The Year of Travel
For the past few weeks, let’s face it, facebook has been owned by our big wedding. Hundreds of photos have been uploaded and more photos here and there have been uploaded almost daily. We still can’t believe how well everything went and it all still feels like it was a dream because it happened so fast. Since the day I proposed to Nicole, it seemed like the wedding day was never going to arrive and now that it has, I wish the vacation wasn’t over.
Which brings me to introduce our next adventure!
“…Make record of your journey…”
A few months after the proposal, I started brain storming a plan. I didn’t want our honeymoon to be a cliche one trip kinda thing. I always try and do things different so why not this. I thought of a three to four phase honeymoon involving three or four trips spread through out the year of 2016. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling but Nicole hasn’t been to too many places so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to get the travel bug going for her! So instead of getting on a plane right after our wedding and going somewhere exotic, we have decided to visit Hawaii, California and Japan.
Phase One: Pure Aloha
Our first trip will be my other motherland. Nicole has yet to meet my family in Maui so we decided it is time for her to get some aloha! I know Maui fairly well my memory so I want to show her the island and all of it’s beauty. We want to spend maybe a week there and then head of to Oahu for three days or so. This trip will be in April.
Phase Two: California Dreaming
I’m not too fond of California really but we thought it would be a cool idea to hit up Disneyland and all that jazz for Nicoles birthday. My sister Alex may tag along and I’m not sure if Caiti can but that would be cool. I’ve been to San Fransisco and it wasn’t too bad of a city but I’m willing to give elsewhere a shot. We figured four days would be adequate enough. This trip will be in May.
Phase Three: Tora! Tora! Tora!
Last but not least, Japan. My good buddy Wayne approached me last year with this idea. He wanted the three of us to go to Japan and I was immediately on board. I have never been to Japan but it’s always been a place I’ve wanted to visit. It got Nicoles attention once she realized there was a Disney in Japan as well lol. The night Wayne drummed up the idea, I ordered a lonely planet book on Japan. When it came in, I read nearly the whole thing and researched things I found interesting. I tabbed things of interest in three different categories; “must do” , “would be rad”, and “if we are near with time to kill”. I started north and mapped my way down through out the islands. It seems like a solid route and hits everyone’s places of interests as well as some bonus spots I didn’t even know existed. This trip will be in September.
We are super excited and I especially because I get to shove all this in your faces and hopefully inspire some of you to travel as well, maybe even with us.
To be continued….
yI’ve thought about how I was going to do this blog all week. It’s been by far the busiest week of the entire year and so much happened…I don’t even know where to begin. I suppose day one would be a good start.
We landed in Ft. Lauderdale to a beautiful partly cloudy day with a high of 81. The wave of humidity hit us like a truck as it does every time we step off of the plane. My mother in law picked us up and the battle of the chaotic highway driving began. I’m always holding tight onto something when driving down here and I never look forward to it. We stopped for some food and I checked in with Grandma Betty, letting her know we made it. Plus I was doing a puppy check on Cody. We made it to the in laws house and needless to say, I crashed pretty quick.
To be honest I cant remember what we did on Monday morning. I think it was when we got our rental car which went pretty well. We ended up getting a full size Chrysler 200 which was full of spoiled features that do nothing but make humans lazy. Push to start/stop as well as a tiny ass knob that was the PRNDL. Took me five minutes to even find the damn thing and another hour to find the AUX plug in. Later that night, Jeremy and Wayne wanted to check out Dave & Busters so I wanted to make it a mission that they got to visit. We met my family at the mall and walked around aimlessly to find my favorite place called Burger & Beer Joint. Their website said they had opened one in the mall we were in but come to find out it was delayed. We decided to eat at Dave & Busters and it turned out to be quite good. Wayne drank 102 ozs of beer to himself. It was also a birthday celebration for my sisters who turned twenty three.
Tuesday came quick. We had a list of things to do such as buy alcohol, final dress fitting as well as packing the car to the limit and making it down in time to check in to the beach house. First stop was the alcohol store called Total Wine. They had just about everything you could think of and the lady that helped us was amazing. It took about a half hour to load everything up. Six bottles of this, four bottles of that, two cases of those and ten things of what ever that is. We either looked like we were buying enough booze to last us until the end of the world or we looked like we were alcoholics. We then met up with Jeremy and Wayne at their hotel. Nicole had her final dress fitting right next door so I was able to hang with the boys for a bit. They were slightly hung over from their extended stay at Dave & Busters. We loaded their car up with all the alcohol and then went straight to the in laws house to load up all the little things for the wedding. Our trunk was full as well as our back seat. A quick stop at Burger King for me and we were on our way. We plotted the beach house address and set sail for our wedding venue.
The Drug Lord House
The house was as rad as it was a year ago when we first walked it down. The sun was beaming down on the beach and it was about 84 degrees. The water was blue and green and everything looked amazing. That’s when the excitement kicked in. About two minutes after we arrived, James and Pazong pulled in. Their reaction was exactly what I expected. I let them choose their room and gave them the tour of the house. The outdoor patio bar next to the giant pool was the hit of the beach house. We needed to find a store for groceries and booze and luckily for us there was a Publix about fifteen minutes down the highway. We loaded up on breakfast foods and snacks and drove back to the house and just a few minutes later Jeremy and Wayne finally showed up. Once again I gave the tour and showed them their room. Most of us were in the pool by the time Jahzeel and Samantha arrived. Most of the wedding party was complete with the exception of Stephen and Mallory (who arrived the day after). The following day Nicole and I made our way to the courthouse to get our license. It was an easy process that only took about fifteen to twenty minutes, so far everything was stress free. The only thing I was mildly concerned about was the lighting on the beach area where our dinner was going to be held on wedding night.
The house was made out of all stone and had a billion light switches which, to this day, I have no idea where most went to. We had an ocean front view with windows that were nine ft. tall with no blinds. It slept twelve people and had a bathroom in every room along with walk in closets and t.v.s (only in a few rooms had t.v.s). The kitchen was massive with granite counters and a 400 lb. sink. It had several hidden cabinets that took forever for us to figure out what was where. Even the dishwasher was hidden at chest height in a random cabinet door. The microwave looked like a pull out oven instead of a normal microwave which took me a bit to get use to. After a night of flipping switches and opening doors, I finally got comfortable with the basic controls of the house. I won’t even get started on the pool remote control….
Thursday morning was my bachelor snorkeling trip with the boys. My best man Stephen Cheek (with some help from his wife Mallory) planned the event. The night before we stayed up until about four a.m. participating in a little alcoholic hydration. The goal was to just stay up until the snorkel trip and tough it out (we had to get up at 6:30 a.m. and out the door by 7 a.m.). The ride to Key West was quiet and half the fellas were passed out. I was fairly zoned out and slowly kick starting my second wind. I had only got about an hour and a half of on and off sleep so I was pretty exhausted and feeling…..”bubbly”… My insides were groaning with pure hatred as I tried as hard as I could to keep everything down… and in. It’s about an hour and a half drive to Key West which was the longest drive of my life. By the time we made it to the snorkeling place I needed a bathroom quick. Sorry I can’t remember the name of the company, I’d give a shout out if I could. I found a bathroom and damn near melted the seat. I’ll let the rest of your imagination take it away.
We boarded the boat and the sun was coming and going along with some serious choppy waves. It really looked like this was going to be GOOD fun lol. The ride to the reef was about twenty minutes and we had already gone through a cold ass five minute down pour and everyone was freezing after it. Good thing because we were told the ocean wasn’t very warm that day but as soon as we jumped in it felt pretty warm. The waves were about four to six feet and it was pretty difficult to get away from the boat but after a little effort, I found a good spot and saw some pretty cool fish. Wayne was the last one on the boat so I swam back t see if he needed some words of encouragement. I helped him with his snorkel gear and he finally got into the ocean. The waves were slightly overwhelming for him and I could tell he was not having fun so I took him to the side of the boat away from all the other swimmers. As he was adjusting his snorkel, I took a peak at the ocean floor and saw a five to six ft. nurse shark moving about. I picked my head up outta the water and right at that time the life guard told us we had to move away from the side of the boat and more towards the front…YUP! No Problem!
At some point in time, rumor had it that someone barfed into the ocean, so there was all kinds of colorful fish getting a snack. I found out later that the person who barfed was Jeremy….I wonder if I swam through any of the puke! :D yummm. At least more fish showed up! There was one other guy who puked after being in the ocean for about ten seconds, thanks dude.
The ride back was a lot more difficult than the ride in. I felt slightly sick from a few sips of salt water I accidentally consumed and it wasn’t sitting well on top of the chips and Crown Royal. It also didn’t help that the started serving beer and every time I took a whiff of it I got more sick. I had to stare straight at the ground or else I would get motion sickness and probably barf all over Wayne. I’m super glad we did go snorkeling because honestly I didn’t want to do anything major. I just wanted it to be a relaxing day and overall it was great. We made it back to the beach house and I tried to get a nap in. About twenty minutes later Nicoles Aunt & Uncle showed up with the flower arrangements so I needed to kick it in third gear and just work through it. James was there to help bring in the flowers and I used Jeremy and Waynes room to set it at 65 to help keep the flowers cool. They looked great and it hit me even more than the big day was getting closer.
The day before the wedding is when things started to require a plan b and go figure they all happened within thirty minutes of each other. The first thing to go another route was cake transportation. Nicoles mom reserved a van to have enough space to carry everything down and sure enough, when she showed up to pick it up, they didn’t have the van anymore. Quite minor but they delay set back her brother who needed to pick up the tuxedos for Wayne, Jeremy and myself. One thing I’ll add about the tuxedos: on Wednesday Mens Warehouse called me around four pm and told me we had to be there by nine pm for a final fitting. Little did they know we were already in The Keys and just so happen to be in Key West. I told the lady we had planned to come in early Friday morning for our final fitting and pick up and she said there was no way it was going to happen. I told her we will try and come down and then I hung up with no intentions of actually making it….. we were just going to have to wing it.
Briana Keaton – Plan B
Briana is a good friend of ours and I love her to death. She just so happened to be fifteen minutes away from the Mens Warehouse that had our suits. It was almost meant to be and she acted quickly and was able to pick them up and extend our return day to Monday. I cannot thank her enough but I did get the opportunity to share some Bourbon with her. She also was a soldier on the day of the wedding, getting people breakfast and drinks. I’m so glad she was able to make it.
Steve Rank and his Plan B…C…D & E
The story of Steve is a complete chapter in itself. A few days after I proposed to Nicole, Steve informed me that he was an ordained minister and offered his service of performing the wedding for us. I kept it on the back burner for a few months and once we had a date for the wedding, I realized we picked my dads birthday. An idea clicked in my head and I contacted Steve. Steve knew my dad back when they were in high school. In fact, Steve knew most of the Amidon boys back in the day. I figured why not have a mini reunion on my wedding day as a birthday present for my dad. They haven’t seen each other for almost thirty-five years and I knew a surprise this grand would be epic for my dad. So for over ten months, Steve and I kept it a complete secret from all the Amidon uncles. There was several times we almost dropped the ball but we held it together until the very last minute.
Now Steve lives in North Carolina. On his way down he hit a deer, damaging the front right side of his vehicle and smashing the wind shield partially. As he stepped out of his car to inspect the damage, the dog he was transporting to a friend locked the car from the inside. Steve was locked out of his own car. He had to break the door handle just to get back in and in that process, he lost his wallet. With no drivers license, no credit cards, Steve continued his journey to Grassy Key, determined to see the master plan through as well as my wedding.
Of course by the time he was about four hours away, there had to be a massive accident on the turnpike that involved fire trucks, helicopters, the whole nine yards. Our original plan was for him to show up during rehearsal dinner and pretend to be a waiter. He was going to ask my dad if he would like a drink. My dad would’ve turned to say “no thank you” and then realize it was Steve all along. Because of the delay, Steve was not able to make the dinner. I’ll also add that my in laws were unable to make the dinner as well due to other delays.
The new plan was to have Steve show up at the beach house while dad was doing some finishing touches on the lighting for the wedding. I had everyone meet on the patio as dad was on the upstairs deck doing his thing. Steve arrived and sat on the patio couch with his ipad. I ran upstairs and told dad we had a problem downstairs and he needed to come quick. As he stepped into the patio, he didn’t even notice the extra person on the couch. I said “so you remember that birthday present I told you I was going to give you?” He said “yeah”. I pointed at the couch and said “well it finally arrived!”. His reaction was exactly how I pictured it would be and the two old friends finally reunited after thirty-five years.
Wedding Day Weather
I woke up to gray clouds and about twenty-five mile an hour wind. I was freaking out. The forecast said it was going to stay windy all day but at least the clouds were going to break up. There was only a ten percent chance of rain with a high of 78. I was nervous because our wedding was on the beach as well as dinner. I walked out on the beach and realized the wind was at tree height and not gusting too bad down below the palm trees. Every ten minutes where was a huge gust the swept low but other than that it was okay for now. I watched the caterers set up their tables and battle the gusts. A few things blew off the tables but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Just me doing my worrying. During the ceremony, the wind seemed to die down just enough for our vows and then it kicked back up slightly for photography and dinner. I’ll also mention that in did rain for about seven minutes when the boys were getting ready. Yup, we got the ten percent chance. lol.
Elizabeth Garay Photography
I just wanted to give a shout out to our photographer and her assistant, Lulu. They did an amazing job and Elizabeth was the only person that was actually on top of things with us since the day we picked her. We had a few skype sessions with Elizabeth and as soon as she showed up, she was already a friend and part of the family. I’m so glad we picked her and I can’t wait to see all the photos she took. If you would like to see her work, visit here: Elizabeth Garay Photography
We finally had our official paperwork signed and dated. We were announced and had our first dance. The song we picked was “Grow Old With You” by Adam Sandler from The Wedding Singer. Shortly after we sat down for dinner and the food was amazing. We chose Brazilian Grill who had a fairly decent size menu of chicken wrapped with bacon, steak, & sausage. They brought them out on huge skewers and cut how ever many pieces you wanted. We also brought down some Alaskan salmon for our new Cuban family to try. Everything was a hit and it all went smooth.
After dinner is when the party started. Vision DJ was the vendor we chose and they did an awesome job. The upright lighting and music was on point. The DJ was very professional at announcing everything we wanted and how we wanted it. I kept my alcohol consumption mild, I wanted to be able to act quickly if anything went wrong. After all, we were renting a multi million dollar house with windows all over the place. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and the lighting turned out perfect. There seemed to be a sufficient amount of alcohol and mixers as well. Overall, the small issues were just that, small. Everything worked its way out just like everyone said it would. I suppose it’s only natural to worry because you spend so much time and money for this day and you want it flawless. It it’s own way it was flawless. It was a damn good time.
A Thank You
I don’t even know how to get everyone who has helped this wedding turn out the way it did. Too many to think of by name. My family, my in laws, my friends as well as the friends I met from the internet who also showed up. I feel like everyone had some kind of contribution and every single bit helped. I’m so glad two awesome families came together and had a bitching time. I met people who I’ve played video games with for over eight years but have never met before until this night. Long time internet friends who I have met before also came down and came through with whatever I needed. My kick ass WIFE for doing most of the grunt work, planning, and choosing. My awesome groomsmen stuck through all the chaos and “I dunno wtf is going on”. There was plenty of that going on. But remember…..it’s not an Amidon shindig if there isn’t any “wtf is going on” moments. I love you all.
A quickie for you.
It’s been over a year since my last visit to an airport and actually going somewhere that doesn’t involve work. It’s the only time I enjoy the different airport smells, minus the occasional crop dust you come across. Thanks dude. Night time always seem the busiest for the Anchorage airport so patience meter is getting a run for its money.
We are on our way to Florida to get married and in already worried about the weather in wedding day. Let the games begin. I don’t like blogging from my phone so I’ll leave you with this. See you in sunny Florida you beautiful humans!
P.s. follow my Twitter for even quicker rants. @ianamidon
Showing some blog love for my friend Lyndsay, who in four days will be going under the knife for a life changing surgery that I know she’s wanted done for years. Best of luck to you, lady!
I’ve commandeered my masters keyboard for the time being and I figured I’d do a quick dlog (see what I did there? Dlog! A “Dog blog”). I figured I would give some insight on who I am since I’m the favorite despite the efforts of this new pup that goes by the name of ‘Roman’. Shithead thinks he’s so cool with that name.
I was two years old when I was adopted by my human. He stumbled on my ad on Craigslist one fine morning before work. My old human had put me up for sale for $50 and her story was that she was losing her home (which she ran a daycare out of) and needed to get rid of all of us. My human called the other human (Sandy) and was interested in adopting me. They quickly set up a time to meet outside the Wasilla Home Depot. My sister and I arrived in Sandy’s red subaru. We were kenneled in the back along side mounds of clothes and boxes. She pulled up next to a tall, good looking young man in a green dodge intrepid. He was wearing a silly orange polo with a logo that matched the store. I was let out of my kennel and that was when I met Ian. I was scared and unsure of my surrounding and it was raining. I don’t like the rain. Ian began to pet me head and I licked his hands….yumm….Chinese food. He gave Sandy $60 and placed me in the back seat. *Sniff* Fabreeze! Hawaiian Ocean Breeze, Fred Meyer special. Nice. On the ride home, I moved from the back seat to the front seat. Ian asked me to shake and so I did…yes it’s nice to meet you again.
My new home was a small one bed room mother-in-law apartment that was clean and well kept. I smelled two creatures known as cats, who didn’t care for me much at first. The space was adequate and the carpet in the bedroom was decent to lay on. I made my way to the office room which had a smaller couch and a TV! That was when Ian snapped the very first photo of me in my new home:
I was a sickly 35 lbs. You could see every rib of mine as well as my hips and spine. Dad (I will start referring to him as Dad now) decided he needed to do a Wal-Mart run for my food and some toys! He left me alone in my new home…. which scared me…You see I had this thing where when I’m left alone…I worry…I bark for someone to come. I eat things I’m not suppose to and sometimes I use the potty where I’m not suppose to. Dad was not aware of this. I found myself eating the feline food. All of it. I found their water bowl on top of the fridge. No problem getting it…floor to counter…counter to fridge. Score! I also sometimes move couch cushions and align them in specific formations on the floor. Was that a garbage can? Yes indeed. I tore open the bag and all of it’s contents. I didn’t know how to put it all back… Then Dad came home. I coward when he walked in and was ready for a beating. My old human use to beat me so it’s what I was use to. Sometimes I can’t help the way I behave and I know what I just did was a bad thing. Dad didn’t hit me though…He set his groceries down (oh my goodness he got me my own bed), looked at me, then proceeded to clean up my mess. I think by this time he knew I had a “condition”. We got back into the car for another Wal-Mart run. I pooped on the rug and Dad needed some carpet cleaner. I love car rides!
We finally made it to Wal-Mart and Dad left me in the car. I was left alone….again… I don’t like being alone. I started to pant and the windows began to fog up. I barked for Dad but he never came. I was scarred and I didn’t know if anyone was going to come and get me. I started to poop on the seats. The back seat, the front seats, the floor…. I poop all over me. I put it on the dashboard, the doors, the windows, even the roof! I will never forget Dads face when he came back to the car :).
Dad went back into the store and bought six of those carpet cleaning cans with the brushes on the end. It took him over an hour to clean the car in the Wal-Mart parking lot! It was a fresh ride home though! :)
The next morning Dad needed to go to work. He got a kennel from Grandma since he figured I couldn’t be left alone without one. This way I wont get into garbage and cat water. I was placed in the kennel and once I heard the front door shut…I was alone… I don’t like being alone… I get scared. I began to bark and I didn’t stop for eight hours. I tried getting out.. I chewed and I scratched. I pushed with my nose until I started to bleed. I even pooped inside :(. I barked but no one came. When dad came home, he cleaned my mess. I didn’t get beat. Dad brain stormed for solutions. Over the next three months, he would come home every day and clean my kennel and fix my cuts. He tried all sorts of funny things to help my condition (I would later learn that it is called “anxiety”). He tried benadryl to make me sleepy, calming treats, calming oils, even a cool bark collar that would shoot a calming lemon spray every time I barked! Nifty little gadget that had enough juice in it to last 30 barks. After 31 barks…no more spray :( I smelled great though! Grandma got a cd that played classical music at certain frequencies that help us animals sleep. The cats sure loved it…but I’m more of a metal fan myself. After months of trying, Dad decided to take me to Great Grandmas every morning before work and then pick me up after! Sometimes I would spend my days in doggy daycare with other dogs but most of my days were at Great Grandmas house! Dad invested in what we like to jokingly call a “dog whisperer” for further training. She taught him proper pack leader skills and discipline. Funny…she didn’t whisper shit to me and she smelled like tacos. Over the years, the training seemed to slowly help…I can do certain things I didn’t like to do and I’m proud of myself! I’ve been part of a loving family for over six (or seven?) years now. I weight a solid sixty eight pounds and I’m spoiled rotten. I am able to be left alone in cars for long periods of time and recently I can be left alone at home (with my little brother Roman) and 5 outta 7 days a week, I do pretty well while Mom is at work. Sometimes I have my moments but I know I am better than I was. My name is Cody. I commandeered my Dads keyboard to write a Dlog! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I love you all. Cody, out.
4:56 AM, Alaska time.
“Ian get up…something happened, theres been a crash”
I wasn’t sure what my mother meant by crash just yet… A plane crash?? Did another local bush plane crash? Happens every year. No that wasn’t it.
“Get up now…you need to see this”
September 11th, 2001, I was fourteen years old. My eyes cracked open to the silhouette of my mother standing in my doorway urging me to wake up. Something serious was happening and it was happening live on the news. I reached for my glasses and rushed upstairs. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I focused in on the live footage of the world trade center, the north tower was burning. The headlines indicated that a plane of some sort had crashed into the side of the building.
My mom yelled.
I instantly knew this wasn’t a mistake…even before America slowly started to figure out the obvious. We were under attack. I watched the plume of smoke pour out of floors 93-99 of the north tower. By now if I remember correctly, the news made it quite obvious it was a commercial airliner.
5:03 AM, Alaska time.
As the cameras slowly zoomed out to get a wider shot of the north tower, a silver object came out of the corner of the screen and slammed into the south tower. I was speechless…I remember telling myself that this couldn’t be real. This stuff only happens in movies! I watched as the explosion shattered floors 75-85 of the south tower. All kinds of thoughts ran through my mind. Are we safe here? What does Alaska have that could be attacked?? The pipeline, Prudoe bay, Valdez… shit. I rushed to my room and got dressed as fast as I could and poured a bowl of cereal. As I ate my breakfast, I watched as people began to jump out of the world trade center. I was witnessing real people dying. I didn’t know what to think…. I was in shock.
My Dad wasn’t home, he was out hunting with a friend of his and had been for a few days. They had no way of knowing what was going on but I remember wanting him to be there. I was worried. By now the headline on the news was changed to “America Under Attack”. The entire nation knew that this was intentional, but who the hell was doing this?
5:37 AM, Alaska time.
Breaking news cut to possible explosion at the Pentagon. Rumors spread saying it was a missile of some sort at first. Holy shit. Holy shit! What the hell is going on?! The white house is going to get hit next I know it! I remember thinking this to myself. There was now live footage cutting back and forth from New York to Washington.
5:59 AM, Alaska time.
The south tower of the WTC collapses. I watched as the tower seemed to buckle and collapse down to the ground. How could this be? All those people inside. Did anyone get out? I remember the thick gray cloud of debris cover the city as it made its way through the jungle of buildings and streets. Various cameras from the air and ground rolled the footage of people running, covering their faces as the emerged from the blanket of dust and smoke. I remember my hands shaking and the lump in my throat got bigger. I just watched more people die.
6:28 AM, Alaska time.
The north tower collapses. I remember looking at my mom who had glazed eyes. I can’t remember if my sisters were watching but I’m almost positive they were. The news anchors were in silence as the second tower collapsed 102 minutes after being struck by Flight 11. I should add that at 6:07 AM (Alaska time), flight 93 crashed into Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all 40 passengers and crew on board. There was almost too much for the news to report. The confusion in the media was chaotic. It was so much to take in. I do remember thinking that I wish I wasn’t 14. I wish I could sign up and go kill whomever was doing this. I felt helpless… I think we all did.
Time to go to school.
Mom dropped me off at the front end of the library. As I walked towards the double doors, I noticed a large circle of people gathered around the flag pole. They were holding hands in silence and with their eyes closed, they were praying. I believe this was the Alpha & Omega group who typically gathered there every morning and pray before class. The group was nearly four times bigger and took up all of the walk way. The lump in my throat was back. I walked into the building and saw kids scurrying around, trying to get as much information as possible. A few were crying…probably scared..I was scared too. Library computers had groups of people around them, reading live updates on the situation as it unfolded. There were no cliques, no “groups”… we were all friends.
My first class was history with Ms. Reed. She quickly became one of my favorite teachers through out high school. She held herself together and set all usual classwork aside. She did her best to explain what was possibly going on and who was rumored responsible for the attacks. I could tell she was choked and emotional… we all were. That was when I heard his name for the first time in my life…..a name we would all grow to be familiar with. That name was Osama Bin Laden. Through out the day I had mixed emotions much like everyone else. One that I will always remember was anger. I had seen first hand the pure evil and hatred humans could have towards another. I wanted to kill who ever was responsible. I wanted to join the military right then and there. I was upset at myself for being too young. I couldn’t do a damn thing but watch it on the t.v. But I also felt proud of my country. I witnessed first responders rush into those towers and got as many people out as they could. I watched strangers helping strangers of all types of race, religions, etc. For several months afterwards, the patriotism was incredible. For the first time in my life, I noticed America was whole. We weren’t divided and we didn’t argue with each other.
I will never forget that day. I will tell my children about it. The good and the bad that came from it. I will tell them to never be sheep and that they are born in a family of sheep dogs, raised to defend the sheep against the wolves or to die trying.
It was a semi-hot Saturday in Wasilla, Alaska. The sun came out long enough to dry my lawn and grace me with enough time to mow it. I had pre-work blues already since I had to head back up north on Tuesday. I was anticipating the LAN of the Brave event that was starting at 1pm and ending at 1am. I have never been to a mass LAN (Local Area Network) event before and needless to say I was geeking out. In my early gaming years as a teen, I hosted a few small LAN parties in the confines of my home with some of my closest friends. Mass amounts of Red Bull and junk food was our fuel of choice along with loud music and the occasional guitar, drums, bass jam session for our “rest time”. I had a typical windows set up with windows xp and dual monitors (I thought I was cool with it)…they weren’t the flat screen kind either. Dialed in for hours, the smell of machinery, warm red bull, body odor (it actually wasn’t terrible), cables going every which way, and with a room temperature of 91, you’d think it was a scene from the 1995 motion picture ‘Hackers’. I believe the most I’ve had crammed in my room (a few in the upstairs area) was probably about eight….or nine. I truly miss those days of endless gaming, downloading, uploading, streaming, MSN updates and Bob Marley incense. We didn’t have Myspace and to send a text was ten cents a text. Our own wonder years.
Nicole and I finally made it to the LAN around 5 pm. As I stepped out of the vehicle, I was mildly trembling with excitement. Yeah yeah cue the jokes. “It’s just a bunch of people playing video games you nerd!”. But to me it was much more than that. I’m sure Nicole was unsure of what she was expecting but I knew exactly what I was looking for. I heard music as I carefully carried JARVIS II (my PC). As I stepped inside, I could see the rows of tables lined with various brands of monitors and PC towers. Most of which made JARVIS II look out dated and obsolete but fear not, hes still a little ass kicker and please be kind, he has feelings. We scanned the room for a possible open spot and found one at the end of a row some what in the middle of the room. I set up my PC first then the gaming laptop for Nicole to use. Shes a fairly good Hearthstone player and fairly new to World Of Warcraft, game i.d. Kneecoal #1658. I typically play all #Blizzard games now days (game i.d. Younglondon#1694) and dabble a bit on #XboxOne (gamer tag Nebelwurfer182).
Instantly I could smell the familiar “massive amounts of electronics confined in one room” smell. The cluster of people “dialed” in to what ever game they wanted. Friendly competitive pvp (player versus player) and others helping each other out which tech questions and gaming advice. There were tables of various consoles set up and free for anyone to use. The internet seemed flawless (on my table at least) and the Red Bull was within my grasp at a moments notice. I loved the energy in the room. I don’t think it was #907Gamers biggest LAN party but it was the biggest (and first) LAN I have ever actually been to (that’s not counting my own LAN parties as a teen obviously). It brought back memories and I loved that fact that I was sharing it with Nicole. Not many know but gaming was and is a big part of my life. I offered to take photos with my #Nikon since I figured it was also a good way for my to practice taking photos of humans doing human things. Around 8pm, massive amounts of pizza was delivered and we stepped out into the burning light and ate real food. I took the following picture which consists about 1/3 (maybe half) of fellow gamers… Overall I had a blast and Nicole had fun. I met some new people and everyone was friendly and cool about me creeping on them with my camera. It meant a lot to me to attend this LAN because I have missed out on over a year and half worth of previous events due to my work schedule. I hope in the near future I can attend another and meet more people with one common interest; gaming. If you haven’t yet, check out the FB page of over 6,200 members and growing with various sub groups for some of the popular games out there today. Join the teamspeak server and have a chat with some local (or locally raised) gamers. It’s a great community filled with techies, nerds, geeks, trolls and most importantly…Alaskans. Listed below are a few links of importance. Thanks for reading and keep calm, game on. Lulz.
907Gamers Facebook Page:
My Extra-Life donor page:
What is Extra-Life?
This year I am participating in the Extra Life event. The 907Gamers group will be gaming for 24 hours, on November 7th, to help raise money for the kids here in Anchorage, If you want to read more about it, look at the link below. I’d appreciate any donations you can give. Last year over $11,000 was raised just by the 907Gamers group alone. So please, support me in this awesome way to help kids! #907Gamers #Extralife #Alaska.
March 14th, 2011.
A New Hope
I stepped off the plane not knowing where the hell I was. This is it, the North Slope. I’m finally one of them! As a kid you hear of your friends parents being slope workers. Most of them had rotational schedules of two weeks on two weeks off. You become familiar with the stories of extreme subzero temperatures and no sun light for weeks on end. I was never one with pieces of paper in academics which proved I was useful to society other than being a laborer. I spent my early adult life in retail and I’ll never go back, so help me God. But I remember saying to myself “I’m a fuckin sloper now!”. Now most people don’t know what the hell we do up here and most of us wonder ‘what the hell are we doing here?’ There ain’t shit to look at and all we do is eat, sleep, work, repeat. It’s twelve hour shifts, seven days a week, two to three weeks at a time. Keep in mind, we do get 2 weeks off (depending on your rotation, some people are two on two off, some are three on three off). Essentially we only work six months out of the year and we get six months home yet we make a years salary in those six months. Money is good. Very good. Hell half the people I know getting out of college with four year degrees don’t even make what we can make. I wanted in for the long haul.
March 14th, 2012
Fear Through The Eyes of Madness
I am seasoned. I am part of the brotherhood. I made it through the hurdles of being the FNG (fuckin new guy). I made it through my first brutal slope winter. By this time in my slope career, I’ve traveled to Germany, Switzerland, France, & Austria and was in the slow process of finding a house. I was still loving the job. Digging six to eight foot holes on a daily basis. Building scaffold for insulators and lifting pipe lines for corrosion inspection via x-ray. Shit was cool. I felt good about myself. I was going places and saving money as if an i.v. needle was hooked up to my savings account. Also around this point I was on a three week on three week off rotation. Figured it was a good idea for more traveling. I could go somewhere for three weeks then take a week off and just relax at home. Home becomes a little more sweet with a rotational schedule. You realize you take the simple things for granted. I love my couch. I love my lawn, my stuff, the dust under my furniture, the small problems that are bound to happen. All of it (despite how much I bitch about it too). We had a new batch of guys come in, little did I know a few of them would become best friends of mine. I now had opportunity to mentor. I never thought of myself as leader and I’m probably a really shitty one, but I enjoy doing it. I enjoy imagining myself heading into battle with a small elite squad of soldiers, taking out bad guys and getting out all in one piece. I am the first to set on the battlefield, and the last to step off. Sometimes lol.
Cuts Marked In The March of Men
It’s routine now. Well they insist nothing is routine here but holy shit it is. At this time I’ve seen many brothers come and go. Some quit, some fired, some onto better things on the North Slope. Good for them. We form a certain bond, doing what we do. I’ve watched brothers get married, divorced, and have kids. I’ve also watched those kids grow over the years. You don’t find much brotherhood sitting behind a desk. It isn’t quite exciting coming by to work by now. It’s become a part of us now. In our DNA and bones. Each day being a countdown with hours to minutes, minutes to seconds. Not many understand the feeling of coming up to work. Don’t get me wring, it’s not like its twelve months in Iraq, kudos to all those men and women though. But rotation work does have it’s toll. Each time we go up to work, there is two wars going on. Two fronts if you will. The war of being here and the war at home. It’ s always hard on our loved ones when we are gone. Shit always seems to break and there is nothing you can do to fix it from here. When shit happens at home, its amplified for us by a thousand. From battling shit-ass reception, crappy internet, and failed texts, it can get frustrating. The common tools we take for granted are never one hundred percent optimal. Obstacles. One more thing to develop leather skin.
Away We Go
Imagine going to a job with the thought of it possibly not being there for you the next day. Now imagine that each and every day. While most of you celebrate low gas prices, we cringe over them. This last February, I watched seventy or so slope workers get laid off. Seventeen of which were brothers from our own craft. They were gathered in a meeting room and let go within four minutes. They packed their bags and stepped onto a plane to Anchorage. It can happen just like that. The i.v. to the savings account violently ripped out without warning. I couldn’t even imagine the feeling. To be honest I don’t think I could find work that paid just as well in Anchorage. Life would be at a halt for me. The sheer fact that in a blink of an eye ones job can be stripped from them pisses me off. We were always told that this could happen and has before. Up to this day, we could all be gone at the same blink of an eye. It never made sense to me to cut the actual workers who work while desk dudes sit comfortable in a six hundred dollar ergonomically correct office chair but hey what do I know. Careful, opinions equal a bad attitude. Most of them have found other jobs on the slope which I am very happy to say. But my point is, its more slope work. Its like a drug. That time off is pretty sick and it’s hard to give up. Some day I’ll have to take that road but as of now I am nowhere near ready to. At this point there is no way I could afford to live comfortably without this job and that’s just the reality of it.
The End Complete
I’m not even sure the point of this whole thing. We do this job for our families, our soon to be families, our hobbies, homes, loved ones, our own amusement (lulz), all the crap we like to buy, etc. Most of us don’t know any thing better and will be lifers. Some of us take other paths and learn other crafts. I myself joined the fire dept. here and plan on learning as much as I can before going for a full time position at any fire dept. back home. It’s no vacation here. We are all here for the money. Good money. It’s never easy and it’s never fun. I hope some day I can put the slope behind me and do something else. Shit, I get way to antsy sitting in one spot anyway! This job will continue to supply my dreams of traveling with my lady. It’s bed time now, for I work night shift. Enjoy your desk.