Updated: Aug 2, 2020
The March news, slightly delayed, comes from the elk farm where spring is fully in progress. A dry winter did not add much water to the farm, but last year's abundant water has the ponds high and waterfowl are abundant. A significant thunderstorm yesterday settled the dust, and already the grass has greened up.
Some of the delay in this month's news resulted from a medical stop at Virginia Mason hospital in Seattle, which included one successful day in the hospital, where the skill and industry of the staff was exceptional. Mason draws its staff from all over the world, and a stay there would be an eye opener for some of America's hard core anti-immigration folks. The hospital became a temporary branch of ALO for a day, with a few business emails exchanged and calls received. Readers will be spared medical details, with one important exception. ALO rarely offers medical advice as part of its service, but for unsuspecting male readers, this word of caution. If some medical person asks for permission to install a catheter, the correct answer from the patient should always be no.
On the legal front, ALO had some good results. A case involving a boating accident death near the village of Aleknagik was resolved for the policy limits of defendant's insurance. The deceased was crossing the lake in his boat and was struck in the back of the head by a large jet boat, and died quickly, leaving a wife and young family. The jet boat was driven by the owner of a commercial fishing lodge which operated on a nearby lake.
ALO was involved in another major case that resolved recently. This case involved a dog mushing accident near Aspen ski area in Colorado. A lady was seriously injured as a tourist on a dog sled ride at a commercial dog operation. The sled she was riding with her husband tipped over on an icy portion of downhill trail and she impacted a tree with her face. ALO was hired as an expert in the area of dog sledding, and was asked to comment on many facets of the case. ALO prepared a written report that was critical of the defendant's preparations for icy trails. Among the concerns was the lack of a drag brake which has become standard equipment on most modern sleds. Without such a device, controlling speed downhill is a serious challenge especially on ice. ALO was selected because of long term involvement in legal cases and dog mushing activity, including a lot of mushing activity on icy trails. The case settled a few weeks before trial.
ALO lost a long time friend and helper in March when James Nicholas passed away at age 83. James helped with the dog program and many other outside chores, but it was his inside visits that endeared him to a long line of ALO helpers. ALO prepared some thoughts to be read at James' services in his hometown of Grayling, with a few passages that were added later.
Lest anyone suggest that ALO is leaving out facts in its recollections of James, it is best to acknowledge that James had a significant criminal record. His personality changed dramatically when drinking, and he tended to stay away from the Dog Farm when that happened. Not surprisingly, those times diminished as James grew older, and the sober James was a treasure to have around. The folks at Grayling gave him a grand send off, combining some traditional Native customs with religious rites learned from the missionaries. One of the traditional customs is to outfit the deceased in a new fur hat, gloves and mitts. Also the artwork in and out of the handmade casket is superb. Several meals are shared in the days leading up to the burial, including the traditional potlatch. At each meal a small portion of each dish is set aside for the deceased and at the burial that food is burned by the grave so that it can travel with the deceased. James was buried on the bank of the Yukon River, a main artery of life for a person from Grayling. According to Marvin Deacon, who handled many of the details for James service, he will have a good view of the river. Here are a bunch of photos from Marvin.
James loved to hunt moose. This month's mandatory moose seems like easy pickings.
Jeremiah Frye has several shots of this one looking in his window, eyeing up breakfast. James also liked to see northern lights when he camped under the stars. Here is a shot of the Bethel Tundra by Greg Lincoln, showing some of the vivid northern lights of March.
He also took this shot near town..
Of course March is mushing madness in Alaska. ALO was interviewed on a national radio show discussing the Iditarod. One of ALO's more interesting cases is mentioned in this Outside article about dog mushing conflicts in Alaska, which was published recently.
Finally this gem from Nome. Every year the Nome social scene erupts when the Iditarod finish comes to town, and one of the events is the women's arm wrestling. This video shows Bethel's Ashley Fairbanks on the right taking on Iditarod racer Aily Zirkle, soon after Zirkle finished the race. Of note is the fact that in her previous contest, minutes before this video was taken, Zirkle broke the arm of her opponent.