I’m back in Port Moller for a few days after a long week of tender trips. Rose (the other Tech out here) and I went for a couple of nice long walks yesterday and I couldn’t help but stop every hundred yards or so and try to wrap my head around just how outstandingly beautiful it is here. The shoreline was littered with a whole variety of beautiful shells and we followed a meandering set of bear prints all the way out to a river that was a bit deep for us to cross. The wind hadn’t yet kicked up into its regular howling force, so the water was absolutely glass like. If I didn’t know any better, I would have sworn I could have walked right out onto the motionless plane and look down through it to all the sand dollars and jellyfish like it were some kind of perfect ice. Of course, by the evening the wind was once again smiting all living things with its insatiable need to sandblast us from all directions. I didn’t know that sand could be permanently embedded in metal objects, but that seems to be the case around here. I’ll even find piles of deposited sand on the leeward side of buildings, which seems so terribly out of place on the calm days. The wind does have its own effect on the beauty of the landscape though.
Rose and I ate some outstanding veggie chili and homemade cornbread (it’s awesome having a really good cook for a room mate) for dinner last night, and then went out for a digestive stroll. The wind turned the grass meadows that line the beaches into rippling oceans of grass dotted with purple and blue wild sweet peas. Between the yarrow, grass, and flowers all growing together, the smell was a sweet cacophony of nostril delight. As Rose said, “Hannah, this is our life!”, as we ran through the meadows and walked on the beaches, and I’d have to say I couldn’t agree more. What a wonderful existence. Every time I’m out on a tender, even in the depths of a sleepless night while covered in fish slime and chasing rouge salmon across the reeling decks of the boat, I can’t help but look up and think, “Damn, that sure is awesome,” and then “Damn, that sure is a big wave,” and duck the next round of sea spray. I mean, where else in the world can you look out to the endless horizon and be in awe at the power of the ocean and beauty of the Alaskan marine wild while simultaneously spitting slime out from between your teeth and picking another minuscule scale off yet another flopping fish? Not too many places I’d imagine. I have to admit that I’m a bit worried that one of these days I may simply keel over from an overdose of pure satisfaction with my life. Sometimes it seems simply too awesome. As my mom has pointed out, these are the days of my life that I will look back on later and cherish through memories. And, though I hate to admit my parents ever being right, she’s got a point. To wax philosophic for a moment, these ARE the wondrous days of being alive that I will meet totally outstanding people (some of which may, quite literally, be out standing in a boat somewhere), visit some really kickass places, and come home to one of the most beautiful places in the world with a head and heart full of good times and great memories. I think perhaps the secret to enjoying your whole life instead of just the early or fortunate parts is to consider all of your life those “wondrous days”, and never grow out of that part that lets you wake up every morning and be so simply pleased with your existence that you grin like an idiot as your grope for the coffee pot.
However, reeling myself back down to reality, it would be useful to note that not every moment out here is pure and simple bliss combined with my room mates excellent culinary skills. The last boat I went out on was the Watchman, and it was perhaps a little less than awesome. The crew doesn’t share rooms I guess, so I slept on a couch in the galley. The couch definitely could have been more uncomfortable, and I had cushions to put up against the portholes to block the late night light, so it wasn’t too bad. The whole ship is designed without any real windows, so being inside was very similar to being in a smoky dungeon (it seems to be yet another incurable vice of fishermen to chain smoke). In the end I decided the dark was probably a blessing since it allowed me to avoid noticing how disgustingly dirty the couch was. Hooray for blessings in disguise? I hadn’t noticed how bad it was until I unrolled my sleeping bag back at port to let it air out, and was forced into one of those stagger backwards and gag moves at the nasal cavity ravaging odor that had taken up residence in my bag. I think it’ll be airing out for the rest of the week before it’s back to normal.
The skipper was a bit of a greenhorn still, this being only his first year fishing this area. He was a nice enough guy, and his noticeably younger, heavily cosmetically inclined significant other was also pleasant to me. The only problem we ran into was that more often than not he didn’t seem to really grasp the whole “knowing where your boat is” thing. More than once I had to point out on all his high tech gadgets that we were in fact much further north than he had originally anticipated, and that it might be a good idea to avoid all the big rocks over there. A little scary at first, but he was fine at running the boat and maintaining a safe atmosphere on board, so I wasn’t too worried. His crew, on the other hand, were a couple of gentleman that had left the walk of life and were maintaining more of a weed-influenced stroll. Very nice people, but it was hard to pay attention to what they were saying as I was distracted by the wide and impressive variety of neck and head tattoos they sported. They had an interesting habit of chugging Red Bulls (bull testosterone infused energy drinks) and listening to Insane Clown Posse on deck while they worked. Though I managed to avoid listening to the ICP by taking refuge in the wheelhouse, there are a few things I feel are necessary to say about listening to such a travesty of musical idiocy. ICP, in this author’s opinion, is probably one of the the WORST, most horrible, irritating, and downright offensive bands ever to record an album (or hum a ditty as far as I’m concerned). They’re disgusting, painfully unattractive, have numerous bad habits, and their listeners usually follow that same vein. Not to say that the guys on the Watchmen all deserved a straight jacket and nicotine patches (though the latter may have made things a bit less odorous) as they were pretty nice (if not entirely normal) on the whole. However, if you’re 30 years old, have tattoos of a skull on your skull, and are working out in the middle of the Bering Sea with a Red Bull in one hand and a salmon in the other, you’re weird enough as it is, okay? You DO NOT need to listen to Insane Clown Posse. Seriously guys, that’s just overkill. Geeze.
Anyway, I’ll probably be headed out on another tender sometime on Monday. Only 13 more days until I’m headed out back to Sand Point. Much love to everyone.