We get taken care of pretty well up here; living with a group of 7 seasonal women has had a few perks. Such as everyone around town feels the desire to donate all sorts of subsistence food for us poor saps that can't find year round work
. So far on the menu of free dinners has included but is not limited to; King salmon steaks, Sockeye, Moose roast, fiddle heads (baby ferns), Dolly Varden (think baby salmon eating trout), and my new extremely guilty pleasure baby Beluga. Yes that's right, not only are you allowed to eat Beluga up here, it's kind of a town treat. One of the supervisors here, had a small Beluga whale stuck in his salmon net (which was set no farther than 30 yards from shore). After dragging the drowned mammal to shore, the Natives here the Yup'ik Eskimos proceeded to immediately clean the animal delegating portions to all interested. So the taste of such an animal is fairly interesting, texturally and in flavor, the blubber of course has to be eaten with the thick skin on in order to get the full effect. It's kind of like eating jello gristle soaked in salt water with a quarter inch pudding skin with a hint of what the french like to call a little "I don't know what." The actual meat was very good, dark dark meat with rich flavor of a fish eating monster. Watching the process of cleaning such an animal was rather gruesome at first but rather amazing with the speed and respect, allowing everyone to get there share throughout the town. Besides that, the weather has been a trip up here, low forties on tuesday upper 80's on wednesday. frost on thursday, sunburned faces on Saturday. Today is pretty much my last day in the office, getting gear organized and making sure I have the weight exactly measured for our speck of a plane that I shall be flying in a two seater Cub with canvas siding
. For those unaware I'm working on a salmon weir enumerating Salmon and Dolly Varden migrations in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge in South Western Alaska that encompasses the 4.7 million acres around Bristol bay. My job will consist of setting up a virtual jail cell wall in a river allowing fish to pass through a small shoot funneling them past an underwater camera with infrared sensor that will record the fish as they pass by. So basically I'm going to be in a remote area working behind a computer run off of solar panels, which is kind of funny. These Dolly Varden are a Charr (type of trout) that are born in the rivers and pretty much follow food where ever it's prevalent (ocean, lakes, different rivers) around their entire life spawning annually in the fall in the same streams they were born. so tracking these fish has proven difficult since they are maverick fish that don't follow a specific constraint like most Salmonids, but also like to team up with Sara Palin every so often for a good ole fashion town hall meeting. Well I'll leave you with a few glimpses into the last two weeks, I hope to be in semi contact through out the summer. Through snail mail, from the closest Eskimo village of Goodnews a short hr jet boat ride away from camp. Until the sun sets...
Since my last entry, I've been to a few more spots on the globe. After returning from Costa Rica I had a short week stint in Chicago for family, friends, and Cubbies. Then up to AK for my new position with the Fish and Wildlife Service for some solitary fish assignments. So anyway I made it through the grueling part of the North Country training these last two weeks with the Togiak Wildlife Refuge folk. Working for the federal government so far has seen its fair high points with minimal snags in the line. I'm now certified with Bear Safety, I'm a designated shooter for parties in the backcountry, and am certified to operate any federal watercraft under 65', along with small plane safety and wilderness survival, So I got that going for me.