On Squeaky Clean

Two days ago, I was eating a bag of Cheetos in the cook tent and noticed that each time I wiped my mouth with a napkin it left chocolaty smears on the paper.  It wasn’t the radioactive orange you usually get from dyed cheese–I wondered if being in the sun all day had blurred my vision, since there wasn’t a chocolate bar within 20 miles of our camp site.  Wiping away a fleck of Cheeto that had landed on my backpack, I noticed the same Munsell shade of brown coming off the cloth and realized that my entire face was covered in a patina of dirt.  Chatting with my pit neighbors, I had forgotten to watch the wind direction while screening my buckets of loess!  It being the fifth day I had rooted around in dirt for eight hours, though, nobody really remembered what I looked like originally and didn’t think to point out the grime around my lips.  They were as dirty as I was.

Yesterday, Saturday, was a big day: We had our first shower of the week!  All 23 of us piled into University of Alaska vans and drove to the nearest town, Delta Junction, where there were RV parks with laundry machines, flush toilets, and showers.  It was glorious.  This morning I woke up with a headful of individual glossy black strands, not Twizzler-like clumps, and had to muss it around several times just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming the miraculous 10 minutes of running water each of us had witnessed yesterday.

Now we are sitting in front of the Delta community library and using the free wireless.  Everything is closed because it’s Memorial Day weekend.  My power is about to run out so more later!

–Tiffany Tsai

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