Tag Archives: bears

Don’t Let the Cobwebs Gather in Your Elbows

Juneau, Alaska. Check.

Miami, Florida. Check.

Boston, Massachusetts. Check.

Restart…

“We want you both to come work for us.” That’s how the story began.

Girls, pack your cat nip. We’re going back to Alaska. Someone hit the reset button.

Sometimes, it takes you six years to figure out what you prefer in life. Sometimes you take wrong exits off the highway before you figure out your GPS has given you faulty directions and you have to get back on the highway. And sometimes, you have to go out there and see other places so you can extend your family and have more experiences in life.

We’re Off…Like Cats Looking for the Open Can of Tuna!

Once we fired off the confetti cannon and made our decision to go, we quickly packed up our three furry kids, dropped off the two lizards to the nieces and selected some creature comforts to get us through a couple of months of Alaska living. We will be back to Boston in November to remote work and pack up our house, then go back to Alaska in March for the next summer season.

Packing for a second household is interesting. Which garlic crusher do you take? What about cutting boards, one or three? Are we going to need the blender? Better take the mini food processor. Do you think we should take the Learn Spanish DVDs so we have something to do? How many pairs of jeans are you taking? Don’t forget the favorite cat toys. And whatever happens, don’t forget the cat treats. Better pack a Keurig and a bubbler (Sodastream, as I love my bubbly water.)

One would think, if you forgot something, just go to the store when you get there. Right? That’s the thought of 99% of everyone who is traveling to new locations. Except where we’re going, that’s not as easy as it sounds.

We’ll be spending most of our year in Hoonah, Alaska. Population 750 give or take. About 3 miles of paved road and 150 miles of dirt logging roads. Ever see that show, “Alaska Bush People” back when they were in Alaska? Yeah, well, they lived in Hoonah. And no, they were not really living in the wilderness. Talk about fake news.

Hoonah is the largest Tlingit community in Alaska and is located on Chichagof Island in southeast Alaska. It’s about 40 miles west of Juneau or a 20 minute flight. It also has the largest concentration of coastal brown bears in the world, although I have yet to see one. Lots of bear poop on the road, lots of poop.

(What is a coastal brown bear? Apparently, those in the know, decided to make a different class from the typical grizzly bear and classify the coastal brown bear. As I understand it, the coastal brown bear found mainly on Chichagof and Admiralty Islands eat mainly salmon and are therefore bigger in nature, therefore you get a different type of bear. )

Back to the story…

Anyhow, there’s no mall, no Walmart, no Target, no Walgreens, no Kohl’s. There’s a hardware store and small grocery store, whose motto is, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” The other day I was desperate for a pair of plain old regular scissors for home. You know the kind with the orange handle? Went to the hardware store. Found them. $16.

I’ve ordered some things from Amazon, you know I’m a Prime member and all. An electric throw blanket. I thought I’d pick one up at Costco in Juneau, WHEN I FLEW OVER TO GO GROCERY SHOPPING, but they didn’t have them. Normally, Prime is next day delivery or two days, right? Here….it’s two weeks. My blanket should be here by September 27th.

Please Keep Your Claws Inside the Carrier at All Times.

Traveling with the cats is always an experience.

Liggy, our 20-22 year old is a pro. She’s been from Alaska to Miami to Boston. And now she’s gone back to Alaska.

Monkey and Taku, well…they’re a little unimpressed at the whole process. They joined us in Miami, so they’ve only done one journey with us. A flight to Boston. Needless to say, as soon as the carriers come out, all hell breaks loose.

Monkey sings the song of her people, which sounds more like someone who has just eaten a meal that hasn’t agreed with their system and their bowels are about to explode.

Taku silently glares at us. Placing what are undoubtedly triple strength, unorthodox feline hexes on our souls, cursing us into damnation. No snuggles for you.

We break up the flight, overnighting in Seattle as a cross country, to Alaska flight is too long to be stuck in a kennel. Going from Boston to Hoonah is a three flight journey, even with non-stop flights. The upside was once we got to the Seattle hotel and blocked access to behind the beds, the girls decided there was safety in numbers! STICK TOGETHER! Normally, they don’t hang out together….

Cats snuggled in at Seattle hotel, safety in numbers.

When we travel, the two youngest go underneath in the traveling pet cargo area. Which I told them was a disco for pets. I’m not sure they believed me entirely. I did tell them to go easy on ordering the Alaskan beer and mimosas on the flight as altitude can sometimes do crazy things with your alcohol consumption. Liggy travels as my carry on and goes under the seat, she’s a first class pet. Of course at her age, she should be.

However, when we got to Juneau and loaded up into our final plane, Liggy’s eyes were as big as golfballs as she was loaded into the back of our little plane. At least we were all together on this one, everyone was seated in the same compartment. I could turn around, look past the cargo net and see the three girls. Hang on everyone, here we go. One more flight. At least Monkey wasn’t serenading us. If only because Taku had her muttering out the unorthodox feline hex as well. Bonding at it’s finest.

Welcome to Hoonah-lulu

Ah, what a relief.

Not that we finally arrived after traveling for two days, with three cats and five pieces of luggage. One of which was the cat’s suitcase, I kid you not.

But we arrived back where we’re supposed to be.

A good friend greeted us with open arms at the airport, we dropped our stuff at the house, got the girls situated so they could find hiding spots inside the house, then we drove 2 miles of paved road to the grocery store.

It felt like a giant scratchy coat had been shed and cast aside.

I could finally breathe.

I was lighter.

I wasn’t stressed about having to drive down the Boston highway with 14,839 crazy drivers, making left hand turns from right hand lanes. Or taking 90 minutes to go 16 miles. Or swerving lanes as they text on their cell phones.

All of the frustrations of my previous job slid off like waves on a fine sand beach. No longer my issue. Not my problem.

The next day we went into work, doing what we know best…cruise tourism. People are excited about the future. Excited about the possibilities. Excited about the potential. There’s talking, laughing and sharing ideas. There’s big ideas, big plans and things are happening.

There’s no time to sit back. It’s time to jump in and see how we can help. What can we do? Where do we start? It may be the countdown to the end of the 2019 season, but the 2020 season is already in planning and new projects are unwrapping faster than birthday gifts.

It’s thrilling to be back.

Wait, did I mention the view from work?

Silence Was Not an Option

The one thing I enjoyed about living in Alaska was everything was bigger….especially the wildlife.  If something was going to get you, it was going to be something  B I G.

King Salmon.

Moose.

Bears.

Deer.

Sheep.

Lynx.

Fox.

Whales.

Seals.

Eagles.

Please note: we don’t have penguins contrary to popular belief.

We have BIG animals in Alaska.  None of this namby pamby shit that leap out from behind crap to get you.  Animals in Alaska are in your face tough.  They let you know up front, without any confusion, whose land it belongs to…….this is my land, you want it, you are going to have to come through me to get it.  Enough said and there usually aren’t any questions.

The rest of the United States, there’s some gray areas.  There’s total confusion as to where property lines are drawn and  humans and critters are having to fight for their rights on a daily basis.

Case in point:  the poor turtle I hit by accident on the highway.  Sorry buddy, stay on the greenway, avoid the hard top areas.  Hence, this is why he’s given a protective shell.  He bounced, tucked and rolled.  I’m pretty sure he’s fine once he got his hearing back and his tunnel vision sorted out.

Assorted water fowl on the fairway.  You know they’re all sorts of confused when they’re out there and they spot those golfers coming by on the carts.  It’s all they can do to hop on and go for a joy ride.  Gives new meaning to the Hop On and Hop Off Trolley Tour.  Hey Marge!  Let’s hop on over hole 14….I heard they just re-filled the sand trap – it’s extra cushy!  Oh Harold and the mid-mow on the fairway is so nice this time of year for nibbles.

The one thing I have no tolerance for are the rude creatures that cross into our habitat uninvited.  Get out.  There is no tiny door that says hard shelled creatures with more legs than an origami octopus – step right this way – I’m now serving number 24.  With a world so large, go find your own dark corner and stay far, far, away from all of my areas.

Go.

Now.

Poof.

Be gone.

On Sundays one of the last chores I do are the sheets.  I wash them.  Put the fabric softener on them and make the bed.  This happens not long before I actually climb into bed.  Once I get into bed, I plan to spend time playing Words with Friends or reading.  It’s relaxing and enjoyable.  Then it’s off to la la land…..

This particular Sunday was no different.

I am in bed.  I sleep on the left side.  Always.

Happily, I am reading a book on my iPad.  Out of no where, I see something out of the corner of my left eye.

Moving.

On.

The.

Floor.

Very slowly I turn my head.

C

R

A

P

^%$)) !

Along the jewelry boxes on the floor, there goes a bug.  Not any kind of bug.

A big bug.

Not any kind of big bug.

A Florida bug.

What kind of Florida bug?  A roach.

More specifically?

A Palmetto Bug.

What do you ask is special about a Palmetto Bug you wonder?

Think:  a giant flying roach.

In about two seconds I realize exactly what I’m seeing and calmly (for me) I leap up out of bed – the opposite side from where the bug is at and run towards the kitchen.

My first thought is, “PALMETTO BUG!”  I have to catch this thing.  I can’t kill it…it could have eggs….and BLAH.    When Eric was here, he had to catch a roach and did so with a plastic cup.  I run to the kitchen look for the plastic cups.  Then it dawns on me…..

How am I going to catch a flying roach with a plastic cup?  Forget the cups.  Get the Dyson!

I race to get the Dyson and run back to the bedroom.

By now, I see the giant roach is lumbering towards the closet.  When I say lumbering, I truly mean lumbering.  This bug had the worse case of jock itch I’ve ever seen.  Either that or it’s feet hurt so bad it just wanted to sit down.  Now I got a good look at the size of the thing and it’s as long as my index finger.

OMG!

If it goes into the closet, I’ll never find it and that will be the end of it!  I won’t be able to sleep with this thing in the house!

I start trying to get the extension hose and extension tubing pulled apart on the Dyson.  Damn the Swedish or German or whatever the hell engineering this machine is made with.  Pointless!  Obviously, the ball vacuum is not made for the common folk.

Release the hose!  RELEASE THE HOSE!  Extend the hose!!

It became very apparent you need to understand rocket science to figure out how to release the tubing then to attach the pole to the tubing to get the full extension.

By the time I get this whole process worked out, the roach has had three families and they have all disappeared into my closet and are now actively pursuing Amway distribution channels.  I stood with the Dyson wand, fully extended 12 feet in my hand, with the vacuum running…..for a good three minutes….without success.  I leave the Dyson plugged in and figure I will see the beast come out of the closest, as it is so big, it could set off car alarms simply by walking past cars.

I find the cat, who was in the living room sleeping.  Pick her up and put her in front of the closet.  “Get the roach”  I tell her.  She just looks at me.  Thought she’d be my alarm if it came back out.

I climb back into bed and call Eric to tell him the situation.

Not five minutes into the conversation, with Eric still on the phone.

Complete and utter pandamonium ensues and goes something like this:

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH   AWWWWWHHHHHHHH   UUUUUUUUUUUUhhhhhhhgggGGGGGGGGGGGGGG   WWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAA     AAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLL

WWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH  FFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKK   SSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTTT

The flying cockroach was suddenly on the bed and on me and on the bed and on me and I think on the bed and on me and the bed and on me.  All I know is I saw it on the left side of me.  And I took off screaming and running and screaming and running in the opposite direction….the cat right behind me.

I didn’t stop running and screaming until I got to the far end of the house when I couldn’t run any further.  That was only because there was a wall

Then the real problem set in:

How am I going to track down a flying cockroach?

It’s in here somewhere.  I ponder my options.  Really – two options.  Barricading myself in the bathroom overnight.  So what… then in the morning having it attack me when I open the door?  I think not.  It has to be found.  I could check myself into a hotel.  Over what a flying bug?  Come on.  I can’t live in a hotel until Eric gets here.  Well, I could. But seriously.  It’s a bug!

Liggy was hiding under the kitchen table.  I took one look at her, “You were supposed to warn me it was coming so I could get the Dyson ready.”

After about 15 minutes I got up enough nerve to get back into the bedroom.  I turn on the Dyson and with the wand in hand, I slowly start to navigate through the bedroom.  I was definitely not cut out for this nonsense.  Why are we afraid of these things?  We’re 1000 times bigger than these things, yet they scare the pants off us!  I would rather live with ghosts than bugs.  Honestly.

After about ten minutes and a good surface check – nothing.  I back out of the room.

Check the hallway.  Nothing.

Check the bathroom.  Nothing.

Through the dining room.  Nothing.

I start to go into the kitchen.

EUREKA!

It’s playing dead on the floor – just like the one the other day outside.

“Hasta la vista, baby!”   I lean forward with my Dyson wand and think, come on baby….suck this up…..come on….come on…..don’t fail me now.

ssssslllllluuuuurrrrrr…….hestiation…..hesitation…..hestitation….POP!

I let it whirl around for good measure before I turned it off and then dashed outside with the canister to jettison it’s sorry ass into the bushes.

Of course, now I have PTSD from the entire event.  Four times since I’ve been writing this, out of the corner of my eye, I see this black thing at the foot of the bed and I jump.  It’s the stupid tag on the blanket.  I’m going to cut it off right now before I give myself heart failure.