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Leaving Alaska… Carhartts, God and memories

April 20, 2016

As I sat waiting for my son’s plane to land I observed the people surrounding me. From the grizzled old man in Carhartt overalls and rubber boots to the family with the wife and children in dresses that would be at home on the TV series ‘Little house on the prairie’. Sitting next to me a young man with a rough beard that had not seen a razor in weeks and a guy wearing paints held up with tattered suspenders and boots wrapped in duck tape.

In my mind I compared this scene to the many I witnessed when flying home from Christmas visits to my family in Texas and the difference was like night and day. In the Dallas and Seattle airports the vast majority looked like they were wearing new clothing and it appeared as if they just stepped out of a shower. This dichotomy lost on those I observed was not missed by me.

I would shortly be moving both physically as well as psychologically between two vastly different environments, and it gives one pause to wonder how this extreme change in lifestyle will be adapted to. For years I have been know by those around me as an curmudgeon and set in my ways. Those same people knew that any change in routine would have me grunting like an angry bear, so what indeed would this total transformation in daily living have on me.

Being for decades a glass half full man it has taken quite a while for me to realize that this change is not only a necessary one but a beneficial one. Over the years my family kept reminding me that I needed to be closer to medical help if it was needed, but this would not be the main mitigating factor for this move.

I think the primary reason is that for a number of years now I have lived close to my daughter and now I believe it was time to be close to my son and grandchildren. When you add to that the fact that this past winter, though not a bad one it still forced me to realize I am no longer physically able to maintain this off grid lifestyle. Add to that the icing on the cake, (I like icing), that I will have constant running hot water, electricity that does not require me to go out into -20 degree weather to turn on and you have additional good reasons for the move.

There is still that very large hole that will exist in my soul for a land where one is free and unencumbered by rules and regulations, a land where at almost every turn one can witness Gods handiwork. But in moving one does not loose one’s memories… and those cherished memories of my time in Alaska, will remain with me for the rest of my life.

As I move to a new path
on life’s road
I will pray that
he guides my steps
and continues
to walk by my side.

This posting made possible through Winlink
the ham radio emergency email system

The Alaskan PFD… A pot of gold legislatures can’t keep their hands off of.

April 7, 2016

Like pigs in a pen when their food supply is drying up and they spot another source of food they scramble over each other to get at it. Here in Alaska when oil was $100 a barrel our representatives in Juneau were as happy as pigs in that trough, but with oil now below $40 a barrel they have set their sights on the peoples savings account, the PFD!

Just a short posting addressed to my fellow Alaskan readers about something I heard on the radio. On Tuesday April 5th at 10:15 in the morning on NPR’s ‘Talk of Alaska’ Governor Bill Walker said “in under four years, if we do nothing the PFD will go away”. This echoes the radio commercials, (aka propaganda), blanketing the AM dial which are attempting to plant the seed of allowing our legislature in Juneau to draw money from the permanent fund to balance the state’s budget.

The talk of Alaska is a call in show but none of those calling in put the most important question of all to the governor. If I had the chance to call I would have asked that since our yearly PFD is based (only) on the (interest) that the fund earns and not on how much new oil revenue is put into the fund, other than mismanagement of the investments, why would the fund “go away”?

I might even ask him why if in 2004, when we had a balanced budget, and the price per barrel of oil was less than $40 like it is today can’t we go back and reinstate the budget levels for all departments to those 2004 levels?

We are living in an age where government and the law says you and I must pay our bills and live with what we make, but the government, both state and federal, can continue to spend money it does not have.

There are some days
at the end of the month
when I can not afford
to shop anymore.
Why is it our government
has no limits on what it spends?

This posting made possible through Winlink
the ham radio emergency email system

March madness becomes an April fool

April 2, 2016

Day 33… As I sat there sipping my morning coffee looking out the cabin window I wished I still had an internet connection. I was wondering if anyone would believe me without posting some current pictures of what I was watching. I know anyone checking the weather reports would find that Fairbanks was enjoying warming temperature’s and calls for rain instead of snow. But out here just 65 miles from Fairbanks it looked more like last December instead of April.

On each trip to town in March the snow and ice was disappearing from the roadways. The temperature even here at the cabin was in the high 20’s and even at times touching 32 degrees. The snow-pack was dropping and one could see bare patches of earth on my driveway. But the anticipation of that Spring March madness left over a week ago when what the weather man called for a winter weather advisory. Over the course of the last week the thermometer has found a home in the teens and the ‘snow showers’ he called for are being measured in many inches of new snow.

After two decades in Alaska I should know that April and even May can bring snow events like this but it has been a week now of off but mostly on snow falling. So today when I woke with the intent of shoveling the snow from yesterday I was faced again with yet another 2-4 inch ‘snow shower’. If that internet connection was up and running I would have posted some video of what looked like a December snow storm. With the wind blowing uncountable quarter sized snow flakes, once again making my driveway look like an abandoned snow trail somewhere in the frozen Arctic.

I am now lamenting days gone by
when I would have reveled in a snow fall like this.
But now years older
I can only sit and watch
at God’s April fools sense of humor!

This posting made possible through Winlink
the ham radio emergency email system.

Leaving Alaska…sickness, Spring and Alaskan stupidity

March 30, 2016

Sick and tired

Day 36… It has now been 17 days of fighting this… what we are calling up here the ‘Alaskan crud’. For some nothing more than a touch of the flue with congestion and breathing problems. For others pain when breathing or coughing and lack of sleep, because one can not lay in bed without their lungs filling with fluid. For me last week it had gotten so bad that I headed to the ER in Fairbanks.

At more than $750 for a visit to the ER I opted instead for a $42 visit to my clinic and they prescribed Z-pac. Well within one day I was spending most of my night in bed and have now enjoyed three nights of somewhat uninterrupted sleep. Suffice it to say I have accomplished nothing in the way of sorting or packing for my upcoming trip to Texas. Hopefully in the days ahead I will regain the energy to resume my preparations.

Endless winter

Though only March 30th looking out my window today I could well imagine it being God’s way of pulling an April fools day joke. With still about two to three feet of snow on the ground the air was filled with yet another snowfall.
It is that time of year in Alaska when the weather reports on the NOAA radio weather channel sounds like someone reading a Thesaurus. immediately after it reported that there was a winter weather advisory for my section of the state it went on to say that there was: a chance of snow, light snow, snow likely, blowing snow, rain and snow and a chance of 4 to 6 inches of snow above 1,500 feet. It also spoke of temperatures between 20 and 40 degrees making the rain at that 20 degrees more hazardous than the snow. Global climate change or no Spring in Alaska has always been a time when winter does not want to let go.

Government propaganda

The radio commercials state that even if our representatives in Juneau shut down all the schools in the state and stoped all highway construction we could still not balance the budget… but if they were allowed to change the laws governing the Permanent Fund, (the oil revenue savings account for all the people of Alaska), they would not only ensure a balanced budget but secure the fund for future generations.

Listening to this commercial with the morn-full background music and the narrators ‘somber’ voice whoever made this commercial wanted everyone to focus on the ‘poor children’ with no schools and the hazardous bridges and roadways that would be created if these actions had to be taken. They in no way wanted anyone to realize that what they were saying about securing the PFD for future generations was a total LIE! The laws written to establish the permanent fund not only ensures that it will last as long as there was oil produced in Alaska, but that every citizen will continue to share in it.

This scare tactic is being used to dupe people into allowing those in Juneau to change the laws so they can tap into this multi-billion dollar pool of money. These actions are much like those that Washington did to the Social Security trust fund, and we are now seeing the results of that boondoggle with Social security running out of money. Can the people of Alaska be so dumb they do not see the con job being run on them? Then again the people of the United States did not realize what congress was doing when they ‘borrowed’ money from the Social Security trust fund either!

I may still be sick
and the roads may be icy
but even I can see
when someone wants to put
their hand in my pocket.

This posting made possible through Winlink
the ham radio emergency email system.

Leaving Alaska… Sickness, winter and politics

March 21, 2016

Day 45… After loosing a full week of sorting, packing and shipping today is the first day I have had the strength to deal with my accumulated emails and the creation of a new posting.

I have just finished dealing with what my friend and fellow blogger from Talkeetna calls the ‘crud’. Throughout Alaska it is effecting different people with a number of different variations but all seem to follow a common course of extended pain and suffering accompanied with inability to sleep and frequent visits to the outhouse. So of course when it has finally run its course one has an almost euphoric sense of well being.

For me however with this feeling of wellbeing comes the realization that I have squandered a week of preparation for my road-trip. My original ‘plan-A’ was for me to depart Alaska on May 4th, just 45 days hence. But with the delay, though a minor one, I have begun to look at my ‘plan-B and Plan-C’ both of which have me leaving later in May.

My son, Anthony, will be arriving next month to help with the lowering and disassembly of my ham radio tower, but even that too is starting to look questionable because after all this is March in Alaska and we are currently awaiting a winter weather event, (meaning more snow). I guess I should take this opportunity, since a number of hams follow my postings, to offer the 55 foot push up military communications tower and the Mosley TA-33 antenna to anyone free of charge who would make the journey up and help with its disassembly.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the loss of blood I experienced when I heard about, first, the riot at the Trump rally in Chicago and of late the many demonstrations at or near current Trump rallies in Arizona. If I said the words ‘remember Ferguson and Baltimore’ will you understand the connection to the current disruption at Trumps gatherings? In the beginning in Ferguson and Baltimore there were riots where the police just stood by and were blamed for the ‘citizens’ actions. After the Chicago rally/riot the media blamed Trump for inciting the rioters ‘anger’. Now in Arizona the demonstrators were blocking the highways near where Trump would be speaking… does anyone remember these same actions in Ferguson and Baltimore?

It appears that the hand
of some national puppet-master
is once again pulling the strings
and thousands of people are dancing
to his tune of hatred
first against the police
and now against Trump

This posting made possible through Winlink
the ham radio emergency email system.

Leaving Alaska… Random thoughts on day 51

March 14, 2016

The moving ahead of the clocks last night for daylight savings time not only has my old body confused but as I changed the clock over my calendar I noticed how quickly time is passing until my departure. It is true that a couple days ago I mailed four boxes to my son in Texas but in looking at the floor of my cabin those four boxes were only the tip of the iceberg.

Actually shipping boxes though important is not even close to the major things that have to be dealt with to make this ‘snow-bird’ lifestyle work. I have decided not to trade in my truck for a newer one and will instead have my present one serviced before I leave. Then there is the even more important situation of leaving my daughter here in Alaska. Granted she is not a child but as many of you know ‘most’ parents never stop being concerned about their ‘children’s’ well being.

As far as the trip itself I do have many concerns. This is something I never had before when, in the mid 1990’s, I made 4 round trips from Alaska to my home in Philadelphia. I remember just hopping in the truck and leaving Alaska with nary a thought as to planning the actual drive. Now decades later I find myself wondering if I can still drive the 5-600 miles a day I did in the past. I also find myself pouring over the ‘Milepost’ checking where different campgrounds are located as backups for when I stop for the night.

This goes under the heading of I thought I had everything covered. Because about mid-day yesterday I noticed a ‘tickle’ in my throat and a little while later I started to cough and it has not stoped. Now twenty-four hours later and every time I cough it feels like my forehead is about to explode. So after spending the night attempting to sleep in a chair I wonder how I would fair if I was on the road and this happened.

Weather in Philly or Alaska I have for the most part lived near my daughter while my son and his wife have moved twice, for work, and ended up in Texas. Like any parent with children living in different parts of the country I feel I have short changed him by living so far away.

I am wondering if this concern is directed more at the physical part of the journey or the psychological leaving of my home of 20 years. Though as I sat this morning waiting for the first effects of the caffeine I realized I was wasting time…

With hundreds of things left to pack and do
it is no doubt best to just deal with each day
and pray I haven’t waited too long.

This posting made possible through Winlink
the ham radio emergency email system.

Leaving Alaska….The struggle to take that first step

March 8, 2016

The intense sunshine sparkled blindingly off the snow covered caldera. Though barely 30 degrees the intense sunlight had me sitting in shirt sleeves staring out at the majestic Wrangell mountains. This was my first visit to Alaska and sitting on that 10,000 foot mountain-top staring out at the overwhelming beauty stirred strong emotions within me.

Day 58…. From rafting down remote pristine glacial feed rivers to climbing glaciers with my daughter or standing at the foot of Denali, Americas tallest mountain, exploring isolated native villages on the Yukon and standing at the very top of North America with my son I indeed have been blessed over these past twenty years.

When one considers the millions upon millions of people who watch outdoor adventure or travel shows about Alaska on TV, and can but dream about visiting this majestic, remote and at times harsh land I consider the 20 years I have been privileged to live here not only a gift but an opportunity from God.

However now only days away from my 70th birthday and after spending an unusually strenuous November and early December I have come to the realization it may indeed be the time to move back to civilization. I know full well there are many other older Alaskan’s who live as I do, off grid in the wilderness, and manage to deal with whatever the Alaskan winter throws at them, but personally I think it is time for a change.

No… I do not want to give up this wilderness lifestyle or the freedom that comes with it anymore than I wish to never again spend time surrounded by mountains and valleys untouched by human hands. That said if one is honest with themselves they know when they are reaching a tipping point and you either act or loose the ability to act.

So my friends and dear readers I have decided to open my life to you for the next few months as I fight with this decision to stay or leave. I know the world continues to spin and produce many interesting things to write about, but for me the constant din about which candidate did what to whom just does not show up on my radar when I have to decide what to do with the rest of my life.

Currently I am planing on a 3,800 mile road trip to Texas in May to sign a lease on an apartment. My original thinking was that I could become a ‘snow bird’ or an Alaskan that spends the winters in a warmer climate and returns for the summers in Alaska. This idea is reinforced by the fact that after spending 20 years in Alaska and more importantly 14 years in this isolated cabin I may have become ‘institutionalized’ and may not be able to adjust back to living in a civilized society.

I realize this is not the writing you have come to enjoy on this blog, but right now it is all that my mind seems focused on and I hope you will indulge me, and walk along with me in my journey as I make my decision.

Americas last frontier Alaska is…
To walk where no man has been before
To gaze at wonders unseen by most
…and to leave this land is akin
to loosing a part of ones soul.

This posting made possible through Winlink
the ham radio emergency email system.