Man cramps

trav_ryan_small.jpgA milk jug of beer, 4 fly rods, a jet boat and two blisteringly hot men… grab a napkin ladies. Ryan Peterson of The Fly Shop and Travis hit a late night skunk-fest on the mighty Naknek. Photo by Ben Knight

I strongly dislike jogging, but my fatness required something more aerobic than focusing a camera today, so I, Ben Knight, went jogging. Don’t tell my mountain bike that I have cheated. My love is for her many readily available gears, her beautifully curved top-tube, her gigantic 8-inch front rotor, her silky smooth bearings, her ball numbing seat and her sexy six point six inches of rear wheel travel. Tell her I said “it’s not you… it’s me.” Let her know how I regret not lovingly lubricating her chain before leaving her in the dark basement for the duration of the summer. Tell her I said that jogging is slow, abrasive and borderline pointless, for on her I could ride like the wind and leave the mosquitos behind. To jog in Anchorage is to run in most other places because you are on the edge of certain death at any moment. What may begin as a moderate pace soon turns to a heart pounding sprint as thoughts of wild animals behind every tree take over. You’ve heard about the Anchorage University professor who was trampled to death by a deranged moose. You’ve seen the Grizzly bear killing and burying a moose in someone’s back yard in Anchorage on U-Tube. You’ve heard what happened to Little Red Riding Hood. This is reality we’re talking about here people… An Alaskan jog is like covering your naked body in perfectly cooked bacon and running through a truck stop. You may think this sounds like a “trip of a lifetime.” WELL IT’S NOT. I’m just trying to get out of here un-mauled and make a little documentary.

Quote of the day: “Just do me a favor and don’t let Lauren blow it all on lap dances and smack.” —Ryan Peterson of The Fly Shop [referring to the money Ryan raised to help fund our Bristol Bay project]

lauren_small.jpgAggressive typer Lauren Oakes contemplates the severe beating she will give to her laptop keyboard when she returns from fishing. Photo by Ben Knight

My hands cramp when I get motion sickness. One time the cramps spread all the way to my shoulders on a small plane. I remember holding a National Geographic in my left hand and without meaning to, the cramp had folded the magazine over. I had to pry the magazine against my leg until it fell on the floor. My thumbs cross over to my pinky fingers and I usually have to lay in the terminal for a while if I’m not late for a connection. The tingling sensation when my extremities come back to life is quite irritating. Dramamine is nice if you like drooling on yourself, but I prefer Bonine… It kept the cramps at bay today. The pilot of our small plane from Anchorage to Illiamna decided he’d take the scenic route over Clark Pass. I closed my eyes most of the time because it helps me stay calm and not spray vomit on the other passengers. At moments it felt like I was strapped to an uncomfortable chair and bouncing on a trampoline. Occasionally I’d take a deep breath and open my eyes when Travis would give me a “your missing all the scenery dumb ass” sort-of nudge. The moment my eyelids parted for the first time in 15 minutes I was floored. We were flying low, just a thousand feet or so above tree line through a glacial valley with jagged dark, foggy ridge lines on both sides. Below was lush green tundra with braided glacial melt streams weaving their way to Lake Clark. Stunning I thought… Then my bowels lurched into my esophagus as the plane dropped 100 feet in elevation thanks to a patch of air created by Lucifer. I’m sure the rest of the flight was nice too, but I was trying to control my breathing with my eyes closed.

hull.jpgPaint peels on an old wooden hull in Dillingham. Photo by Ben Knight

Note: Huge thanks to pilot Rob and his awesome mustache at the Rainbow King Lodge for letting us duct-tape our camera to the wing of his Super Cub. If only he could have dodged the bug that hit the lens 3 minutes after takeoff. With a little practice, young Jedi Rob will surely see the bug and have time to react, thus avoiding the god-forsaken winged carcass plastered to 37 minutes of footage.

As you may already know, we were treated to a helicopter tour of the proposed Pebble Mine site near the remote town of Illimna. By the time our comprehensive safety briefing was over I was well aware of the dangers of sniffing glue, which end of the scissors are sharp and what not to lob into the blades of a helicopter. That left us with about 8 minutes to fly, take a whirlwind ground tour of the core-drilling rigs and interview the VP of public relations. I’m sure that would be adequate for print media, but for us… not so much. I think we did the best we could. I would like to thank Northern Dynasty for their hospitality, particularly for the buffet and the spectacular self-serve snack shelf. I felt like a little boy stealing candy bars in a dream world where it didn’t matter how big the bulge in your pocket was. The day we were slated to leave Northern Dynasty’s Director of public relations came up to us and abrasively said “you’re still here.” I’m sure she meant well, but a simple “hi, how are you” would have made me feel a tad more comfortable. I’m happy they invited us to visit because one-sided documentaries tend to suck, and Travis and I didn’t come all this way to suck.


4 thoughts on “Man cramps

  1. I will submit my request for a donation for your project to the boss on Monday.
    Love reading about your adventures….
    motherly advice. Try breathing into a small paper bag, Ben, it sounds like you’re hyperventilating. It happened to me when I was in labor (childbirth) My hands turned into claws, pinky to thumb just like you described.. They had me breath into a paper bag and the hands went back to normal pretty quickly. I hope that works for you. Love Dr. Barb

  2. Ben,
    Try putting a paper bag over your stomach to relieve the “man cramps”. Your grandmother provided that remedy for your car sickness when you were little. Worked like a charm.

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