I'm working as a Fish Culturist at Hidden Falls Salmon Hatchery in a remote spot near Sitka, Alaska! AM I CRAZY!? I'm starting to think so...

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Truman Show... Rebecca style

  • LOCATION - Middle of nowhere Alaska... Hidden Falls Hatchery
  • CAST - Rebecca, Hidden Falls staff, a few dogs, MILLIONS of salmon... bears in the coming months
  • PLOT - She's going to think she's working at a big salmon hatchery, but really it's just going to be a big TEST of strength! Physical and mental strength to see what she can REALLY handle!


Rebecca wakes up to her Eric Church CD at 7am and, like every morning, looks out the window to check out the weather.
"*GASP* Either the dock is on fire or that is an orange SUNRISE!!" It indeed was the sun rising. "It's going to be a good day." she thinks as she lays back down to wait for her watch to go off in 5 minutes. *BEEP BEEP BEEP* Rebecca goes through her usual morning routine... layering on the clothing, breakfast, checked a few emails people had sent her, then back downstairs to meet at 8am so Scott can delegate the jobs. She looks out the window and sees that the sun is no longer and it appears to be windy and snowing a little. "Great..." she thinks. Deena walks in and says "WOW, it's really cold out there this morning." A few minutes later, Scott says "uhh how about Rebecca, Dean and Sarah... shovel the snow off of the walkways on the fish pens. It's suppose to snow more so we don't want it to compact."

The 3 make their way to the dock to head out to the pens.
"oww yeah it's FREEZING out... definitely colder than yesterday" they all think. Down at the dock, they don life jackets and jump into a boat. "humm my first time in the boat for work... fun." Rebecca thinks. They arrive at the dock to find about 10 inches of snow so they start shoveling. An hour and a half later, as they are walking to finish up the main dock, THE SUN COMES OUT! They rejoice... but it is still 14 degrees out. They finish up as Scott pulls up in a boat and tells them to go around near the other pens and clear off the other small dock. Though it's close to breaktime (10am) they decide to head over and break later. Upon arrival, they realize that the snow is not the same soft powder like before... it is about 12 inches of compacted snow and ice. They do what they can but go to break at 10. They come back with metal shovels and chop away at it until lunch time. Now, despite the 16 degrees, they are sweating and quite warm! Time for lunch.

After lunch, Rebecca heads to the mezzanine (the partially heated area above the feed shed) with Angie to string some nets up and work on some screens. It's easy work and she's inside so it's alright. She turns on her iPod and works. Rebecca thinks
"man, this iPod is a lifesaver... THANKS SISTERS!" She heads to break at 3 where the crew tries to decide if the grocery plane will arrive soon. Rebecca learns that even if the weather is nice (like it is), the plane probably won't fly if it's under 20 degrees. "YIKES..." she thinks because it's cutting it close. She continues to work, and in the midst of stringing up a net, she hears the motor of a plane "DE PLANE!" she exclaims to herself, then realizes that her feet are really cold, despite the fact she is INSIDE. "*shakes her head* It's inevitable... they are going to be cold no matter what!"

Finally it's quittin time and Rebecca heads to the bunkhouse. As she approaches, she sees a familiar guy unloading the grocery boxes. Rebecca smiles to herself and thinks
"Always nice to see a new cute boy at the hatchery... even if he is married... still nice to look at." She says hi to Josh (not the one from Michigan), whom she met in Sitka and works for a different NSRAA program but has arrived at Hidden Falls for some reason, and she helps to unload with the rest of the crew. When they are done, she finds her groceries but only find her "dry goods" box. "humm..." she wonders, "maybe my other stuff is in someone else's pile." So she glances around but doesn't see it. *SHRUG* She heads inside to put her stuff away. She'll check back in a bit. Unpacking, she pulls out her receipt and sees that she IS missing 1/2 the stuff she ordered... meaning there IS no other box. She asks her bunkmates, Angie and Dean, if they have extra stuff of hers but no luck... she is OUT OF LUCK.

Feeling defeated, she sits down at the computer for a few minutes before she wants to watch Real World (because Mtv is on EST time so she has to watch it at 6pm). No new emails... no one is online...
"UGHHH... not a good day!" she thinks and goes back downstairs and flips on Mtv. The recent annoyingly familiar black screen pops up with the yellow "Searching for satellite signal" box... "NO! I still have time... it's not 6 yet." She flips channels and of course that one comes in but not the one she wants... FINALLY, right in time, the channels works. She can watch her show... 6:15pm... *black screen* "NO! Right in the middle of the SHOOOOOW!... Idol is on at 7... hopefully THAT channel works." She flips on FOX but *black screen* "GAH this is going to be a repeat of last night... I have 45 minutes still." Defeated again... she goes to make dinner. Her favorite... beef stroganoff. No problems there, but 7pm, no tv. 7:15... still no tv... DEFEATED AGAIN, she puts on a channel that WORKS and eats. Finishing up, she does the dishes and heads upstairs to take a shower and write this blog.

The camera pans out and the producers of "THE REBECCA SHOW" have a good laugh at the fun TESTS they have put Rebecca against today. Producer #1 laughs and says "HA And we told her it would be 40 and raining... boy is it funny to dump snow on her and make it 16 degrees, and then make her go outside and shovel it!" Producer #2 agrees and says "Good idea to tell the grocery store to forget to shop for her stuff! That's a great one! And the satellite not working... CLASSIC!" Producer #3 says "That was my idea... thanks! She seemed to handle the snow shoveling ok though... that sun was making her happy. We'll have to get rid of that next time and add some more wind!" They all sit back and laugh... "Maybe tomorrow." they all think with devious grins on their faces.

WEATHER - COOOLD, ~ 14-18 degrees... BUT SUUNNNNYYYY!!! :-)

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - Today goes to Hannah, because I got a piece of mail from her today (even though it got sent a while ago!) Thanks!! My first piece of mail I received at the Hatchery! Hey, yesterday I had to do something with some ice chipper thing and one of the chicks was trying to explain what it looked like and she said it sorta looked like a hoe, but bent flat, and then she said "If you know what a hoe looks like..." (she was being serious!) and I kinda grinned! "Do I know what a hoe looks like!? I'm a professional KBS hoer!"

ANTI-SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - Lakeside grocery... THANKS! Way to forget to shop for my stuff! *ANGRY STARE!*

Monday, February 26, 2007

What happened to 40s and rain!?


MAN was it cold today! Josh (he's formerly from Battle Creek by the way!) said it was probably the coldest it has been all year today... Angie said it was like 22 degrees and that was around 12pm. And it was snowing all day.

But yesterday looked GREAT outside... I say it looked great cause I didn't go anywhere but it was nice LOOKING! Apparently it was cold and windy. Sun was out though.

Behind those circle ponds,there is a "lagoon" which is where the fish come in during spawning season. Right now it's half frozen over but there are still ducks. And around those trees is always where I can see bald eagles flying around. That was from my window so you can see some crazy icicles hanging too.

Anyhow, that is NOT how the weather was today. Today was darker and snowy. I spent the morning helping Angie out. We "morted" the ponds. This is just taking the dead fish (aka the "morts" or mortalities) out of the ponds. They keep track of the number so we had to count them. It was pretty easy... they ranged from 0- the 30s. I started out in the circle ponds in the back... These are the covered ponds. There's a picture for you. I found this on the computer so as you can see by the GREEN ground instead of snow covered, it wasn't recently taken.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

There are 14 ponds I think. Only 10 of the ponds are taken up right now. 2 ponds have really little Chinook in them. These are fish in the "zero check" program which will be released this summer but will be quite small. All the rest of the fish stay about a year and a half but these will be released a year early. It's just a test program sorta to see how they turn out... by cutting that extra year off. I'm not sure if I explained that quite right but atleast that's how I understand it. And 8 have fish that are about 3-5 inches long. They're from last year's season and will be released in July I think. Chinook I think? The ponds out front that are in the upper picture, Angie and I "morted" next. The fish are about the same size as the others...3-5 inches and will be released this year also.

After lunch, I worked with Deena (she's another hatchery tech and is 23 like me) to find some nets to cover the chum pens when the fish get out there, which we will use to keep the bird from eating the fish. Thankfully that was an indoor job because... I just didn't want to be outside today. After walking around in the snow drifts this morning around those front circle ponds, my feet wanted to be warm! It was one of those days where right when you take the net out of the water, it freezes! I had some water on my gloves so when I went to write down the number on the piece of paper, the paper and pencil would become frozen. Thankfully we had special "write in the rain" paper but you'd have to scrape the ice off the pencil lead... and then off the paper! That's how cold it was.

ANYHOW... I'm really starting to like some of the people I work with. I've worked alot with Angie and some with Deena and they are both really cool. Everyone is cool but I've worked with them the most.

SHOUT-OUT OF THE DAY - I've decided I'm going to do this little section everyday or somedays or whenever I feel like it.

Today I have a FEW...
1) To my Grandma! I got a message from her today and she says she reads this everyday! So I wanted to say HI and I REALLLLLLY miss and love you!

2) To my crazy 'ol friend, Ben... he inspired me to do this! Thanks for being online to talk to me today... and reminding me that you were going thru the same thing over in the Indian Ocean! :-D Have fun in the FL heat for me! *cornbread*

Friday, February 23, 2007

Drum corps more than you know!

WARNING - This will be long and rambly probably... bear with me! There's alot of info to say.

I've come to the realization over the past few days how similar this whole thing is to drum corps... though you wouldn't really think that since well... it doesn't sound anything alike!

Today was one of those days... comparable to one of those physically and mentally testing days of drum corps when you question why they chose you to be in the group. I wasn't really going to talk about this... about how I really felt today but here goes.

We have been "ponding" chum salmon for the past two days. The day before we started, we went over the process and I sorta got it but I knew it'd be like one of those "have to see it to understand" deals because I wasn't even sure of some of the pieces of equipment he was talking about. Come yesterday, the start of ponding, he put me and Sarah in charge of cleaning the pieces of the incubators after they were done with them. So yesterday was a good day... we worked hard cleaning at a super fast speed while Scott, Dean, and Deena were working on dumping the fish.

Today, while I started out cleaning again, I knew we would end up switching to get experience on the other jobs. OK bear with me for a minute while I give you a brief idea of how we "ponded." The incubators look like this... (BTW, these pics aren't from our facility... I spent forever looking for a picture online since I can't go in with a camera and take a picture! Same with the picture at the end.)

Look at the stack on the very right of the picture. There are 5 individual incubator in each stack. (Just a bit of info, there are about 200,000 fish in EACH incubator = about 1 million per stack.) The one next to it on the left has 2 incubators stacked up. What looks like icicles hanging, is water draining thru some screens (which hold the fish in). The PVC pipes hang down from one incubator to the next because the water just drains from the top down. (If you have more questions or don't get it, ask.)

So we would move that stack to the ponding equipment, pick up the top incubator with a type of crane, move it onto this metal platform which then needed to be tilted up so you dump the fish out the side into a trough of water. With me so far? That was one job... on the other side, there is a person with a hose. Inside the incubator, there are the fish but also these pieces of plastic shaped like saddles (substrate) to simulate gravel like in a river. On the side of the trough is a type of ramp with bars where the saddles can run down into a bag, but the fish will slip thru these little bars. The water will then carry the fish down a tube that will dump them outside in a raceway. MAKE SENSE!? I know, it's alot... hard to imagine. Well the person with the hose has to make sure the saddles wash down that ramp or else the fish won't go down either because they'll be piled up in that trough.

Alright, back to the day... this hose person was my first job. And I just felt like I was sucking at it! Stuff was getting backed up... which meant the fish weren't going anywhere. Eventually I got in the groove after a few incubators but everything was so fast paced and it felt like it took a while. By the time I actually got it, we were done with that group. We would pond 7 incubators into one raceway, then switch the pipe to the OTHER raceway and pond 8 incubators. Then after lunch, we would pond 8 in that first raceway and then switch to 7 again. The point of this is that it's a shock to the fish and they want to burrow down. Basically, if there are TOO many fish in the raceway, they will dogpile and suffocate the fish underneath! So we had to kinda ease them into it I guess.

So I finally get into doing that job and I get put in the job of dumping the incubator. It didn't look that hard when everyone else was doing it so ok. Sarah showed me how to do the first one. Then I was on my own. Got the incubator attached to the crane, move the water source down to the next incubator (the water just runs down to the next one.), get up on the platform, unhook the incubator from the crane, blah blah. Time to hoist this thing. There is a bar you push down and it lifts the platform a bit but then you need to do it with your body. I push the bar and it doesn't move... Put ALL my body weight on it and it finally goes. (this incubator is like a 4 foot x 4 foot box... filled with 200,000 tiny fish and lots of water.) Some of the water drains by pushing the bar but then going to hoist the platform + incubator, you have to get under it and use your shoulder.

I felt like a power lifter! A very weak power lifter! I consider myself quite strong for a girl my size... thanks to drum corps. My legs are pretty strong too, but this was seriously, the most physically demanding thing I have ever done! Like trying to lift a car up with your body weight! I just felt embarrassed. Like everyone was going "ohhh... the weakling...poor thing" cause everyone else did it. I had 7 incubators to do! How was I going to do this!? Finally after lifting it up (Dean actually lifted the second one. Sarah did the first remember.) So the fish are out... now you have to lift this 4 x 4 foot box of metal up onto the corner to rinse it out more. That was tough too... Anyhow, to make a super long story short, I managed but I walked out of there very discouraged in myself. Finally I got it but it was still really hard. Dean said I did it perfect on the LAST one... dumped the fish at a good speed and stuff *shakes my head*

SO, today was comparable to one of those "breaking" days in drum corps. Just from those few hours of hosing and lifting, I walked out of that dark cold incubator room feeling like I had just spent 12 hours doing the hardest, most physical part of a corps show in the hot summer sun... and not feeling like you did very good work at all. Cause really I WAS sweating!! Despite the fact I was covered in water and it was probably 30 degrees in that room. I felt like Scott was going to walk up to me and go
"umm yeah Rebecca, I don't think this is going to work out so we packed your bags for you and there's a floatplane waiting for you at the dock." Obviously, he didn't say that. And really he didn't say anything at all... I was doing alright at the end but personally I didn't feel very good about it. I know, it just takes practice and now that I know what I'm doing, it probably will get easier.

It was just a mentally AND physically tough day... I'm alright. Sorry about this extremely LOOONG blog. Hope you stuck with it!

P.S. OH, a plane got in on Thursday to deliver food and MY LUGGAGE!! But we keep getting more snow. We got like 5 inches last night.

P.P.S. The fish are about 1 to 1-1/2 inches long... So far, we've ponded 12 million-ish.

WEATHER - Obviously, I'm not too sure since I was in the dark incubator room most of the day but I'm pretty sure it snowed all day. Not sure about the temp... Sitka say it's 30 right now. I need one of those window thermometers for my bedroom.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oh, the things I could give up for Lent...

How about working in the cold!? Working in the snow maybe... working with cold feet... or working in the mornings!? How about food in general!?

I've decided the cold feet only happen in the morning!? It kicks in around 10-10:30. They manage to stay warm in the afternoon though. Maybe they aren't awake enough to keep themselves warm... folks here have proposed battery operated socks! Well I may need them... if we are scheduled to get this supposed 9 inches of snow TONIGHT that I've been hearing people talk about, tomorrow might be a cold one! It snowed ALL day today. As pretty as it is on the pine trees, it's not very much fun. Actually as long as I can stay warm, I'm alright.

So, food would be pretty easy to give up for Lent if the weather keeps up like it is. The scheduled grocery flight today didn't happen... let's pray for tomorrow! When I arrived last week (A day late also... I'm seeing a trend!) I realized "hum... I don't think I have enough food!" Well, that was a week ago... I'm cuttin it close here so this flight better come soon! I've also realized some things that I SHOULD have put on my grocery list which I will have to do without for another week. Sacrifice... *shrug*

I spent a while today getting a taste of what I will be doing for weeks on end in the upcoming months... feeding fish! ha ha And I'm not just talking sprinkling nearly weightless flakes of fish food into my fish tank... we're talking LOTS OF FOOD! Sad thing is that the fish really aren't eating alot right now... come summer... WHEW My arm hurts just thinking about it! Remember that picture from yesterday of those circle ponds right out my window... the Coho salmon reside there and I fed alot of them today. There are about 60,000 fish in each pond plus or minus a few thousand. One really only has about 30,000 because of lots of deaths in that pond. Anyhow, so today each pond was fed between 6 and 6.5 kilograms of food. For those of you not familiar with the metric system, that is about 13.2-14.3 pounds of food. We would feed 4 ponds at a time so we had to carry 2 buckets of food out there at a time... do the math... that's about 57 pounds of food at most, split between 2 buckets. *SIGH* There are... oh I don't know... 37 or 38 ponds. That's alot of food!

Really I'm not complaining... just trying to explain how it is now. Before these fish are released, I'll probably be feeding them for 8 hours a day straight because they'll be eating so much. It's not so bad... but I can tell ya that my left arm WILL be really quite sore tomorrow cause I can feel it now even. I fed 8 ponds of the covered ponds too. Only 4.5 kilos of food each though.

Anyhow, tomorrow we are going to start "ponding" the chum. That's where the tiny chum, who are in the incubators now, will be going out into a big raceway with millions of other fish. I know we are going to be doing this Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday but I'm not sure if that's ALL it's going to take or if it'll take longer. We'll see. It's hard to explain but there are 16 incubators in a row... with 3 rows. Each incubator has 5 trays of fish. That is 240 trays. (Lots of math in this blog today!) Tomorrow we are only doing... 30? Yeah, looks like we'll take longer than 4 days. This is the group of fish that Tommy said there were 90 million! WHEW... we're gonna be busy!

OH, I failed to mention that the incubator room must be kept completely DARK so we'll be doing this under headlamps. HA good times. Angie said when we are working in "the dungeon" as it's nicknamed, time goes real fast though.

WEATHER-Snow all day. 25 or lower I'm guessing.

P.S. Who has see the Harry Potter movies? I've come to the realization today (after I saw a bald eagle fly by) that with the snow falling on the pine trees and the birds flying around, it's right out of a wintery scene of Harry Potter with the owls flying around! HP fans would know what I mean.

P.P.S. The amount of commercials during an episode of American Idol is getting to be rediculous! I'm about to not watch because it's making me angry. And it's probably a "girl" year for Idol.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

This morning I got cold feet...

No, I'm not talking about the "nervous... I don't wanna go thru with it" kinda of cold feet. I mean literally, my feet were COOOLD! It was quite cold here today... More proof that the weather here is different from Sitka. Earlier when I looked, it said 32 but Shannon said it was probably like 25. This map shows it was CHILLY today. (I'm closer to the "19" section of Alaska.)

Anyhow, day #2... worked more on that fence I talked about. Finally finished THAT crazy project. Cleaned up one of the raceways... Shannon explained to me how to use all of the boats... THAT should be... interesting. HA And then Angie and I started to clean some of the trays (I'm not really sure what you call them) of tiny fish in one of the incubation rooms. Darn... either Coho or Chinook... I can't remember. They have hatched and are about the size of a silver dollar. Since they are trying to simulate real conditions, all of the lights are off in this room so we are walking around with headlamps with a red covering over the light to make it less bright. In nature, the baby fish or eggs would be buried in the gravel. 1/2 of the room has incubators full of unhatched eggs... THOUSANDS of little eggs in each tray. It's kinda neat. All in all, a good day despite the fact my hands and toes about froze off this morning. Then I changed socks and my feet stayed warm in the afternoon. Not sure if it was the socks or something else. We'll see.

Anyhow... MORE. :-)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
The floatplane we took to Hidden Falls. We had the most experienced pilot in Sitka so I wasn't worried. That is Tommy in the brown... that's who I've been in contact with up here. "Hey guys... make sure you get all MY stuff in that little plane!" It was a tight squeeze!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I took this from the boat dock. Those are some of the net pens that are right out from of the hatchery. There are alot more on the side. It's hard to tell how many pens there are and really I don't even know. I'd guess 12?

The little house with the stairs going up is the Takatz Bay floathouse that I'll be living in! Funny right!? Actually, the bottom is just fish food storage so upstairs is a 3 bedroom apartment.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
This is the view looking into the bay from the boat ramp. The hatchery is behind me. Chatham Strait is just on the other side of those little tree covered islands so we are pretty far back in the bay.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
And this is the bunkhouse. That first section on the left is an apartment... then the 5 windows on the right are where the bunkhouse rooms are. SEE, lots of snow!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
This is the view when I look out my window. Those are the outdoor round ponds (there are some under an overhang too.) They are pretty big... they're about chest high or a little lower on me. You can see the snow piled up around them too! That building on the left is the duplex where two of the guys live. If you look carefully, up on the hill in the top right of the picture are 3 houses. They're hard to see so look at the enlarged picture. They're pretty big though... permanent employee housing (along with the duplex & apartment).

Hopefully, seeing some of these pictures, helps you guys understand what I was talking about. Again, click on the pictures to enlarge them or go to the picture link! Hope you enjoy them. :-)

P.S. Idol anyone!?
I heart
Blake Lewis

Jared Cotter!

he he he

Anyone else think it's the most culturally diverse group (atleast of guys) that they've ever had?

Monday, February 19, 2007

The moment you've all been waiting for!

TA DAHHHH!! Pictures... to see larger versions, click on the picture. Or you can click the link on the side for the Photo Album. I'm only going to be adding a few pictures at a time because we have a limited bandwidth space here as I said before. I'm just being safe. I'll put them on my blog always though so you can see when I add them! (Be sure to read the post after this one... I wrote it earlier today.)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I let my pet bald eagle fly around for the day. HA HA Just kidding... We were taking a walk and there he was... just hanging out. I've learned to recognize the "bald eagle" sound also so you can tell when they're flying around.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
This is the same view that the webcam gives you, minus the building. I was behind the building. It was a great day for pictures.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
This is one of my FAVORITE pictures I've taken so far. Such a pretty view over the town of Sitka. Right in the center is the Russian Orthodox church that the town is built around.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
The thing I was looking forward to seeing the MOST when I got to Sitka! MOUNT EDGECUMBE!! It is an inactive volcano. It was dark when we got into Sitka, and I was hoping this would be the view when I looked out my window in the morning but it wasn't.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
This is from a further distance. Really there are two volcanos there... Mount Edgecumbe and a smaller one to the right. That is a bridge that connects two parts of Sitka together.

Darn frozen precipitation!

Well, today is proof that that webcam can be deceiving. The picture is showing some sun coming through the cloud but I woke up to snow falling! B to the double O! :-) BOO...! It's been snowing ever since I woke up... admittedly, that was around 10:30am. Anyhow, that'll probably make for a cold day of work tomorrow.

Well, today I spent a little while figuring out my weekly food order. As you know, we are remote which means we can't just run over to the grocery store. That's a bit tough... especially when you are used to living 30 seconds from the grocery store (like I was in Galesburg) and walking down shopping aisles looking at stuff. I'm used to doing that, seeing things and going "OH I do need that!" Well I had to figure out what I would want/need for the week and I'm hoping I won't forget anything. Before we came to the hatchery, we went shopping so I got some stuff and I also had some other food from the few days before at the NSRAA apartment in Sitka. Well the day after I GOT to the hatchery, I realized I had forgotten the mayonnaise that I bought at the apartment that I was going to bring with so I couldn't eat any of the tuna I bought. And I didn't find any in the fridge I could use. So that cut my meals down some. I was sure to put that on the list this time!

And if the weather is bad on Wednesday, when the flight comes in, like it was LAST week when we couldn't fly in, the food delivery gets put off. Or if the flight gets too full, things get left behind. Did I mention that last week I had to leave more than 1/2 of the stuff I brought to Alaska behind so we could fit everything in the plane!? Yeah, hopefully I get that stuff this week too...

Well, last night I had dinner at Deana and Dan's house up on the hill. Deana went all out and made (HUGE) crab that was just collected that day, venison, and grilled salmon. We had some good homemade bread too made by Angie. It was very good, but alot of work to crack all that crab just by my hands! It was good to hang out with some other people too. I had been feeling that everyone just seemed to stay in their own houses and never come out. There were 6 of us (out of a total of 12 at the hatchery). It was a nice night.

Alright, guess that's it. Sorry for the long lengths of these blogs. They don't look long when I'm typing them! I hope none of you get bored or fall asleep reading them! HA HA I'm going to see if I can post a few pictures today. I think I can do it if I do it in moderation. Can't go over the bandwidth limit! :-) MISS YA!

WEATHER- Snow... falling on top of more snow. It sure does look pretty on the pine trees though! I'm sure you can guess the temperature.

Friday, February 16, 2007

It ain't that bad.....

So as alot of you know, when I was home preparing for this crazy thing, I was worried about the weather and worried I would freeze! Well it isn't that bad. My hands got a bit cold before lunch but I think that's because I left my gloves outside on our break. DUMB ME.

Anyhow, so today was my first day of work! YAY! I spent the day working with Angie, who's a fish culturist, and who I met last Friday when she flew into Sitka and stayed at the apartment with us the whole time we were there. There's not much "fish" stuff to do now but I think they are thinking in about a week or so, the babies can come out of the incubators and get "ponded" (aka put into the big round ponds.) So we did a few odd jobs, though she did have to feed 2 ponds of some little Chinook Salmon all day. I fed one of the ponds twice (she fed each pond 6 times) which was kinda fun. Guess that's a good thing though because I'll be doing my share of feeding fish in the coming months.

So odd jobs... Odd job #1, shovel snow. What!? Am I back in Michigan!? HA Ok it wasn't that bad. So I donned my brand spankin new orange fisherman's suit (it WAS raining BTW) and went out. We had to get some metal panel things out to go into one of the fish raceways, and they just so happened to be buried in 6 feet of snow. YEAH, 6! Maybe more. Really that didn't take long. Then we went out to the outdoor circle ponds (the other ones I was talking about have a roof over them.) to pick up these alarm things that each pond had. Not sure what they were for. We finished that fast and Angie was like "Man, we're 3/4 done with our jobs for the day... we're fast! Very efficient." I laughed and thought of how many times we were told that at the station this past year. It wasn't even 10am yet. Then we went to tackle the next job that ended up taking the rest of the day.

We had this fence which ran along one of the raceways, and Scott, the manager, wanted us to take it down so we could figure out how to reassemble it into a few smaller, more manageable pieces? Make sense? Sounds easy I guess but it wasn't. The top and the bottom pieces didn't match up... 1/2 the fence was crooked and bent from snow. We managed to get it out though, in 2 smaller pieces and 1 really long piece cause we couldn't get it apart. The rest of the day working on this fence consisted of hack-sawing, Shannon, the maintenance guy, welding pieces together, bending pieces, hammering pieces together... AND APART! It was interesting... and I'm not too bad with a hack saw! :-)

Anyhow, now I am off until Tuesday. What on EARTH am I going to do!? Watch my many channels on the tv. Definately laundry!

I forgot that I was going to include a weather report on each post... mostly for my uncle! I forgot yesterday though I think I said in the blog... but it rained ALLLL day. HA I'm not too good with the temperatures... I've gotta get a thermometer to put on my window. HINT HINT Care package!? OK, I don't want 8 of them though. Whatever the temperature says on the side, it's probably really close. I think they said it was a bit cooler in the winter here, but drier in the summer here than in Sitka. I THINK?

WEATHER - Rain in the morning. I swear I saw a hint of sun when we first walked out!? Cleared up in the afternoon until around 4, when it started again. Really it's not THAT cold. Somewhere in the lower 40s I'm guessing.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

At the Hatchery

I'm at the hatchery now. We managed to fly out of Sitka around 9am even though it was still rainy and such. We flew in on a Cessina... talk about a puddle jumper! It was kinda cool though. The conditions here at the hatchery are about the same. It's rainy. Since they don't get much direct sunlight these days, there is still quite a bit of snow on the ground.

The bunkhouse is nice, though I feel like I'm back at college. Right now, just Dean (the other new guy) and I are the only ones living here but there are offices connected also. Everyone else lives in seperate houses or a duplex across the way.

We got a tour and we'll start working tomorrow. I talked to the manager and he told me what I'd be doing. For a while (until March) I'll be doing stuff on-site but in March I'll start working out in Takatz Bay with Dean and the guy who runs that program, Adam. What they do is boat half the chum salmon that (I think) were hatched and raised from last season's eggtakes out to Takatz Bay where they get acclimated to saltwater out there and in May they will be released. So 4 days a week I'll be living on a floathouse out there and then I'll work 1 day at the hatchery. (But that also means I don't have to pay for food those days I'm out there! They pay for it.) My days off will be here at the hatchery I believe. It's about a 20 minute boat ride out there I guess. So that should be interesting.

Anyhow, guess that's all for now... OH so I don't have phone reception out here and I'm not sure when I'll get into town. So don't leave me important messages cause I won't get them for a while. Email is key now.

<-- P.S. I have no idea why my blog archive says 2005 and 2006... assume they say 2006 and 2007. It should say February 2007 also... not January. Dumb thing.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


HEY NOW, where are all these posts asking how Alaska is and how I am and all that!? ha just kidding.

Well, I'm here. I've been in Sitka since Thursday the 8th. We were suppose to fly out to the hatchery today but the weather wasn't good so we're gonna try again tomorrow morning. Despite the weather being rainy today and yesterday, the rest of the days it has been GREAT! It's kinda funny to sit here and look at that webcam shot now because I was just at that building yesterday. It's the Centennial Hall if you were wondering. And the scenery behind it.... that picture does no justice! It's so much prettier.

Anyhow, I have this nice long blog typed up on my computer but I want to get pictures with it otherwise I'll have to edit it. I'll have to do that when I get to the hatchery. (I'm on someone's laptop in the company apartment right now on some pretty low signal wireless internet.)

Just wanted to let you know though that things are good. I saw seals yesterday on our tour of one of the hatcheries in Sitka, Medvejie Hatchery (pronounced Med-vee-gee). That was a good tour and kinda helped me to confirm that what I came up here for doesn't make me crazy! I think I'll like it. On a hike on a local path on Sunday, we saw signs of whales in Sitka Sound... but we only saw the water shooting up from their blowholes. And there are bald eagles galore up here! It's pretty cool! Oh and the other day I ate mountain goat! ha ha Really, it was great! lol Alright, that's a good thing to end on. Talk to you all later!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Who ever thought an AK winter would be better than a MI winter!?

Wow... if you are looking at this blog today (as in 2/2/07) and it's before 5pm AK time, look at that amazing day!! I'm looking at that webcam shot and it is 1:20 AKST and it's 43, sunny, and GORGEOUS! Sure beats this Michigan "It's 15 degrees with a wind chill of 2 degrees, we have 16 inches of snow and there's a Winter Storm Warning and Blowing Snow Warning" day.

See... I'm not so crazy after all!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Alaska Motto

"The things that are the most scary are the most worthwhile."

Yes..... well said. That will be my Alaska motto!

6 days to go!