View from the top in Alaska
by Scott Boyle
Alaska!, where everyone’s first born is named Palin. I predict that throughout football land, “Palin” will soon become the new “Paxton”, a sturdy innovative football name for the rising generation.
It is autumn in Alaska, with a crisp heartwarming chill in the air. Everywhere one looks, the leaves of the ubiquitous birch trees are a captivating golden-haired yellow, Palins, footballs and hockey pucks are flying, berries are ripe, golf is beckoning and hiking is supreme, and I am loving it.
Speaking of berries, there is one kind of pungent cranberry in the wilderness that smells of rotten cheese. It minutely diminishes any excursion into the wilderness, although along with salmon, the heady smell draws the bears.
Bears dig the mighty salmon. Now, mind you, I’ve never caught any fish larger than a Monticello Lake quarter pounder, the kind you yank out of the water to splat onto the bank behind you when you set the hook (true story).
Salmon are another story. Spawning salmon are colossal, dazzling red and found in small streams, astonishingly looking like Jaws.
But you can’t catch or eat these guys, they’re the spawners, creating the next generation of 4,000 salmon eggs to swim to the sea and back. Only two of the 4,000 become adults and return to the spot they were spawned to spawn and die.
You can identify the spawners because they turn blood red as they leave the sea water and hit the fresh water. The bears apparently don’t follow the fishing rules.
As we were hiking along near Eagle River, a sign kept us off one path saying, “Trail Closed, Danger, Heavy Bear Activity.” That’s the trail I wanna take, but cooler heads prevail.
My 81-year-old mother is along for the trip. She enjoyed the four mile hike immensely. She is amazing, to say the least. Twenty years ago, she and my late father lived in Eagle River for a time.
On Sunday, we met a bunch of people who remembered my mom and dad. One such couple is Valorie and Jason Rampton. Valorie, the former Valorie Bradford of Blanding and Monticello fame, is the sister of SJR’s Life in a Nutshell author. Valorie reminisced about her good ole Monticello days (Blanding, too) for almost an hour, nearly prompting a neiner, neiner, neiner in this column.
If birch trees are the ubiquitous tree in Alaska, rotten berries the ubiquitous smell, and matchless mountains the ubiquitous landmark, certainly moose are the ubiquitous mammal. Not as ubiquitous as the deer in my backyard, but moose are all over. Even moose droppings are ubiquitous, the size of a quadruple-sized walnut M&M and for sale in any store hooked to any key chain, necklace or wall hanging imaginable.
My favorite moose sighting occurred on the golf course, raising moose esteem in my maudlin eyes immeasurably. This young moose was entertaining himself with the flag on a green at the driving range. He would reach up and capture the flag in his mouth, twist it down nearly to the ground and then let it go, with the flag thrashing back and forth more than a few times.
I thought I noticed Groucho Marx glasses on his nose as the moose doubled over chortling, repeating the action numerous times. Reminded me of the time my wife and I saw a bear teeing off on number three at the Hideout.
Back Home in Utah
The Bronco and Buckaroo football fortunes continue heading in opposite directions. The Buckaroos, dressing only 17 players, jumped out to a 22-8 first half lead, but succumbed to superior numbers and firepower in the second half as Layton Christian exploded for 40 points over the worn out Bucks.
Coach JC Hall is trying to stay positive for the 1-5 Bucks, “but “to be very honest, I am frustrated.” says Hall. “Not for myself as a coach, but for these kids that have stayed with the team... kids like Daniel, Conner, Jesse, Rhett, Chase, basically all of our seniors.
They deserve so much better than this. We have no depth, that’s the toughest thing to deal with right now. It just feels like nothing can go right and my heart goes out to these seniors because they are a great group of kids.
“As far as the playoffs, I feel that we still have a good shot. Enterprise is a good team and after we decided to play, we gave them a good game. I feel if we can come back here for homecoming, our kids can have some success and make a run in the playoffs.
“I will do my best to make sure they are ready for every game, and I think they have worked really hard this year and can do very well from here on out.”
Meanwhile, the Broncos continue their magical season, besting their nemesis, Millard, 33-14.
Remember the days when if you were late for the start of a Bronco football game you missed a touchdown? The Broncos proved they were back when Jace Holiday returned the opening kickoff 90 yards to paydirt. It was a Jace Holiday night, with the junior scoring three more times, on a 45 yard pass from Kyle Johnson in the first half, and on 17 and 15 yard scampers in the second half.
The Broncos raced to a 26-2 lead over the hapless Eagles. That is surely the first time the Eagles from Millard have been called hapless. Even so, the Broncos beat the Eagles for only the fourth time in 22 tries over the years, so they came away ecstatic, extending their undefeated season to 6-0.
Next up for the Broncos, is Beaver, while the Bucks host Duchesne for homecoming.