SOME ALASKAN ADVENTURES
by Tom O'Dale
This story was written by Tom O'Dale, an Alaska gold miner, freighter, boat
builder and adventurer; his story starts in 1906 and is a wealth of information
about survival, transportation and long lost names of early entrepreneurs,
landmarks and river boats. The article was published in The Alaska Journal:
History and Arts of North America, a now defunct quarterly journal. Thank
goodness, this story has survived.
A lot of men
headed for Alaska in the year 1900, most of them looking for gold. I had
one advantage over most of them in that my brother, Jerry, had arrived on
the Kenai Peninsula four years earlier, at the height of the Hope-Sunrise
gold rush. I was able to draw on his experience and the experience
of others I met through him and through them, to learn something about wilderness
travel and wilderness living, about prospecting for gold and placer mining,
and all of the things one needs to know if he is going to live comfortably
in the North.
As I worked at various places on the Kenai Peninsula and then later on
a job installing hydraulic mining equipment on Crow Creek, near the present
Alyeska Resort, for the Nutter and Dawson Mining Company of California,
I kept hearing stories about the country on the far side of the Alaska Range,
in the drainage of the Kuskokwim River. Others were looking in that
direction, too, and I made up my mind to go there.
The year was 1906 and I teamed up with a man named
Jack Clouse. He proved to be a good partner. Later on he went
"Down Below" -- our term for the States in those years -- and learned deep
sea diving. Some years later he helped salvage the steamship Islander
We did a lot of careful planning
before we started out because we knew the stores and trading posts would
be few and far between in that country. We got together everything
we could think of that we would need. This included such basic tools as a
whipsaw and axes. Then there was a 10 by 12 tent, a Yukon stove, light canvas
tarps to cover our grub, netting and light drill to make mosquito-proof tents
for summer, four pair of snowshoes made by the Tyonek Indians, rifles and
ammunition, fish hooks and line, nails, steel traps and so forth.
We figured on a two-year supply of grub and included 1,200 pounds of flour,
500 of sugar, 300 of beans, 250 of rice, 250 of bacon (it was better cured
in those days and would keep), 75 of dried fruit and 20 of lard, in addition
to such items as tea, salt and soda. We had three boxes of candles,
360 in all, and a watertight five gallon can of sulfur matches. Then
we had our personal belongings, including plenty of warm clothing, rubber
shoepacs, wool socks and mittens.
We got most of our outfit from the Alaska Commercial Company store at Sunrise.
This was the oldest and largest trading company in Alaska with several trading
stores on Cook Inlet, although at the time we outfitted they were selling
many of their stores to other companies or to individuals. You are
apt to hear a variety of opinions about the AC Company, as it was known,
but from my own dealings and from what I have heard from others, it was the
best liked by the prospectors and trappers because it kept its prices down
and didn't raise them the way some outfits did when grub got scarce.
We left in October, heading for a pass we had heard about that would take
us across the Alaska Range. Although we didn't know its name at the time,
this proved to be Rainy Pass, which had been discovered and named in 1902
by the famous Alaskan geologist Dr. Alfred H. Brooks. We picked the
fall of the year because we figured winter would be the easiest time to
sled our outfit across the range. We first crossed the inlet to Tyonek,
then went up the Susitna River to Susitna Station. This was another
Alaska Commercial Company post, started many years before for the fur trade.
In recent years it had become more important as an outfitting point
for prospectors and miners going up the Susitna and a few years later it
would become one of the main stations on the Iditarod Trail.
We purchased an old boat at Susitna Station and with it started up the
Yentna River and then up the south fork of the Skwentna. On our way
up, we met two old-time Alaskans, Jim Ward and Mike Stagner, also heading
in our direction, and the four of us decided to throw in together. We
were to spend most of the next two years in this informal partnership. We
used the lumber from the old boat to build sleds, one for each of us. We
had no dogs and didn't want any. When you use dogs, you have to pack
along plenty of dog feed and in breaking trail through new country, the
dogs eat more than they can haul. Instead, we "necked" our sleds over
This was a common method of hauling an outfit in those early years. There
were various ways of pulling the sled. Some men rigged a harness with
a strap over each shoulder. Others used a single strap that went over
one shoulder, across the chest and under the opposite arm. This could
be changed off from one shoulder to the other, and sometimes travelers relieved
aching shoulders by putting the strap across the forehead and pulling with
the neck muscles. Still other sledders rigged a tumpline, much like
that used by many backpackers and always pulled part of the load with the
neck muscles. This developed the neck tremendously and it used to
be said you could always spot an oldtime Alaska traveler because, while
he could wear a size 16 shirt, he needed a 19 collar.
We had lots of time so we didn't rush it and took five months to make the
distance of about 150 miles from where we started up on the Skwentna to
where we were able to build a boat on the south fork of the Kuskokwim. The
way we worked it was to set up a camp, then relay our supplies six or seven
miles to a new campsite. Each camp was good for four or five days
and sometimes longer if the weather was bad. It sometimes got down
to 50 to 70 degrees below zero at night and was often between 30 and 40
below during the daytime.
Our camp was comfortable enough. After picking a site, we would trample
the snow down with our snowshoes and set up the tent and floor it with a
lot of fresh-cut spruce boughs. Each of us had a caribou skin and these
were spread over the boughs and the blankets on top of the skins. The stove
was placed within easy reach of one of the beds so a fire could be started
in the morning without having to get out of bed.
Travel was possible only during daylight and in many of the canyons we
traveled in, this was only about six hours. We always tried to get
camp set up well before dark so we could cut plenty of wood. We allowed
ourselves only one candle each day, for use in the evening and early morning.
We saved all the candle ends and most of us carried a few on the trail. With
them, we could get a fire going very quickly if we got our moccasins wet
as we sometimes did in an overflow. Our candle holders were simple
and easily made. We took a fairly long stick, usually willow, and split it
about four inches down one end. A strip of cloth was wrapped around the lower
end of the candle and the two ends pulled tightly into the split stick, the
other end of which was then thrust into the snow or the ground.
Our breakfast was usually hotcakes with Mapleine syrup and bacon - as long
as the supplies lasted. In Alaska in those days, hotcakes were invariably
made from sourdough, a starter always being packed along as a necessary
part of the supplies. We kept our starter all the way to the Kuskokwim
and back again. I made a square pot out of spruce lumber. When full,
it held about ten pounds and I always kept enough in it so it would be sour
at all times. When we got to camp in the afternoon and got a fire going,
I set the pot back of the fire to start thawing. Then that night, before
going to bed, it would be thawed enough so I could add all the fixings like
soda to sweeten it, sugar, salt and flour and set it back of the stove again.
We didn't keep a fire going at night, so in the morning it would be
frozen again. I'd scrape it out like ice cream and drop chunks in the
Supper usually consisted of beans or rice, but sometimes we had that for
breakfast too. We didn't have time to go hunting for game but did
shoot an occasional ptarmigan. After supper, we usually sat in the
tent, sometimes drinking tea, and whittled shave sticks for a quick, hot
fire in the morning, but after a hard day of trail breaking and relaying
supplies, we didn't sit up very late.
After we broke trail ahead to a new campsite, we usually relayed two loads
of supplies forward each day until the whole outfit was at the new
site. Then we moved the camp. But in places it was slow going. We ran into
snow more than six feet deep on Happy River and by Christmas we were only
about seven miles up the river, which was overflowing. We took time off for
Christmas and Jim Ward and I went hunting and found a moose which we killed,
skinned out and cleaned. By that time it was late, so we hung the meat to
freeze and went back to camp. There we found that Mike Stagner had
caught a fat porcupine and cooked it with rice for our Christmas dinner.
It was mighty welcome because it was the first fresh meat, except for a few
ptarmigan, we had had since we started the relays. The next day we brought
in the moose, including the hide which we saved for snowshoe repairs.
Relaying up that river canyon was the toughest part of the whole trip.
Snow fell continuously and once it took three days of tramping it
down before we could make a relay. Also, the ice kept settling and
the water underneath kept flooding up over the ice and we had to get our
outfit to higher ground and wait for it to freeze solid again. In
later years, when the Iditarod Trail was cut through and the roadhouses
came in, the trail was up in the timber away from the canyon and overflows.
We made some false starts but finally found the branch that led over to
the Kuskokwim side. This branch was later known as Pass Creek. By January
30 we had everything relayed over the summit and down to the spruce line
on Dalzell Creek. We then moved on down Dalzell to the Rhone River,
about four miles from where it runs into the Kuskokwim. From there
on, the going was much easier. Both the Rhone and the south Fork were overflowing
and freezing with slick ice and the weather was clear and mostly from 30
to 50 below zero.
The moose and caribou were all up above timber line where the small willows
grow and where there was sunshine for about four hours a day and it was
much warmer there than down in the river bottom. We finally found
a good camping spot on the east side of the South Fork, several miles below
Post River. It was on a high bench covered with spruce that were large
enough for boat lumber. A big problem at first was the water; we had to
cut down through some seven feet of ice to get to running water. We set
up a saw pit and got busy with the whipsaw, ripping out enough boards for
a 26-foot boat, six feet wide and scow shaped. We piled the lumber
with strips of wood between so it would dry.
By the time we were finished with that it was the latter part of March
and our moose meat was about gone. so Jim Ward and I went hunting, traveling
light. We figured spring was close at hand and we would siwash it -
that is, carry only some light bedding and a small amount of grub. I took
a caribou skin and Jim a light bedroll.
But winter hadn't finished with us. That night, up on Post River,
it turned cold. There was a five-mile draught down-river and we felt it was
too severe for us to travel back to our main camp. so we made the best we
could of it, taking turns keeping two fires going so we could keep warm
between them. We spent six days and nights there and when it warmed we were
mighty glad to get back to warmer beds.
We found that Mike and Jack were both sick with scurvy, what the miners
called blackleg. Fortunately, I had heard about an old Indian cure for this.
I boiled spruce needles and the under-bark of cottonwood, making a strong
infusion. After a few days of drinking quantities of it, they were up and
Jim Ward didn't get scurvy but did fall in the water hole one day when
it was 40 below. Fortunately, we heard him holler and got him out. He was
almost frozen and his clothes were frozen before we got him to the tent
about 40 yards away. Incidentally, in such a happening the big woolen mittens
we almost always wore could be lifesavers. Once they are wet, they will
quickly freeze to the surrounding surface, giving a handhold by which a
man may pull himself out. If a man just thrashes around in the water, the
sides get so slick he probably never will get out.
Despite the perils and mishaps, we got safely through the winter and in
April we built out boat so as to have it ready for the early May breakup.
The South Fork had frozen to the bottom, then overflowed and built up
the ice to a total depth of 20 feet or more, and it was slow in going out.
We finally loaded everything into the boat and started off with one
man ahead to watch for ice jams. On the second day we arrived at the
Nicolai Indian Village, about 20 miles above the junction of the south and
North Forks of the Kuskokwim. There we heard about a new gold strike on Ganes
Creek and also leaned that Pete McGrath had started a trading post at the
mouth of the Takotna River. We headed first for the trading post and found
that there were in fact two stores. The second was owned by a man named Apple.
We replenished our supplies there, loaded the boat again and necked it
up the Takotna River to Berry's Landing where we set up camp. That
was a hard pull against the current, and that river has a lot of twists
and turns. As an old-timer named Ben Atwater once said, "It is so crooked
you can jump across it and still be on the same side!!"
We set up camp at Berry's Landing made up packs with supplies for three
weeks for the three of us, and left Mike Stagner in charge of the camp while
the rest of us investigated Ganes Creek. It was just over the divide between
the Kuskokwim and the Yukon rivers. Unfortunately, when we got there,
we found that everything had been staked, clear down to where Ganes flows
into the Innoko River. We kept going and found some color on a creek
we named Spruce Creek and staked four claims there. Four more claims
were staked over the divide from the head of Spruce Creek on what we called
Dollar Creek. It also flowed into the Innoko.
By the time we got back to the claims on Spruce Creek, our grub was running
short, so we headed back to camp by way of Yankee Creek. By then we
had been living 12 days, mostly on rice and the dozen grayling Mike fried
up for us were sure a treat. That was good country. All the streams
had grayling, northern pike and other fish and later on in the season there
were salmon. Of course, there were swarms of mosquitoes and other
insects. We had to wear head nets and pack light bug-proof sleeping tents.
These tents did not shut out much of the continuous daylight of that
time of year - until we had been inside for about 10 minutes. By then, so
many mosquitoes had settled on them that they became quite dark.
Although we weren't sure they were worth recording, we decided we had better
find some place to record our eight claims and we headed back to McGrath,
as the trading post was beginning to be known. There we learned that W.
A. Vinal had been appointed U.S. Commissioner and Recorder for the Ganes
Creek District and was on his way to McGrath from Nome. While we waited
for him, we earned some money by freighting supplies up to Berry's Landing.
A storekeeper from Nome had about 3,500 pounds of goods, mostly gum boots
and shoepacs, and we contracted to take them up to Berry's Landing for six
cents a pound. When we got the boat all loaded, it looked like a two-story
house, but we had an easy trip up the crooked, sluggish Takotna.
The storekeeper had a crate of spuds and onions and we hadn't seen any
of either for the best part of a year. He said we could use some, and we
did, with grouse and spruce hens and grayling. The crate was a good deal
emptier when we piled it ashore at the landing.
Commissioner Vinal and his wife were at McGrath by the time we got back
there. They had traveled from Nome to Bethel by steamer, then up up the river
on the Hattie B., a fur buyer's boat. But no grub had come
in yet, and there were a hundred or more prospectors there, waiting impatiently.
We were offered a dollar a pound for our flour, sugar and other supplies,
but we declined. We recorded our claims, then took Judge Vinal and his wife
up to Berry's Landing before we headed back toward the Innoko, leaving Mike
with the boat.
That was hard mining on Spruce Creek. Under the yellow moss, which
was two to four feet thick, everything was frozen solid clear down to bedrock.
The only way to work it was to build fires and thaw down, and sometimes
we went down only about a foot a day. It takes two men to sink a hole, so
I teamed up with Bill Dikeman, who had a claim just below ours. Jim Ward
and Jack Clouse went over to Dollar Creek. About six feet down we found a
fair showing of color, so I took a day off and walked over to Dollar Creek
to see how they were doing and report our progress. It was there on Dollar
that I first met Jack O'Connor. He and his partners had come down the Tanana
and the Yukon from Fairbanks, then up the Innoko. In later years, Jack became
a game warden with the old Alaska Game Commission and I saw him frequently
when I was operating a hunting lodge on Tustumena Lake, on the Kenai.
Bill Dikeman and I had a row after I got back to camp and we split up.
My two partners had had enough of Dollar Creek, too, and we headed back
to McGrath where we visited with Ben Atwater and other old-timers.
While we were there, an old Indian told us about a strike up country and
we concluded to give it a look. We got some supplies from a large
sternwheeler that had come up the river. I bought two cases of Eagle Brand
milk at $20 a case, the first milk any of us had had for a year. I also
traded my heavy Krag .30-40 rifle for a light .30-30 Winchester.
The four of us boated up the Takotna and then up Nixon Fork to a place
where there was a good stand of spruce. We built a 12 by 14 log cabin to
hold our 5,000 pounds of extra supplies. We also whipsawed lumber for a
light 22-foot riverboat which would be better for prospecting than our scow.
The cabin was a dandy, a masterpiece of that kind of construction, if I do
say so myself. There was a lot of birch there and we peeled enough bark
to cover the roof. Birch bark sheds water and doesn't rot. Over the birch
bark we piled six to eight inches of soil and moss for insulation and to
hold down the bark.
Jim Ward knotted up a salmon net with five-inch mesh, making it about 20
feet long. We whittle floats out of dry spruce and used small sacks of gravel
on the lead line. There were plenty of salmon and we smoked up a good supply
of siwash candy. One day, after we had finished the boat, Jim and I pushed
it up Nixon Fork to the foothills and picked a supply of ripe blueberries
and low-bush cranberries. There were lots of grouse and lots of ducks and
geese. The young ones were big and fat but hadn't feathered out enough yet
to be able to fly and for a while we feasted on them and on sour dock which
is generally known in that part of the country as wild rhubarb.
Before the first frost, we crossed over to Ganes Creek to check on our
claims but found everyone there was having poor results. Only a few places
were rich enough to work by hand. Later on, with steam thawing and dredges,
a lot of gold was taken out of that area. But we decided to cross back over
to the Susitna River side of the range as soon as travel conditions were
right. A trapper bought our cabin on Nixon Fork and we returned to
McGrath where we sold the small boat. Then we started the long haul
back up the Kuskokwim. On the way we leaned something more about Indian ways.
At the mouth of Big River we found an old and decrepit Indian. We couldn't
talk with him and we supposed he had gotten lost or accidentally been left
behind. So we loaded him aboard and took him up to the Nicolai village, four
days up-river. We expected to get a hearty welcome when we returned the old
man, but instead the Indians were pretty unhappy with us. The old man was
no longer of any use and was becoming a burden, so he had been left behind
to die. We were interfering with an age-old solution to geriatrics.
The farther we got up the South Fork, the harder the going became, of course
as the river grew narrower and swifter. With three men on the towline and
one in the boat to keep it off the banks, we made slow progress. Now
and then we stopped to prospect some of the side streams but all we found
was some peacock copper and some quicksilver-washed gravel.
By the time the cold weather came and slush ice began
running in the river, we were within 10 miles of where we had built our boat
the previous April. We made camp there to fix up our snowshoes and built three
sleds with lumber from our boat. I also used the top of our mosquito tent
to make myself a canvas parka and faced the hood with fur from a wolverine
I had shot near the camp.
It was really cold by the first of November and with clear weather and
ice ahead, we loaded everything on our sleds and started out. We had learned
a lot the year before and we knew the trail, so we made much better time
on this crossing. I shot a fat cow moose which gave us plenty of meat,
and we had pretty good going the whole way. We pulled into Lake Creek Roadhouse
first, then moved down to Susitna Station after having been away for almost
exactly two years.
Jim Ward and Mike Stagner stayed at the station and later would sled in
a load of supplies to Cache Creek. Jack Clouse and I headed for Seward,
by way of Knik. That was a rugged trip. Fish Creek hadn't frozen over yet
and we stripped to the waist and packed everything across with the thermometer
at around 10 degrees below zero. It was snowing heavily over Crow Creek
Pass and it took us three days to reach Girdwood. My brother Jerry
was taking care of the sawmill at Girdwood and the Alaska Central Railroad
warehouse at Kern Creek, and we visited with him for a few days. The
railroad which had been built only to Mile 41 out of Seward, was shut down
for the winter, but it had been graded and most of the tunnels completed
as far as Mile 52, near Spencer Glacier.
We started along the railroad right-of-way for Seward and it took us four
days to make the trip. There was ice in many of the tunnels and we found
about 25 feet of snow between miles 54 and 45, so we had to break trail over
the summit. It was about New Year's when we got to Seward and separated.
Jack, as I mentioned before, was interested in deep sea diving and he went
to Seattle to learn that trade. I found a former partner, John Coffee, living
along in a log cabin on Pinochle Row at the foot of the hill in Seward and
moved in with him for the winter. We took a contract to cut 16-inch wood
for Harry V. Hoben and Alvin F. Davis, both old-timers from Hope, who were
operating a transfer company in Seward. We found good timber on the south
side of Glacier Creek and made a good grubstake.
As spring began to come on, the claim owners began arriving to start the
summer's work in the placer mines. Doc Herndon, H.H. Morris and Charles
Jacobs together owned most of Nugget Gulch on Cache Creek and John and I
hired out to them. We took our gear and boarded the Portland
for the trip to Seldovia, where we caught a smaller steamer up to Tyonek.
There we waited for the ice to go out of the Susitna. Some 100 other miners
and prospectors were also waiting there.
After about a week, a heavy run of ice came down with the tide and we thought
the river was open. Lee Ellickson owned a small gas boat, the P.V.,
and about a dozen of us headed up-river on her. It was a false start; we
ran into solid ice just above Alexander River and all the boats hauled out
there and we camped four days until the ice broke. Most of the prospectors
headed for susitna Station, but the P.V. kept on up the Susitna
and then the Yentna to the mouth of Lake Creek. From there we packed across
country to Nugget Creek, which took us another four days. We found things
in good shape, the summer's supply of grub having been sledded in during
We put in the summer, shoveling gravel into sluice boxes, making money
for the owners. At the end of it, I joined Jim Ward and Mike Stagner and
we went down to Susitna Station in a small boat. There I ran into Bill Murphy
who had a boat named the Swan, one of the only four boats
working on Upper Cook Inlet at that time. She was about 34 feet long with
a 12-horsepower Frisco Standard gas engine. Another boat was the P.V.,
previously mentioned, and a third was the Lina K., owned by
an old-timer known as Red Jack. Probably he had another name, but I don't
remember it. The Lina K. had a kerosene engine.
Bill Murphy needed a hired hand on the Swan and I signed
on. We were kept busy taking passengers from Susitna Station down to Tyonek
to catch a steamer, or across to some point where they could hike to Seward
to catch a steamer. Around the first of November the ice started to run.
Murphy and I on the Swan and Red Jack on the Lina K.,
started from Tyonek to go to Seldovia for the winter. We didn't have any
charts so we just pointed the boats down the inlet. Then we saw a steamer
which proved to the Bertha and we followed her to Seldovia.
There we found a party of 10 men who wanted badly to get up the Inlet and
they chartered the Swan.
Bill Murphy wanted a bigger boat and I made a down payment on the Swan,
with hope that I could find Jim Ward and take him into partnership on the
deal. We headed for Seward. It took two days to get to Knik, where we bought
an old dory to cross the arm. We worked our way through the ice and made
shore just below Eagle River. We sure were glad to get there because it was
10 below zero and the ice was getting heavier and heavier. We went over Eagle
River Pass and Indian Creek Pass, cutting trail all the way. It took us
eight days and we were out of salt. Did you ever work hard for eight days
without the taste of salt? I don't recommend it. When we got to the roadhouse
at the mouth of Bird Creek we sure enjoyed a big meal of moose meat, boiled
spuds and lots of salt.
We finally made Seward and from there went to Seldovia on the Dora
the mail boat that ran west from Valdez each month. There were lots of odd
jobs for us. One of them was towing piling to Seldovia for W.G. Whorf who
was driving a cannery dock. Gasoline was scarce but there was lots of kerosene
and those old heavy-duty gas engines would run on it once you got them warmed
up. Toward spring, the Alaska Commercial Company started building a wharf
at Port Graham and there was also a cannery starting there, and that made
The A.C. Company was making Port Graham one of its main transfer points.
They had bought the little steamer Tyonek, from P.D. Blodget
to take goods from Port Graham to the Beluga River, where another dock and
warehouse were built. Goods were transferred at Beluga River to a light
draft river boat which went up to Susitna Station. Mining was increasing
on Cache Creek, Peters Creek, Valdez Creek and other points along the Susitna
and this created a demand for more supplies.
We made several trips up the Inlet with passengers that spring, then hired
out to do the hauling for the firm of Snow and Watson. The Alaska Central
Railroad had been recognized as the Alaska Northern Railroad and was building
northward from Mile 41 where tracks had stopped. Snow and Watson had
contracted to do the grading from a point near Mile 52 to Mile 71 at Kern
Creek. Steamers brought construction materials up the Inlet to Fire Island
and we towed loaded barges from there up to Girdwood. There was a sawmill
at Girdwood, cutting bridge timbers and ties and we took these up as far as
Mile 63, now known as Portage. Steel was laid as far as Mile 71 at Kern Creek,
but after that everything shut down and stayed shut down until the federal
government bought the railroad and, starting in 1915, carried it through
With the railroad shutting down, we had to look for new employment for
ourselves and our boat. The Post Office Department was calling for bids
to carry the mail, two boat trips a month from April to December, on a route
that started at Seldovia and ran to such places as Port Graham, Ninilchik,
Kasilof, Kenai, Hope, Sunrise, Knik, Beluga and Tyonek. I went to Seward
in June 1909, to try and raise the necessary bond to put in a bid.
At Seward I found there was a lot of interest in another mail route, a
winter route to the new mining camps in the Iditarod country. Seward was
very anxious to become the terminus of the route and Valdez was after it
too. The Seward Chamber of commerce hired Alfred Lowell to find a feasible
route and Alf, knowing that I had been over the range and into the Kuskokwim,
looked me up. I drew the best map I could of the route we had taken and gave
Alf some tips on what to look for and what to avoid. The next winter he teamed
up with a Japanese fellow, Jujiro Wada, widely known in the North as Wada
the Musher. And together they blazed out what became known as the Iditarod
At Seward I was able to raise the necessary bond and I put in a bid on
the mail contract. Somewhat to my surprise, since I knew the A.C. Company
was also bidding, we got the contract. As soon as we finished our work with
Snow and Watson, we went to Seldovia and began getting out timber for a
new and larger boat. This kept us busy until the following year when we
launched the Bydarky in April, just in time to start carrying
the mail. We were to have an adventurous four years in that business on Cook
Inlet, but that's another story.