Friday, July 27, 2012
June 27th: Four days after Tom and Jayden departed June 22nd granddaughter Sarah and grandson Micah arrived for two weeks. I love having grandkids up here. One never knows what we will see. Plus July 4th is big doings in our little village. Alaskans and tourists appear from all over for the festivities. This year I entered the egg toss. Since doing this event with Paulette would be an unfair advantage I asked our friend Molly if she would like to participate. We did pretty well. Out of about 50 teams we were among the last ten when things got a little scrambled. THE fun event of the day was the greased pole. A 25 foot spruce tree was cut down and trimmed smooth of bark and branches, then extended horizontally from the side of the bridge out over the river. In a hole at the far end of the pole was placed a rolled up $20 bill. For variation occasionally a $50 or $100 was inserted. The pole was rubbed down with a layer of Crisco shortening. Participants, one at a time, then try to work their way out to the end of the pole and grab the cash before falling 15 feet into the chilly river. The catch is the pole gets thinner and bends more as one gets closer to the money end. An uncontrolled slide was usually the result for the last few feet. Most slid right by in a desperate grab for the cash. To my amazement 12 year old Micah said afterward he thought about trying. Sarah, 13, responded she didn’t need $20 that badly. Weather took a turn for the better. We are currently in a summer pattern with nights around 55 degrees and days ten to fifteen degrees higher, and sunshine once the marine layer burns off. We have gone twelve glorious days without rain. Moose were plentiful for a month or more. We love seeing them. Now that the calves are getting a little bigger mama moose ventures deeper into the forest and we see them less often. The big moose event for me happened about three weeks ago. There are signs posted around town warning about moose #1 (the number on her monitoring collar). These warnings state she is apt to charge if one gets too close. We occasionally viewed her and her twin calves over several weeks. Micah and Sarah even got a more than close view as she walked her calves right past our front window one evening while we were eating dinner. After the grandkids departed for California I was picking up construction debris near the cabin when my peripheral vision registered movement. In the 1/10 of a second it took to look up I saw moose #1 running straight at me. Though she was seventy feet away one does not wait to learn moose intentions. With the help of an adrenal gland I bolted my arthritic joints for the corner and then another 30 feet to the cabin door. Once at the door I took the liberty of looking back and #1 had not followed. I know this may sound crazy, but events like this are some of what I love about remote Alaska. In another instance the grandkids and I were walking a forest trail. A narrow strip of tall grass stands between the ocean and the path. As we hiked two tourists appeared on the beach adjacent to us. A small black bear, about five feet tall when standing on its hind legs, stood up in the grass and looked at the tourists. The problem was Sarah was only ten feet from the bear when it stood up. I instructed Sarah to get on the other side of me and move away. At the sound of my voice the bear turned and looked at us, and gave a “woof” of warning. Sarah related the sighting to her mom that night by phone. Her mom was excited for Sarah until she asked Sarah how far away she was from the bear. Sarah said, “Ten feet.” The realization hit her mother and she exclaimed a loud, “WHAT?” Work progresses on the cabin. Paulette helped me put up the last eleven pieces of siding. All in all a bit over half the cabin now has a final exterior. The siding transformation is fabulous. With the recent sunshine I put in sill cocks, caulked around exterior windows and doors, and painted some trim. Right now it is too nice to work inside. On future rainy days I plan to tape drywall and paint the interior. July 19th. The salmon runs are all late this year but while fishing for junk fish to use as halibut bait I caught a Pink salmon from the dock. I guess we are having fresh salmon this week. July 26th my day started at 5AM. Three of us old codgers kayaked through the “cut” (impassable if not at high tide) to fish a semi-remote river for Sockeye salmon. Sockeye is considered the best of the salmon and worth the extra work to obtain. We caught a few nice ones, all between 24 and 30 inches in length. We fished all day as we needed to wait until the next high tide (11.5 hour tide cycle) to return through the cut. Add to the equation that all three of us are 62-64 years of age, we had to kayak upriver against the stiff current, be vigilant for bears while fishing, and fight the current all day standing in the river wearing waders. By 7PM high tide we were bone weary. We then had to paddle all the way back and process the fish. The ladies left a note on the truck that they were waiting the lodge to eat when we got back. My day ended at 10PM. I am realizing the future bounty of Alaska is not all that accessible in these so-called golden years. I may have to limit “muscle” trips or stick with boat caught fish.