Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spring Time in Alaska #2

I guess my post about the arrival of summer was a bit premature. Approx. 18 inches fell in Anchorage on Friday. The most in April in nearly 100 years. we're still digging out. The geese must be feeling a little double-crossed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


"My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God." - Psalm 92:11-13

Amy and I went for a hike on Sunday with our friends Bub & Bonny. Walking through the deep cedar forest along the Winner Creek Trail near Girdwood makes Psalm 92 very believable.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Arrival of Summer

"One swallow dos not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of March thaw, is the spring. A cardinal, whistling spring to a thaw but later finding himself mistaken, can retrieve his error by resuming his winter silence. A chipmunk, emerging for a sunbath but finding a blizzard, has only to go back to bed. But a migrating goose, staking two hundred miles of black night on the chance of finding a hole in the lake has no easy chance for retreat. His arrival carries the conviction of a prophet who has burned his bridges." -Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac.

The geese arrived in Anchorage on Tuesday. All of them. Some years they trickle in over several days or a week or two. But this year it seems like one evening they were absent and the next morning they were everywhere. We cry "Welcome Back!" and revel in the promise of summer that they carry on their wings. Surely winter can't last much longer now that the geese are here. Time to tune up the bikes, break out the hiking boots, oil the glove and dust off the fishing rods. Summer is upon us.

Amy and I decided to celebrate by making a tradition of an annual goose barbeque when they return (no we aren't cooking a goose, though that's not a bad idea). The day the geese come back we'll fire up the BBQ and grill up some burgers. Despite the snow that lingers in the yard.

For now the geese are everyone's friends, but soon Anchorage residents will begin to murmur and gripe as the playgrounds and ball fields we so look forward to get covered in slimy green goose turds. You see the geese love it here for the same reasons we do.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Arctic Man 2008

Every April in Alaska about 15,000 people descend on the Summit Lake area (i.e. middle of nowhere) to watch the arctic man ski/snowmachine race. But in reality the race is just an excuse for the largest tailgate party in all of Alaska. Since I am the Dept. of Natural Resources representative who issues the permit for this party, I "had" to go there for a field inspection. It's definitely one of the rougher assignments of the year. A co-worker and I loaded up the rental RV on Wednesday morning with two ski-doo snowmachines in tow and headed to Summit. There we inspected the make-shift city for compliance with the permit stipulations and of course spent plenty of time on the machines doing area recon and checking for possible resource damage. It was snowmachiners heaven.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Spring Time in Alaska

I had planned to put the summer tires on the truck today, but with over 6 inches and still falling maybe I'll wait.

I hear the cherry blossoms are already fading in other parts of the country...

Steve's Religious Rambings #1 "Fishers of Men"

One of the reasons I started this blog was to discuss some thoughts on religion. Not because I know the answers, but more to just put my questionings out there.

I recently received an email from an Outside group with plans to evangelize along rivers in Alaska during the salmon runs. Particularly in high concentration areas like the combat fishing zone at the confluence of the Russian and Kenai Rivers. Working with missions teams here in Alaska, they will pass out 20 minute video "tracts" that have fishing tips from Alaskan guides which also weave the gospel along the way. They'd be fishing too. The group encouraged participants to contact church missions committees about sponsorship.

There was a time when I would have thought this was a great idea and wanted to be part of it. Now I'm not so sure. I don't want to criticize anyone's effort to spread the gospel, but lately I've been thinking that witnessing without relationship is a bad idea. So I don't see this missions trip accomplishing anything. If executed poorly it could cause more of a mess than help. At best it has a neutral impact and the missionaries get a cool Alaskan fishing trip out of it. I also question whether this is a good use of church funds, but then again, maybe funding fishing trips is a great idea. I think the outdoors is a fantastic tool for discipleship, but don't really see it or any venue as productive for cold-calling. I'd be a lot more amenable to this fishing trip if it was just a bunch of guys going on an adventure to Alaska with hearts open to hear from God in the theater of his creation. A religious mind-set though has to be DOING something for God rather than just BEING in relationship with him, where true witnessing flows out of. I think too often the Religion of Christianity (as opposed to a relationship with Jesus) stresses in an obligatory fashion things we have to do for God, imposing a lot of guilt on believers. Could it be that soft-pedaling the gospel on safe trips such as this is an easy way to assuage some of that guilt and "do your duty" for God?

BTW-That's me with a 2007 Sockeye salmon from the Russian River.