Big Rock Candy Mountain

That’s how I feel right now. Like big rock candy mountain. Does life get any better than this? Things were rough for a few minutes after I bought my van- I’m no mechanic, so I couldn’t really tell if I’d gotten a good deal or a bad one, but almost as soon as I drove away from the guy’s house who I’d bought it from I started to notice little things- strange noises under the hood, clankings, problems shifting, jerking transmission… fuck. But I got the oil changed and put some gas in it and drove north to Fairbanks- where the alternator belts froze up, the whole thing screamed, and blue smoke poured our from under the hood. Shit. I thought I was pretty much totally fucked. My friend Debbie helped me get it towed, and my other friend Jim let me park it at his shop where he fixes heavy equipment on the weekends. He said he’d take a look at it when he was in town, maybe he could help me fix it. He got in on Saturday and I was at a job interview outside of town, helping a psychologist make a healing rock labyrinth in his backyard, for his depression. I rode my borrowed bike back into town as fast as I could, and found Jim in his shop. Did you get a chance to look at the alternator?

He had not only taken the alternator out, he’d traded it in for a rebuilt one and bought all the new parts I would need. All I had to do was put the new alternator in and change one of the wheel thingies, which he showed me how to do and then handed me all the tools. It kind of killed me. I mean, how can some people be so nice? Would I be this nice, if I was a mechanic?

Jim told me that to pay him back I can help him out in his shop this week, and I was like, yeah, ok, but I know shit about mechanics unless I’m, like, fixing my bike, and only if it’s not a problem with the derailleur. But he just kind of nodded, like, whatever, it’s Alaska, everyone knows how to do everything, everyone knows that, and so I was like- cool! That sounds great! And so now i have a job.

WORKING ON THIS.

cat 003

Which makes me feel very, very, very butch. I wear a coverall and get black grease all over my hands and bang up my knuckles and have to wash my hands with that special mechanic soap that has little plastic granules in it that wash straight into the ocean.

My life is AWESOME!

13 thoughts on “Big Rock Candy Mountain

  1. Yes, that *is* awesome. I am so jealous! The closest I’ve come to working on one of those is fixing my son’s Tonka toys. šŸ™‚ Have fun!

  2. I’m curious….. how easy/hard would it be to visit anchorage, fairbanks or one of the smaller communities and get a temp job ? Something just to help extend an alaska visit. Are visitors that look for temp jobs a welcome thing up there ? Your stories of interesting people and places makes me want to see it for myself. Any suggestions on how to go about getting a feel of typical life up there ? Thanks for any input.

  3. it feels so good to wear butch clothes and use tools! i feel you. it makes me want to fix bikes and cars, and learn how to drive every frickin vehicle that I always looked down on. like that huge cat you are working on right now, and haymakers! of course i have yet to change the oil on my own car…but one day we’ll all be grease monkeys.

  4. dorkygirl- don’t be jels! It’s only fun because it’s not really my job. Imagine it- a lifetime of breathing solvents and touching corrosive fluids and cold metal! Mechanics- I do not envy them!

    Cole- hurrah!

    Bobbi- my life is always more or less good, even when it’s bad. I’m more drams on my blog than I ever am in real life, trust me!

    Hartage- that is an excellent question, stranger. And Alaska is MADE of seasonal jobs. The population def. grows in the summertime, and there’s tons of tourist stuff that isn’t around in the winter, and they NEED (read: are desperate for) employees. Here’s what you do: first, decide which bioregion you’ll want to visit. You’ll fly into Anchorage or Fairbanks, and from there you can go to the Interior, which is sort of boggy and sunny and warm (in the winter) and northerly and pretty flat with these big rivers, or South-Central which has mountains/obscene amounts of flowers/jumping whales etc, but is a little cooler in the summers- sixties, and it rains sometimes. And then there’s Southeast, which is rainforest and giant trees and fishing villages. Rain, all summer long! And then there’s the arctic and western alaska and the Aleutian chain but there’s no roads in those places, so it’s hard to get there- you have to take a bush plane, which is expensive. NEXT, STRANGER, what you’re going to do is google “alaska job bank” and ignore the bs that says you need to make an account and just click on “find a job” or whatever, and then you can browse in all sorts of ways, and if you find a job you like, you can usually google key terms to find the company because it won’t tell you unless you have this account thing, which is confusing and takes forever to make. ALSO, go to alaska/anchorage craigslist and browse the heck out of the “jobs” section. BEWARE places in the middle of nowhere run by crazies- google the place and see if there’s info by old employees on the web- there is sometimes, and you can sniff these places out. Some red flags- low wages (aka minimum wage, it’s not hard to find a better wage than this for service-industry type jobs in AK, and there is something wrong with people who pay minimum wage because it costs like a million dollars to live up here) jobs that say you’ll work “six days a week, ten hours a day, for MINIMUM WAGE, but it’s all ok because you can have a great Alaskan adventure!” fuck those people! Bottom line- Alaska is amazing and if you just come up here and hitch-hike around (lots of people do it, there’s not really any other way to get around) and if you’re good and honest and like working (within reason) someone will adopt you and find you a job and take care of you and then hand you off to someone else when you want to go to another town. It’s an adventure! Whew.

    Skillet- I totes don’t know how to change the oil in my (new) van!

  5. Carrot, wow, thanks for all the info. Since you said hitchhiking is likely the only way to get around I take it that it isn’t illegal there ? Never gone hitchhiking before so I bet I’d get a ticket quick if it is. If you know of or hear about any smaller communities that I should look into that would be awesome. I don’t know much about the different bio regions so which one would be a good place to start? About your van….. I have access to alldata. It’s a database that mechanics use for info on cars, kinda like a super huge service manual for just about everything (1982 or newer). If your van has issues and you want to know about it I can fax or snail mail you a printout on how to do it. A friend owns a shop and that’s how his mechanics get step by step instructions and info. I’d just need the year make and model of your van with the issue your trying to fix. Alldata also has info on service advisories, recalls and technical bulletins on cars. Let me know if you could use printouts from alldata.

    In your other blog entry “Mr. Mcdickwad” had me floored. It’s sad when it’s considered an insult to be associated with a company (McDonalds). Keep up the good work, your zingers are gems !

  6. Hartage- you don’t get tickets for hitch-hiking. I’ve hitch-hiked 15 thousand miles in my day (literally) and I’ve never gotten a ticket. It’s illegal to hitch-hike on interstates (the cops will sometimes ask you to leave, but they usually give you like an hour to get a ride first). There are no interstates in Alaska.

    What do you like to do? What kind of job are you looking for? How long do you want to stay? How much money do you need to make?

  7. Good to know about usually not getting tickets for hitchhiking. What do I like to do… I’m game for most things. I like working with people/kids so front desk, customer service etc would work. I’m pretty good with mechanics cars mostly but can learn other things quick. By profession I’m in IT, networking and computer support so that would work too. Just about anything that would not be hard on my back (car accident) would be workable. How long do I want to stay… I’m thinking a couple of months but one month at the very least. How much money I need to make would depend on my living situation up in AK. If I can find a couch to surf on then next to zero. If I need to get an apt or hostel or something then more. I’m open to just using my tent but I love showers and hate being eaten by bears. If you can’t tell yet I’m kinda new to the whole hitchhiking/living somewhere new thing. I’ve always wanted to visit alaska but when you started blogging about it…… I now want to visit it sooner rather than later. I’m thinking this summer is shot no time for preparations. If I’m not mistaken winters are harsh in AK so I’m thinking next spring or summer to visit. I have no relatives or friends in AK or I’d just crash with them. I guess my circle of friends are not quite so adventurous. I’ll be getting a small settlement for the car accident I was in so money isn’t a huge issue. But still though, if I can find a job to offset costs while I’m there so much the better ! Your stories of the community, the land, the pictures are just so amazing. Seems alaska still has that small town community cohesiveness that is largely lost in the lower 48’s. Can’t wait for your next stories about life in the vast north !

  8. in your descriptive commentary about various regions of alaska, i have been left totally convinced that the next time i pick 1 specific place to go exploring, it’s going to be ALASKA. yesss. say it with me: “Alaska!” *basks in the noun*

  9. Hartage- you don’t need to have friends in Alaska. And it sounds like you have plenty of time to do your research and find a place to work- especially if you start looking now! Lots of places will house you, places are used to seasonal workers because lots of places are only open in the summer. Get a bunch of books on Alaska and get yourself pumped, and good luck with your search!

  10. Thanks for all the info Carrot. Sometime next year I’ll be hitchhiking around AK ! Maybe I’ll come back to the lower 48’s wearing plaid flannel shirts ! Maybe I’ll come back a little more centered a little more grounded. Maybe I’ll just stay in AK and not come back at all ! Thanks again Carrot. Keep up the great job on the blog !

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