Friday, February 27, 2009

50 Something Degrees Today!

After work Goldfish and I brought Cali and Chico for a quick walk up Bunker Hill - you can see the warm temperatures are wreaking havoc with the remaining snow!  Contrary to popular belief, I am not ALWAYS wearing that New England sweatshirt when I'm outside (but I do wear it an awful lot).

All in all a pretty good day considering it started with 2 inches of raw sewage in the basement this morning - thanks to Edgar and Jed for all their hard work getting things repaired and back to normal.  I solved a technical issue at home this evening - won't bore you with the details, but it put a smile on Goldfish's face.  Yesterday was her birthday so now (until September) she's only 9 years younger than me . . . . sheesh I'm old . . . . . or as I prefer to call it, "knackered but interesting" . . . . 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What A Crazy Day . . . .

Last evening Goldfish and I walked up Haystack for our evening workout, noting the rising winds, the leading edge of a major storm.  When I walked Chico before bed, the wind blew him back and forth on the road like a kite on the end of the leash and I knew we were in for a good one.

As you have no doubt read on some of the other island blogs, the 58 foot F/V Icy Mist was taking on water and was intentionally grounded on Akutan Island where the Coast Guard eventually safely rescued all four crew members.  You can read more about that here.  Kudos to the helicopter crews that responded and rescued the crew in some of the worst weather of the year - amazing flying, by any standard. 

During the night we had wind gusts on Unalaska recorded at 107 MPH with many unofficial reports of 120 MPH.  These gusts tore off a few roofs, flipped skiffs off trailers, broke smoke stacks, and just generally threw around anything not nailed down.  I love the sound of a good storm and I slept like a baby; Goldfish, not so much.  During the night a houseboat tore loose from it's moorings in the small boat harbor and drifted across to Alyeska with two people on board.  They were able to hop off when it grounded at the mouth of the creek and unsuccessful attempts were made to tie the boat off.  It ended up at our dock, right by the cod unloading area, where it sank.

In the top picture you can see the roof of the houseboat; the third picture down you can see a Magone Marine crew on-site with salvage vessel Joshua.  They were able to pump out enough of the water to tow the boat to the Alyeska boat ramp and drag it on shore as the Coast Guard observed.  In the bottom photo, the man and his fiance that were staying on the houseboat are salvaging what they can of their possessions.  I figured I should take a few photos as all this was happening a stone's throw from my desk.

Despite all the violence and damage, I haven't heard of any lives lost on the Bering from this one, and for that we are all thankful, and again humbled by the forces nature can bring to bear on the workings of man.  

In unrelated news, we heard on the news this evening that our little Unalaska Community Library was given a four star rating for the year as reported by the American Library Association, ranking it among the best 256 libraries in America - quite an honor directly related to the 5 great staff members working there, one of whom is fellow blogger Lauri from Life on the Rock - great job Lauri!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Polar Bear Run/Walk

The Polar Bear 5K Run/Walk was on Sunday and Goldfish and I went on our lunch and semi-participated - we signed the waiver but started 20 minutes early so we could get back to work on time.  Next year we vowed to run for time (and the cool sweatshirt).  Saw lots of friends out there - Super Mom in the top photo finished right behind us, despite pushing the stroller and our 20 minute head start.  The real superstar can be seen waving from inside the stroller if you look real close!

Friday, February 20, 2009

20 Months and a Day

After EMS training last night Goldfish and I went to the Grand to celebrate our "Island Anniversary" as we do every month on the 19th.  I had visited out here before but was still surprised how at home I felt from the very first day in June 2007.

Tonight after work I rode the motorcycle all the way out to Morris Cove (the end of the island road system in that direction), amazing considering the time of year and no winter road maintenance past Summer's Bay.  The wind was howling then and it still is as I watch F/V Bulldog entering the East Channel and approaching the dock to make a crab delivery.  Goldfish just scooted out the door, heading to the plant to meet the captain and get the paperwork started.  I'm heading to bed to get some reading done, Book Club meets Sunday!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Haven't Posted An Eagle in Awhile . . .

"We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of wild animals.  Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creatures through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion.  We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken a form so far below ourselves.  And therein we err, greatly err.  For the animal shall not be measured by man.  In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.  They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and the travail of the earth."
                             -     Henry Beston, The Outermost House
 I think that thought stands on it's own . . . I photographed the eagle in the tree directly outside my living room window a couple days ago.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wind Burned Ballyhoo Baby

We borrowed Kali from Bear and brought the dogs for a workout on Ballyhoo tonight after work.  It was good to be out snowshoeing and even though we turned around only halfway up, we both ended up with some pretty windburn.  You can see Chico waiting patiently along the trail for us to stop goofing off and get back hiking.  Speaking of Chico, he heard a loud noise and bolted when we got back to the truck and we spent 40 minutes and some more hill climbing looking for him.  Our "Dog Whisperer" friend Bear came out and helped look and found him on the West side of the mountain, reuniting him with two very worn out and worried dog parents . . . . . .

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Unalaska Biggest Winner Challenge

Goldfish and I went down to the PCR this afternoon and registered for the Unalaska Biggest Winner Challenge, a one year contest and commitment to healthier living.  You can learn more about this on-going contest here and I placed a link on the sidebar under Unalaska Blogs.  I'm dead tired and turning in early tonight, but sometime in the next couple days I'll blog about weight loss, why I've struggled, and why it is so important to me now.  Char and Alena, thank you so much for getting the ball rolling!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Cupid spoiled us rotten today with Goldfish scoring a Guns and Roses combination - 44 long stems and a Walther PPKS with cleaning kit and accessories - how romantic is that?  I got a long lens for the digital SLR I got for Christmas, a pizza stone to encourage my from-scratch creations, and one of those Keurig coffee makers for my office.  We went out to Peking this evening, honoring our Chinese food Valentine's tradition; after dabbling for awhile, Goldfish has given up red meat for good so she had to give up her beloved pot sticker appetizers.

I hope everyone had a wonderful day today - the weather sure turned out nice after a very nasty start this morning.  A very Happy Valentine's Day to my Goldfish, my nieces, my daughter-in-law, my wonderful two sisters, my brother's wife, my Dad's wife and all the other strong, beautiful women in my life - thanks for your patience, love and understanding.

Friday, February 13, 2009

2nd Annual Chocolate Extravaganza at the Museum

We attended the Chocolate Extravaganza at the Museum of the Aleutians on Friday night.  I don't have any pictures of anything chocolate because I kind of quickly moved past all that to the Karel Machalek Aleutian Soft Metal Exhibit - amazing!  You can see more pictures of the exhibit at the Museum Website.  Partway through the exhibit I was introduced to Sharon's husband Caleb and for the rest of the time there Caleb and I adjourned to the Main Gallery kayak exhibit area and talked about traditional Aleut kayak construction methods - what a great guy, so passionate about the subject and has obviously spent a lot of time thinking about and experimenting with kayak form and function, ever mindful of the Aleutian waves and weather.  If they hadn't dimmed the lights on us as a hint to leave, I would probably still be there picking his brain . . . . . 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Celebrating End of Month

This post should have actually been a couple days before the storm pictures; on Saturday after work I got the bike out for a quick ride to blow off steam after finishing the end of month reporting.  A dusting of snow on top of ice made for careful riding but it was great to enjoy the avalanche-free road and the mild temperatures.  Of course Forrest from F&G was out on his mountain bike on the same road, making me feel guilty for not working out.

Tonight Goldfish and I recorded an interview with StoryCorps and got to meet a fellow island blogger for the first time.  The 40 minutes went by really fast and I would encourage everyone to participate - a copy of the recording will be archived in the Library of Congress as a searchable document, available for future generations to enjoy.  Learn more about StoryCorps here and if you are on the island, call Kristine at 359-8016 to schedule an appointment - tell her Steve sent you!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Storm Is Over

One of the statistics I uncovered when I was considering moving to Unalaska is that the average wind speed is 17 MPH, roughly three times the US average.  When the wind blows in the summer, you can see the grass bend and the flags wave, but in the winter you can actually see the air move, the blowing snow revealing each twist and turn as the wind moves in from the sea and slams into any object in it's path, creating ground blizzard conditions. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

Busy Week

I haven't had a chance to be on-line much this week, I've been pushing to "close the month" and get my end of month reporting in to the Seattle office.  I did make it home tonight in time to see the last half of the Channel 8 Auction and take advantage of the low tide by walking Chico along the Illiuliuk Bay beach.

Good to talk with you today Dad, drive careful on the way back to Maine from Arizona!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

You Just Never Know . . .

You never what kind of wildlife you'll see on a dog walk; a couple nights ago Chico and I were walking along the shore of Little South America and noticed the sea lions were in a frenzy of activity, clearly excited by something.  On the way back to the truck we discovered why - it was coworkers Joe and Gary emerging from a dive where they had been completely surrounded by the cavorting sea lions.   Joe is grinning ear to ear because this is a first dive with his new dry suit - the diver/dry suit bond is a difficult one to explain but I will tell you in my EMT training it was mentioned, only half-jokingly, that some divers may prefer to just die if the emergency treatment involves cutting their suit off . . . . 

Monday, February 2, 2009

Change of Course Required

Directly across the road from where I live is Illiuliuk River, a small intertidal stream flowing maybe a mile from the lake to the ocean.  In the summer, especially in "even" years, the river fills with salmon, mostly pinks with the odd sockeye and coho.  Year round there are always eagles, perched on the slopes of Haystack Hill, on the light poles, and on the shores of the river.  I used to wonder why they watched the water so intently, even when the salmon were not running, until I saw one swoop down and come up with a fat Irish Lord, a type of sculpin common in these waters, called "Toad Heads" by the processors when spotted on the by-catch sorting line.

Along with eagles, an assortment of skiffs line the river's edge, and invariably a few break loose in the winter storms and get knocked around, drifting up and down the river with the tides, filling with water until their owners notice and rescue them or they wash out to sea.  Before I moved here I would look at Google Earth pictures of the area and those skiffs tied up just 40 feet from my soon-to-be bedroom never failed to capture my imagination.

January is behind us now and it's time to take stock - let's see, just 4 books read and 277 miles on the recumbent bike for the month.  That is not going to get me to 100 books and 10,000 miles; I may not be quite swamped and ice-bound yet but I do need to step up the effort!