ᒐoURNauX miNing rëCeᔝᔝ #1: ∀ᖈCtic CIRcᒥe ᖷlᕕᔝHᔎack [déGel du printemps ᕳ1996]
ᖃin MINing Σome old ᒐOURNauX lately for [[this] chose «i»'m calling] ∀RK Cŏd∃x [of which 5¢ense could be conSidered ᖛ ᓐ ℜeal-(t)ime seeder/COM¶ost H.E.ap for ± «The Making of ∀RK Cŏd∃x»—[though plus (t)ime ᖛ sPent on [this] The Making of ... then ᓐ actUal [OBJ]ect] | nØt that «i»'D use any of [this] texTual DATA ± imPressions in its RAW forM ± anytHingE\VEn cLose to it | la plupArt du temps [this] ᖛ ᓐ triggeRing eXercise for mine own sake | in ∀RK Cŏd∃x «i»'m S'Till stRanded at ᓐ North ¶ole [waiting for ᓐ flood] | «i» ᖛ stRanded dᕫe N proBabely for ᓐ wHole livRe at [this] RATE | «i»'ve N\ever beæn[stalked to ᓐ North ¶ole mais in [spring]temps of '96 «i» came close [within ᓐ ARCtic circLe] | ∀RK Cŏd∃x deals in such ℜeal worLd ƉioRama | in fact ᓐ enTire book takes place on ᓐSURface of 1 grand flooded SEA | as «i» [& tous les ᓐ ∀nima'L] paᔒᔒ oVer pLaces mêmeTic mêmories perColate up [in ᓐ preƉominant landGuage of ᓐ pLace [dans ce cas chez ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ as transCoded by colonizing French]—in ᓐ même manière ℜeality affects youlk dReams | yoU probablement ne serait même pas ᖛ able to tell cette in «rëAding» ∀RK Cŏd∃x [si jamais je finish it] mais [this] ᖛ mine guiding thought proCess [which ᖛ [what] ᖛ mINe miNing [ces vieux ᒐOURnauX] [∳ome may also reCOGnize scRaps + imPressions that made tHeir waY INto Land of the Snow Men] | back in Avril of '96 «i» ᒐOURNaled on ᓐ comPuter [ᓐ vieux macBook] allors [this] ᖛ ᓐ [CTRL+C] + [CTRL+V] job from whence «i» wrote LINEarly dans plaine Anglais | [notes in [bRackets]] ᖛ chose «i»'ve EDited ± added AFTer ᓐ fACT + [...] signifies DELeted passages for whateVer raison | peut-être «i» changé ∫ome noms to protect ᓐ innocent ± cePendant que dit le proVerbe | IF [this] beComes ᓐ trend ici [ᖷlᕕᔝHing ᔎack to theseᒐOURnauX] + «i» need de retoᕬrner deVant '94 THEN «i»'d have to tranScribe mine ᒐOURNauX [comme ils sont handWritten] | theSE enTrées might otherᗐise n\ever SEE ᓐ light di jour | so without further ado [this] ᖛ ᓐ 1st—circa Avril '96 dans le Nord du Canada quand «i» travaillais comme ∫ome ∫ort of ex-Ploratory Field geoLOGist | «i»'m inCluding ᓐ jour beFore & AFTer as persPective + aussi inCluding ∫ome photos + autres odd ephemera from this (t)ime period:
April 10, 1996—Calgary, Alberta, Canada
All of a sudden snow is falling over the terminal and planes. Was it just two days ago I was laying out in 96 degree weather at Lake Havasu? [...] Monday morning we escaped Vegas and hit Red Rocks. J and I were climbing and in good spirits. Makes it harder to come out here to Canada for 2 months. We climbed "Lotta Balls" (5.8), a good 4-pitch climb named for the marble-studded smooth face on the second pitch. Sheer welded slab with these little balls sticking out here and there. A bit unnerving to climb on them as they were slippery. Lots of good crack on that climb as well but pretty easy for the most part. On the descent J took a pendulum rappelling and smacked her arm against the sandstone. [...] Took the roundabout scenic way back [from Vegas] through Laughlin and then down to Lake Havasu. Had fish and chips under the London Bridge and then went to the beach. [...] Built a sand castle and took a swim, then went on our way. [...] Arrived back in Tucson monday night and went to Parilla Suiza with J and M. He'll be in the Philippines by the time I get back from Canada so I may never see him again. Packed on Tuesday and just piddled time away anxiously. Left J at 8 this morning. [...] Flew into Salt Lake City first. The plane sucked, puddle jumper that held no more than 40 people. I was so tired I slept through take-off. Then flew to Calgary and had to sit next to some fat pastey high school chick that kept staring over at me and jittering and tapping her fingers. Picked up Crime and Punishment so she wouldn't try to start a conversation. Managed to sleep through the drinks and snacks again. Landed. Had to go to this special immigration office since I had a work visa. Long wait. My bag came open, searched through. Typical airport shit. Had a California roll and miso soup. And then banana bread and coffee labeled "10 W 30". The snow isn't sticking to the tarmac but is sticking to the grass. It's overcast and reminds me of Oregon. We don't get overcast skies like this in Tucson. The snow is not really falling, it just flutters around and up and down. Flurries. Things are not that different here really. Some people speak French. A little more friendly, but sterile. Then again, an airport is an airport and I can't see more than a quarter of a mile because of the snow. [...] I hope that I have time to write up in Lac De Gras. Lugging this piece of shit all the way up there. I say piece of shit, because it's been acting up and crashed on me twice last week. Said the hard disk was damaged. The opening scene of "Navigation of the Senses" [what i called a novel i was working on at the time] is in a blizzard and I was thinking a week or two back that it was hard to imagine a blizzard when I was in Tucson. Well, here we go. The snow is hovering in place now. There is no gravity. Every which way, no rhyme or reason. It's a vector field. I'm waiting for a connection to Yellowknife.
wild donkeys at Red Rocks [right beFore taking the Arctic plunge]
April 13, 1996—Lac De Gras, Northwest Territories
Never did make that connecting flight to Yellowknife. I checked the screen for a gate number and went to the gate and read for a few hours. But as the time approached there was no one at the gate. I checked the screens and the flight was no longer listed. I asked around and found out that they had cancelled it. They put me up in a nice hotel and gave me meal coupons and all that but it was still a pain. I ordered room service after a long hot bath. Ate nachos and watched the snow pile up. Got up early the next morning to catch a flight to Yellowknife. They didn't have a covered walkway in Yellowknife so we had to walk outside to get to the terminal. Fucking cold. Biting. Only a precursor of what's to come. I got a hold of the G & G expediting company and they picked me up after a while and took me to this old non-commercial plane that held about a dozen people. Me and some miner and geologist types. No one knew what was going on really. I had no idea what to expect. After another hour and a half of flying north we landed at some makeshift camp with heavy equipment all over the place. All of Canada up here is saturated with lakes. I think it would be an unsettling sensation to live here. Like living on Swiss cheese. And the lakes are frozen now, which I guess is convenient because it makes for flat roads and runways. We landed on ice in fact. Stood around waiting for someone to approach me—people were trying to throw my bags into random trucks. Finally found this guy Ted who knew what to do with me. He threw my stuff into a truck and drove me across the frozen Lac De Gras to a tent camp over by Echo Bay. No one was around so I just ate some food and hung out. There are over a dozen tents, these wood foundations with canvas stretched over them. Each one has got an oil (or airplane fuel) burning stove that actually does quite a good job. In the main big tent there's a kitchen, a room labeled "shitter" and a room with two showers in it (hot water even!). In another tent is a TV room and a "gym" (a room with a ping pong table and a telephone (free calls anywhere). Actually quite luxurious. The other Zongers (as we're known in this camp), Jeff, A.D. and Scott, are sharing a tent with all our equipment. I got put into another tent with these two temp-workers from Yellowknife. One of them only stayed the first night (my temporary replacement until I arrived). [...] It's wild out here. Seen a few herds of Caribou. A.D. and Scott saw two wolves that approached them within hundred yards. I've seen wolf tracks. The helicopter pilot saw a few wolves gorging on Caribou and has seen them in pursuit. Other than that it's desolate. There's these white birds that make funny sounds, can't remember the name. But that's about it. It feels like a science fiction movie, so barren and harsh. You wouldn't be able to survive outside of these tents long, it's so unbelievably cold. It is not a cold I'm used to where you're just cold. It's like it burns, anything that is exposed. Enough to induce panic. The first day it was minus 22 degrees celsius with 20 or 30 mile an hour winds making it a wind chill factor of minus 45! Got up the first day and put on poly-pro sock liners, neoprene booties, wool socks then felt lined sorrels on my feet. Capelline underwear, fleece pants, fleece pullover, then a full body snowsuit, covered in goretex pants and then a goretex jacket. Neck gator, under hat, fleece hat, hood, face gator, goggles, etc. . . It's quite the procedure. I went out with Scott and this helper Heidi. She's this really slow short girl that Scott can't fire in fear of having "sexual assault" charges filed against him because he called this certain way of clipping wires together a "pussy clip" and it offended her. In order to avoid this in the future I suggested calling it a "weenie clip". It's pretty redundant work—building a large loop twenty meters on each side, and then a smaller loop within it. You get this rhythm going where you leapfrog the loops with the receiver in between reading two at a time. Half the time it felt like my nose was going to fall off, then when I covered it up my glasses would fog up and my nose would get runny and I would have to blow it. Major pain. I stayed fairly warm otherwise, always moving. We did two lines then set up the tent to eat lunch. Things get instantly better the second you get out of the wind. Going to get some grub before all the good stuff is taken. [...] Steak and Lobster. Tasty, though I chickened out on the steak part. Took a shower. Played some ping pong with Scott. Washed my clothes. Called J. It's just not the same on the phone. She's in her little world, I'm in mine, a long ways away. I miss her so. Now I'm depressed.
landing on ice [where even for Man Ray dust never breeds]
April 18, 1996—Lac De Gras, NWT
Hardly any time to write here. Not that we're working long hours—usually only 10 or 11 hours. [would typically put in 12-14 hour days when working in the field]. I guess the cold just saps the energy out of you and the second you get into a warm cozy tent you doze off. I moved tents because a bunch of drillers came into camp. Actually had the tent to myself for one night. But then I moved into another tent with the new camp manager, Rob, and the grumpy cook, Norm. Norm's quite the character. Serious attitude. The only thing you'll here him say is —"Ahhhh! For Fuck Sake". If you bring in a glass that you had in your tent, or ask for salt, that's the response you'll get. I found a case of beer under my pillow. Didn't know what to make of that so I just put the pillow back and switched beds. Figured it was someone's stash. It's a dry camp, supposedly. Ends up it was Rob's, the camp manager. And Dave K, the head honcho of the tent camp, is a big boozer and pothead. So this Norm guy finally comes in and I greet him and he says absolutely nothing. He walks back to his bed, takes his shirt off and starts scratching himself vigorously. Then he finally speaks—"Do you fucking itch up here? Every time I get out of the shower I fucking itch." Every sentence I've heard come out of his mouth has the word 'fuck' in it. My other tentmate tells me he's "half eskimo". There is no ventilation in this tent. Norm lights a cigarette, starts wheezing and coughing, reaches up onto his shelf and grabs a girlie magazine, "Hot Cherry". It sounds like his lungs have half-deteriorated. This is life in the tent camp. The people here are pretty rude for the most part. Canadians have this thing about not just being better than Americans, but unique. In actuality they are the same as Americans, but even more ignorant and shallow. And it's not like the fellow Zongers are better company. [...] Actually they're all amusing, but typical of bitter, disillusioned American males. Today was the best day we had. It was only ten below in the afternoon. And we got seven lines done. Tied the record. Not much went wrong, just a few busted clips. Scott pawned Heidi off to Jeff and A.D. I guess once he saw the new helper G & G sent he decided she would work with us. Guys get all excited when girls dye their hair blonde and wear perfume. Might be useful to scare wolverines away. Funny anecdote: one of the locals here was telling me that the inuits wipe their asses with bounce so the polar bears won't smell them. Swears it's true. Anyway, the new girl worked out pretty well, definitely an improvement over Heidi. I'm sharing the responsibility of reading the GDP and processing the data, which alleviates the tedious boredom. The first few days we saw lots of wildlife. There's a red fox that hangs around camp occasionally. We saw a pack of six white wolves from the helicopter. We saw a wolverine stalking some Caribou. Seen plenty of Caribou. It's 8:20 and I'm already tired. Can't keep my eyelids from sagging.
living in tents on a frozen lake
Now it's really snowing. Not just snow blowing around, but coming from the sky. This is how I want to start "Navigation of the Senses". Things like this really strike me. I opened the door this morning and there was at least a foot or two of snow piled against it. I had to get a shovel and 'shovel the snow out of the doorway'. It's actions like that. Or when I fiddle with my jacket zipper and it sticks to my tongue, pulling off a layer of skin. When I communicate this out loud, I realize the beauty of spelling out actions into words. Today is a weather day. It's 9 a.m. Woke up and asked Gordon, the helicopter pilot, if he was going to fly in this (almost complete whiteout). He said yes and gave me a look like I was some sort of wus from Arizona. Helicopter pilots are like gods here, they will deliver you and pick you up. You put your lives into their hands. But Dave K trumped him and called it a weather day. A day to write. Now I'm thinking of having the first chapter [of Navigating the Senses] be somewhere up here in the Arctic circle. And then have the last chapter, or at least the unclimbed tower that I end up stranded on, down in the Tierra Del Fuego, on the tip of South America. It will be an American thing, like the migration of Native Americans across the Bering Strait down to South America. I will scour the Americas looking for what i don't know. Instead of writing though I got all wrapped up in reading old quantum field theory papers on the question of temporal and spatial atomicity. I start thinking of that shit and I want to go back to school. How could one be so obsessed with an idea and then just forget about it? Well I guess I didn't forget about it, per se, but forgot about how obsessed I was. I brought the papers for a reason— because I want to fold these ideas into the book somehow. I believe the material is there. I just need to "find my voice" and get started. Shovel the snow out of the doorway.
draft of "Navigation the Senses" [the last unfinsiehd iteration
before it was abandoned & now i'm mining it for Ark Codex]
Never did have that weather day. After lunch Dave K decided to send us out after all. Ridiculous. Gordon was trying to be the macho guy, like 'oh I can fly in this shit' to Dave. He couldn't find our grid because he couldn't see shit. Couldn't even see the ground when you were walking. I was getting dizzy flying around with no perspective. He finally dropped us off who knows where. All you could see was the flagging on the closer pickets. The sun washed out the ink so you couldn't tell where it was. There was no difference between the sky and the ground on the horizon. When you looked at the ground all you saw was white. There was powder blowing over the surface making everything seem like the ground was moving. And there was no contrast in light so you couldn't distinguish features. Just a washed out pale white. The weather actually wasn't so bad. It was snowing, but that also meant that it was near to freezing. It was kind of cool. I think it was the next day that the chopper was 45 minutes late in picking us up and we were stuck in the cold. Almost missed dinner. We were pissed. That's a helpless feeling, just sitting in the wind on a frozen lake, waiting. But the past two days have been nice. Today it actually got above zero for about ten minutes. Probably for the first time this year. Good excuse for a party, not that these people need an excuse. It seems it's always someone's birthday. Not only has the weather been alright, both yesterday and today we hit anomalies. That makes it a little less monotonous when you're running receiver. And processing the data when we got back. You can actually see the formations. "Dipping Sulfide Conductors" is what the geologists (who seem to be playing more "Doom" than doing anything else) speculate. I've pretty much got it down as far as running Nanotem, from running the GDP to processing the data (though they don't like me looking at the data). I've made it known in Tucson that I want out of here in a few weeks. What else. Chased some Caribou on snowmobiles ("Skidoos" as they call them here). The only new wildlife I've seen are these beautiful little white birds called Ptarmigans. They are angelic white, with furry legs like bantam roosters, and make these clucking noises. Added this other guy to our crew temporarily. Raul from Brasil. He's with R T Zed. Basically here for an education, getting the run down on Nanotem amongst other things. Funny guy, he's always running around taking pictures of us and tripping out about how cold it is, like it's a novelty. We've been running land targets the past two days so you walk a few steps and then, flump! you pop through the surface. Postholing with the forty pound GDP in one hand and the transmitter and battery in the other. Major pain in the ass. I've only got thirty pages left of Crime and Punishment. It's got me gripped.
raw TXT dump of data [from another job—not from this trip as it was
& went straight from the recording devices to the field office]
I'm going to figure out exactly how much exercise I get on a random day. Let's say a grid of 6 lines of 500 meters. When I'm reading the receiver, for every setup, I walk 21 + 25 + 40 = 86 meters and there's six and a half setups . . . this is a minimum estimate (not allowing for fuckups and when you have to adjust lines), for every 3k of line we do, I walk 11.6 K total, 1.8 K carrying about 30 pounds in each hand, and 1.6 K walking backwards! On snow and ice with clunky Sorrels on. That's enough exercise to stay in shape anyway. The weather actually got good these past two days. Above freezing. Today I had my shirt off for about an hour. Felt great. Fresh air. And in spots the tundra is being revealed. We usually finish our grids by four, so the hours aren't too bad. It's just the monotony of the same shit every day. Caught a few video's, Hudsucker Proxy, Dr. No, Total Recall, . . ., finished Crime and Punishment and started in on a book of Jack London short stories. Appropriate enough. Obsessing over something I'm calling "Looking For Diamonds Under a Frozen Lake" [that became Carbon Ice Sur + was published online in BlazeVox] | Random brainstorming—Even when / it is dark / it is not dark enough / to see the Northern Lights / the sun spinning around / just above the horizon / dipping low / long enough / for a few brief / silent hours / in a tent / full of men / you know the others / lay awake / but no one speaks of it / a cigarette is lit / a cough / a fart / maybe a few breathe steadily / the ticking / of the stove / running on airplane fuel / the rustling of cocoons / diamonds don't melt / it is their hard brilliance / that melts in / else / someone fell / through the ice / near the core shack / near the outhouse / men speaking / in sarcastic voices / mock accents / a cynical air / no sincerity / tough guys / bitter hearts / always joking / no harm meant / the trucks always left running / in the whiteness / we see by / the Aurora Borealis / the ptarmigans / pure white / angels until / there feathers are stained / with blood / these men that hunt / to kill and not eat / it's not like the hunger / that drives the wolves / after the caribou / lackluster wanderlust / urine freezes / but come summer / will thaw / commuting in a helicopter / over the sodden land / swiss-cheesed with lakes / super saturated Kymberlites /shoot up from the mantle / in pipes / we feel / what's not there / we imagine / what we can't see / the frostbite / on my cheek / my flesh crystallized / burning / we only see / the symmetric grid / the framework / for our mechanical toil / we lay wire / in traps / for the diamonds / the sun spinning / instead of rising / and setting / a wolverine runs by / tries to steal / the warm flesh / out of the wolves mouth / the taste / of warm blood / is something / we will never know / "what the fuck / drill it."
taking a reading across the ice road
Another day, there all the same. Sensory deprivation in the all white bleakness. The light so diffused there is no definition. I trudge along, not knowing where the ground is, I fall over and over with each step and catch myself. It will be a shock to actually hike on solid ground. I can't wait to get out of here. I've had enough. I did see a wolf today. A big black one. Lot bigger than I expected. We almost had a weather day today but it wasn't quite foggy enough. [...] Work is getting unbearable. Not just work but the monotony of how similar each day is and not being able to come home to J. I've been dwelling on whether I even want to keep working with Zonge. But I don't know what else I could do. I definitely want to go away somewhere with J come December. Maybe go back to school. It wouldn't really matter what I did, I just think it would be cool to move somewhere new. It's that that keeps me sane all day, letting my mind daydream. She means more to me than the world. If only I could have both, if we both could be traveling partners in crime. Still mulling over the Peace Corps thing. Just talked to Kevin to wish him happy birthday, same old shit— "just sitting around, waiting for work." He talked to Morgan and I guess RPM is going to happen, but not with Roger directing it. He's too busy with his new baby. But I guess Morgan invited Kevin back to France to work on it. I'm invited too, but it's a 15 week ordeal and I don't know if I would be into that unless J could come with me.
typical view of my own feet
Now it's howling. The canvas is flapping, the light bulb is swinging, the foundation is shaking, snowdrifts are seeping in god knows where—through the seams, the zippers, I can't pinpoint the leaks. The heater is cranked put the wind is sucking it all out every little seam and crack. I peak outside every once in a while to see the gusts of white, vertical. I can barely make out the next tent over which is about 30 feet away. There is a drift piled up to the doorknob. I shovel it away, but an hour later it is piled back up. I wouldn't be surprised if we woke up and were buried. Last I saw of Tanna, the Husky, she was half-buried, but that's her strategy. We finally got a weather day. Just when things were getting unbearable. Jesse and some new guy are coming in a week. Actually, now it's like four days away! Things are better with that in mind. We were given shorter grids and were able to finish by 3:00 one day. But our days of nice weather are over and it started to get colder yesterday. Today Cathy somehow talked Raul into taking her place (presumably with sexual favors). The soap drama here is getting amusing. Rob and Barbara in the TV room . . . Heidi and Ted while plunging the toilets . . . A.D. and that married chick in the core shack . . . party here, party there, "hey I've got half a beer here, you want it", roach clips on the floor . . . it's like junior high school summer camp. I've gotten to the point where when people say—"party in so and so's tent"to which i just say— "I'll be there in a second" and never show, just because they seem to all take it personally when you don't want to party with them. Anyway, Raul came out with us even though it was snowing pretty hard this morning. I was watching my barometer throughout the night and it had dropped 0.19 inches of mercury. The temperature was back down to -25°C and with the wind chill it was probably -40 or more. We asked Rob (the acting big cheese) whether it was a weather day and he just poked his head outside for a second and said no. I was a little pissed that these people don't bother to get weather updates or what not. Sick of this John Wayne mentality. So the pilot takes us out and drops us off like 20 miles away. Begin the struggle between keeping your face warm and the glasses fogged up. After a while I gave up on the glasses because I couldn't see even when they were clear. Just a vague blur of orange pickets to guide us. Did one line and it got to the point where it was comical, singing Mr. Roger's— "it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood." I asked Raul how this fared to working in the Amazon and he said it wasn't quite as bad. He started describing the bugs and the thick brush, and how incredibly uncomfortable it was and I tried to imagine that to keep sane. The weather was getting worse and I was thinking if it kept it up there was no way we would get our pickup. But nothing to do but continue working. Then we got the call, the helicopter was on its way. We quickly bagged it and the helicopter found us. We zigzagged around over little crops, picking our way back back to the warm tents. And then it got bad. Like real bad. You wouldn't stand a chance outside for more then a few minutes without a shelter. Just running to another tent is quite the production. It's incredibly hostile out there. Amidst the sound of the flapping canvas and the screaming wind, I can hear a din that sounds like a symphonic orchestra, the low rumble of timpani drums. I can hear the sound of snow whisping, piling up, only to be whisked away. Where does all the snow go to? Just keeps blowing west. I guess that's different, it's blowing east. Evidently that's what spring storms do around here. Now it's time to brave the storm to take a piss and go to the ping pong shack to call J.
running into the whiteness
Can't tell if it's snowing anymore. It's blowing worse. The only time I've experienced such winds is during hurricane Gilbert. Didn't sleep much, felt like the tent was going to blow away. At 2 a.m. someone stumbled in our tent over the snowdrift piled up against the door. A waft of whiskey followed in his wake. I figured it was Rob since he didn't come home. But the guy started asking who's tent it was. Said he couldn't find his tent. Mumbling like an idiot. And he stood there with the door open and letting piles of snow pour in. We kicked him out and then couldn't get the door shut so we barricaded as best as we could. Funny how people decide to get shitfaced drunk at times like this. Almost everyone in the camp was hungover this morning. I'm surprised everyone found their way back to their tents. There was two teams of drillers stuck out for the night. Bruce braved it this morning and went to get them. I just ate a leisurely breakfast, started Going Back to Bisbee
(finished the Jack London short stories). Watched Beavis and Butthead videos. Most of the doors are broken off their hinges and barricaded. People had to break the door down to get into the kitchen this morning because so much snow had piled inside. Swept underneath a crack in the door and piled waist high. Craziness. Where does all this wind come from? Filling a void somewhere.
May 8, 1996—Yellowknife, NWT
The storm cleared more or less after two days. Left everything buried under snowdrifts six feet high. Winds were running at 50 knots for those two days, it was hard to tell where the snow was coming from. Worked for another couple days. The last day was just me, Scott and A.D. as Jeff left and Heidi and Cathy left to Yellowknife for R and R (they're staying). Jesse and a new guy, Dan, came to relieve us yesterday. I can't believe I'm finally going home. To see J. Scott and I went out on the twin otter this morning. One of the drillers, Scottie, burned his hand early that morning so was being rushed to the hospital. He had his hand in a bucket of water the whole way. We went from nothing but whiteness with herds of Caribou, to patches of trees, and eventually the lakes were thinning out. By the time we got to Yellowknife some of the smaller lakes were almost melted. It's kind of a trip to see colors, shapes, and other faces. G and G picked us up and took us to the Discovery room (a.k.a. the Recovery Room), the Kennecot crash pad. Susan came by and we went to the Unicorn and had a few beers. She left to catch a plane, but then we saw Heidi and Ted. They sat with us for a while. By the time all was said and done, the damage was $118. So we retreated back to the umbrella of the Recovery inn where we get free food. And were not too excited about going to the infamous Range—supposedly the top grossing bar in North America. I'll finish this later, may as well, I have five layovers tomorrow.
humping the gear home [to the helicopter]
May 9—en route to Edmonton
Everything is gradually thawing out. The pilot just said that Edmonton was clear but it's snowing in Calgary. Eight inches of new snow. The temperature outside the plane is -51°F. It was about 0°F when we left Yellowknife. I talked to J yesterday and it's supposed to be over 100°F in Tucson today. Can't even imagine as the few days it got above freezing that seemed hot. That seemed to be the cut off, whether things freeze or not. These lakes below probably wouldn't last fifteen minutes in Tucson right now. Scott is on his way to Calgary right now but on a different plane. We might be on the same plane to SLC. Plane ticket cluster fuck. I've got five layovers. Yellowknife to Edmonton to Calgary to Salt Lake City to Phoenix to Tucson. Twelve hours of hell. The people in front of me have kids. One of them is screaming and pounding on things. The other is just draped over the top of his seat staring at me. I tried unsuccessfully to give him mean glares. Finally on my way. [...] We are descending into the symmetrical quadrants outside of Edmonton. Wheat fields and drab strands of trees. Everything grey.
(en route to Calgary)— Finished Going Back to Bisbee. I guess I was bored and didn't have any better books with me otherwise I wouldn't have finished it. A nostalgic brain fart that means something only to Richard Shelton. Some guy that ventures all the way (what 40 miles?) from Tucson to Bisbee like it's an adventurous expedition, some sort of path of self-discovery, whose purpose is to have dinner with some eighty-year-old bag, Ida Power. And what grand conclusion does he draw? Albeit interesting question crops up in conclusion is that Phelps-Dodge is coming back to Bisbee. But he doesn't mention it til the last page and doesn't go into this conflict of interests between the new age craft-festival types and the returning miners. If these pretentious poets didn't have their heads up their own asses they would realize there's more to art than painting a pretty landscape. The only conclusions Shelton draws mean something to anyone but himself. That Bisbee is no longer his home. Big fucking deal. And it's a national best seller! Go figure. Short flight to Calgary were already landing and it's turbulent as hell.
(en route to Salt Lake City)— Reunited with Scott in Calgary. Shopped around in the cheesy souvenir shops and ended up buying J a landstat map of the world (Pacific centered). Bought The Shipping News for lack of anything else and started reading that. So far like a female Martin Amis. Got harassed through customs, —"please step aside into that room." What a pain, he searched everything, even made me empty out my pockets and even rifled through my wallet. Right now I'm probably just over the border. Over Montana, I see American roads following rivers. And just my luck, another couple with a screaming baby in front of me. Scott is sitting further back, couldn't get a seat next to me. He's got 'Doom' on his computer, me I've got this. Why do I love writing so much? Documenting everything. I guess it's the scientist in me. Living my life like it was an experiment, a study. And even if it's not the most exciting life, it's well documented. "I sure hope the road doesn't get to own me" sings Carol King on this cheesy Delta station, with headphones like a stethoscope, detecting a pulse, but of what? A longing that is soon to come true.
(en route to Phoenix) Scott won the airport race. He got on standby in Salt Lake directly to Tucson rather than go through LA I stood and watched as my plane to Phoenix was delayed. My bags will beat his anyway. His will still have to go through LA Salt Lake City was a madhouse. Now we just flew over the Grand Canyon. From the air it is like a fractal belly button, serpent claw marks reaching from the depths of the earth. We also passed over some hills that looked like an inverted Bryce Canyon, not sure what that was. One step closer to seeing J [...] . I land at 5:20 and leave to Tucson at 5:30. Dropping out of the mountains around Flagstaff into the flat desert around Phoenix. Each little house and car I see below thinks that that is the center of the world. They are so consumed in their immediate surroundings, whether they are inspired or depressed. It seems every time I see a plane over head I think the opposite, about the plane is it's own self-contained world. It could carry people going to South Korea. I think of them looking down and me as a mere spot moving around. And of all the mere ants in the world there's one waiting for me in Tucson who is my little cub, the one who means more to me than the world.
(en route to Tucson) Fucking ridiculous, these airlines, giving me a 10 minute layover. Go into Phoenix and some man is asking me if I'm Mr. White and telling me to run to gate 18. Held up the plane for me. Everyone on the plane glaring at me. Oh well, at least I didn't have to wait. I'm sick of waiting. My eyes are burning, they will be soothed by her beauty. The gnawing hunger in my gut soothed by Mexican food at La Parilla Suiza. [...] And then I will pass out and sleep for a whole day, like a wolf that has gorged on caribou after roaming the icy tundra for a month, searching. Quick flight, already descending.
me performing an ostrich-style headplant in the snow
May 10, 1996—(Somewhere over the gulf of Mexico)
Got back into Tucson and went to La Parilla Suiza with J [...] Next morning we lounged around but couldn't figure out where we wanted to go with a week off. Went into Zonge today, briefly. Nothing for sure about what's in the pipeline. Had to get my car insurance renewed. Then went to a travel agent thinking that the Caribbean or Hawaii sounded nice, but prices were way expensive at such short notice. Was thinking about driving to San Diego or Mexico but wasn't thrilled. Then we thought of Florida. J had these American Express vouchers so we got $1300 tickets for $159. On our way to Florida to see Mickey! We made the reservation at noon for a 1:40 flight so we had to quickly pack and rush out and get a guidebook to Florida. I'm getting sick of planes, but I'm glad to be with J and "on vacation" whatever that means.
May 14, 1996—Naples, Florida
Landed in Orlando. Feels a lot different than Northwest Territories, that's for sure, from freezing and dry, to hot and humid. We got a rental car and went to some anal English B&B in Kissimee. I hate B&Bs. Eating breakfast with stupid tourist couples, the owner making snide comments, asking me if i need to borrow an iron. Stick a caribou antler up your ass. First day went to the Magic Kingdom at Disneyworld, what a trip. From a cold white expanse where there was nothing to spend money on, to a sultry, crowded, sensory mindfuck that just sucks the money right out of your pocket. Completely insane, though I don't know why this weekend would be any more different than average. White trash everywhere pushing babystrollers right in your way, long lines, a disgusting view into humanity. It was overwhelming, you could feel heat and humidity and people bumping into you, the eyes avalanched with hundreds of faces, bright colors, illusions, lights, etc.; ears riled by purposely nerve-wracking muzak, cackles, screams; taste overwhelmed by overpriced, greasy food and the nose flooded with b.o., baby pooh, greasy food and smells released in rides to induce nostalgia. Amazing that sensory perception could have such depth. Enough to make you withdrawl within. I kept thinking about how I would've like to be climbing in some remote area. We did all the usual, Pirates of the Caribbean, [...]. I'll finish this later, too many distractions. Now we're on our way to the everglades, past where they are searching for bodies of the ValuJet flight that killed all 109 people on board.
my muse a mermaid wrapped in seaweed on the shore of one of the keys
(©omPostED|tranScribed) 2010 Derek White