I'm sure you've been wondering what I've been up these days. There's a supermoon with super high, nineteen foot tides, so I'm taking advantage of my new walk system to shore to be out there at night making sure the vermin don't stage a coup in these parts. I hear squeakings all the time to that effect. My main fear is that the martin, mink, and otters won't keep up their side and the vermin will run amok and reach plague proportions.
My person is out there working on log projects all day, and sometimes at night, taking advantage of the full moon. I don't think she appreciates, however, that there shouldn't be any slacking during a supermoon. I make it a point to wake her all throughout the a.m. hours, encouraging her to get out there with me and keep the vermine hordes at bay. She yells at me. Obviously, I need to put more work into her upbringing.
Of course, as hardworking as I am, I also require that my hotwater bottle be filled for those times when I have to re-charge my verminator batteries. I let her know, quite loudly sometimes, in the middle of the night, when this is necessary. On the plus side, I've, after much hard work, trained her to tuck me under the blankets of my of my own bed on those colder nights. I have hopes that eventually she'll be a fully trained, fully functional verminator assistant.
I'll keep you updated on how it goes. Happy supermoon to you all (except the vermin)!
You guys have been missing me, right? I told my person you would be, but she makes all these lame excuses about being busy with summer chores and visiting kids and blah, blah, blah. I just stare at her. Until finally she gets it.
Her blog needs a dose of Maine Coon.
BTW, even though you haven't heard from me directly, I've been behind the scenes of her blog like usual, giving her pointers on what works and what doesn't--she can be so clueless in these matters--when she's taking pictures for a post. Check out the opening photo of her Interview with Bjorn Dihle, of his book Haunted Inside Passage (click on Books or Authors in the categories section). That's all me. In the picture below you can see me giving her advice on how to frame the photo of his book.
Anyway, it's summer here which means I have to really ramp up my vermin eradication duties to keep up with the migrant herds of mice, shrews, squirrels, weasels, not to mention the occasional malodorous mink. It's a full time job.
I'm proud to share with all of you that my person has finally gotten with the program and has made my mission much easier to accomplish by putting in a new floating walkway to shore that allows me to hunt at all hours and still be able to return to our floating HQ to refuel, no matter what the tide is doing.
I am so proud of her! I came inside and meowed up a storm, congratulating her on her unexpected brightness and initiative (sometimes I think I underestimate her), then demonstrated my prowess on the new walkway. You can see my runway skills below.
Sadly, she continues to deserve "the back," in order to discipline her on occasion.
Maybe you've heard about the bear problem Alaska's been having this year. They're everywhere and they're causing trouble, sometimes attacking humans. Naturally, I'm concerned about my person and want to make sure she survives in order to continue to feed me and groom me after I've gone to all the trouble of adopting her and training her.
Well, the bears have been around here, too. I came in one night and woke my person up with my special "BEAR!" alarm. I can really crank up the decibels when I give this particular meow. I gave my person my biggest-eye look to really get it through to her that this was Serious Business.
She didn't get it. She thought I was crazy.
Until we went for a walk the next day and I showed her a huge pile of bear leavings right in the middle of the trail, only a few yards from the house. Who's crazy now? I asked.
Turns out, she is.
I couldn't believe my eyes when, instead of running home like a good little person, as I insistently instructed, she took pictures.
I was forced to give her "the back" until she realized the error of her ways and followed me home.
(Graphic Photo Warning: If you have a sensitive stomach, do not look at the picture below.)
It's been hot these last few days and my winter fur has been only slowly coming off all summer a hair--or a hundred--at a time, all over my person's clothes and furniture. She complains, but I'm the one wearing a fur coat in 80 F degree heat.
But my person is nothing if not inventive. When my brush just wasn't coping, she discovered that a small flat stone with a ragged edge pulls all the loose hairs out by the gross. I lie on a rock while she uses the "cat scraper" to good effect.
It sometimes takes an hour for her to groom me properly, and she fusses about it, but we all have to do our part to keep me in top vermin-eradication form.
That reminds me. It's time to clock in again and make sure the critters remember who's boss around here. I just need a final polish--it's important to keep up appearances, even in the wilderness--and I'll be on my way. Below is a photo of my excellent grooming--oh, who am I fooling? Below is a photo of what I do whenever I think about what my person did when I showed her proof that a bear had been in the neighborhood....
In 1995 I had an article published in a national publication with an international circulation. In it I described living and writing out here in the bush and it seemed to strike a chord. Hundreds of people wrote to me from all over the world. One woman, a lovely older lady named Donne, wrote to me from where she lived in Johannesburg, South Africa. We wrote back and forth for years and then, on a visit to family in Canada, she made a side trip out here.
We were supposed to pick her up at the dock in Meyers Chuck, but we couldn't due to the weather. (Because we live on the tip of a high, forested peninsula it can be screaming a gale on one side and calm on the other side.) We contacted the airlines and their pilot agreed to drop her off in a bay close to us. She told me later that they were already in flight, late in the day, and the pilot turned to her and said, "Keep an eye our for a cabin in the woods, that's where I'm taking you."
He had only a general idea of where we were but managed to find us. We pulled our skiff up to the pontoon of the floatplane and I met Donne (and her grandson) in the skiff. She said she'd been on some great adventures in her life (including being treed by a rhinoceros), but that her floatplane ride in the Alaskan bush was the greatest.
My cousin, Mark Morse, told me he wanted to write about his first experience of flying into the remote community of Meyers Chuck, where I lived as a child. He said it was something he'd never forgotten.
I don't think anyone forgets that first floatplane splashdown in the Chuck, and, in fact, airlines regularly schedule pickups in the Chuck after they've dropped off their other passengers elsewhere to avoid scaring them. You'll see why that is in Mark's guest blog below.
As the son of divorced parents I spent the school years in Atlanta and the summers with mom in Michigan. In 1977 as a third grader we learned that Mom had moved to Meyers Chuck, Alaska. Living with a father who was successful in the city, my younger brother Alex and I had no clue what it meant to live in an Alaskan bush village.
My first memory was the excruciatingly long flight from Atlanta to Seattle which ended in the flight attendants cutting gum out of Alex's and my hair. Mom met us in Seattle and we took the Alaska ferry system from Seattle to Ketchikan. We didn't get rooms or berths, instead we slept on the top deck under the Solarium in sleeping bags with lots of 1977 hippies also ready to check out Alaska.
The ferry was great and I remember it like yesterday, but the real thrill of Alaska bush living was still ahead of us.
We arrived in Ketchikan and made our way to Tongass Airlines. For the first time ever I saw a plane floating on water and was then instructed to get on it. Your first time taking off on water seems impossible, but soon you're airborne and in the hands of some of the best pilots in the country.
For some reason I always sat in the copilot seat and mom and my brother sat in back. Invariably the pilot would let me take the controls and push the yoke up and down, actually moving the plane. What had been so scary was now kind of cool.
First Time Landing in Meyers Chuck:
As we closed in on our new home, we saw some really tall trees surrounding a tiny bay, guarded by rock reefs on both entry and exit. The pilot flies around the tall trees and cuts the engine too quickly loses altitude, then, just before crashing, re-fires the Cessna engines, floats over the rocks and short bay and slams on the brakes.
Alex and I had ridden every rollercoaster in Georgia. But this was insane.
It's probably a five second maneuver but it's a five minute five seconds as you see every ripple of water, feel the crosswinds, and see the quickly approaching reef. The plane calmly turns toward the float dock, you unload your luggage and meet 10-15 people all willing to help you get to your new log cabin home in the sticks.
It's hard to describe the joy of that first summer, but getting there is something I will always remember minute by minute.
Most people boat into Meyers Chuck, which is around four to five hours from Ketchikan--or a 40 minute flight. But shortcuts in the bush always come at a price!
NOTE: Photos 1, 3, 4, and 5 are by Jo Wendel who lives aboard a boat with her husband in a small community on Prince of Wales Island. She blogs at www.alaskafloatsmyboat.com where you can see, in my opinion, the best photos of rural SE Alaska.
Tara Neilson (ADOW)