Friday, August 29, 2008

Cost Of Living Alaskan

by Robert L. Gisel

 This time last year when I flew from LA to Anchorage the only thing cheaper in Alaska was the gas. No joke. At $3.29 a gallon in LA it was, lowest in town, $2.99 a gallon in Anchorage, went up to $3.09 (lowest station) in the two weeks I was there. Still it was over $3.30 in LA. I was told the lower Anchoarge price was because it was the gas produced in Alaska.

 The price was fluctuating so much this summer Dehart's Store in my childhood neighborhood stopped posting the numbers, just an arrow, up or down. This was covered in an article in the Juneau Daily Alaska Empire. As there were questions of the prices in Seattle or elsewhere I put up these comments on the article:

 "Milsec above logged these prices from Juneau:

"6/05/08 $4.059 gal $122.54 Barrel 6/11/08 $4.159 gal $128.86 Barrel6/23/08 $4.419 gal $140.21 Barrel7/04/08 $4.499 gal $145.29 Barrel7/09/08 $4.499 gal $145.08 Barrel7/19/08 $4.649 gal $128.88 Barrel8/15/08 $4.599 gal $113.77 /Barrel "

  "In Sacramento, North side, the price has been over $4.00 a gallon since June. Mid July or so it finally hit at least $4.43, lowest stations, Kwick Stop and Exon AM/PM, and as high as $4.69 even $4.75 at Chevrons and Shell Stations. This month it finally came back under $4.00.

 "Today the price has posted at $3.72, lowest, to 10 to 20 cents higher in other stations. All of these prices were higher yet in South Sacramento. Daily the stations are given a wholesale price figure and daily the price is raised or lowered, or not, according to the competiveness and goodwill of the station manager.

 "So why not gas from the refineries in Alaska into Juneau instead of Saudi gas from Seattle? I highly doubt that it is Alaska gas from Seattle. I'd think you'd have a better chance to get cheaper gas where you produce it, even in California which refines gas and still runs among the highest prices in the nation, at least the south 48. Talk to your own, Governor or whoever will listen, as very possibly the cheapest (and home grown) gas available to Alaska is refined in Alaska.

 "There's always the alternate route: Yank your drive train and put in an electric engine."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Prius Trashed by Un-eco-friendly Bear

by Robert L. Gisel

 Ann Boochever's car gets trashed when a bear gets trapped inside.

 It was a Prius Hybrid so this was evidently an un-eco-friendly bear. Of course that's an oxymoron, but you have to admit it's kind of funny. It's not every day the inside of your car gets trashed by a bear, so it's understandable she'd worry that the insurance company wouldn't believe her.

 Speculations as to why he was in the car do not include the most logical one, that this juvenile was hoping to go for a joy ride. Delinquent bears can do funny things.

 As I haven't heard from Anne in years, once in years since graduating together at JD High, it was a mild surprise to see her in the news. Some of the comments posted to the article surprise me even more. Is Juneau now overrun with Chechakos (new comers)? Prompted me to leave the following comments on the news blog.:

 Well, what's Alaska all about if you don't have bears around. It's part of what makes Alaska unique. Learning bear safety is as natural in growing up as training your kids don't take candy from a stranger. My first lessons after we arrived in Alaska were indelible; walking down the long private dark and wooded road to the school bus as kids we learned to make noise, which trees to climb and all of that, from the best, renown woodsman Ralph Reischel. Last time I was there a bear came down to Front Street where the tourists were hanging around. It happens. So if you're afraid of bears you're in the wrong state. It beats having a snake come out of your toilet. God I hate snakes.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bow Hunting Bears Makes for a Dangerous Hunt

 by Robert L. Gisel

 The ultimate in sports hunting, after hearing the story myself, has to be in hunting bear with a bow and arrow. That my brother Chuck Gisel had the fortune, or dubious honor, to participate as the backup rifle makes for a very exciting story.

 The mastermind of this adventure was Scott Leonard, who was working at the Alaska Fish and Game in Juneau. He had bow hunted just about everything except bears. So his idea to go after a one with the bow was a logical progression in his range of trophy hunting. Killing a bear is a dangerous proposition in usual circumstances, but taking one on with a bow and arrow is courageous beyond belief, or simply asking for trouble.

 Obviously this is big game hunting and not recommended for the fainthearted or photo-shoot-only crowd.

 Doing this sport one is best advised to take along a backup shooter with the proper rifle and savvy at dropping bears at close range. Scott somehow convinced my brother to go with him as his backup gun. The conditions were laid out and it was agreed they would select a small black bear and Scott would get well prepared for the hunt. This included practice snap-shooting for speed and accuracy, which he did, prior to embarking on the expedition.

 The arrow selected had a spiral tip that would spin and go through the game in a spiral, coring a plug all the way through. To make this work you had to be totally accurate and hit its heart in spite of any movement by the bear. You might only get one shot, so it better be good.

 Bears have a bad adrenalin problem that makes taking one down difficult in the best of circumstances, to say the least. A head shot usually just bounces off the skull. Even with a shot in the heart it will continue it's charge for you for fifty yards or more. Only a hit in a shoulder breaking the ball joint of its limb can stop its attack. You have to do this so it can't run and it drops at your feet.

 It follows then that using a bow as the weapon has some real potential drawbacks and questions one's sanity. Scott just wanted the experience and, of course, the hide. Evidently the thrill as well.

 After practice, the team set out for Gambier Bay outside of Juneau in a friend's boat. Anchored off North Point the first day was spent just watching the beach for any bear that might come around on its rounds. Seeing none, the next day they went to a different location and watched some landlocked islands, then again for a third day. Several bears were observed but what the hunters were looking for was any repeats of the same one, which means it could be predicted in its pattern.

 The one seen to be rounding a circle was a small brown bear which made it almost ideal for the hunt. Black bears are more amiable, if any wild bears can be amiable. The browns akin to the grizzly and are known to be mean and sometimes dangerously unpredictable. This upped the stakes in the bow hunt; a better prize, more risk in getting it.

With a careful study of topographical maps they plotted out where to set up to waylay this bear as it came around on its usual path. They had be down wind, so the bear couldn't smell its hunters, and be hidden well in a thicket of brush. A spot was selected, they got into their positions and the trap was set.

 Bears do funny things sometimes, like sneak around to other side of you when you're looking the other way. Hiding in the brush, waiting for a bear to approach and do battle must be the epitome of macho.

 This time the bear came around as expected. It walked up its trail quite close to where Chuck and Scott were. Sensing someone was there, it stood up a mere 20 feet from them. It couldn't smell the hunting party as long as the direction of the wind prevailed and kept them down wind. On its hind legs it looked around, sniffing. Still the brown bear couldn't spot what it was missing. If it did, he would be on them in a second.

 Scott had his bow drawn for the shot and held it for some moments. Chuck began to wonder when he was ever going to release the arrow. Chuck had his gun up and aimed. At six yards there was no room for misses.

 Finally the arrow flew and found its mark through where the heart should be. Naturally the bear protested this with its throaty roar. He was really mad now. At 20 feet away this was a horrendous and frightening sound. Then the long stream of blood pumped out at intervals indicating the heart had been hit.

 Enduring the deafening battle cry, Chuck still had his wits about him to shoot it twice to ensure it came down and stayed down.

 Still alive, he was pawing the ground and making noise, lots of it. Chuck approached the bear, capped him with his barrel against his skull and that finished him and the hunt.

 Chuck said he did a check of his shorts to make sure he hadn't, such was the fearsome experience. Scott was pumped, his first bow-hunted bear kill. Chuck was sure this was his last.

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