Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ladies Night -- Bush Alaska Style

The other evening I invited all the ladies that I work with to go to dinner in Bethel in my new boat.

We dub nights such as those as "Ladies Night" (some, like this one, are more tame than others).

The evening started off a little after 6 when everyone arrived at our house. I had already went out and started the boat to make sure that everything was ready to go. I didn't want everyone to get out there and see me fumbling with switches and trying to figure out how to hook the gas up. I got all that out of the way before they came. That way, when it was time to go I looked like an old pro.

We all climbed in the boat and began our first leg of the journey...a stop at Barbara's house about a 100 feet away so we could get her life jacket! It was a short trip but one that was still fraught with anxiousness on everyone's part as I'm not so good at parking and unparking. I worry about slamming into the beach full bore ahead and can never seem to understand which way to turn the motor when I'm backing up. This worry then results with me cutting the engine too soon and someone having to stretch toward the beach or grass or another boat to pull me into the parking spot. This time was no different. I cut the engine and people stretched and yet everyone assured me that it was ok.

After Barbara felt secure with her personal flotation device on we were ready to go. I was told to travel up the slough and with my boat load of women I started to maneuver through the twists and turns. What I loved most about this trip was that the use of hand signals quickly became the norm and only a few minutes into the trip I saw Eliza Meier frantically gesticulating and pointing towards the left. Then I saw what she was seeing, there was something floating in the water. To me, it looked to be a stick and not one of the many logs that tend to float downriver at this time. However, with her wild gesturing and her years of experience in boats I quickly swerved to miss whatever it was. It was a stick.

Once we arrived in Bethel I parked at the hospital parking lot. This time I not only cut the engine too soon and we again have to drift our way into the parking spot but I also chose to park in the muddiest area. The ladies were all champs though and no one said a word as they tiptoed through the mud and onto the sandy areas.

Olga had the foresight to procure a truck for us and after parking the boat we trudged up to the hospital parking lot to get the truck. On the way, Eliza Meier received wonderful news, the seals her father had sent to her from Tununak were at Grant Air. Before we knew it, we were parked outside of Grant Air waiting for Eliza's boxes of seal.

After receiving the seals we picked up Daphne and Barbara from Daphne's sister's house and we were off to DINNER! Of course, no ladies night would be complete without a male and this time Eliza Joekay's husband joined all of us girls. We put him to good use though and he was our photographer for the evening.

Two of my favorite Joekay sisters...

All the ladies enjoying all the fine dining Bethel can provide...

After dinner we shared another common female bonding ritual...we went shopping. After our trip to Swanson's we were ready to get home. Barbara's husband was patiently waiting for us to arrive so he could go out hunting and I still had lots of packing to do at home.

We saw a beaver while we were waiting for Christina!

As you can see..cell phones have hit the Delta in a BIG way...

Still waiting but Daphne's loving the trip!

Here comes Christina after parking the truck!

The boat ride back was something else. Shortly after we were on the river the gesticulating once again started from the front of the boat. This time Eliza Joekay was waving to the left. I looked at Olga, who was riding shotgun, and asked, "Should I go over?" Olga said, "No. You're good." Still, though, the waving motions from the front of the boat continued, but much more persistent. Again, I looked at Olga, desperate for some direction. Again I was assured I was good. Almost immediately after this, Barbara joined Eliza in her gesturing and others started yelling. What I then saw in front of me was what I assumed to be a brown log but found out quite quickly that it was part of a large sandbar. I quickly swerved to the left and everyone held on for dear life as we skimmed past the sandbar. Once out of danger I started pointing at Olga and trying to pin the blame on her. As we pulled into Oscarville Slough we were all laughing.

You can see the boxes of seals...coffins as Eliza M's brother called them.

I parked the boat and we began to unload our groceries. All in all it was a great trip and I once again am amazed at how awesome all my friends are down here. In four years I feel like I've really bonded with the people in this community. It's great knowing that I won't be so far away from them! I'm sure going to miss these women. They are the cat's meow.


b.r. said...


Anonymous said...

Of course you parked your boat in the muddiest area. What would be the point of wearing Hunter's if you didn't?
'THE' choice for the discerning lady on the delta. Fact.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I'll try and call sometime tonight / tomorrow.