07 July 2006

Back From My Latest Adventure, and other ramblings

The last four days of my week have been dedicated to the best fish you can find on earth: Copper River red salmon.

Every year, the farm sends anywhere between 3-5 teams of six men out to Chitina to dipnet for salmon. With permits and proxies, each team aims to bring home some 240 salmon to store in our freezers for the rest of the year.

I have been living here six years. This was my first Chitina trip. I had the opportunity to go last year, but at the time, there seemed to be a serious possibility for a relationship with someone out in PA, and I was looking into teaching possibilities for the next school year.

Well, the relationship didn't work out (thankfully, in retrospect--many of my friends here also had reservations), so, I am still here, and was able to go on this year's trip.

What a blast! Now, I've done a lot of camping in my life, but the last time I seriously went fishing was when I was living in SC, fishing for whatever was out on the Wateree River. Came home with a catfish that my Mom cooked up. That was almost 30 years ago.

Well, to make a long story short, here are the highlights:

  • Nearly fell into the Copper River, thereby appreciating nearly firsthand the wisdom of tethering yourself, and wearing a lifevest. The Copper is very fast, with some wicked hydraulics that ought to give any boatfarer cause for concern, and is very cold, even in the middle of summer.
  • Ah, the exhilharation of that first fish! Stick your dipnet in, move it around so the net is fully extended, and wait for a bump. You feel it, twist the net, and pull it out. With it comes a lean, squirming mass of icthyine goodness. Wow, I thought to myself--I caught that!
  • Then comes the matter of incapacitating the fish. Happily, the last fisherman at the hole I was using left a custom-made club. With it, I knocked many a salmon head until they stopped moving. I got a sort of perverse pleasure out of that, admittedly.
  • Caught a King Salmon. A small one, about 10 pounds, probably (another guy on the crew caught a 50-pounder). Larger than the reds I was looking to catch, but by far the feistiest. They're fun to catch, but not all that tasty. I threw it back.
  • I wasn't sure how I would take to gutting and cleaning the fish I (and others) caught. I knew it was a messy process, but I guess I've become more and more of a sourdough over the years, and my urbanite proclivities are on the wane. Had no problems chopping off heads, cleaning out guts, and dealing with the blood, slime, and smell of it all.
The lowlights: didn't set up my tent properly, and when it rained the first night, it drained onto the floor tarp, soaking my sleeping bag. I didn't have any sort of backup, and the truck was a 2-hour hike away, so I tried to get some sleep on two camping chairs. Didn't work. So, I got the rest of my limit on zero hours of sleep.

Happily enough, I pulled it off.

I brought the Deagle with me. The guys I went with said they had never seen any bears on any of their trips to Chitina, but thought it prudent to have something with you nonetheless. I was happy to volunteer my hardware and marksmanship.

I never fired a shot--I didn't want to disturb the neighbors, even though it was the Fourth of July, and on occasion you heard fireworks go off. Someone across the river was taking potshots at the seagulls with a .22. I was tempted to answer with something twice the caliber, and about ten times the powder charge (pop...pop...BLAM! "Hah, try that one on for size, you pansies!"), but refrained.

I carried it in a chest holster, which I don't think I'll do the next time, especially if I get as bad a sunburn as I did this time. Nope, I'll bring out the drop-leg holster then.

No one seemed alarmed at the sight of someone carrying so big a gun (one of the great things about living in this state). I saw a lot of glances at it, but no comments, which made me wonder if that was what big-breasted women went through all the time.

***
I'm about 3/4ths the way through Ann Coulter's Godless. I must say, it's not as good a read as Treason, or Slander. I suppose living in a situation that is actually favorable to conservatives doesn't give us a lot of room to be reactionary.

I was hoping she'd really show how people of faith are discriminated against by the Left, but I suppose she's left that to scholars of another cloth. She makes some good points, and reactions to her comments about the "Jersey Girls" confirm her assertions about the "untouchable" status conferred upon such idiots as Cindy Sheehan and others who have lost loved ones in the war on terror, allowing them to blather on against Bush (instead of those really responsible for the war--the jihadists) without criticism. But still, it's not as intelligently satisfying as some of her other work.

***
Something happened recently that did not endear the "fairer sex" to me much. Because I don't know all the people who read my blog, I'll keep details scant for the purposes of rumor control. A guy I know had his wife file for divorce. Fine and good, except that she's had a boyfriend for a while.

Now, I usually tend to see the picture portrayed of the unfaithful man. Not a lot is touched upon with women's infidelity, which I have seen in my life a lot more. Like my brother's ex-wife, who screwed another guy not long after they came back from a year in Japan (that led up to the divorce). Or the ex-girlfriend I had, who one moment can't tell me enough how much she wants to bear my name and my children, and the next informs me that she has an eye for other men (this has happened more than once, with one stringing me along for some three years). Or my uncle's wife, who loved him just so long as she could waste the family finances to her heart's content...

It's a wonder with all this Dreck that I have seen happen that I'm not a misogynist. I think I can thank my Mom and her sisters for that. They are all excellent models of faithfulness, the sort of "this-is-my-man-and-I'm-sticking-with-him" decisiveness that holds out hope that yes, stability is still possible in women.

So here's to all you women who can keep a commitment (raising a bottle of Amber)...the rest of you...well, I hope you get what you deserve.

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