Sunday, September 14, 2014

What Happens When Nothing Happens

This post is brought to you by two failures.  First, a failure to get out of the house, and second a failure to find a narrative thread.  As to the first failure, I expected to have some blog-fodder from the Alyeska Climbathon, an event that took place yesterday where participants have ten hours to ascend the North Face trail at Alyeska ski resort, a trail covering approximately 2,000 vertical feet over a little more than two miles.  Racers climb the trail as many times as they can in the allotted time, taking the tram back to the base between each lap.  I was signed up, and thought it sounded like a fun way to spend a day.  But I woke up yesterday to steady rain and a forecast in Girdwood of more of the same.  Driving 40 minutes south and slogging through run and mud all day sounded, well, less fun.  So I stayed home.

At home, I took a stab at drafting a blog post on a trip we took to Nome, Alaska earlier this summer.  But that just gave rise to the second failure.  After typing for awhile, I thought I had a decent lede, though perhaps a bit long for a blog post:

A group of us had settled into the living room, although it was a separate room in name only, sharing floor space with the kitchen, dining room, and hall of a small house in Council, Alaska.  Our host was in the kitchen, putting together lunch for the unexpected crowd.  We were at the end of one of the three roads that spill out from Nome, Alaska, getting ready to eat thanks to L, an old colleague and friend of my father-in-law D.  L was raised in Nome and, though she now lived elsewhere, was coincidently in the area over the same weekend as our trip.  She had dinner plans in Council, some 70 miles outside of Nome, but, rural Alaska being what it is, felt free to invite us along.  Our hosts, expecting three for dinner, came to have five extra bodies to feed.  Of course, rural Alaska again being what it is, our host was another D's old friends and colleagues.  And so we found ourselves in the midst of a reunion.  

With lunch preparations underway and the initial batch of memories calibrated for truth, we had settled alternately into couches, chairs, and on to the floor.  L's reminiscences moved further back to growing up on Norton Sound in far west Alaska.  “Oh, man!  We ate fish every which way you can think.  Baked fish, boiled fish, fried fish, dry smoked fish, wet smoked fish, stink fish, . . .”

“Wait. Stink fish?”

“Oh yea. Stink fish.  It is where you put the fish head in a jar, bury it, and come back after it's gone rotten.”

I looked over my shoulder with some concern into the kitchen.  Luckily the woman taking the reigns on lunch appeared to be slapping ground beef into patties.  She had lived in Nome and Council for many years, but was originally from Nevada.  At a glance, she looked to come from cultural stock likely to show up at a potluck with potato salad or deviled eggs.  The risk of finding rotten fish on my plate appeared minimal.  Relaxed again, I turned back to the group to find Lorena had moved on to fish eyeballs.  “Pop 'um out of the fish and pop 'um into your  mouth.”  Those burgers were starting to smell pretty good.

But at the end of the day, I couldn't find a story to tell to tie together the disparate tales from the trip.  So I scrapped the whole thing.  Well, except for the bit above, which I copied here to make this whole post appear longer than it really is.

So, without sore legs and muddy shoes and without a story to tell about western Alaska, I'll rely on the old standby of posting pictures.


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