Friday, December 21, 2012

Things that Feel Weird

Trees. TV. Gloriously heated and well-lit public spaces. Traffic lights. Traffic. Readily available food not-prepared-by-me.

Also, sitting in a barber shop. I am the only woman in sight, and I feel that I have thrown off the balance of the world.

Taking Flight

Never fun when the view out the window looks like this.

Or when the Captain gets on and says to buckle in tight because the takeoff is going to be "squirrelly."

All went well though, and now we are happily in Anchorage, urban metropolis!

A few perks of island life:

1. The airport is a 2 minute drive (or 5 minute walk) from our house.

2. It's possible to check in and check bags without showing ID. TSA still makes you take your shoes off, though.

3. When your husband packs shaving cream and toothpaste in his carry on, the TSA agent offers to take it home for you because you babysit her kids . Perks, I tell you!

Saturday, December 8, 2012


 The walk is shoveled!

Hot cocoa has been made! (Complete with now-paid for marshmallows.)

Time to settle in for a cozy, snow-bound evening.

And a very happy first night of Hanukkah!

The Angry, Angry Sea

We took a walk down to the beach this afternoon. It was still snowing a bit, and definitely blowing. He got some funny looks from people driving by-- not much of a walking town. 

 I have never seen the sea so rough at this beach, which fronts Kuluk Bay, part of the Bering Sea.

 Usually there are at least 20-30 feet of beach, even at high tide. In the background are the Gannet Rocks.

 See the pallet? There were dozens of pallets and logs being tossed around. Definitely a day for beach combing when things calm down. 

 Pictures like this make it look deceptively suburban and populated. Maybe 4 of these 21 or so units are occupied.

It was a cold walk back through town, so we stopped at the store to buy some marshmallows for hot cocoa. When we went to check out, we realized we didn't have any cash on us. You know you live in a small town when the cashier just shrugs and sticks your receipt on a bulletin board with a dozen others-- it's not like there's anywhere to hide.

Winter is Here

 At the moment, we can't close the front door. Working on that part.
I love how the wind makes not just snow drifts, but snow waves.

And now, off to Saturday school. Unless of course it's cancelled due to the ongoing blizzard, which would be ironic because it's a makeup day for the last big windstorm.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Evening Stroll / Stargazing

We went for an evening walk up to the water tanks that sit above the town.

Which quickly turned into a dusky walk. That little bright spot above Ivan's head to the right is Jupiter. Below it is a snow-capped mountain, barely visible.

And then a night walk. This is the view from the water tanks-- the lights are the occupied houses, and some of the airport and port buildings too. The darkness really emphasizes the extent of the abandoned and disused buildings.

As we walked and the sky darkened, the stars started to pop out. It was a completely clear and quite cold day, and we saw so many stars. Although the island is great for stargazing in terms of light pollution, the clouds mostly prevent it. But tonight was perfect. We could see dozens of constellations, the milky way, and shooting stars.

It was nice to get out of the house, get some fresh air, admire the vast universe, and throw some wishes out to the cosmos.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Outside The Front Door

Three unusual things were waiting outside our door yesterday...

 A caribou bone (tibia?), presumably left by a dog. Otherwise a really weird message.

 An exceptionally large raven.

 And an eagle on the defunct light pole. The clouds in the background were warning of the awful weather that has blown in. Wind and rain and more wind and more rain.

Who then dive-bombed me. 

 The eagles (there were two) were big.

 Eagle and raven are not the best of friends.

 Seriously large.

(Ok, this is terrible, but we're running a bit low on meat and I can't help but think that those legs might taste mighty fine. Eagle drumsticks? I know, I know, it's a felony...)

An arch look from the light pole.

Something that did not show up this Sunday: the plane, for the first time since we've been here. It was quite foggy in the morning, and apparently that wreaks havoc with the weather equipment at the airport.  It was especially frustrating for those who were hoping to fly out, because the fog had completely burned off by the time the plane was supposed to land. The designated weather observer (who could have relayed this information to the airline in an official capacity) is off-island at the moment, so no plane until at least Thursday-- though with the weather how it is at the moment, who knows. 

Apparently September and October are the best weather months out here. We've been lucky to have some really gorgeous days, but now it's time to get ready for consistently bad weather. We're ready with rain gear, warm layers, and sunny dispositions. It's also good to remember that above the clouds, it's sunny and beautiful up there. When we flew in this August, it was bright and sunny above, but the island was wrapped in a later of clouds. Somewhere, always, there is sunshine.

Bonus pictures from our Sunday evening drive after the jump. Another eagle, and Candlestick Bridge at dusk.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

LORAN Station

The old LORAN (LOng RAnge Navigation) station is about a 25-minute drive and a 15-minute walk from town (there are boulders blocking the road, thus the walk). The fabled hot-springs are also nearby. The LORAN station was in service from 1944-1979, and served an important purpose as part of a terrestrial radio navigation system for vessels at sea and aircraft. Th use of LORAN declined with the advent of GPS, and in 2010 the Coast Guard stopped transmitting at all. For much more historical background, visit the LORAN History Site.

 This building seems to have been the barracks / mess / machine shop.

 Machine shop bay (open to the elements, but surviving pretty well regardless). 

Moss growing inside the machine shop. 

View from a barracks room. 

Foul weather gear locker. Must have gotten a lot of use. 

Looking down the hallway.

The actual LORAN shack, built in 1943.

The siding was installed at an angle for weather resistance. This is a feature present in many WWII-era wood buildings on the island. Apparently, it works, though the roof has not fared well. Old photos reveal that the building was once painted white (you can sort of see remnants of white paint). 

All of the windows were long ago blown out or broken. 

Abandoned equipment. There are birds living in the building, and nesting inside the old transmitters.

More moss on the floor. These buildings are quickly sliding back to nature. 
 Looking up at what used to be the roof.

Click through to see some of the graffiti that's been left over the years. Some of it is not kid-friendly...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Classic Wizard

Stop: Restricted Area. Persons Not Assigned To This Area Must Obtain Permission Before Entering

"In mid-1962, a specially-designated detachment of communications technicians, from the Naval Communications Station, Adak, augmented an operation within a small hut on this site. This activity became known as "SPECOPS." It was moved to Zeto Point where it was renamed "SISS ZULU." After moving to an improved site on the east side of Clam Lagoon, the operation was known as "Classic Wizard." The last facility complex to house this operation is located due north of this marker at North Lake. From its initial inception, this operations served to provide extremely valuable support service to the Navy's tactical fleet units in the Northern Pacific Ocean region, as well as national intelligence authorities. " Adak Historical Markers
 Extremely valuable support service = super sneaky spy stuff. See what Major A. Andronov Zarubezhnoye Voyennoye Obozreniye had to say about that, in 1993, here. There were five known Classic Wizard installations, which supported Noss / White Cloud satellites. In addition to Adak, there were Classic Wizard facilities in Diego Garcia, Guam, Winter Harbor (Maine), and Edzell, Scotland. They were decommissioned in the early 90s.

Pretty non-descript.
Two layers of security fencing and a guard shack (?) That's a lot of security for an island in the middle of nowhere, crawling with Marines.
Most likely an auxiliary power shed. Many of the buildings have similar structures nearby.

Moat effect caused by recent torrential rains, not likely part of the original design.


Carefully destroyed circuit panel.

This door was guarding something secret.

The door to the break room area.
 To see what was inside...

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