Southern Cross

In those days, it seemed like every idea I had came true.

That’s living on the road, but only if you can let up enough control to let it in. Strangers are different when you’re just passing through. They know they won’t have to deal with the real you next month, so they’re kinder and more interested, like a one-night-stand… easy to ignore the incompatibilities to get the quick high. Anyway, a new friend knew a friend and here I was sitting shotgun next to a bonafide Alaskan bush pilot. On our way to land in a glacial lake with pontoons hanging from the plane’s bowels. How fucking cool.

Too bad I’ve been a nervous flyer since my childhood. My mom got so scared once on a flight to Florida, that from there on out I thought I should be scared too. So I was enjoying this bush flight more than almost anything and wanting it to be over at the same time. Jack, the pilot, was anything but nervous. He had two kids and an Argentinian wife and a strong new engine – he was very proud of that engine – so all he was thinking about was getting home for dinner. Just an ordinary Tuesday. He said his wife would kill him if he wasn’t home for dinner, which I found funny, because he’d probably be dead already if he wasn’t home in time.

Jack landed us next to an iceberg, idled over to the land, and tied the plane to a tree. He was armed with a 12-gauge-pump shotgun for shooting rogue bears and I was armed with a tripod for the same reason. We didn’t see any bears on our walk, but when we got back airborne we saw plenty of moose. Probably a hundred of them. Just moos’ing around down in the marshy muck. Jack brought the plane down to 200 feet and banked left and then right, left and then right, following the river’s wanderings. I had never done that in a plane and it felt good. Like freedom. I put Crosby, Stills & Nash “Southern Cross” on our headsets, which put out great sound despite the growl of that great engine. The first chords started playing. I looked over at Jack and he nodded. For the next few minutes we were no longer strangers.