Go ahead, call me a slacker — it’s true. I only posted one single blog post in 2017, and even that was a link to some freelance work I squeezed in between fishing trips.
I don’t regret it.
I was burned out. I was lazy. I didn’t want to put the time and energy into writing blog posts or editing photos. Hell, I didn’t even feel like carrying around my camera most days, or at all, really. And that’s a new level of lazy, especially when I’ve had the opportunity to explore a beautiful and exotic place like Southcentral Alaska. Screw it, I needed a break.
And now I’m back at it, refreshed and rejuvenated and in between fishing seasons. So here’s an update from a year living in Homer, Alaska:
We drove a long way to make it to Homer, Alaska. People like to call it ‘the end of the road’ because it sounds epic and, yeah, Sterling Highway does dead end on the Homer Spit, but honestly the roads keep going out east to a handful of Russian villages and homesteads. Then there are roads across the bay in Seldovia, and probably Port Graham and Nanwalek too. Despite what you see on the Alaska ‘reality’ shows, life here can be pretty civilized.
But we did drive a really long way until the road ran out, some 4,500 miles from Atlanta in 5 1/2 days, then we took a left and drove a few more miles past town to our friends’ cabin. We made the long trek without jobs or living arrangements lined up, but the risk was totally worth it (and really that was half of the fun).Sometimes you just have to take the leap. We landed summer gigs and signed an apartment lease within 3 days of getting to town.
I was a deckhand on a charter boat, the Sea Flight, working for Capt. Daniel. Dazzling Dan is another Georgia expat whose been making his living on the water. Every day we’d take out a boat load of new faces, tell our fish stories, and try not to get hit in the head with the 2-pound lead weights tied on the end of their fishing lines. I wrote about all of this for RootsRated, so click the link if you want to read more about it.
The duality of Alaska life is something worth experiencing. Pretty much overnight I went from working 7 days a week on a fishing boat to not working at all. That was cool for about 3 weeks and then I started getting cabin fever, by the time November rolled around I was itching for something — anything — to get me out of the house each day. I went fly fishing with friends in Anchor Point, shot skeet on power line trails, plucked strings on my ukulele, learned to ice skate, fell down a lot, made timelapse videos of the sunrise and other things, drank a bunch of coffee, stared out longingly at Kenai mountain tops, and drove around Homer in circles just to have something to do.
While I haven’t been doing much writing professionally, I have been writing for myself. During those long hours as the days grew shorter I did a lot of rambling on paper, soul searching, and fiddling about. In truth I didn’t do much of anything on some days, and that was pretty sweet too. Maybe those words captured in the dark days of winter will make it on to the web or a page someday, and maybe not. I’m fine with either.
Writing for yourself and not someone else is freedom, but it lacks structure. As a journalist you’re taught to write for your audience, but who do you write to when there is no audience? It can be an introspective rabbit hole, and you might not like what you find.
Sorry, that’s the cabin fever creeping back up on me. I’m in between fishing seasons again.
I landed a job on a commercial boat out of Homer, the Amber Dawn. We pot-fished for pacific grey cod. We had 60 pots that weigh 300-500 pounds, depending on the design, that we dropped in Kachemak Bay. Every day we’d go out and pull the pots, dump the fish, rebait them, and repeat. Some days we did it twice, catching a few hours of sleep in the Seldovia harbor in between picks.
Those dark days blur together now. I couldn’t tell you what day of the week it was, or what hour, or how long we’d been out on the boat most days. It didn’t really matter. You fished until delivery day, then if you were lucky you got to spend a night at home before heading back out to sea. It wasn’t bad, but it isn’t exactly a glamorous life. Everything has its perks. We worked through sunrise and sunset everyday, the snowy mountains of the southern Kenai Peninsula lighting up every imaginable shade of orange and red and yellow. Seagulls stalked us for an easy meal, and gangs of crows descended on our boat every day as soon as we reached Seldovia. We caught some weird looking fish, too.
It’s spring time in Alaska now, which means we’re gaining something like 15 minutes of daylight a day. Soon darkness will be a thing of the past (well, we still get like 4 hours of night during the summer). Each day more boats appears in the harbor, back from their winter dry docks and ready to fish. This is the fun season, when our friends fly back in from exotic locations or winter hiding holes and cheers to another fast-paced summer.
My wife and I are heading home to Georgia next week for a much needed escape, but I think we weighted too long. Sunny days in Homer and temperatures near 50 make it hard to leave, but we’ll be back soon enough.
I’ll be working with Capt. Daniel again this summer, though on a different boat. Long-range trips should take us to far-out places like the Barren Islands and “around the corner” into the Gulf of Alaska on a daily basis. I can’t wait.
I’m going to do my best to post updates and explore this wonderful place I’ve called home for a year with fresh eyes and insights. We’ll see if life gets the better of me again this year. If it does, we’ll catch up again in the fall.