BRISTOL BAY II

adventure, Dutch Harbor, fishing, Travel Alaska

HARRY JAY FOLLMAN BLOWS INTO TOWN

 

red dogIt was a little after noon of my first day in Naknek, Alaska. I had been asleep for about an hour in the bridal suite at the Red Dog Saloon when I heard a knock on the locked door, followed by the door bursting open. I sat up with a jolt. Harry Jay Follman had just blown into town.

red dog roomHe tossed his duffle bag on the other bed and bellowed, “Get up, Jake, we got to get going.”

“Go away!”

“Jake, get up.”

“What are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be here until five, and I didn’t get any sleep last night.”

“Too bad, neither did I. Let’s go!”

I knew he wasn’t going away, so I stumbled out of bed and pulled on my boots, as he used the bathroom.

“Where we going?”

“I don’t know. We’ll figure it out as we go.”

***

red dog doorWe slammed the door, hoping it would lock, scrambled down the rickety stairs and climbed into the same white 4WD pickup with the nets in the back. We headed southwest through town down Naknek Rd. to where it turned into Peter Pan Rd and ran along the cliffs above Kvichak Bay, (pronounced ‘Que-jack’)

Jay said, “North Pacific Seafoods has a cool 1890’s cannery a couple of mile up the mighty Kvichak River at Pederson Point. You have to see. it.”

As we barreled down the narrow gravel road, the locals riding the popular, three-wheel RV’s moved off the road to let us pass. I said, “Jay, you just missed the turnoff to Pederson point.”

“Relax Pilgrim, that road is for the tourists and girls. I’m not even sure if the side road to the cannery is passable this early in the season. Most of the traffic in and out of Pederson Point is by boat.” I wondered, Okay, how’s that going to work? Before I could ask, we pulled off the road and Jay ordered me out of the truck, “Follow me, we have to find these little white tundra flowers, I don’t know what they’re called but keep a sharp eye. If they are in bloom, the fishing will be good.”

While searching for the ‘good fishing’ flower, I spotted a brown bear digging through the garbage dump.

“Should we make a run for it?”

bear crop“No worries, Mate. He’ll leave us alone if we leave him alone. Concentrate on finding the flower. Several minutes later, we spotted a sprig of white flowers close to the cliff, and then another and another. I asked, “Do we pick them or what?”

“No, we only want to make sure they’re in bloom. It’s bad luck to disturb them.” I took a photo, and we headed back to the truck. As we approached the dump, the bear was waiting for us.

It stood up on its hind legs and growled menacingly. Jay hollered, “Run for the truck! You go to the right, and I’ll go to left.” I was pushing three-hundred pounds, and it was difficult to run on the spongy, thawed tundra. The bear chose to chase me. I was slower and possibly tastier than my physically fit friend. Nearly out of breath, I made it to the truck, with the bear close behind. Jay already had the engine running and the door open as he laughed and yelled, “Move it Jake, or you’re going to be lunch.” When the bear realized I had escaped, he turned his attention to the fishy smelling nets in the truck bed. Jay gunned the engine, and we left a disappointed bear in our dust.

“That’s enough excitement for today. Let’s go back to town and get some lunch.”

Jay’s silent response was to pull off the road for the second time. I thought he was turning around, but that’s not what he had in mind. He followed a faint trail to the edge of the cliff, where he nosed the front wheels right up to the edge and stopped. I thought, This is an excellent view of the bay and beach ninety-feet below us, how sweet.

Jay grinned and said, “Buckle up.”

I yelled, “No, don’t do this, we’re going to die!”

He slammed the truck into 4WD, and down we went, sometimes under control, sometimes not.

When we reached the bottom of this nearly vertical trail to the beach, I was a little shook up and demanded, “What the hell did you do that for? How are we going to get back up there?

“Relax, you want to see the old cannery, don’t you? This is the scenic route to Pederson Point.”

“Jay, let’s not do this. Look around you, Man. There’s a lot of loose sand, muck, and driftwood between us and that old cannery up the river. We’re surely going to get stuck, the tide’s going to take the truck, and we’ll end up walking back to the Red Dog.”

“Yeah, your right, it could get a little dicey. Maybe it would be best if you waited here with the women and children. Buckle up, Bucko! Here we go.”

Jay spun the truck around, and we were off to Pederson Point. He was a sprint car driver in an earlier life and knew all about handling a vehicle on any surface; asphalt, dirt track, sandy beach or in the river; no problem. When the truck bogged down in the sand, he’d grit his teeth, do a double clutch and throw it into reverse, double pop the clutch once more and slam it into first gear as he cranked the wheel to the right or left and we were off and going again. We weaved in and out of the tons of beach debris along the way. If we couldn’t drive over it, we went around it, and that often meant going into the river up to our axles. I was scared at first, but as I gained confidence in Jay’s skill behind the wheel, I relaxed, enjoyed the ride, and even whooped and yelped with glee at the close calls. I was having fun.

As we roared up the beach, spewing gravel and sand behind us, I thought about how I got hooked up with this larger than life character. I recalled meeting him at a pre-bid job walk ten years before in Hawaii. We were deep inside of the Red Hill Mountain at the Navy’s once-secret, WW II Pearl Harbor fuel bunker. Jay and I were there along with a couple of other contractors. We struck up a conversation after the meeting ended. He asked, “Where does this tunnel go?”

“It comes out at ‘Audit one’ on the shores of Pearl Harbor about a mile from here.”

“I have got to see more of this amazing tunnel. Walk down there with me, tell me what you know about it, and I’ll buy you lunch.” He took off before I could answer, and I hurried to catch up with him. He asked about the tunnel’s construction, and what they used the narrow-gauge railroad track for today? I told him the little I knew about it, which was “The Navy imported Chinese laborers to dig the tunnel and fuel storage tank sites by hand a few years before the start of WW II in anticipation of an attack from Japan. A primitive miner’s train like device hauled the excavated dirt and rock out of the tunnel.”

We emerged from the tunnel at Pearl Harbor’s central fuel pumping station. Jay noticed two of the big pumps were running, and asked the officer-in-charge, “Where’s the fuel going, Chief?” The chief pushed open one of the massive bombproof doors and pointed at the aircraft carrier, John Stennis, which was tied up a hundred yards in front of us.

***

beach at ped ptJay slammed on the breaks to allow a family of seals to waddle back into the river, jolting me back to the present. A few minutes later we rounded a bend in the river, and I spotted our quest. We climbed the muddy beach access road leading up to the old cannery, parked, and got out. I was going to kiss the ground we stood on but thought better of it when I realized I was standing in an inch of blue-grey ooze.

cannery 1 crop, cropI was eager to check the place out. The tank farm was nearby and a good place to start. As we passed the tank farm, I stuck my head in the deserted old powerhouse and moved on to the boneyard where they stored all kinds of discarded pipe, electrical gear, tanks, old boilers, pumps and ancient fish processing equipment. The cannery didn’t consider any of this material to be scrap. They knew from experience most anything could one day serve a useful purpose. Until then, it silently awaited its fifteen minutes of fame.

fuselage copyI was surprised to see the fuselage of small plane stored on the roof of one of the warehouses. I wondered what they had in mind for its future.

winchThe juxtaposition of all this junk adjacent to the shiny well-maintained fuel tanks, and modern fish processing equipment reminded me that Alaska fishermen and contractors never throw anything away. When equipment breaks down, it takes weeks to get replacement parts and material. The boats and the canneries run 24/7 during fishing season and necessity has taught these folks to recycle what they have, to keep things running. I thought, If Elizabeth thinks I’m a pack Rat, she ought to see this place.

junk equip blowupWe walked on the timber and plank manways, which kept us out of the spongy tundra and mud, as we explored this intriguing piece of Alaska fishing memorabilia. On our way to check-in at the office, we came across more treasures. I told Jay, “You go on, I’m going to stay here and try to figure out what this piece of machinery does.” I studied this beautiful old relic. I looked it all over, climbed up on top to get a better look at the gears, and took photos to review later. Although I did figure out how it worked, I couldn’t determine what purpose it served back in the day.

 

j onwood walk .     worker's barracks

I caught up with Jay on his way back from the office, and we walked past the cannery workers 1940’s vintage living quarters, where a few early birds were already in residence. The cookhouse, fish processing plant, and warehouse were abuzz with activity in preparation for the run, which was expected to start next week.

dock & pile crop, cropI was excited to have the opportunity to be here. I’m fascinated by Alaska’s history, historical places, events, places, and things, especially those related to fishing and the Japanese attack during WW II. Alaska is the last wild frontier, and this old cannery was a treasure trove of history, as well as a look back in time. I was struck by the fact, that everything was old, wet, made of wood, in some state of disrepair, or rotting away. Someday, all this would be gone.

I’d seen enough of the cannery property and said, “let’s walk out to the dock and see what’s going on out there.”

mavrick4We left the plant and made our way out to the dock. As we got close, Jay exclaimed, “That’s the Maverick from the Dangerous Catch TV show tied up there. Let’s go see who’s aboard.”

“Do you know those guys?”

“Not well, but I’ve met them a time or two. They may not remember me but were all fishermen, and we speak the same language.”

We stood on the edge of the dock, and Jay hollered, “Hello! Anybody aboard the Maverick?” A few minutes later, a crewman appeared on deck and asked, “What can I do for you guys?”

Jay struck up a conversation with the older fisherman, explained we were the Erika Lynn’s crew, and we were up here for the summer run.

He asked, “Who are you fishing for?”

“Trident Seafood.”

After several minutes of fishermen banter, he warmed up to us and asked, “Do you guys want to see the boat?”

That was a no-brainer, we both responded in unison, “Hell yes!”

He mentioned as we clambered aboard, “You just missed the captain, he’s flying to Anchorage this afternoon.”

He insisted we join him for coffee in the galley after he showed us through the boat. He told us they Maverick got in a few days ago, and was here to serve as one of Trident Seafood’s Bristol Bay fish tenders. A tender is like a floating warehouse for freshly caught fish. The individual fishing vessels deliver their catch to the nearby tender’s refrigerated holds and return to fishing. The tender then offloads the fish at the cannery on a regular basis. This arrangement kept the fish boats on the fish without having to return repeatedly to the canneries in Naknek. We bid farewell to our new friend and headed for the truck to find our way back to town after an exciting day.

*** THE END ***

An excerpt from ‘A Cup of Joe’ by Jake Winston

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRISTOL BAY – episode – IV-fishing the south line.

adventure, Dutch Harbor, fishing, Travel Alaska

set-netterscrop

FISHING THE SOUTH LINE

anchored up crop                                                Naknek River South Channel

When we finished our first half-day of fishing. Harry Jay Follman ordered the net reeled in, spun the Erika Lynn around and headed up the south channel of the Naknek River. The tide was ebbing, and I could just make out the sand and gravel bar that separated us from the town. We joined a small group of vessels seeking shelter behind South Naknek’s high cliffs and anchored up across from one of the canneries.

As I waited for Andy to prepare supper,  I thought about how I came to be a deckhand aboard the Erika Lynn. I remembered watching the first season of The Deadliest Catch on TV and knowing I was hopelessly hooked. The show created a nagging desire to experience the same dangers and adrenalin highs these fishermen routinely encountered on the Bearing Sea. I was determined to one day earn my stripes as a Bad Ass, Bering Sea Fisherman before I left this world. When my longtime friend, Harry Jay Follman, called me a week ago, out of a clear blue sky and said, “Meet me in Naknek, we’re going fishing,” I was ecstatic. My dream had come true.

***

Andy had dinner ready a little before eleven, and we all dug in. Baked sockeye salmon, canned potatoes, and canned peas. When we were about halfway through eating, Mike, who had gulped his food down, abruptly disappeared below leaving the rest of us to enjoy our meal and the discussion of the next day’s adventure. Harry Jay Follman pulled a crumpled up notice out of his pocket which he got at the boatyard and tossed it on the table for all to read.

fastest picker crop crop

LOOKING FOR WORK.

He pointed at me, chuckled, and announced, “If you screw up, Full Share, this guy’s your replacement. Are you guys okay with that? The table erupted in laughter.

Kris said tomorrow’s marine weather forecast was for fair conditions in the morning, but we could expect thirty-knot winds and rain in the afternoon. When we prepared to hit the sack, Harry Jay Follman announced, “It looks like Mike’s asleep in your bunk, Full Share. Do you want me to toss his ass out of there, or you okay with sleeping on the floor?”

The little rascal had pulled a fast one on me. Mike knew there were only four berths and five of us.  I realized the only thing I could do without alienating the crew was to suck it up and sleep on the floor in the main cabin.

“No!  I’m the new guy, the floor works for me.”

It was then I realized why he shot me that brief hostile look at the D & D when we first met.

***

HJF on EL cropAndy was up preparing breakfast at five the next morning. He stepped over me twice and tripped over me once before I decided to get up. The smell of bacon and eggs frying, on the now working stove, woke up the rest of the crew. Harry Jay Follman demanded a cup of black coffee and fired up the engine. Mike went up to the bow, pulled the anchor and we headed back down the Naknek River. I was standing at the stern rail taking a leak, when Mike came down off the bow and confessed, “Sorry about last night, Full Share. I was just going to grab a quick nap, and I was out like a light. It won’t happen again.”

“It’s okay Bro, shit happens.”

                                                         waterfront                                                          Naknek and its Canneries

We left the relatively protected waters across from the Naknek canneries, entered the much rougher Kvichak Bay, and headed to the south line of the Naknek-Kvichak fishing district. Harry Jay Follman hollered, “Jake, come up here, I’m going to explain how this is going down today, and what we want you to do. The fish are coming up from the southwest, past Port Moller, Cold Bay, Ugashik, Egegik, and directly across the south line into the Naknek and Kvichak Rivers a few miles south of here.

BB fish districts crop

                                     Bristol Bay Districts – Courtesy of ADF&G

“We’ll be fishing the south line all through today’s opening. If we’re successful, and we will be, we stand to capture the lion’s share of the fish. The downside is, we will be competing with the most experienced and ruthless captains up here, in a dog eat dog competition for the fish. This is a serious and sometimes dangerous work, and I want you to know what to expect and what we expect of you.  You’re our backup. You need to jump in there if someone gets hurt on deck, or needs a break. Stay alert, stay safe, and have fun.”

Kris overhead us and joined the conversation, “It takes nerves of steel and plenty of audacity to successfully fish the line. The Erica Lynn, Harry Jay Follman, and a dozen other boats, which are his dog pack, have been the top produces up here for nearly thirty years. The fleet knows this and respect this group of captains, but won’t cut them much slack.”

***

An hour later, Harry Jay Follman bullied his way into a prime position, directly onto the South line at Johnson Hill, along with his dog pack, which were skillfully fending off any intruding vessels. The morning flood tide opening was a few minutes away as Harry Jay Follman approached the spot he intended to drop the nets, and gently nosed another vessel out of his way. He put down his coffee cup and hollered, “Three minutes, Kris! Get ready and when I holler, drop the net.” The Erika Lynn was a few yards over the line as Harry Jay Follman prepared to make his first set, but there were no AF&G anywhere around to do anything about it.

At precisely eight o’clock, all hell broke loose on the south line. The sights and sounds of this big opening were mind-numbing. Four-hundred engines came to life simultaneously, and black clouds of diesel exhaust waifed across the fleet. The noise was deafening. It reminded me of the start of the Indy 500 or the Gold Cup hydroplane race.

BB Fishing

Naknek South Line –  Photo courtesy of YouTube.

We were fishing so close to each other that you could literally jump from boat to boat or net to net. I was speechless as I watched what was going on. Over fifty vessels, including the Erika Lynn, were fishing the face of the south line. As they jockeyed for position to set their hundred and fifty to three hundred fathoms long nets, they crashed into each other, ran over each other’s nets, and cursed one another.

near crash crop cropJust as Kris dropped a hundred-fifty fathom of drift net in the water, Harry Jay Follman spotted the State Trooper’s helicopter off in the distance. He nudged me, “That son of a bitch is headed our way.”

I thought, Oh shit! We’re over the line, and he’s going to nail us. Jay gunned the engine, the Erika Lynn leaped forward and he turned sharply up river pushing a couple of other boats out of his way to drag his errant net back behind the line before the Helicopter spotted his illegal net and hit him with a huge fine.                              Erika Lynn nudging a vessel

chopper chop chopBy the time the Chopper reached us, we were just barely legal. Harry Jay Follman grinned up at the state trooper’s helicopter and gave it a friendly wave as it circled thirty-yards above. This wasn’t the first confrontation between the Erica Lynn and the AF&G, and the officer aboard the chopper was watching us with great interest. This was undoubtedly one of the most exciting events in my life.

 

State Trooper Chopper & below photos – courtesy of YouTube.

CahosThe next group of boats upriver from us was a nightmare of nearly three-hundred vessels, which were also jockeying for position and getting tangled up in each other’s gear. Some very angry fishermen lost a lot of time and valuable gear in the adrenal driven, macho insanity.

The third group of boats, even further up the river, were the more conservative vessels which were content, at least for now, to capture the fish that survived the mayhem and to watch the chaotic shenanigans down at the line.

jake cropWe stayed on the line most of the four-hour opening, but for all the commotion and spent energy, we didn’t catch a lot of fish on the morning flood. When we returned to Naknek and approached Trident’s dock, Harry Jay Follman sent me up to handle the bowline. I was happy to be given an assignment and jumped to it. Trident Seafood off-loaded our embarrassingly small, five-thousand-pound catch, we found a spot to tie-up alongside several other boats and waited for the evening flood tide.

 

***

 

 

DUTCH HARBOR, ALASKA

adventure, Dutch Harbor, Jake Winston, Travel Alaska

DUTCH HARBOR, ALASKA

 

My friend Harry Jay Follman the president of IRI Construction company, called me  in early February, and asked, “How about meeting me in Dutch Harbor next Wednesday for dinner?” I responded with, “Are you nuts? Why on earth would I want to leave sunny Hawaii to freeze my butt off in Alaska?’

“Come on, Jake, I’ve got a serious problem up there that has me plenty pissed off.  I need to fix it, and fix it now! You could be a big help.”

“How long would we be up there?”

“If all goes well, we’ll be back in a week.  If it doesn’t, one of us will be commuting in and out of Dutch for a month, possibly longer.”

“I don’t know, Man.  I have a ton of commitments over the next few weeks. I’m not sure if I can get away right now.”

“I’ll sweeten the deal. We’ll take in the seafood buffet at the Grand Aleutian Hotel Wednesday night. I know you can’t pass that up, and If everything works out, I’ll get one of my buddies from the Dangerous Catch TV Show to take us out crabbing on the Bering Sea. Remember the last time we did that, you couldn’t quit talking about it for months. It’ll be fun.  Say yes, Jake!”

“Okay, if the crabbing is a promise, send me a ticket and I’ll see you there.”

***

shutterstock Alaska AirI boarded the Red Eye from Honolulu to Anchorage and took my seat in row 7D of the premier section. I lucked out and had three seats across to myself. My itinerary indicated that drinks were free in premium. I planned to relax, have a couple of Boilermakers,  stretch out across the three seats and sleep all the way to Anchorage. That didn’t work out. We hit a lot of turbulence, which kept the stewardess in their places for over an hour. When the drink cart got to me, I ordered two Boilermakers and a glass of ice. The stewardess was having a bad day and told me I could only have one drink from her cart now and when she returned for the second serving in about an hour, I was allowed a second drink, and please fasten your seat belt, Sir. I told her to forget the drink, and as soon as she moved on, I curled up across the three seats and tried to sleep. Twenty minutes later she was back. She woke me up, demanded that I return to my seat and buckle up. I got my iPad out of my carry-on, dialed up Spotify, my music app, and selected Kris Kristofferson to entertain me with a moving version of ‘Bobby McGee.’

I was excited to be returning to Alaska. It had been nearly five years since the last time I had been up there. I had some history with the State of Alaska that went back to 1942 when the Japanese invaded the islands of Attu and Kiska at the Westerly end of the Aleutian chain during WW II. Bronze StarMy father, Doc, was an Army dentist, who was stationed in Dutch Harbor when the Japanese bombed the crap out of the Army base there. Although I was determined to visit the site of the attack and walk the very ground where he earned his bronze star, the opportunity was elusive, and I had yet to do so, however, I was determined to get that done on this trip.

***

shutterstock_AK drill rig cropMy first trip to Alaska was in April 1984. I was running NWC Construction Co. and we had several on-going projects for two of the big-oil firms pioneering the North Slope oil fields, which were just below the arctic circle. I flew to Anchorage and boarded the oil Company’s private jet at the executive terminal, and landed in Prudhoe Bay two hours later in a near whiteout. I  gotta say, the landing scared the crap out of me.

One of the most memorable thing about that trip resulted from my smuggling a six-pack of beer into the VIP quarters of our booze and drug-free labor camp. My quarters were in a four-man Quonset hut covered by a ten-foot-high snow bank. I unpacked, and opened the single, small window, dug out a cavity in the snow to contain and cool my beer.

After a long day of greeting, eating and meetings, I returned to my quarters ready to relax, watch some TV and have a few cold beers. I soon discovered there was neither TV service, nor telephone service on the North Slope. The TV was a VCR player and a notice taped to it stated “A library of mixed tapes are available in the mess hall.” That cold dark journey wasn’t about to happen tonight. I sighed, opened the window and grabbed a beer. I popped it open and took a long swig and immediately spit it out. The room temperature beer was disgusting. I was surprised that the snow bank had acted as insulation, thereby keeping the pocket I dug out of the snow the same temperature as the room. I uttered a curse, muttered something about the only thing that wasn’t cold in this land of ice and snow was my beer. I climbed into bed and hoped that the weather would be clear in the morning so I could get back to civilization.

***

The next morning the camp manager approached me during breakfast saying, “One of the natives working in the camp told me this morning that a hunting party from his village had discovered the frozen remains of an enormous Mastodon partially sticking out of an ancient ice flow ten miles east of the camp.  If you want to see it, we are taking a couple of tracked vehicles over there  in about an hour. Why don’t you come along, we’ll be back in plenty of time for you to catch the afternoon plane to Anchorage.”

I got in line with a dozen guys waiting to board the two vehicles. As I entered, I was surprised to see a dozen expensive fur parkas attached to all the inside surfaces of the rig. They were there to keep the sub-zero cold out, and without this protection, the vehicle heaters couldn’t keep up. It was an hour ride to the site, but well worth it. It was too cold to get out of the vehicle for long, but we did so briefly,  and I got some decent photos of part of its head, a curled tusk, trunk and massive shoulder covered with a shaggy mane. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was humbled by the experience of witnessing this two-thousand-year-old, elephant-like animal laying on its side gazing up at me from its icy tomb with a sorrowful look in his single eye. Somehow I felt a bond between us and tried to image his death experience.

***

My next trip to Alaska was in 1985. I flew into Anchorage, a small city on the banks of Cook Inlet surrounded by snow covered mountains and volcanos, to spend some time with my mentor Dick Clark, NWC’s former VP of construction, who was now running the Anchorage office. Dick’s relocation to Alaska was a disturbing story for another day. We spent the day and evening together talking about the opportunities in Alaska and his projects throughout the State.

I was staying at the venerable Captain Cook Hotel which eventually became one of my favorite hotels in the world. There was something about The Captain Cook that captured my imagination. It had this appealing sense of excitement, history, and adventure about it. It was Anchorage’s crown jewel Hotel, which epitomized the spirit of the last frontier, and still served as the principal gathering place and watering hole for those adventurous souls who made Alaska great.

Cpt CookOne of my two favorite venues at the Captain Cook was the lobby coffee shop which exuded a feeling of excitement and high energy every morning. Alaska’s movers and shakers, including politicians, oil company executives, business and government leaders regularly gathered there for breakfast. From six-thirty to about nine, it was the place to be if you were one of the players or a celebrity watcher.

My other cool place was the cellar bar/pizza parlor. If I was alone, I often shunned the expensive dining room in favor of the relaxed, working man’s cellar bar. I could always get a table, have a few local beers on tap and end the evening with an excellent pizza. It was a feel-good place hidden away from the high energy of the rest of the hotel.

***

The day before returning to Seattle, I got up early to witness the start of the annual Iditarod dog sled race. While looking out the window, I saw dozens of City trucks dumping snow on the course leading from the start line and road graders spreading it out. It was plenty cold, but there hadn’t been much snow for a week.

shutterstock_Ididarod

About nine o’clock, I joined the crowd on the street and watched the dog teams jockeying for position. At the sound of the gun they all bolted excitedly from the start line, yelping and howling as they strained to get their sleds moving. The surviving dog’s from the sixteen dog pack and their master musher’s would journey a thousand miles before crossing the finish line in Nome eight to ten days later.

***

Dick picked me up about eleven and we boarded a chartered bush plane that would fly us in and out of Valdez in one day. Our plane was an old, but reliable Beaver. It’s distinct throaty growl and short take-off and landing characteristics made it the hot rod of the arctic. We spent a couple of hours checking out the new pumping station he was building at a Valdez oil terminal. It filtered the crude oil, separating the water, sulfur, and other contaminants before sending it on to the storage tanks prior to pumping it into tankers headed for the Texas gulf. When we returned to Anchorage, Dick dropped me off at the Captain Cook and we agreed to meet for drinks and dinner at a small bistro that Dick favored across the street from the Hotel. That evening we kicked back, had way too many drinks and enjoyed each others company.

***

Four years later, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker struck a reef and dumped ten million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound off the shores of Valdez. That ended not only the Valdez fishing industry but the local construction business dependent on the oil industry. We closed the Anchorage office a year later,  Dick retired and moved to Princeville on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai.

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*** End of part one ***

 

Stay tuned for part two.