Travel

Return of the Porcupine

Hey! Hello. Remember me — Spike, the porcupine?

Shae has gone off to Alaska again. She’ll be back the second week in June and she asked me to watch over her blog while she’s away, like last time. I said yes, even though I wished she hadn’t waited until the last minute to ask me. They knew about this trip for months, so you’d think they could have planned a little better. I wanted to needle them about it, but I didn’t. I like to think I’m classier than that.

Stewart and Shae usually go to Alaska in August, but last year there was a lot of fuss about a building on their land that might fall down. They have to go and fix it. It’s not going to be easy, because this shed is fourteen feet off the ground. It’s called a cache — an old Alaskan way to keep provisions and supplies safe from harm. Think grizzly bears. (I don’t mind the grizzlies much, myself.  They usually leave me alone — no one wants quills up their nose — but I can’t say I trust them, either.)

That’s Shae on the cache. She looks comfortable up there, but I can tell you she’s not. I’ve heard her say so — she’s afraid of heights. As a tree climbing rodent, I’d like to mock her for that, but I can’t. The truth is, I fall out of trees all the time. A lot of porcupines do. I have respect for high places, even though I’m not scared of them or anything like that.

Here’s a picture of why the cache might fall down. The platform is rotten. (While you’re looking, check out my namesakes. I wear about 30,000 spikes of my own –you think I’m joking? — but I’ll grant that, for humans, Stewart and his friends did a pretty good job of spiking these posts.)

The repairs will require two of Stewart’s friends and a couple helicopter net loads of materials and equipment. One of the guys who will be there is Birch — the master log-cabin builder who helped put the place together years ago. (Birch is also a master Scrabble player, so Shae and Stewart have been quizzing each other on two-letter words. Did you know that an ai is a three-toed sloth? That’s not the kind of thing a porcupine usually knows, so I am rather pleased.) Anyway, the main cabin was Birch’s work, too, and even though I’m always trying to chew on some part of it, there’s nothing about the place that needs fixing.

You’d think all this expert help would put Shae at ease, but I keep hearing her muttering about going into the wilderness with three old guys wielding chain saws. Also about the fact that her job is to be the camp cook — three meals a day, two weeks, on a two-burner propane stove with a hole dug in the permafrost for refrigeration.

I suggested sandwiches might be a fine idea.

Now, I might get in trouble for showing you this last thing, but I thought someone should see it. What a messy list! It’s just the beginning of what they had to get and do for the trip. Their inventory and to-do list was eleven pages long — typewritten — after they finally figured out what they were trying to say with all this scribbling.

I like the part where they list the things not to get. They already have so much stuff in Alaska, but they keep forgetting what it is and bringing more. Who needs so many Q-tips? Or three food mills? Also rum. Nobody out there drinks much rum, so why do they have four bottles, including the weirdo coconut flavored kind? I know Shae never got around to researching the food dehydrator or the solar oven, but I did see her looking at the book of cocktails.

To tell you the truth, I wish I were going to be there to spy on them for the next two weeks. If no one gets hurt, it’s probably going to be funny. But I’ll be here, keeping an eye on things.

Your friend,

Spike

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