Another Trippy Camping Trip

My friend Jon and I had been talking for years about recreating a camping trip that we had done when we were both living as roommates. Every year life would get in the way, but finally we pulled our plans together and made it happen.

We packed a rental SUV full of everything we would need for the next four days (which turns out to be quite a lot) and began the 600 mile drive to our ultimate destination, Death Valley. I had done the drive down to Death Valley back in November for the Death Valley Double Century. However, since it was such a short trip, I was not able to see one of my favorite places in the world, the Eureka Dunes. For the past handful of years since my last trip out, I had thought this place was really remote and isolated. Either that was never the case or word got out. When we had arrived there was one other campsite set up, and by the time we had summited the dunes, we could see another truck driving in on the horizon. We even got a really low fly by from a fighter jet the next morning.

The thing I absolutely love about this area is that it is nearly impossible to take a bad photo. There is just something surreal about the sand dunes to begin with that makes pictures amazing and impresses people. We drove back through Bishop and up to Lake Tahoe on the eastern side of the Sierras which is also very beautiful. I’ve uploaded some photos from the trip to Flickr.

Back again.

It’s official. I’m back and the Alaska chapter has concluded. It was a little quicker than anticipated. There was a week of fishing left, but I wanted to get back to the city to take some classes.

I have been putting more pictures on my flickr page, as internet connection is a lot better here. So check them out!

Here is a picture of the Aleutian Belle, my home while in Alaska.

Aleutian Belle

I will be taking some programming courses (PHP and Ruby on Rails) and a course on owning and operating a small business. I will be playing the part of a student for a little while and will try to catch up on surfing, cycling, climbing, and other activities that I live for.

Thanks for stopping in and I hope to see you soon.

Pounds and Pounds of Humpies

So we didn’t quite hit the 1,000,000 mark, but we did end up catching more fish. Expected, right? We did a little over 400,000 pounds of pink salmon (humpies) and although the boat will be out for another week or so, I decided to get off a little early to play tourist. Plus, I was going a bit mad being cooped up on the boat. Kind of expected as well.

In all honesty, fishing is tough. I will admit it. And it’s not necessarily the physical aspect of it either. I was pretty sore just about every day from back aches to banging my head/knee/elbow on just about everything available to stiff shoulders from sleeping funny to feeling nauseous from the constant rocking. But beyond that, it is really the day-in-day-out aspect that really grinds at you. There’s only so many places you can go on a boat, and regardless of how well you get along with people, being on a boat that long will bring out the worst in you. Trust me.

So on the topic of tough days, I went overboard a little over a week ago. In just about the worst way too. In fishing, line (which is more like rope) is strewn everywhere on the deck and when it’s on its way out of the boat, you want to keep hands/arms/feet/etc. away from the bite. The bite is any loop that is connected to an outgoing line. That’s probably the first golden rule of fishing…if there were such a thing. Well, in this case, my right leg got caught in the bite and the other end of the line was connected to the skiff (a small boat designed to be slow and powerful). There are stories of people getting legs broken and worse, being dragged to the bottom of the ocean, but I was fortunate enough to get away with a bruise and a story.

As I’m writing this, my pictures are uploading to my flikr page. Here’s a little taste of the action (me with a couple of king salmons). Beauties!

Another highlight of our trip was a flair opener a couple days ago. Most years, a hatchery will allow boats to fish near its grounds. The benefit of this is that you know for sure that there are fish in the water. However, there is a window of time that you can fish and a lot of boats to compete with and you can’t start until they fire the flair, thus the flair opener. Essentially, it’s the craziest day of the year and all fishing etiquette goes out the window. Some boats caught up to 170,000 pounds that day and others banged around and got near nothing. Let’s just say that our day was an experience.

And here’s a picture of a jumping fish from the flair opener. Exciting!

I will be making my way to San Francisco during the next week with a stay in Seattle for a few days. If you’re in the Seattle area, let me know. I’d love to connect. And in terms of San Francisco, I have no concrete plans. I will need to unwind for a bit, then get serious again about life…I guess.

There’s more I will add about this trip, but I need to sleep. Honestly. For a long time.

I smell bad

After fishing days on end and not showering, what do you expect? But the beard is starting to grow in thick and looking around me, most other people here have thick facial hair and a sort of natural scent. I guess I’m just acclimitizing.

I have been taking pictures and was planning on posting some proof that I am actually in Alaska, but as internet connection is seldom and often shaky, a post is the best I can do for now. I do have some really good pictures I’d like to share and will get them up as soon as I can.

We just got back in from a six day session and will probably spend a day or so in town to regroup. The total salmon count is almost at 100,000 pounds. Not terribly exciting from historical standards, but it’s making a living and there’s still hope for a big run of salmon to come through. That’s what everyone’s hoping for at least.

It’s been pretty tough up to this point, but it’s slowly getting easier. I still have over a month of fishing left, but I imagine it’ll start flying by pretty soon. Which I guess is both good and bad.

Hope all’s well in your corner of the world.

You, Me, and Humpy

I was warned that I would be sea sick for the first few days. I didn’t expect I would get sea sick on the dock. Luckily, I was able to get over it in a couple of days. Now I can say that I’m an Alaskan commercial fisherman, or a greenhorn as they refer to the newbies.

Kodiak is beautiful and fishing is a combination of down time and intense work. It’s taken me a little while to get the hang of my role on the boat, but slowly I’m picking up the techniques as well as the fisherman lingo. Stacking leads on the starboard side was definitely something I hadn’t done until now.

Oh, you’re probably wondering about humpies. We’re fishing pink salmon, and as they make their way from salt water to fresh water to the spawning grounds, their faces change and the get a big hump on their back. Thus, humpies. Fishing humpies is all about the numbers as there are a lot of them coming though, but the quality of the meat isn’t the greatest. We’ve gone out for a couple of days of fishing and have caught about 18,000 pounds so far. We’re shooting for about 1,000,000 pounds, so we have a lot of work left. Hopefully it’ll start to pick up pretty soon and we’ll be well on our way.

That’s it for now. Battling a bad internet connection here at the dock, but I’ll be sure to put some stories up soon as the fishing progresses.

Oh, and due to all the votes, I’ll be growing a mustache. I was thinking of the bell bottom mustache, but if you have any other suggestions, let me know. It’ll be mustache 2.0.

On the Topic of Books

So, tomorrow’s the big day. My room is a complete mess. My bags are almost packed and everything I won’t need for the next couple of months is neatly packed away into the garage. However, there are always those things that don’t seem to belong anywhere and slowly emerge as everything else is stuffed into its proper place. I can relate, so I lay awkwardly on the floor for a couple of minutes to sympathize.

I have mentioned my trip to anyone who cares to listen and have received nothing but encouragement. I have also received some suggested reading. ‘The Alchemist’ and ‘On the Road’ were the two suggestions. Ironically, I rarely read novels, but the last three I have read were ‘On the Road,’ ‘The Alchemist,’ and ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.’ Maybe that’s part of the reason why I can’t seem to feel settled.

I guess I can relate to each of the stories. It’s not that I know what I’m looking for when I feel the urge to pack up my bags and leave, but more that I imagine what I am looking for requires that I always be in motion. And sometimes traveling is merely contrasting what you already have with what the rest of the world has to offer.

As for the trip, I bought a one-way ticket and that’s all I know. There is always the option to come back to San Francisco and pursue a career. There is the option to take some of the money I have saved and see more of the world. And there is the option to see if I can nurture one of my business ideas.

I would love to hear where you are at this point.