Slack tide: Hardcore Alaska Soft

Turn off your Hero Go Pro for a second and pull up a Cabela’s Deluxe Rustic Retreat Reclining Chair in Mossy Oak Breakup. I live in Alaska. I kick butt and I take names, although you’ll probably need to repeat yours a few times — it’s kind of hard to hear over this in-helmet audio system.


To put it another way: I shred more gnar during a pee break than you’ll rip in an entire lifetime. All day — and any night I don’t fall asleep putting my kids to bed — I’m a freakin’ latte-sipping, camouflage jammies-wearing, fleece-blanketed couch enthusiast.

That’s right: I’m hardcore Alaska soft. And when I really get into it, man, look out: I’ll wear my butt groove a new butt groove.

Yeah, bra, I hit it 24/7/363 (I take off for Seward and Alaska Day, both).

Feast your polarized polycarbonate anti-fog lenses on my gear: Merino wool, Gore-Tex, neoprene, Capilene and recycled polyester in 18.5 micron-gauge yarn, windproof, waterproof and stain resistant (yet soft and satiny against my, er, let’s call it my “South Central”). It took me all fall and winter to outfit using a complex combination of Sierra Trading Company,, two local outdoor shops, Craigslist, eBay, ski swap, the pawn shop and my down-the-street neighbor’s “free” pile. Waste of time? Hardly. With all the sticky situations I get into, the right gear makes all the difference. Especially when cheese sauce is involved.

My base-layer wicks moisture so effectively, I risk dehydration whenever I put on underwear. That’s why I drink so much. And often go commando.

Hang on, super late-season snow’s starting to fall. Even though I’ve already shifted gears for spring and broken out the mountain bike — it was blocking the camping chairs — looks like the Ghost of Uncle Ted’s earmarked one more powder day for us. Man, I live for powder days, you know, those crisp, cold mornings right after a fresh snowfall, when I whip up a monster batch of pancakes heaped with confectioners sugar. White room, man, white room.

I can’t wait to get horizontal. In fact, I may have to bivvy right here in the living room.

Yesterday, some cheechako comes up to me, talking out of his “Lower 48,” if you know what I mean, all about some major trek he’s going on across the Icefield. Serious herring egg on his face two hours later when the weather comes in and his trip gets scrapped. He’s all slumped over, crying into his stainless steel 24-oz. Nalgene with medical-grade silicone bite valve, “What am I going to do all weekend?”

“Buck up, little camper,” I tell him, wondering if he’ll get the reference. “When the going gets tough, the tough eat Nutella straight from the jar.” Then we went back to my place for Scrabble and nachos.

I watch “Deadliest Catch” and play “Deadliest Catch: Alaskan Storm” for Xbox at the same time, picture-in-picture (while also simultaneously rocking “Deadliest Catch: Sea of Chaos” on my PSP).

You know, it’s hard work to take it this easy. For instance, when the ski hill opens, I pull dawn patrol, just so I can pick the perfect line — generally the one for soup and chili is the shortest, especially if you catch the fry guy before the first batch comes up; sandwich cooler’s a good bet, too.

When I walk into a bakery, sourdough starter stops. Bears wear bells to scare ME off, although those don’t really work. Neither do me-proof trashcans. If I want to eat your garbage, I’m going to eat your garbage, simple as that. And don’t approach me, either. I might get aggressive.

907 is the PIN for all my accounts, or at least it would be, if PINs didn’t have a five-character minimum, so I usually go with my fall-back, “spawntilyoudie49.”

I’ve painstakingly condensed my personal, philosophical and political thoughts into a series of bumper stickers and window decals; I put Ranch on everything, even Cool Ranch Doritos. And on Thanksgiving, I stuff a de-boned duck inside a de-boned turkey, only inside the duck, instead of de-boned chicken, I stuff a giant hunk of halibut—I call it “Turduckibut.”


When summertime comes, I go midnight sunbathing. That’s the only time my skin can handle it. I also like to hike, for hours and hours and hours at a time.

Wait? Did I say “hike”? I meant “Skype.” When summertime comes, I like to Skype for hours on end, flash my web-cam out the window so my friends and family can see what a beautiful day I’m wasting inside on frivolous videoconferences.

I own the complete “Northern Exposure” on DVD.

Of course, even someone as hardcore Alaska soft as me can’t screen the call of the wild forever. On those sunny, windless, crystalline days, I’ll take my kayak, which I strapped to my roof on a similar day the previous summer and still haven’t removed, and head out-the-road. Of course, I won’t make it. That place by the harbor has onion rings. And milk shakes.

I listen to Jewel, constantly. Snus is for wusses — I dip smoked salmon. That glass bottle I’m always carrying with me? That’s not pink lemonade sloshing around in there.

After a hard day poring over topo-maps, studying tides, checking fluids, organizing that giant mess of straps, ropes and bungees in my garage and trying to remember how many days it’s been since I last left my house, I love nothing more than to unwind with some Alaska-based reality TV. I’ve seen every episode of every series ever made, from “Ice Road Truckers” to “Ice Pilots;” “Ax Men” to “Alaska Wing Men;” “Buying Alaska” to “Flying Wild Alaska” to “Gold Rush Alaska” (as opposed to “Bering Sea Gold,” which any connoisseur can tell you is totally different); plus, of course, “Alaska State Troopers” and “Coast Guard Alaska,” on the Weather Channel.

Speaking of which, I absolutely love the Weather Channel’s other show, “Alaska Forecast.” Man, I can watch that show forever. I just wish the special effects weren’t so budget.

• Slack Tide runs every other Sunday in Neighbors. Read more at


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