My second youngest brother Robin, who makes my Internet access possible, works at the shipyard in Ketchikan and he sent me the following photos of the kind of snowfall they're dealing with as they do their best to keep up with the ships they have to work on. Above is the M/V Kennicot, one of ferries in the Marine Highway System fleet that caters to coastal living Alaskans, and keeps Southeast Alaskans connected.
A mountain of snow at the shipyard with snow-covered mountains in the background. The snow-covered mountain is across Tongass Narrows on the island where Ketchikan International Airport is located. Below is a photo of what the jets looked like when Robin went to see off a friend. He had to cross on a ferry to get to the airport.
Below is the view from Robin's front steps. Time to go to work...yay!
Thanks for the photos, Robin!
He said that he's hoping to come out here on Memorial Day for a visit, which we're looking forward to...barring weather complications. I plan on interviewing him and sharing the results on here, so stay tuned for more on the shipyard.
The one good thing about this horrible, stormy winter has been the lack of snow. I congratulated myself on it almost daily. Surely, the sheer power of my dislike of snow was keeping it at bay? And with spring just around the corner it looked like we'd squeeze by without having to deal with all the hassles that snow brings when you're a floathouse dweller.
And then it started snowing. And snowing. And, then, guess what? More snowing.
My dad, who had just turned seventy, had to saw and chop wood in a blizzard. High winds tossed the thick snow over him and coated him even as he swung his sledgehammer to break up particularly stubborn spruce rounds. My mom bundled up and did almost all the stacking and hauling into their house, despite dealing with debilitating osteoarthritis in her knees and hands. (I'd had a bad fall and she valiantly took up the slack.)
Our mail came in days late, the floatplanes unable to fly in the blizzard conditions. When it finally got here, my dad, after shoveling a foot of snow out of the skiff, couldn't get the outboard engine to start--the fuel was frozen in the line and the carburetor.
My brother Jamie stepped in and brought our groceries and mail out in his skiff in snow so thick that he had to hug the shoreline with almost zero visibility in pretty good size seas. Thankfully he knows the area extremely well and didn't wreck, or hit his propellor on anything.
The real problem with snow and floathouses is the weight, which can sink a float. My column this week at www.capitalcityweekly.com, appearing on Wednesday, March 15th, is about how we deal with this issue.
In order to get the column off I had to cross through the woods to get to the beach where there's a stronger signal than I can get at my house. I bundled up and like every other danger-defying columnist out there, braved deep snow in high winds with a brutal wind chill that froze my fingers as soon as I took them out of my gloves to hit send.
Here's hoping spring is just around the corner.
This has easily been the worst winter for violent storms that we've ever seen in all the years we've lived here. The weather forecasters have obviously not figured out whatever has changed because they consistently under forecast. When it's forecasted to blow thirty mph we will invariably get seventy mph or higher. I'm going on three nights without sleep because of the back-to-back gale-to-hurricane force winds we've been getting battered by.
My dad and I just went woodlogging in a big swell when there was a slight break in the weather and as we rounded the rocks that protect our home we counted no less than four wind-broken trees just since the last time we'd rounded the point. Last night I kept thinking about that as I heard debris constantly hitting my roof and my house being shook by one powerful gust after another. I just hoped and prayed none of the trees that surround us would come down on us.
I'm having a hard time keeping up with my emails with all the physical work involved here and the lack of sleep, so I wanted to put this up to explain and apologize to everyone I owe emails to. These storms can't last forever...I hope. And when they finally moderate into something more reasonable, I hope to get back to a better routine of keeping in touch with people. In the meantime, thank you all for being so patient.
I have a new column coming out at www.capitalcityweekly.com, Wednesday, March 15th, about tricks we've learned for coping with coldsnaps in the bush, when there's no running water. Thank you, Laura, for the idea!