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Monday, August 23, 2010

The Trail Checklist

This summer, one of the local mountain shops is inspiring people to get out on the trails by hosting a Trail Challenge: 12 trails, one summer. My new friend Jeannine and I have been bonding over these trails, fighting through the thirst and sweat and hunger and pain to come out on top and looking damn good in our photos. And so I present to you: our hikes so far!

Hike 1: Sturgill's Landing, June 27th. 7 miles and my first overnight camping trip of the summer.
J9 busts out the hiking whiskey as soon as we set down our packs!
Hikes 2 and 3: Icy Lake and Upper Reid Falls, July 3rd. 6 miles.

Hikes 4 and 5: Upper Dewey Lake and Devil's Punchbowl, July 9th and 10th. 8.5 miles total, and another overnighter!

Hike 6: The Chilkoot Trail! July 15th- 19th, 33 miles and my first extended backpacking trip!
The summit after the Golden Staircase! I'm amazed I made it.
Just above Deep Lake.

Hike 7: Lost Lake, August 6th. 2 miles STRAIGHT UP.

Hike 8: Laughton Glacier, August 15th. 5 miles.

Bonus Hike: International Falls, August 8th I think. 6 miles in the fog!
So stay tuned, there are only 4 left! We've done Lower Dewey multiple times, but repeatedly forget to take pictures. Smuggler's Cove is being saved as a champagne victory hike, so the true challenge is to get AB Mountain (10 miles) and Denver Glacier (6 miles) before the end of the season. These days it's tough to get good weather and a day off at the same time, so wish me luck!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Semi-drunk blogging, mostly rambles

Some nights (like tonight) my nerd-level exceeds orange. If no one is around to share the nerdness with (like tonight) I start to shake and reach near-panic levels. Did you know Steven Moffat created a modern-day take on Sherlock? And that the Holmes character exhibits many Doctor-esque traits, all super intelligent and cryptic and erratic. Also Gunnerkrigg Court started a new chapter today and it's going to address Jeanne! (Although it will doubtless introduce more questions about the Court than it answers.) Also: finished V. and it has definitely earned a place on my bookshelf as both maddeningly literary but also a decently rollicking fun read as well. Started Lamb and all that fear I had of it being over-hyped was unfounded - within the first pages I was hooked and now look forward to my downtime at work to read it. Other nerdbites: Robert Downey Jr is starting to replace John Cusack in terms of neurotic nice-guy actors, and I think I'm okay with that. Especially after watching Grosse Point Blank and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang back to back.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

The planets finally aligned and the impossible happened: a sunny day in Skagway and a day off all at once! After spending the whole day lazing about, appreciating the sun and drinking early in the afternoon, a group of us finally pulled together and put plans into motion. We drove up the highway to the local's swimming hole, grilled some hot dogs and chicken, drank a few more beers and went swimming in a barely-warm-enough pond. I smell like lake water, bits of algae made the trip back home with me, and I've got a whole slew of new bug bites. Now I'll be enjoying a hot shower and a cold beer. Hello, summer!

Friday, August 13, 2010


It's always while sitting in the 6am shuttle heading into work that my ideas for this blog come to me. Chances are, if I do have a piece of paper and pencil handy, I'll get 5 words down before work interferes and I have to start driving / smiling / being On The Job. What happened to downtime?? Man I miss cashiering at the pool...

Anyway! My reading list has pulled a huge turnaround and I'm suddenly enjoying the hell out of books again. That Donald Barthelme -- his recommendations are SERIOUSLY hit-and-miss. Tell Me a Riddle? Couldn't put it down! I kind of wish I'd brought it with me to Alaska just so I could page through a story every now and then. I'm Not Stiller? SNOOZE. Some days I'd find myself seeking out people I generally avoid because they'd be more entertaining than that book. It was so bad that I'm getting frustration flashbacks just thinking about it....

As for good ol' Thomas Pynchon - this guy is fabulous! I've been keeping him on a pedestal of overwhelmingly good-quality Capital L Literature for years, ever since reading Mary Karr (in her 2nd memoir, Cherry) reminisce about her super-intelligent friend gushing over Pynchon's writing. Later finding Gravity's Rainbow among my brother's books only cemented this idea that Pynchon was beyond my reading ability. And I'll admit that there's probably a second or third level that I'm still not quite grasping (people have written companion reader books about how to interpret V!), but there are large portions of V. that are just romping galloping adventures of booze and sex and political intrigue.

I say this all as an introduction to a passage that literally stopped me in my tracks. I was so impressed that I took out my pencil and marked the passage in the book. (I never write in books. I enjoy books that have been written in by others, but it feels like a sacrilege to do it myself. It's up there with dog-earing the pages - verboten!) So here it is: a woman's response to a man's selfish monologue about how he's insincere, cannot feel love, and is only in it for the sex.

"You have to grow up," she finally said. "That's all: my own unlucky boy, didn't you ever think ours is an act too? We're older than you, we lived inside you once: the fifth rib, closest to the heart. We learned all about it then. After that it had to become our game to nourish a heart you all believe is hollow though we know different. Now you all live inside us, for nine months, and whenever you decide to come back after that."

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Dirty Skags

Juneau's had a bit of trouble with drivers this year. It's nothing bad, but the drivers they have are running out of hours and on their busiest day, they sometimes don't have enough people to cover all the work. So what's an overworked segment of a larger mega-money tourism company to do? Yup, you guessed it! They fly drivers in from Skagway!

Today I got up and caught an early morning flight out to Juneau, and enjoyed a quick hour-long town orientation before being put to work. And by put to work, I mean I sat around for hours on end waiting for the busy portion of the day to begin. Much like Skagway, Juneau can handle itself just fine for the most part - it's just one shortcoming that becomes a glaring problem. I only really truly drove for 3.5 hours, but those hours were crucial to the day coming across smoothly.

Either way, that's not the point! The point is that after a day of getting to know another division, coming home to Skagway just felt right. At the beginning of the summer, as Riley, Bethany and I pulled into town that first evening in early June, I felt a tugging in my gut that said Run! Turn around! Go home now! Now I roll into town and breathe a sigh of relief. How much of this is Stockholm Syndrome in effect, and how much of it is a genuine affection for the town is hard to say. But I approve of this place.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Drinking Song!

This book is full of goodies!

Why are you leaving the party so early,
Just when it was getting good?
Were the crowds and the laughter just a little too tame,
Did the girl you had your eye on go and forfeit the game?
O tell me.
Where is there music any gayer than ours, and tell me
Where are wine and ladies in such ample supply?
If you know a better party in the Southwest
Tell us and we'll drop on by
(Right after this one)
Tell us and we'll drop on by.

Creepy Ass Lullaby

Brought to you by Thomas Pynchon, in V.

Dream tonight of peacock tails,
Diamond fields and spouter whales.
Ills are many, blessings few,
But dreams tonight will shelter you.

Let the vampire's creaking wing
Hide the stars while banshees sing;
Let the ghouls gorge all night long;
Dreams will keep you safe and strong.

Skeletons with poison teeth.
Risen from the world beneath,
Ogre, troll, and loup-garou,
Bloody wraith who looks like you,

Shadow on the window shade,
Harpies in a midnight raid,
Goblins seeking tender prey,
Dreams will chase them all away.

Dream are like a magic cloak
Woven by the fairy folk,
Covering from top to toe,
Keeping you from winds and woe.

And should the Angel come this night
To fetch your soul away from light,
Cross yourself, and face the wall:
Dreams will help you not at all.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Another day in Alaska

Went for a mini road trip with my friend Brian today. We've been hearing a lot about the road up Montana Mountain for a while, and if Brian has one single hobby he excels at, it's finding his way up old mining roads. So after driving around the Yukon Territory for a bit, we finally set off up the hill in the late afternoon. The weather was getting progressively worse -- after an hour the clouds had dropped down and visibility was getting worse. We'd risen about the tree line and were crawling through an alpine meadow when - get this! - another truck comes rumbling down toward us. The men in the truck were also Washington-via-Skagway residents, who'd gotten the same hankering to drive up the mountain as us. So there we are, sitting 3,500 feet up the side of a narrow mining road in the gray and damp, discussing abandoned mine shafts and trains. And here's the kicker: both men in the truck were also named Brian -- Brian Sr and his son, Brian Jr. We wished them well and waved them off, then continued on with our journey up the mountain.