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...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In Which I Become a Barber (and Ivan is Brave)



 There is no barber shop on the island, so hair cutting is a strictly do-it-yourself affair. I've managed to dodge the issue by growing my hair out, but Ivan likes to keep his hair short (and he was getting quite shaggy). He was brave to entrust clipper duties to me.

Want to see the results?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Radio Silence

The state of the equipment in the abandoned LORAN station pretty much matches my blogging mojo of late. I’ve been totally consumed with my two shiny new jobs. They’re both part time, but together they add up to more than full-time, and have me working six days a week. Both jobs also involve working with children, which means that I have been unmercifully thrown into a pit of (very cute) walking petri dishes, and have been semi-successfully battling the slew of colds and coughs going around.

I am very glad to be working again (I was starting to feel rather like a 50s housewife) and I know that I’ll get used to the pace. But for now things may be a bit quiet around here.

Speaking of things that are quiet—or not—we’re still getting a lot of aftershocks after last week’s earthquake, which I should mention was downgraded to a 6.4 after seismologists had time to crunch some data. I'm so very thankful that there was no damage, no tsunami, and no injuries.

Parting shot. The island's mercurial weather is great for rainbows. This is the start of the path towards the hot springs, which Ivan reached on Sunday—quite a trek.
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