Sunday, August 30, 2009

"A New River Channel"

"You are today where your thoughts have brought you;
You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you." ~James Allen

If that quote is true then I've been thinking of beef. Last Thursday we (Jim, Steph and myself) were blessed to be invited up to the Dave Duncan and Sons fish camp for their annual end of the year dinner. Albert who is our technology guru by school year and Duncan Sons Fishing Guide by summer (pictured to the left) extended the invitation, then was our curbside pick up and chauffeur the 18 rainy miles up river to the lower camp. I am astounded at the navigational genius required to maneuver a boat up this ever changing river system. Albert who is from Quinhagak informed us that Quinhagak literally translated is "A new river channel." As he pointed out, "Yeah, last week there used to be a channel over there now the river runs this way instead. Its always changing." It made sense I learned something new. So what treat, Duncan's run the fish camp from June to the end of August. This week was their last group of clients and the time they pack up and ship out. We had the unique and humbling opportunity to mingle with the guests and be treated as such. On the menu in the Hanson Corp Dinner Tent (one of the sturdy portable structures that serve as home to the 20 some fishing guides and constant change of clients for 3 months out of the year) was for each person a slab of grade A choice cut prime rib! Colleen the chef was amazing and offered us seconds. Wow was I wishing for a hollow leg. After great conversation with John and Brad the Duncan Brothers who own and run the camp, Darrel, Cutler and a few of the guides , all the guys washed dishes! (pictured left)Steph and I got it on camera and decided it was a great example for all men to follow. It is also proof that these hard core fishermen, way past five o'clock shadows and able to reel in a monster king with their eyes closed, are not only in search of the aquatic prey all summer, theirs is a job that encompasses other important duties (such as the picture reveals) maybe even more so than their 5am trips down river. Albert took us on a full tour around the camp after dinner which included a peek at the FLUSHING toilets in the middle of the tundra! (pictured below) As you can see the port o potties have their own tents and yes that toilet flushes...hum how do we get a hold of one of those maybe they would consider trading us for honey buckets so the clients can experience the Real Alaskan Bush? At any rate, it was a pleasant surprise in the week greatly appreciated. Thanks to you Brad, John and Albert for inviting us in. We had a rainy trip up but the ride back on the Kanektok was beautiful as we seemed to drive into the sunset (pictured below). The next morning, Friday, I hopped the am flight into Bethel for 'reading' training. On the flight I sat next to the last of the fish plant workers heading home for winter. They shut the plant down this week and fortunate for the village, they sell off all the food that they didn't use from serving the workers all summer, for cheap. The whole town was there for the make shift frozen farmer's market. Four wheelers lined up down the road, we bought a ton of frozen veggies, meats, breads etc. Anyway I visited with them on the plane ride, albeit very quietly as I had lost my voice. It happens this way every year, I'm sick the first month of school catching every germ I come into contact with. So the sore throat I had earlier this week took my voice away almost completely Friday morning. Therefore, I was squeaking around at the the training to every one's entertainment. And Friday night (while with my friend Anya, whom I stayed with in Bethel and gave me the grand tour of the Bethel, the proclaimed Paris of the Kuskokwim) my lack of voice made it a challenge to communicate (more than usual). Then Saturday, Joel Williams my spec. edu. itinerant, (who flies in to save the day every so often at Quin and had arranged the whole 'reading' training) ended up carting me around Bethel for a while much to his chagrin as you will see. During one of our conversations he submitted "Yeah, it seems like people come up here for 1 of 2 reasons: they are either running away from something or looking for something and they may not even know what it is yet." I thought that was blog worthy and true. While engrossed in our conversation and doing what I thought was a favor by helping Joel unload garbage from the back of his truck into the dumpster nearby, I inadvertently and unnoticed by both of us, threw the groceries which he had just bought, away. (Anya pictured right) He emailed me tonight, the title read: Dude, You Threw My Groceries in the Trash. I got a good laugh at Joel's expense, quite literally. Sorry again Joel. So tonight Steph and I walked the pack, I'm catching up on my blogging, Ani is asleep on the couch and I think my voice is returning. I hope whatever you are doing makes your heart smile. I miss you all and think of you often. Hope you are enjoying our journey so far. From the village of Quinhagak, Alaska this is Rach saying Good Night and God Bless.
"I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;
I smack my lips. It's time to shout praises!
If I'm sleepless at midnight, I spend hours in grateful reflection.
Because you've always stood up for me,
I'm free to run and play,
I hold on to you for dear life,
and you hold me steady as a post." Psalm 63:5-8

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