Thursday, August 31, 2006

was walking down a road in homer alaska, realizing that i might be about as far from home as i was ever going to get. homer is on the kenai peninsula, way out there; i couldn't very well go to the islands, as you couldn't hitchhike there, and i didn't have the money for the boats; and, going way inland was also risky, as i couldn't get stranded too far from roads. so i was considering turning back. some people in a religious place were hoeing some land not too far from the road. my pack was broken and i was trying to figure out how to fix it without much money. earn some, maybe. hoeing didn't look too productive. the area gave me the feeling of being surrounded by lots of water- the deep blue sea peeked over the edges of buildings off at the edges of my vision.

a guy in an old truck with a camper on the back came by and offered me a job overnight on a fishing boat. said he'd pay me $50, all I had to do was haul in the nets for a few hours in the middle of the night. i agreed. we drove up the road a ways, then rolled down into the town of ninilchik, with its onion-dome church, and small harbor.

the boat was small, maybe 30 feet, and i got sick almost immediately after embarking. no problem, he said, just throw up over the edge, then go below and rest, i'll call you when i need you. the guy was perfectly content to not say any more than he had to. perfectly nice guy, but could lived a whole life without company, probably. i was still sick, though, and wasn't much of a conversationalist.

he did get me up at about 3 am to haul in nets and we did. huge four and five foot salmon all over them. all i did really was hold onto the nets at one side of the boat while he hauled them in at the other. now i was awake, feeling better. the fish we kept at the side of the boat; he didn't really haul them in. my fascination was tempered by fear of leaning over too far and falling in with them. it seemed like the bay was very cold, very dark. it was august but that was fall in alaska- a touch of cool in the air, a little darkness coming back to the sky.

we hooked up with a bigger boat where he unloaded the fish and got paid. in this boat i ate a steaming bowl of salmon soup- fresh, delicious, i can still taste it now. a small porthole now looked out at the dark bay as i ate. he paid me all $50- i said, i only worked about an hour, are you sure you want to do this? he said, you were there when i needed you. and it took you all night to be there, just for that hour. he was grateful, in a kind of taciturn, vermont kind of way.

dropped me off back in ninilchik, where i saw, as he was driving away, a bumper sticker on his camper that said, kill a winnebago for jesus. not sure what he meant- maybe he was anti-tourist. he did ok by me, though- i was determined to fix my pack, and get back on the road. the only other things i remember about the peninsula were a real live glacier, coming down onto the road, and a crow's nest bar, with business cards from every corner of te world- but i didn't carry those, and, couldn't even imagine what i'd put on one, if i could.


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