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North to Alaska
Six winners take trip with Cal Worthington
Leaving on a jet plane.
Six lucky people arrived at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday at Cal Worthington's Big W in Orland and boarded his Learjet for a trip to Alaska.
The trip was won in a live auction at the 2007 Splendor in the Valley fundraiser for Glenn Medical Center. Beverly Kessler entered the winning bid of $21,500.
Joining her were her daughter and son-in-law Staci and Loren Roque, her sister Lynda Estes, niece Sheri Duggins and family friend Heather Boer.
They planned to take the trip in May 2008, but her son-in-law was stricken with leukemia that traveled to his brain and transformed into non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He said doctor's told him it was first such case ever seen in the world.
Kessler did not want to go without him, so she decided to delay the trip. And, for a while, "We weren't sure I was going to make the trip," Loren Roque said. But in less than a year he is cancer free and back to work as, fittingly, the medical staff coordinator at Glenn Medical Center.
Go north young man
Worthington co-pilots the Learjet 35 with his son Rod, who was an American Airlines captain for seven years. The trip to Alaska takes four hours 10 minutes. Flying at 45,000 feet — higher than commercial airlines — the plane travels about 550 mph
Rod Worthington said some of the sights during the flight are "spectacular," especially this time of year, "when the inland straits are clear."
The jet flies over the Gulf of Alaska; Sitka; Glacier National Park; Prince William Sound; Whittier Glacier; Turnagain Arm, which was destroyed by a tsunami following a 9.2-magnitude earthquake in 1964; and Denali State Park, home of Mt. McKinley,
the highest peak in North America, Rod Worthington said.
Cal Worthington, 89, said he has been flying for 68 years and has trained
his sons and grandchildren to fly as well. With businesses in Alaska he flies there 12 to 15 times a year. That's why he chose to donate a trip for six to the frozen north every year. The first trip was in 2005.
On the five-day trip — the group returns Saturday — Worthington's guests will have an opportunity to go fishing for salmon and halibut, take a boat tour, visit glaciers and more.
Worthington said he enjoys taking the trip with the Splendor in the Valley winners; his favorite part is "seeing them get to excited," he said. And, "it's rewarding to hear about their experiences and see their excitement."
"Every dime goes to the hospital," Cal Worthington said of the winning bid on the Alaska trip.
Rod Worthington said "the temperature in Anchorage will be about 67 degrees when we land. Perfect fishing weather."
Contact Lydia Harris at 934-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org