Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall Update

            Seward has gotten its first official snowfall of the winter, and in a bit of impeccable timing, I managed to be out of town when it happened.   I am currently in West Virginia, visiting family there for a few weeks, before returning to Alaska for six months of winter.   Perhaps this is only fair, since I missed out on winter entirely last year (I was in New Zealand, so I got three summers back-to-back).   

Iceberg Lodge girls

            The Iceberg Lodge is all closed up for the winter, and ready to slumber under the snow until next spring.   I spent the end of September helping a local dog kennel clean up after a flood.   With this particular flood, it wasn’t so much the water we were cleaning up as it was the gravel and rocks that the flood left behind.   The stream that flooded contained a lot of glacier debris – silt and rocks, mostly.   And a lot of those silt and rocks got washed into the buildings from the force of the water.   I spent a lot of time shoveling rocks out of the building, with the help of a few small bulldozers.   Some of the rocks were pretty large – I found it amazing that water could move something that I had trouble lifting with a shovel.   Sometimes, the work felt a little bit like excavating Pompeii.   Or what might happen if you pissed off someone who works at the Metco gravel lot. 

            Fortunately, my car survived the flood just fine – we were concerned about our cars when we saw on the internet flooded-out pictures of the building across the street from where we had parked them.   Fortunately, the water didn’t get high enough to damage anything.   

            Comparatively speaking, the Iceberg Lodge did very well during the flood because the water didn’t actually threaten any of our buildings.  (A few of them leak, but we've known that for a while.)   And the plant life around here can deal with the weather just fine.   Our forest’s moss carpet will take the worst rain and ask for more.  We have puddles and mud holes on our roads, (basically, wherever we have build and cleared things), but the forest itself never looks like it’s gone through any hard rain.   The moss just soaks it in like a green organic sponge.   The little pools in the forest get bigger, and creeks get wilder, but the plants still seem pretty happy.   But I think the rain must be rough on the bears.   I didn’t see any bears at all during the Iceberg Lodge's closedown period, which is unusual.  However, we did get a bear ceremonially seeing us off at the Point on the day we left, as well as the day-of-departure rainbow.   Both of these are becoming Iceberg Lodge traditions.

A rainbow over Pedersen Lagoon

            The other interesting thing about the shutdown week is that there has been a huge increase in the amount of trash that washed up on our beach.   I think the tsunami debris is beginning to arrive in a big way; if this continue over the winter, the beaches are going to be pretty coated by the time we get back in the spring.   Mostly, the trash on the beaches is a big pain to clean up, but there is also always the opportunity to find cool stuff mixed in with all the Styrofoam flecks and empty plastic bottles.   I found a few small fishing buoys this year, and every year I find at least two ball caps over the course of the summer.   The prize for the best sea debris this year definitely goes to our maintenance guy, who found a bag of Zodiac emergency gear carefully tied off to a tree, which had been uprooted and washed up on our beach.   There was a flashlight in there, with extra batteries, pumps, blige spones, and some things that looked like part of a boat repair kit.   We hope that whoever lost their gear, they didn’t actually need any of it. 

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