The November news comes to you from the main office here in Bethel where winter has finally arrived. Winter travel has been hazardous with only partial freezing on the river and lots of ice. A decent amount of snow is falling now, and with cold weather in the forecast, winter recreation can begin. That's good news for frustrated dog mushers who have once again been forced to train on ice most of the season.
November on the farm was cooler than normal. Most days it was colder than Bethel. The latest gizmo at the farm is a set of security cameras that send out immediate notices to a cell phone when anyone walks by, along with a video of the event. Please circulate this information to any criminals you might encounter.
Cancer was a common topic during November. Many folks connected to ALO or the Elk Farm were either diagnosed with cancer, or perished from it. Those diagnosed include a couple of folks who help with the farm. While treatment for cancer has improved dramatically in recent years, there has been little progress in preventing it. Many cancers are caused by the things humans eat, breathe and drink. In those areas, it is obvious Americans need to do a better job. American has the fifth highest cancer rate in the world
ALO managed a couple of case settlements from the farm. A serious dog bite from the City of Dillingham resulted in a claim against the owner and the City.
The dog had a previous history of aggressive behavior. There was also a settlement with the City of Kenai for an incident involving a woman who had just delivered a child through Caesarean Section. The ALO client was roughly removed from her bed by the police to appear as a witness in court in a criminal case against her boyfriend, and suffered great pain in the area of her incision which later became infected.
Alaska elections produced results that confirm mining will proceed full speed throughout the state. This is bad news for the folks that value the treasure not found in mines but instead in the spectacular Alaska wilderness . Many say the mines will be run safely and with no threat to the environment. The facts show otherwise. Its too long of a discussion to get into here, but even the most recent mine in Alaska, built with assurances of environmental safety, is fouling the air and water near Kotzebue.
Former President Bush was laid to rest with a variety of eulogies, most of them positive of course. Bush was a pretty conservative guy and many of his actions were not supported around ALO, such as the Iraq war and his actions regarding minorities. But a few things stand out among his life deserving of praise. First he was quick to understand the threat of global warming, way back in the 80's. His overall record on environmental issues was good. Second, he resigned his lifetime membership in the NRA when he decided the group had become a radical political group instead of an advocate group for hunters and shooting sports. Third, he was by all accounts a kind and honorable person in his private life. Fourth, he enjoyed being the subject of Saturday Night Live skits that poked fun at him and even reached out to the actor who played him. Finally and most significantly, late in his life he publicly stated that Donald Trump was a blowhard. Many of the speakers at his funeral commented on how truthful he was. Indeed.
Speaking of governmental leaders, former Alaska Governor Jay Hammond figures slightly into ALO history. After he was Governor, he was star of a TV show called Jay Hammond's Alaska which went around the state highlighting things of interest. Of course when he came to Bethel, he was drawn like a magnet to Bev Hoffman. One of her suggestions for the show was to have Jay take part in a Sunday dog race which then was a regular weekend event in Bethel. Bev enlisted the Dog Farm to provide Jay a team but also warned against telling him any of the many Bev stories that should have been part of the TV show. Jay, who wrote a book about his career, had been a wilderness guide in the 1950's and drove a dog team, so he knew the ropes. He was a little light on winter gear and it was cold so he came by the Dog Farm to borrow some clothes and get dressed before the race. As he was slipping on a snow suit, he recalled an incident from Rainy Pass high in the Alaska range from his youth. As Jay told the story, he was on a dog team in the pass and stopped to relieve himself along the trail. It was awfully cold and he was in a hurry to get dressed and the dogs were anxious to get going. Apparently he forgot to completely redress, leaving a gap in a key area. He noticed a little breeze but wasn't't that concerned. When he next stopped he was alarmed to discover he had frost bite in a zone that normally doesn't't get exposed to the weather. He was 100 miles or more from a hospital, and as the frozen part started to thaw there was some concern. "It hurt like hell" Most male readers will understand.
As soon as possible Jay made his way to a doctor who told him the frost bite was significant and some flesh was past saving, meaning it would have to be removed by cutting. Governor Hammond then told the folks listening in the Angstman living room what he told the doctor. "Be real careful Doc, I don't have any to spare."
The first dog race of the season was held near Denali Park last weekend, and former Bethel star Jessica Klejka finished in the middle of the pack as part of her training for her first Iditarod. Following the race from afar was hard as no one was posting times. A few calls were fruitless. In the early days of distance racing, getting updates was a challenge and Alaska fans learned to call a variety of numbers at a check point to learn what was happening. Sometimes the response was weak. Eventually Alaska races established a batch of volunteers to answer phones and give out results. In the 80's a Minnesota race called the John Beargrease started attracting Alaska racers to Duluth, and the race organizers hadn't't developed a plan to update the many callers from Alaska. The Dog Farm needed this information and was determined to get it. After a couple of fruitless attempts to learn the details, a new strategy was employed. "This is Randall Simpson from the New York Times, and I would like to obtain the current standings for the race." The person who had answered covered the phone and loudly announced "It's the New York times and they want race results." An official sounding person hurried to the phone and provided a great report. I'm sure the same person scoured Duluth for a copy of the next day's New York Times.
This month's mandatory moose gets better treatment than most VIPs in Anchorage. Author Seth Kantner sent this photo in exchange for past favors except there were no favors.
He took the picture in the vicinity of the mine near Kotzebue mentioned above. This was about 6 years ago and the herd has diminished sharply since that time. The estimated count for this group is 80,000 animals, although some of them are off the photo. Seth sent this digital copy of the photo to share on this site, but put his name on it to keep people from stealing his work, which they have done before. Here is his website, where lots of great photos are for sale. If you don't live in rural Alaska you probably should check these Bethel prices.
But Alaska scenes like these make those prices seem cheap.
A recent swarm of earthquakes has left folks in the Anchorage area a bit on edge. Road repairs were a major topic of interest as seriously ruined roads were common. Former Bethelite Jackie Pflaum was able to find some humor in the situation when she posted this. Duct tape is heavily used in Alaska.
Finally, another old time Bethel guy Rich Trotto posted this cartoon, which is spot on.