The body, especially the mind is a very tricky and unpredictable thing. When most people have a runny nose, sore throat, and fever they think, “oh, I caught a bug of some kind.” Hardly ever do they think about or realize that the amount of stress they are under can cause such a bodily reaction. Literally sick with stress.
Back in 7th grade, for about a week and a half. I would get a hall pass from my 5th period teacher and run to the bathroom and/or nurse’s office. Every time, the nurse found something wrong enough to warrant a phone call to my parents. I would get out of going to 6th and 7th period. After the second day my mom questioned what was happening and why I was getting sick, was it PE(6th period) or Band(7th period). I told her it was band. When in fact it was PE. And not even the class or activities but the teasing in the locker room. I was stressed all year, I even felt sick all year. I had no idea that I would actually BE sick over it. It was only stress after all.
Since then I know I have definitely been stressed. Mostly, I was aware of what was stressful. In the end I always knew that eventually it would be okay. But I have never been sick over it again, just crabby.
Much like you dread a test you did not study for, I dreaded a visit I was ready for. I knew seeing these people was going to be okay. It would be quick and painless and over before I realized it. I told myself all I had to do was keep my head down and remember all of the highlights of my time in Alaska. I even looked through all of my pictures and videos just so I could re-enforce my memory of Alaska. But then I got sick. The Thursday before I had what I thought was just a cold. Then it came with a fever. Then nerves. Then nausea. Then fear. My last decent nights sleep was on Wednesday and my last decent meal was on Saturday. Thank God my sister dragged me to the Albuquerque Grecian Festival to enjoy good food, music, and arts and crafts. All during the visit I did not eat and I did not sleep. And my mind went blank. When I had planned on spending countless hours remembering the fun adventures I had in Alaska I could no longer think of any. My mind was stuck on watching the clock across the room and count down the hours, then minutes, then seconds. I did have brief thought as I laid around, I thought about how convenient modern technology was. There was a quote etched into the wall and I wanted to take a picture, I wanted to remember it. But I had to resort to staring at it, repeating it over and over, and committing it to memory. Aside from that I watched the clock.
What I wanted to think about from Alaska…
The adventures started almost instantly. It was only preseason and I was doing things this year that I did not do at all last year. It was fun.
I spent a few evenings with Megan and Evan tying leaders and catching up. We talked about anything and everything. It was awesome! We had planned to go to an Elton John concert at the end of the season in Vancouver, Canada. That thought was going to lead to reminiscing about the concert and our time together in Canada. It was amazing to say the least.
I went on a spontaneous hiking adventure with Alicia and Joe wearing my vans and holding a tea cup in my hands. We ran into Dylan and continued hiking up the mountain. Joe showed us his huge burl and we wandered around a bit. That hike was the first time Alicia and I had a real conversation and all of us had a good laugh about the trouble she was having with her dresser. That thought would lead to island hopping and fishing with Joe and Heidi as well as all of the spontaneous adventures I had, had with Alicia.
Joe and I had found this beautiful little piece of Alaska where we planned on making a few chairs out of a fallen down tree. It was going to be our little hangout spot. We had a very clear view of Skowl Arm were we could see all of the surrounding land and watch as boats came in and out of the cove. It was awesome. The time I went fishing with him and Heidi we were unsuccessful but it was still a lot of fun. Joe is a big goof. Even though it was cold and grey and a ton of other crap was going on he was making us laugh! Thinking about that would unlock the memory of the time I took Heidi and her mom fishing near Black Rock.
I usual plan things out. If I do not have a plan I get a little panicky. I was slowly breaking out of that shell by spending time with Alicia. Every day at breakfast people would be discussing what they wanted to do and if it included fishing they would run to check out a boat on the dock. Alica would never commit. Last year I had only been kayaking a few times so this year I decided I wanted to do more of it. However, when it came to kayaks Alicia was the queen of it. almost every day she would be out in one. We had been going out together quite a bit. We really had gotten to know each other well. One time we went to the far side of the cove and kayaked up to the two islands that sit at the entrance. That was the farthest I had ever kayaked and my left arm was dead by the time we returned to the lodge. It probably did not help that as I pushed away from the rock I rolled my kayak so the journey back was a bit wet and chilly. It was a fun adventure, it is where I earned the nickname Turtle. Thinking about that unlocked the memory of hiking around the creek with Alicia and Dylan during preseason and the memory of going to the lake with Alicia and Bernadette on our preseason day off.
When I went out to Black Rock with Heidi and her mom we had a blast! I showed off pictures of my niece and we talked about travel adventures. It was also the time Heidi caught her first Yellow Eye! That fish had escaped her all season long last year. This year it was the last hook drop and totally at random. It was a beautiful fish. She was so happy she was jumping in the boat. It was the only fish we caught but it made the trip 100% better. That unlocked the memory of fishing with Sean.
During preseason Alicia, Dylan, and I wanted to go for a hike so we took out the Trashy Lady and went to see some wildlife. We walked up the hill so far we could no longer see the ocean. That was fun because it was nice just being lost in the trees for a moment. That is where I learned not to follow the exact foot placement of the person hiking in front of me. I fell into a hole and had a hard time getting out. Alicia and Dylan were no help, they just laughed. But I would too, so no hard feelings. I mean, I was in the hole and I was laughing anyway. That probably did not help either. That would unlock the memory of hiking around Old Kassaan with Dylan and Anthea.
When Alicia, Bernadette, and I took the kayaks out on our only day off in preseason we forgot to watch the tides. We found the closest piece of green where we knew that the tide would not wash the kayaks away and pulled them up. What we did not realize is that we put them on an island. Upon our arrival back from the lake we had to borrow the canoe from the boys to go get the kayaks, oops. That would unlock the memory about the time Alicia and I took a skiff out and forgot to check the fuel level.
Fishing with Sean was awesome. We had a great life talk which included some uninterrupted silence for deep thought. I definitely wished I had hung out with him more. We were on the hunt for some big juicy Halibut and ended up pulling up a shark. Now I can say I have punched a shark in the nose. Our very last line drop right off a little pinnacle did in fact win me a nice 26lb fish. It definitely was a win of a day. That memory unlocked the one when I went fishing with Bryan.
Visiting Old Kassaan was fun. Dylan had been there before so it was a first time adventure for Anthea and I. We poked around the shore, found some old tombstones and found a huge tree. Dylan and Anthea climbed way far up. We were not there for very long but it was still a worth while adventure and something I had never done before. That would then unlock the memory of going with Krista, Alicia, Hayley and Brian to the very end of McKenzie Inlet.
The one and only time I ever took a boat out and forgot to check the fuel level was probably one of the most epic adventures. It was a very stormy day and we managed to score the fastest boat. Alicia and I zipped up and down Skowl Arm exploring around and catching good footage on my GoPro. On our way back we thought maybe we had enough to make it back, but right as we entered the cove the engine puttered out and died. A neighbor had been on his way out and was kind enough to give us a tow back to the lodge. Even though it was not an ideal ending, the day was still epic.
Part way through the season the lodge needed a sous chef and something called me to go through my facebook friends. I contacted a friend that I had in high school and had not seen for about 5 years to see if he was available. He was available and was brought out to Alaska in no time. Finally after days of playing catch up and helping him get his feet under him and acquainted with the lodge I was able to get him out Salmon fishing. It was so nice to finally catch up! We talked about everything.
The last memory I wanted to focus on was going to the back of Mckenzie with Alicia, Krista, Hayley and Brian. It was Hayley and Brian’s last day so we wanted do something fun and get them out of the lodge for one last jaunt around Alaska. We ran around the creek catching Salmon with our bare hands. We took tons of pictures and explored along the shores. The pictures we got from that day are amazing. Just being in good company was enough to make anyone feel alive. Even though this marked the end of time, it was the exclamation point. I would not trade that day for anything.
With all of these memories reinforced because of the dread suffered for three straight days I can think about them now, whenever I want and they are now clearer than ever. So I can raise a toast to my experience last week and say, thanks for the memories. For that is the only lesson learned by it, if you can even call it that. Dread = motivation. Without being able to share my memories they would waste away into the air of the previous season and become less then a memory and more like a fairy tale. And these 12 memories were not even a third of them but what I thought would be enough to keep me afloat. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
There is not much that scares me, and I was terrified. And even though no one will understand that because I am having trouble fathom it myself, I now know I can handle just about anything. I just need to focus on the good. As best recited from memory.
“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you are the world.”