Bush Rats

A lot of people ask me what people do out in "the bush" for fun and I really don't have a stellar answer. Maybe because for us it is just life and it is best explained by living it or experiencing it. But for your sake I will try and put some words to this unexplainable phenomenon. Add ImageIn our own way we experience a subsistence life style, with a year broken down into chapters with titles like "wackin down a forest" or "the day the reds returned", or "climb and shoot". Actually those are kind of lame titles but the gist is that life and survival and play are closely related. For me some of the elements of survival add more vigor and vitality to my life.
Some of the best days this past winter were spent alone in the woods with a chainsaw, thirty below zero, in a light jacked sweating like a mad man (so much my hair froze and I couldn't wear my hat because the frozen sweat would give me a brain freeze) chopping up the biggest trees I could find. After slicing the logs into sixteen inch sections I would wrestle them into the sled and race the snow machine home so I could get back to get another load before dark. Then when I did finally return for keeps split some of my hard earned blocks of wood into pieces that would fit in my stove to warm my toes by the fire after a long day.
Another day our friends from the big city came to visit and wanting to be good hosts we drug them around the country side careening across vast stretches of frozen lake to a island only to have dinner over a fire and shoot guns into the inky darkness. Dave and Kristine Estrem being willing and able for anything we followed it up with a dinner theater put on by the school kids and the following day a snow machine ride took us to this lake where it seemed like a great idea to launch a canoe into the open water and paddle around the ice chunks.
On quite another day my wife along with her fearless compadres decided to go for a walk about only in Alaska we call it a ski about in the winter. Actually I've never heard that before but that's what they did. Like a nervous father by friend Seth Kroenke flew these crazy mountain mommas up to the crest of a glacier infested pass and flung their gear into the snow. My wife along with Anna Burrows our fearless neighbor and my daring and handy cousin Kristin Vantrease donned their skis and descended three thousand feet and traversed thirty miles of barren and exquisite back country of our back yard right up to our back door.
Three days after leaving our cozy cabin tucked away in the woods they returned with a story, memories and an experience few would dared to have. My wife is quite the lady, with the least skiing experience and admittedly the worst skiing equipment of the three she gutted out the miles with her husband nervously, anxiously waiting at home for his bride to return.
So there you have it, just a couple of the things us bush rats do to fill our long boring days out here in the middle of no where. Thank you Russia for selling this great piece of real estate to us!


Time Machine

So the time machine is actually like hitting fast forward.

Heidi and I made it alive out of Israel and it is hard to believe it has been over a year. Too many adventures to recount so I'll start with more recent events. Our tiny school throws a fall party with costumes and all right near the end of October. Last year we were the Grinch and its little dog with one horn as a reindeer, this year the analogy is better as I was the boat, an 8' Lund and Heidi the motor, a 7 horse kicker. Unfortunately we showed up three minutes too late for the costume contest as our paint was still drying.

Keeping in line with our yearly travel schedule Heidi and I set out to check off another box on our life goals list and check off number six of the seven continents. Antarctica, the most and least desirable of the continents. We commandeered this nice red ship for the task. You can see Heidi on top of the bridge waving her arms!
Our second excursion to shore brought us to Deception Island where we enjoyed the sunny afternoon and jumping off snow hills.
While in this nice little bay we decided to take a dip in the ocean, the 29 degree water prevented any real swimming but it was exhilarating and bone chilling making the balmy 40 degree air seem sublime.
The critters we encountered were numerous and unaffected by our presence. This Leopard Seal lumbered about on the ice and gazed at us through its reptilian eyes.
With nothing but stones to build nests it was quite amusing watching the penguins squabbling and squawking defending their love nests from marauding bandits looking increase their own stash. The cold temps forced the parents to take turns incubating and alternating feeding in the ocean looking for tasty krill.
Twelve days aboard our trusty vessel and twice across the dreaded Drake Passage with countless memories and sights. We turned our backs on that cold continent and looked to the warmer lands to the North.
Keeping with our speed tour modes operands we wasted no time upon making land fall back in Argentina. A quick tour of a local park and realizing it was pretty much exactly like Alaska in many ways we sat our keesters down on a bus and headed North once again. This time with Torres Del Paine in our sights. Being the grand canyon of the Southern Americas we wanted to taste its beauty.
Realizing on the ride to the Park boundary that we were vastly unprepared compared to our fellow travelers we didn't let our naivete daunt us one bit. The Paine circuit is normally done in seven to nine days and we decided to try it in three and a half as that is all the time we had before starting our travels home. After an easy first day we hatched the plan fully and wore the tread off our shoes. Fourteen miles on day one, twenty six on day two and twenty seven weary miles under foot on day three. The last was pure grit as the miles began chafing our bodies in many uncomfortable places.
Dirt crept into all our crevices and a welcome shower met us at trail end, as well as an enormous meal that we gorged ourselves on. I will say though that that was probably the most hydrated I have been in quite some time during that hike, that was good, real good. If your ever in the neighborhood, go there it is awesome, ask me for some tips though we have plenty : )
After returning home to Alaska the longest cold snap I can remember hit and we still sit in the twenty below freezer. This Airplane was being ferried out to another airport from Anchorage and had to execute an emergency landing on Lake Clark and as unfortunate as it is for the plane and pilot and owners it is quite a hoot for us boys. The aircraft broke through the ice but is designed to float so two days after the accident we mustered up and went down and cut the fuselage out of the ice. Using the engine power we (Steve Hackala!) drove it right up and out onto the ice. The following day amounted to melting the remainder of the ice encrusting the belly and taking off from the ice and landing in Port Alsworth. Thats the short story.
Russian Christmas came in early January and some of the locals from Nondalton and quite possibly made the first visit to PA for Slavi. Heidi and I joined up with them then made the trek across the lake to Butch and Paulines for a second round of singing and eating!
My recent favorite outdoor activity has been plying the forest for free energy, or almost free. There is nothing like driving a snow machine out into the woods, finding a beautiful dead spruce tree, slicing it into pieces and dragging it home to burn.
This is none other than my bodacious, beautiful, rugged girlfriend, traveling partner, best friend, love of my life, caring, careful, wife. I love this woman, I am still trying to figure her out, I am still trying to win her, to woo her, serve her, and learn from her. She is a great partner for this life and a great example for me and my nephews. I want to be like her when I grow up. Three years banded together and sometimes it feels like I can't remember life without her and sometimes like I'm just fresh into the relationship. She is a lover of God and me. She rises up early to spend time with our God and seek Him, I love that, a real Proverbs 31 woman if ya know what I'm talkin about.