Thursday, March 14, 2013

Realizing it's been 4 years since you've done something......

Wow!  I just realized that it's been almost four years since I have written anything on this blog.  I guess it's because life has calmed down quite a bit from the wild days of living on Wadleigh Island.  I will have to say that I love Palmer, AK even more now than when I first got here.  The people are lovely, the scenery is gorgeous, and in the Summers, this entire valley is filled with fresh produce for sale, and of course it's fishing time!  I'm excited to go Sockeye fishing this year - we have some friends coming up from Texas to visit so that should be fun.  My little wiener dog is having a metal plate put in his foot today to replace several broken bones - poor little guy.  So that's what my day is all about - mostly getting ready to be a dog nurse for the next 8 weeks!  I'm going to start being more diligent about posting to this blog - the photos that I take around here are so lovely, and I look forward to sharing them!  

Monday, November 02, 2009

Monday Morning and We Got Married

Well I haven't written anything on here in a really long time - don't know what's on my mind this morning but I thought I would just jot some things down anyway. It is about to snow here in Alaska - the wind blew all weekend long and it seems to have brought the cold winter temps with it.

Jim Paul and I got married last week on October 22, 2009. I guess this is the culmination to our 4 year long story ......but it is of course continuing. We are still living in our brand new dream home, we are planning on staying here for a while. Hopefully soon we will be buying a motor home so we can travel all over this crazy State and fill in some more of this blog post. But for now, life is calm, serene, and the same every day. Whew. I am about ready for some of that.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Running Through the Tundra

On Saturday and Sunday, we had the best time ever!! We went riding on ATV grown up toys outside of Wasilla up part of the actual Iditarod Trail and then through the muddy, boggy tundra. It was so beautiful it was unbelievable. We were with two friends from Juneau who live in Settler's Bay now and that's where we started from. We knew we were pretty far out into the tundra when we literally ran right through a moose carcass that had absolutely no odor - that is how fresh it was - but it had been slicked clean by a bear or wolves or whoever had feasted on it. It was at that point that we decided turning around was a good idea......we were fairly far from a road or civilization. But the weather is gorgeous right now - it's supposed to be in the 60s by the end of the week. I can't wait to get my fishing license and get started fishing this summer. Jim and I decided we are definitely going to get our own Polaris 6x6 by the end of the summer though. Those things are awesome and fun to ride. There isn't any territory it can't get through. So there's my weekend report - another fun couple of days in Alaska.....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

There seems to be a wolf in my closet

Well, it occurs to me that it has been a while since I have blogged.....I guess I was a little shell-shocked after the whole move and buying a house experience. When you are geared up in your mind to do one thing and then something completely different happens, depending on the scope of the problem, it can be hard to adjust for some of us! Things are better now so we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

So Jim Paul and I are incredibly happy with our purchase. We bought a brand new house in Palmer, Alaska - a little town 38 miles north of Anchorage. It couldn't have been a better "accidental" choice - Palmer is terrific. The people are incredibly nice and warm and the scenery is , of course, beautiful. Our house is awesome - it's very energy efficient and cute - I have brand new stainless steel appliances - I am so excited!!! It's a big change from where we came from.

As you may or may not know, our dog Scooby Doo came up here with us - she's the one that rode in the bottom of the ship for was almost a 4 day ferry trip from Southeast Alaska to Anchorage! Scoobs is part timberwolf and she is digging the walk-in closet in a big way....for about the past month, she has figured out how to open the door and get in there by herself. Then, she fashioned a comfortable bed for herself out of dirty clothes, various bones that she steals from the other dogs when i pass out treats, and my shoes. Everytime I open the closet door now, all I can see coming out from underneath the longer stuff that is hanging down are these two "wolf eyes" looking up from the dark - and then she snorts at me like, "Will you please close the door?" So I'm just letting her do it - she's kind of a weird animal (go figure ) and marches to the beat of her own drummer, who is off tempo a little bit.....

This is the same animal who , after being spayed last summer, continuously sought out and ah, introduced herself (backwards) to every male dog in the neighborhood. She got stuck to 2 different dogs a total of 12 times in a week - yes folks, sometimes twice a day - and one of those male dogs had been neutered. Talk about having a funny look on your face - that was the most humiliated looking animal I have ever seen. And I mean the male - not Scooby Doo - she was not ashamed of herself at all! As a matter of fact, she seemed quite pleased. So, that is my report for the day. My friend Michelle told me I need to get busy writing something so I'm going to try and be more dilligent with my postings. She has been really inspirational to me - I haven't talked to her in 20 years and we found each other on facebook lately - little did we know that we were kindred spirits! It's funny the things we miss when we are young because we are so consumed with what's going on in our immediate little world. The tragedies and comedies that play out in high school sometimes take the focus away from where it should be - on each other, making friends, and having fun. So I encourage you to do something out of your comfort zone today - who knows? You may make a great friend by accident! My comfort zone involves shutting people out before they have a chance to hurt me in some way - but I decided not to be that way and let someone in and it was a great decision!

So that's it I suppose - I just had to tell someone about the wolf in my closet who has serious hormonal and libidinal issues. Oh yeah, and there's a link to the city of Palmer - check it out!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Another old post.....about a deer

Okay guys so I'm home alone (like I always am) and I have no one totell this to, but the funniest thing just happened. I meanderedoutside for the first time in 10 days without my arctic gear on - justmy thermal nightshirt and my rubber boots....the weather is 39 degreestoday - a bit cloudy, beautiful really, and I wanted a snow cone.So I got my bowl and wandered out on the beach to this huge logcovered in snow. It's about 60 feet long, and has a good coating.You just pick up the pieces that sort of melted together with thewarmth, and carve off the soft powder from underneath them with yourbowl. So, I'm going along, making a nice little mound and I hear thisBOINB BOINB like in Looney Tunes when that kangaroo is jumping around?Or when there is something otherwise hopping.....regardless, I heardthis just as I was thinking to myself, "Where are the Dum Dums?"To explain: my 7 female dogs are collectively known as the Dum Dumsfor a variety of good reasons, none of which matter here. People arealways asking me if my dogs chase deer, to which I always respond,"No, they couldn't catch one if they tried!!" and I snort a laugh likethey must be crazy to think so.So, back to my story - I hear this boing boing boing and I look up andboinging towards me, right towards me, is a huge doe. She's a big one- and she's boinging right towards me. If you've never seen or heardthis, it's really cool - she was literally thundering. Then shestopped, mingled at the end of the log, ate a bit of snow off of it,walked around , looked at me, had time to listen to me ask her a fewstupid questions, (who are you? what's your name? and other stuff thatshe didn't know) , surveyed my float, looked toward the house, towardthe boat, and then in one huge leap, she was over the float andboinged off down the beach, into the woods.Now, during this awesome encounter, I actually had enough time tothink about doing many things, getting a camera, getting a gun,getting my bow and arrow, none of which I did, of course - I wasdumbstruck. The point is, it was an encounter of decent length. ThenI sat there thinking, oh how cool, etc etc. etc. and off in thedistance, I hear another thundering......It was the thundering of dumb - 7 sets of dum dum to be specific,tongues hanging around their ears, wild eyed, limbs flying every whichway, yes, they were on the chase. Now I know they've gotten a deerbefore - there have been specific tale tell signs, but I feel sure itwas an ill deer, a lame deer, or an otherwise engaged and not payingattention deer. But it was not this deer. That was cool. Thanks forlistening.

An older post from the island....

This is an older post from when I was still living out in the bush on the island in Southeast Alaska - I posted it on a different forum but I thought it would be interesting here:

Well hello everybody - I feel like I've been gone forever - during awind storm in mid-December, my satellite dish blew out of alignment(it was only about a 100 mph wind..) and then the coaxial cableconnectors got loosened up a bit, only to reveal the tremendous amountof saltwatery rust that had accumulated's only a fewfeet from the ocean - and the installer guy didn't seal up anything ofcourse...So, after some parts replacement, sealing, and much satelliteadjusting involving the scientific "yell out the window method" , I amback online permanently again with a good strong signal. Starband'slevel of customer service does not extend to uninhabited islands - Ihad to take a 3 hour ferry boat ride to Ketchikan to get the parts Ineeded, which was cool because of course, the scenery - the MistyFjords are incredible this time of year.For the last week and a half, I have been stuck at home - today wasthe first time I got to go to town and get supplies. Here in front ofmy house in the bay, I had a thick layer of ice that my 14 foot Lundjust could not break through. Fortunately, towards the end of thecold snap, this older couple that lives almost 12 miles away from meby boat, came over in their metal work skiff and broke through theremaining hunks of ice so I could finally get out of here and retrievesome much needed fossil fuels!!! I was out of diesel for my smallheater (it supplements my wood stove when I run the generator) and Iwas out of propane, which runs my kitchen and my hot water heater.Basically, I was kinda screwed for hot food or hot water.So, the moral of the story is, you kids appreciate and treasure thatstrong stream of natural gas that flows into your house from someunknown magical source in the alley......and once, just once, considerhow much different it would be if you had to haul 6 or 7 jerry jugswith 5 gallons of fuel in each of them up a 180 foot ramp out of yourboat and into your house for the same effect .....not that I'mcomplaining, I love it - I don't get any bills, from anyone, ever, notone. So that's cool - just wanted to remind you guys to love yourresources and your planet.Oh yeah, my rainwater supply froze about as hard as a rock so not onlywas I a little chilly, I was a little dirty, and tired ofcereal.....but it's all good now!!! Life is back to being alrightagain - it got up in the high 40's today and yesterday - I was runningaround in a t-shirt and long denim skirt - and even broke a sweat whenthe wood stove got going a little too good!! It's funny to me tothink that when the temperature gets up to 45 or 50, I'm openingwindows to get some fresh air....I'm pretty sure if I came back toLubbock, I would surely perish from the heat almost immediately. Idon't miss that at all.So, King Crab season starts in about a week, which leads to - SPRINGand then SUMMER - which is so awesome - and you'll find me GONEFISHING - permanently - I can't wait. Missed you guys - just wantedto let you know I'm OK and life is grand in beautiful Alaska!!!

There's a Bear in My Tree

Hey everybody - I feel kinda funny - like I'm posting too much stuff onhere - if you guys are sick of it let me know - but I had to tellsomebody.....there's a bear in my tree.I live in an apartment complex now , all city slicker like inAnchorage - we have four big buildings with yards in between them -with REALLY tall trees. Well today, one of my neighbors and myselfwere out chatting while our dogs were in the "dog area" and we happenedto look up and notice that a black bear had gotten scared all the wayup a tree. He was just probably nosing around the trash in the parkinglot last night and someone scared him because he went so far up thistree he's too scared to come down.Animal Control knows he's there (somebody called them) and they saidjust to leave him alone and he'll probably come down tonight- afterdark - he's just a little guy - 200 pounds or so. He's just out thereswinging and swaying back and forth in the breeze - it's pretty coolreally, and if I hadn't just accidentally crushed the lens of mydigital camera, I would take a picture for everybody, but I hope mydescription was good enough.

A Hole In the Ice

Well, I finally managed to do it - I had a trauma at a usuallycrowded ski area and dog park and I was the only person there besidesan older man with a cane in each hand.....Has anyone watched that IMAX movie about beavers? They swim aroundunder the ice on lakes and rivers until they come up for air invarious holes that they make near their beaver homes. I know I talkabout beavers alot, but I seem to have my fair share of run-ins withthem. Anyway, 3 days ago, Bailey, Scooby Doo and I were out for oneof our usual dailies around the lake. Now this is a different lakethan the one we ice skate on - this is just the regular dog park/skitrack lake where the beavers do their thing. Apparently Bailey musthave seen a beaver come up for air - it's my only guess - because sheshot down the side of the hill - off of the trail and down to thewater. The lake is so frozen hard that we've been walking across itand on it for several weeks now but somehow Bailey managed to find ahole big enough for an 80 pound dog to slide right through.It all happened so fast - at first I heard the kersploosh and Ithought she could pull herself out no problem - she is always goinginto lakes and rivers and gets out just fine, but after her firstmajor pull, she didn't make it. Then I saw her face change. Fromexperience, I know that you have about 30 seconds in water like thatbefore changes start to occur. For the worse. Over the period ofthe next 60 seconds things went so fast they are almost blurry. Bythe time I crashed down the hill, over and under the damn trees thatthe beaver had criss-crossed , all I could see sticking out of thewater was her nose and eyes - barely. Her entire body had nowcompletely frozen up and her limbs were useless. I army crawledacross about 8 feet of ice to where she was, in an almost perfectlyround hole that looked like a professional had made it for icefishing (beavers are technicians). I only had to put my arms inalmost to my shoulders, and gave the one good pull that I knew I hadin me from that position, and she popped out like a greased pig. Theworst part was the walk home, but we made it ok, and after a day'srehab on the couch, Bailey is raring to go again. I guesshypothermia isn't as hard on dogs as people!! I know that my kneesare still bruised and my arms/shoulders/neck have been better, and Iwasn't even all the way wet!!!Anyway, all is well with us - just thought I would let y'all in onthe latest of my beaverish adventures. Peace and love - Jamie C.

SnowCones and Slingshots

Well folks, it was another interesting day here in the beautiful landof snow and ice. It has been below zero for the last week untiltoday, when the temperature broke through and it got up to 24 degreesearly this morning, dumping several inches of dry, fresh powdery snowall over the city. So naturally I headed out into it - when it's 24degrees here, it's time to shuck some of the inner and outer layersso I was able to pack some more things in my pockets, if that makessense. I had the best day planned - I had 3 little mandarin orangesin one pocket, some fresh heavy cream in a ziploc bag in my otherpocket, a paper cup, a sling shot I had made yesterday, a couple oftennis balls, and several small rocks.Now I know you're wondering how much fun you can have with thoseitems but let me explain - I went out into the middle of the lakeagain (which is now frozen hard hard hard by the way_) where thislittle rock island sits covered in trees. There is a mound of groundin the middle of this where I chose to set up camp. I proceeded tomake snowcones with fresh OJ and cream until I got a stomach ache.During this I was repeatedly throwing the tennis ball as far as Icould so Bailey would get some exercise. Now the entertaining partwas - my other dog Scooby Doo is sort of like Sideshow Bob on theSimpsons - foul face, hilarious to make fun of, play tricks on, etc.She always has the same deadpan face - it's very funny, trust me.Anyhoo, she never chases the ball, she just sort of runs a few stepsand quits and watches bailey run - out of laziness mostly. So, Iwould wait for her to run these few steps , and then shoot a tinyrock up into the tree above her head, where the branches had like 6inches of snow each. See where I"m going with this? Yes it'shilarious when a foot of snow dumps on your unsuspecting canine. Iknow I'm immature, but I had a really good time today. I justthought I would give someone an idea of what they could do if theyhad some time to kill and it had just you guys - jamieOH! and we saw 2 moose on our way home - one was a little baby moosewith no horns at all, which was really cute for about 3 seconds tilli realized his mom would be close - when i heard her clopping ourway, i quickly chose another route and ran like casey and dan at themarathon - i did learn that when you run like the wind in fear, yourdogs will follow you and eventually pass you.....

80's movies

Okay it's Jamie, chiming in on 80's movies.This story is sort of convoluted but I promise it makes sense in theend. The evening before last, I was at the dog park like usual, andit was completely frozen over from warm daytime temps and nighttimefreezing (just like lubbock sometimes). So, I have on my studdedsnow tire shoes and there are these two rather large women that keepsliding down this small hill on their tennis shoes - by the time Igot to them, they were on all fours.....So, one at a time, I pullthese two up the hill, using my feet for their only traction.So, yesterday morning, I get up and go to Fred Meyer's to shop, andI'm standing in the veggie section minding my own business when I geta pinched nerve in my lower back. I have had this happen oncebefore, and I literally become paralyzed. SO,my boyfriend had tocome get me and now I'm stuck at home in bed for a couple of days -NOW _ here comes the movie part - I was watching Netflix online allday and I watched, from start to finish, "The Karate Kid" from 1984.I forgot how much I liked Mr. Miyagi, and for a few brief moments, Ifelt the old attraction to 15 year old Ralph Macchio start to kickin. Then I just felt inappropriate.....

Muktuk and Dunnuk???

The question was posed to me recently-do I eat muktuk and dunnuk? I'm not really sure what dunnuk is so you'll have to fill me in - I googled it and got nothing - then I asked Jim Paul and got nothing. He did think that it might be walrus maybe? Anyway, I have eaten deep-fried muktuk, but only once. I'm not big on the whale blubber thing but I did it to be polite and it actually wasn't that horrible. Jim's Mom actually has a name for me - she calls me Amshawa-she says it means "white girl who likes Indian food".Whether this is true or not will never be known, as the Tlingit language is not written down, only passed on orally, so I'm taking her word for it. At first she was surprised when I would come over to her house and eat all of the Sea Cucumber, crab, clams, salmon,and halibut that they were cooking. Don't even get me started on the big Spot Prawns. I embarrass myself. Also, in the spring here, the natives go out and collect seaweed of various kinds and dry it in their yards under the sun. Then, they store it in ziploc bags and eat it crunchy, broken up into big pots of steamed rice with soysauce. All of it is good to me, and I eat it up. However, most white people up here don't eat "native food" as they call it. Or at least not the way that the natives prepare it. They do things a little differently.Funny story though - we took Arlene (Jim's Mom) to Ketchikan once on the ferry to go shopping at Wal-Mart when we were still living in Southeast Alaska. She had just won a parka as a door prize at atribal meeting a couple of weeks before so she thought she would wearit on our shopping trip. When you first get to the ferry terminal,you have to drive through the area where all of the HUGE cruise shipsdock that are on their way into the interior. So there are literallythousands of people that get off these boats from all over the worldto shop in Ketchikan before they head out. As we were driving(slowly) through the crowded area, some tourists yelled for us tostop and offered Arlene $50 to take her picture. They said they hadnever seen a real eskimo before, and they wanted her on theirvacation film. So, in her parka, she smiled huge, pocketed their$50, and played "eskimo for a day". It was SO funny. First of all,Inupiaq or Inuit is the PC term for an "eskimo". Eskimo is actuallya derogatory term for what they are - and they are only found WAY upnorth in Alaska and Canada -the rest of Alaska Natives are Tlingit,Haida, Tsimshian, Athabascan, and a couple of others that I can'tremember right now. But thinking that any round-faced native inAlaska is an Inuit would be very very wrong. FYI.Now, another interesting story for the day - there is an island inthe Aleutian chain called Attu that was occupied by the Japaneseduring WWII. In History, we always hear about Pearl Harbor, but theJapanese actually held the entire island of Attu first. It is theonly time that U.S. soil was held by foreign invaders since 1812.Native Alaskans were the only ones who could manage to sneak in andtake the island back after bloody bloody hand to hand combat. Therewas also a HUGE U.S. military force there too, obviously, but theyfailed the first couple of times in their mission to take back theisland. They were ill-prepared - ill-clothed, and ill-shoed for whatthey had to do. Thousands of U.S. troops were hauled out of therewith frostbite, hypothermia, and more fatal problems. Anyway, wefinally prevailed and took back the island - but it was almost a verydifferent WWII for us. Who knew? Anyway, in 1987, the U.S.Department of the Interior allowed the Japanese government to erect amonument to their dead on Attu - it looks like a giant Christmasornament on a hill. No one knew this until recently when a group ofveterans travelled out there to visit the graves of their fallenmates - and now they are furious. They are trying to get thegovernment to take down the monument. It's on the front page of thepaper today - we'll see what happens. But it's a pretty interestingplace - the beaches are literally made out of shell casings - hugeones from various gunships, handguns, rifles, cannons, etc.Everywhere you look or step there are metal cylinders under yourfeet.Well, so there is some different info for the day -everything isgoing great with the house - things are progressing forward - andyesterday we got to lock in a freakishly low interest rate of 5.5% soyahoo!!! I hate that the housing market is so bad right now but itsure did turn out to be great for us!
In the meantime, the sun is shining brightly today andI think I shall plan an outing. I must cross-country ski before allthe snow melts - I'm already running out - I have to drive to the dogpark to ski around it now instead of skiing to the park from myapartment! Boo hoo. But I am really looking forward to summerthough. I kinda like it when the sun sets at midnight or 1 a.m. andcomes back up at 4:30am. That only happens for about a month or so(half of July, half of August) but it is super cool and creates kindof an "edgy" environment where people get lots of things done aroundhere! Love, Jamie C

I'm glad we went to the Dog Park today

Well, it was another eventful day on the Last Frontier (that's whatour license plates say_) at the Dog Park. Jim and I went over thereyesterday evening after dinner for our evening constitutional andthings were going as usual...dogs socializing, chasing sticks, etc.As we were making the loop round the lake, we began visiting with agentleman who had just moved up here with BP and was walking hisIbizen Hound for the first time at the park. We walked with him forabout the last 1/4 of the loop, approaching the bridge over the riverthat feeds the lake. This is the danger spot where Bailey went intothe water (see prior post about this story). The fresh water cominginto the lake freezes over for most of the winter, but before andafter, it's a bit mushy just right by the bridge. There is still an8 or 9 inch top on it that you can stand on, but when it ends, itends, and the water is freezing.So, to get on with it, Bailey ran out onto the ice with the 10 otherdogs that were playing out there and they're all goofing around,barking at ducks, etc. So, this Ibizen takes off after her andstarts sliding in perfect 360's like a hockey puck towards the edgeof the ice. The man from BP is standing there, watching this fromthe bridge, and he starts to laugh (as anyone would when a dog isspinning around and splashes into a lake). The second that dog hitthe water, I grabbed that man by the shoulders, looked him dead inhis eye, and screamed right into his face "YOU BETTER GO GO GO!!!!!YOUR DOG CANNOT GET OUT OF THERE WITHOUT YOUR HELP!!!" That poorman....He turned around, ran off the bridge and onto the ice with me in hotpursuit telling him what to do - "Get on your stomach and hurry - getto that edge and I'm right back here" was what I said I think - andabout that time all you could see of his dog was his nose. He hadalready done the obligatory trying to pull himself out, and of coursehe couldn't. It is a horrible look on an animal's face when theyrealize this and start to sink. So the guy army crawls to the edge,reached down into the water, and pulled his dog out by the collar.All was ok - he headed straight to his car but only after he toldme "I am so glad you were here - you saved me valuable seconds -Iwould have never realized that he couldn't get out until it was toolate". I told him what happened to Bailey, and that everything isdifferent here. EVERYTHING.Interesting side note: When I ran out onto the ice, right after Itold the guy to get on his stomach, I heard Jim yell "Jamie don'tmove any further-wait till he goes in the water!!" and of course, Jimhad already ran down the other side of the bridge, down the bank ofthe lake, and was hanging off of the side over the water, on a bigbent tree. He had already mapped out the shortest route to pull thedude, his dog, and probably me out of the water onto the other bankwith his body being in the water the least amount of time. Man, didI feel like a dumb white girl.Tomorrow, when I feel like typing this much again, and I haven'tbored anyone too much, I have an even better story to tell y'allabout us living in SE Alaska - it happened a couple of years ago soI'll be safe telling it now......:) to be continued...jamie

Friday, April 20, 2007

Sorry it's been a while, but.....

Well I'm in Anchorage now....I know that comes as a shock to probably no one who knows me well, but there might be someone who doesn't know! I got a divorce from my husband of the last few years, final on February 2, 2007, and I had to leave my beloved home on Wadleigh by March 31. A cursory ending at best to what had become my life, my love, and my home. However......

That started a blessed event, actually, my return to civilization! After a hellish few weeks of packing up the things that I wanted to take with me from the house, packing all of them down the float, loading them into the skiff, travelling across the bay, unloading the skiff, hauling everything back up the float to a waiting truck, and taking the truck to the barge, I was incredibly exhausted. Mentally, physically, and emotionally.

I had to leave my beloved dogs behind - except for one, Scooby Doo. The pack will be fine on the island - it's the only home they've ever known. They will continue to hunt and fish and as far as I know, are still living in their home, as I left the door wide open for them when I left. I hope they guard it well and get to remain the primary residents. As for Scoobs, she made it in the back of a cramped, packed Ford Explorer for four days in the bowels of the MV Kennicott, which brought us across the Gulf of Alaska to the port city of Whittier, about one hour's drive from Anchorage.

She's a pretty tough little customer, as the last leg of the journey from Yakutat to Whittier involved some 25-30 foot seas. The Kennicott handled them remarkably - it's the newest vessel in the Marine Highway Fleet - Alaska's answer to public transportation, which is a great way to get around this state for a reasonable price. We boarded the ferry in Ketchikan after taking a small ferry from Prince of Wales first. The Kennicott took us to Juneau, Yakutat, and then Whittier. We got off and drove the Explorer on to Anchorage, which was a beautiful drive where I got to see the ocean frozen for the first time in my life - huge floating chunks of ice bigger than an island - amazing.

So I'm here in Anchorage now - I have a telephone, digital cable, internet, and an apartment. It's different, but we're adapting! Actually I haven't missed hauling gas in jerry jugs in the boat, loading the boat full of groceries, unloading the boat in general. But I do miss the solitude, the beauty, and the dogs. And I always will. I love you Purdy, Skinny Minnie, Brutus, Roxie, Mama Dog, and Seven. Scooby Doo misses you and says hi.

Monday, December 18, 2006

It was just gonna be a quick trip....

Hello everyone and I hope this Monday finds you warm and dry. Over the weekend, we had another tremendous snowstorm here, piling snow and then ice in huge drifts all over the island, filling the bay up with more floating chunks of menacing ice. This time they were too big for my boat to cut through - I had to try and avoid them.

Jim Paul and I decided to go hunting at low tide , which was 3:30 a.m. Saturday night/Sunday morning because with all this snow, the deer would be flushed down out of the woods onto the beaches. You have to go at low tide because there's room for the deer to come out of the woods - not to mention you have to have room to beach your skiff after you shoot, go get the deer, and get it into the boat. This is all considerably easier to do after low tide has passed, because the tide starts to come back in. Now obviously, this makes sense, or should anyway, because with the water rising, there is no danger of your boat getting beached. If the tide is going out, and you beach your boat, and turn your back for one minute, it's really beached. With constant vigilance, you can do this if you keep pushing it out repeatedly while holding on to the bow rope, and you can still get in it and leave. If not, you're screwed for about at least 6-8 hours unless you can move a 1200 pound aluminum boat filled with equipment and an engine mounted on the back.

Now, having said that, here we go. We took off around the back side of Wadleigh, and headed towards 11-Mile, which is heading almost to open Pacific Ocean waters - inside the Archipelago, we have the security (or danger) of many little islands and rocks to break the monotony of the open seas. That is why we run around in little beach seining skiffs that aren't really meant for ocean usage.....but I digress.

We were fine when we first started out - it was actually kind of nice, not bitterly cold, with a pretty steady pelting of huge snowflakes. If you opened your mouth for a few seconds, it was kinda like a little snack. Instead of bailing the boat out when we got in, we used a snow shovel! We crept along (now mind you it is PITCH dark outside - and we're using the moonlight to navigate - if you even turn on your flashlight when it's snowing, you're blinded for hours - the only thing that works is an amber light_) , easing past island after island, along the shores, watching over the sides of the boat for rocks, making our way past Chinaku, towards the 11 Mile Marker. During the day, this is where I bomb out in my little skiff to fish - it takes me about 30 minutes - it took considerably longer this night because we couldn't see.

Then, the snow really started to swirl, swirl, swirl, around us, and as we rounded the corner which allowed us to view the marker, an 8 foot wave picked us up and slammed us down. It killed my back, as I was closer to the bow than I should have been, but I was looking for rocks. Now Jim Paul is excellent in these situations, and he was not worried, not one bit. We rode out these waves for a while, until we finally fought our way there. When we finally found a spot to turn around without getting bashed onto rocky cliffs, we did, and started our journey back to the house. However....we still had no deer. But, this was when we were supposed to start looking for them anyway, right? So we did - but it seems as if the storm we encountered actually turned around and began to follow us in. We thought we'd get out of it when we turned, but we were wrong. We saw 12 deer over the next few hours, and Jim Paul shot at 5 of them. Now Jim Paul never misses - I've seen him come back from an evening drive down the road with 5 bucks on top of his car, and he wasn't even going hunting! The waves precluded shooting straight. They were 6 feet, 7 feet, 8 feet, it was so scary to watch him. He would stand up, hold the boat motor with his left thigh, put his right foot up on the seat, hold his gun, wipe the scope, and shoot. But about that time, the waves would throw us for another loop. His rifle kicked at the same time a wave threw the boat around sideways, and he cut his nose open. He could have cared less. The waves were brutal, and merciless. Then they started crashing over our heads, and we both got water down inside our Mustang suits. BAD. WET BAD. WET COLD.

Long story short, the journey home took hours. We hit rocks, we had other troubles that aren't worth mentioning. I ended up in the floor of the Lund between the middle seats, wrapped in a blue tarp, waiting for the stupid sun to come up. We got home at 10:30 in the morning, and let me tell you - I have never ever been so glad to see this place!!!! Needless to say, we didn't get any deer, but we didn't care. The best part of my journey, however, was when Jim Paul looked over the side and said "WOAAAA!! ROCKS!!" and immediately shut off the motor. How we didn't destroy the prop I still don't know, but we were drifting over the biggest reef I've ever seen, and it took us a while to get off of it. But, while I was looking over the edge, swathed in my tarp, I saw a family of seals, bobbing up and down in this beautiful floating mass of kelp, happily playing with each other, chasing food underneath the icy surface, flipping and bobbing with no cares in the world. I looked at one of them eye to eye - and for a moment, he almost winked at me, telling me to hang in there, slow down, and this too would pass.

Truthfully, even though it was an awful circumstance that most people would have considered to be horribly scarring, it was glorious. It was one of the most glorious nights of my life where I got to see and hear things that I never would have, and won't again, till the next time......

Love you guys, Jamie
By the way, here is Wikipedia's definition of where I live:
Alexander Archipelago (ärkĭpĕl'əgō) , island group off SE Alaska. The islands are the exposed tops of the submerged coastal mountains that rise steeply from the Pacific Ocean. Deep, fjordlike channels separate the islands and cut them off from the mainland; the northern part of the Inside Passage threads its way among the islands. The largest islands are Chichagof, Admiralty, Baranof, Wrangell, Revillagigedo, Kupreanof, Mitkoff, and Prince of Wales. All the islands are rugged, densely forested, and have an abundance of wildlife. The Tlingit are native to the area. Ketchikan (1990 pop. 8,263) on Revillagigedo island and Sitka (1990 pop. 8,588) on Baranof island. Lumbering, trapping, fishing, and canning are the main industries. The archipelago was visited by the Russians in 1741 and was later explored by Britain, Spain, and the United States.

Only seven-hundred miles up the coast from Seattle lies Alaska’s magnificent Alexander Archipelago. The outer islands of the archipelago form one of the most wild, beautiful, and little-explored temperate rain forest coastal ecosystems on earth. Inaccessible by any means other than private vessels appropriately outfitted, these wilderness areas lie far off the beaten path of tourism, waiting for your exploration and discovery. Among the designated wilderness areas of the Tongass National Forest that we visit are Coronation Island, Kuiu Island, South Prince of Wales Island, and remote Forrester Island, a part of the Alaska Maritime Refuge.

Called by some biologists "the Galapagos of the North", 2800 acre Forrester Island is home to some one-million seabirds, including horned and tufted puffins, Leach’s and fork-tailed storm petrels, Cassin’s and rhinoceros auklets, ancient murrelets, as well as one of the largest healthy Stellar sea lion rookeries in the world. Other wild residents of the Archipelago include the pigeon guillemot, yellow billed loon, Barrow’s goldeneye, harlequin duck, oldsquaw, red-necked phalarope, whimbrel, red-breasted sapsucker, varied thrush, Townsend’s warbler; numerous marine mammals including the sea otter, humpback whale, minke whale, orca (killer whale), Dall’s porpoise, Pacific white-sided dolphin; 49 terrestrial mammal species including the Alexander Archipelago wolf, and massive black and grizzly bear; a spectacular variety of colorful inter-tidal and marine life; an endless collection of unique temperate rain forest flora and fauna.