July was one of the nicest months for weather that can be imagined in rural Alaska. Enough rain fell to help battle the many fires still burning, but numerous days with temps in the 65-75 range made for enjoyable outdoor activities, and for most of the month even the bugs were tolerable. There were numerous visits to the cabin. These pictures are from sisters Carol and Harriet, and also from Bev Hoffman and John McDonald.
The best quote from the time spent at the cabin came from Sunset, who wanted to know why Grandpa's sisters are so crazy when he is so serious. That is a question to ponder a bit.
One of the highlights from July was this fish landed by Andy. After much conjecture, it was decided the lake trout weighed a bit more than 20 pounds.
It was also determined that it probably wasn't the biggest fish in the 24 mile long lake, so how big do they get? This one was released to grow bigger.
A Bethel case was one of two cases resolved in July. A city of Bethel employee drove his city truck straight through a three way stop at Watson's corner, leaving the road and striking ALO's client, a pregnant woman walking a fair distance from the road. No explanation for the bad driving was ever obtained, but one can always guess that a cell phone had something to do with it. Watson's corner is the main intersection in Bethel, and is set up in such a way that it is difficult to imagine how a driver could fail to stop before entering. The city settled the claim without a lawsuit being filed.
The other settlement was the second passenger in a plane crash that happened on the Yukon River near Galena when an airplane apparently ran out of gas. There were three passengers, and all are clients of ALO. The first passenger has already settled, and the third is awaiting a court date.
Long time readers of this page know of the close connection between the Angstman and Fairbanks families, which go back about 40 years in the Bethel area. Recently both families gathered with a crowd of about 83 people at the Fairbanks homestead on the Holitna River for the wedding of Ashley Fairbanks and Sean Glasheen. What an event. The homestead is located 288 river miles from Bethel and can only be reached by boat or float plane in the summer. All supplies for the wedding had to be transported in, and the crowd all camped in the woods around the house. The ceremony was held in a small clearing in the woods, and most said it was among the best weddings ever. It is a fact that a true frontier wedding such as this can't be duplicated in the city, no matter how authentic the rustic location might be.
A few days later the celebration was to continue with a reception in Anchorage for the many folks who could not attend the wedding. Tragedy struck before that reception when Seth Fairbanks crashed his Super Cub into Cook Inlet, just off shore near an airstrip north of Anchorage. It appears that he and his passenger attempted to swim to shore and neither has been found at this writing. Many pictures from the wedding show a happy Seth. Here is one with his five siblings,
and the other with his kids and two of their cousins, four of the five flower girls in the wedding.
This video, one of Seth's last posts on his facebook page, captures Seth as most will remember him.
The post that accompanied this video read, "Rope swing at my sisters wedding on the Holitna river at our family homestead. So much fun!!!" Never has Seth been happier than he was at the wedding. His great relationship with his kids was obvious, and came as a bit of a surprise to those who saw Seth as a youngster. He had a serious dose of rascal as a kid, a trait that seemed to run in the family, inherited equally from his two parents one suspects. He was a free range kid, before the term was invented. His final stop, Cook Inlet, is one of the most treacherous bodies of water in all of America, and it has claimed the lives of many. This one is painful.
Politics require comment from time to time on these pages. This month it demands attention. Donald Trump is a political story for the ages. He reveals a sometimes hidden element in American society that has suddenly found a spokesman. He is proving to be a major embarrassment to the Republican party because his outrageous statements are attracting quite a following in the campaign. He earned the scorn of the Angstman family by demeaning Mexicans in one of his rants. Two members of the extended Angstman family have close Mexican heritage, and both of those people are better Americans than Trump. At least they have never owned companies that went bankrupt. Trump's four bankruptcies were situations where he apparently came out on the winning end of situations where his companies were able to avoid paying many creditors, many of which were put out of business, while Trump proceeded on to his next money making deal with nary a thought. What a great candidate to lead this country.
Meanwhile, the other political situation that needs comment is Bernie Sanders. For years his work as a Senator has earned him accolades in the ALO monthly news. He is the one guy in all of the Senate who makes the most sense and has a plan to attack the nation's biggest problems. Now his message is attracting crowds never before seen in primary campaigns. His money is coming from small donors, and his poll numbers are rising. It could be that Americans are finally figuring out that huge donors and huge media have dominated politics long enough. Go Bernie. Two of his favorite targets are the Koch brothers. They like to champion themselves as crusaders against the welfare state. But this report shows that they took $88 million taxpayer dollars while demanding that governments stop wasting taxpayer dollars.
The trip to the Holitna River by airplane involved an opportunity to view the extensive gold mining being done at Nyac, about 60 miles northeast of Bethel. The mine has grown significantly over the years, and roads now run up several valleys, many miles from the main camp. Tailings line the creeks in many of those valleys. One has to wonder about the run off from that mining operation. One of the largest hazards often found in abandoned gold mining tailings is acid mine drainage. Due to inefficiencies in the extraction process, large volumes of sulfides often end up going into the tailings. Over time, the sulfides start to oxidize as they're exposed to wind, snow and temperature changes, creating sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid mixes with rainwater and eventually works its way out of the tailings and into waterways, where it can change the pH of the water and precipitate harmful heavy metals. Let's hope that the folks at Nyac are keeping an eye on this problem. Here is what happened recently at another mine.
Here is a bear that has been frequenting the Elk Farm.
This month's mandatory moose is responding to a heat wave.
Finally this shot was taken at the top of the rock which sits next to the Angstman cabin in the mountains. It is a high grade photo by Ken Maul, and be sure to notice the dog.