I was twenty three years old, visiting San Fransisco, California for an Angels & Airwaves concert. Before handing my card to the Starbucks cashier, I knew it was coming. I clamped my teeth down hard, tensing up my facial muscles, the eye twitch slowly pulsating.
Then he asked.
A wild card of a question, the nail in the coffin, a real winner.
“Do you know Sarah Palin?” followed by “Can you actually see Russia from your house?”
Damn him. Damn her. I mean most of us don’t even like Sarah Palin but in her defense, for her statement to be taken literally, you must be an idiot. I mean I took at as “her house” meaning from some area of Alaska and she meant it as… like “welcome to MY HOUSE” or “this is my turf!”. Technically you can see Russia from Little Diomede Island, Alaska.
My response to him was yes, I know her, we party with her all the time in our igloos where we ice fish from our living room. I told him this concrete jungle was a major culture shock to me and that this was my first time in a Starbucks. If you didn’t know I was a smart ass troll, now you do.
…”Are there any trees in Alaska?”…
I woke up to another five inches of snow on top of the two feet we accumulated last week. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ready for summer, but I’m glad this years winter feels very much like an old school Alaskan winter. The last few winters have been terrible, brown, and warm. I mean I’m so excited to actually be able to smell dog shit this spring.
Days like today always make me nostalgic. Seeing the lawn with a fresh blanket of untouched snow while the tree branches hang heavy. The power lines bounding up and down and our vehicles looking like a snow cube with wheels. It was snowing hard this morning and the snowflakes were the size of half dollars. The wind was kicking up too, making visibility mildly poor. I love it.
I’m sure my outsider friends get sick of me always talking Alaska up but I just can’t help myself. Just about everyone has some kind of pride overload with their home town or state. But ours is just a litttttttttttle bit better and as I’ve said, you’re entitled to your wrong opinion but I assure you, ours IS better.
But what makes us truly better? What annoys the shit out of us? Why do some of us hold ourselves to a higher standard? There are probably a million reasons/answers and to be honest I don’t have enough time in my lifetime to explain each one, so I asked all of you, my friends on FB, those who have known me for most of my life and those who I’ve known for only a few years.
“Are you part of the United States?”
“The summers here in Alaska are perfect even though the sky is bright into the night. Fishing, camping, mudding and hunting is GREAT! Traveling in Alaska may take hours but the drive is so beautiful, it doesn’t matter.Winters are fun for some and not so much for the ones who don’t like the cold but you cannot deny that the snow doesn’t make everything look amazing. There is ice fishing, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowboarding, skiing and snow machining! Yes, we here in Alaska call it snow machining! So, if you want to “fit in” and not look like a tourist, remember to call it that.
“I went to visit family in Louisiana back in the summer of 2005. I was 15 and a girl who was 18 asked me if we had houses, roads, and cars but the winner of questions was when she asked me if we had cats in Alaska. I was sitting there surrounded by about 7 other teens who were just waiting for an answer”
-Danielle Darlyn Rheault
“Is it like….night time all the time there?”
“When I moved to FL someone asked me if we had different money in Alaska? I assume she was thinking about Canada, but still…..lol”
“Also the thing I miss most about Alaska is the down to earth attitude from people and people always willing to help you on the road. It just doesn’t happen here. People aren’t into the latest fashion trends or superficial shit like they are in the lower 48 for some reason, we’re truly our own little world”
“My tire blew out on a main road when I was (obviously) pregnant, it took 5 minutes for someone to pull over and help me, and the guy told me that I was lucky because “people around here don’t stop to help”. He wasn’t trying to be a dick about it, as he was happy to help me and tried to refuse my 10$ I gave him for stopping. When I got back to work (I was a delivery driver at the time) ALL my co workers were like “Oh wow, you’re lucky someone stopped!”
“My most memorable Alaska ditch moment was hitting a patch of black ice coming off the muldoon exit and the truck behind me immediately stopped, pulled me out, AND followed me to eagle river walmart, one of the girls even rode with me to make sure i got there safely!”
“Do you ever see penguins?”
“People would leave their cars unlocked in the Bush in case the car needed to be moved to make room for the snowplows and graters. People in the Lower 48 looked at me like I had three heads when I told them I wasn’t used to locking my car.”
“Is there anything to do in Alaska?”
Nope not at all so you probably should just stay exactly where you’re at. Ok I’m kidding. There’s loads to do here but honestly 80% of it is outdoor stuff, so if that’s your thing, you’d be in heaven. I’m not even too outdoorsy but I can appreciate it enough to just enjoy being out side, even if it is mowing the lawn three times a day, or picking up sticks in the yard, or finding simple little things to do just to keep me outside. My friend Stephen Griffin use to say “sleeping in during the summer is a waste of a day” and I still believe that to this day. I still think that Alaska is one of the last places where imagination actually still comes into play when entertaining yourself. Yeah we have clubs, bars, theaters, malls, blah blah it’s all there with a small town feel that even makes THOSE different.
It’s really annoying when people don’t even have the slightest knowledge on Alaska. I mean the first few you run into are fine but eventually, it gets old. I remember in the first grade, we had to memorize all the states, write them in on a blank map, as well as the province codes (AK,AR,MN,FL, etc.). “Is Alaska part of the US?” yes, yes we are. There are 50 stars on that flag and who exactly do you think number 49 and 50 are? So if you ever hear the term AK49, now you know, Alaska, the 49th state mtherfcker represent whaaat.
When did we become a state? We became a state on Jan. 3rd, 1959. We have a population of 736,732 as of 2014. Our state bird is the Willow Ptarmigan and we are known as “the last frontier” and YES, we are the biggest state. Sorry Texas, you just don’t cut it. You’re cute being in second place and what not, but no….sit down….all the way down…yay good girl you did it! Now stay.
“Do you have electricity in Alaska?”
“I visited New York for a few weeks. It was terrible and everyone was out for themselves it seemed. I instantly missed the community we have. As soon as someone found out I was from Alaska they seemed to feel sorry for me, as if I had a tough life in such a rough place. But honestly I’m glad Alaska isn’t easy to live in. If i wanted to live in an easy mindless place, then I suppose I’d choose anywhere in the lower 48”
“Alaska is just a frozen wasteland”
That was actually said by some kid on the internet while I was playing World Of Warcraft. I made him feel real stupid shortly after, it was refreshing. It’s amazing the image folks have about our state, probably from all the stupid ass shows that have come out over the last ten or fifteen years. I use to want us noticed and on the map but now that I think of it, I prefer to be in the shadows of mystery. Hell I prefer people to still think we are located in the Gulf of Mexico. However google is an amazing tool, I mean we just got it a year ago here in Alaska and we’ve learned so much about flux capacitors and instant messaging and moving pictures, you should try to look up Alaska sometime! I promise we aren’t all like this. I’m just the voice that speaks what everyone probably thinks. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it.
“I really want to pet a bear”
“Do you guys have cars to get around?”
“Is it ever green in Alaska?”
I suppose our “small town feel” is much like any other small town community, only ours feels state wide. I love the fact that you can be anywhere in the world and as soon as you run into another “Alaskan” you instantly form a bond. Kind of like a friendly neighbor vibe type thing.
As kids, we are taught that playing in subzero temps is okay and perfectly safe, snow days and school being cancelled rarely ever happens (three in my entire school career from kindergarten to my senior year). One of the best looks on an outsider’s face is after I’ve told them we don’t shut down for snow storms. In fact I don’t think I ever had a “snow day” due to actual snow because usually it’s when we get loads of freezing rain and everything turns into an ice rink. They would only keep us kids inside for recess if it was -30 or worse (now days its probably -20). We would bundle up and go have fun outside. Believe it or not, when you are cold, its best to actually move because movement creates heat and heat creates smiles and happy faces yay!! But when you don’t move, and you lock up, you will die. When you die while locked up, you’re found in the same way, frozen, pitiful and blue.
Most of us are educated with fire arms at a young age, hell my Uncle Steve bought me a .22 rifle at the age of five.
We use our imagination outside….a lot. Pretty sure as a kid, we taught ourselves a primitive version of shelter building and surviving in the wild. Not even kidding when I say I could construct you a nice little post zombie shanty that could sustain through winter. Try me.
“It’s just cold all the time there..”
“Where else but Alaska do you find this kind of beauty and make such wonderful memories with your children?”
“You’re bragging about Alaska all the time, chill out”
“I’ve never been to Alaska, but it’s not my cup of tea”
Toooootally fine and we understand and I promise you we will forget you even said that in like…. wait…what did you say? I forgot. I do encourage all to visit Alaska though. Really….I do. But you have to have an honest curiosity. If you don’t, and you expect it to be like where you live, then you’ll be let down. Then, like a disappointed customer, you’ll spread the negative review to an average 15-20 people. We already get a bad rep from stupid inaccurate t.v. shows and loud mouth politicians…. and people who can’t Google. It does get annoying when they have an idea of how life looks like in a third world country and compare this idea to what it might be like in Alaska, only with snow.
Oh look, it’s groundhog day, looks like we have six weeks of winter left. Well…No shit.
Sorry I was distracted.
“How do you stay warm inside?”
We use ancient alien technology from the planet Argus that harnesses the power of the sun and stores it in our own fusion cells which we then use to channel through flux capacitor copper lines known as “baseboard heating”. Some people are fancy and can afford to upgrade to a forced air type heat, which feeds off the same system. Crazy huh?
Yeah this blog is all over the place but that’s how I want it.
“Alaska > everywhere else because I have too much debt to move lol”
I’ll leave the rest of this rant open ended for those who message me their stories and annoyances, so I can add it as I go and it can be forever logged in the never ending, living, breathing, void of the internet.
And FYI, there are no freaking penguins in Alaska.
I have been summoned for a set of band pictures.
Conceived deep within the the flesh halls of hell, followed by a macabre of grotesque murders and sacrifices. I hope to bring you the black metal image of Carneum.
I have begun my study on black metal band photography.
Coming soon, June 2016
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….
Ive 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! 😀 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
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 up 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 wrong, 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 primitive reception, crappy internet, and failed texts, it can get frustrating. The common tools we take for granted are never one hundred percent optimal.
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.
She’s our home. Our roots. Our foundation.
You’ll have to excuse me for my writing skills, for they are quite unsuitable for nothing more than the blog of a C student.
To most, Alaska is unknown and hardly looked at as a place one would want to live. Most people I’ve run into that have never been to Alaska think it’s located in the Gulf of Mexico (I’m kidding). But what makes those who have lived here for some time so unique? What are the first few words that come to mind when you think of yourself as ‘Alaskan’?
The first few words that come to my mind is “tough as nails”. Because in all reality, we truly are. We are a special kind of breed that separates us from the norm. Anyone who has an Alaskan friend would easily say they were “different”. We are different. We are taught to adapt, evolve, and overcome most situations in our every day Alaskan life. You have to, or you wont make it. I’ve traveled to many places and have experienced complete polar opposites of Alaska. 98% of everyone I have met outside of Alaska usually is fascinated with where I am from. This fascination usually comes after a shocked, slightly nauseated, yet curious look on their face. Yes I am from Alaska, the 49th (out of 50…Hey some folks don’t know that!) and largest state in the United States of America. With a population of 736,732, Alaska is 663,300 square miles of complete awesomeness.
Every Alaska can agree that we are bombarded with the same kind of questions every time we meet a new person in the lower 48. Some of the usual questions are; “is it always cold there?”, “have you seen a penguin?”, “is it night time all the time?”, “do you live in an igloo?”, “do you have power?”, “do you have internet?”, “do you use cars?”. The list can go on and some of those aren’t even the bad ones. Most of us have gotten use to the onslaught of bad questions and we normally are happy to answer each one with smiles and laughter.
Now most people would think that due to our smaller towns and cities, we are quite a small world. But from all my travels and cities I’ve been to, it really seems the opposite. Being Alaskan, we have to travel what city folk would call “a long way” to get to places. I live in Wasilla. Which means If I wanted to go to the mall, it would be a good 45 minute to an hour drive. We do it so often and so many things are 1-3 hours away that it becomes normal for us. A simple three or four hour drive is nothing. Hell you can drive for seven to fourteen hours straight and still be in Alaska. A small world I think not.
A city, to me, is a small world. Uncomfortably small. Everything you need is within five to ten minutes away, which to me, makes your bubble even smaller. Granted this has its perks and by no means am I bashing these perks. But I do believe things like that diminish our natural human need to explore and expand. Your whole world is packed for you in twenty blocks of concrete buildings, quarter acre lawns, billboards and traffic. It’s definitely a different kind of world. Exciting, but different.
So how would an Alaskan handle being away from the mother land? How do you transition from fresh air to just….air? Or mild traffic to…fast pace chaos. How do you go from mamma moose and her twin calves or mamma bear and her twin cubs to alley cats and and the occasional suburban dog? If any of my friends who have managed to stay out of Alaska for over a year, please comment with answers. I’m not oppose to moving out of Alaska, for I love exploring and risk taking. But I was born here and I’ll die here.
What would you miss the most?
I’d miss everything. I’d miss those winters of going snowboarding in untouched snow. That soreness you get from a full blue bird day of shredding down the side of an Alaskan mountain. I’d miss spending a good afternoon mowing the grass and weed whacking, then having a beer shortly after and admiring your fresh groomed lawn. I’d miss local mom and pop restaurants and businesses. I’d miss the community that we have which is full of kindness (for the most part) as well as that unique Alaskan, independent mentality that we all have. I’d miss the natural season change indicators. The termination dust on the mountain, which means winter is coming. The rotting leaves dog shit smell in the April, which means spring is here. The fireweed as it begins its journey from green, to purple bloom, to the funky cotton stage, and then finally orange and red. That crisp smell in the air just before and after a fresh snow fall. I’d miss the “do it yourself” attitude because in Alaska, sometimes there isn’t a business you can just call to fix a certain thing. You have to just do it. I love that.
Could I live anywhere else?
Why not? Adapt, evolve, and overcome…right? Seems like everywhere could use a little dash of Alaskan. In a few years who knows what the world will offer me and my soon to be bride. I just hope, where ever we live for a bit, they have good salmon….and real crab. They gotta have real crab…
Adapt. Evolve. Overcome.
I was born in Alaska. I will die in Alaska.