Steelhead Firewood

The fly shop is now closed.  But…  Tanis and Eden are still selling firewood this season.  $30 for a wheelbarrow load,  or $300 for a truckload.

You can make arrangements through him at the old fly shop number (907)784-3087.  All the hangar doors are locked for FAA/TSA reasons,  so you need to make arrangements ahead of time.

Tsiu Super DC-3 Gear-up Landing in ANC

A TransNorthern Super DC-3 lost an engine on take-off from ANC yesterday and had to make an emergency landing at Merrill Field minutes later.  Landed on one engine,  but couldn’t get the gear down.  Standard DC-3’s like mine have uncovered retractable main gear that don’t fully go into the engine nacelles.  That means,  if you have to land gear-up,  the wheels protrude below the plane enough and freely spin to prevent damage to the underside of the plane.  And you’d usually land power-on,  so you eat the tips of the props as they grind into the pavement,  preventing damage to the engines.

A Super-converted DC-3 has bigger engines and gear doors over the retracted mains.  From the photos,  it still looks like the plane wasn’t damaged badly and may really only need engine teardowns and new props.  But I don’t know…  Here is a good write-up with video of the radio transmissions and the actual landing at Merrill.  No one was hurt and the plane looks good too.  There is a reason (many actually) that DC=3’s are usually #1 on the greatest aircraft design list…

Overdue Fall Steelhead Report

We have Thanksgiving coming in a few days.  And it is cold.  Granted it has been negative double digits in Anchorage,  so our 3+ last night sounds balmy compared, but our first official frozen water pipes this morning was plenty cold for me.  Most of the chest equipment is in the hangar bay, so today’s workout was miserably cold!  Tomorrow is shoulders day for those playing along at home…

Jeremy Cook sent me a couple pictures that are now nearly a month old…  They were here at the end of October,  creeping into November 1st.  Everything was looking good back then with flows and water temp perfect.  Fish numbers were a bit weak,  but they did pretty well I thought…  Here is what he said:

“Hey Bob, we went 10/18 between 3 of us this past Th-Monday, not huge numbers but there were fish around and all were bright and feisty.  All were caught between 9 mi bridge and where the trail disappears 2 mi upstream.  Walked to the confluence but too many dollies around.  Tried upstream of the landing one am but I think we were right at high tide instead of catching the incoming tide, regardless no fish

Anyway there are some fish around so hopefully you can get out there this fall!  Thanks for all your help.”

Here are the two photos he sent…

Since their trip,  I have had two other reports…  First up…  the guys from Anchorage came down and stayed at the Forest Service cabins for a week.  Caught a couple steelhead,  but didn’t see a lot.  That would have been about two weeks ago.  They were planning to return for Thanksgiving,  but just cancelled based on the weather forecast this coming week…  Snow every day.  Also briefly talked to a couple guys who hadn’t been here before…  They ran into a lot of dollies and salmon,  but as of our visit in the parking lot in front of the shop,  hadn’t seen much in the way of steelhead yet.  Then we didn’t see them again before their trip ended.

So…  conditions as of right now aren’t that bad…  Flow right now is at 243 CFS tonight and even with the air temp hitting 3F this morning at the airport (the 9 Mile gage air temp isn’t working),  the gage water temp was 35F today…

Cold,  but not that bad considering…  Now,  we’ll be much warmer as the next storm hits tonight.  

Not supposed to be much for accumulations.  1-2 inches tonight before turning to a mess of snow and freezing rain.  Then rain and snow tomorrow.  Sounds kind of miserable (aka steelhead weather).  Haven’t had any actual FISHING reports in over a week,  so I would assume we have a few more fish in the river,  slow-lethargic fish in the cold mornings with them waking up a bit as the water warms later in the afternoon.  Flows are good.  I wouldn’t be afraid to make a trip right now,  but expect it to be miserable.  

And for an update around the hangar…  Our first two bigish snow events came and went.  Cancelled Alaska Airlines flights as the State DOT struggled to get the runway clear,  only to have it buried by the time they got to the other end of the runway…  8 inches of wet snow on the ramp when ACE was prepping to take off in Anchorage with our morning mail and UPS,  so they cancelled a couple mornings as well.  Then it turned to rain,  so we had a ton of leaks again.  Puddles in my new gym!  And the Toyo heater is waiting on parts,  so freaking cold in there!  Then the next wave of snow hit with another foot,  then it cleared off for a couple days and single digit nights.  Winter is definitely here in my big unheated barn.

Have all but one piece of equipment assembled now.  Yay!  And I’m not exactly sure what the heck this last piece even is…  Have a list if missing parts,  but everything is functional.  Will be laying down the rest of the flooring for the temporary walled area in hopes of fitting everything inside that area and getting a little heat on it.

This is essentially where everything will go until we get the new permanent space completed…  This is a drawing I made for the State to show the change to what areas will be “public” and what areas are “secure”.

And that’s about it…  Tanis has some interesting winter projects going on,  so I may post some photos of that.

It’ll Be A Busy Winter

Winter is doing what she can to rear her ugly head in Yakutat.  We woke this morning to work the ACE plane (mail and UPS) to find a dusting of fresh snow.  The first to stick this year.  We have had a couple flurries,  but this is the first to stick.  It continued to snow off and on most of the day,  enough to have the State DOT plow the ramp.

OK,  today was back day!  Yay!  Second time to do back since we unloaded the container.  I have a LOT of equipment yet to assemble,  but we have a couple rooms all done and set up,  with just a couple pieces to complete.  The rest all will end up inside the hangar bay.  Right now,  we have no heat there,  so working out this morning was absolutely miserable below freezing!

We have another year at least of work on the new final gym space in the hangar bay.  The entire 1st floor for the new building at the back end of the bay will be the weight room,  about 40 feet by 120 feet.  In the meantime,  we are putting the equipment in the other 1st floor spaces along the southwest side of the building.  So essentially the 4 rooms on the same side as the fly shop.  It’ll be EVERYTHING other than the fly shop space…  The room pictured below is the “leg room”…


Leg Extension and Leg Curl on the far left under the windows,  unassembled 45° leg press at the far left corner,  huge double-squat rack to the right far wall with the seated calf hiding in the far right corner.  Smith Machine near right and standing calf in the middle foreground.  I also have a Sissy Squat in the hallway behind me.  And I have another Leg Press on order, along with Adductor and Abductor.

And this is the dumbbell/bench room – the largest room along this side of the building.  Dumbbells to 150lbs,  two sets of fixed barbells (one straight and one EZ-bar),  two flat,  two incline and two decline benches,  Preacher bench,  two VKR’s (one with pull-up and dip bars),  selectorized Bicep Curl,  Triceps Extension and Ab Crunch machines.  That was all I could really cram into this room and still have space to do stuff.

Finishing up the two smallest rooms along this side of the hangar…  the 10’x20′ room has two private treadmills.  Will eventually have a couple bikes as well,  but for now,  just the two treadmills.  Then the larger corner room is 20’x20′ and has one more treadmill and all the aerobic steps,  benches,  small neoprene dumbbells,  bungees,  etc.  My mirrors didn’t come with this container,  so the far wall will eventually have mirrors and the long wall on the right will have a couple big TV screens for DVD aerobic classes,  etc.

And then there is “the rest”…


Hangar Bay is a little dark (and a lot cold)…  Above is my 8-stack with two Lat-Pull-downs,  two seated rows,  two Triceps press-downs and cable cross-over.  Because of the space issue,  I’ll try to cram two selectorized pieces against the wall between the two row seats.

Then we have parts sorted and piled out in the hangar bay proper…  17 more pieces to assemble and fit into a 40’x20′ room I’m going to build around the equipment that can 1) maybe be heated and 2) secure access to the hangar bay and therefore the ramp.  Can’t allow public access until I have the area secure.


Most of the equipment has their bolts and nuts still attached.  These are just the “other” bolts,  washers and nuts…  This is going to take me all winter…


And even if the reigning Mr Olympia was to work out here,  he’d still have no chance of having the biggest guns in the gym.  Right now,  our 80 year old Normandy survivor carries that title.  Thank you Pratt & Whitney.

The Lights “Down South”…

Wow!  Three posts in a day!

Joe down in Sitka sent me a couple pictures of the Northern Lights from his house,  so this is what Sitka looked like this morning…

Loading/Unloading the Container

It has been a VERY long process to get the gym up and running.  And we’re still a long way from that…  Started working with the company down in California back in 2018 to get our particular wish-list together.  We were nearly ready to pull the trigger,  then something happened,  where the entire world locked down their economies all at the same time.  Then,  they locked up gyms throughout the country,  including the one at Yakutat High School that I had been using for years to try to stay in shape.  Time to move forward with another option in Yakutat.

Then…  “they” started paying people not to work.  The company I was using in CA couldn’t get any laborers to show up.  Gym chains were permanently closing locations right and left in an effort to stave off total bankruptcy.  You’d think used gym equipment would be easy to come by,  but that wasn’t the case.  All those gym nuts that weren’t allowed to go to a commercial gym started grabbing anything they could get their fingerless gym gloves on.

Strength Industry takes in equipment from mostly 24 Hour Fitness and LA Fitness locations that close.  They strip everything off,  bake the frames to remove the old paint,  sandblast,  powder-coat everything in whatever color you want,  then reassemble with all brand-new parts – seats,  rollers,  cables,  pulleys…  everything.  They do beautiful work,  all the equipment is as good as brand new and ends up costing half what a new gym would cost me.  Yay!  Except it took them an extra 5 1/2 months to finally get everything finished with conditions as they are in CA.

A friend sent me a link to an auction in the Seattle area for a gym that went under (Normandy Park).  Cheaper equipment than I was looking for,  but it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a few pieces at a cheap auction.  Ya,  about that…  Things ended up selling for up to 4 times the new retail price…  People are nuts!  I ended up winning one shoulder fly machine and the lockers from the locker rooms.  They came up on the barge right away.  My big order out of CA…  Nope.  The equipment was ready,  but Lynden Transport (Alaska Marine Lines’ parent company) couldn’t get a container delivered to the warehouse.  The plan was to have a container dropped off,  taken to the train,  transport to SEA by train and loaded onto the AML barge.  We missed two more barges.  Instead,  AML had to hire a trucker in SEA,  drive all the way down to San Bernardino,  wait two days while they load the container,  then drive it back to SEA!  Because you can’t get a truck to deliver a container in CA period.

So…  it made the barge.  Barge made it to Juneau.  Barge turned back to Juneau and offloaded the container because we had 20 foot seas.  Yakutat was cancelled.  The following week,  they scheduled an extra trip to Yakutat,  but turned around again when seas were expected to be 30+.  Our storms were scheduled for Thursday and Friday every week,  while the rest of the month was beautiful.  But following week,  they made it in.  Our grocery store shelves were again full and the bar had booze.  And I had my container.

Now,  the work really begins…  When we’re done,  we’ll have the best equipped commercial gym in Alaska…

Getting Old Sucks…

You know,  there are so many reasons that it sucks to get old.  And then you look out the bathroom window in the wee hours of the morning and see this:


I have been wanting to get a new – real – SLR camera for so long.  Almost did before the Tahiti trip,  but decided tickets to Tahiti were more important…  In the meantime,  all I have is an Olympus waterproof digital “instamatic”.  Great for carrying along on fishing trips to snap pics of guys holding their steelhead up,  but generally not much good for anything else.  Maybe photos of the kids blowing out candles (gee,  remember when we blew spittle on other people’s cake?  Good times!)…  So this was the best I could do for the Aurora over the hangar last night…  It literally covered every inch of the sky from horizon to horizon to horizon to horizon…  Then it would fade out and erupt again.  Even had some red and purple!

Then I went back to bed…  ‘Cause I’m old.

No control over exposure,  just trying to make the “scenic” setting work…  You REALLY needed to get up to pee and see this with us!


The Barge Arrives…

The original barge cancelled out of Juneau because the outside ocean seas were over 20 foot.  They rescheduled last week and we were again hit by another storm right on schedule.  But…


Entering Yakutat Bay


Calm seas,  so the Pacific Titan tug is bringing the Skagway Provider barge into port as I’m typing this.  We’ll have groceries in the stores again!

And Life Goes On…

Yesterday was a tough day.  I didn’t feel like doing much on the hangar.  Just kind-of going through the motions.  Decided it was time to polish off the last of our Gravensteins,  so baked a couple pies.  With only Tanis and I eating pie,  we have two slices left.  Today,  I was a little more ambitious and worked on the door frames for all the bathrooms in the building.  I had big pans to build the doors from scratch from our local spruce,  but decided a year ago that door companies make doors for a reason…  Thus,  the sliding barn doors downstairs are actually in instead of me thinking I can build everything from scratch and they would be in in another 5 years.

When the doors are done,  I’ll post some photos.  In the meantime,  here are the pies…

I don’t know why I can’t get the tiled thumbnail feature to work…

The End

Our 14th season came to a close tonight.  Thank you all for the wonderful ride.

I cherish the friends we have made along the way and hopefully we’ll get to stay in touch.  Take care and we’ll see you around.  Maybe even on the river once in a while!  The Situk River Fly Shop is now an official part of history.  Another memory for the museum.  Goodnight.

-Bob and Teen