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  • Writer's pictureMyron

May 2024

The May news comes to you from Anchorage after a failed attempt to reach the Angstman cabin to open the wilderness branch of ALO for the season.  An unusually late break-up in the mountains has left ice on Chauekuktuli Lake, and that ice moved around enough to prevent boat access during a recent stay at Tikchik Narrows Lodge. This will be the latest opening for the cabin since it was built in 2007.

Water around the lodge is fully open and the first guests are currently in the middle of their stay. Here is a short video posted by guide Steve King which describes the process of getting the lodge up and running.

One failed attempt at reaching the cabin by boat was well worth the time when a brief stop on the shore resulted in the first sighting of a baby wolverine.  There is a resident population of wolverine in the area, but they are rarely seen.   After close to 50 years of visits to the area there have been about six wolverine sightings, all adult animals.  This time a mother and kit were spotted approaching along the  lake shore, and Jack the Dog spotted the kit about 50 feet away as it emerged from a thicket.  The kit turned and headed back into the thicket, but Jack decided he would follow until some serious shouts changed his mind.  Despite having a cell phone in hand and ready, no photos were taken because the kit wasn’t in sight for long. The kit appeared to be about half the size of Jack.

 

One early helper at the lodge was long time Minnesota neighbor David Price.  Dave agreed to come to the Lodge to help the mechanics get everything ready for the season and did a great job.  He won’t accept pay for the work as he calls it his vacation.  Dave enjoys the wilderness locale with a well  equipped  shop, competent mechanics and unlimited things to fix with whatever parts might be on hand.  This trip he fixed a hydraulic arm on a back hoe  that had been badly bent.

Others wanted to obtain a replacement part taking weeks or longer.  He found a stray bottle of acetylene gas and  heated the part till he could bend  it, and made it operative again for the short term.  One other mechanic called it magic.

 

Lodge guests watch one old timer walk around the place fairly often with his dog Jack, and probably wonder what role he plays cause he doesn’t seem to do anything useful.  The crew was provided a possible explanation to give to guests if they ask. “He’s an old hermit that lives in the woods near here, and he  brings his dog over to visit once in a while.  The cooks feel sorry for him and give him food when he comes, and the dock crew gives him gas, and he keeps coming back”   Actually that explanation is fairly accurate.

 

Of course the lodge is mostly about fishing.  Here are a couple of the first week’s best fish. Top fish is a char, bottom is a lake trout. The first group of visitors included several retired military officers from Israel and a retired American four star general. That made for some interesting discussions about the war in Gaza.


Goodbye to a legend

The death of the greatest baseball player ever Willie Mays brings back youthful memories. 

The New York Giants had  a farm team in Minnesota called the Minneapolis Millers until the mid-fifties, and naturally they were closely followed by radio on the Angstman farm.  Mays made a brief stop there in 1951 and hit .477 before being called up to the majors.  That legend was often discussed my the Angstman men and the youngest member of  the clan paid close attention.   When the Giants announced they were going to play an exhibition game against the Millers in about 1955, there was immense pressure applied to the parents to attend.  That would involve an hour drive to  Nicollet Park for the 7 PM start.  First the cows needed to be milked, and then father and son set off.  There were no freeways yet, and its not clear the Angstman family car went over 50 mph, but eventually a parking spot was located near the Park.  It was about 7 but no one had a watch.  As the pair entered the gate, a loud roar went up.  A few moments later, it was learned that Mays batted in the top of the first inning and hit a homerun, causing the loud crowd response.  Worse yet, he was immediately removed from the game cause the fans got what they paid for, (most of them at least) and the team didn’t want to risk injury to their star.  Missing a chance to see Mays in action was a great let down, made even worse a few years later when the Giants decided against moving to Minnesota, accepting a better deal from San Francisco at the last minute after buying land for a stadium in Minnesota.  Regardless the Giants remained a favorite team until the Twins moved to Minnesota in 1961.

 

Persistent rain on the Minnesota farm has replaced the drought  of the past two years with flooded rivers and ponds, and saturated soil. A bumper crop of  wildflowers  emerged, and native grass will soon be head high or higher.


Mandatory Moose & Other Characters

This month’s Mandatory Moose is of course a new born. They are born in the back yards of numerous folks in Alaska, and they are all over social media. So why not two photos? 

Josh Fannon provides an incredible amount of legal help on ALO cases but just as important is his occasional contribution to the News.  This month he sent a video of two loons in the lake in front of his home in Wasilla.  It must be a mating ritual, but it’s an unusual sighting for sure.


ALO Update

On a recent visit to the Federal Court House for a deposition at the US Department of Justice conference room, this classic coaster was provided for cups. There were about 10 of them around the conference table, and inquiry was made if they could be kept as a souvenir.  It was explained that same question is often asked  and the answer is always a firm no. The obvious next question was “Does anyone count them?”  Removing government property from the US court building didn’t seem like a good idea,  but maybe there is a craft person out there who can create a coaster out of this photo and  make it into a birthday gift….

ALO  concluded one case recently.  That case was reported here a few months ago, and involved a snow machine-dog team collision on the Denali Highway.  Here is the news account of that accident.  The claim against Polaris involved former Dog Farm helper Mike Parker, and it was resolved at a mediation.  The mediation was conducted by former Supreme Court Justice Dana Fabe, who handles a fair number of such events for ALO.


In Other News 

Minnesota nephew Eric Gruhlke has been a stock car racer the past few years, and has done quite well for himself at the Princeton Speedway. He recently had a spectacular accident , caught on video.

He walked away unharmed, somehow. Maybe he should take up dog racing.


Political commentary often appears near the end of the ALO news, and most frequently that commentary is a conservative voice and that is often a verbatim quote.  There are two such items that are worth posting this month.  The first is a speech by Donald Trump from a while back.   Listen closely. 

The other is a quote by long time Republican strategist Karl Rove after he mentioned some of Robert Kennedy's more bizarre statements.

"In a normal election, these wild ideas would devastate a campaign. But this isn't a normal year. After stunts like Russiagate, decades of mainstream media bias, and years of QAnon nonsense, voters on the right are particularly prone to embrace conspiracies from fringe sources. Mr. Kennedy could use these outlandish claims to pry more than a few wackos off Mr. Trump, perhaps enough to hand the election to Mr. Biden."  

He is worried that Robert Kennedy will possibly draw enough “wackos” away from  Trump to hand the election to Biden.  And he acknowledges that Republican voters are prone to embrace conspiracies from fringe sources.  Damning words from one of their own when he admits Trump needs wackos to win.


Finally, some thoughts about another round of bear killing by the state of Alaska.  Last year the state hired a bunch of gunners in helicopters to shoot bears in southwest Alaska, including  in Wood Tikchik State Park where the Lodge is located.  They killed nearly 100 Grizzly Bears  and a few black bears and wolves.  It was done without any public input, and in direct contradiction to biologist input stating that such killing had no scientific data  in support.   It was suggested the bears needed thinning to protect a caribou herd decimated by environmental issues that are believed to be cyclical and climate related.  Basically the caribou food source has disappeared at key times, killing off much of the population.  But despite public outcry after last year’s slaughter, the state is back at it again.  There is no word yet how many have been killed, but the choppers have been seen several times in the vicinity of the Lodge.   Bears are an attraction for local folks, tourists and hunters in Southwest Alaska, and wholesale killing of such a majestic animal can never be justified in an enlightened society.  Creating a desired population of wildlife by killing animals is barbaric and misguided.  Alaska’s dim witted governor is supportive of the bear slaughter, of course, and has appointed  key people to carry out his wishes.  Meanwhile, he and his people do nothing to address the ocean  trawling mess that threatens to wipe out important marine species including king salmon.  Mother Nature has suffered under Dunleavy, and he’s not done yet.

 

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