Friday, July 27, 2012

Location, location...

Until this week, I never realized how lucky I was to land in Port Alsworth last year.

When I came up the first time, I had talked to a couple people who worked here before, but talking to people doesn’t accurately convey a landscape or a reality. I had no idea where I would be staying for the next two months. Somehow I pictured flat, open grass areas—I still have no idea why...

Instead, after a one-hour flight to Seattle, and a three-hour flight from Seattle to Anchorage, and another hour-long flight from there to Port Alsworth, I landed here—on a low knoll overlooking a small bay with a range of mountains just outside my window.

 It was amazing.

The work wasn’t always as amazing as the scenery, but I enjoyed it, and I got out occasionally to explore this area.

All that still applied when I came back this summer.

Then, on Monday this week, we had a day when there were no guests staying at the lodge. It gave us a nice break after nearly a month of non-stop rush. To celebrate (or else just to take advantage of the short break), Glen and Leyla took their family, the family dog, a pilot who flies for the lodge, and the lodge crew out on a boating trip.

I haven’t been fishing in ten years, but I picked up a one-day license before we left.

We boated up the lake to the mouth of a creek and set up camp along the beach. Jael and Leyla had packed hotdogs and s’mores. The farm guys (with help from everyone else) started a bonfire with the drift wood and old spruce boughs.

And Jael headed out into the water with her rubber hip-boots and her fly-rod. A couple other people followed her out, wading along a narrow shelf along the mouth of the creek.

After some hesitation, and some help with a reel-rod, I followed them into the water.

I kept my distance, though. In my experience with fishing, distance can be a key factor. Unfortunately, all the fish were biting around the creek. When I didn’t catch anything in the first ten minutes or so, Glen suggested I move closer to the creek, closer to Jael.

Right next to her—

At home, I would never have dared fish just ten feet away from someone else, but here it seemed okay. It helped that she’s right-handed and I’m left, so we could fish on opposite sides from each other. And it seemed to work too—I caught two graylings before deciding it was time to try the hotdogs instead. (It’s catch-and-release fishing up here.)

That was on Monday.

On Tuesday, we also had no guests, and we had nearly all the lodge work done before lunch. After lunch, Jael went out flying and she asked me to tag along with her on a cross-country flight. (No, not ‘across the country,' just across the countryside to another small village.)

It takes a lot of work to get a small plane ready for takeoff—check both fuel tanks, check the oil, check all the flaps and struts and wires, bang on some other things, and so on. Some of it might look amusing to the uninitiated. I stood by and stayed out of the way while Jael did the work, but eventually we loaded up and taxied onto the runway.

About an hour later, we landed in Igiugig. Think of a small huddle of houses along a river, at the lower end of the largest freshwater lake in Alaska.

At Igiugig, everything is different.

Yes, I realize it’s not fair to make a judgment after five minutes in a village. Still, it seems safe to say that if I’d been working there instead of here last summer—well, I probably wouldn’t be working there again this summer.

There are mountains in the distance, I will admit. You just can’t see them because everything close up is flat, with a smudge of bushes…

…And a thick haze of mosquitos.

Mosquitos and mountains, sure. Just mosquitos, no thanks.

I’m glad to be here, not there.


Anonymous said...

Hi Audrey, I recently Re-Discovered my journal on Blogger, and saw that I had you that I was following your blog as well, which made me happy, Because I wanted to Thank You for the Postcard that you sent me! That made my day, Thank You! Thank you. Then that night or the following night on our local news, They showed that area where you sent the postcard, and it was the exact place! Thank You So much.

Audrey said...

Hey, Joyce, you're welcome! It's great to hear from you--and I'm glad you liked the postcard. I haven't been to Brooks Camp, where the photo came from, but it's one of the lodge's bear-viewing tours, so a couple people from our crew have been there. It's pretty amazing, from what I've heard. Hope you're having a great summmer!

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