Travel inspiration: How I found the idea for The Traveling Apprentice
MY hands grip the handle of the scrub brush. I push the stiff bristles over the white fiberglass walls. Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh. The aroma of bleach burns my nostrils. I am standing in the bottom of a fish hold aboard the Silver Stock II, a forty-foot commercial fishing boat based out of Juneau, Alaska. My rubber boots squeak as my weight shifts. Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh. I look to the sky. A single thought spins through my mind as the water I stand in, stained red from the blood of 3,000 pounds of chum salmon, swirls about my ankles, "How did I get here? How is this even my life? Two weeks ago I was living in Brasil, photographing models and attending high-end fashion events. And here I am on a fishing boat ankle-deep in bloody fish water. In fucking Alaska. How is this even a thing? Who does this?"
And it hit me.
Nobody does this. This is crazy. I just went from living in a city with an estimated population of 12 million people and taking photos of Brazilian models to a boat with an estimated population of 2. I laugh. I'm crazy.
I turn my attention back to my task. Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh. The sudsy water running down. The rhythm of the brush becoming hypnotic. Never in my life did I imagine I would be here. I don't even LIKE EATING fish. And yet, here I am. I signed up to make them my entire summer. Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh. I set the brush down and grab the bailer, a blue plastic motor oil jug cut in half. I dip it into the bloody soapy mess and toss the water over the side. Scoop after scoop the water flies until I am standing in a perfectly clean fish hold.
I place my hands on the lip of the compartment, arms spread wide and stretching just above shoulder height. Pulling myself up and pushing over the edge, I slide back onto the deck, the Alaskan sun warming my face. The past 5 months have been more than I expected after I left my job last November. I haven't just moved to move. Traveling is more than that. It is more than simply checking items off a "bucket list." It is about experiences. About absorbing. I have been exposed to so many different ways to live over the past 5 months. From fashion designers to digital marketers. Photographers to housekeepers. And now commercial fisherman. You know, above all else, this is really what has intrigued me the most about my travels. All these different jobs and the people who work them. Talk about travel inspiration.
I grab my brush and walk over to the next hold. I pick up the hose from the deck, shifting the stream of cold ocean water from the deck into the next hold.
Who are these people? How did they get into the line of work they did? How are they building and living their lives? When I ask them to tell me about their jobs or lives they always feel like there is nothing special about them, but they are fascinating to me. There are so many different ways we can construct our lives. I mean, look at what I am doing now. I am tossing bloody bleach water over the side of a fishing boat. This is just a chore to these fishermen and might seem normal (annoying even) but it is an absolutely new experience for me. There is so much knowledge we all have about different systems, different fields of study, different ways of doing things. It is so cool to learn about them. And how many commercial fisherman can say they were photographing models last month. Or ever!? Yet now I have experience doing both. How awesome is this that I've been able to drop into and experience both of these worlds that could not possibly be any farther apart.
With enough clean water now mixed in, I drop down into hold number two and set to work scrubbing it free from fish bits. You know, these really don't smell all that bad. I thought working on the boat would be a smelly endeavor, but so far it has been rather pleasant from an odor standpoint. Ha. Or maybe all this bleach is destroying my sense of smell. I use the hose to rinse down the scrubbed-up walls, the water chasing itself down to my feet.
What if I focus my travels around the idea of working and documenting different jobs around the world? This is sort of what I've inadvertently been doing these past 6 months and I love it. And it really is a unique idea. It would give me an avenue to explore lifestyles, learn skills, experience how people build their lives, as well as focus my story telling.
I pull myself up and out of the hold. Dragging bleach, brush and hose with me, I hop into another.
Really, I think this could work. I've already seen websites with people looking for travelers to help with odd jobs all over the world in exchange for room and board which is basically what I did in Brazil and what I'll be doing here in Alaska. Look how well that has worked. Why couldn't I do it in other places? This could be a thing. This could be a very real thing. And it is good travel inspiration.
Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh. Dip. One last scoop from the bailer finishes off the final fish hold. They are now clean and ready to roll for the upcoming week. I clamber out, sliding the metal cover into place and looking around for my next task. My eyes spot the chaos dotting the cabin roof. I hoist myself up the six feet and set to work organizing. Piles of rope. A large cooler for food. A handful of buckets. Gloves. Storage containers.
I could tell stories of all the different jobs I do, the people I stay with, the unexpected adventures along the way. I could basically offer a peek into how people build and live their lives by experience it first hand. Take lots of pictures. Create cool videos. Writing stories. How fun would that be!? And I would be exposed to so many different skills! Ones I never even dreamed I would get to experience. Ones I don't even know were out there. I'd be like an apprentice -- ready to absorb skills and experiences and culture. And STILL be able to travel. I'd be like...a traveling apprentice. YES. That is EXACTLY what I would be like. Holy shit. The Traveling Apprentice? The Traveling Apprentice. I could be the mother-fucking Traveling Apprentice.
My cousin (and boat captain) Ed interrupts my thoughts, "I think that's it for the day Josh. Let's go get some food. I'm fucking starving. We'll hit it again tomorrow."
Holy shit. I could travel the world and work different jobs - being exposed to all sorts of people, places and experiences. I hop down off the roof. The Traveling Apprentice. YUP. I think I just honed my travel inspiration people. Grabbing my sweatshirt off the deck I walk over to pick up the 5 gallon bucket of tools, a little more swagger in my step. I climb over the railing to walk the 500 feet to the truck. I drop the tools into the truck bed and climb in the cab.Today I cleaned fish holds. On a god damn fishing boat. In Alaska. Who would have ever thought? I squint against the sunlight glinting off the water. I think this idea could really work. It would be interesting. It would be fun. I'm going to try this. But first, a change of clothes. And...wow. And a god damn shower. The boat might not stink, but I am stinky AF. I watch the boat in the side mirror fade from view as we head down the road for home. We stop at the store to buy beer. What a god damn good day.