Friday, November 30, 2007

Can't Believe It's December!

I don't think it has quite sunk in yet that November has crept by silently and Christmas is just 25 days away. I'm focusing on end of month reporting and wrapping up projects before I head to Seattle for a week and time seems to racing out of control. After work (and after a crab leg supper) I went to the wood shop and cut the pieces I needed to make an indexing jig for my Christmas card project and spent some time on-line shopping. The good news is that I took an extra day down south and my sister and family can meet me halfway at Kenniwick for some family time while I'm outside!

I took the picture above a couple days ago when we were walking Chico up in the valley. There is this small waterfall there and the long exposure needed with the fading light gave the water the fuzzy look. Due to the massive amounts of rain the last storm dumped and the high temps almost all of the snow is gone, all the way to the tops of the mountains. We're starting from scratch again, hope we have some for a white Christmas . . . .

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Aftermath

Winds calmed down to 25 mph today, and it turns out that is just a calm before ANOTHER storm coming in tommorow. Winds topped at 80 mph last night, high enough to send a 40 foot container tumbling down a hillside, damaging a house. You can read about that here. For tommorow they are calling for 90 mph winds so there's no telling what fun is in store. I can't wait to get out in the teeth of it and feel the fury . . .

All day I thought about how I wanted to head out to Summer's Bay to beachcomb my favorite beach and see what the storm brought in right after work. I loaded Chico up in the Goldfish's Honda (the Battle Wagon is "resting") and we headed out but quickly found the first of many rockslides blocking the road - and indeed the rock was continuing to fall down as we walked along the road so we stopped our walk after 30 minutes. You can see the first couple rockslides in the pictures above . . . . there were also a few seals along the coast keeping us company as we walked.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More Horse Pics for Sis

We're having the biggest storm I've seen out here as I type, sustained 50 MPH winds, gusting to higher, very angry seas. I wanted to take pictures when I walked the dog but knew that would finish my camera off for sure. Chico had a tough time squatting without getting blown over and I had to really lean into it to make any forward progress - it is impressive and still is - and now that I think about it Chico has to go out one more time before bed.

I loved being outside in it, the rain sounding like buckshot on my raingear, the wildness of it all. I've heard about winds sounding like a freight train and that is exactly right, the perfect way to describe it.

Anyways, here are a few more wild horse pictures from the day before Thanksgiving for my sister to enjoy. We were sad we didn't have any apples for them . . . .

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Of Horses and Men

The day before Thanksgiving Zack and I piled into the war wagon at the airport and used the rest of the daylight to explore some of the island. We turned onto the road leading up iinto the pass and came upon the Summers Bay horses right after the lake. We both took lots of pictures but this was the one where I heard Zack murmer "that's going to be a good one" from behind me - so here you go son, hope it looks like you saw it last week. It looks like the mare might be pregnant . . .

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Monday

It seems like the month of November is just flying by - I'm trying to get things done at work before I fly to Seattle in a couple weeks, there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day. I have a half dozen projects at home I'd like to wrap up in the next month, I want to make soap for the holidays and haven't ordered some of the supplies I need. You get the idea . . . . it's a frantic time of year, isn't it?

This is my son standing on a big rock on the shore of Little South America a few days ago on his visit. Hope everyone is having a more relaxing time as December approaches . . . .

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cheap Camera

From time to time when Zack and I were exploring the island during his visit he would gripe about the quality of his digital camera and how he wanted to get a better one - I'm probably not a very sympathetic audience as the one I have is very cheap as well. I bought it for $120 in a Walmart in Oregon last year on a motorcycle trip from Alaska to Maine when I realized the $40 35mm camera I had wasn't going to cut the mustard. I began by putting it in a plastic bag in my leather vest inside pocket; eventually I stopped using the plastic bag, and now I just tuck it in my jeans pocket. After thousands of pictures and two trips across the US on a motorcycle in all kinds of weather, tons of dog walks and hikes on hills and beaches with grit and sand, it makes an odd grinding noise when the lens extends on power-up and sometimes refuses to work at all but I've grown rather fond of it and have no plans to upgrade until it dies completely. It frustrates me no end it doesn't have very good zoom ability - no Harlequin duck closeups :o( - and I can afford better but to me, the camera is part of the process. When you have a cheap camera you have to work a bit harder to get what you want and be willing to compromise - but the one thing I've learned about any material possession is that the wanting is always better than the having . . . . and the mental pictures taken when you are truly paying attention to the moment are always better than anything from a camera. I vividly remember riding with my brother last fall from Niagara Falls to his place in Maine, two days of great riding on twisty roads through balsam fir forests, senses sharpened by the fresh air, totally in sync with the road, both instantly braking for a deer bounding in the road and then back on the gas. I have pictures from that time but nothing compares to what I really saw during that time.

I guess what got me thinking along these lines was looking through the pictures taken during Zack's visit - nothing compares to how nice it was to have him here. Miss you already son, hope the king crab made it home safe - love you, Dad.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cheers Everyone

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, I've been having fun with my son for the last few days and was sad to put him on a plane back to Anchorage this afternoon. In the picture above Zack is updating his fantasy football league picks the night before Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for this year - two perfect sons, a fantastic daughter-in-law, the ultimate grand daughter, my brother who is always there for me, Dad and Penny who have taught me so much, two perfect sisters and nieces and nephew, my on-line friends and fellow bloggers who inspire and encourage me, my friends here on the island who help out in so many ways and are always game for an adventure, and for Goldfish who always has my back and makes everyday fun. Thanks everyone and happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chores Are Done

We've been busy getting chores done before the company gets here for Thanksgiving. Our friend Kristi flew in from Anchorage today and Zack flies in tommorow. I've got the Christmas lights around the windows, the place is spotless and all the grocery shopping is done. I just need to do some final checking on the truck and I'll be ready to bring Zack exploring all over the island - hopefully we can still make it through the pass in 4WD. I'm a little unclear on the full menu as so many people are cooking things - I know I'm cooking a couple of my famous salmonberry pies, making a cranberry mold and cooking some red king crab legs. I'm sure we'll have plenty of pictures to share - if I don't get a chance to blog tommorow evening, everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

No Harlequin Romance For Me

These are Harlequin ducks and there are probably 20 mated pairs of them in the river across the street. They mock me daily - I can stand in my bedroom and watch them, I can walk on the sidewalk and watch them, but if I cross the street and try to take a picture they take off. They are gorgeous - none of my pictures do them justice but check out Google images to see them up close and feel my pain. I feel terrible making them fly off, so I stay on my side of the road and admire them from afar . . . . . . . . the fact they won't pose for a photo just makes me love them more.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

No Whale For Me

Goldfish and Keri walked the dogs on Stawberry Hill this afternoon and reported there were whales very close to shore along the road to the Dutch side. I was heading over there anyways to pick up a chest freezer to put in the basement for us to stash our salmon (gift from a friend), salmonberries, cod, blueberries and crab - the freezer we have is perpetually completely full forcing me to finish a Ben and Jerry's all in one sitting these days (what a horrible life I lead). Anyways, I jumped in a company flatbed and headed over to Dutch Harbor and we saw the tail of the humpback as he dived but we waited and waited while the light faded and I never did see him surface to get a picture. The water isn't very deep where he was so I think he swam either to the left, around the corner of Little South America, or to the right towards open ocean. So no whale photo for me today - serves me right for not walking the dogs with the girls on such a beautiful day . . . . I took a picture while I was waiting, you'll have to mentally insert your own whale into the scene . . . .

Saturday, November 17, 2007

So Quiet

We flew the last big batch of processors home for the holidays today leaving just a skeleton crew to keep things running. There is much less boat traffic to admire even though some boats fishing for other companies are still out there getting their quota. The snow that we got is slowly melting with temps in the 30's. I'm working a few hours tommorow to get caught up but look forward to making a few phone calls to loved ones! Cheers and good night . . . .

Friday, November 16, 2007

Last Crab Delivery Today

Actually I think we are getting a couple thousand pounds on Monday but for all practical purposes this season is a wrap. Most of the processors have flown home for break with the last big batch leaving tommorow. The galley stopped serving around the clock last week and shortened their serving times for the day shift. Everything is getting quiet - except it seems in my office where the staff is cut in half due to vacations and we broke our one day record for crab homepack sales today. Goldfish will be coming over to engineering to give us a hand starting Monday for a couple weeks before she heads home for Christmas break. And next week is Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

49er Fan

One of our boat captains is a 49ers fan - can you spot the helmet on his stack array?

We got our first plowable snow today on the island. Some of it melted but some of it stuck, I'll get out this weekend and get some photos. I'm going to be a bit shorthanded at work for a few weeks while folks are on vacations but I hope to get some time off while my son is here next week . . . . cheers, hope everyone is enjoying the season, where ever you are . . .

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I know the seagulls are trying to communicate by stomping out messages in the snow, I just can't read it . . . . I rode my bike to the PCR and worked on my pottery projects tonight after work so I'd be ready for class tommorow night. Also tommorow is the bon voyage party for the guy I'm replacing at work. It still can't decide whether we need snow or not out here - it snows, then melts, snows, then melts . . . .

Monday, November 12, 2007

Light Dusting

Poor Western Dawn looks tiny next to a Rose boat - you lose the perspective and forget she delivers a quarter million pounds of pollock at a time. The Bering Rose delivers 800,000 pounds - she's a big girl. You can see we got a dusting of snow that coated the mountains all the way to the base.

I walked Chico at Summer's Bay tonight after work and just marveled that the beach was empty - like it always is - all this beauty and everyone is working too hard to enjoy it. Folks work long hours, collapse in front of the TV, go to bed, and do it all over again the next day. If I ever get to that point I know it will be time to leave here for othe horizons, but for now I can't imagine not being thrilled everytime I open my door or look out the window . . . . .

Sunday, November 11, 2007

View From the Living Room

I was sitting at the dining room table reading and heard an unfamiliar roar coming from the East Channel - I'm starting to be able to identify some of the boats by sound and I'd never heard this one, and I could tell it was moving fast. I had just enough time to grab a camera a snap a couple shots of F/V Cornelia Marie whizzing by, heading home to Seattle for the break between seasons.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Night At the Museum

Goldfish shipped her new Honda Element out to the island and we picked it up this morning at Horizon. She had the day off and picked up the girls for lunch at 3 Amigos, then they wanted to go run the dogs on Ballyhoo but she didn't want to load two dogs into the new vehicle and Keri's company truck had a broken ball joint so she took the Battle Wagon. She called me at work from the mountain to let me know she had a low tire and was leaving the truck there, hitching a ride back with Elaine. I told her that was fine, I would go up and fix the tire later that evening.

Now, I told you that long convuluted story because it leads up to us going out tonight to a Museum of the Aleutians fundraiser auction at the Grand. I brought what I needed to head up the moutain and fix the tire and bring the truck home after the auction. We settled in with a plate of food and our auction paddle having already scouted out the live auction items and made some bids on the silent auction items. We had decided on a couple pieces of art we couldn't leave without but we quickly discovered there were some deep pockets in the room but we hung in there on the one Ray Hudson blockprint that showed the church and the plant in the background and then we also got a great deal on a silent auction item.

There were also some door prizes - my name got drawn twice, and one of the prizes was a tire repair . . . . that was just too wierd! I headed up and go the tire inflated after the auction but Goldfish thought it made for a good photo opportunity with the tire repair certificate. The roads out here are super hard on tires so I can see how this was a popular door prize . . .

I have tommorow off so I hope to get out and take some pictures with the little bit of snow cover we got today before it melts. Cheers . . . .

Friday, November 9, 2007

Wow . . .

I can't quite believe it is already almost the middle of November . . . this fall has flown by, I think I get so focused at work I don't notice the days whizzing by . . . . less than 2 weeks to Thanksgiving, that will be a blast . . . Goldfish is flying home for the first two weeks of December leaving the dog and I to fend for ourselves . . . . there is some debate whether we will have Sunday off or not as F/V Bulldog is coming in with a load of crab Saturday night and may still be off-loading Sunday morning.

This week's newspaper has a nice picture of crab being unloaded from F/V Atlantico at our dock on page 15 and a picture of this year's Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest on page 16. The contest was filmed by a Discovery Channel film crew and will probably be on this season's Deadliest Catch.

Cheers and good night, I'm off for some storm reading . . . . . .

Thursday, November 8, 2007

No Floating Rocks Tonight

I walked the dog on the beach tonight after work at my favorite spot to beach comb for pumice with no luck (well, the dog walking part went good, but I got skunked on the pumice front). I did get a few nice shells and a nice barnacle cluster and the fresh air did me good. I'm heading to bed early - Goldfish is handling crab deliveries and is working late.

Cheers - and a special shout out to my sister in Idaho, I love you Sis, keep your chin up! Little Bro . . . .

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Season Is Winding Down . . .

Just a few more crab deliveries and things are going to get really quiet around here until the first of the year. I'm looking forward to at least 6 Sundays off before A season starts and it's back to 7 days a week for three months.

I went to pottery class tonight and had fun despite being somewhat sleep deprived. We did a pinch pot and a box - it is a nice pottery studio and you can't beat the price to belong to the PCR, just $1 a day gives you full access to the gym, pool, pottery studio, basketball courts and raquetball. A bargain in a place where things aren't always a bargain . . .

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Quiet Night

I listen to NPR at work all day - not because I'm a stuffy intellectual, because it is the only radio station on the island . . . anyways, the other day there was a great program about eagles and I kept jotting little tidbits of eagle trivia down on a sticky note as I worked and listened so I would remember all the cool new stuff I was learning. At the end of the day I stuck the sticky note in my pants pocket and promptly washed my pants - that very same night I believe - losing all my notes. The most interesting fact stuck in my head though - immature eagles always appear much larger than adult eagles but in reality their bodies are the same size. Immature eagles have much more feather mass, both in length and density; scientists believe this is like a set of training wheels helping them fly better until they become more skilled and can get by with less flight surface area. I always wondered why the adults were smaller - out here I actually would wonder that every day. Case closed, on to the next mystery . . . .

Monday, November 5, 2007

View From The Living Room

Everyone has their favorite crab boat - I suspect Cornelia Marie and Time Bandit top the list - but here's a look at mine, F/V Arctic Fox. You could put Arctic Fox on the deck of Cornelia Marie with room to spare but I love the color and the squat stubby look of the Arctic Fox . . . plus they deliver to Harbor Crown Seafoods so they are docked right next to the road when delivering, and they pass by my place through the East Channel. How can you not smile when you see the Fox chugging by??
They were filming F/V North American yesterday in the East Channel, a deck load of pots and probably heading back to Seattle for the season break. They were filming from a small skiff that was traveling just ahead and to the starboard side. I heard a sub-plot of this season is going to be the return of the North American to the crab grounds.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day off yesterday - I slept in, watched the Patriots game, called my bro in Maine and cooked another killer pizza. Hope everyone had a great weekend, cheers . . . . .

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Early Posting

I'm posting early tonight as Goldfish and I are walking down the block to see the end of an era as Latitudes, formerly the Elbow Room, closes forever after tonight. Rated the Second Most Dangerous Bar In The World in it's glory years (there was some bar in Hong Kong that took first place), the Elbow Room has long been a fixture here on the island but the neighborhood has changed since those days and the owners sold out to Unisea who have no intention of keeping it open. There are now no bars in Unalaska - both bars still open are on the Dutch Harbor side. There should be an interesting parade of characters streaming through that tiny bar all night . . . .

We have tommorow off - most of the guys I work with have not had a day off in the last four months. I should have Sundays off from now on until crab and pollock season starts back up January 1, and the production guys are beginning to fly home for their well deserved 2 month vacation. All we have left is a few more crab deliveries and this season will be a wrap! Cheers!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Night Watchmen

This photo is actually a couple weeks old when I was taking an evening walk along the dock. Now the dock look quite different as boat captains wind up their seasons and head home for a break before coming back near the first of the year. Most leave their boats parked here and fly home so the dock gets packed with boats 2 and 3 deep. Today the captains and crew were buying crab, cod and pollock to ship home. It seems wrong somehow that the crew has to pay the same price I do for seafood after working so hard . . . . . I've got 60 pounds of king crab in storage for the holidays meals - might have to make some more pizza!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dirty Little Secret

It's no secret that Goldfish likes ravens much better than eagles, and those of you that have spent time around eagles might guess why - they poop really, really big . . . . I mean, they lean forward on whatever they are perched on and just let loose a white Linda Blairish stream of white that coats and splatters whatever (and whomever) is unlucky enough to be in range. It is indeed impressive as the photo above demonstrates - AND they are messy eaters. This is not a head of a 3 or 4 pound pink salmon, this is the head of an 8 or 9 pound silver salmon and with accompanying artwork it makes for a bit of an obstacle on the little footbridge crossing the river by my place. Goldfish claims eagles actually AIM at people . . . . I'm not convinced. I've spent dozens of hours in the field trying to dig up sordid little secrets about ravens to counter her claims which are pretty indisputable with no luck. I can't even produce evidence that ravens even poop, let alone poop untidily . . . . . . .