A Good Samaritan Ignored by Tim Kotcheff

The Low Ground

We were camped in a lowland beside the river when a stranger walked out of the bush, looked over the campsite, and asked: “You camping here?” Peter answered gruffly, “What the hell does it look like? Of course we’re camping here.” The stranger nodded and disappeared back into the bush. In his absence, further abuse was heaped on the intruder. What did he want? Was he after our campsite?

We had dinner and retired for the night. Hours later we were running about pulling our bags and other equipment out of the water washing through our tents.


The question by the good samaritan (a local Inupiat) was simply a kindly warning, put in his own way, that high water was expected overnight and the area we were sitting on would probably be flooded.

There were a few red faces the next morning as we gathered our soggy belongs together and started building a new fireplace. The one built the night before was nearly a metre under water. Apologies were in order but we never saw the stranger again.

Allo Dohlee by David Silcox

Team Noatak Heading to Kotzebue

As we approached the sea and the Soviet Union, the idea of bringing Russian spies into the West via our route struck us as a brilliant but overlooked possibility – from the Russian point of view, of course.

But it would have been necessary to inculcate candidates into North American life with all its unspoken rules and conventions.

Kotcheff and Stollery decided that a thorough knowledge of Broadway musicals would be the most desirable way to grasp the subtleties of North American life and that the likelihood would be a group of spies paddling up the Noatak sounding like Bulgarians or Ukranians and singing: (transliteration supplied by Kotcheff)

Allo Dohlee! Vell allo Dohlee!
Eets zo neiz to haff hew beck vehr hew beelonk
Eets zo svell, Dohlee,
Dohn hew no, Dohlee….(and so on for several capsizing verses.)

Vote Merde by David Silcox

David Silcox and John Godfrey

On the way downtown in Fairbanks we realized that there was an election in process. One of the candidates for Lieutenant Governor of Alaska was a chap named Ed Merde and his posters said, in large and brazen capital letters: “VOTE MERDE.”

I wondered where his name came from and whether his family profession in days gone by had anything to do with it. I couldn’t resist dropping into his campaign office on the main street and asking for a poster for my front lawn. I gave it to Jean Pelletier, who I thought would have friends who would appreciate it.

Group Noatak

L-R: David Silcox, Peter Stollery, Craig Oliver, Jean Pelletier, Tim Kotcheff.

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