My Dad really came to love Alaska, he and Bea visiting us up here three times...or was it four. But he would never leave his Arizona and that's how I feel about this place. But you all know that already, as I'm sold on Alaska and all it has to offer. I would love to have all my family back in the state, but that's a father's dream and each child has his own path to walk.
Well, today is also John Leroy Casselman's 44th birthday. As I said earlier John is named after his great-grandfather. Each first son has carried on the middle name of Leroy, which is pronounced Laroy, with a subtle E. Not sure where this middle name came from as I have no Casselman family history records before my grandfather. Except in the broad sense, but not individuals. Only that my Dad's side of the family came from Kassel, Germany and were Hessian. Historically, they were nasty mercenaries who fought for the British in the War of 1812 and when that ended badly for the British my family members headed north for Canada to escape the rope. My mother's side was also German, but they were country fishermen and the last name was Dreeke. Which after World War One caused a lot of anti-German persecution against my mom's family and they moved from Cleveland, Ohio to California, where people were apparently more understanding. Even way back then California had a free spirit to it, now their just all crazy. My first 18 years was enough to show me the military was the way to go and escape all the loons. Not really, it was mostly to escape the crowds. So many people live in California and more power too these city dwellers. Though I do miss the beaches, the waves, nearly drowning....sorry. In fact at 5 years old I did legally drown. They discovered me in a large kid's pool at this resort spot outside Grover City, Ca. Someone gave me mouth to mouth and that's why I'm still here. Oh I give all the credit to the Lord. For He has saved me 5 times from whatever was about to befall me.
My old man, when he was 17, also drown. Just before leaving for the Army, with his dad signing for him early, he and four other friends went out on one of these old mile long piers the west coast used to have. Storms destroyed most of them, including my favorite fishing pier in Avila, south of San Luis Obispo, Ca., which is less then half is old length. So, they decided to jump off the end of the pier and swim the one mile back to the beach. Instead they got caught by a riptide and brought further out to sea. Legally and by definition, they were all recovered by fishermen, who had spotted their bodies floating, and were miraculously revived. Mona and I made sure our kids could swim early, but unfortunately a lot of Alaskans do not know how to swim, especially out in the villages. A lot of native fishermen never learn, but they still go out there on the boats. They're convinced, in far too many cases, that they'll just freeze to death anyway so why bother learning how to swim.
I was fishing with a friend in his 14-foot speed boat 60-miles out of Skagway, and headed for the Haines' Salmon Fishing Derby when we got hit suddenly with a bad storm. We were bailing wildly to keep from sinking and he suddenly announces he couldn't swim and how I would have to save him when the boat went down. Of course I was not to happy to hear this and offered to weigh him down with fishing weights if he didn't get back to bailing. We were eventually rescued by a much larger boat, a real nice cabin cruiser and allowed to dry out. Afterward, we went back to fishing as the storm drifted off. Didn't catch a single fish, but we survived it. We did lose his anchor and you should have heard his temper flare up when that happened. And he was one of my church elders too. Here we were out there in the middle of Lynn Canal, about a mile or so wide in Southeast Alaska with the deep blue green waters some 3600 feet deep all around us. Orcas were playing off in the distance and majestic mountains just shot up from the shorelines. What beautiful place to be. This is when I worked for the Skagway PD. Pretty country down there, like living in Alps of Northern Italy.
ANYHOW! Mona and I want to wish our oldest son a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY. You made my old man so proud when you were born on his birthday. He would've been so excited to see the man you have become. As for me, I wasn't sure you'd make it past your 16th birthday, but I am so pleased you survived the nasty fall down that cliff in Ester. Funny how little mishaps like that can straighten us out some. For me, I think it was Vietnam, as it was for so many others. Of course Afghanistan gave you a first hand experience at the real world out there. You've done good, son. Keep at it. We love you.
For the first time in 3 months I journeyed outside the house for a 28.5 mile drive to Seward. Mona was driving as I gave up my license a long time ago. Too many drugs...legal ones, if you're wondering. I felt if I didn't get out I might become a bit batty. I mean just how many sitcom re-runs can you survive? Still, I was surprised by the lack of traffic on the highway, at times I felt like this just had to be the dead of winter instead of late April. Along the way we stumbled across two (estimation here) very beautiful 3 to 4 year old grizzly bears fishing in a large stream. During runoff it is more of a small river, but right now more of a stream. Beautiful color on the bears, having just come out of hibernation. They usually avoid getting so close to the highway, but I have seen such bears running down the roadway or digging into our trash, pesky fellows. Jeremy and I once had an eye-opening experience with a very large and frightened Bald Eagle, that had somehow become locked in a trash dumpster. We opened up the door and out came this flying thing right at us, causing us to assume a prone position in the dirt. Beautiful bird. Outside Skagway, in an area known as Dyea, which is where the famous Chilkoot Trail began for the 1898 Gold Rush, are three large salmon runs. This is where thousands upon thousands of salmon come to lay their eggs. So, of course it was a natural bear haven. We'd go out to hunt bear, but in my case it was always zero bear and a lot of eagle watching. All the various kinds from Golden, Bald, American...hundreds of eagles. Never before or sense have I seen so many of the majestic birds in one place. This is why I love Alaska so, the wilderness and its bounty.
Now back to the drive into town... When we came into the beautiful bay-side community of Seward, population normally about 3500 off season, it felt much like a ghost town. So many businesses closed, except for a couple gift shops and a health food store. All with virus warnings on their front doors. Restaurants all closed, and of course the bars. This is normally the time when everyone is getting ready for the May rush on tourism and fishing season. We just came into town to do some grocery shopping to restock our pantry. One can see by looking at Seward how hard the economy is being hit. Will there even be a fishing season? Will the canneries open? Will the cruise ships make the journey north? Even the Alaska Railroad, which does a lot of tourism traffic with the cruise lines announced they will not run any passenger trains until July. So, that's one answer to the questions at hand.
Here in Seward, where their are already 4 hotels, mucho B&Bs, some poor guy came up with the idea to build a massive hotel down in the boat harbor area. Right beside the Breeze Inn, about to become the 2nd largest hotel in town, and behind the Subway. This new one, which is almost finished is surely headed for a rough beginning with no real tourism expected, nor cruise ships. Timing wasn't the greatest for this project. The only good I could see right now are the workers this building project has needed to hire. It looks like over 100 rooms and when finished is three levels. It was placed where a large parking lot used to be, which now limits the boat storage area for all those people with boat trailers. Meaning a lot of roads are going to grow smaller with all the trailers parked alongside. I wonder if the city thought about that, or did they just see the dollar signs for the new tax base?
Seward passed that new mandate making it mandatory to wear masks when outside. So I took a bandanna with me and thought I was going to die of heat prostration while using it as a mask. So, I stopped. But I noticed there were about half the people not wearing one and no one was pestering anyone else about it. Seward has had 3 cases of the virus, zero serious problems or deaths. One case was a transient coming off a boat and Seward got handed the digit. But the Safeway store felt so empty and Mona told me she had often come to town, seeing only a few cars in the store's parking lot. So strange. The only shortages I saw in the store were in the bread department and Starbucks Coffee had removed all their chairs and tables from the store to keep people from sitting together. Now personally I rely on those tables and chairs to rest my weary bones when my legs would rather give out then keep walking. I also couldn't help but notice how gas prices had dropped over a dollar per gallon since I was here last. It was if Christmas had come early. Now paying $2.49 a gallon. Last time I was in town it was something like $3.70. Now, if propane and electricity would only go down to match it.
We then went to the Fish House, a privately owned True Value like store, where we picked up some work gloves for this spring's projects outside and some wee bit of additional ammo. I like to keep well supplied in the event the revenue people come to visit and want to force my wife and I into some inoculation (ID2020) I would not desire to have. Oh, I love my country and everything...well, almost everything it stands for, but from sad experience I no longer trust my government at having my best interests to heart. After reviewing the UN's Agenda 21 and 2030, and knowing my country endorsed it... Nope, this young lad is only go so far before I dig a moat around my property and fill it was rabies carrying crocodiles and scattered punji traps ( a Nam thing and a poor man's mine field).
I shouldn't complain too much, we have a nice home in a beautiful valley we share with....there's 8 adults now and a 9th to arrive pretty soon and possibly a 10th later in the summer. We are blessed to have our retirement pay to keep the wolves at bay and pantry full. The Good Lord watches over us and the surrounding beauty He has created is always uplifting to the spirit.
Well, enough. I've got some work to do on my manuscript. Only 291 pages left to edit. Hopefully it keeps me sane. Yesterday I nearly lost it. I turned on my computer and a complete strange was looking back at me. No, not a person, but all of a sudden my computer had gone back to the day I first got it as a gift from Lisa. Nothing, absolutely nothing but a Welcome to Windows page. I couldn't bring up anything, not a single word I had written. Yes, except for my current project I have it backed up on thumb drives and CDs. I picked up a new thumb drive and have the new manuscript on it. Panic!!!!! Yes, I was upset and not being a wiz with the machine I fretted. Turned it off and on 3 times and then on the fourth attempt, YES!!!!! Victory, my computer returned to me and my blood pressure began to lower back to 150 over 110. Naw! I have a great strong heart. Inherited it from my Mom's side. Dad had 7 heart attacks, first one in his mid 30's. 7th one took him Home.
So I will now turn my attention to my writing and I will say so long for now. Enjoy the spring. Be practical, but do please do not let fear control your life. God is in control, we may simply not understand what or the why of it. BUT He does!
I am a firm believer in the Trinity.... Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So when I say God, I mean all of the above. If you do not believe, please give it an attempt. Only through the Lord's grace am I here to e-mail you. For without Him, you people would've never known me, nor my Children, Grandchildren and Greats. Hope I don't come off too preachy, but while writing this I had a good talk with one of my guests here who needed some reassurance in God's love for us.
So, bless your day and the days to follow. Stay safe. BILL/Appa