Mr. Bill and Miz Mona

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why I Love Alaska

Bill Says: Over the last 33 years or so I have had many an opportunity to visit with grinning tourists from all over the world, mostly with strong accents, while on walking patrol in the various towns I worked- especially the communities of Skagway and Seward. Besides asking me thing like, "Why is there an American flag over your post office?", or "Why aren't you wearing your Mountie uniform?" ( made me wonder if these people took history and geography in school) . These tourists were in Skagway, where they would also walk right off the cruise ship, stand on the dock, look at the majestic mountain peaks surrounding the town and ask me, "What's the elevation here", and I would respond with a friendly, "12 feet, sir." They always seemed to ask me the same things and one such question was, "Why do you love Alaska so much?", and I always replied with, "I love Alaska's freedom and its sheer wildness".

This last weekend we were able once again to experience Alaska's wildness and of course, the tourists missed it. The weather people, ( those courageous people who stand in front of the TV and hope to show you the weather patterns for a state nearly the size of one half of the Lower 48... and often they sadly fail), were reporting a small snow storm on the way to the Kenai Peninsula. We were to expect a possible 6 inches of white stuff... and oh, possibility some high winds. What we got though...I'd say was the worst storm in our 10 years in Moose Pass.  Heavy snow started around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday and the blizzard hit around noon, as we left church. Power was knocked out and stayed that way for the next 42 hours, along with cell phones and even our home phones. So if you called and couldn't get through, this is why.

To say the least, I missed Sunday Football and heard through the grapevine it was a great game.

Now on the east coast they declare a hurricane when a storm hits 70 mph. Will, once this storm hit, those same weather people now reported those high winds were sustaining a strength of 70-90 mph in our area and boy, did it blow! I thought some of those gusts were hitting the 200 mph and I half expected to see an old Kansas farm house come flying by and some witch character on a bicycle/broom on her way to OZ.

Trees were bending in a fashion I didn't think possible without pulling their roots out, and some of them didn't survive the ordeal. We have tree tops and branches all over the yard and at least 6 big trees now laying on the ground. I watched as one of our taller spruce trees did its winter dance, bowing before the wind and I just knew it was about to fall any second and close off our driveway. But it held, except for losing about 9 feet off the top and boy, my ravens are going to be mad. This was one of their favorite spots. When it was all over, we only ended up with a foot of snow a top of what we already had. Most of the new stuff was blown south to Seward...oh, those lucky people.

Brave electric crews from Anchorage, Cooper Landing and even Seward were in our area trying to restore power, but the high winds made it difficult for them to move about. Power line insulation actually burst into flames for various lengths of line and one reported fiery line running tower to tower was observed south of us. If not for the snow already on the roof, I am sure we would've lost most of our shingles on the old part of the house roof. (I still gotta get those 30 year old shingles replaced and keep putting it off- they cost too much and I'm naturally lazy. Besides I weigh too much to go dancing across the roof top with a lethal nail gun in my hand... I am also afraid of heights. Had to do with falling out of helicopter- sorry, another story!).

During the storm, Linda Sherill, co-owner, with her husband, Wes, of the old Moose Pass Inn and one of our dear seniors, passed away in the early morning hours. Linda was surrounded by her family and died in her sleep. Mona, who has already done comfort in-home care twice before for those preparing for the trip home to Heaven, has been taking care of Linda for some time and helped prepare the family for this day. When the time came, Mona stepped in and handled most of the things needing to be done, as to relieve the family from these... tasks. My wife is one incredible lady and she does this all out of love. She is also now on a first name basis with the workers of the Peninsula Funeral Home and all the nurses in the Seward Clinic. We will all miss Linda, but we also know where she is now and she is without pain. If you are reading this, please lift the Sherill family, especially Wes, in your prayers. Besides being husband and wife, they were best friends.

But yes, it is times like this I love my Alaska. True, we have a wood stove to keep the house warm and a propane kitchen stove to keep the tea water hot, but we still have to rough it a bit. Lamps were burning throughout the house and we had enough flashlights to furnish a boy scout troop and not forget a large container of peanut butter. We also have fantastic friends, like Chad, who weathered the severity of the storm to come over and plow our driveway twice and move some of the heavier branches with his loader. He does this out of love too. That's another part of Alaska- people who care for one another and do not ask for payment for such services. Food and water is shared as needed, drivers become available for a trip to the store and someone is always checking on you.

I guess that's why our population stays at that less than a million mark- our wildness keeps most people away. Bears and moose wander the yards, wide-eyed crazy tundra wookies in your store line don't effect you, everyone is armed to the teeth for that coming zombie invasion and that occasional winter storm that blows your roof off or puts your car in the tree is simply a road bump. We deal with constant frozen water lines, empty fuel tanks because you decided to eat that week instead of buying fuel, and learning how to use a water bucket to flush the toilet when the power is out. This is Alaska.

Yes, my only real concern in Alaska is simply that summer tourist- his humongous RV blocking my road at 45 mph and then having the gall to complain that ivory carving and scrimshaw isn't a true art and how they could get the same thing in plastic...PLASTIC!

But someday, it will be my turn again and I will once again return to the Lower 48 and become a TOURIST! I'll ask those stupid questions, get lost on the freeway and K-Mart, here I come....


1 comment:

  1. Read this know about these kind of storms. can't say I miss them. Proud of you Mona Sue. Glad you have a wood stove for these days.