It has been two months since I last posted anything… WOW! Time flies when you are otherwise distracted!
We are in the midst of yet another hellacious storm. It is expected to blow up to 75 knots tonight, after it blew all last night and today. Driving rain at about 45 degrees is being forced in through every possible crack in the siding, flashing and everywhere else, so we have leaks all over the place. Hard to get much sleep when every gust slams into this big ol’ building and feels like an unending earthquake. Some terrible banging, clanging and screeching sounds come along with those gusts as parts of the hangar try their best to hold on and not go flying off somewhere.
A couple weeks ago, we were hit by a similar storm. Hard winds and driving rain one day, it blew itself out and we saw a lull, only to hit us again the next night just as hard. The roof on the Yakutat Lodge peeled off about 1/2 of their building, two hangar doors structurally failed (but we were ready for them and had them secured and propped up as best we could). A tree fell on a power line running out to the airport, knocking power out for about 24 hours. Our linecrew went above and beyond to get things fixed even with the winds still whipping at the wires.
It has been a cold winter, although not a whole lot of show. We seem to be having 2-week stretches of clear very cold weather, followed by a warming spell, then another deep cold. As for the river conditions… we have very thick ice on the lakes, so I think the run will basically be on-time even though there isn’t much snowpack. We had about a foot and a half of fresh snow right before this latest storm hit and it is all washed/blown away now. As in nothing in the parking lot again.
I have only had two actual fishing reports through the winter… One right before Christmas where Devon from Icy Bay Lodge hooked 9 in the very limited daylight hours. That was midway through a warming spell that had just followed one of the deep colds. So we’re probably seeing fresh fish every time the temperature rises and stays up there. Of course with this storm, the river is probably a little high… OH what the heck… let’s check the gage…
The regular flow gage is locked in ice and not functioning. But the radar is showing:
Ya, that doesn’t really look like fun. Considering what it was like just trying to get from the car to the hangar door… I won’t be going outside unless I absolutely have to. ACE Air Cargo ended up cancelling our mail flight this morning due to the weather. They are hearty and usually come in regardless of weather, but they overflew us in the morning, carried our 1,100lbs of mail down to Petersburg, Ketchikan and then after attempting to land here, they brought it all back to Anchorage. What a mess.
Back to the fishing report… Wanted to point out that Fish Alaska Magazine has a great article on Icy Bay Lodge in the latest issue… The other report came from a reliable local… He went fishing during one of the clear cold spells. Landed one steelhead, but was suddenly surrounded by other locals who had been out fishing all day with zero luck… It was pretty slow when the temp dropped.
It has been a frantically busy winter so far around here. Tanis is away at boarding school – doing his senior year at GILA in Galena, AK – 200 miles west of Fairbanks on the Yukon River(which means he won’t be cutting firewood this spring…). He is thriving and loving the experience of NOT being HomeSchooled. They took over a big chunk of the Airforce Base when it was being closed, so have some incredible shop classes and facilities that we just couldn’t give him here. He came back for 2 1/2 weeks around Christmas, so I put him to work sheetrocking the rest of the 1st floor along the southwest side of the hangar. Haven’t started in on the mud and tape, with all my buckets of mud frozen…
We did get the contract to house the National Park Service in our other airport building. We currently house the TSA and NOAA Weather Service there. Less than 1/3rd of the building was occupied when we took it over, yet it was profitable at that. Another one of those golden opportunities that you just can’t pass up, even though I don’t have time to deal with it… We were notified by GSA that we were awarded the contract last month and were given 40 days! to completely renovate the space for them to move in March 1st. Chris has been helping me immensely now that he is back from visiting his parents down in CO. We just finished the last of the painting yesterday. Installed new doors today and will start in on the floor prep to lay new carpet by this weekend. We’ll have two apartments on the 2nd floor by summer, although they won’t be available for fishermen. Just longer term leases to the agencies and/or airport business.
Well, I wanted to type something to let you know we’re still alive. I have a backlog of phone messages I need to respond to as well as e-mails I managed to miss along the way. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to them soon, although with two weeks to go for the move-in, I may have to continue to stall till March.
Hope you are all having a good new year and surviving the winter well. The days are getting longer, so the air will be warmer and the river overflowing with steelhead before we know it. A few silvers in Tawah Creek as usual, but not a whole lot this year.
More to come…