Sort of hard to believe we're coming up on Thanksgiving and no snow on the swampy and mushy ground. Here's where we begin to wonder if we might have a green Christmas. In my 36 years in Alaska, I have never had the misfortune of going through such an event, but we came pretty close about 8 or 9 years ago in "the winter that wasn't", where 6 inches of snow fell in mid-December and that was it for the entire winter. Spring came really early and we were all wondering what kind of winter to expect in 7 months. But unlike the previous winter, the North-land Snow Giants ( great football team but the NFL wouldn't let them in), hurled down over 12-feet of white fluff and it kept the snow plows working. No one could explain that strange winter back then, but we seem to be heading into the same sort of thing. Unless those Snow-Giants wake up and do their thing. Now I prefer snow for Thanksgiving and especially for Christmas, it provides a cushion of sorts to protect the plants in the garden, sleeping right now and waiting for the spring warmth. Only time will tell. Also, with these temperatures and snow staying above the tree line, it keeps the predators down around the homes. Bears prefer stinky trash. But it not only the animal types out there, but the two legged and thieving varmint types, also- out of work, too prideful to ask for help, hungry, they steal goats and sheep out of the pens. Sadly, this is one of the early signs of inflation leaning into the depression stage. Hunger is a driving factor and we have a lot of people out of work up here in Alaska. Our family operates one of the community food banks and our church operates one,too. We used to be just one, but people felt reluctant having to come to a church for assistance and our Food Pantry has been in operation since 2003.
I've been off the computer for a bit. This is actually my fist day back on the keys since my last journal on the 16th.
I left you with a story about Crown Point and thought I might speak of it now. I was a patrolman on the Seward Police Department and as usual, I was working the graveyard shift- midnight to 8 a.m.. Back then our bars closed a 5 a.m., public drinking was allowed, as long as it was not an open drink you removed from the bar- that came under a state law. Fireworks were allowed in the city for certain holiday periods. The town was a problem for alcohol and drugs. Earlier in the evening, the Alaska Railroad realized they had a train car, the type used for carrying gases, with a problem. It had developed a small leak and they didn't want it becoming a major problem in the Anchorage bowl, where 200,000 people might be endangered. So some hair-brain got the idea to move the car down to a track siding in the Community of Crown Point. This location is about 24 miles north of Seward. Crown Point is 4-miles south of Moose Pass. Well, by the time they got the car moved down here, the leak had turned into a geyser. Even worse, whatever was going on inside the tank car, it was transforming the gas into a different critter and forming a massive cloud over Crown Point. Alaska State Trooper Rod Pelch took it upon himself to generate a full evacuation. People went south to Seward or north to Moose Pass. Alaska State Trooper Corporal Jerry Fleetwood set up a roadblock 4-miles to the south to prevent anyone from driving north. Another trooper was stationed at the Y- Intersection at Mile 39, 5-miles north of Moose Pass, to prevent anyone from driving south. The cloud then began to move, taking up the whole valley and took its time as it did. But it had done its harm to the people of Crown Point. As I stated before, I was outside watching that cloud fly overhead. It had this strange color that made it visible, even in the dark of night. I hadn't realized until I made it back to my patrol car but I was crying and now my eyes were burning. It took me three times of eye washing to stop the tears. It was almost as if I had walked into a cloud of tear gas, which I had done before in training and in riots I worked. When Corporal Fleetwood showed up he startled several people. Jerry was badly sunburned and we all sent him to the hospital ER. I didn't see Trooper Pilch for some time. But he was later awarded for his courage in setting up the evacuation and making sure everyone was out of their homes before he moved out of the area. Then came the court days as the people of Crown Point sued the Alaska Railroad, and the Alaska Railroad fought back saying the gas was harmless. Several people suffered from the gas, mentally and physically. Homes could never be lived in again. Log cabins were made uninhabitable because the gas had penetrated the substance used between the logs. But if harmless, everyone became suspicious when men in full Phase 4 Hazmat suits came in and removed all the furniture, the beds and anything that could have held on to the gas. Even today, some of those structure remain abandoned.
A year or so later, a 3 story log home came up for sale at a very low price. So, my brother-in-law, his wife and my wife, drove out to Crown Point to have a look. The Crown Point Lodge was boarded up, it was only 200 yards from the gas car. This house was beautiful, something we all wanted, but it had a strange smell about it and by the time we reached the 3rd floor, my sister-in-law had a nose bleed. The gas was still here. We left. Now I am not sure how the court battles turned up and I never heard what the gas mixture was that erupted into geyser. The Alaska Railroad fought tooth and nail not to have the lab reports issued. As far as I know, I was the only person outside when the cloud slowly blew over Seward and went out to sea. I checked with the Emergency Room the next night and no one had come in except Jerry and he had the two doctors confused.
I also wondered what happened to the employee who decided to send that gas car all the way, about 97 miles south of Anchorage, to Crown Point. There were so many other less hazardous locations that could have been used.
So, you now might understand why I was a bit tough with the Alaska Railroad when that gas car flipped right on top the intersection of one of my main roads. I didn't trust them and I had a town to protect. Plus, as the Haz Mat arrival location for Alaska there were several other cars loaded with enough explosive power to turn my Town of Whittier into a new inlet.
No, the railroad people had a dislike for me, but Whittier is still there with a new Public Safety Director to worry about it.
Now I just have to think about Thanksgiving with the family in Anchorage- it's going to be a great time. God Bless Everyone. BIL L