When a man comes off of a fishing boat -particularly after a bad season- he tends to have a good deal of steam to blow off. And your average fisherman is an expert at blowing off steam. Oh my how the steam has been blown.
I started with the usual business when visiting Anchorage, old friends that are only seen once every year or two are called upon to descend on downtown and Spenard like the brutish drunken savages we are; on the mission to get kicked out of or close as many bars as possible. And we don't mess around.
At some point is the chaos an old fishing buddy turned brother in law "The Dirty Russian" invited me to join in on some manual labor breaking down booths at the fairgrounds in Fairbanks. Now Fairbanks in the summer time is one of my favorite places to kill brain cells. I couldn't say no. We agreed to meet up the next morning and I would catch a ride with them up north -about a 7 hour drive-. Things became complicated however, as I was too drunk to meet them -or answer my phone- when they left. Undeterred to partake in the shindigs of the interior of Alaska, I took to the side of the Road with my new pack and rifle in hand. The pack was to conceal the half gallon of Sailor Jerry's Rum, and the rifle...well...you just never know. Right?
I made it in fine time, never waiting for more than 2 cars at each stop despite what I must have looked like and the fact that I was obviously armed. I love hitchhiking in Alaska.
The good times rolled hitting one of my favorite bars The Midnight Mine and a couple of others I can never seem to remember the names of, only vague impressions of the heavy handed bartenders and their mesmerizing cleavage that seems to go on for miles...
The next day sweating out the booze under a glaring sun in what must have been 80 degree heat, we helped the carnies tear down the last of the tents and booths. It was a good reminder of why I'm not a carnie any more.
After a couple of days back in Anchorage I got a call from my old friend Niels -whom some may know from some reality show about a gun shop called Wild West...another fine example of why I don't watch TV- inviting me to Seward to go fishing and hang out at his cabin. It had been years since this happened, and it was my moral obligation to heed the call. No time was wasted in getting wasted. That evening we pulled into Seward and straight into The Klondike. There must have been 7 or 8 of us there, most of us former Marines, and after my third or fourth drink I started looking around for trouble; I didn't need to look far. Within 10 minutes I was doing shots with 3 old fishing buddies, each of us there independently. Weak minds think alike. After a few progressively louder and sloppier hours, Niels and the posey left for the cabin leaving me with the fishermen and the whole of Seward to devastate. My decision to not join them may not have been the best judgment, but sound judgment is rarely my style. At this point in the night time frames and details become fuzzy at best, but this much I know for sure: I wound up climbing a light pole on the street, now wrether I had my shirt off to start with or threw it down to the crowd below me is unclear, but when I had my boots back on the pavement I definitely had blood all over me. Something sharp on the pole must have caught my hand and unzipped my palm. I remember asking a bartender for some duct tape and her handing me a wad of bar napkins, so I ordered a couple more drinks. Things get fuzzier as we moved on the The Pit. A bar outside city limits where they aren't obliged to keep the business hours dictated by the city of Seward. In my experience it's the second worse place in the world to end your night -second only the The Mecca in Kodiak-.
I recall having the presence of mind to know I had 6 hours from the time of injury to get my hand stitched up, but not how long it had been or how much I had drank in between. It's probably safe to say a lot of both. Leaving my friends at The Pit I caught a cab to the ER for 6 stitches under the index and middle fingers of my right hand, and from there...I woke up on the floor of the cabin.
The next 2 weeks would be variations on this theme. Getting kicked out of bars, abusing the locals, ranting at the film crew around the fire, harassing tourists, and a huge variety of drunken debauchery and shenanigans not fit for even this blog.
A unique aspect of all this is the cabin itself. Every window facing the Road in front has neon beer signs hung in it, with such a collective effect that one simply cannot help but conclude that it MUST be a bar. And indeed it is stocked with booze as well as any bar, and with such a friendly inviting atmosphere...it is essentially a glowing bug light for drunks. There is never a shortage of random people showing up to party.
And now the news...
On the ass end of a 3 day binge in some bar we had yet to get kicked out of I met a fellow with whom I had a great deal in common. We sat over drinks talking a while, and the conversation ended with an offer to work a boat. An offer I cannot possibly even consider declining. Unfortunately -for several reasons- I will be keeping the location of this boat, and the nature of it's fishery somewhat mysterious, at least for the moment. However, I have every confidence it will work out beautifully; even if it does mean some more delay in my travels of Latin America.
So in the wake of all this madness I am preparing to leave family and friends with a far different destination and objective than I had in mind a week ago.
My next update will surely be a colourful one.