Saturday, September 10, 2011

You went to Alaska and all we got were two articles?

Two words: Work

Okay, that's one word, but it feels like two. Back to work this week and between the gazillion emails, dozens of meetings and sizeable jet lag I just haven't had the energy to post my thoughts, results, and pictures/videos of the trip.

Being back in the real world is certainly a stark comparison to the Alaskan bush. Out there I was really out of touch. At best I got one phone call back home each day. The only news we received was what had happened on the boats. Anything beyond the world of those ten boats just didn't exist.

In one way, that's really disturbing. I have a family and with Irene bearing down on them it put an edge on the first few days until I found out that everyone was okay. It was also disconcerting to be so out of touch with everything else. The pace of the world has changed and our circles of relationships has expanded. Setting aside work, it's all that other stuff that just moves with stunning rapidity. And I like to keep up with it via cell, Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, websites, apps, texts and the numerous other technologies and techniques upon which I have become so dependent addicted enamored. And for a week none of that was available.

No wifi. No cell connection. Hell, no newspaper. No weather report!

And after a while it became this sort of meditative experience with patterns and rituals of its own. 6 am alarm. Breakfast. Boat at 8. Lunch at Noon. Three fingers of Macallan at 6. Dinner at 7. Bed at 9. Cast. Mend. Drift. Strip. Repeat.

There was a simplicity to camp life that had at once solitude and companionship. On the boat the rituals of casting and catching and rotating from front to back created a familiar pace in an unfamiliar locale. And each day was both the same and different. But in it all simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.

After seven days, I was done fishing but not ready to go. I yearned for news of the outside but savored the bubble in which we had existed. And now I'm back in the comfortable routines of this other life. The boys are back in school after a hurricane extended summer vacation. Ann's life is back to a normal pace and work should taper off a bit once I get past the pent up demand.

I'm glad to be back though I do daydream at bit. One image that sticks in my mind, during the day and before I fall asleep, is a white strike indicator flowing over clear water and the scarlet backs of spawning salmon. Waiting for the take. Waiting for the tug.

This stuff can haunt you a bit. I now have a taste of what drives Steelheaders. Sure it's the tug on the line but it's also everything else that's around it. The totality of the experience; the cadence and the ritual of fishing over large fish in remote locales. The chance meeting of two species as we both make our long journeys towards the future.

Dawn over Iliamna


  1. the last line said it all..."The chance meeting of two species as we both make our long journeys towards the future."

    Beautiful write up. Welcome back to the "real world"