excellent. I mean, … bacon. Bad bacon is delicious. So excellent bacon would be off-the-chart, right? You betcha. The point is, there’s more to the airport experience than breakfast meats. There are the regulars, like the Wednesday gun club members, and the Sunday after-church folks. Waitress/cooks like Kathy, who have been working both the grill and the flight control radio for years. All year, not just the summer months or weekends, private pilots fly in from L.A., Ventura, San Diego, or places farther afield. They fly in early morning, fish the river, order a burger for lunch, and fly home. Some taxi their planes to the airport campground and camp overnight. Once Marc and I were having breakfast when a friend pulled up with her kayak in the back of her pickup. She was meeting a new boyfriend– a pilot who was flying in with his own kayak in his plane. When she introduced us, he insisted we go up for a tour of the Kern River Valley by air. “There’s our house! There’s our garage! There’s Jiggs, the mule!” I blurted to Marc, when we overflew our neighborhood. Another time, during a super-high-water year, I took an out-of-town friend to the airport for breakfast, and we watched an amphibious plane taxi from the lake onto the tarmac. Then, minutes later, the next-door helitack crew gave us a show by rappelling from their chopper for practice.
Today, however, the airport and the airport cafe are quiet. A woman wearing a turban (the kind Madeline Kahn sported in Young Frankenstein) shares the patio with us, but ducks inside before my blueberry pancakes arrive. Our friend Lynn pops over from the helitack heliport to get an iced tea. “The helicopter’s still there,” she tells us. “But there’s no pilot.” She also says she and her crew won’t be able to burn slashpiles on the Kern Plateau because of wind conditions. Al the cat visits us at our patio table, and Marc sorta, kinda secret-like gives him some butter off his finger.
Anyway. The Kern Valley Airport. Because there’s more to life than awesome bacon.