Saturday, August 28, 2010

Even More Kodiak Lingo

People come to Kodiak, from all parts of the world,
with all sorts of fancy photographic equipment,
to take pictures of our bears.

But, no matter what language they speak,
I think I can tell what this guy was saying.

"This trip was certainly worth what it cost us."

When we tried to get his attention,
he seemed upset over our interrupting him:
"What are you screaming about?"

Then, he said,
"Oh, Shoot!"
Or something like that.

(Sometimes people just seem to miss what is right beside them.)

More on fishing Kodiak's American River

You go fishing with so much hope!

...Sometimes you only catch a rock.

Good thing we enjoy the 18 mile ride!

Fishing the American River

This is the time of the year when we look forward to catching the Silver and the King Salmon.
"Got one!"

"Its a fighter!"

Alas, sometimes you only get the Pinks.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Kodiak's Irish Lords

Recently we talked about what the snorkelers saw at Mill Bay. One of those was a "sculpin". Basically, I think people call any weird fish a sculpin, and they include both salt and fresh water fish. That is why they have scientific names, so they are classified more specifically. Some of ours are among the ugliest fish! They belong to the family Cottoidei, in which there are 300 species. That's a lot of ugly fish!

In any case, we have what some call the Irish Lord, and others just lump as a "sculpin".

These Irish Lords are all over the place. In Spanish they call them "Cabezon", the big headed one. One day that is all we caught as we tried to do some halibut fishing.

They have big heads, buggy eyes, and large spiny fins that will cut your hands when you try to take out the hook form their mouths.

But, I have to say: their body's colors are beautiful (if you can ignore their heads). Here is a Plain Jane green Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus.

The day we kept catching them we saw their spots vary from orange, to yellow, to red and even blue! Truly beautiful colors!

They are not good to eat. Most of their body is the head and belly. Only thin strips of meat along the side. Too much work for so little meat, they say locally.

If you want to see more underwater Kodiak life, go to an old You Tube of mine (just click the forward arrow on the picture below). The first 2 pics are of a really ugly and colorless guy. But the other long one is really quite beautiful, dispite it's ugglinesss.

These are all pictures I took in Kodiak. But, enough fish stories for now.

Remember: there is cool (or gross ?) stuff all around you. Just get out and look for it!

Snorklers in the bay

Last week I went kayaking and suddenly saw some peculiar kelp. It had a stick coming out of its bulb. Before long, 2 big black flippers came out of the water. Too big for our typical otters and seals at Mill Bay.

Anywhere else it would have beeen obvious: snorklers in wet suits.

But it is still surprising to see them poking out of the water, their heads looking so much like kelp bulbs. Maybe it shouldn't be. I know we have a scuba shop. I have seen them at the beach before. And after all, it is a nice and warm 54.5 degreees in the water now. Up from 49.5 on July 5th and 34 degrees in the winter time!

When they came out, I talked to them. They saw a few salmon, sculpin, and even caught a crab for dinner!

PS Their wet suits are 5 mil thick, just in case you want to join them for some underwater sightseeing.

Complications of fishing

In the Kenai penninsula I noticed a few Doctor's office with signs saying, "We remove fish hooks".

But when you are out at sea, those offices are mighty far away.

Here is how some Alaskans solve that problem.

PS We know none of these guys (and do not necessarily endorse their technique).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Island Lake in the fog

When the seas are a little too rough for the kayak, why not go for a peaceful ride and watch the fog on Island Lake.

That's the lake just a few blocks up the road that fills Mill Creek (named such because the Russians had a grain mill back in their day). It runs right behind the house and drains into Mill Bay, which shows up repeatedly on this blog.

Get ready to have your BP lowered a few points in just over 2 minutes.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mail delivery in Kodiak

With so many remote villages and fish camps scattered around the island of Kodiak, the US Mail must be delivered to them via private contract float planes. We recently decided to book seats on the daily flight to view some areas of Kodiak that we cannot reach by land. The flight company allows a limited number of seats on these flights (usually a maximum of 4) and there is a strict weight requirement. We had to be honest about our weight since this is critical for the safe performance of small planes in our winds. In fact, weight issues are one of the prime causes of accidents.

"Our's" is a de Havilland Beaver seaplane. These have not been manufactured since about 1959. Luckily, the parts are still readily available and the planes are overhauled regularly. They use them since they were built to WWII military standards. I guess the added strength, endurance, and really powerful engines are necessary to reach the remote areas of Alaska in our heavy winds and low temperatures.

We arrived for our scheduled flight in the afternoon and watched the plane land from its morning run. The pilot exited the plane and proceeded to explain that the mail flight would not take off that afternoon. It seems the winds were about 50 mph in the areas we would be flying. But once you got close to the ground, winds would be whipping through the inlets and fjords causing the gusts to increase to about 70 mph with white caps on the water. We certainly agreed that we didn't want to be flying in those winds or trying to land in the waves.

I guess in this case the USPS slogan of "Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" does not apply. Maybe wind and waves negate all the other weather conditions. In any case, the mail delivery to these remote areas can be very sporadic.

PS....despite the 17 deaths this year on such bush planes (including the former Senator Ted Stephens), we are confident that we will make this trip safely. We'll try again tomorrow. But, if you receive no more blogs, just consider us "undeliverable mail".

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Crime comes to Kodiak

I was very saddened when I left work on Wednesday. My bike was stolen!

I walked around the building just to see if someone was playing a joke on me. No such luck. It was gone.

Mad at myself for thinking there was no crime in Kodiak and never using my lock, I went inside to report it to the police.

While on the phone someone calls my name. It's a fireman. They were working on a fire hydrant down the street. A kid on a bike stared at them, suddenly gets off the bike, drops it in the middle of the road, and goes off into the woods.

They wait a minute, go pick up the bike form the road and continue working. They figure he needed a bathroom break. But no kid returns by the time they finished their work.

One recognizes it as the bike they see whenever they drop a patient off at the emergency room. So, they place the bike in the fire truck and bring it to me at work.

Isn't a small town nice? A place where kids respect authority....not just the police but also the firemen; in fact, anyone authority figure. Where people know where things belong. And, they take the time to return it to the owner!

So, today is cookie baking time for the fire department.

Thanks KFD.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

More Local Lingo Lessons

The salmon are a little late coming up the rivers because the water temperature has been too cold (yes, too cold despite global warming). Or at least that is what we think. But no one told the bears, so they are coming down and not finding fish. One decided to repeatedly raid a dumpster. When he did not "learn" to leave when encouraged by non-lethal bullets, they finally had to use real ones.

Usually the State takes the hide and auctions it off at the State Fur Rondy in February in Anchorage. But the paper says they left this bear in the dumpster. He weighed 750 pounds; not something you want to pull out of a dumspter. And I guess no one wanted to get in there and skin him in the dumpster. So, to the city landfill he went. Isn't that something, the container that brought him his last meal was the one that carried him to his final resting place.

In an effort to educate you on what these bears are telling you (and keep our visitors safe), here is another lesson on the local lingo. When you don't know a language well, just look at the eyes and it'll help explain what they are telling you. Can't you tell what this one is saying with his grunt?

"Get lost, Buster!!"

No need to buy the Rosetta Stone course CD!! Don't you think bear lingo is clear? When he looks at you like this and gives a grunt, follow his advice: get lost, Buster.

By the way, check out this guy's hind feet. He's not a young one. He's been dragging them to the point that his back claws are completely filed off.

Despite that, I'd bet he knows how to give you one swift wack that'll make you wish you had learned his language.