Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pepper spray is not adequate

Comment overheard in the Forest Service office.

"We don't recommend relying on bear spray or bear bells for protection. The only thing we sanction is a weapon and the weapon better be at least adequate."

I guess I'll have to get a gun?!? That's scarier than thinking of Doogman carrying an ax around!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Best police blotter of the week

At 8:50 p.m., a man was seen carrying an ax in the Indian River Subdivision. The man said he was using it for bear protection, and would leave it in the bushes when he was out of danger.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Pepper spray, law enforcement and more

Well, my grueling work schedule and hazardous work conditions continue. Turns out that this very experienced guy named Jim (super nice) was testing the safety on the pepper spray yesterday in preparation for a bear safety talk that evening. The canister was obviously defective because it released a little bit of spray and should not have. I would hate to experience any larger amount of spray. Jim's throat barely recovered enough to present his bear safety talk that night.

This is first-hand info because Jim gave me the scoop when I went out with him and Mike (Forest Service law enforcement) for a day-long search (under not-quite-radio silence) for outlaw cabins in the Tongass.

What a day, too. We landed the boat at many, many stops to get out and explore. Fortunately, it was also a good opportunity for bathroom breaks. This is no ordinary peeing-in-the-woods experience ... not when you are peeing in bear country and have seen recent tracks of a mother and cub!

I did see remains of an outlaw cabin and one scheduled for deconstruction. What a structure, too ... framed out windows and everything; very impressive. The deconstruction process entails going back out to the site, tearing down the cabin, hauling the shit to shore, lighting a fire and letting the tide wash away the ashes.

See my pictures ... remember, all you have to do is click "View Slideshow;" you don't need to sign in.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The hazards of working for the Forest Service

Just announced over the building intercom system (cough):

"There has been an accidental release of pepper spray on the second floor. If you can avoid the second floor, please do so."

I am starting to choke up (really).

Gotta go.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

AWOL in Alaska

SITKA -- August 19, 2007

Local residents and SEAtrails board members were in a state of panic (well, maybe "concern" is more accurate) when SEAtrails VISTA volunteer Karen Smith could not be located this past weekend.

"I called her house and the guy who answered the phone said she moved out," said Davey Lubin, dad to Louie, the whale watching and hiking poodle extraordinaire. (The brilliant guy upstairs deduced this based on the lone piece of evidence that the Jeep was not in the driveway for a few days.) Davey, who spends a lot of time out on the water, really let his imagination get carried away. "I thought maybe she'd flipped out or something or run off with a bunch of Forest Service guys."

"I don't know what all the hooplah was about," responded a relaxed and unfazed Karen Smith. "I told my supervisor that I would be out playing all weekend. Everyone knows the boys upstairs never relay any message, whether it's in person or on the answering machine. All I did was go fishing."

You can see pictures of Smith's weekend whereabouts.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Top 10 things I've learned about Sitka

  1. Never refer to the bears around Sitka as grizzlies. Although they are, you must call them "brown bears" or be deemed daft.
  2. Be prepared to wait in line if you show up when the White Elephant opens (it's true; I have seen the line!). This second-hand store is THE place to shop in Sitka. Free books are outside the building on the left-hand side of the store; books you pay for are on the right.
  3. For the absolute best wildlife viewing tour in town, go to Captain Davey of and let him know I sent ya. Or drop him a note and tell him how much you love his website and my blog!
  4. There are two stoplights in town and one four-way stop sign. These markers are virtually always used for any sort of directions, so know their locations.
  5. If you see people walking around singing, clapping their hands and otherwise carrying on, it isn't because they're crazy or just plain happy (although both might be true). Most likely, it's because if you make a lot of noise, the bears stay away.
  6. The best days to get the local daily paper are Mondays (for the police blotter), Wednesdays (for the grocery store ads) and Friday (for the TV listings). Uncannily enough for you Smith Sentinel fans, it's called the Sitka Sentinel and eerily similar.
  7. If a guy named Odin estimates a time for any sort of hike, double that amount and you might be close.
  8. If you want to run into any of the guys from Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch, go down to the Pioneer Bar (locally known as the P-Bar) or hang out around Thomsen Harbor.
  9. There really is a literal end of the road; one end is 7 miles northwest of town and the other is 7 miles southeast of town.
  10. For the best milkshakes in town, go to Lane 7. A milkshake at this joint is what saved Tess' life (see You know it's a small town when...). If you want the best meal in town, go to Ludwig's — but make a reservation. This place is tiny and might seat 12 if you suck it in.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

First ascent of Mt. Verstovia...

By a poodle of Arrowhead. See my photos of this absolutely great day, including one of where my house is and other cool stuff.

I did this fan-tab-u-lous hike. The weather was stunning; warm, sunny, unbelievable...the perfect day for a hike. My hiking buddies and I (Davie, Odin and Louie, the dog, of course) climbed Mt. Verstovia. But we didn't stop there. I let Odin convince me that it was only 45-minute hike to the top of Arrowhead. I didn't really believe him but was game. So we hiked all the way up to Arrowhead, Louie, too. For a poodle, he's a pretty cool dog. I can't believe he made it all the way. That is a 3,300 ft vertical foot climb. For those of you not into hiking and vertical feet, that is a f@#$ing lot of feet to climb. Parts of it you are literally climbing the rocks. It was such a clear day I could see the Fairweather Mountains west of Glacier Bay -- about 90-100 miles away.

We did rest along the way and picnic but left the summit when one of the local gallery owners, a Russian named Eugene, wanted us to go so he could sunbathe in the nude. And he did!

I don't think I'll be attempting Everest anytime soon, but Louie might!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Odd signs posted in my environment

  • Dangerous Invader
    (in reference to the New Zealand sea slugs that have somehow taken over the island)

  • Service dog in the building
    (in reference to the Rottweiler in the Forest Service building who is still waiting for his "official" vest)

  • Suspicious mail alert
    (in reference to weird or Anthrax-laden packages you might receive in a U.S. Government building)

  • Evacuation plan
    (in reference to how to get out of my 4-bedroom apartment that only has one door; they recommend using the door)

  • Do not create dust
    (in reference to how the apartment is old and has asbestos in the ceiling, linoleum, walls, etc. and they don't want you to saw walls or paint the ceiling or anything)

  • Have you seen this bird
    (in reference to letting someone know if you see any black oystercatchers because they are very rare and they're trying to get a population count)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

You know it's a small town when...

You've only been in town a few days and you know the person who's house was destroyed by the float plane crash.

Yes, there was a float plane that crashed a couple blocks from my office on my first day in the office. Fortunately, the person I know had left the house 10 minutes prior to get a milkshake. Unfortunately, it was a fatal crash. Read the story.

My float plane experience was great...I even got to sit in the co-pilot seat. Note: If you're in a float plane and taking pictures, keep your camera ~away~ from the open sliding window if you ever want to actually see those pictures.

See pictures of my Prince of Wales trip, including my float plane pictures (near the end.)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Back in Sitka

Whew, it's been a whirlwind! I am now on my first second-day-in-a-row in Sitka. I returned Friday p.m. after my tour of Prince of Wales Island (photos to come later). In that 24 hours, I went on a 6-mile hike w/ Davey (one of the founders of SEAtrails) and his dog Louie. Then Davey took me out on his boat for a wildlife viewing adventure. I saw sea lions tearing at fish, puffins, whales, seals, sea otters -- it was fantastic. Best part is I can count it as "work". Ha! I have yet to go to the office but should be there on Monday ... at least for part of the day.

See some of my photos of Sitka.

I've been everywhere, man; I've been everywhere...

Crossed the Strait of Georgia, man
I've breathed the fumes of ferries, man
Of travel I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere

I've been to:
Provo, Twin Falls, Boise, Hells Canyon, Coeur d'Alene, San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Bellingham, Ketchikan, Wrangall, Petersburg, Sitka, Hollis, Thorne Bay, Coffman Cove, Naukiti, Craig, Klawock

Of travel I've had my share, man.
I've been everywhere...I've been everywhere.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

My mailing address

I haven't even been in town to set up a P.O. box but it appears you can send stuff to me anyway. It appears that you can go to the post office, wait in line, and they'll hand you your mail. Who knew? How crazy is that? I plan to set up a p.o. box but in the meantime, you can snail mail me at:

General Delivery
Sitka, AK 99835

Ferry trip photos

My great adventures and travels continue so I haven't had time to get these posted until now.

I'm currently in Ketchikan, going to Prince of Wales Island. I've only spent 2 nights in my new Sitka home and may return there on Friday ... but who knows?!?