Craig Update

Just returning from 2 weeks in Craig. We got power to our container unit. Paul, a 70 something electrician, Veteran, and rabblerouser, helped us get hooked up, despite our errors. Our big error was wiring from the house directly to the meter side instead of the customer side. Since the conduit was already in, we couldn’t just move the wires over. Paul got his special “Hot Dogger” that is two smoker heating elements in a sort of metal tool box, with a V snipped out at each end for the conduit to lay in. He calculated the angle and length of bends needed, and it worked great. Of course this took about 3 times the time we would have needed so it was building tuition. I took Paul for lunch and he told me his story of how he came from Arkansas to Alaska.

I got two windows cut into the container. The first one took all the worry and thinking and after Brian helped me get it in, we had it figured out and the second one went in easily. Except that I broke one of the big windows trying to do too much of the window install myself, so now we’ll have two big and a medium window on the ocean side, and only 1 medium window on the road side. More construction tuition. When I finally got the second window in with Kevin’s help. I thought that was about what I could do and not be rushed. I looked up the mileage tickets on Thursday, and Friday’s late Ketchikan to Juneau flight was the cheapest, so I made reservations and called it a trip. I was most concerned with having to cut the container and that turned out to be the easiest and quickest part. A metal cutting skill saw blade and it went through it easier than it does two by four lumber.

Working on the container has helped me get more familiar with Craig – which stores have which products. Craig has a Tyler Rental, a True Value hardware store, and a Napa Auto parts store, and between the three, they had about everything I needed, from tools to hardware.

We got out king salmon fishing 3 times. The first day we got 4 (I think), the second day we got one in a quick trip, and today we got 7. When I told Brian I was leaving yesterday, he scheduled a fishing trip per standard procedure at the last minute, and told me through my bedroom door as I drifted off he’d wake me to go. We got up about 540 am and off to the boat shortly after 6. We took the dogs and Mike and Spencer met us to go, too. Of course we got back with just enough time for me to pack up the fish and my few belongings and put things away and I didn’t get to vacuum my room but we made it to the airport in Klawock in time. Mike and Spencer went with Brian and I today and it was great weather. After seeing few whales there seemed to be lots moving north today. I’m taking 2 of the kings home whole from today’s catch. Tomorrow is the first day of a 2 month closure for king fishing near Juneau because of the poor forecast for the Taku and Chilkat rivers, so it’ll be a treat for our friends to help us eat them this weekend. I also brought back a gallon of squid we caught off Randy’s dock. I’ll share those with my co workers who covered my work while I was gone. I called in to the fuel distributor and put money on Brian’s accoun. That saves him from being embarrassed to take gas money from me and me the embarrassment of having to beg him to take it. Not to mention feeding and housing me for 2 weeks. We’ve got enough salmon for the year now it looks like.

On our way home today we went to a landing of an old logging depot to get Brian’s 4 wheeler left there from deer hunting season. We saw a big black bear patrolling the beach on the way there – one of the first sightings of the year.

Brian lent me a bunch of tools for working on the container, and I brought them back to return to his shop. I loaded them in a wheelbarrow, and as I climbed a driveway behind the shop, I found a sharp shinned hawk dead in the path. Freshly dead it looked like. I’d never seen one so close, and Ellen was going to take i. to the Forest Service people to see.

I got to go with Ellen and Mike K to collect some trail cameras near Craig. They were set up to shoot wolves coming to a scent post. Both cameras had photos of wolves, and it was my first inkling of what the cameras could be used for that I thought was interesting. I found out Mike was sending a car to Juneau for warranty work and then back to Craig, so poor Mike is going to have to unload a whole pile of our stuff when the car gets back because it didn’t arrive while we were there but we are grateful for the free transport. Sara has made several trips taking stuff out to the car as I think of it, and she finally cut me off when there was no more room.

Brian and Ellen have a brand new chocolate lab pup and are also taking care of Melissa’s little beagle while she’s been on extended travel in the South Pacific. The dogs are a lot of work at this age and lots of cleaning up after them.

Lots left to do on the container and the property to get the water hooked up, a septic system installed, and finish filling the trench Brian dug with the skid steer for the electric line. Summer season is on it’s way as our first whale watch company meeting is next week. I kind of dread the summers now as it’s both my regular job and the weekend job on the whale watch boat, but of course I only do the captain job because I like it. Still, it means fewer trips to the cabin. I’m looking forward to retirement from my state job so I can go fishing again.

Our electric car is already in Juneau. Sara test drove one I saw on Craigslist in Monterey when she was down there, and even with the $2,300 freight to send it by truck to Seattle and then up on the barge, it was still a good deal compared to other used Leafs I’d seen for sale. I’m excited for the first time to own a particular vehicle – before this, automobiles were just transportation. This electric car seems like the perfect option for Juneau.

Another highlight of the trip was being in town for Island Air Express’s annual customer appreciation day that I attended with Ellen. From a start of about 12 people their first year, some 500 people attended this one. Really, really good smoked pork sandwiches, coleslaw and beans. Then a bunch of door prizes – mostly free flights, but also hats and a Stihl chainsaw. Ellen won a shirt and a hat. I met some fun friends of Ellens that are parts of big families in Klawock, Craig and Juneau.

We didn’t get over to Etolin hooter hunting but Brian got his four wheeler today and sounded like he would soon go over. We thought we might go hooligan fishing up the Stikine, too, but they didn’t show up in numbers enough to make him want to go just yet.