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the route from here to there

 Monday morning, Alaska-bound...This past Monday, we woke with Oldest Son at 5:50 a.m., drove him to the airport where he flew from Bozeman to SLC, then caught a 5-hour flight to Anchorage, AK. In Anchorage he took a cab to an airline charter, where a small plane flew him two hours west to a tiny Inuit village called Sleetmute. From there he met a 2-person Cub and flew to the fishing/hunting lodge where he’ll be working for the summer — a place so remote that the nearest road is around 200 miles away. Then he called me on the lodge’s landline (no cell coverage there) to tell me he’d arrived. We were just sitting down to dinner.

Is it just me, or is it mind-blowing that one can get so far away from home by dinnertime?

Anyway, I would like to segue to reporting that this past month has left me bone-tired. (Too tired to write clever things here today that I will read over before posting and think: Why, how amusing! How brilliant and well said!) Fatigue is not something I admit to easily; it usually takes a hot, oozy coldsore to call bullshit on my assurance that I’ve got everything handled.

That’s what I woke up to the morning after Oldest Son left, a cold sore flashing it’s red, crusty message at me in the mirror: You’re stressed; you need to rest and bring your life down a notch, Missy!

Then I dragged my carcass to work and fantasized about naps.

This past month has been a whirlwind of swarming bees, planting gardens, graduation party planning, end-of-school year events, cooking for two households while Shawn finished his last weeks of teaching, work, and getting Oldest Son ready to leave for four months. (But if you stop by our house to say Hi, don’t use our bathroom. Cleaning that particular room apparently wasn’t on anyone’s list this past month.)

Also, that last post about trying not to micro-manage and hover over my boys? People. We — meaning all three of us parents on this one — micro-managed the SHIT out of Oldest Son during the days before he left. But what was I supposed to do? Let him go carting off to Nowhere, Alaska, without sunscreen? Because we all know he totally would have done that.

Anyway, here’s my first message from him, as they somehow have Internet service in Nowhere:

Well, today I cut firewood for about 5 hours and shoveled dirt for 2 in the rain the whole time. I'm already sore and I can’t imagine how bad it'll be in the morning. We eat giant meals up here which is good with all the calories we burn, and they are really good meals, although I found a whole bunch of worms in my halibut tonight which scared the shit out of me. Everything up here is really rustic, but I'm loving it. It reminds me of the cabin in Minnesota but wilder. The bugs aren't as bad as I thought they'd be. They keep telling me stories of wolves, bears, moose and wolverines right next to the lodge, pretty cool.
Can you hear me exhaling? Shawn is home for the summer, Oldest Son is in Alaska, and I’m ready to slow down a little and inhale some summertime goodness.


END NOTE: I Mapquested directions from Bozeman to Sleetmute, and they came up with a map, but no directions, just this reply:

We had trouble getting your directions.

We can't find a route from Bozeman, MT to Sleetmute, AK.

At least Oldest Son now knows the way there and back. Incidentally, it is 2,625 miles between Bozeman and Anchorage.

In case you were wondering.

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Reader Comments (10)

You aren't going to recognize Oldest Son when he returns in four months. All that wood chopping and dirt shoveling and moose carrying are going to build some mighty muscles. Thanks for doing that map. He's really way out there in the middle of nowhere. Quite different from last year's Panama adventure.

Now, relax. Maybe it's time for a little visit to the spa.

June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaveAuntie

Indeed, breath deeply and I second the spa idea.

June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrotherJohn

I believe when they say "2-person Cub", that's Alaska-ese for "strapped him to a young kodiak, pointed it in the right direction, and slapped it on the rump." (if he's lucky he had the whole bear to himself so he could stretch out a bit)

The fish sounds...er...tasty? Is each meal followed by a worming pill then? (I wouldn't do well in the wild)

And I agree with FavAuntie. You sent your son up there, but it sounds like you'll probably get the Brawny paper towel guy back.

June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSexy Beast

I agree about the spa. Of course, I always agree when anyone suggests a spa.

And, EWWWWW, worms in the fish?

But most important, congratulations to all three of you for having shepherded your boy through high school and out into the world. That's a real accomplishment.

June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrother John's Sis

Amazing! He is in for an experience he won't forget. (I doubt you will forget it either.) I thought about all the muscles ( I mean character) he will be building as well! He can start a career as a model when he gets back. (ok that sounds a little weird coming from an aunt, but tell me it isn't accurate? hmm)
You are remarkably calm about the whole thing. I'm sure I would have trouble breathing right about now. And the worms in the fish freaks me out a little too. Forget sunscreen, did you send him off with any penicillin!!! Thank goodness for internet service tho, that is pretty cool. (or not cool, it makes the world seem smaller and less Hemingwayesque to have internet service in Nowhere, AK) I am pretty impressed with this whole venture. Plus maybe living vicariously a bit.

June 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPooknelle

The fact that you raised a kid who loves where he is after a day of cutting wood, shoveling dirt (is there some point to that?) and eating wormy fish, speaks volumes.

Good work, Megan (and everyone else involved), you raised a determined, strong, self sufficient kid.

Now tell me all your secrets! After a long nap, of course.

June 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMel

FaveAuntie: I expect you'll be right about not recognizing him when he comes home — he actually doesn't get any days off until he's done in late September, so he's working his body like an elite athlete these days!

BrotherJohn: I'm seriously thinking of booking a massage this week. :)

Beast: Yeah, I'm with you on the worms. I know that technically if they are cooked, dead and such they should be OK (protein), but this bacon-lovin' mostly-vegetarian girl would STARVE. Also on the menu in the past week at the lodge: moose meat sandwiches and lynx.

BrotherJohn'sSis: Thanks for the thumbs up on the spa treatment (and for your other kind words) — I'm starting with a massage!

Pooknelle: I'm with you; I mostly think it's cool that he has internet, but isn't that a little weird? I guess we hike with cell phones these days, so this is in that vein. But the cool thing is that 8 - 10 hours a day, until he's done with dinner and back at his cabin, he's unplugged from the rest of the world. Did I tell you the owners of the lodge offered me a job from late June through Sept., to go clean cabins and help with prep cooking? I was sooo tempted, and told them to ask again in four years, and come up with a job for my hubby as well.

Mel: After reading your blog, I don't think you need me to tell you my secrets. You're writing your own book with your little boys, and it's awesome!

June 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterminor catastrophes

I'd be tempted by that job offer as well.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPooknelle


Be kind to yourself. It's a crazy time of year for everyone.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersuekush

He will have the time of his life! We used to set-net in Bristol Bay for months at a time for several years. It was back in the 80's, and those memories eclipse any of the normal, responsible memories I have (didn't know I had any, didja?) Alaska work is a life of clammy, bone-tired, sore, exhilarated, scared, joyful, hungry, satisfied, thrilled life of constant awe. He will never, ever be sorry he chose that wild and beautiful land instead of a little desk in a dusty classroom.

What COURAGE you show in supporting this adventure! And you are not a true micromanager. If you were, you'd have found him a nerdy job right next door to your workplace, arranged for him to date a nice girl, chosen his wardrobe, and brought his supper over a few times a week. Give yourself a break. You wouldn't make a pimple on a micromanager's fanny.

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNice Lady with Dog

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