Monday, April 28, 2008

Spent the night in the Arctic in a cave up in the hills...

...well, I wasn't in a cave but I was in the Arctic overnight. Wasn't supposed to spend the night in Fort Yukon, twas supposed to be just a three hour tour... sort of... but sometimes planes have engine problems... and it's better to be grounded and waiting out a repair than, oh... dead after crashing. Yeah, I'm fairly certain that would suck.

In order to build two houses in Fort Yukon this Spring & Summer and yesterday was a supplies delivery. As there are no roads going to Fort Yukon -- a moderately remote village located just above the Arctic Circle about 140 miles from Fairbanks -- all building materials must go by barge on the Yukon River or by air. I signed up to go on yesterday afternoon's flight with another volunteer to help with this drop-off. One way only takes about an hour and ten minutes in the air. All went just fine. We were met at the air field, off-loaded the cargo and stored it away. After a little less than an hour on the ground, when it was time to depart and head back to Fairbanks, a wicked fluid leak was found to be coming from the Piper Navajo's left engine. Thank God for a pilot who religiously performs a pre-flight check of the aircraft! Actually if the problem hadn't been detected visually, this would have registered on a gauge in the cockpit... but this there was no missing before getting into the plane to take off.

A whole bunch of thumb twiddling later, the verdict came in that we were grounded and had to stay the night. Oh joy. Fort Yukon is a village of about 600 people but no one was available to fly us back to Fairbanks and we weren't about to call for a taxi -- which would have been about a $200-250 airfare! One room at the Holiday Inn, please? HA! Not quite. Arrangements were made with local families and they made us their guests. There was just one problem with this -- my dog would be wondering where the heck I went!!! I knew he'd be fine but usually I tell him I won't be back for awhile. Oh well.

Anyway... a strange night it was. My Gwich'in host family for the night had a wonderful reindeer pot roast cooking for their Sunday dinner which I became a part of. Thanks to the satellite dish we got to watch some of the NBA playoffs on TV. Pilot Carl apparently worked into the wee hours o' the morning to replace the blown gaskets causing the leak. And also apparently, had it happened mid-flight, we may not have crashed crashed but without any nice, flat spaces to land (i.e. an air strip) we would have had to perform a crash landing right in the middle of the wilderness. So a rather close call it was.

The first faint glow of daylight comes a lot earlier at the Circle than in Fairbanks. Sometime around 4 a.m. I woke up and with a window in my line of sight, the sky I saw was not black as it still would have been outside my bedroom window further south in the state. Way too early of a morning it was but filled with plenty of coffee and a huge breakfast all compliments of my immensely gracious hosts. It's amazing, this house they had was not like suburban American or even rural America... it's an Alaskan bush home, crudely constructed, added onto left and right at different times, dripping here and there, drafty, cramped, muddy outside with a salmon smokehouse and insulated chicken coops out back and a dozen old snowmobiles parked in what looked to be their final resting places. Yet they still went out of their way to make me, a total stranger, as comfortable as possible with bedding and food, and even offering me to pick what to watch on television. We didn't even talk all that much. The night before I shared with their kids a few things about New York City and where I'm from... all the while consciously trying not to put it in such a light that they'd leave their village forever someday in hopes of finding a Promised Land On The Hudson. From little ol' Fort Yukon to The Big Apple -- man, The City would eat them alive!

This whole thing, being stuck there overnight, as much as I grumbled and grumbled and grumbled about it when the oil leak was discovered, it turned out alright. Sometimes I don't care for new experiences, for the unknown when I could have the comfort of the known... but this was very interesting.

And now that the whole potentially dangerous plane deal is behind me and I'm sittin' here comfy and warm in my own house with my dog sleepin' at my feet after I've assured him that I'm really me and I haven't left him to find a pack of wolves to roam for food with, it either hasn't hit me or my mind has processed it as no big deal... probably the latter... but I'm not sure. Every Alaskan who flies in small planes has a close call (or worse) at some point... I finally had mine. Unscathed. No worries.

One of the best things to do after something like this -- dust yourself off and continue like nothing happened. So this morning I headed to the Rec Center to get some running in. Back to the usual. I was gonna get this run in last night... I wanted to because for this month of April my running goal is to push past my Total Running Time for March and we're runnin' out of days. Crud! Before today I needed 4 runs in 4 days. Skipping yesterday -- 4 runs in 3 days.
Great (<--sarcasm.)

The North Face trail running shoe -- good for use in the Appalachian Mountains ... but seriously, they are rather small compared to the Rocky Mountains ... Sierra Nevada are sweet, too.  Would definitely use 'em in the Alps, that's for sure.  One thing's for sure -- Jerry Garcia or Bob Weir or Phil Lesh or Blaise Compaoré probably never went running in Colombia, Paraguay, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, Pyongyang, 평양 직할시 조선민주주의인민공화국 平壤直轄市 朝鮮民主主義人民共和國, Türkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Кыргызстан, Киргизия, Uzbekistan, O'zbekiston, Ўзбекистон Республикаси, Tajikistan, Тоҷикистон.  Probably the same with Brent Mydland.  At least that's my gut feeling.  I could be wrong.  I mean, there were a lot of drugs at Grateful Dead shows and the good Lord above, He knows I did my share!indoors...
at just above freezing, the trail's too slushy for running
Monday Morning Run: 19 minutes 34 sec+7 sec
XXXXXXXX++++++· 22 sec ·++++++XXXXXXXX
Run Time April:3 hours 11 minutes
March:3 hours57 minutes
February:3 hours11 minutes

Took another day off between runs and this time I added an additional second to the increase over my previous outing. A whole extra second -- 7 this time instead of 6. Wow, I know.

More of an easier time today. I can never explain why. Or almost never. Sometimes I know when I haven't properly fueled up or when I'm not properly hydrated or when I haven't properly rested. Last night I slept in the clothes I had been wearing all day, in a sleeping bag on the floor and without any padding beneath me except a rug. Not exactly Comfort City in a familiar place. But it must have been sufficient because this morning when I got to the University I was fired up to get this run in. Felt great around the track and near the end I thought about hitting the afterburners and speeding up over the last minute or so. I didn't but the fact that I thought it means I had plenty of extra energy and could have kept going for a ways beyond my set time. A good run it was. I know that working my way towards being able to run a marathon is taking me literally forever... but why push it?


Running tunes came
from the album of the day...
Matchbox Twenty - Mad Season [cover] (2000)Matchbox Twenty

Mad Season


Black & White People
Last Beautiful Girl
If You're Gone
Mad Season
Rest Stop
The Burn
Bed Of Lies
You Won't Be Mine

As someone who cares very little doesn't care at all about Top 40 Radio and what's currently popular, Matchbox 20... or Matchbox Twenty... means next to nothing to me. I've been aware of their existence, I know Rob Thomas is their lead singer, but the names of what's been on the charts from their albums... beats me. I'm sure there's a song or two I'd recognize as being from this band from Orlando, Florida, but for the most part I'm clueless. It's the very same way with so many bands. Doesn't mean I won't give them a listen.

Matchbox 20's debut in 1996 was quite successful. Rob Thomas then went on to Grammy Gold thanks to working with Carlos Santana on his 1999 release Supernatural. Mad Season would be the follow-up to that... sort of. Apparently this sophomore effort from Matchbox Twenty had a couple of hits... but a testament to my non-radio listening ways would be the fact that I've never heard a single song on here until I pressed play on this for the first time a few days ago. This morning I used several tunes for my running playlist and I've had it on shuffle/repeat for about the past hour plus. I'm not that impressed. It's not that it's bad music, it just doesn't float my boat all that much. A few songs are decent -- Angry, Crutch, Rest Stop, Leave -- but much of the rest is... ehhh. Just not a very good album all around, in my opinion.

320 kbps mp3 download MUSIC NOTE 320 kbps dload @ Walldill 320 kbps mp3 download MUSIC NOTE


Nazz Nomad said...

what a nice story. Now THAT'S America. People being good to other people...from the Habitat for Humanity to your Hosts.
Glad yer still on this mortal coil...the world is more interesting with you in it!

PS- Went to Shea this weekend for two of the Mets/Braves games... it's a strange scene to see the 2 stadiums next to each other!

sugar mag said...

Hey, glad that both you and your dog are ok. What an adventure! My dogs would have peed all over the floor, I hope yours had a way to go out, and water.

Zooomabooma said...

Hey Nazz, thanks, man. While it was indeed America, almost felt more like a foreign country.

Hope you had a great time at Shea! Great weekend for the Mets takin' the Sat-Sun pair from those Atlanta Jerkwads. Other than the Phillies (or Yankees) ain't no better team to beat! I actually miss that place. Might have to figure out how to get my ass to NY for a few games in September.

Hey now, Sugar Mag, thanks to you, too. Cassidy's got his own dog door so no worries with an accident in the house & enough water in his bowl not to mention some snow still on the ground outside... just hate to think how he must've been wondering where the heck I was!

OCsurf said...

I agree about the matchbox twenty. Doesn't really offer a whole lot of inspiration...very forgettable! I look forward to reading more on your blog.

vw bug said...

Reindeer... brings back memories of Finland. I had some really great reindeer there... yummy

one says one number and the other another
but they were set at the same time. Hmmm...

Calvin and Hobbes in the snow -- animated