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  • Writer's pictureMyron

March 2024

Updated: 3 days ago

This edition of the ALO news comes from the farm in Minnesota where spring started in mid-winter and is in full force.   On the farm that involves more than just mild weather. For example on one of the first days here at 5:30 am, (2:30 Alaska time which was still operative for sleeping purposes), an owl landed in a tree right next to the cabin, and started chatting with another owl nearby.  It was loud enough to wake anyone  right at daybreak. Of course, after listening for a few minutes, it was time to go back to sleep but by then the whole farm was awake and there were loud calls from geese, swans, loons, cranes and turkeys to welcome the day, and the Alaska folks who were trying to sleep.  What a greeting! Heavy spring rains have eliminated the shortage of water that has plagued central Minnesota for a couple of years, which is promising for recovery of the prairie grass and flowers that have struggled during that time.


The move from Bethel to Anchorage required a lot of sorting and packing a while back, and one chore was deciding which photos and movies from the old days to save. Four full boxes of old photos and videos made the cut, and they have been standing ready for a deep dive for some form oforganization since that time.  This winter a few hours have been spent going through those boxes, and a few items have made their way to Facebook. A new photo app that scans, sharpens and colorizes old photos has proven to be effective which has made the job easier.  One such photo of old time Bethel shows the Salaffie house on sixth avenue in 1975 with a dog team passing by.  Recent arrivals residing in that area might be amazed at the changes.

The other is Sharon Boyette warming her backside  in front of the wood stove at the Angstman cabin during Christmas in the late 70s.

Speaking of Sharon, she recently recalled one of her favorite stories about husband Dan from the mid-80s in Bethel.  Dan went duck hunting with the Angstman crew which included a wonderful Labrador named Abby, who was a skilled retriever. The crew bagged a few ducks and placed them in a pile at one location while they switched to a different location to continue hunting.  The dog  was near Dan when a few ducks flew past and he blasted away at them with no success.  Abby watched carefully for a duck to drop from the flock, but alas there was nothing to retrieve.  But Abby knew her job well, and she knew that Dan was feeling bad about missing several shots, so  she took action.  She disappeared for a few minutes and then returned to Dan with a dead duck, retrieved from the stack of previously harvested birds.  She dropped it in front of him and of course received her well-deserved praise.


A recent article about polar bear research in the Arctic brought to mind two polar bear stories from a while back.  A former pilot in the Bethel area was flying a pair of polar bear researchers doing low level flights over the mostly frozen  ocean  250 miles north of Barrow when  their twin engine plane disappeared in October of 1990.  An extensive search was conducted and  no trace of the plane was ever located.  That leads to  the conjecture about what happened.  Imagine this scenario: the airplane was forced down for some reason but was able to land so that there were survivors, but they were then stuck on the ice far removed from any form of help. The terrain was ice in all directions, and the weather was cold.  There was survival gear on board, but the wait would have been terrifying.  Having spent 16 hours waiting for rescue after a crash  one time in moderate temps with a tent seems like nothing at all by comparison.  And that was with a sat phone and with populated villages nearby.  In retrospect, one can hope the plane went down leaving no survivors. See story here.


The other incident happened on the sea ice about 50 miles northwest of Kotzebue when an acquaintance went polar bear hunting with his partner, each with an airplane, back when aerial hunting was allowed. The two had radio contact with each other and they knew in that trackless zone with no landmarks they needed to stay close to each other for safety. The acquaintance was a dog racer in later years and loved to tell this story at race gatherings.  He spotted a bear on the ice and radioed his buddy that he was going to land and pursue the bear.  He set up to land his lightweight Super Cub and came to a stop fairly close to the bear.  He reached in the back for his rifle and hopped out of the Cub.  He took about three steps toward the bear and  realized it was very windy.  He looked back just as a gust of wind picked up the Cub and sent it cartwheeling away across the ice. As it did, the fabric covering on a light aluminum frame crumbled and was demolished.  He was standing on the snow, with his clothes and a rifle, with no communication and no hope unless his partner was able to find him and land. The partner had no idea what had happened but of course went into a circle pattern when he heard on the radio that his partner was going to land. After a period of time with no sighting of an airplane on the ice, he became very concerned for his buddy.  He continued circling, now closer to the ice, until he spotted the hunter waving frantically.  He landed and loaded, luckily without exiting the aircraft, and they made it safely back to Kotzebue.  One factor to consider when thinking about that story, as the overhead plane was circling in the heavy wind he was being blown steadily away from the starting location, with nothing on the ice as a point of reference, so if he didn’t find his buddy soon he would no longer have any idea where to look. Yikes.

ALO Update 

ALO settled just one case recently.  A case that previously resolved for policy limits after a bad Kodiak traffic accident was submitted to the injured party’s under insurance carrier, and again he was able to settle for his own policy limits.


A recent criminal case where a bad ass criminal claimed he should get a shorter sentence because he rehabilitated himself through religion in the jail brought to mind a former Anchorage judge who had some thoughts about such tactics.  Judge Ralph Moody was always tough on defendants, and this defendant claimed he had found Jesus in the jail.  Moody wasn’t impressed. “I’ve come to believe that Jesus must reside in the jail because so many folks who have never met Jesus seem to encounter him there,” were his words. “A long sentence might help you become better acquainted.”


Its been a while since Bev Hoffman made the ALO news but a recent pregnancy announcement brought to mind one of the best Bev stories. It was 1981 when Sue came home from the Bethel hospital to announce that she was pregnant with Andy.  The news was discussed a bit and then Sue asked if she should start calling people to break the news. A wise family member suggested a more efficient approach. “Why not just call Bev??”  So one call was made to Bev and about five minutes later the phone started ringing and continued to ring until bedtime with 20 or 30 well-wishers chiming in. Message delivered.

Mandatory Moose & Other Characters

Bears are waking up around Alaska and they are hungry.  This one went right to the source.

This elk looks a little “tired". Officers darted the elk and removed the tire which had been on the elk for two years. 

This month’s Mandatory Moose seems to be an animal lover.

And these little ducks are brave enough.

In Other News

Long time readers of ALO news are aware of the wide range of topics covered in this publication. One such topic of course is dog racing, and a few years back a risqué photo from the Iditarod trail was featured. It involved a young lady flashing a racer as he made his way to the first checkpoint.  One elderly reader in  Minnesota was so taken with the photo that he called his equally elderly friend and reported what he had seen. The friend, Roger Bohm, was not an internet user so was unable to access ALO news to check it out.  He asked for a copy of ALO news to be printed for his review.   His buddy complied and showed up with the goods.   He handed over the article, which consisted of a few pages of print.  There was no photo, which of course was linked to the article and didn’t print automatically.  On a subsequent visit to the farm Roger complained that he didn’t want to read the article--he wanted to look at the photo. That problem was solved by pulling up the ALO news for him and of course he was delighted.


A couple of Bethel athletes made the news recently.  Franceska Fairbanks who is the only Division One All American from Bethel was recently recognized by Gonzaga University for her achievements. See Here  A reminder that Grant Fairbanks takes credit for her success by claiming he started her running round their homestead on the Holitna River when she was a small girl.  What he doesn’t admit is that he made her go outside because she had too much energy to stay in their tiny cabin all day.  There were so many mosquitos she had to run to avoid being eaten up.


The other star is Jordan Klejka, who won a title in the Native Olympics recently in Anchorage.  Here is her performance in the one foot high kick.

Do not attempt that at home.


Here is an interesting chart  about  wages in America and how it all changed around 1980.

And this post by friend Suzanne Little is a related thought. 

Modern TV preachers are part of the problem, but an old time revival guy named Billy Graham really had a handle on  the situation. 

I doubt Graham would be amused by Trump selling bibles.  Or running shoes.  Here are some of the other things he has peddled. 

Most of these were scams and lasted a very short time before folding.  He has not yet sold snake oil.  Here is an article about the many former Trump advisors who do not support his return to the White House.  This is totally unprecedented and hard to explain for his supporters.  Why would the people closest to Trump now say they will not support him??


On a brighter note here is a short video about Bethel posted by a person who recently visited. Seems like an honest review.

And finally, a bonus moose because this is too good to pass up.

Almost all Alaskans celebrate urban moose, and a sighting like this at Costco gets applauded. He was working the chips in the cart as the woman scolded him. In defense of the moose, he had no Costco card.



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