My phone binged at me while I was stopped for an unloading school bus on Homer Spit. I watched the cutest collection ever of tiny-wee Xtra Tuff boots splash down into a puddle at the bus exit. I glanced at the console where my phone rested. “Third yellow crane in,” the message said.
The flashing red lights eventually quit blinking and I turned left onto Fish Dock Road. I putt putted the overloaded minivan between forklifts hauling fish bins, hoses, and hairy-faced men in overall Helly Hansens. Their Xtra Tuffs weren’t particularly cute. My minivan rental did not match the lifted pickups parked all over the place.
There it was, the Puk uk.
I walked over to the skipper to introduce myself. “Hi,” I stood next to him looking down into the Puk uk. “I’m C….” I told him. He glanced at me. “I figured,” he said.
My logistics handlers were already loading the WeatherPorts, fuel, and other gear. The skipper craned the stuff onto his foredeck using the Fish Dock crane – you pay for the cranes in 15 minute increments. We weren’t in a rush, but time was money so no standing around chatting.
I unloaded 25 bins of food and science equipment from the beleaguered minivan to plastic lined brailer bags. Hopefully the many layers of plastic between our food and the Bering Sea/North Pacific will keep everything safe and dry. I don’t like to think of the oatmeal and rice swelling into a rancid mass in the coming days.
I hopped down onto the boat deck to help Paula the Deckhand guide the brailers and then unload loose bins and gear from a fish bin the skipper lowered onto deck over and over again. Paula made a European noise in her throat. “What IS all this?” she gestured to the lumber, propone tanks and dozens of plastic crates. “Life and science for 9 people for a month,” I told her.
It was over in two hours. I shook the skipper’s hand, “See you in a week,” I said, “Smooth sailing,” I told him. We’ll meet up again on Adak.
There is absolutely nothing like the excitement at the beginning of an adventure, what a feeling – – “There and Back Again” – – I hope you don’t encounter any Smaug-like critters.
Me too. And I read The Hobbit at a young enough age that it shaped my expectation and perception of journeying. Maybe I have the life I do because of it.