To say that summer is over in Anchorage is to imply there actually was a summer. There may not have been. This was a damp and cool summer much like summers 40 years ago, when sunny days were rare and it sure created issues for the first year management at a remote fishing lodge. Tikchik Narrows Lodge is located in the middle of a vast state park, and the only realistic access is by small aircraft, and many days this year such planes could not fly. Despite that, excellent fishing prevailed and customers went home uniformly happy, and most are now rebooking for next year. On no fly days, boats were used and the fishing near the lodge was exceptional.
The lack of access is one of the reasons why fishing is still so good in the area of the lodge. Overfishing has ruined countless fisheries worldwide, whether commercial, sport or subsistence. One such local tale involved a stream in the Delta area between Bethel and the west coast of Alaska. A friend reported that someone from a distant village encountered the stream on a trapping trip and noticed there were large fish in it. He tried ice fishing and caught a number of huge pike. He went home and told his friends which resulted in several folks returning to the stream by snowmachine and catching sled loads of the big fish. Winter ended and the next winter the fish seemed smaller when the fishing resumed. Within a couple years the only remaining fish were small and because of the dynamics of pike populations, the lack of large fish enabled too many small fish to survive eating all the available food and the population never produced big fish again.
Very few people fish the area near the lodge, and those that do mainly catch and release. Many of the local fish have become more abundant as the lakes warm and provide better growing conditions. The transient salmon have more challenges, but red and silver salmon are still doing well, making for a wide variety of fishing for lodge guests, like these:
One guest, Shep Rose promoted his visit to the lodge on Instagram where he has 880,000 followers. Apparently, he is a celebrity because of his role on a reality show called Southern Charm. That show has yet to obtain a following among elderly rural lawyers in Alaska, but it is a favorite of Casey McDonald who quickly recognized his photo. He posted 20 shots on Instagram under the name relationshep. Check it out below (click the arrow on the picture to see the photos).
One interesting side note from the lodge involves the head of hospitality Carol Smith, who is from New Zealand. Carol runs a tight operation and was immediately tuned in to the antics of Andy’s extended family, who have been frequent guests at the lodge. Carol has long forbidden dogs at the lodge, but four have managed to spend the summer there anyway. Coming inside is another story, but of course Jack was primed to test that rule. It is clear the guests enjoy Jack, and Carol has even warmed up to him in the lounge. She now understands the suggestion made early on that Jack was actually less of a problem than the elder that travels with him. After many years at the lodge, Carol is retiring, but has promised to return to impart her wisdom to the next manager.
Internet service has been spotty in much of Alaska recently, partly because an undersea cable broke off the coast of Northwest Alaska. That causes one to question the designers of the system, which was intended to serve much of western Alaska, but would eventually be the only such service for that area. Did anyone consider how difficult repairs to an undersea cable would be? This time, the cable was broken by ice, and access to the break was impeded by ice until late in the summer when it finally melted. What would happen if the cable broke in early winter? The resulting downtime could be many months and disastrous to the many entities that rely on Internet to conduct their daily activities. One rural Internet provider in Bethel solved the problem of slow Internet by buying a Starlink kit and mounting it on their Bethel office. As of this writing it is reported that the undersea cable is fixed and Internet is back up. But there is no indication that the Starlink dish pictured below will be coming down.
A couple of items from the Minnesota farm. This Sumac tree has been growing for many years along the driveway and farm helper Skip says it’s his favorite tree.
The color fades quickly and is usually gone by the October. This whitetail deer from a trail cam on the farm has a large rack but is missing one key point.
Most large bucks have two brow tines in the center, but this one only has one. Upon closer inspection it is apparent there are several other bucks missing one or both brow tines on the farm. The deer population is high this year thanks mainly to abundant alfalfa and clover that provides good food for most of the year. Other animals are abundant too. A large black bear invaded someone’s open garage about two miles from the farm and killed a pet dog in the garage with its owner.
Mandatory Moose, Troublemakers & Classic Cartoon
This month’s Mandatory Moose is a good one,
and the grizzly bear is too.
Musk ox are expanding their range in Alaska, and causing trouble some places. They make for a good photo though.
Sergius Hannan Photography
This old African saying couldn’t be more true.
And finally a classic cartoon.
ALO Case Update
After a large number of case settlements in early summer, ALO took a breather in August and settled none. One former client from Bethel inquired how retirement was going. It came as a surprise to him that ALO is still fully functional and will remain so for the near future until clients stop asking for help. Now with a fishing lodge added to the mix, it seems there are more things to do every week than in recent years which is a good thing for someone who chooses to stay kind of busy.
Two cases from the distant past are worth a mention. One involved a divorce where the couple appeared in court to finalize their property division. The husband was unhappy with the 50-50 split, but the judge confirmed that final order would be close to that number. In the final order the judge detailed most of the items but failed to mention the shed that sat at the rear of the property, assuming of course the shed would go with the house which was awarded to the wife. A few days later the husband decided to resolve the shed issue with self-help. He grabbed a chain saw and cut to shed in half and hired a loader to carry his half away. Problem solved.
Another case involved a mediation with an attractive young lady who was injured in a car wreck. The mediation was to be handled by an elderly retired judge who was reprimanded during his term for his dealings with female staff and other women in the courthouse. ALO was well aware of his attitude toward women but felt he would work really hard to settle this case for the pretty young client. During the course of the mediation, the judge was shown pictures of the scars to the hip of the victim. As the mediation progressed, he decided he needed to view the scars himself and asked the woman if she minded. Now this was a sporty woman, and she accepted, hitching her dress up well above her underwear without pause. The judge took a long time to inspect the injury, and quickly retired to the room where the other party was gathered. He soon came back with a significantly increased offer from the other party and the case settled. Leaving the building with the injured woman later she announced “It’s a good thing it was only my hip that was scarred.”
Award Winning Care
Cousin Kurt Angstman has been a doctor at the Mayo Clinic for a long time and was recently recognized for his accomplishments with the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) 2023 Family Medicine Educator of the Year award.
Kurt has been a ready source for medical advice when called from rural Alaska over the years, and luckily doesn’t recall the level of care provided by his babysitter on the farm many years ago. Babysitting has evolved over the years into a formal activity with certain skills and duties expected of the sitter, but back then it seems the basic instructions were to keep the little ones alive until mom returned, and somehow Kurt survived. At the Angstman home, in place of a babysitter, the parents provided seven-year-old Myron with a single shot .22 Winchester and some bullets and sent him hunting for squirrels, alone. That would result in likely criminal charges today but in that era, no one was watching. The young hunter survived, as did most of the squirrels.
Sounding the Alarm
While Alaska featured a wet stormy summer, much of the US had intense heat, creating drought and wildfires, along with strong storm activity and flooding. It has been declared the hottest summer on record for earth and is further proof that the world is on a collision course with disaster. There are a few holdouts on the global warming issue, but this statement by Shell Oil, released last week, demonstrates that even the folks directly profiting from fossil fuel production acknowledge that things must change. Here is the statement - “Addressing climate change requires a collaborative, society-wide approach,” the energy giant said. “We agree that action is needed now on climate change, and we fully support the need for society to transition to a lower-carbon future.” Other oil producers have made similar statements, after lawsuits have uncovered internal documents showing that their own scientists privately sounded the alarm on fossil fuels and global warming as early as 1950. Like the tobacco companies in that same era, the oil companies funded mass efforts to conceal this damaging information through advertising and political donations, but now they agree the fossil fuel era must end.
This is an interesting chart of comparative pay for CEO’s and workers from a few select countries.
Most economists agree the American model can’t continue. The recent auto workers strike is fueled by numbers like these, and who can doubt the anger generated by workers who ask for a fair share of the profits amid high inflation and are denied. Fair pay for employees has always been a focus for ALO, but now with a lodge and 35 essential employees, it is even more important. It takes virtually all of the staff to keep the lodge running every day, and decent pay is one reason why the crew is so good at their jobs.