Well, here I am, back in AK. What a great thing.
Where do I begin? Probably with the mention that it is way too late for me to be working on this and that I should be in bed. I’ve been in Alaska for almost a week now. I started the count down to when I get to leave almost as soon as I hit the 50 degree temp in my capris. How I wish I had my long johns and a wool hat.
I, of course, had to stay up a whole 24 hr before I flew out. That’s the last time you heard from me. So I was unconscious for most of the plane ride except for when the row of kids in front of me were screaming over the DVD player. In “My Day” all we had was a pencil and paper to entertain us and we were QUIET! My first expense for my trip was the dollar I paid for the headphones to maintain my sanity.
Once I had collected my bags it was back to the travel mode. How to find a way to the highway South so I can start hitching. I really didn’t feel like starting this. Aren’t I too old for this haphazard sort of travel? I talked to other MN tourists instead. Eventually, I took a bus to the South part of town and started walking from the Diamond Center Mall. In 5 hitches I was in Homer. It took a good while. I think people are losing their trust. It’s neat because I was able to pick out the cars that would stop for me. If they have some sort of large sport equipment tied to the top of their car they’ll stop, if the hood is tied down itself they’ll stop, same as rust, the more rust, the more likely they will stop for me. I can definately count on a big fancy truck NEVER stopping.
I had my chance to go to Seward. I wasn’t sure where the boats would be. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the difference in distance it was from Seward to Homer. So, I ended up in Homer and no boats were around. Instead, I found Bob working on his boat, the Neptune, in the boat yard ( I fished/had my mental breakdown for him in Kodiak, 2003). I got to meet his new crew and was invited for steaks. A great way to end a long day of meeting new people. I do like hitching. It’s such a great combination. You get to meet some random person and then spend a car ride getting to know them. I asked a lot of questions about AK. My goal was to find out about life here.
It was great to meet Bob’s crew, they had a campsite out on the Spit. I was really glad to have some instant male buddies. The camp was cozy, the fires were huge, plenty of Spit Rats to stop by and say hi.
It was very handy to have a cell phone, that’s not the point, I’m still sad about owning one. I left messages for anyone I could get ahold of. The main thing is that I FROZE. I had tried to pack for Alaska and North Carolina weather but that cold wind off the ocean and the cold rain. . . shiver. Awesome thing: I was heading in to Homer from the Spit (hitching) and as I walked and cars drove by I finally noticed a car sitting along the road just waiting. Who just waits like that? It was really fishy. I slowly made my way up to them and then I found out it was Josh! A Roth relative and crew member. He had recognized me on the road and had pulled over to wait! So cool. I got to meet up with his sister, Heather, as well. Her and Robert finally bought a house. The Roth house has really been remodeled as well. Linda is working in Tutka at the fish hatchery. I got to ride around with her when she was in town to do errands.
I did get to go to the Salty Dawg again. This time I left a dollar hanging on the ceiling like all the others before – but not my bra, this is brand new! I also had to play my fishing song, “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band (?). Ah, the good ol’ days.
I actually didn’t sleep the night that I went to the Salty Dawg. Instead, I packed my things and hit the road to hitch to Seward. It would be Friday and the boats would be done for the weekend. Sherri was driving to Anchorage on Sunday so I had a ride from Seward and to Anchorage. My idea was to hit the road early that Friday morning but 6 am was a bit too early for Homer traffic. It took me an hour between rides. I rode with a group of long time Alaska women, another car with a couple of old fishermen smoking cigars as I tried to snuggle with their waders in the back – did I mention how cold I was?
In between rides I urged hypothermia to set in so I could feel warm. I finally had a ride from Ninilchick to the ‘T’ for Seward and Anchorage. Jerry even bought me breakfast!! Awesome. I don’t eat much out on the spit. Rice and tuna. It’s sort of a bummer because I ate that for about 3 days and I was already sick of it – ok, 4 days. Anyways, I felt bad for Jerry because I was so tired that I was halucinating as he told me stories. He’d start on one, I would start to drift off and as I drifted I would fill in my own details. At one point he was saying something about his first marriage and I realized I was responding with an arguement about what he had been shopping for at the grocery store. “No, I think it was you . . .” I was saying before I was able to stop myself. He gave me a funny look and I tried to refocus my eyes as back peddled.
Anyways, once in Seward I was able to get a shower at the cannery and a little nap. Jamie woke me up (another point for cell phones) and her and Abbie took me around town on some errands before we took the skiff back out to the boats. As we went into one of the grocery stores I ran into BRIE coming out. BRIE! Do you have any idea??? I wintered with her in Antarctica! How crazy is that?? I’ve been waiting for my crazy “small world” experience and this has got to be a doozy. She’s working at a camp. Awesome. We talked a good while till Abby and Jamie had gotten their supplies. I got our picture in front of the store for proof. See, go look. Long haired girl? That’s Brie. I hope I’m spelling you’re name right. I am SO sorry, Brie, that I didn’t seem to remember your name. I’m going to blame exhaustion. I saw her and I was like, “Brie?” but I only thought that and then I was like, “No, that can’t be her name, that’s a cheese. Maybe it’s Sarah,” but Sarah definately didn’t seem right. So, instead of guessing I just said I couldn’t remember. I’d rather claim forgetfulness that to call her Brie and be wrong. Sheesh. I’m SORRY! I felt awful. I lived in Antarctica, we saw each other for 6 months. I know she used to play rugby, she was a GA, she played dodgeball. I bet I could still get to her room, she does watercolors. . .and yet I blanked when she came out of the store. “Cheese? That can’t be right.” I think I was really tired.
Back on the boat, I got dropped off on the North Star. That was a little crazy. The skiff came zooming up to the side and I lunged for the rail with my backpack on. I thought of all the hiker days and rock scrambling and didn’t feel nimble at all. I did get to plunge (scare fish away from their only escape route) for a set, Sherri and I caught up on news and stories and discussed our “favorite” book, Fascinating Womanhood. She’s the one that introduced it to me when she was ranting about its sexism. She had gotten the book as a wedding present. The book is an interesting topic. I do recommend it, something to laugh at and think about. This would have been such a fun year to return fishing. Abbie and Jamie are back fishing as well as Dave and Allen. Such awesome people. I met Norman’s little sister Gabby as well. She would be fun too.
Paul and Sherri fed me and then it was a ride back to Homer. I was out. Sherri let me sleep in the bunk house. I was so grateful to not have to go back out on the Spit. Bob’s crew keeps talking about moving. They don’t pay for their spot so it’s only a matter of time. And the Spit is not a place to catch up on sleep, especially at midnight on a Friday night.
Sabbath was relaxing and indoors. I wore my skirts over my pajama bottoms, snuggled in a blanket and had a day of phone calls. After that was a game of Estimate and my visit back to AK was complete. Of course, I also had to have my old skipper inform me once again how old I’m getting and how slim the pickin’s are getting. I think it’s down to “take what you can get” as far as husbands go. So helpful.
I do miss fishing. I miss the water, the scenery, coming into town, the smell of the salt and the boats, the docks. I love the ruggedness and the adventure. I love stepping off the dock and knowing that no one else knows where you have been, or the fact that the same sea crossing can vary so drastically. I guess I don’t miss any work part of the fishing. I just miss being out on the boats. Being in AK made me think back to Dad’s boat again. Maybe it would be something I would really, really love. Maybe I wouldn’t feel like I was just tagging along.
I did find one very interesting bit of info, a flyer at the bulletin board by the marina bathrooms on the Spit. The flyer is advertising a land auction for this Thursday! I am excited. I plan on doing the auction at my Aunt and Uncle’s. It says you can bid online. We’ll see. I’ve looked over the land descriptions, have a couple bits I want to bid on. I am REALLY excited. There’s no minimum bid, only $500 down required at the time of sale, and you can pretty much pick how much to pay each month. I don’t know what remote land is selling for but this is in Prince William Sound on a peninsula. Accessible only by boat or air. You can look it up, it’s in Port Fidalgo. Or go online: http://www.grubstakeauction.com. So far there’s only about 4 cabins. I’m hoping that not enough people are interested on something so remote. I won’t be bidding very high though. I don’t have that much money and I’ve never seen the place, but the pictures show an area just like Homer. It would be so awesome to be able to say that I own land in AK. I just want to have it. Then I can figure out what to do with it later. I don’t have any set plans but this would certainly give me options. Well, I’m not going to think about it. I need to get to bed. My southern leg of Alaska is finished. Tomorrow I head to Fairbanks to visit my relatives and Skittles – who I am trying to get in the habit of calling Richard. Speaking of, I was talking to an acquantance of my brother and he was laughing that my brother actually knows two people by the name of Skittles. When he stopped laughing I said that I also know two Skittles. How odd is that? How many of you know someone that goes by “Skittles”? All right. I really have to go. It’s an early day tomorrow.
Oh, I should tell you. I drove up with Sherri, she dropped her car off at Mike’s and he let me stay with his family in Anchorage. He used to skipper the Lindy till he sold it a couple years ago. It was SO nice of him to let me stay. I was planning on camping. Ahhhh (comfy sigh). . . I’m staying in a 16 year old’s room. Did you know that they really do decorate their rooms like in the Target catalogs? Pink and shaggy. I was so suprised. All these years I thought I still related with High Schoolers and now I feel like I’m in a family sitcom. I think I am getting old.