James, Willis, and I are on our second day on the Kuskokwim River as I begin writing in this very expensive [Moleskine] notebook that I purchased in Sea-Tac airport. Currently we are drifting down a channel in a cloud of gnats and mosquitoes as Willis flycasts off the bow. So far he has caught three medium-sized pike, each of which he has mercifully cut loose and returned to the water.
Lou and I arrived in Bethel [AK] at 7:15 yesterday morning on Johnny Cash Airlines Flight 41. I think it was Flight 41…in fact I’ve been in somewhat of a fog lately, after five exhausting days on the set of Homeworld X followed by a three-leg overnight plane trip. I met up with Lou in Seattle and we proceeded from there to Anchorage, where we spent six hours shivering in the freezing cold airport as we awaited our 6 AM flight. In fact that was the coldest I’ve been on this trip—too cold to sleep, so I arrived in Bethel in a severely depleted state. Since then I’ve been slowly catching up on my rest, but I can’t seem to set foot in the boat without nodding off.
I am viewing these pages through the mesh grid of my brand new mosquito-net-equipped hat, acquired at the CS store in lovely Aniak, Alaska. The mosquito situation is not too bad right now, but the gnats are numerous and bothersome, leading me to smoke two cigars over breakfast this morning. Which I rather enjoyed, actually, but it may not be the best idea to make a habit of it.
A small shower has sprung up at the moment, but things are very peaceful. Lou just snagged another pike, which stubbornly refused to let go of the fly and then clamped its mouth down on the line as Lou attempted to free it.
We left Bethel at about 4 PM yesterday in James’s new metal boat. A few hours upriver we found a suitable camp spot, then drank some scotch and feasted on chicken burritos. When we hit the sack around midnight it was still dusky outside, but I for one slept like a dead man. James complained in the morning of some intestinal distress and dehydration.
Lou just caught a nice big one. It put up a good fight and eventually James had to put on gloves and bring it into the boat with his hands. I refer you to the photo record for further documentation of this thrilling incident.
Speaking of thrilling incidents, there was an exciting moment earlier today when I took my first turn behind the wheel of the boat. I was nervous about this because said boat travels at a very high rate of speed and requires you to pay close attention to a) staying on the right course with the aid of the constantly shifting GPS map and b) watching out for floating logs and other dangers. I am a confident driver on land, but on the water I am out of my element.
Well, I had been at the controls for maybe a minute when James started frantically waving his hands and shouting over the deafening engine noise, “Stop the boat! Stop the boat!”
Unfortunately, not having been fully trained, I didn’t know how to stop the boat. So after spending a few seconds fruitlessly jabbing at the controls with my monkey fingers, I hastily vacated the pilot’s seat and James leapt into action.
Once we were safely stopped, I inquired as to how I had fucked up, but it turned out James had seen the anchor line start to feed into the water, which is A Dangerous Thing. After taking some time off to let my heart regain its normal rhythm, I did drive for a while later without incident.