Smoke n’ Guns went off without a hitch.
The Cordova committee broke a record that evening in most Wall of Guns rounds played (a game where 100 raffle tickets are sold for $10 a piece, and when that number is capped, a winner is drawn who gets to choose a firearm from “the wall”, which is typically an assortment of guns identified by cutouts velcroed to a pull-up banner. The more tickets sold, the more rounds played, until the event ends) , which I assume indicated the most amount of money raised for a pre-event. One guy won like 4 guns. People did not care for him much that evening.
I sold raffle tickets and eased my way into the community slowly that night, at first being a little timid and soft spoken and eventually jabbing specific individuals who I learned I could mess with jovially enough to often coerce them into buying tickets from me. One of these individuals was Chris the Viking, who I thought was a Cordova resident but later found out was more of a vagabond. He was in town for a fishing opportunity, which I also came to find out was a major source of revenue for much of the Cordova community as well as other individuals who would flock to the town to hopefully be assigned to a crew and go out for a few months. Chris and I talked about his lifetime adventures, that had begun when he was sixteen and involved him hopping around a majority of the world from then on, insanely enough including a stint during his high school years where he lived in my hometown. I call him Chris the Viking because post-event while we were talking about said adventures over drinks, another patron came up with a picture of Travis Fimmel portraying the character Ragnar from the show Vikings to compare the two side-by-side. It was uncanny. Chris had apparently been born into a cult, left home at sixteen, went to school in Australia, been in a pre-arranged marriage with a rich woman who was also involved in the cult, got divorced and disassociated himself from the cult, lived in Sweden, lost his citizenship in Sweden, became a fisherman, and gone to a forest-rave in some South American country. I was lost multiple times trying to follow his story, and still don’t remember it accurately.
I also met a kind older couple that night who charmed me by first telling me I had done a great job, and then told me that they thought I fit in so well they thought I had just moved there recently. Swayed by their sweetness, I pulled up a chair and ended up speaking to them for an extended period of time, where at some point in the conversation, they informed me of “Cordova Rocks”. This is apparently a local trend in which individuals paint stones and leave them in the street to be found, and then either keep or re-hide them. I was enamored with this concept and told them I would be on the lookout for some, to which they responded by telling me they would leave a few out for me. If I didn’t find them, they promised they would leave some at the front desk of my hotel.
The real peak of the evening, however, was when I tasted my first sip of Alaskan Amber. Ever since Megan had returned from her previous Alaskan adventure, she raved about Alaskan Brewing Co’s Alaskan Amber beer. In fact, Megan’s major selling point OF the Alaska trip was that an “Alaskan Amber would look great on Cat Drinks Brews”. When Gary picked us up earlier that day, he had even informed Megan that he had a new keg of Alaskan Amber hooked up on draft for her. So as soon as the event was over, I approached the bar and excitedly ordered myself a pint.
Alaskan Amber is undoubtedly the best amber beer I have ever had. It’s rich flavor and slightly sweet honey notes produce a creamy, deliciously smooth ale. Now I understood Megan’s devotion to it, and I was already dreading leaving and not having access to it’s distribution.
By the end of the evening, it was just Greg, Megan, Gary and I left in the restaurant. Gary brought over another round of Alaskan Ambers for us while the rest of the committee was clearing out, and we looked around the table, tired, but content. I realized that somehow, in less than twelve hours, I had entered a stranger, but oddly now felt like I was at home.