28-Jan-2006 -- 'Fun Number One'- (n.) A source of enjoyment, amusement, or pleasure both as the event is happening and in retrospect.
'Fun Number Two'- (n.) A source of enjoyment, amusement, or pleasure only in retrospect.
On the morning our team decided to visit the nearest confluence to Bethel, the rural Alaskan town that we call home, the temperature was an inauspicious 28 degrees below zero. Counting the wind-chill that is created when traveling at 30 miles an hour on a snowmachine, the temperature was hovering somewhere in the negative sixties. But, despite the cold, it was a sunny, beautiful day, so we went for it hoping for a day of Fun #1.
To start the day off, before we left town, Tom's snowmachine collided into Genevieve's, resulting in a chunk of Tom's undercarriage breaking off. And Dawson had a stomachache. These two events raised the nasty specter of Fun #2.
We weren't sure we'd make it when five minutes out of town, Tom's snowmachine (with its mind of its own) got embedded in the only steep snow bank within 100 miles.
Our Fun #2 concerns were confirmed when we hit the trail sweating after digging out the Indy Lite. We use the terms "trail" and "Lite" quite lightly. All three members of our team are rookies to rural Alaska, and we made the Big Mistake of heading towards the confluence after it had been windy, snow-less, and damn cold for weeks. What formerly were fluffy berms of snow had cemented into rock-hard piles of ice. So it was rocky and slow going to the confluence, resulting in sore backs and legs and the occasionally ejected snowmachine rider. But we made it intact, celebrated with a small black Russian, and headed back to Bethel as quickly as we could.
We're glad we did it, but it's no longer a mystery why there are so many available confluences in the area. It's flat, freezing, and while the scenery changes from frozen lakes to frozen tundra, there's nothing to look at.
Alternate (sarcasm laden) ending:
We're glad we did it. The view from the confluence was absolutely spectacular and well worth the tough trek to get there. The scenery is really something, and from the confluence you can see a unique vista unlike any other for miles around. If you are thinking about visiting this confluence, by all means do whatever it takes to get here. You won't regret it. We can't wait to return on foot through the swamps this summer.