It is hard to believe that 2/3 of the first season at Tikchik Narrows Lodge is already complete. Here are some impressions so far: The operation of the lodge is incredibly smooth considering the logistic challenge of running a small city of 60 people in the middle of nowhere with only float plane access. The 35 member staff is efficient and hardworking, and they have developed a routine that is closely followed. There are obviously day-to-day challenges, but many of the staff are long time employees who can solve most any issue thrown their way. The direct relationship between customer satisfaction and employee pay is obvious, and the result is a crew that goes out of their way to keep the visitors happy. One way of doing that is by putting the guests on fish to catch, and that seems to be working.
If anything, the fishing is better than imagined, even after having fished much of the area for 40 years. Tough weather limited airplane travel in the early season yet creative guides figured out how to get customers to good spots and the results were astounding.
Keeping things running at the lodge is a major task. There are a couple of mechanics, including one with aircraft licensing, that work on planes, outboards, generators, and all manner of small engines that are found on site.
In July, they were joined by long time Elk Farm handyman Dave Price who was brought up from Minnesota to work on an old John Deere tractor that is essential for many jobs at the lodge. Dave is an experienced guy when it comes to fixing tractors, as he has renovated several beat-up tractors over the years. It took some online sleuthing to find the right part, but the tractor is now up and running.
Four-year-old Ada provided some entertainment for lodge guests one night before dinner. She was making the rounds of the lounge while Andy was otherwise engaged, and one group of guests later reported to Andy that Ada has bestowed them with special powers in a pre-dinner conversation. Ada has a vivid imagination and has picked up from Disney that some princesses can bestow supernatural powers, so why not her?? The guests seemed appreciative of the honor, as anyone would be.
Laureli Ivanoff has posted another article "While Foraging in Alaska, We Found a Delightful Surprise" to Outside Magazine, this time about finding a new type of plant while foraging near Unalakleet. Laureli’s connection with the natural life around her is typical for rural Alaska residents, but her ability to write about it is certainly not typical. Speaking of foraging, it appears to be a banner year for blueberries around the Angstman cabin after a late start. Ada and Jack picked enough for pancakes recently, and soon there will be buckets full. One quote from that recent grandkid trip to the cabin is worth repeating. As with any 2- and 4-year-olds, there were times when the kids found each other annoying during some bad weather that kept them inside. Not surprisingly, they were even able to annoy their grandparents a bit. Not too long after one such episode, Ada announced rather proudly “It must be a lot of fun for you to have two little kids around here all the time.” With that the two elders burst out laughing, as if to prove her point.
ALO settled two more cases in the aftermath of an accident that happened at a construction site in Bethel. Earlier a young girl settled her claim against the property owner after she was crushed by a beam that fell on her. The later settlements were for her family members that witnessed the immediate aftermath of the accident. Such claims are called negligent infliction of emotional distress and they are separate from the claim of the injured party, on the theory that family bystanders are harmed by being in the proximity to a serious accident. Any person who has been present when a family member was seriously injured in an accident would no doubt agree. Here the young girl’s family members tried to move the heavy beam off from her and watched her suffer in pain for some time before she was freed.
Anyone who follows this page is aware of the role dogs have played in the history of ALO. Recently that situation has been challenged by airline policies that make it harder and harder to bring dogs along on trips. Alaska Airlines now charges $150 one way for dogs to fly as baggage, up from $100 last year, and not all of their planes can carry dogs. In many ways, it could be argued the airlines are getting even after many years of flying dogs. Here is the history. In 1985 it was decided that Old Friendly Dog Farm would compete in the John Beargrease race in Minnesota. Northwest Airlines was then a major player in the industry, and they had a hub in Anchorage, and they supported dog racing in many ways. A call to their Anchorage manager resulted in a well written letter stating that the Dog Farm could transport 16 dogs to Minnesota on one jet, which was normally not possible because they had a three-dog limit for baggage. The cost was $50 per dog. The trip down went off smoothly, and the letter wasn’t even needed. The return trip created a bit of a problem. A large load of dogs was dropped at the airport in Minneapolis, and the dogs were lined up in 14 kennels (two dogs were sold) not far from the check-in counter. Two tickets for human travel to Anchorage were presented, along with the letter from the Northwest executive in Alaska. The immediate response was not promising – “We can’t load 14 dogs on one jet.” A discussion ensued pointing out that the dogs had all traveled to Minnesota on one jet, and the letter from Alaska was offered as proof that there was approval. Soon, the desk agent became flustered and went to the back room for help. After a few minutes, the supervisor appeared with the letter in hand. “No one in Alaska has the authority to control how we load airplanes in Minnesota” was his opening salvo. Of course, at that time the world headquarters for Northwest were in Minnesota and Anchorage was simply a distant hub, so his position had some basis. Time and options were running out for the dogs and their keeper, so the following position was taken. “Northwest Airlines gave written approval for these dogs to travel from Alaska to Minnesota round trip as baggage. The first half of the trip is proof that it can be done. The dogs are lined up right over there. Here are the two passenger tickets for Anchorage. The plane leaves in a couple of hours, and those two seats will be occupied. The dog truck already left. If they are left here in the terminal they will need to eat, drink, pee and poop within a few hours.” With that the supervisor went in the back room for about 10 minutes and emerged with a short statement. “Load them on the carts.”
Mandatory Moose, Bears & More!
This month’s Mandatory Moose is a shot of twin moose calves munching wildflowers in a meadow. Their shiny coats and deep brown color are impressive.
John G. Gomes
This month features a bunch of bear shots, including polar bears, black bears and grizzlies.
And this video of a moose and a bear is maybe not for everyone.
Ducks are not often featured here, but this old story out of Iowa needs to be shared.
Shelly Gill posted that and also posted this cartoon which is a dandy.
Paul Malin never disappoints with his photos, this one from Beluga Point near Anchorage.
This being a law office newsletter, it seems appropriate to mention things happening in the US Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas has been the recipient of numerous free perks, and many of them come with a very high price tag - "Justice Clarence Thomas Has Been Gifted 38 Vacations, 26 Private Flights, and More: Report" (Robb Report). None were reported as gifts, and all came from sources that identify as very wealthy conservatives. Thomas supporters suggest that none of the donors had active cases in the Supreme Court when the gifts were given, but that misses the point. These gifts obviously represent rewards to Thomas for his consistent right-wing votes on the court, and incentives for him to continue to vote that way. It is corruption in its most blatant form and should disqualify Thomas from the court. Many have called for his resignation, but one thing is clear, the Supreme Court has no clear rules preventing this conduct. Especially ironic is the fact that Thomas proudly mentions that he enjoys driving his motorhome across the country and mingling with the common folks that frequent RV parks. What he never mentioned is the fact that a billionaire donor bought him the vehicle. The fact is most of the richest people in America are very conservative in their political views, and they wield tremendous political clout by directing their money toward decision makers like Thomas and members of Congress. This fake headline makes a good point.
A Criminal Thing
While on the subject of law, perhaps a word or two about Trump. His fourth set of charges just hit and the comments in support of the defendant mainly involve the fact that no other president has ever been indicted and then suggesting it’s a political thing. No, it’s a criminal thing. No president has ever come close to matching the illegal conduct of Trump. Are the supporters suggesting that Trump’s many crimes are not important because he is running for office? It is because he is running for office that these cases are crucial. Little by little die-hard Trump fans are learning that he is not what they had believed. Even his vice president has turned on him in many ways, including acknowledging that Trump lost the election. But still there are folks that solidly support him. In fact, they are funding his legal defense and that of many of his allies. These cases cost millions to defend and despite claiming to be a billionaire, Trump asks his supporters, many who have modest incomes, to donate for fees. As an attorney who has represented thousands of folks with little money, it is hard to accept the notion that poor people should pay for Trump’s lawyers. At the same time, conservatives complain about having to pay for defense lawyers for poor people charged with crimes.
Here it is in a nutshell:
Finally here is some evidence that when Alaskans brag about the number of mosquitos in Alaska, they are not fooling.