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Just luck or the hand of God ?

March 27, 2017

For years before I moved to Alaska permanently I drove four round trips to my old home in Pennsylvania, and that by itself is very close to 20,000 miles. During most of those trips I only slept for four hours a day, tempting fate that I would not fall asleep at the wheel. Also on numerous occasions I remember driving in Canada in fog so thick I had to have my head out of the window and guided myself by looking at the center-line in the roadway. I am saying this because my survival makes one wonder if at times some higher power wasn’t indeed looking out for my welfare.

I bring this up because last night this higher power was once again at work and a walk around the apartment complex this morning proved it. In Alaska I was concerned about earthquakes a 7.9 that I was in, bears around my cabin and forest fires like the one that came within half a mile of the homestead. But after 14 years living in my wilderness home they became second nature. Now In Texas during the spring I have to be aware of tornadoes and hail storms one of which blew through here last night.

Your asking what does this have to do with the ‘hand of God’, well last night the people of Denton country were spared not living through a tornado, but we did get hit with a hail storm. This morning emergency work crews are here starting to repair roofs for leaks, apartment and clubhouse windows shattered as the many cars and trucks with broken windows and hundred of dents sit as proof that a higher power does exist.

Why would one car have its windows destroyed and another alongside remain untouched? Why would your neighbors apartment window be broken and yours not? Just a matter of luck? In no way do I understand why these things happen to some but not to others but if you fall back on saying they are just lucky than I truly feel sorry for you. I believe there is almost always a purpose for what happens to us even though we may never understand why, and I think that purpose is directed by a higher power.

Whether you believe in God or not
I think
it may not truly matter
because
he believes in you.

A victory celebration…. oboma-care will continue

March 25, 2017

While grown men curse and holler at each other in the isles of congress, across the nation from the crowded apartments of Manhattan and the farms of California to the myriad of homeless camps in San Francisco a sigh of relief was heard, when the President said enough bickering and canceled a vote on the republican replacement for oboma-care.

For years the republicans have attempted to either repeal or replace oboma-care and now when they have the majority in both houses and control the Oval Office they go down in flames fighting with each other. One would think after all these years they would have the replacement bill locked away just waiting for such an opportunity. However like everything else this nation needs our representatives can not agree on how much pork, (amendments), each member is entitled to. No I do not think it is a mater of them arguing over details of the replacement, but how the amendments will benefit the congressman or their financial backers.

I have had medical insurance all my working life and this was at a time when the government was not involved at all. Yes rates went up over the years, but so did every other thing ‘we the people’ bought for our daily lives. But as soon as oboma-care went into effect the cost of health insurance skyrocketed, to the point that it is like paying your home mortgage twice each month. Now I am not saying oboma-care was totally unnecessary because it did enact a number of policies that the health insurance industry ignored, paramount among them the ‘pre-existing condition’ clause, but what good is it to have this and not be able to afford the insurance to cover it?

So because the new congress is acting like a bunch of spoiled kids who want it their way or else… we are to stuck with the affordable care act directing our health care. As for myself I am happy they could not agree because no matter what they came up with in the end there would be problems and I am sure the democrats and media would have a field day pointing out those flaws. Now when oboma-care self-implodes maybe just maybe someone will realize they should have never gotten involved in the first place.

When congress had a chance to help us
all they did was
republicans fighting republicans as if they were democrats
and once again
‘we the people’
are left to fend by ourselves.

We are all sheep!

March 20, 2017

Silence abounds within the endless neurons of my brain, where not even the faint glow of a spark of creativity is glimpsed within its dark recesses. I can not lay this void off on depression or lack of national or world events only because I have like all of you become one of the tens of millions of sheep!

At home the ever present bickering continues over communications being compromised, a new improved ‘destined to fail’ before it is passed into law health care system and a budget the media says is biased toward the military. On the world scene daily thousands of migrants still risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean and flood the nations that do not want them, but the feeding frenzy that the world media once touted as a humanitarian crisis is no longer heard.

The almost daily opposition protests over the election of Donald Trump have faded to a whimper only to be replaced by scattered protests over the new presidential executive orders on immigration and refugees. So our employees, the congressman and senators we elected, have once again resumed a business as usual lifestyle until the next election.

The few of us who watch their actions can clearly see that what we wanted them to do like balance a budget, secure our border and return our health care system to one that is unregulated by the federal government will not happen and we can’t do anything about it. So like we have done for decades we return to our own ‘happy place’ of sports, alcohol, family and resume our lives, only to be herded like sheep in whatever direction the politicians and the media wants us to focus on.

With the physical blessings of youth gone and my ‘fortress of solitude’ just a memory my tolerance level for stupidity coming out of Washington, Juneau and around the world is gone and is now replaced with the adage, ‘if you can’t fight them join them’ or at the very least ignore them. So here I sit at 71 waiting to see what direction the wind will blow hoping it is but a breeze not a gale force wind that will sweep us away.

During the election we voted in favor of stronger national security
yet we are outraged that it will effect the budget
of human services and public broadcasting.

During the election we voted to stop the flood of illegals and refugees
yet many were upset when the President
issued his executive order.

During the election we voted for a more prosperous economy
yet even with less unemployment and more jobs
being created
we protest that it is not enough.

Even though the congressman and senators we just elected are
once again enacting laws with strings to big business
we no doubt will re-elect them.

…are we not a heard of sheep
that travels in whatever direction the wind blows?

Just a normal winter drive to town… Alaskan style

March 13, 2017

With the news now shifting its main focus from Russian hacking to repeal of oboma-care my disgust at the in-fighting between Trump/Ryan with the conservative republicans over the replacement health care bill, hardens my unwillingness to resurrect the ‘old curmudgeon’ and write about the insanity of the new administration and its apparent siding with the established old school big business side of the republican party. Instead because the urge to write is ever present I thought a glimpse into a normal winter day of my life in the wilderness, may garner some interest.

….like a drill burrowing into my head the alarm buzzed its way into my consciousness. 4:30 am is way to early to be up but today I was driving into Fairbanks to buy supplies for the coming month and with the temperature at -26 I had to run my generator for a few hours to warm my truck up before starting it. Normally one would think you could go back to bed after starting the generator, but after having to fully dress for the cold and carry the generator outside that was more than enough activity to bring one fully awake… even at 4:30 in the morning.

The truck ‘resting’ on a winter day when I didn’t go to town

So what is one to do at five am while waiting the three hours before starting the truck? With only my headlamp to cut the pitch blackness throughout the cabin I boil water for the first of many cups of tea and coffee and turn on the radio to listen to Art Bell and his overnight talk show ‘Midnight in the desert‘. This early start is also warranted by the fact that the normal hour and a quarter ride will take over two hours because the roads this time of year are now solid ice.

Of course we have a great road crew who keep the road open with their plows and trucks that spread gravel in particularly dangerous spots but remember with the temperature staying this far below zero the heat from the many truck tires turns the fresh snow into water which within minutes freezes and thus for months in the winter we have over 60 miles of ice road between my cabin and town.

As the time to start the truck nears it is time to load up the “emergency’ gear, of a snow shovel, extra parka, sleeping bag, water, snacks and a couple buckets of gravel. Then because it is a supply run there is always some empty five gallon water jugs that will need to be filled and of course a number of bags of trash to take to the dump. While loading these last minute items its time to start the truck and let it warm up the interior to ‘take the chill off’ so my hands don’t freeze while I am driving.

Finally after almost four hours since that alarm went off I am in the truck and slowly pulling out of my driveway. Slowly because it has been between -24 and -36 for the past week and one wants the trucks suspension and body to ease its way to flexibility. Plus the tires now have flat spots on them because in cold they loose air and freeze solid so for the first mile or so one can feel the whack, whack of those frozen flat spots as the tires turn and start to warm.

If my timing is right I should get half of the trip done before I see daylight as I crest the top of Wickersham dome, a 2,226 foot hill, 23 miles from my cabin, because at my cabin in winter I get about 4-5 hours of true daylight when the sun weakly rises high enough to show itself. When I first turn onto the main road from the homestead I check the road conditions by doing an emergency stop, and see how far the truck skids across the ice before fully stopping. If it is cold enough and there is very little traffic then the ice shouldn’t be that bad and I am good to go.

Descending Wickersham dome

I know most think that four wheel drive does not help on ice but I have found that keeping the truck in it does provide better traction, especially in turns, so for four months a year it stays there. I have also found that for the entire drive I endeavor to never ‘tap’ the breaks and instead downshift to slow the truck. In fact there are many ‘hills’ on the drive on which I descend in second gear and though solid ice I have never run off the road.

Switchbacks however are another story altogether especially on the first few trips of a new winter. Those first years after I moved to my cabin were very interesting as far as getting used to driving on ice and the mountain switchbacks were my nemesis. In the beginning of winter when the temperatures still fluctuated above and below freezing those hairpin turns especially in downgrades bit me on the ass a number of times. The last time it happened I took the switchback too fast, in too high a gear and I stupidly ‘tapped’ the break and instantly the truck did a 180 and I was pinned against the railing overlooking a hundred foot drop. However the drop was not what scared me but the fact that almost at the same instant a tractor trailer carrying a full load of drilling pipe went past me blasting its air horn.

A 120 mile round trip three times a month on an ice road
may indeed sound nuts to most
but one has to live here
to understand
that even in winter
Alaska
is a magical place.

Still slick but snow free roads and the magical beauty of Alaska when the sunset touches the tree tops

Next time you think it is cold… watch this.

March 8, 2017

Most people who live in what Alaskan’s call the lower 48,

(any state other than Alaska),

think it gets cold during their winter

when the temperature has a minus 20 degree wind chill

stop and click on the photograph

and play the news report from the Iditarod sled dog race.

 

The election is over… but the dust will not settle

March 6, 2017

The election is over but many have not accepted it….

Then the rumors that the Russians hacked in and changed the vote
Then the story changed and the Russians hacked the DNC
Then the accusations that President Trumps inner circle spoke with Russian officials
Then another charge that the Russians hacked the RNC
…and now we have President Trump tweeting
that the Obama administration wire tapped Trump Tower.

ENOUGH!!!!!

…Juts like children in elementary school fighting over nothing, it appears that the media and Washington officials will not accept the fact that the election is over. The two political entities have much more important things to attend to but they just can’t seem to get their minds on the right track. And just like those elementary school children the Republicans, Democrats and the media can not let go and continue to create a veritable smoke screen to cover the inaction of dealing with the problems facing this nation.

Common sense would dictate if there was iron clad proof of any of these accusations one would merely present the evidence to the proper authorities, not continue week after week to rehash it daily in the media. I can only assume that no solid evidence exists and these accusations are just to keep the public’s mind off of matters that effect our daily lives.

As witnessed from my recent blogs, weeks ago I tired of the constant back and forth bickering between the two parties and I have tried to refocus my writing on anything but politics. However though I have attempted to not read any national news or listen to my normal line up of talk shows the constant din of bickering seeps through, and this post is a vent on that seepage.

Mr Trump is now our President and we should all get over it and hope he does some good for our nation. When Mr Obama won twice I was like many are today not happy but he was elected and so I prayed some of his actions would indeed benefit the people of America. It is time we put to rest this bickering and if not support at least hope and pray the President Trump does take us down the road to a better America.

So I say
to the political parties, Clinton supporters and the media
get over it
and let our President do his job!

On the side of the angels…. Avalanche disaster averted

March 2, 2017

.…living here in Little Elm Texas I tend not to be as aware of problems dealing with massive amounts of snow and ice as I once was on a daily basis when I lived in Alaska. I am however still quite familiar with temperatures behaving literally like a roller coaster swinging between the 30’s and mid 70’s. This same effect has been happening back in Alaska however the results there are dangerous from roads of pure ice in the cities to avalanches on Americas road to the top of the world, the Dalton Highway.

With first hand reports from conversations with my daughter who lives in Fairbanks concerning the temperature ar129049662789599swings from spring like days of -10 to days making it feel like summer with temp’s in the +20’s, interspersed with periods of a half foot of snow or more. For her and those living in the city it equals roads that are equal to driving on pure ice, with the state police advising people to drive only when necessary because of the abundance of accidents.

This causes great concern for me worrying about her getting to work many miles from where she lives. However I then remember the two decades I lived there and realize those living there consider it just a part of getting though the winter just like when we dealt with the temperature when it drops to 50 below zero without going into panic mode. Then there are others who must deal with traveling these dangerous roads for 500 miles every time the go to work.

They are the hundreds of truckers that daily run the Haul road, (Dalton Highway), made famous in the television series “Ice road truckers”, and though the road in summer is surrounded by constantly unfolding majestic panoramas come winter it becomes a eminently dangerous and deadly road to drive on. The recent heavy snows interspersed with temperatures fluctuating above and below freezing have made conditions ideal for avalanches.

dalton-avalance1

February 27th just after the avalanche / Photo courtesy Jonothan Kasak

On Monday the 27th four tanker trucks traveling through Atigun pass, Alaska’s highest mountain pass were partially buried by an avalanche. The drivers however all made it out of the trucks to safety and are awaiting the reopening of the highway to complete their run to Prudhoe bay. These drivers who face the constant danger in winter of temperatures ranging to 60 below zero, ice covered roads and in this case avalanches are truly men of a different breed.

So even though I drove the Dalton many times
both in summer and fall
a tip of the hat and a prayer is warranted
to those who daily drive
that majestic and
dangerous highway
to the
top of the world.

******

Short video clip of the actual avalanche click here

Short video of the Dalton in summer click here