Happy New Year! 2008 was pretty interesting. I learned a few things the hard way, got a grip on myself (eventually), and feel somewhat more hopeful going into the new year. I started my job at Fish & Game last December and with a year under my belt I have something of a handle on my program (the Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund). I like the work and the Department suits me (there are stuffed critters on the walls and it’s very down to earth); the job’s demands are constantly changing and I’m constantly behind in an acceptable sort of way. The most interesting part by far is the supervision of four people, three of whom came to the program after me. Quite the challenge on top of a very busy job! I’ve had the chance to travel again, mostly to meetings in
I recall correctly we had normal winter weather going into 2008. I cross-country skied a bit and finally
managed to meet Romeo, the lone black wolf that haunts the Mendendhall
area every winter. My dad bought me a
missed the cabin trip in March after planning a vacation for my mother
and I to
Summer curtailed the social life a bit as I was out of town most weekends and running errands or recovering on weekdays. I headed down to Snettisham the first time on May 3rd and in the end spent 16 out of 22 weekends out of town May through September, including 13 down at Snettisham. I didn’t make stunning progress this summer but did accomplish a few major tasks including completion of the drinking water system which now brings potable running water into the lodge and drains it into a legal gray water system. This involved construction of a “bear-proof” box to house the gray water filter system to protect it from bears.
Inside the lodge I made other dramatic improvements, painting the floor, insulating the walls and covering the studs with gorgeous local hemlock siding. It feels more and more cozy and comfortable down there and it becomes easier and easier to relax on the couch and drink hot toddies rather than work. If anything, though, it was the frequent guests that steered me from labor and, in a way, I’m rather proud of the number of people I was able to bring down (12 in all)—quite a feat given transportation and scheduling difficulties. Once I brought down three girls at once for a “girls weekend.” Few of my guests were eager for construction and I was ready enough for fun and relaxation. A friend and I made a quick trip to Sweetheart Creek in August, sneaking into our favorite fishing point at and coming home later that morning with 18 sockeye salmon.
I did stay in town for a few weekends here and there, some to stave off utter exhaustion and others to coincide with social events. Several of the more notable parties the group put on included “Stigmatarama” (an irreverent hotel party), “There Will be Whiskey” (including a “There Will Be Blood” viewing and whiskey sours), a going-away BBQ at Sandy Beach, and a fun, raucous Halloween party that soaked my carpet in beer and punch. I went as Michelle Obama as depicted on the cover of the New Yorker. I also contracted whooping cough over summer, which left me gasping and coughing miserably for several weeks.
fall came on with the inevitable exhaustion and I began to get my town
back together. My garden had been
woefully neglected since spring and other than filling in a few empty
planting seeds it was unfortunately ignored all summer.
It did the best it could given the neglect
and the dreadful weather and I was pretty surprised at the big bowl of
carrots and potatoes that grew in my tiny little vegetable plot. In September I heard that we’d had the fourth
rainiest and second coldest summer on record and set several rainfall
(in volume, consecutive days, and total days).
There were some sunny cool days in the spring, but not much sun
June; between June and the middle of September I believe we had a total
rainless days. People began to say witty
things like “this was the warmest winter I’ve ever been through!” Seriously, it was wet and cold with little
break. Thankfully, it didn’t slow me
down even a little and I cheerfully wound up doing everything outside I
have done otherwise. I took over 30
trips in my faithful little skiff, now complete with a bilge pump (a
given the steady rains) and housed for the summer at
2008 yielded little satisfying whale activity and no orcas whatsoever
year without orcas or the Stephen’s Passage whale group-up in eight
years). To make up for that, though, I
had some pretty stellar land encounters including considerable
time with a lovely familiar
brown bear down at Snettisham and a wolverine up the Taku (Nigel treed
it in a spruce
tree). I also saw a black wolf along the
October I flew to
Back in Juneau I scrubbed the carpets (post-Halloween) and did some rearranging and deep cleaning in the house to make up for the summer’s neglect and added some insulating features to help reduce fuel costs this winter. I spent a long weekend at Eagle Glacier Cabin with some friends in October, listening all day to a trio of trumpeter swans calling on the lake. On the hike back, we followed the tracks of a wolf in the snow, a few hours old at most. Now the boats are covered, the garden tucked in, the house in order, and I can finally settle in to enjoy the winter.