This blog is not about fishing. This blog will never be about fishing. There must be thousands of blogs out about fishing. The web cannot possibly support another one. Besides, by the time summer is over this blogger will have been up to her eyeballs in salt water, slime, guts, fish heads, scales, dawn boat launches, marathon processing sessions…anything and all things fish. And in disgustingly enormous quantities. If she spent even five minutes blogging about it, she just might implode. However, as much as she doesn’t want to and as hard as she’s going to try to avoid it, she may, occasionally and entirely due to the setting of this story, have to use the F word. Just a warning.
(That’s F as in ‘fish’. Pull your head out of the gutter.)
Recently, my wonderful male dominated family took me on a fun filled weekend to the Copper River. Yes, that Copper River and yes, the fish were in and yes, the normally deserted river bank was packed to the gills (no pun intended) with people fishing. The point is, I did not partake and this blog will focus solely (nope, no pun there either) on the non fishing events of our happy little trip to the Copper River Valley. AKA: our weekend in BFE.
(We’re home now and I am an arm’s length away from an ice-cold Sauvignon blanc, running water and internet. I’m ready to talk. I might even keep the sarcasm to a minimum. )
Anyway, if you leave my house and drive for three hours, take a right then drive two or three more hours (depending on road conditions and your ability to calculate fuel usage and gas station availability) the road will end and you will be at the lovely Copper River.
The important thing to know is that those last two or three hours of driving pass by a whole lot of nothing. The Copper River area is phenomenally beautiful, don’t get me wrong but it’s a little remote and shy of things to do (unless you enjoy shopping for extremely expensive booze and fuel). I like to get away from it all as much as the next guy but there’s a fine line between that and painfully, tediously, thumb-twiddlingly ‘out there’. 24 hours of BFE and I had a hankering for, gosh maybe cell service? So, Friday morning, while Husband and son 2 busied themselves with that thing people busy themselves with at that river, son 1, son 3 and I went looking for something to do.
And we found it. Turns out remote, out there, Copper River Valley is a State Trooper Mecca.
I’m not advocating anarchy here but, you would not believe how low the speed limit on the Edgerton Highway is! That has to be one of the longest straightest roads to nowhere I have ever seen. It practically begs for triple digit racing. Not that that’s how fast I was going. We were barely an hour away and still a few bars shy of a decent phone conversation when flashing lights encouraged me to stop.
What’s a girl to do? Cry, apologize, vow to use cruise control for the rest of her ride and take her punishment. Then, the next chance she gets, text her lead footed friend N who was at that very moment cruising the highway to join her.
But the day improved. N arrived to entertain me (unscathed) and I forgot about the expensive piece of paper in my purse. Husband even caught some fish. I was beginning to think the weekend would be fun after all. Then, N and I got one of those wild ideas you get when the individual lobes of your brain stop communicating with each other.
“Let’s go to Kennecott!”
I know I made it sound like Copper river was the end of the earth, but the truth is, if you drive over the river 60 miles down a narrow gravel road then park, cross a foot bridge over the other river and ride a bus 20 more minutes up a dirt path to the old Kennecott mine…well, then you are at the end of the earth.
And the day, with Husband happily engaged in that activity that people engage in at that river, that’s exactly what we did.
Kennecott is a beautiful old copper mine turned national park that if you get the chance to visit you should, just don’t go unprepared. What seems like a 4 or 5 hour day can rapidly blossom into 6 or 10 or even over night. Take water, food, spare tire, and cash. Forget your phone and credit cards (and yes, there are places in Alaska that take credit cards). Outsiders are even forbidden to drive into Kennecott, on anything (maybe horses, I didn’t ask about horses). The ‘bus’ that takes you to the mine is a passenger van that charges $10 per person round trip for the privilege. Steep fare, but traveling with 4 kids and leaving husband only loosely aware of what we were up to, it seemed like the way to go. The return trip left at 3:00, we were told, giving us an hour to see the mine (done!) and enough time to get back to camp before husband panicked and alerted the National Guard.
Or so we thought. Turns out when a Kennecott bus driver says “I’ll be back at 3:00” he’s actually saying “I don’t know about you, but around about that time I’ll be sitting in this air-conditioned van miles away why you hang at the mine batting mosquitoes off your neck…”
Here’s how our day broke down.
1:00 – catch bus
1:20-2:40 – see the sights
2:40 – join two men and their camera gear already waiting at the bus stop.
2:50 – three more passengers arrive.
3:00-3:25 – grow weary, itchy and concerned. But it’s Kennecott. A sign in one window reads “open 9-7, generally speaking”
3:30 van arrives! Elbow up to the door determined to secure a seat. The driver (a new one) turns off ignition and stomping away grumbles that no one’s going anywhere until 4:00.
3:30-4:00 – enough people arrive to cause everyone serious concern about the smallness of the bus.
4:00-4:10 listen to driver argue with ‘HQ’ over radio about who gets priority loading.
4:15 – overheated and irritated and with one very unhappy visitor opting to walk back, cram way more people into the van than it was designed for. Leave.
4:45 -6:30 cross the foot bridge stuff into the car and drive 60 miles of gravel road back, wiped out. N fell asleep so soundly on the way that for a solid 2 minutes I wondered if she was dead.
Well that was interesting. Back at camp husband, looking equally drained, showed us the fish it took him all day in the hot sun to catch. Sometimes good times are exhausting. Unanimous decision right then? Leave first thing the next day.
And we do and things are going great until…those dang flashing lights again…
This time it was N who got pulled over. Now that’s a sign of a true friend. Lightening your pal’s grief by showing her, hey, everybody’s getting ticketed these days. But what the heck? It’s not like we are a wild bunch. N coaches softball and is a Girl Scout troop leader! I… blog.
Then, not 20 minutes later, light again, for Tim. Really? How many troopers does it take to patrol the Edgerton highway? Instead of a citation though, he got a the run down. What are you doing in Copper River? Did you catch fish? How many? Where are they? Fishing license? Copper River permit? We’re usually pretty together but we were in a rush to get out of dodge that morning. Neither of us could remember where the permit went. So we park our F350 and 8000 pound trailer and three cranky kids on the tiny shoulder of the Edgerton and search…come on, do we look like criminals?
You know what I think should be a solid get out of jail free card? Telling the officer, you can assure him you will never break laws on his road again because you know, without a doubt, you are never, ever driving his road again.
I think he was offended.