Friday, March 14, 2014

Alaska: Forward

Through the 80’s and into the first couple years of the 90’s the company I worked for maintained a main-frame computer processing center for a major oil company in Anchorage Alaska. Even though it was technically within the US, working in that center was considered an expat assignment. That meant that along with other incentives for taking the assignment, such as a housing and car allowance, you also received a 6 week fly-out every year where the company paid all your travel expenses to and from your point of origin.

Every year, when Jim, the computer engineer stationed up there made, his travel plans, I would bravely and selflessly step forward and volunteer to go babysit the site, and his house, while he was gone. It was a great hardship but someone had to do it!

Of course, as a troubleshooter traveling to any and all of the company’s domestic and international data centers (Something like just over 40 of them at one point.) whenever the local engineer was stumped or needed extra help for an install, I was on the road or on the fly a lot, and 6 weeks in one spot was a novel break. And 6 weeks in Alaska where the small computer room took all of a couple hours a day of my time, was just pure gravy!

Over the years I hit every trail within a day’s drive of Anchorage, most more than once, and some weekends went further afield. With the exception of one year out of eleven, I was always up there on my own and hiking by myself in such remote places raised some eyebrows, but it was either that or sit in Jim’s house every afternoon watching Andy Griffith reruns. Which would you do??

But the good times came to an end in 1992 when the oil company moved its Alaska operations down to its California office. That year my trip to Alaska was for the purpose of closing down the center and shipping all the gear to California while the engineer and his wife left early in order to get themselves relocated back in the lower 48.

I wrote journals of my trips but this was before the days of affordable personal computers and the journals were hardcopy, typed on fanfold paper at the mainframe computer terminal/printer, and have long since disappeared.
Except for one year.
While trolling through old documents on my computer the other day I came across a journal of that last trip I made up there. It was a little different than the other trips, shorter and I was pretty busy with the work I was getting paid to do, but I still managed to get out and about a little.
Those were also the days when I lugged an SLR camera body and three different lenses with me. I shot 35mm color slides because I could process them myself without needing an expensive enlarger and the associated darkroom to create the finished product. Unfortunately those slides also seem to have gone the way of the hardcopy journals.

So; I have no photos to go along with the journal entries but thought someone might find them interesting anyway.

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