First Came the Blizzard...Then Came the Earthquake
Perhaps you've been following along here or here to read about Mark Beeson's longer-than-planned stay in Alaska. He was supposed to end his trip last Friday. Then came an extreme blizzard--which is evidently worse than an actual blizzard. They call it a super-storm. So he's stuck with his friend Steve Evans, safe in a cabin, but they haven't been able to fly back. And to top it all off, this morning they had an earthquake. Oh the joy. Can't wait for the stories. Tuesday Nov 15th evening email from Mark to Sheila:
We've had a brief break in the storm. Of course, that doesn't mean the airbase isn't getting pounded. I'm sure they'll fly if they can, and they won't if they can't.
We have food. Don't worry about me. I'm fine. And we've got deer in the mountains to kill and eat if necessary. No worries. I'm in the wilderness. I've got a gun. I've got the magic little "fire-starters" we found at the store and I've got my camera. How could my situation be any better? :) (Only if you were here.... then THAT would be better.)
OK that's it. Gotta run. I'm going to look out the window and see if a plane is coming. Wahoo! I'll be home before you know it....and we'll tell stories about the days we shared the "Storm of the Century in Alaska!"
Tuesday Nov 15th late evening email from Mark to Sheila:
The last few minutes of light are almost here. Unless the plane lands within the next hour, we'll be here tonight. It's gotten quite cold. About 20 degrees. The wind is blowing 40 mph so that makes the chill factor pretty chilly. :)
You can tell them at Staff Meeting that Kodiak is amazing. All the bears are not hibernating yet. That's pretty cool. Once they den up for the winter they're done here at the lower elevations. Some are still out...which is unusual since it is so very cold and the wind has blown with such ferocity for the last 3 weeks. The Outfitters are surprised that we can still track the big bears...and they leave AMAZING tracks in the snow! What a great animal! They're incredible.
We got the boat back in the water today. After we got it bailed out, and rescued most of the gear that had floated away, the boat broke the mooring ropes, but we saw it when it happened so we were able to get in the surf and save the boat, thereby averting a small crisis. We pulled it out of the water. Today we put it back in. That doesn't sound like a big deal unless you're trying to do it in these weather conditions. It's pretty severe here. All are fine. The boat is in the water and we're fine. Wahoo!
I've not taken too many pictures today. Everything is white, or some version thereof. Not much color...and the wind is so brutal that the it's hard to keep snow off the lens. I'm stilly trying though. It's great fun.
Steve and I are fine.
Wednesday Nov 16th morning email from Sheila to her kids (Amber, Aaron and Angela):
Hey Kids--Not much news from Dad. I did get news that the snow and high winds shut everything down on Kodiak. Dad said the snow was worse, and the winds at 56 mph. Not the best news. He says he is good, as of course, he would!!
I was reminded today that a decade ago without the internet I would not know if dad was dead or alive!! I am sooooo thankful there is internet access, however remote! When he and Steve were dropped in the arctic circle tundra a few years ago, I knew nothing. And there was no communication with anyone until the bush pilots picked them up. Was I a crazy letting him be so adventuresome??? At least we are communicating, and that helps so much. Keep praying today. I believe in miracles! God is in control...even of the weather in Kodiak. Safe travel is the next priority so he can get home soon!
Wednesday, Nov 16, afternoon email from Mark to Sheila:
Last night was cold. Winds increased from 50 to 70 mph and the gusts shook the cabin. I wouldn't have thought much about the shaking (since I've grown accustomed to the fierce winds whipping across the Ugak Bay and hitting the cabin) but at 2:15 AM we had an earthquake! Incredible. Who would have imagined anything else could happen...and then...RUMBLE...and earthquake! Amazing. There was no damage, but we did wonder whether it was worse elsewhere...so we kept an eye out for the waters of the bay to recede (indicating a tsunami was coming in). That's how it works; the waters all sweep out from the land...then the wall of water hits. That didn't happen (as I figured it wouldn't) and everything is back to normal here: high winds and snow and cold. It's life on Kodiak! :) Honestly, I'm loving this experience. I'm HATING being away from you, but I'm loving this opportunity to see these sights, experience these harsh conditions and photograph these remarkable scenes.
I'm sure everyone is helped by a positive attitude. Some of the guys seem a bit negative about the whole thing, but I'm pulling hard for everyone to to "up and to the right" with their attitudes. We're here. We're not leaving until the planes can fly. I tell 'em to enjoy it and make memories they'll cherish for the decades ahead. So far, so good. Everyone is actually doing fine with it and Steve is positive too. He knows it's futile to get upset about things you can't change. I'm glad for his faith.
I've fallen in love with the wood stove. It's not very big, but it is AWESOME! I think I need one. Of course, that means I've got to build a little log cabin to put it in, but I think if we sell the house we'd have enough money to buy both: a wood stove and a little cabin to put it in! :) Kidding.....
I'm sure some of the guys in tent-camps on Kodiak are in real trouble now. We're fine, but I'll not be surprised to learn some of the guys in tents have hypothermia. Once that sets in, it's very bad. There's no way they can get warm again. They're out of food (we're not), they're out of fuel for their stoves (we're not) and they might be out of water (we're not...though our nearest streams are now frozen solid, but we have a bigger creek some distance away, so we just go there to fill our water buckets). All in all, I'm in GREAT SHAPE and happy...except for missing you.
If I stay here for another 38 days I'll be able to apply for my license as an "Apprentice Guide" on Kodiak....not that I'm trying for that goal. It's just a fun conversation we've been having around here. I tell everyone I'm in training. I pitch-in and help with all the chores. Steve does too. Apparently, that doesn't happen very often because the Outfitter and our Guide both seem startled every time we jump up to help. I guess a lot of people expect to be served all the time....even in hunting camp. Amazing.