The reds are in hot and heavy over at the secret hole. So much so that I was able to get my five fish in under thirty minutes Saturday evening. Well the five from Friday are smoked and those from Saturday are smoking as I type. This is my first time smoking anything but the first batch came out damn fine.
In other news I see that the new X-band radar is on it's way to Adak. The Anchorage Daily News has this
article on it. This is gonna be good for their economy. Having been to Adak many times in recent years I can tell you that they really need it. I don't think the expectations that the people there had for the place after the Navy left were realistic. The place is almost sad to see. It's falling down around the peoples ears. After the Navy left, there was no maintenance done on anything out there, things are rusting in place, housing is blowing apart from the wind and weather. Imagine NOB Norfolk deserted and falling apart, that's what it's like out there as far as the infrastructure goes. A naval ghost town. There just hasn't been much of a reason for people to stay out there. The fish processing business has been meager to my knowledge, hardly enough to sustain the local populace. The biggest thing going until now has been the expansion of the small boat harbor, hopefully it will attract more fishermen. If it weren't for federal and state government there likely wouldn't be anyone there now.
Part of the problem is accessibility. No airline willingly fly's out there to make money. Alaska Airlines has a Federal essential air service subsidy to service the place but they only fly out there twice a week and there is no other carrier to get out there unless you spend around 10,000 for a charter flight. Their success rate into the place has been around 60%(I think I may be a little generous with this number). There are many reasons for that, not the least of which has been weather. Of course there are also mechanical and third party factors too. The FAA has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars improving the navaids and instrument landing system out there after inheriting poorly maintained and barely functioning systems from the Aleut Corp., which had in turn received them from the Navy after they had left town. What puzzles me is that even though Alaska doesn't get the subsidy money unless they land(roughly 11,000 per landing in Adak, at least that's the terms I saw in their EAS contract), they still refuse to try again the next day. Imagine being from Adak and have been on vacation and were returning from a month long trip to Europe. Now imagine making it all the way to Anchorage and boarding the plane to Adak on a Sunday. Next imagine flying to King Salmon, the halfway stop for the jet, and being told that they were not going to try for Adak but were instead returning to Anchorage. You'd expect to get on the next scheduled flight, right? Well unfortunately for you and every one else on board that isn't until Thursday! So find a place to stay at your own expense 'til then since airlines won't put you up for a weather hold. Of course they wouldn't try the next day, that's not in their contract and there's hardly any money in flying out there anyway!
I didn't mean for this to be such a rant. I just wanted to highlight some of the reasons that the sea based radar moving to Adak is such a good deal for the residents out there. Perhaps when it gets there Alaska will consider rebidding for the EAS contract when the time comes and adding more flights. More people means more demand and more money.
I do like Adak though, it's one of my favorite places in the Aleutian Chain. Lots of great fishing and excellent ptarmigan and caribou hunting. There's a lot of history there too.
From the spot on the beach in Kuluk Bay where the first U.S. Army commandos came ashore for a recon mission during WWII ( of course they were launched from submarines!) the historical marker placed there reads:
"On August 28, 1942, the U.S. Naval submarines, SS Triton and SS Tuna, surfaced 4 miles due east of this beach and disembarked a 37-man U.S. Army intelligence gathering unit lead by Colonel Lawrence V. Castner. The unit was known as "The Alaska Scout," or more affectionately as "Castner's Cutthroats." Their mission was to gather information about the Japanese troop strength on Adak and to report their findings to the landing force already on its way from Dutch Harbor. No enemy troops were found, and on August 30, a 17-ship landing force with 4,500 men and tons of heavy equipment arrived. Their mission: to build an airstrip and troop staging area in preparation for the retaking of the enemy-occupied Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska. "
The first plane landed on that airstrip two weeks later.
For anyone interested in this forgotten theater of WWII and its importance to the outcome, I highly recommend you read The Thousand-Mile War: World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians by Brian Garfield.