Fun fact about me … I spent 20 years in the travel industry. I’ve discovered that my writing style has evolved over the years, sometimes blending industry jargon into my everyday self-talk.
I would generally write for the reading audience, with a portion of it as self-expression and recognition. Nowadays I simply write, and post.
The following is a throwback to the year 1998. The title is an expansion of an airline ticketing acronym: ARNK. It means “Arrival Unknown”, and it’s created when you fly into one city, yet fly out of a different city. The airline documents that segment as arrival unknown because they don’t how you’re traveling to that different city but somehow you are.
I hope you enjoy some insight into my earlier days of writing.
May 15th 1998
The incessant beeping of my alarm was enough for me to throw it in a dark corner of my room, never to be heard from again. And, no, I don’t believe in the “snooze” button routine. I dragged myself out of bed and went about my morning ritual. You know how it is- shower, coffee, etc. Basically, grasping the concept of consciousness.
Before I knew it I was on my way to work. Becky, my usual carpool person, was unusually chatty today. That was a good thing. My mind so preoccupied so much so that I wouldn’t have made a great conversation. Thankfully she picked this up and continued to talk, accidentally or otherwise.
What was my mind so indulged in? Conquering Mt. St. Helens, among the other mysteries of the universe. All I want to do is stand high on that overgrown dirt pile. But work had to come first. Ironically, one seems to have to suffer before reaching enlightenment. Or as Steve Miller would put it… “you must go through hell before you go to heaven.”
Man, if it wasn’t one thing, it was another. Its times like these I need a beer. As quickly as it began, my workday along with the workweek came to a close sharply at 4 PM on Friday. Yahoo!
I jetted home, gathered my belongings, and took off. With enough food, and tunes I left the Seattle area with a vengeance! I started running down the road in my dad’s Rolling Metal Deathbox – a customized Ford F250. Little does anyone realize why it’s dubbed that name. Not for the occupants mind you. Oh no! Woe to the poor fools that gets in way and is flattened by sheer physics.
As the truck eased into freeway traffic, the roar of its powerful V-8 engine drowns out all of the warnings I received during the week. “Three hours of driving alone is boring!” and “You might fall asleep without company.” And my personal favorite was “Carpooling is always better.” Really? I don’t know about you, but with food, tunes, and with my own thinking the only thing to hear, you can call me Mr. Fat, Dumb, and Happy. I put this rig on cruise control and enjoyed one thing- a little slice of heaven.
Using maps, headlights, and a little common sense, I finally made it to Climber’s Bivouac late at night.
May 16th 1998
My tent was already set up by the graciousness of my unofficial leader, Kevin O’Bryen and his royal attendants. Thank god. Trying to put up a tent in the dark is… well same as trying to dress your significant other in baby clothes. It just doesn’t work and not a lot of fun. Too bad I didn’t sleep. The tent was set up on the snow, which consequently was the same as sleeping on a pile of rocks. Not very forgiving to the human back. No worries, though. Sleep deprivation does wonderful things. But that’s another story for another day.
Thankfully, we had an early start. The sleep-eyed crew assembled before the man, Kevin.
And, of course, yours truly.
By 8am, our eager but inexperienced group set off to summit Mt. St. Helen’s on its anniversary date of explosion. Coincidence? Or irony? I’ll let you decide. I settled into “hike mode” and we were off. The usual trail chatter filled my ears and the trail grew shorter with every step.
I soon discovered there are two parts to this trail. The forest, and beyond.
I didn’t realize “beyond” included a region hikers call “above tree line”. “Above tree line” is a universal term to describe the area on the mountain in which little to no foliage grew, and of course, the boundary in which trees stop growing. Basically it was you, the mountain, and atmosphere.
Late into the trip, unfortunately, two from our party had to turn back. The rest of us trudged on. At this point my leg muscles were so cramped and knotted up I thought someone stabbed me with a letter opener in my thighs and left it there! I was invited to turn back with the other two. NO WAY!
Let me just say, that quitting, stopping, etc are words that do not occur in my dictionary of life often. I was determined. The rest of the group would have to pull my dead body off the top. Period. So I struggled on through HORIZONTAL snowing and gale force winds. My cement galoshes on my feet barely kept my locomotion going.
We reached a point about five hours into the hike called Monitor Ridge. The elevation at this place was 6500 feet. Not bad. But still not at the top which is 8300 feet. The weather was deteriorating fast, and I felt morale slipping a little. We collectively decided to return. Better safe than sorry. I like to think of it as accepting the better part of valor.
So I learned a new technique of traversing a mountain. Glissading- is the art of sitting on your rump or in my case my brain, and sliding down the mountain on the snow. Too cool.
We returned to base camp in no time. Wow. We were fast hikers as a whole, but up and down the mountain. At any rate, the consensus was to salvage the weekend at the campsite. Then it started to pour down rain. I thought to myself, “Is this an omen? Or just a huge hint to go home?” I left after cleaning up my mess.
To cap off the weekend, we decided to meet at Jack’s restaurant for a farewell-have-a-nice-weekend dinner. We parted our separate ways and I headed back to where at least I knew where I was going. Truly, an incredible trip. And as they say “Getting there is half the fun.”
My guess is the other half is surviving. You decide.
Travel Agent Extraordinaire