Mar 10, 2008

wind, duct tape and a hose clamp

well, i'm back in town. my trip North was one of ups and downs. drama is following me lately. it's comical. but, each time i've been able to find a workaround and push through...

i landed in Deadhorse on Saturday morning to a near whiteout in blistering wind. perfect. i wanted to see the burley side, and i had it. inside of an hour of being on the ground though, my camera took a digger. yep, big fall. fucked. i won't relive the particulars here. cold hands. cold head. stupid.

i was so gutted i walked straight back to the airport, and asked about the next flight out. i was out of my head mad, and ready to crawl in a hole or kill somebody. i could fly back home in an hour i was told. good. wait. let me calm down a bit. as i sat and contemplated my next move, and surveyed the ultimate damage, i was met by an Alaska Airlines employee named John. Don followed close behind. they both thought they might be able to help. they both had the same face my dad wore when i was a kid, when he'd be in the garage fixing a car, or a lawn mower - deep in it. committed. sometimes i'd hand him tools, but most times i had something better to do. like my dad, these guys fixed stuff. i take photos. i sat there and silently wished i'd handed my dad more tools, and fixed a weed whacker or two in my day. i let them have at. i sat and watched, as my despair washed away in a blizzard of hose clamps and duct tape. a true Prudhoe Bay repair if i ever saw one.

their generosity, and industriousness, set the tone for the next two days.

i was nervous leading up to this trip. 9/11, security, terrorism, oil..they all fed an anxiousness. i had resigned to the fact that this trip might be, in large part, a fact finding mission alone. what i found though was unexpected.

i never doubted that i would meet good folks up there, but i did doubt the initial reception. what i did find where rides, conversation, a few eager portraits, and a quick and general respect.

the film is in the mail, and i'm confident that this trip yielded much more than my expectations originally allowed. even my damn camera seemed to hold up. my movements were limited, i had only had the reach for one lens, and too long exposures were out, but it held out the light. i stripped it for parts before i left, and thought it fitting that the old girl rested in the Deadhorse landfill at the end of the road.

here's to hose clamps, and being wrong.

from the air:
the Brooks Range

the Koyokuk River


Anonymous said...

Oh, man, I'm sorry about the camera. I've only dropped mine once, but I can still hear the sound it made when it hit the pavement. I'm glad you were able to stick it out and that you apparently found the two most helpful airline employees on the planet. ;)

Jessie Jane said...

Gorgeous shots!

mro said...

I'm happy that you got to see the end of that impossible road and to perform the impossible task of fixing a large format camera on the fly!

Looking forward to seeing the outcome!

Brett said...

A proper camera that you can fix in a garage, not like today's ones that need NASA. My old Nikon got run over, quick dust and change the lens and it was back shooting. Would not like to do that to my new one, don't think that a duster would help, just a dust pan and brush for the bits.

ben huff said...

thanks all. no worries though- onward and upward.

i found a used replacement and am alrady back in it. not an investment i wanted to be making right now, but there were few options.

i'm heading north again tonight for a few days. this will be the last trip for several weeks.

till then.

ned rozell said...

And gettin' it some more. Nice.

Paul Pincus said...

Love these.


Ulf said...

great story and a magnificent photo

mtbikemeteo said...

ben - i love the brooks range shot! can i get a print of that? :-)


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