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...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I got nothin....

Alright Alright… I know it’s been a while. I don’t wanna hear it! :-)

It’s my “weekend” right now… and it’s felt like the longest week ever. I don’t really know why.

Last weekend, Adam and I decided to go for a hike. On the way up, I was pretty sure it was going to be the death of me! Man, I felt so out of shape. I guess I didn’t think it was going to be as hard as it was. So from the hatchery, we hiked up the trail to the lake right above the hatchery… the “lower lake.” There are stairs up most of it, which is good because it was pretty muddy. Sadly, my lungs were burning after about 5 minutes… it felt pretty rough, but we reached the lower lake. It was a pretty short hike up there actually. This is the lake that the “Hidden Falls” waterfall falls from.

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This is the view of the hatchery from the lower lake level. There is this hydro building to my left (I’m standing on a little hill right above it) and the waterfall is on the other side of that. I’ve seen this view in a picture before but never seen it firsthand… it was pretty cool.

So then we took this little boat that is up there across the lower lake to where there is another trail. By “trail,” I mean an area that looks like a glacier left a path of rocks between overgrown brush. Oh, and did I mention it looked like it was straight up!? Yeah… some big rocks… some loose small rocks that would fall or move if you stepped on them wrong. That’s part of the reason I thought I might die! The other part was when my lungs felt like they were going to explode! Anyhow, we finally made it up the rock part, but then we had to go up through the trees... then we had to go up some overgrowth which thankfully, some hiker tied a big long rope so you could hang on to that. It was pretty muddy and steep! I thought it would never end… but finally we made it to the upper lake. It was small but kind of cool.

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The upper lake...

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This is the view on the way down from the upper lake. That's the lower lake and Chatham Strait in the background. (Make the picture bigger... it's better)

Then we had to go ALL THE WAY BACK DOWN! The rope part was easy… I think I slid down on my butt most of the way down the tree part cause it was muddy… and I was pretty sure I would die on the way down the rocks! I took that really slow because I’m not too good on slippery wet rocks. Plus, Adam was below me so I didn’t want to send rocks careening down at his head! Finally, that was done and we were back in the boat.

When we got back to the area where the boat was, Adam said we had to put the motor back in the hydro building, so we drove closer to the building, which meant driving close to where the waterfall starts. Ok so it didn’t just DROP OFF like Niagara Falls or anything, but I could just envision losing control of the boat and AHHHHHHH! I’m sure you can picture what I was picturing. It was fine though. So all and all, I didn’t die. And I saw some cool scenery from way up high. I guess it was alright after all.

So what else… the weather has been nice and CRAPPY lately. Lots of rain… a few days with rain AND wind. That’s no fun… Yesterday we started to work with the Coho for their spawning. Remember we did Chum and Chinook, but I said the Coho spawning was later on. Well it’s still not for a while but we were sorting them and stuff. Here’s what we did… so there are 4 raceways back there. Two of them we got fish in there from the fish ladder, just like we did for all the other spawning. We would get a load of fish in the shock box and bring them up live and kickin… no shocking. Because that would kill them, and we aren’t using them for spawning RIGHT yet… so they come up alive and we slide them across the table into a big box about the size of wood box like for apple picking, except it’s a plastic box. This box was filled with water and a solution of alcohol and clove oil, which basically puts the fish to sleep for a little bit. Then we move the tote over to the other two raceways and start sorting. We had to count all the fish that we put in each raceway. Most of the females got injected with some medicine to treat them for some disease… some of them didn’t though. A lot of the males were too small so we threw them out… it was a lot of fish freaking out and getting you wet… dipping your hands into FREEZING COLD WATER and them staying wet because you had cotton gloves on so you could hold the fish. You know what was kinda fun in a “chaos-in-action” kinda way, though, was sliding the fish into the tote from the shock box. That was sorta fun… CRAZY but fun. Because the fish were FREAKIN OUT and there are a bunch of them all at the same time.

Well, now it is my weekend and today the weather has been really nice but cool. Adam and I set a long line, which we are going to pull up in about an hour. Well see what we catch. OH, last weekend (the real weekend when it was just Adam and I working) I was pulling up a weight that was in the water on the Chinook pens and there was this weird thing on it that fell off onto the deck. When I gave it a closer look, it was this really cool fish! I still have to look it up and figure out what it is but it looks like it would be a tropical fish and kind of like a puffer fish. It was green-ish and sorta spikey. We kept it in a bucket and Adam kept changing out its water but at the dock today, I saw that it had died. So we are going to put it in a jar and some alcohol to preserve it and see if it works. I tell ya, it looks like it is straight out of Finding Nemo or something! It’s VERY CUTE! I tried to get a good picture of it but it didn’t very well. Adam sorta got one on his camera though.

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It's pretty small... fits in the palm of my hand. CUTE RIGHT!?

Anyhow, that’s all I’ve got for ya!


So we identified that our super cute little fish is a Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker. Not that you all will know it but it's a cool name. Also, we pulled the long line and yeah... lame. We got 2 shortnose Skates, kinda like a stingray... a little halibut... a Pacific cod... and THIS...

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It's a Yelloweye Rockfish. Actually I'm pretty sure I've shown a picture of one of these before but it wasn't of me holding it. It was probably like 12 pounds. These are my favorite... orange of course. He got kind of pale right before this but it was alot brighter orange. Kinda like a big goldfish right? They are cool!

SHOUT OUT OF THE WEEK – Thanks for the card Uncle Eddie, Aunt Stacy, Tommy and Sarah. :-D

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The 3 Little Bears

Here are the bear picture I promised... the triplets. Their mom is across the water eating a fish...

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Friday, September 14, 2007

In the 24th year...

Hey everyone!

First I want to say thanks for all the Birthday Wishes! I’ve gotten a lot of cards and emails and even some gifts from a lot of you so thanks!

I had the day off on my birthday, which was nice. For a change, the weather was really nice. Even though it’s gotten a lot cooler these days, the sun was shining and felt warm. Adam and I went out on his boat. He fished… I read… the usual. Then we came back and I made dinner for some people. I know, that’s backwards. I heard that from every single person! But I just didn’t want people asking me what they wanted to have made FOR me, so I made food for them! Adam made me a cake too so we ate that and watched a new Netflix movie that I got, which we were all pretty excited to see. It was Blades of Glory. It just came out like a week ago and I was really excited to get it. If you are ever in the need for a pretty goofy, stupid humor movie… that’s the one! It’s about 2 male figure skaters who get kicked out of male’s skating, but end up pairing together so they can compete in PAIRS skating. It was so funny! There were 8 of us watching it so it was so much funnier too. Kinda like you were in a movie theater.

Anyhow, really nothing has been going on here. It’s been a slow week with mostly boring jobs. The other day we had a REALLY boring job. There was this thing in the water that is used to contain an oil spill shall it happen… it’s plastic and has some foam to keep it floating but there’s a sheet of plastic that hangs under the surface like 8 feet… and this thing is atleast a few football fields long! I have a feeling you are like "HUH!? I don’t get it." But that’s the best I can do for you! Anyhow, we had to pull this thing out of the water and get all of the growth off of it. It’s been in the water for like a year and it’s covered in mussels, sea urchins, starfish, tunicates, MUSSELS! The mussels were the hard part but it took forever. It was so heavy so the Case loader needed to be used to pull it… then we scraped everything off with shovels… then attempted to pile it and all it’s FOOTBALL FIELDS OF LENGTH onto this giant frame of old railroad ties that Adam made. Finally we got it all piled on, but when Adam went to pick it up with the loader, one of the ties broke. We had to create some other frame and maneuver it underneath… it was a major pain, but I found some cool sea creatures to add to my collection! Sea urchins are pretty cool. And a few more starfish.

Well, today has been a pretty lazy day. I guess the highlight of my day was getting to hold and pet this little dog. HA OK so the tagging crew is here from Sitka to tag the Coho. Well, one of the girls brought this dog she just got… a miniature Pincher! Yeah we made fun of it a lot, especially when she put this corny pink sweater on it the other day. Well yesterday I finally got it to let me pet it. Today I was petting it for a while as it was sitting in it’s little basket and she said I could pick it up. So I did. It really is kinda cute, despite the fact it shivers almost constantly and was a little twitchy yesterday! But I held it for a while, which was sorta amusing.

The rest of the day… I pretty much did nothing! Adam and I have been watching my Season 1 and 2 DVDs of Grey’s Anatomy (and I just ordered the 3rd season a few days ago! YAY!) Well, he’s never watched the show before but now he’s hooked! *EVIL GRIN* So we watched the last 2 episodes of Season 2 today. Now we are all bored and don’t have anything to watch until the new ones come. I made some apple crisp today too… turned out good!

So, it’s back to work tomorrow. You guys will be reading this as I am out in the miserable weather that we are going to be having. Currently, the wind is HOWLING outside… no joke. It started this afternoon and will continue for a few days… conveniently on the days no one else but Adam and I are working! NICE, thanks Mother Nature! GRR… Our major weekend duty is to feed the Chinook and Coho which are now all out in the round ponds out front with some Coho in the back round ponds. Should be nasty so leave me lots of fun comments to come back and read!

Well I guess I don’t really have much else to write… here are a few pictures I took the other day of the triplet cubs which were underneath Adam’s deck last week. They are SO cute! **OK Pictures will have to wait until the internet is working good... it's because of the weather!**

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY – To all of you who wished me a Happy Birthday!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Kickstart your heart...

So it's Saturday... but really it's my new "Monday." Branden and Sarah are gone :-( so Adam and I have become the new "weekend crew." Because Adam and I were playing some goofy 1984 Nintendo game on his computer until 11:15 last night, I was a bit tired this morning. But it was fun...;-) Hey Valerie and Steven, remember Alfred Chicken on Gameboy!? We now have that game on computer... it's SWEET! But that's not the game we were playing.

Well, our main job for the weekends is to feed fish. I was working in the back with the Coho, feeding 14 ponds, 5 times a day. Well first feeding, I'm going about my business, feeding, when I catch a glimpse that kickstarted my heart! Straight in front of me about 40 feet is a bear walking up the road. Now, I'm not saying this was a close call by any means. But until today, the bears have always been across the lagoon... or some sort of water seperating us. Seeing one on the same dirt I am standing on made my heart jump a little bit! I kind of had a feeling I'd see one on-site today. Like I said, bears are on-site more lately and I know they walk up and down that road alot... and considering the back round ponds are surrounded by the woods, it means a fair chance of bears! Anyhow, I see it, my heart jumps and my first response was "ooooooh... muh god!" :-D It was slowly meandering down the road away from me, but I wanted it to go away a little faster. So I kinda whistled and it sorta heard but didn't do much... then it must have heard something else because it turned and looked behind it, up toward the hydro building on the hill. It stopped and looked pretty curiously... then took off running in a cute "I'm a fat bear way." :-D HA HA Anyhow, I wasn't really worried it would eat me or anything... just that initial "HOLY CRAP!" feeling. But it made me a little paranoid the rest of the day... I'm always a bit paranoid back there anyhow. Worrying that a bear will come walking down the hill right into the back ponds...

Back to feeding fish...Man, I feel like it's been forever since I've fed some fish... my left arm is a little weak feeling from carrying a bucket but it sure makes the day go faster! The day seemed super fast.

Well, really, that's all I wanted to post. Can you believe it's September already!? CRAZY! Oh, I'm going to leave you with a funny little... poem-type thing. Tim's mom sent it to him via snail mail but I typed it up. It's cool.

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - To Dad, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Yeah you can expect a little card from me but... umm... expect it in a few days! Sending mail from Hidden Falls really gives "Snail Mail" it's meaning! ;-) Love you!


The other day, someone at a store in our town read that a
Methamphetamine lab had been found in an old farmhouse
in the adjoining county and he asked me a rhetorical question,

“Why didn’t we have a drug problem when you and I were
growing up?”

I replied: I had a drug problem when I was young: I was
Drug to church on Sunday morning, I was drug to church for
weddings and funerals.

I was drug to family reunions and community socials no
matter the weather. I was drug by my ears when I was
disrespectful to adults.

I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents,
told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak
with respect, spoke ill of the teacher or the preacher, or if I
didn’t put forth my best effort in everything that was asked
of me.

I was drug to the kitchen sink to have my mouth washed out
with soap if I uttered a profane four-lettered word. I was drug
out to pull weeds in mom’s garden and flower beds and
cockleburs out of dad’s field.

I was drug to the homes of family, friends, and neighbors to
help out some poor soul who had no one to mow the yard,
repair the clothesline, or chop some firewood; and, if my
mother had ever known that I took a single dime as a tip for
this kindness, she would have drug me back to the woodshed.

Those drugs are still in my veins; and they affect my behavior
in everything I do, say, and think.

They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin; and, if
today’s children had this kind of drug problem, America would
be a better place.