June marked the opening of Tikchik Narrows Lodge, now under the management of Andy Angstman. June also was one of the rainiest months in recent memory in Southwest Alaska, making for a challenging start to the season. Many days were not flyable, and some of those days were not even boatable, so fishing was somewhat limited. Regardless, nice fish were caught, and customers were pleased with the experience, based on record breaking tips spread equally among the 35 staff members. A 10-day stay at the Angstman cabin with a couple trips to the lodge revealed an extremely helpful and competent staff, many of whom have worked at the lodge for years. Here are some of the early catches.
For anyone that wonders about what goes on at a remote lodge, check out the series that was filmed at Tikchik Narrows in 2016. It was called Guiding Alaska and is available on Vudu for about $10 for the entire season of seven episodes. It’s an interesting look at what Andy is now dealing with daily as manager.
For a free look at a video made by a previous guest, check out this short video.
There have been celebrities at the lodge. This account written by the son of Johnny Cash a few years back describes a family visit to the lodge in rather personal terms.
This poem was written by Emil Churchin, a chef's helper at the lodge, who he said it was written when he woke in the middle of the night with the words already in his mind.
It has been a very busy May and June for resolving cases. It was mentioned last month that the Mat-Su School district cases that have been pending for a long time finally settled. There were 12 such cases and ALO was involved in six of them. The last settlement was approved by the court just a few days ago. Cases involving minors must go before the judge for approval of settlements to be certain the child’s interests are protected. One issue that courts consider is the future plan for the money. Many parents are surprised to learn that they usually have no access to the child’s money which must be preserved until the child reaches age 18. Even then, there have been issues with management of the money. One unfortunate case from years ago in Bethel had a bizarre result. A young lady who received a large settlement attracted a boyfriend who was helping her spend the money on drugs and rapidly draining her account. Her family intervened and asked ALO to help. A court hearing was held, and the boyfriend was ordered to have no further contact with the young woman, and the court put her parents in charge of her bank accounts as conservators. The young man learned that his source of funds had been cut off, and promptly hung himself in public on a Bethel street.
The Mat-Su cases involved sordid facts, not only from the aspect of the sexual abuse that went on for years, but also from the evidence that two school employees were directly advised of the abuse by angry parents, and instead of properly reporting the abuse, the two went to the abuser and warned him about the complaints. The concerned parent testified that the teacher, Molly Young, went so far as to assure her that the abuser was a great guy and would never do the things he was accused of doing. Another concerned parent testified that she was told by Principal Scott Nelson that the police would be called if she didn’t leave the school as she repeatedly attempted to report the abuse. The abuser, Lukis Nighswonger, received a lengthy prison sentence after confirming that the two employees warned him of the complaints. Of special interest is the fact that the teacher somehow managed to keep her job with the school district.
ALO also settled a complaint for a young man who had his feet frost bitten when forced to stand outside with bare feet for about 20 minutes when he was arrested by Bethel police on an evening when the temperature was below zero. The young man was arrested at home and taken to a police car parked outside. The car’s doors had frozen shut and instead of returning inside to wait for another car to arrive, the police left him standing next to the frozen car.
Mandatory Moose, Grizzlies & Other Cuties
Here are the Mandatory Moose for this month. Both are portrait quality shots.
Colter Broadwell Photography
Blue Moose Photography 89
These grizzly bear shots are superb.
This shot of Ada at daycare is worth sharing. The little guy seems pretty happy with his situation.
And here is a shot of Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski at a Saturday market in Anchorage helping her son peddle pasta from a family run business. She appears there often, and actually waits on customers. This is an outdoor venue, and the weather is often less than ideal. Score her a point for being a real person.
Speaking of weather, heat, smoke, drought, and nasty storms have dominated much of the planet this summer thus far. The few who still think global warming is a hoax make less noise than they used to because the evidence is overwhelming that the world is in for a rough ride. The hottest stretch of worldwide temps in recorded history was a few days ago, and that will be broken soon. Walking five miles a day in Alaska is pleasant, but today at 64 degrees was a bit too warm with the sun out. Add fifty degrees to that and any normal person would suffer greatly. When huge areas of the earth are not livable without air conditioning, there is obviously a crisis. That same air conditioning adds to global warming, and even with air conditioning there are large numbers of heat-related deaths, because not everyone can sit in air-conditioned comfort all day.
Here is Sam Brewer with one answer to global warming, with photo credit to his wife Jessica Klejka.
Hunting partner Don Lehmann expanded his medical practice to include a new specialty - "A Sitka doctor uses sports medicine to help musician-athletes perform their best." He’s actually mostly retired but he also practices a bit of on-call lodge medicine and hunting camp medicine. He consults with ALO when medical issues arise in legal cases.
Another ALO consultant Dr. Ann Jarris provides medical services for boats that operate Titanic tours. She herself has been to the ocean floor to observe the Titanic wreck. She was on the surface when the recent tragedy happened and reports that she was friends with at least two of the deceased folks on board the imploded vessel. She has now shifted gears and is traveling to the north country by boat past Nome to the Arctic Ocean with a scientific team studying ice issues.
Speaking of ocean travel, an old mushing friend reported this classic story about fellow musher Joe Garnie from Teller. Joe invited a buddy from Anchorage to visit Teller and try his hand at seal hunting. That type of hunting involves a skiff, with a rifle to shoot the seal once spotted in the water. Joe took his buddy to the beach where Joe’s well used boat was parked. The boat was equipped with an equally used outboard, but fortunately there was a backup engine on board so off they went. There was no means of communication on board as this was in the 1980’s before much in the way of electronics had hit far western Alaska. It was a pleasant day, and the guest was looking forward to a new experience.
The trip went smoothly at first, but no seals appeared. Soon the boat was far offshore and the guest was wondering how far they would actually travel. After an hour of travel, the well-used motor quit running. Joe had a few tools along and removed the cowling to have a look for the problem. He tinkered for a while, pulled the start cord a bunch of times and then announced he would try the back up outboard. That sounded like a good plan to the somewhat concerned passenger. To accomplish that, Joe loosened the clamps that held the outboard to the transom. He then lifted the outboard off the transom as he stated, “This is just a piece of junk.” With that, he threw the outboard in the ocean. His guest was shocked. He understood that the outboard was not running, but there was no assurance the replacement would run either. Joe lifted the replacement onto the transom and after a few pulls it fired off. The guest relaxed a bit, mindful that the replacement could fail too. The trip was completed, and all was well. It was the guest’s only seal hunting trip to date. Here’s a photo of Joe hauling moose meat by dog team in a later adventure.
And finally, the Trump news. Fox News invited Trump for an interview, and it didn’t go well. The network that used to never challenge Trump on his BS hit him repeatedly with his previous comments about the quality of the people he would place in important positions, compared with his current view of those same people. Despite claiming he would hire only the best people, Trump now regularly attacks his former staff as incompetent, mainly because they describe him in unflattering terms. Who better than his former cabinet and staff members to evaluate the former President? Another interesting part of the interview shows a clip of Trump describing how he would firm up the handling of classified documents. This clip is hard to square with Trump’s current indictment for mishandling classified documents, and he really doesn’t even try to explain himself when pressed. Hardcore Trump supporters who used to watch Fox News exclusively have simply changed their viewing habits to avoid the obvious turmoil of seeing their man grilled in an interview. Watch it here.