Central, AK Part 1

June 7th, 2008

Sunset in Central

We got off of the Pinnell Trail a day before the Tyrrells were due back from Fairbanks, so we went to the Central Bar. Naturally :). We only intended to have a couple of drinks, but as Rick would later warn us: you always just stop into the bar “for a couple”, and always come out wasted hours later. It was a fun time though: we met some of the local color, talked to some interesting visitors (I had SUCH a good time Dan... with his bike, covered in bugs.grilling a beekeeper about his fascinating trade) and ended up buying round after round until the bar closed. At the end of the night we were hanging out with a real weirdo named Dan, and headed out to a place to camp and drink more with him after the bar closed. We ended up staying wake until long after the sun rose (which isn’t that bad when you considering it rises at 2AM) talking with this guy and drinking his booze (which he had planned to take up to Circle to sell, even though Circle in not a dry village so there’s no money in it). He had some priceless gems of wisdom, and refused to swat the mosquitoes that landed on him until it became so ridiculous and hilarious that we had to get some pictures. As fun as it was, we were glad to see he was gone when we woke up. We then whiled away the day until the Tyrrells got back.

I met Luke five years ago as a freshman in Montana, and have come to know him as the quintessential Alaskan; he grew up flying bush planes, hunting bears and living in a house with no running water. So I was really excited to finally see this strange place he was from. It was everything I expected, just not quite how I expected it. The house is nestled in thick trees, the planes parked away at the airstrip out of view, the house was much nicer than imagined, and I was surprised by the constant sound of heavy machinery running from the nearby mine. I think I expected a one room cabin in the tundra, and this it was not. The pile of antlers out front was just as big as I had imagined though, and the requisite jet boat, machine shop and three-wheelers were just as I pictured. I guess the only real surprise was that they have neighbors - right next door. Not many neighbors, but their house wasn’t out in the boondocks, mile away from the nearest neighbor. If you can drive to a house in Alaska though, it’s not out in the boondocks because there aren’t that many roads, which clusters the small bastions of civilization close together. The Tyrrell’s do have trapping cabins way out in the wilderness and they go hunting far north just below the Brooks range; but home base is connected to the road system. It’s a long road from Fairbanks, which until recently closed all the winter and it still completely without law enforcement… but it’s on the “road” nonetheless. That night I met Luke’s Mom, Laurel, his Dad, Rick, his brother Weslley, and one of their childhood friends, Taj (who had been off hunting and flying in Africa for two years). We got to know each other a bit, talked a lot, packed up for the river trip, and had some of Laurel’s amazing pizza for dinner. The next morning we were bound for our week long float of Birch Creek…

Sunrise in Central... an hour after sunset

(I lost the pictures I had of the Tyrrell’s place, and their sweet bush planes as well. The only pictures I lost from the whole trip. This means I only lost about 10 of the hundreds of pictures I took in Alaska… but it still sucks. So that’s why there are few pictures in this post. Maybe it’s good… to protect the secret mystique of Central…)

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