Goodbye Fireweed, Hello Fall

Alaska people like to say that when you see fireweed, fall is right around the corner. It started flowering around the end of July and pretty much was done by the end of August. It doesn’t linger long, but it is really beautiful to have around. It’s all over the sides of the road and in pretty much any ditch you see. There were some nice patches around the cannery, which is where the featured image this week was taken. It is a symbol of the ‘dog days’ of summer up here I reckon. Like summer itself in Alaska, the fireweed flush is fleeting. By this point in mid-September everything is starting to die, and leaves litter the ground everywhere. I’m starting to see some really nice colors in the trees on my journeys around town as fall ramps up into high gear.

They say that it starts snowing up here around mid-October, so I figure that’ll be when winter officially starts. I’m savoring the relatively warm weather at the moment, it’s going to get real chilly here soon. It’s been raining non-stop for weeks, but it’s not that cold yet. Every day is pretty much the same, rain off and on with highs in the mid-fifties and lows in the mid-forties. I recently invested in a bunch of additional gear to keep me dry like a quality umbrella and a waterproof backpack cover. I’ve been caught in a couple of downpours on my bike, and even with rain gear on my top and bottom I still got drenched. I’ve been taking advantage of the bus to get around town more and more as a result, it’s nice to travel without being soaked! This time of the year is the wettest, so when there is a nice day maybe once a week, seeing the sun is definitely glorious. It’s wild considering that very recently, a lot of places in the lower 48 were suffering under a heat wave, we definitely haven’t gotten any of that up here!

I just placed an order on Amazon for a bunch of snow gear I’ll need here in a month or so. I’m already down a couple hundred bucks on snow boots, a warm hat, snow pants, and good gloves. I figured I’d go ahead and get what I needed before I actually need it. I’ll need to get a good coat as well, I have a nice winter coat down in Santa Cruz but I don’t know if I can get to it before the snow falls. That’ll be another couple hundred if I have to get one. It feels good to know I’ll have quality winter gear on hand despite the cost, it’s a necessary investment. Since I’m getting my stuff ahead of the winter rush I can pay less and get exactly what I need while there’s still ample supplies available. I’m definitely feeling some trepidation about what I’m about to have to go through, but with proper gear I’ll be all right. I’m actually looking forward to maybe learning how to ski, maybe I’ll even get in some snow machine time! I’ve never lived in a place that has a real winter, I’m sure it will be an educational experience.

This is a pretty typical forecast. Rain, rain, and more rain.

Much has happened since my previous post. The fishing season made it another 5 days or so after I last published. I was hoping for one last hurrah, but the season fizzled out with a whimper instead of a bang. I really didn’t do all that great financially, but I made enough to get by for a while after the season ended. I didn’t know what to do with myself there at the end, I didn’t have enough money to really do anything with. I didn’t have any place lined up to stay at, and definitely didn’t want to go back to the lower 48. One of the last nights I was at the cannery, out of the blue I got a call from Ingrid. I suppose she had heard from Thor about my situation and decided to help me out. She said that I could stay with her at her condo, she had a guest bedroom I could use. I enthusiastically agreed, and when I came back to Anchorage I moved myself in. She’s an awesome lady and I greatly appreciate her stepping up and helping me get started here in Alaska.

Things have been going really well, Ingrid and I get along fine. She’s gone a lot of the time hanging out with Thor and for her job so I have the place to myself a lot. It’s a really nice condo, and mostly old ladies live here so it’s nice and quiet. I really love the location, I’m only about a 10 minute walk from downtown and close to all the major bus routes. One of the first things I did when I got back into town is buy a bike from the local volunteer-run bike collective. I got a really good deal on it, and got a helmet and fenders thrown in for free. It’s a game changer being able to get around on some wheels, I’ve been making huge bike journeys across town and up and down the Coastal Trail. I think my record bike trip so far is around 17 miles or so in a day. I constantly recall my days in Hawaii when I got around solely by bike, it’s been 20 years since biking has been my main way to get around. I’ve been getting super fit, between salmon season and my constant exercise I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in since my early 20’s.

My new wheels. I really love this bike, it’s such a perfect fit and exactly what I need to get around town.

One of my favorite things to do out on the Coastal Trail is stop at the point where it goes under the flight path of the airport and watch the planes land/takeoff. There’s always a few people hanging out there. It’s at a good turn-around spot so I’ll watch the planes for a while before I turn around and head back.

Hanging out watching the planes come in seems like a pretty popular pastime around here!

There was an incident the other day out on the trail where a lady who was hiking was attacked by a black mama bear with cubs. She only had minor injuries fortunately, but ever since I’ve carried bear spray on me while I’m out biking. I did have a pretty close moose encounter in the same general area as the attack. I came around a bend and suddenly a massive bull moose was there only about 15 feet off the trail. It had a huge rack and was contentedly munching on some foliage. Some morons (probably tourists) had stopped and were taking pictures of it from like 10 feet away. I blazed by without stopping, thinking those people probably shouldn’t be so close to the beast. It was probably 6 feet tall at the shoulder and would make short work of a human being if it had a mind to do so. I admit that the temptation to stop and take a photo was strong, but I wasn’t about to get in the moose’s space!

I had another funny incident with a moose the other day. I was riding another trail in the Greenbelt coming back from Wal-Mart. As I’m pedaling, I see a flash of brown to my right and see a young moose chasing after a magpie. The bird must have done something to really piss off the moose, as the moose was hell-bent on trying to stomp it. The funny thing was is that the magpie would fly a few feet, wait for the moose to get close, then fly a short distance away. It was getting off on tormenting the moose! It was interesting behavior to observe between animals. I asked a few people if they’ve ever witnessed something like that and they seemed to be as surprised by this happening as I was. You’ve got to wonder what is going on with these wild animals sometimes!

I got a chance to visit the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit here in Anchorage. Bethan’s birthday happened recently, and I went with her, her mom and a couple of her friends for the occasion. I didn’t know anything about it, I purposely went in blind. I was really blown away by the show! It’s a traveling exposition that features Van Gogh’s art, hence the name of the exhibition. They set up a bunch of screens and video projectors that surrounded the audience with visual collages of paintings. On every surface, art drifted and morphed around in an amazing display. It runs in a 45 minute loop, and there was very nice music accompaning the show. It was interesting watching one presentation evolve into the next. I took photos and short video snippets, but it was really hard to capture the essence of what was going on. It was one of those ‘you have to be there’ kind of things to truly appreciate. It was a really great time for sure, I would like to see other artists (Dali is the first to spring to mind) presented by this company. It was nice to see such a fresh take on classic art, if it ever comes to your town ya’ll should definitely check it out.

I could tell that they were working up to ‘Starry Night’ at the beginning of this section.

The Alaska State Fair runs for three weeks from mid-August to the first week of September, and it is a pretty big deal around here (as a state fair would be.) So many people I know were talking about it, I knew I had to check it out. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a state fair, and I was interested to see what kinds of exhibits and food a place like Alaska would feature. I rode along with Bethan and her mom, and they told me while it was a really cool fair, it wasn’t as impressive as a lower 48 state fair would be. I went in with an open mind, and wow! I was really impressed! There was truly something there for everyone. Every kind of food you could think of was there, as well as so many exhibits such as arts and crafts galleries & booths, animal shows, demolition derbies, monster truck rallies, live music, helicopter & carnival rides, axe throwing, gun raffles, and tons more activities too numerous to mention. It was definitely a slice of Alaska culture!

I left Bethan in charge of what we should check out, and she planned us a slate of things to do. We went to this juggler/comedian show first. After that we went and checked out a bunch of reptiles, then went and saw a falconer show off a bunch of his birds. When that was over we checked out all the farm animals, followed by all the food, vegetable, and plant best-of-shows. Lastly we saw all the arts and crafts stuff. Probably the highlight for me was seeing the state record pumpkin that weighed in at 2147 lbs. I really enjoyed seeing the reptiles as well, in particular some alligators and bearded dragons. The whole time I was walking around the fair, I had to stop and get some good fair food. There’s nothing like eating a big ‘ol BBQ turkey leg!

It’s been a while since I had a good turkey leg.

Scenes from around the fair.

On the job front, I’ve been doing pretty well. Since most of my professional work experience is in cannabis cultivation, I decided to try and get a job in that field. I found out that in Alaska you have to get what is called a ‘Marijuana Handler’s Licence’ to work anywhere in the industry. To get the licence, you have to pass a background check, take an online course, and pay a fee. The course cost money as well. In addition to the Handler’s licence, most places in Anchorage require you to get a ‘Food Handler’s Licence’ which costs another ten bucks and is done online. You’ve got to jump through a lot of hoops up here to get started working in the weed business, it’s definitely something I’m not used to. There’s an incredible amount of regulations to follow at the place of employment as well. I managed to get all my ducks in a row and applied to every dispensary in town. It took about a week, but I managed to land a cultivation job at this one shop. I really liked their operation, all of their plants were super healthy and everything was really organized, clean, and pest-free.

Unfortunately the management was a bunch of ex-military dudes and there was a weird vibe about the place. I’m used to working with a hippy vibe at grow shows, so it kind of threw me off. The guys I worked with in my crew were pretty cool though. The main thing I couldn’t stand was the extremely low pay they offered. I’m used to making 20-30 bucks an hour down in Santa Cruz doing this kind of work, but these jokers were offering 14 bucks an hour pre-tax! Even at full time, it’s impossible to survive in this town on so little. I took the job just to get some money rolling in while I continued my search for better paying work.

I actually got a interview with a rival dispensary within a couple days after I was hired. This new job paid 17 dollars an hour, which is still pretty horrible…but it’s a step in the right direction. The job was for making cannabis edibles, which is something I’ve never done professionally. I’m a great cook and I’m very knowledgeable about weed, so I figured I’d be a shoe-in for the job. The interview went great, and I have connections with the owner of the place. I wound up getting the job, and as soon as I found out I told my employer about it. They did not take it well at all! They accused me of being disloyal and untrustworthy, and wouldn’t even let me finish out the day. Oh well, screw those guys and their notion of ‘loyalty’. McDonald’s pays more than those jackals did, paying me so little for what I bring to the table is theft of my labor. Anyways, time to be the new guy yet again and learn yet another system. I hope I can stick with this one for a while.

For all you cat lovers out there, I thought I’d include a picture of Bethan’s cat. He’s a handsome fella. It looks like he’s got a jacket on, but that’s actually a bell harness. He’s very good at killing birds, so having bells on him handicaps his wanton slaughter.

I finally had to bite the bullet and upgrade my blog. I ran out of storage, so I had to pay money or else find a new platform. Lord knows I didn’t want to do that after finally getting this one just the way I wanted it, so I had to splash out some cash. I got a deal on it so it wasn’t too expensive. Now I have more storage to keep me going for a while. In addition to that, I’m supposed to have eliminated ads for my readers (ya’ll let me know if you see ads on here and I’ll let WordPress know) and I have my own domain now! My new address for the blog is, I am free of WordPress hosting my site! My old address @ still works, but it redirects to my new site automatically. It feels good to have my first-ever Internet domain all to myself, I feel a bit more professional! Well, that’s all for now, I’ll see ya’ll next time!


2 thoughts on “Goodbye Fireweed, Hello Fall

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