Monday, October 24, 2011

On Alaska: An Alaskan Boy Talks of Life With A Bush Pilot Dad

by Robert L Gisel

 To publish or not to publish: it is getting really down on the line, and as usual the author is never yet satisfied.

 There have been a lot of questions of when the book will come out showing that there is much interest in it, which is a good thing. This may even encourage the author to stop choking up on the bat and slam it home.

 Publishing is a wonderful gig, but you have to appreciate the trepidations of a writer. Once you hit publish, it is out there, public domain forever, minus retractions. Regardless of how many times before you have hit the publish button it is always with a sense of anticipation and generally undue concern.

 With today's electronic society we have a high speed freeway of information. Flub a tweet putting out a nonsense word like "refudiate" and it can become the subject of two million articles in a matter of months. What is the worst that can happen? It could make it really tough, if not impossible, to run for President. That suits me fine, as I never aspired to run for President.

  With that in mind the book, On Alaska: An Alaskan Boy Tells Of Life With a Bush Pilot Dad has been finished three times, at the least. This time the deadline line is to be released in December.

 The delay is in part for final thematic edits.  The book will actually be one you will be glad you read. The other part has to do with the final fact checking which is requiring some adjustments to the text. Then there is the report yet to come by from the Private Investigator on some particularly salacious...(just kidding).

 Contrary to popular speculation it is not an expose. I'm sorry if that disappoints the gossip columns, but I cherish my friends. It might be amusing in a weird sort of way, but my philosophy is that juicy is for chewing gum, screenplays and romance novels. So my friends are off limits for that kind of tripe. Except for my big brother.

 There is a lot of humor in the book just so you don't get bored. In case you have any problem with that there is a drill. You bounce your stomach while saying Ho, Ho Ho, and it will come naturally after a bit. We can't have anyone saying it wasn't funny.

 This is all camouflage for the real reason for the book, something I have wanted to say that has to be said without sounding too serious. When my family first arrived in Alaska it was the year of Statehood. It is not something I would have voted for, but they didn't ask me. After the official tally it was only a State in name and still wearing the mantle of Territory for many years yet to come.

  The flavor of frontier is what makes Alaska what it is, and Alaskans proud to be a part of it. In too many ways this has been threatened by clueless politicians four thousand miles away and "well meaning" Chechaquos. The last stronghold of the freedom, independence and rights to life of the nation founded on those tenets is seeing a last stand against mongers of endless rules and control. Heaven forbid that Alaska will subdue to a mindlessly boring status quo.

  Why do people go to a frontier if not for freedom to have and independence to do and enough space to be what they want. There's all of that, and there's also usually some really good outdoor eatin'. I just went there for pan fried trout.

 Then there was this novelty that Father was a Bush Pilot. One who loved fun, was mischievous, highly respected, exceptionally courageous and very good at what he did. It added dimension to life. Everyone should grow up that way. But then, if everyone could climb in and fly off from their back yard the the population rush might overcome the remoteness and smother the frontier.

  With all that, here is a book, coming soon on an ePlatform near you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Alaska's Monsters

Loch Ness Monster
by Robert L. Gisel

 Now the Loch Ness Monster is in Alaska, soon to be showing at a theater near you. Since the Kushtaka (spirit people) bear in Chuck Keen's movie Timber Tramps didn't make adequate history we need a remake.

 The Strangest Story Ever Told first made famous, outside of Alaska, the Kushtaka, the spirit people of Alaska Native folklore. Looking for a rich vein of gold reported to be in the Thomas Bay just north of Petersburg and Wrangell, the prospector came back truly scared out of his wits with an unbelievable tale.

 In what is now known as the "Devils's Country", the story teller Harry D Colp's miining partner was chased by these half humanoid, half ape devil creatures. Hairy all over, about four feet tall with very large feet and overlong arms, they took up pursuit of him from which he barely escaped alive.

 He was so shook up about the incident he was very reluctant to talk about it. All he wanted to do was go immediately back to the States. All that drama and other supporting stories gave credibility to the tale which has only garnered more tales since its first telling in 1900.

 The gold rush to the Canadian Cassier area was itself prey to to the Kushtaka that stopped the mining from happening sooner than it did. The Indian Chief refused to take them to the head waters of the Iskut River as he was convinced there were spirit people there killing anyone who went there.

That was in British Columbia off of the Stikine River which comes out just south of Alaska, but also winds up into Canada on the other side of the border from Thomas Bay. Before that you hang a right onto the Iskut River a hundred miles due west of Thomas Bay. That's perhaps not coincidental, as the spirit people can really get around.

 Contemporary stories of the Kushtaka abound around Petersburg. My best friend worked there for a summer, surveying, when he talked to a young man who talked to a lady who had a face to face with a Kushtaka. The man would park down a road with his girl friend near the lady's house. Her husband had gone missing and she put candles in the windows keeping alive a hope for his return. After about a month the candles were no longer there. The man and his girl went to her door to ask about this, that maybe they had found her husband.

 It happened like this. One night she had a knock at the door. When she opened it there stood a Kushtaka. In silence he raised his left hand knuckles towards her to show that he had her husband's wedding band on his finger. She closed the door and that was the end of that.

 Modern enthusiasts for this sort of urban legend claim the Thomas Bay Kushtaka is a Bigfoot. There is no mention of the difference in height from the four feet of the former and the eight feet or more of the later. Don't worry about that -- Wookee or mini-Wookee, we can just adjust the camera angles.

 East of there in Canada is also where Albert Ostman was held captive by a family of Bigfeet (is that the plural of Bigfoot?). That is his story and he is sticking to it.

 Iliamna Lake, Alaska is now presumed to be the host of Alaska's own Loch Ness Monster. After reported sightings the Anchorage Daily Times sent a reporter to investigate. Finding nothing, a reward of $100,000 was offered for any solid evidence. Perhaps the closest encounter was another writer, Craig Medred, who says he lassoed the monster, but he had to let go when it was dragging his kayak in excess of 30 miles per hour. What was he thinking?!

 Alaska's Loch Ness Monster now has attracted the attention of the TV people of The Greatest Catch. An Alaskan fisherman caught a video of the creature in Kathemak Bay good enough to send the TV adventurers looking for it themselves. The critter is being called a Cadborosaurus, just so they have a somewhat legitimized species to give bonifides to their search.

 We'll see. Legends are great things, aren't they?