Friday, December 30, 2011

Russsian tanker to save Nome

There has been extra-ordinary weather in Alaska. So severe was an autumn storm from the Bering Sea that it made them cancel a test of the state-wide emergency response system because they were afraid there would be too many real emergencies that might be ignored during their test.

And it has been a very cold autumn. It was in the single digits here in Kodiak for days and days in November. Fortunately, it warmed up to let all the snow melt.

Unfortunately, the single digit cold is back on the week after Christmas.

So, it was particularly problematic for Nome, Alaska, 600 miles north from here, when the early frozen seas made the tug and barge that were carrying their heating oil return to Seattle.

And since the US just doesn't have any ice breaking tugs not committed to their own deliveries, Nome was in a mess.

Never fear, ingenuity will succeed. Even if it takes a contract with a Russian tanker to pick up a load of diesel in Korea, gasoline in Dutch Harbor (800 miles from Anchorage, out in the Aleutian chain of islands), and have the only working ice breaker in the US Coast Guard fleet abandon its expected holiday trip to its home be there if the tanker has trouble breaking the 5 foot thick ice on the way in.

So, on by Jan 1, the Russians' Renda will be about to enter the 300 miles of ice on their way in to Nome. Wish them all the luck.

Yes, it is challenging living in the real North.

As a friend has said, "Remember never to ignore what your grandparents taught you"..... because if the tanker doesn't make it, I think the locals will have to review their igloo making techniques!

To read Nome's paper and their articles on the recent storm, the oil shipment, and other cool stuff, go to:

As a local from Nome wrote in their editorial page:
Here Comes Another One
Hurricanes, blizzards, winter storm warnings— just another normal
day in Nome. Seems as though one storm passes through and another
winds up to test our endurance. Weʼve been geographical explorers
with the Great Wall of China on the East Beach, The Khyber
Pass on K Street, the new Berlin Wall on First Avenue and Mt. McKinley
behind the old Wein Building.
The high-pitched rumble of the state and city snow removal equipment
is sweet music to our ears. While we are stoic about storms we
may find ourselves surprised that family and friends who are not in
Alaska phone to see if we are safe and sound and are not freezing to
death from lack of fuel. Social networking and media hype has
brought us into the spotlight. Does Alaska, with all her oil, really have
to get fuel from Korea brought in on a Russian tanker? We just smile
and try to rationalize why the rest of the nation is suddenly so concerned?
We just do what we always do— dig in and hunker down.
Nomeites were born with snow shovels in their hands. However, we
canʼt be overconfident. Mother Nature is a formidable foe. We have to
be prepared when we take her on and head out into the weather. We
should be smart enough to stay put. If we have to go out we should
have survival gear, leave travel plans with folks who know where we
are going, and when we are expected to return.
When yet another back-to-back blizzard blasts our town we can
feel secure and safe in our homes while the winds howl. We are confident
the Nome Joint Utilities, Nome Public Works, Public Safety and
snow removal crews are doing a fine job for us. So let it snow!
— N.L.M. —

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Kodiak Christmas Lights

You might think we are a little too isolated to do what they do in the big cities. But no. We have fireworks, parties,and decorate for the holidays just like anyone else.

Here is a house, just a few blocks form our house. Turn up your volume and take look at this house's light show, coordinated with music on the radio.

Not a show to apologize to anyone about!

And.... with 90+% of our power form renewable energy (from our hydroelectric damn and 3 wind turbines) we can turn on the lights and not feel guilty about our carbon output during the holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To see another aspect of living in the North Pacific, check out the Weather Channel's show "Coast Guard Alaska", based here in Kodiak.

Pretty real stuff. And popular it seems. It is said to the most viewed program on that channel. So they've decided to continue making new episodes for at least 2 more seasons.

Glad to say that I've met some of those people they brought in.

For a view of their website, go to:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Not all Kodiak bears hibernate over winter. In fact, 15% do not. I heard there has been one hanging around Wall Mart a few blocks form here as recent as a few weeks ago. Makes you be a little more careful when you hike the Island Trail just behind the house.

To imagine what a visit here might be like, here is link to an article by an Australian ...and a picture of the bear they found enjoying the supplies back at their kayak on their return.

Check it out at: