Outdoors

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Sure has been a strange winter for us hearty Alaskans to endure. A couple of my favorite lakes never even froze up this year, Skilak and Kenai Lake never had enough ice on either one of them to safely fish. Call it Global warming, a different jet stream, or just simply accept it by saying the guy upstairs is still in charge of what goes on down here whether we want to believe that or not. Maybe there were a whole lot more prayers for a mild winter than there was a for a typical cold snowy brutal Alaskan winter.

Since arriving here in Alaska nearly six years ago I have been somewhat proud to be an Alaskan. It is such a neat feeling to tell someone that you are from Alaska. But you have to do it with a little style, you know you puff out your chest and clear your throat as though you're about to give an important speech. Then in your deepest gruff voice you casually mutter "I'm from Alaska." Just being able to say to most people that you once visited Alaska will get their attention let alone tell them that you actually live here! His or her next action is to turn around with excitement and shout to anyone in the area, "He is from Alaska."

The next sequence of events can last for as long as you want because if you are in the mood to tell your real life experiences of being an Alaskan now is your chance. You can even make up a few of your own like how you beat the bear over the head with a frying pan as he looked in the drive-up window at McDonald's! They will never know the difference and you can go from being an everyday Alaskan to a professional liar in less then three stories. Be careful though because 17 of these people in the crowd that has gathered around will be at your doorstep next summer wanting to visit. They will even want to know if the frying pan they brought along was the same type as the one you used while fighting your imaginary bear at McDonalds. It is best not to have other family members present at this time that may have already forgot about the bear fighting and other life threatening ordeals you have shared with these people.

I may be partially to blame for the lack of ice on Skilak Lake this winter. Allow me to explain. Early this winter, I was going out to feed my chickens one morning while it was still dark.

Picking my path carefully,. I crossed the glacier that had settled in my yard this winter. Just as I reached for a limb on my big pine tree my feet went out from under me. For a moment I thought I was going to Heaven feet first! In fact my feet were so high in the air I should have been wearing a hat on each foot! After several minutes or so it seemed I crashed back to earth landing on the back of my head in a bone crunching thud. Instantly I had a headache and so embedded in the ice I was almost a permanent part of the glacier. I muttered an angry " I hate ice." Before I could regain my control of my anger those words drifted off in the frosty air Then came a calming serious voice that I'm sure only I heard, "Ok buddy, no ice for you." I'm sure that it is due to my lack of self-control and allowing my anger to get the best of me that caused this divine intervention and prevented my favorite lakes from freezing. I'm sure some of you will say no, it was simply bad luck or brain damage from your tumble on the ice. In any event there was no ice for me and my other ice-fishing buddies that I have grown accustomed to the past 5 winters. No more fishing trips with Fritz, Mr. Smith, Spence, Mike Kunz, Mr. Glaves, Steve (ol Sleepy) Dambacher, Ted Knight, Tim Herrick, Tim Von Haden, and of course warden Chris Johnson. Sorry guys!

So if all of us Skilak fishermen were not on Skilak where were we? Some of us were volunteering to work on the slope just trying to convince ourselves that it really was winter. When I left there it was 54 wind chill. Yes it really is winter guys now can I go back home on the Kenai Peninsula?

Others got involved in the chat lines which are fun till your wife thinks your spending too much time there and well maybe we better not go there..... On some of those brutal 46 above days the chat often went like this:

"Oh, so you're from Alaska. Neat, I'm from Florida. Is it cold there?"

"No actually it is 46 here today!"

"46? It is only 30 here in Florida! Are you sure you are from Alaska?"

Realizing you have lost some of the prestige and glamour about living in Alaska you try to recover what you can salvage.

"Yes, but did I tell you I once hit a bear over the head with a frying pan as he stuck his head in the drive-up window at McDonalds? It was a 12 inch cast iron frying pan and really had a good swing to it!"

.....See you next week!

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