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Cruising from the slow life to a full sprint back home

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Cruising from the slow life to a full sprint back home

In Alaska, the river is the meat section of the grocery store.

Photo by JEFF LUND/


POSTED August 5, 2009 2:51 a.m.
Leaving home is never easy.

There is usually a seven-to-10 day re-acclimation period in which I have to let go of summer habits and become California Jeff again. No more bonfires in front of the house, hitting golf balls into the ocean, clubbing salmon or going days without showering.

I might even have to shave the fishing beard so I can clean out the dirt, fish scales and whatever else has taken root in there.

The drive back helped buffer the shock, but it didn’t take long for me to realize I wasn’t in Alaska anymore. By the way, if anyone of you is wondering, not complaining, where all the ants went, I am pretty sure they are all at my house. Not that it’s gross to mistake a trail of ants for rope lying on the floor.

My last meal in Alaska was an all-you-can-eat crab feed and play at the performing arts center in Ketchikan. I didn’t bother talking to anyone else at the table, I just cracked the legs, scooped the odorless meat, dipped it in lemon butter and relished.

I didn’t brush my teeth that night or the next morning so I could pick out leftover pieces as the boat departed for points south. Just kidding.

I drove off the ferry in Prince Rupert and made my way to Terrace in a few hours. I stopped at the Walmart there, just to marvel once again.

On a side-note, when a radio station in Prince Rupert called to interview me about my trip, they were particularly interested in my Walmart observations. I applauded the Canadians for their dedication in the realm of superstore service and sterility.

Anyway, I pulled up a campsite next to the Skeena River which was considerably lower than it was in early June.

I sat on the tailgate and forked sockeye salmon from a jar for dinner as I watched the murky water pass a hundred or so feet below my swinging legs. I opened my computer to key some thoughts and picked up a wireless signal.

Yep, the campsite had wireless. Nothing says “hardcore” like eating salmon next to a cliff at a campsite ... with wireless internet. It was faster than back home where mom has to pay one company for the phone line so she can pay another for dial-up. That’s what happens when there is no competition.

It took longer to attach the pictures in the e-mail than it did to write my columns this summer. I honestly enjoyed my break from daily internet and cell phone use. Now that most of the unloading and cleaning is finished, I’m back to being an addict.  

After an uncomfortably warm night sleeping in my tent, I spent the next half day driving.

I decided to breeze through Canada and spend more time in the states on the way back. It’s easy to do with the immense scenery and great driving practices of the locals.

Canadians do not believe in lining up in the left lane to go 1.76 mph faster than the slow lane. The left lane is the pass only lane, and egos are checked at customs.

I saw a couple moose, said hello and the next day crossed back into the United States.

I spent two days outside of Seattle, visiting a friend from high school that relocated. To get my mind back in teaching mode, I taught his 3-year old new words and phrases. It was good practice.

Since he lives on a naval base, I also got to re-experience non-natural morning wake-ups when he shook me at 5 a.m. for a run.

I didn’t use my alarm clock while back home; I relied on the natural snooze bar. When the sun seared my face through the window, I knew it was only 4, so I could roll over and get another hour of rest before heading to the river.

Speaking of rivers, after Washington I stayed with Shawna and Oregon Josh for two nights. Oregon Josh took me to one of his rivers, the Wilson, about an hour outside Portland. It was a pretty river that drained forested hills, but the lack of rain had reduced it to a trickle.

We tossed flies at fish the size of sea lice. He caught more fish than I did making him equally horrible at guiding.

Before I left, Shawna gave me a couple hundred dollars worth of frozen King Crab her mom brought down from Dutch Harbor. I shamelessly showed it off to the gas station attendants in Oregon as I added more ice to the cooler and they pumped my gas.

As much as I could use the money for ant killer, there is no way I would sell any of it on the black market. I contemplated not sharing too.

But that would be the opposite of what the generous people of Klawock showed me growing up and in the summers since. That is one thing that won’t require any re-acclimation for me; goodness doesn’t change state to state, even if the quality of seafood does.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail aklund21@gmail.com.
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