Saturday, August 25, 2012
Presented to you by Christopher
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Nobody, like, reads this blog...
Presented to you by Christopher
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Don't ask questions. Just listen. Preferably in a dark room or with your eyes closed.
Presented to you by Christopher
Sunday, August 12, 2012
School starts tomorrow. It's been probably the most eventful summer of my life. And I had some of the happiest moments of my life as well as some hard moments. I definitely had the most spectacular trip of my life, and I'll try to post a handful of pictures from Alaska soon. Anyway, there have been hard times toward the end, but a very valuable summer, I think. Onto the poem.
This poem is from a happier parts of my summer. Anyway, I thought I'd share it since I did a lot of experimenting with vocabulary and wordplay and punctuation and such. Here goes:
Presented to you by Christopher
Friday, August 10, 2012
the storm had rustled -with ancient aches
Presented to you by Christopher
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
I should not be blogging because I still have all of my summer reading books left, which include A Tale of Two Cities, Macbeth, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Helter Skelter (700 pages), and some 60-page Spanish play for which I have to fill out an entire packet for two test grades. As my friend told me when I informed him of this yesterday, "Yeah you're fucked."
I shouldn't be blogging. Anyway. Back to Alaska. This post will be really really REALLY long, especially when I talk about the French-Canadians. Sorry about that. Feel free to skip the entire post and leave a comment like "cool. glad u had a nice trip."
Fourth day: After hiking that mountain, it was hard to believe we could conceivably do anything the next day that would even come close to amounting to that experience. It wasn't quite as emotionally powerful or stirring, but it was about as incredible as you could you get after that hike--we went sea kayaking.
We drove about half an hour over to the place, suited up in boots, life jackets, and these nifty little garments called spray skirts which you stretched over the holes in the kayak to keep water from getting in. Two people to a kayak. I got my ideal kayaking buddy, which only helped me to have the best possible experience that day. We hauled all like fifteen of the kayaks down the rocky shore, got a few short lessons, and set off into the water. I was in the back, so I had the foot pedals for steering.
It was so beautiful and serene and peaceful to set out in the Pacific Ocean, (my trip to Alaska was the first time I have ever witnessed the Pacific Ocean), through the still water and crisp air, surrounded by forest and ice-capped mountains in the background. Even when we were practically fighting to the death to get ahead. It was so beautiful and the sky was perfectly reflected in the water, so it really felt like we were kayaking up in the sky. It was incredible.
The first trip was a bit short because it was already late and we wanted to stop for lunch. So we pulled up to an island beach and dragged our kayaks way up onto the shore so the tide didn't pull them away. Then we tugged off our boots and life jackets and splash skirts and shirts and socks and everything until we were all in just bathing suits. (It's marvelous that we were in Alaska and could still comfortably wear only bathing suits--and it was still quite warm.) We went and waded about ankle-deep in the water, which was freezing cold and literally hurt just to put our feet in. So we waded for a total of about six seconds.
We had sack lunches on the beach and then at one point I sprung up and ask me how much anyone would pay me to get totally submerged in the water. A couple people said they would forgive me the debts that I owed them on the trip. (I had blown all sixty dollars I had brought in the first three days of the trip and for the remainder of it leeched money for food and stuff off everyone else.)
I therefore accepted this deal heartily and after a moment's hesitation sprinted into the water, ignoring the searing pain erupting all over my body, and dunked myself into the water. I could hardly handle a second under it--it was agony. I splashed upward and screamed "Motherfucker!!" much too loudly then sprinted back out and was given a towel. Granted, every single person in our group heard me, and I was given a hard time about it, especially a couple of minutes afterward, when all of the other kids on the trip got in for a picture, and no one swore as loudly as I did. It became my nickname for the week, and we got a picture of me later with soap in my mouth. The picture was great, though. We're all about waist-deep in the water, with pained expressions on our faces and snowy mountains behind us.
On the way back I asked how deep this bay was, expecting the answer to be maybe 80 feet to 100 feet. The guide pointed to an island maybe 200 yards away and said, "See that island? On the other side of it, it's 2000 feet deep. Where we are it's probably several hundred to a thousand."
I don't need to tell you how frightened and amazed I was for the rest of the kayaking trip, especially after I found out that 60 or so humpback whales occupied the bay, and significantly more killer whales.
Fifth day: I'll try to talk less about this day, not because it was any less spectacular than the rest of the trip, but because I'm already talking too much and this post will be maybe even longer than the last. Basically we went on a really long but scenic hike to the glacier we had seen before, and got a much better view. A lot of the hike was alongside a river, and toward the end we got to climb around on really big rocks and pretend to be pirates. Well, I did.
That afternoon we went to the shrine by our lodges and visited the Stations of the Cross, which is always very powerful for me, because it makes the whole story seem so very vivid and real. I think it's a very important cultural tradition for any sect of Christianity. We journaled afterward and had some time for meditation and silence, which we had periodically done throughout the entire trip so far. We ended the night with Compline during which we served each other Holy Communion, which we had also done every day for the whole trip.
Sixth day: The last day we spent the morning at the shrine, then some more time in downtown Juneau, and then we went on the bus to an unknown location. Finally the bus stopped at a dock with a medium-sized two story boat with windows on all sides and decks around the top. Several of the kids on our trip quickly identified it as a whale-watching boat, and I nearly pissed myself from excitement as I realized that's what we would be doing. Going into this trip, I had hoped to see any one of three things: bears, a whale, or the Northern Lights. Me and several other guys got up in the middle of the nights to look for the Northern Lights, but it was always too cloudy. We had been on several trail hikes but had seen no bears, and I had totally given up hope on seeing whales.
But here we were. And I couldn't believe it. Then Bert and Ernie got off the bus and back on and announced we'd be sharing the boat with a tour group from...wait for it...QUEBEC. They were French-Canadians. That's when I fainted.
Upon getting on the boat, which was the perfect size and really cool and incredible, me and a friend of mine were suddenly swarmed by French-Canadians entering the boat at the same time. They were all old people, which disappointed me a bit, but not too much because I like old people and hey--they were French. We were extending hands as fast as we could and spitting out "Bonjour, comment allez-vous?" as fast as we could. Finally our youth group director told us to let them get seated after a number of polite smiles and responses of "Bon, merci."
We waited a few minutes, set down our bags, and then descended again, this time strategically isolating the Canadian individuals or subtly approaching large groups from the sides, like velociraptors. We quickly discovered that they fulfilled the French stereotype of being unfriendly and--(dare I say it?)--snooty. Part of this was probably due to my less-than-perfect French, as well as the difference between the accent of Quebec and France. They all told me I spoke very good French, but communicating was still incredibly difficult.
We approached one man and started talking to him--even had a fairly decent conversation, except he had some trouble understanding us. Finally I sensed it was time to leave him alone and said, "Merci pour parler avec nous. Adieu pour maintenant!!" He looked at his wife in confusion, and she said something in rapid French with wide eyes. His eyes widened as well and he shook his head rapidly, saying, "Non non non. Je ne suis pas ton père." We were too shocked and embarrassed to do anything but run away laughing confusedly.
At that moment we heard the captain announce that he had seen the tail of a humpback whale. We were crushed, thinking that we may have just botched our one chance of seeing a whale on this entire trip, too busy talking to the uninterested French-Canadians to see the whale. We went up on the deck with the rest of our group to look for the whales and just look at the ocean around us as the wind whipped our faces. We still talked to the French people some. I said to one couple in my shabby French, "Il y a beacoup du l'eau ici, non?" The man said, "Bien sur, c'est la mer." We spotted dolphins, which we decided we would be content with for the trip if we saw nothing else.
Little did we know what was to come. At the commencement of what the captain said was the most spectacular show since he had worked there. A pod of EIGHTEEN humpback whales, consuming fish in a process known as bubble-netting, erupted out of the water with mouths open, with sea gulls wildly parading around above their heads.
It was one of the most spectacular things I will ever hope to witness in my life. And it happened OVER AND OVER again like twenty times, so we got several videos and action shots, some only maybe a couple dozen yards from our boat. When that happened I scream to the French people, "Attention! Ils mangent les gents!!" which finally got them all to laugh.
It was fantastic, and we stayed on the deck watching the whales for most of the rest of the trip. After a while, though, we got back to talking to the remaining French people on the deck while we were at it. Finally I came upon a solitary woman who looked friendly. I said to her, "Aimez vous manger les fruits de mer? Les gros poissons commes les baleines?" She smiled and said she loved it. We talked for a bit and then she asked where I learned French. I said I studied it for fun but learned Spanish at school. She responded in Spanish that she spoke Spanish too, because her mother was from Spain and her father from France. And for the next half hour or so we had a fantastic conversation in Spanish, which I'm much better at than French, and my brother, sister, and a friend from our school joined in as well. It restored my confidence that not all elderly French-Canadians are like frozen chunks of dried fish.
Finally we let her go, then I went onto the back of the boat and discovered the COOLEST French-Canadians yet. Two women, who may or not have been lesbians, and whom were around middle-age, much younger than the rest of the people on the boat. I ran into them while looking over the back of the boat while it was stopped in the middle of the ocean and spotting two or three vividly-colored jellyfish swimming around. I poked one of them and said, "La poisson de jelly, oui?" She, not surprisingly, did not understand. I did the jellyfish hand motions, and she said, "Ah! La méduse!"
My friend and I got into conversation with them and discovered that they were easily the coolest French-Canadians on the boat. We talked about their opinion of America, what it was like in Canada, movies, their jobs as hair-dressers, French teenagers, polar bears, and music. I discovered they liked AC/DC, Supertramp, and the French band Malajube, and we danced while I belted out "Montreal -40C."
I need to stop ranting about the French people, because this post is like a novel and the real things to marvel at were the whales. Basically, the French people were cool and I got their autographs, but the whales were unbelievable. I'll try to do pictures in the next post.
Then we went home and people killed crabs and ate them for dinner. I did not participate, as a vegetarian, but we still had a feast. We then spent a night on the beach in the sunset, reflecting on the trip, which concluded with a campfire and the consumption of s'mores. I was about to dig into mine when this girl poked me in the back and said, "You know you can't eat those, right? Marshmallows have gelatin in them." I looked at her for a moment in disbelief, then I pounced on top of her and started strangling her, screaming, "Do you know what you've done to me?! Do you know what this MEANS?! I can never have s'mores every again!!!!!"
People eventually dragged me off of her, but I didn't speak with her for the rest of the trip.
Last day: We spent the last morning at the shrine cleaning up and packing, and then just hanging out on the beach and on the rocks or playing Frisbee or tossing the football.
We then drove over to the city of Juneau, where we spent the next eight hours or so shopping and by the water and just looking around while we waited to go to the airport. It wasn't hiking a mountain or seeing whales, but it was still a pretty fantastic day. A lot of people had been sick for the last day or so, so they parked at a gelato place and just napped there for a while. About half a dozen other people and I went around looking into cool shops and stuff. After two or three hours I started craving ice cream, so we hunted all over the city for a good one. We finally found one and I got chocolate peanut butter and loved it even though the lady was kind of mean.
Then we went into some other shops and I got separated from the group for a while but I just went into galleries and stuff for a while until I found them again. Then we went to the park and by the water and dipped our hands in and watched people fish and dive it then climb right back out. We hung out there for the last two hours or so. And we saw a group of people in their late teens or early twenties dancing in a little pavilion. They did like this cool upbeat form of the tango and flamenco and stuff and a couple of the guys did Capoeira, which was awesome. We watched them a bit and talked to them and found out they were just a group of friends who did it for fun. They were friendly.
I wandered off by myself for a bit and found this hippie-looking girl sitting on a blanket in the park holding a guitar. I walked up to her and asked if I could sit down and she said sure. Turns out she didn't play it--it was her friend's, who had run up to her apartment to get a pick. This girl had just gotten a tongue-piercing a couple of hours before. Her name was Carmen.
Another friend, Heather, came eventually, carting two little kittens named like Jupiter and Saturn. They were adorable and we played with them and talked about music and what it was like to live in Juneau. Then everyone else dragged me off because they said I was being a creeper and we had to go soon. So I said goodbye to the kittens and I told Heather and Carmen I would miss them and they said they would miss me too.
I'll try to wrap up this post as fast as I can but basically our plane got delayed by several hours in Juneau, and we missed our flight in Seattle so we had to spend the night in the airport. Instead of sleeping, I went crazy and made sure no one went to sleep. I like airports at night. I guess I'll leave it at that. We had fun. Well, I had fun.
We caught a 6 AM direct flight to Atlanta, which was much better than we'd been expecting, and we all arrived home safely and hugged our mummies and daddies and each other.
And that was my trip to Alaska. Perhaps the most incredible week of my lifetime. Something I'll never ever ever ever forget. Oh! And we saw a bear while we were driving to the airport! It was a cub. So I got to see two of the three things on my list!
I don't know what I'm supposed to say now. Just run along, I guess.
Alaska was amazing.
Presented to you by Christopher