Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The little things we take for granted!

Being in Alaska is not too bad for most people since they have what most American's refer to as essentials, if only for a higher price. Living in bush Alaska is not quite the same. First you come to realize that fresh fruit and vegetables are hard to come by as you slowly see your massive stockpile you brought to camp dwindle down. This can be some what relieved but never satisfied by canned foods. Next you realize you have Alaskan prices for food and then some since it cost a ton to fly food to your location...who knew gas prices affect more than cars. Don’t think that I am complaining though...I love this place, this job, the people, and where else do you see bears every day. :)

For me personally I love bread and sandwiches. Last year began my attempts to alleviate this lack of grain intake with occasional biscuit making thanks in part to bisquick. This year I decided to kick it up a notch. Let me tell you that it is a proud moment when you slave away dedicating time and attention to preparing dough, letting it rise, beating it down (the key is to utilize your weeks frustration ;) ), and watching it take shape as it bakes and turns golden brown in the oven. Being my first attempt at making something that seems so relatively simple, I was a little scared. Normally if you fail you can always go to the store for more ingredients or just get a loaf from the corner market, but here in bush Alaska everything is precious. So as the moment of it completion neared Mason, Jen and I waited with ravenous anticipation. I had also prepared an amazing chili that only the three of us were willing to brave since we had a taste toward the slightly blazing aka I put in a ton of spices, jalapeƱos (amazingly hard to transport to Brooks camp), and brown sugar to sweeten the taste. So when my first attempt at baking bread came out near perfect, I beamed with pride as I presented it "like a proud father" to my waiting compatriots. This picture was taken within a few short minutes of its exodus from the oven.

Maybe this story will make you appreciate the ease with which we obtain food in the south. Enjoy it cause I know I will when I return.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend!

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day. I had a great time. I backpacked in the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes (VTTS). I will post pictures later when our internet is not so problematic. I organized a group, picture to left(Erica, John, Mason in background, Jen, Mark, Rachael, Jeanne, Mike, and yours truly taking the shot), consisting of 7 interp and two maintenance staff (aka the Twins, Mark and John). We traversed the pumice terrain enduring cold and some light rain making a soupy mix that is very...annoying to walk/sink through.

We ended our long day of hiking and camped out at the Baked Mtn Huts half way up Baked Mtn. The Huts are actually left over from a USGS survey base in the 60's.
Let’s just say that it was very cold that night. To keep some of us warm we slept 5 deep on the floor with Jen and I covering ourselves with an old emergency sleeping bag that was left in the cabin. Note to all you reading this: 1. sleeping bags are rated to survival temp, not to be confused with comfort temp. 2. 6 years of losing down feathers from your bag means that your bag is no where near its rating any longer. The moral of the story is that Jen and I (the two really frozen people) are going to invest in new bags eventually. Hopefully then we will not have to rely on the kindness of strangers...or there body heat.

The next morning I led my roommate Mason and Jen to the horseshoe overlook to investigate Novarupta (site of 20th century's largest eruption). Let me just say that lots of snow in semi-warm weather is not very conducive to walking over it, but is more like post hole digging with your feet. Anyways we eventually slogged our way to the top of the horseshoe's rim. Before us was the amazing site of Novarupta, in its 500 ft (yes feet) of glory. It was so amazing that Mason did not see it at first. The plan was to climb Novarupta, but I dissuaded (very easily) the others that this was not feasible due to snow hiding the already treacherous and jagged rocks. That climb along with a trek to the Mount Katmai caldera is destined for later in the season. Since we had to be back to meet the NPS vehicle we hiked at amazing speed to catch up to the rest of our group (who started returning while we investigated Novarupta) and switched places with our Law Enforcement staff who were going out for a two days.

The ride back was a blast b/c I drove and you know what that means...crossing 3 rivers in an excursion. :) Very satisfying. On the road we turned a corner to witness a bear being spooked off by the vehicle and had to keep from running over some spruce grouse (possibly one of the planets least intelligent creatures). Back at camp one of our old bears "Popeye" returned taking our number of bears sited to 7, which could mean that the bears will be here early this year.

Quick Visa Recap
1. Sleeping Bag $150
2. Backpack $200
3. Stove & Pots $80
4. Various Clothing $180

Enduring mind-numbing cold to visit a volcano with new friends in an area inhabited by the world's largest concentration of Brown Bears....priceless.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Hello everyone! I have successfully made it out to Brooks Camp once again. Currently I am undergoing training to prepare for the up coming season. I am still a volunteer but might be hired on later in the season. This year I have taken on more responsibilities including campground host and supervising an invasive plant removal team (in the month of June).

I have seen only one bear, but it is not a shock since most have not left hibernation yet. I have also witnessed a river otter and moose. Yesterday after training I traversed the steep hillsides of Mount Dumpling to the overlook with 2 co-workers. On the way back we watched a poor beaver have to walk along the beachside due to the 20 mph winds creating waves that were pushing him back to shore.

I have a day off tomorrow, but I will try to help out with the Motorboat operating class. If nothing else I will takes a short swim in the 33 degree water to get clean since out water pipes are still frozen. Not to worry I am having a blast and cannot believe that I am lucky enough to be here a second season. I will write more as things develop here and as I slowly figure out my cameras and how to transfer images/video to the blog.