My friend Amy and I went to Alaska in the summer of 1992. Mainly to make money in the fishing industry and partly for the adventure. At the end of summer I looked in my wallet and found a good bit of adventure and not so much money. Looking back, the stories are worth more than gold. Well, worth no more than $5000 in gold. If you want to buy my stories from Alaska from me for $5001, let me know.

This tale is about hitchhiking.

First off, hitchhiking in Alaska is very easy. Stick your thumb out and wait. Someone will pick you up. Then all you have to do is sit in the car and answer the driver's questions. It's shortening the wait time for the car/truck/helicopter that is the hard part. It helps if Amy is with you. If you are an Amy, I suggest taking a Doug. I can't suggest that hitchhiking as a lone female is smart, but it seemed that there were several women doing it while I was up there. Take mace. Or if you are really adventurous, condoms.

Amy and I had hitchhiked on several occasions. We were camped at Ward's Pond about five miles west of Ketchikan and that was a long ass hike into town. While hitching into town one day, we accidentally got picked up. We had walked about 1/2 mile from camp before someone drove by and, coincidentally, we were walking past a broken down car at the time. The woman who picked us up drove us about half a mile before asking what was wrong with our car. The next four miles were spent going back and forth, trying to figure out who was the crazy one in the car:

Woman - "So, your car broke down?"
Us - "Um, no."
"Oh, did you run out of gas?"
"Then what is wrong with your car?"
"We don't have a car. That's why we are hitchhiking."
"I saw you standing by your car by the side of the road!"
"We don't have a car!"
“So, are you tourists or you here for the salmon?”

One night, Amy and I went out drinking in town. It was easy to find a bar in Ketchikan. There were 52 of them. I think there were three bars for every actual resident. So we got drunk. It was easy to get drunk in Ketchikan. I suggest taking an Amy with you when drinking. Other guys tend to buy you drinks when you have a woman with you. I’m sure they think if they can get you drunk, you’ll pass out or forget you have a woman with you and then they can move in for the steal. That night, neither one of us were stolen. We left the bar and started walking, mostly, in the general direction of the camp. We thought we’d be able to hitch a ride before we got out of town, but we made it all the way though and no one stopped for us. We were a little worried as it was dark and 3:00am and dark and shit, we were in Alaska.

About ¼ mile outside of town, a suburban pulled over. We got in. I think Amy sat in the middle. The guy was a little drunk. We told him which wilderness area of Ward’s Pond we were camped in and he said he knew it well. The hard part of hitchhiking was over with.

Drunk driver guy then started telling us that he held a world record. He hauled the most tonnage of timber with a helicopter in one day. We were really impressed. He then started ranting about how hitchhikers sometimes try to attack the driver. We were really silent. He then patted the seat suggesting something underneath and said, "But I’ve got protection so no one’s going to mess with me and get away with it." We were really scared shitless. Luckily, we were close to the area where we were camped. In a moment of sheer brilliance or panic, I told him to drop us off in an area where our campsite wasn’t. As he stopped he said, “This isn’t the place you told me about. You better not try anything." Now I remember. I was in the middle. I was in the middle because I about scrambled over Amy as this guy was reaching under his seat. We both scurried off into the bushes behind the truck and hid behind a tree. (Side note: these pines were big and two adults could hide behind them.) He yelled something audible but incoherent out of his truck. We waited until he drove off. I would have peed my pants but I was able to unzip and release. Wow.

We walked about 100 yards to our campsite and climbed in the tent. We laid there and waited for him to come back. About 15 minutes later a truck drove by our campsite real slow. Luckily there were other campers around so we could be singled out. He drove on and circled one more time. We dared not look out the tent. Somehow nylon and a zipper seemed the best protection. He drove off for good.

I’m sure I could look up who the record holder for the most tonnage of lumber to be carried in one day by helicopter was in 1992…

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