August 9, 2013, what an incredible day! Sunny and calm, the first day of the 67th Golden North Salmon Derby and my mother’s 85th birthday.
Juneau must be one of the most beautiful places on earth when the weather is like this. This summer has been awesome; what a difference a year makes. Last summer I found my mind bathing in the deepest darkest depths of despairing self-pity, complaining about the relentless rain.
Have I mentioned I love my Ford F250?
I love my wonderful mother and a sunny Southeast Alaska day more, but I do like that Ford.
Standing on the front deck of our cabin on Shelter Island I am in awe, crystal clear blue skies, emerald green old growth forests manicure perfect, nature carved, snow capped Chilkat Mountains along with blue-green, fish-rich waters of Stephens Passage and Lynn Canal. I breathe deep, my lungs fill with pollution free, clean Alaska air. WOW, LIFE IS GOOD!
How many more years will Southeast Alaska be like this?
I used to think the area was huge. When I was a teenager (1970s) out fishing with my brother Jack, when we were feeling really brave, we would poke the skiff around Point Retreat and stare down Lynn Canal and dream; some days we would travel all the way to Funter Bay (12 miles away). With time and many adventures, Southeast Alaska has gotten smaller. A few weeks ago, my brother Jim and I took my 16-foot skiff with 20-hp Honda to Pelican and back. In total, we traveled over 375 miles in five days. Yes, the skiff leaks a little more, but what a trip.
Have you ever driven a newer full-size 4x4 truck?
My friend Harv and I recently replaced our older 1991 one-ton Chevy with a newer 2005 Ford. The Ford F 250 4x4 has 181,000 miles on it and gets around 13 mpg and costs $150.85 to fill the gas tank (range 455 miles). I can’t believe how enjoyable the Ford is to drive; automatic transmission, incredible acceleration, great visibility, it handles and drives very nice but the most impressive thing about the truck is its towing ability. It tows my 26-ft boat like there is nothing behind it.
Did I mention it cost $150.85 to fill the gas tank?
My wife and I recently (August 2012) purchased a Prius, it gets 50 mpg and cost $49.57 to fill the tank (range 575 miles).
Earlier in the summer I looked down the beach as a huge plume of black smoke shot up into the sky, my self-proclaimed greenie neighbor was burning his trash (plastic bottles and used oil included) on the beach.
Eileen and I recycle as much as we can. Yes, it may be a little more work and a bit of a hassle, but as long as Juneau keeps accepting recyclables we continue to boat our reusables into town. I asked my earth-friendly neighbor why he doesn’t recycle. In his opinion, there is no difference between burning the trash on the beach and bringing it to the landfill in Juneau!
Have you seen the pictures of the air pollution in Beijing, China?
When Eileen and I moved to the island in 1999, the rainwater seemed much softer than it does today, it took a lot of bath water to get that soap off the ol’ body back in those days. We cut way back on the amount of soap we used in the washer, dish washer and bathing water compared to what we used when we lived in Juneau with city water. As the years have passed here on the island, we need to use more and more soap to get things to suds up. Think what you want; but I am using more soap.
Regrettably, in the past, I have done more than my share of polluting. As I age, I am starting to pay more attention to cause and effect. I like clean air and water and continually ask myself: Is there a better, smarter, earth friendly, economical way to live?
Since March 2013, we have burned less than one gallon of diesel fuel in our generator. Ninety-nine percent of our electrical energy needs have come from our solar system. The initial reason I installed the solar system was to save money and my back.
Google Kodiak Electric Association and click on the link. Monitor the success of the wind turbines at the bottom of the page and see how they generate their electricity. Hydro, wind and diesel. Pretty cool, forward thinking. They have saved over 4.3 million gallons of diesel since July 2009 with just the wind generators. When I called and talked with them, one of the things I asked was what they were going to do with all the possible extra power generation? They said they were planning for the future and the possibility of electric cars becoming mainstream in places, like Kodiak, with limited roads.
With hydro energy and limited roads, I think Juneau is prime for an affordable electric car. I’m hoping within the next 25 years 40 percent of the cars in Juneau will be electric. Why pay $4.31 a gallon when you can pay $1.00. After federal tax savings, the five seat electric Nissan Leaf can be purchased new for around $22,000 (the price recently dropped $6,000.00). This car is not for everyone, but with a MPGe rating of 120, it definitely got my attention.
I understand and accept renewables cannot and will not totally replace petroleum products. I fully support the oil industry in America as a stepping stone to a better economic and smarter energy source where the majority of our energy is produced from hydro, wind, geo and solar. I do not support the oil, coal and nuclear industries’ efforts to slow down or stop renewables.
If you ever wonder if we are having a cumulative negative affect on earth by using petroleum, coal and nuclear energies, do this simple test. Take gasoline, diesel, coal or nuclear waste, breath it in, rub it all over your body and eat it. How do you feel? Now take water (hydro), air (wind) and sunshine (solar) and do the same thing. Any difference?
Am I a big time greenie? I prefer to believe I’m a realist. Unabated continued use of fossil fuels must be taking a toll on our ecosystem here on earth, even if it is very slow. I believe we can do better and at the same time build a stronger economy in the United States. Government subsidies are no longer needed to economically produce solar power.
Why did we buy the Prius? It gets 50 mpg and at $23,000 it was affordable. We’re not going to save the world but I do save a lot of money at the gas station.
Changes are coming, I hope the water and air is as clean in Southeast Alaska in 200 years as it is today.
I have two partners in the Ford pickup; it sits most of the time. When I need to haul or tow something it is the best, I love that truck! I just don’t like paying for the fuel bill.