ARIZONA TO ALASKA

REUNION FINALE

By: joealaska, 5:53 AM GMT on June 25, 2012

Having a great time at the family reunion. That is exactly why I came.

My plan was to show up when everyone was already here spending the first night at dinner at my folks home. I was going to call them from my cell as I stood outside, have them pass the phone around a bit, then ring the doorbell while still talking. I really wanted to have someone become “in” on the deal at the last second, so they could stand back and film the reaction. But that just did not work out.

I showed up in town at 1 PM, well before dinner time. The only people in town at that point were touring a bourbon distillery and enjoying free samples near Lexington. I did not know that at the time, so I headed home not knowing what would happen. I took a cab and got out a few houses down the road. I called the house and my mom answered. After a bit of chit chat I rang the doorbell and kept talking. She said the doorbell was ringing and someone was there. She answered the door still holding the phone. Her great face reaction was caught as I filmed, and she started laughing and yelling, still talking into the phone. I could only film a few seconds, then I had to give her a hug.

Dad was downstairs and I walked down as he walked up. He was stunned.

So now my big surprise became a series of surprises. People arrived at various points thru the afternoon, and we did the surprise over and over. Usually I just walked in as everyone was hugging and saying hello. Some good reactions. My sister CYBER could not stop laughing. (The free bourbon samples had NOTHING to do with it!) It was all very fun. Every ONE of them thought everyone else was in on the surprise. I told NOBODY.

I had the tickets for over 2 months. A month before I came through here last time. When the reunion dates were changed from late May to late June I called Mom and said it was not good for me to leave at that time. She got upset, but accepted it.

Next day I called my boss and told him I was committed to being at work this particular weekend, but I further explained I wanted to attend the reunion. He said to go for it. Very COOL. I bought tickets right away, knowing I would wait until the last second to make a decision. If it got busy, too busy, I would just not go. Nobody would be disappointed. I could use the ticket later.

Then my boss came to Dutch last week. I told him I was still not definitely going. He asked why, and then he explained he had backup arriving from Seattle to cover for me. One guy I knew could help out, so the trip was ON.

First night, FRIDAY, all of us had dinner at the folks house. German cuisine with brats and potato salad. Very good. The kids frolicked in the back yard by the golf course.

Saturday we went to Churchill Downs. We had plans to just stop by for some pictures, but when we got there it was a big race day with the running of the Debutante Stakes. We all went in and enjoyed the food, drink, and the races. EVERYONE was betting mainly $2 bets. Some won and some lost. I favored the long shots, and by the end of the day my money was long shot. We only stayed for three races, but everyone had a good time. Plus, everyone got a taste of Old Louisville and the red brick houses. It was tough to do something that all 21 of us enjoyed, but Churchill Downs was a bullseye.

Saturday night we took over a room at The Bristol in downtown Prospect. The food and service was great and reasonable. Again, no complaints.

Today was a bit more free form. Those with the most energy went south to Mammoth Cave for a cave excursion. Those SAME then stopped by Bernheim Forest on the return trip. Bernheim is like an arboretum with all sorts of trees and natural settings. The gang was in the middle of a long day so they made the quick tour and then returned to Louisville.

Meanwhile, a smaller contingent went to Sunday Services then brunch at a nearby restaurant.

And the rest of US took a tour of the horse farms and tobacco farms along US 42 heading northeast from Louisville. We turned off and took some small side roads here and there, checking out the cool small communities in rural KY. Sligo, Bedford, Milton, and Campellsburg. And many more.

We stopped for gas in Sligo along US 42. We looked at the cars that shared that small parking lot with us... A vintage Rolls, a vintage Bentley. A couple of premium series Ferrari, and a nice Peugot. They were just coming from a car show in Louisville and heading for Detroit. We were talking a bit as THE DRIVER of my vehicle filled the tank with gas. Something went wrong, and the tank overflowed pretty much, only stopping when the driver grabbed the hose out. The automatic turnoff did not work. So there was gas all over their rental car, which we washed off. The owner helped out with the cleanup.

We eventually went down to The Ohio River where there was a narrow bridge across the river, from Milton KY to Madison Indiana. Madison is home to a big speedboat race on the river each year, The Madison Regatta. Very quaint town with interesting architecture, like many KY cities. First we crossed that bridge, a suspension bridge. It was under construction / repair. Looks they are adding two more lanes on the west side, making it two in both directions.

Then we stopped for coffee/latte/smoothie whatever. Drove by a local golf course that I will remember to play next time.

We returned via southern INDIANA, passing through Henryville which was hit hard a few months ago by a tornado. I wanted to see some of the damage, and at least ONE of the other passengers also mentioned earlier they wanted to see it. But we drove through an undamaged area and were suddenly out of town, and there was no groundswell of support to turn around and look around further. People were hungry, so we just had lunch.

Later, everyone returned from their various adventures to meet for a pizza dinner to finish off the reunion. Another great night of weather, so we all were mainly outside. Eventually we all said our goodbyes. Just then, the dusk hit hard and the lightening bugs came out. Most of the kids had never seen these before. They waited for them, and they were not disappointed. Another hour was spent catching them. Good stuff.

Then we finished the goodbyes and they were gone.

Had a really good time, and everyone is talking up SMITHTOWN, NEW YORK for 2014. Just east of the big city on Long Island.

That will be longer than the trip I made THURS / FRI to get HERE. Had a 6 hour leg from Anchorage to Chicago that left at midnight. I have been trying to catch up on my sleep ever since.

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REUNION TRUBBA

By: joealaska, 8:41 AM GMT on June 21, 2012

Still no rain for weeks.

AH, but the fog has returned. This morning flights were cancelled. Freight we were waiting for circled then turned back and was dropped at Sand Point. My boss was here a few days and was leaving at 7 AM. Not so. Gone at 5 PM. It was a good visit, with a couple of good meals at The Grand Aleutian. Crusted Ahi Tuna and a Kona Burger.

The tuna was VERY VERY rare. OK, sushi. Which I prefer deep fried...

Flights were cancelled this morning, but it was a beautiful evening with only a cuppla clouds.

I was saddened to hear the city was removing two eagle nests in our megagopolis. One is near the “clinic”. A guy was attacked, actually grazed, by an eagle several years ago near that nest. Yes, the attack drew blood. Just like shaving. It was several years ago, and the city made a decision based on that empirical evidence. I assume all dogs will be dumped in the bay very soon.

Even though eagles are well protected, there are always ways to shut them down. In this case the fact there was a “safety issue” allowed approval to tear up the nest. DONE.

Another nest, my favorite as it was easily visible at close range, is now doomed to destruction. The one by the Post Office. They paid $15,000 to get a permit to destroy a long standing nest. It will allow the building of a walking path across town. There is already a primitive path there.

I got some great photos there during the past few years. Mom and her chicks.

Maybe the eagles heard about the plan. Now there is another nest, brand new, about 100 feet along the cliff. (You can figure the meters, if you must). The old nest seems to be abandoned. I wonder if there is another $15,000 required for the new nest. Two for 30,000.

I say save the money and let the eagles fly. There are hundreds of eagles here, but I know of only about 8 nests. The other nests are obviously well hidden or remote. I like seeing the few that are (still) visible.

This weekend our family is having a reunion in Louisville. JoeKentucky’s side of the family. There will be a nice gathering from all over the country. New York City, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Boise Idaho. Unfortunately, Dutch is TRUBBA, I had plans to wait until the last minute and make a decision and I am now there. It was very slow until yesterday, when we heard about all the boats heading in. BIG boats here , and more coming in.

It is a bad time to fly 3915 air miles for a weekend. Then back Would love to see everyone.

I WILL be there Friday, but probably just via conference call. Pass the cell around.

Sorry Mom.

Updated: 8:43 AM GMT on June 21, 2012

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MID JUNE AND MOUNTAIN ROADS STILL BLOCKED

By: joealaska, 7:45 AM GMT on June 16, 2012

Last night we had 45-50 mile hour winds. Blowing but not snowing. I cannot remember the last day we have had rain. Suddenly we go from PRECIPITATION headquarters to BARREN SEA. The wind whips up the dust. The city is applying water to the roadways edge, and my work neighbor who shares the freight yard with us is dropping water on the dust to keep the issue minimal. When we left work last night it was almost a brownout.

Watching the WALLENDA KID walking the wire across Niagra Falls as I type. Never been there, but it is now on my list. Will definitely stay on the USA side.

GNU GUY and I took a ride a couple nights ago to check out the status of opening the Overland Trail. It was better than last time we checked by about a mile, but there was a real impediment. A deep drift just as you head up the switchbacks (from the VALLEY side). It was about 18 feet deep, and the plow guys had attacked it but had stopped as it was too deep. It even made sense to me, TOO DEEP. Got pictures.

Then we went out to look for the horses. Instead of heading to Morris Cove we hung a roscoe at Summer Bay Lake. I had no idea how far the road would be open, but there was a guess. Normally I would have guessed it was open to the base of the switchbacks, just where you head up. But there was a smaller drift that blocked the road, just a few feet deep, but there would be more after that. Obviously there was no effort at plowing from that end. It really does not matter, the whole road has to be open. We are talking JULY.

But we found the horses. There are 10 total, but we only saw 4. We saw people going out to feed them. It was a rough winter, but they were able to survive. Now they are getting fed by most of the residents in town. GNU and I will be looking for apples and carrots to help keep them fat.

I tried the road up Ballyhoo a few days ago, and it was still closed off with the gate. A little effort at plowing would open that up. The tribe just does not care.

There was a fatal accident this week. A guy was working on a truck tire with a split rim, and it exploded in his face. I was off that day and saw the 3 vehicles with sirens wailing heading for the clinic. I knew it was bad as they were really flying. I knew it was worse later that evening at the airport, when the med-evac plane was on the tarmac with the ambulance and nobody was in any hurry to load up the passenger.

The RAT BOAT is still in Dutch at Magone Marine, a salvage company. It may take a couple months, but the plan is to chop it up in the Magone dry dock into three big pieces. Then it will be barged across the bay to the shore near the landfill where it will be further chopped up into manageable pieces for salvage.

The rats will not be chopped up.

Happy early Fathers Day JoeKY. I heard he was golfing again and playing great. Played 18 holes and shot 91 on a tough course. YOU DA MAN.

Updated: 3:57 PM GMT on June 16, 2012

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THE CHANGE

By: joealaska, 7:08 AM GMT on June 10, 2012

It’s about time...

Summer has arrived in Dutch. It could be over by the time I finish this missive, and we head right into Fall.

Thursday night was one of those nights. Perfect weather and just beautiful. Best day this year. The whole town was outside enjoying it all. Gnu guy and I took the first real cruise of the year.

First things first. We went out Summer Bay Road to see if it was clear. The avalanche blocking the road was cleared by plows. They even had used a shovel on a front loader to reach up as high as possible to scrape away at the upper portions. Trust me, that hunk of solid slush was done doing any moving. A plow would have done just fine by itself.

The road was now open all the way to Morris Cove, as far as you can drive. There were plenty of mini landslides along the cliffs, but it was all passable. Further out where you have to climb one last ridge to get from Humpy Cove to Morris Cove the road was best suited for 4-wheel drive.

But it was OPEN! I last drove there in mid-December.

When we got to Morris Cove, there was a crowd. Maybe 40 people in two big parties at each end of the beach. This beach is my personal favorite, a nice wide sandy beach. Very similar to the beach at Summer Bay. It is the site of the home made public hammock where Gnu Guy posed just after he got here. Perfect for beach parties. Would love to stay a night out there with a big bonfire and a barbecue. Will never happen.

We were looking for the horses. There were certainly SIGNS of horses. Piles of them. But no horses.

So we headed back. A great night for photos. We stopped to check out the best eagles nest in Dutch. The signs are up around town near the Post Office and “clinic” about NESTING EAGLES and BEWARE! Well MOM was laying low on those eggs when we looked down. She looked up at us probably wishing she had a camera. Well I did, and will post the photos soon.

There was a couple of folk beach combing down below amongst the rocks. They had found a couple of buoys they were dragging around near the base of the eagle nest (which is perched on a rock tower about 40 feet tall). They then started to climb the tundra cliff with all of that crap behind them. Like climbing a spongy ladder. STEEP, but plenty of tundra to grab hold of. We saw them starting to climb. It looked like a possible 911 situation, but we left and came by later and they were safely up top.

The big boats are all coming through. Right now they are packed with supplies from down south. But after they go out fishing, they will return in a week or two needing more supplies. And that is where it kicks in for us.

BUMMER about I'LL HAVE ANOTHER.

Please. Talk amongst yourselves.

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SEASONAL CHANGE, STILL SOME SAME OLD.

By: joealaska, 7:57 AM GMT on June 03, 2012

Sure, we had that horizontal snow gale on Memorial Day, but that dust soon melted. Summer is just around the corner, as well as Fall.

The green grass is poking up through the brown. DIRT BOYS labor continues to provide results, with green grass poking up just outside my window.

The fat ground squirrels are back, chirping as you get near.

Fog is back. Probably the worst issue with flying.

And tonight I saw some mosquitos flying outside my window. They are not as bad as elsewhere in Alaska, just a sign of Summer. They are a good reason not to leave open an unscreened window, along with our MONSTROUS BUMBLEBEES OF THE ARCTIC. (Big enough to be saddled).

We are FULLY stocked at the warehouse, all dressed up for the new season. There have been a couple of big orders lately, but the big show starts in 2 weeks or so. There are 5 trampers waiting for fish outside my window. That seems a bit optimistic to me this early. But what the hell do I know?

Tonight Dutchie defended her territory against a big new neighborhood cat, a large female twice the size of The Queen of the Tundra

FLUFF, The Fat Cat Of The Far North, is wanting to go outside..

Still have seen no foxes since I came back. There was that one glimpse of a tail leaving the chow porch area late at night, as well as a probable fox seen through a pile of crab pots just for a moment. But that is it. Perhaps they are feeding on fat ground squirrels (THEMS GOOD EATIN’), but the foxes are still around when the weather finally turns nice, and we seem to be THERE finally.

Late breaking development. Just NOW a fox was sitting outside my Small Boat Harbor window. He was a small red fox in the middle of shedding his hair. I had a quick discussion with him and advised he attend the chow porch buffet (1 item, but GOOD). I scrambled to turn on the light and fill the trough. Only problem was Dutchie, who appeared out of nowhere and was into defending her territory. She actually lunged at close range at the poor vulpine, who was three times as big as her. The fox growled a bit, but retreated. Once again, proof of their non-aggressiveness. What are you supposed to do if Tundratic Royalty lunges? Perhaps we will learn during the Diamond Jubilee broadcast. The fox was not that hungry, but agreed to sign a release for photo rights, then promptly exited stage right.

Deadliest Catch has been running for over a month. The season they filmed has still not ended. The ice up north near The Pribilof Islands slowed down the whole fishing season, which was supposed to end May 31. Now the ice has receded to the north. The season was extended to June 15, with another extension possible..

It could be JULY before the pass opens, but I hope it is well before.

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About joealaska

On June 4th I left Kentucky driving my RV known as Leggs. The trip is mostly unplanned, it will be interesting to see where I end up. Let's GO!