Cake
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    • From the Diary:

      I have just returned from Little Diomede.  I don't think that you will find it in the Michelin Guide, but I have come from there nonetheless, and while it is still in my mind I have a little Little Diomede story for you.  Now as we all learned in Geopolitics 101 where today meets tomorrow, and Russia and the United States come so close as to almost touch, there right in the middle of the Bering Straits, look they are doing it now, well there they are, Big and Little Diomede.

      Now Little Diomede is as American as apple pie and muktuk, and of course just two and a half miles away Big Diomede is as Russian as borscht and muktuk.  And because the International Dateline runs right between them our today is their tomorrow, as their today is our yesterday.

      Out there on the very edge of the human encampment, somewhere flying between today and tomorrow and yesterday, there was I enroute to Little Diomede.  We were coming down between the two Islands in a Navajo doing a low level visual of the makeshift strip that has been scratched out on the frozen sea.

      For one who has grown up in the hype of the cold war it is so delightful to see just how inconsequential our kind is here at the point where the two super powers come together.  So enter me, this poor man's latter day Lord Jim, just eating it all up.  My first glimpse of the Old World, and I am all geared up for a mystical experience.  But that is not how it plays out.

    • We hit some remarkable turbulence just a smidge above becoming a smudge on the frozen sea.  Don't try this at home, but here we are doing some serious rock and roll at about five hundred feet, all under the disinterested eyes of the sisters Diomede.

      The pilot commits to our approach, and for the eternity of the moment I come to the true and certain knowledge that hell, despite our best efforts still has plenty of room.  But I can't see blessed much of anything, never mind what it looks like to arrive there because instead of being in my seat, nose pressed to the window taking in the scene, I am crushed up against my neighbour and fellow traveller, a young woman from and coming home to Little Diomede.

      At first I think that I have just been tossed over her way by the bouncing of the little airplane.  But I am not bouncing back, though we are witness to a lively demonstration of motion in all directions.  The fact of the matter was that she had taken me, or at least the top half of me and pulled me across the aisle over to her and the child that was on her lap.  Now I would be right up on her lap, avec enfant, and having some sort of close encounter except that as per the drill, my seat belt is fastened.

      So while I am busy doing my impromptu incredible rubber man shtick, it takes me a couple of deep breaths to realize that there is a serious narrative line here.  The woman is terrified; she is sobbing and holding her child and me for dear life.  All the while the child, a two year old, or there abouts, is giving me the "what are you doing in my face?" look.

    • Though somewhat contorted I try to calm the mother, but in truth I am a bit ticked off because here is my mystical moment down the tubes.  Well they who are grasped and racked also serve, and who knows, perhaps this is one of those, ever so rare in these modern times, opportunities to be useful in life.  So I do what I can to talk her down, as we dance our descent between yesterday and tomorrow, the New World and the Old.

      But God loves the Irish and we land safely on the ice, though the pilot is none too talkative.  Thus was my entry onto Little Diomede.  So I grab my kit and trudge off to wherever it is that I am going.  I used to live like this twenty some years ago, but nobody ever paid me wages for it.  Who would have thought that kicking around on the road in the 1960's would have given me so many valuable life skills?  "Hey what are you going to do when you grow up, just ramble around creation like some Gypsy?  Well good luck and no matter, hell has not placed the "No Vacancy" sign in the window.

      Nome AK

      February 1992

    • Wow, sounds like a great adventure! Why were you going to Little Diomede?

      You know what great adventures are - they're when you're miserable, cold, and think you're gonna die today, but don't.

      A couple months later, later in a warm, dingy hole of a bar, they make a great tale to tell your drinking buddies, and laugh about.

      I have been a passenger on several landings with wildlife on the runway, or no runway, or a wrecked plane in the river at the end of the runway, so I always try to remember that any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.

      My sister in law, killed her first deer with an airplane 6 feet off the runway in Pennsylvania a few years ago. The deer died, and her plane almost did too, but she is an ace pilot and got it safely on the ground.

      I was on a short hop to some tundra by the shoreline in Greenland a few years, when the pilot announced "You may have not made a landing like this before. Not to worry!! We do this everyday." And the landing was uneventful if a far more bouncy than normal.

      "Adventures" remind me to give thanks for being alive. I still do, everytime I am safely back on the ground.

    • I was working in western Alaska at the time & that landing in Little Diomede was my most memorable which includes many in Northern Canada on floats, skis & wheels.

    You've been invited!