After loading all his equipment on to the ATV, Joe headed up the trail to his cabin with Allen trudging along behind. The trail was steep and very soon Allen was out of breath. Finding a nice rock he decided to sit down for a rest while Joe continued up to the cabin. Arriving at the cabin Joe looked down the trail with no sign of Allen. After unloading the ATV and stacking Allen’s equipment at the bottom step to the cabin, Joe got back on the ATV and went down the trail looking for the kid. There he was sitting on a rock, puffing on some kind of a cigarette. Joe in formed him that he needed to keep his eyes open for bears and to get on up to the cabin. Allen then asked, “Aren’t you going to give me a ride up?” To which Joe replied, “You got two good feet, get yourself up and watch out for bears. That’s bear scat you just stepped in and it’s steaming fresh.”
Once up at the cabin, Allen finally got all his stuff inside and Joe pointed to a bed over in the corner, “That’s your bunk over there.” Allen replied, “I was hoping for one closer to the window where I could look out and see the effects of Global Warming, oh and where's is my bathroom?” Joe replied “Well, the outhouse is about 100 feet up that trail on the North side of the cabin and the wash tub is out back. We get baths on Saturday evenings, and If you just need to water the grass, get a little ways away from the house.” Allen replied with “You mean you don’t take a shower every morning???”
Over the next several days, things did not go well for Allen. First of all he found out that his new iPhone 5 did not receive any signal. Not being able to text with the guys in the protest back home was a devastating blow. And Joe, informed him that his chores included keeping the wood box filled and fetching water from the stream down the hill. Allen’s response was “Why don’t you just open the faucet? Where is the gas stove?” Yes, life for Allen was going to be quite difficult for the next couple months, especially after the fourth day when the battery in his iPhone went dead, with no electricity he could not recharge it.
One afternoon Joe told the kid that he was going to show him how to shoot a rifle just in case he needs to protect himself. Allen replied "Guns kill people and cause wars, my teachers in California say that guns are bad and we should ban them." This really startled Joe as he grabbed his rifle. "Let's go" as he motioned to Allen, and they went out behind the cabin. Joe had a well used target painted on an old piece of plywood that was nailed to a post. Joe proceeded to explained all the different parts of the gun to the kid, how to hold it and how to squeeze the trigger. He then put it to his shoulder and fired a round into the target. He then handed the gun to Allen and helped him aim it at the target. As soon as Joe removed his hold on the rifle, Allen almost dropped it to the ground. "Wow is that gun heavy." After several tries Allen pulled the trigger, completely missing the board. "Uncle Joe, this thing is just too heavy." "Kid, this is something that you need to learn in case you need to protect yourself." After several more try's Allen was finally able to actually hit the target. "Uncle Joe, my teachers and friends say, that guns are bad, and bears look so cuddly."
On about the fifth day, Joe informed the kid that the wood box was getting low and that he needed to help split some wood. Pointing to a log, Joe said “You should have this log bucked and split before lunch.” To which Allen replied “How do I do that?” For the next two hours Joe explained to the kid how to use the chain saw, splitting maul and wedges. Needless to say, by noon, the log was cut and split with Joe having done most of the work. Joe said “Let’s get some lunch and this afternoon you can start on that log over there.
Later that afternoon and two ax handles later, Allen was finally getting hang of splitting wood by driving the wedges into the end of the log and splitting wood. His hands were showing the signs of his efforts with several blisters on each hand. Allen proudly exclaimed “I got it done Uncle Joe; the log is all bucked, split and stacked just like you wanted.” Joe replied “Yup, that’s good, tomorrow you can work on the next log in the pile.”
That night Allen was tired and slept like a log. With sore muscles the next morning, he decided he would sleep in for an hour or so. Laying in his bunk he was awakened by a very loud bang just outside, then another even louder bang. Then he heard Joe’s yelled “got him.” Within moments, Joe called to Allen, "I got a moose, get out here and help me hang it so we can gut, skin, and butcher it.” Allen was mortified “You killed Bambi. Why did you kill Bambi?” “Come on kid, we got work to do.” With very sore muscles from the previous day Allen slowly got dressed and wondered outside. To Allen’s horror Joe had cut its throat and was gutting it. Then Joe started dragging the moose closer to the cabin and hung up between two trees. Then Joe proceed to butcher the animal as the kid just stood back horrified. “Uncle Joe, if you would get your meat at the meat market, no animals would have to die” As Joe finished up he looked over to the kid and commented “you afraid to get your hands bloody.” “Where do you think your meat comes from?”
“As you were unable to help with the butchering, get that shovel, go back where I gutted this critter and bury the remains over by that tree.” “Make sure that you get it deep as we don’t want any animals to dig it back up.” Allen slowly proceeded to dig a hole, scooped up the remains with the shovel and dragged them over to the hole then covered them up. Joe commented again “sure hope you got that hole deep enough so nothing digs it back up.”
Over the next several days, Allen continued to chop wood and keep the cabin supplied with water. Then one evening Joe suggested that the next morning they might hike over to Lost Lake and do some fishing. Allen was all for it, as it would be a relief from chopping wood. Early the next morning, Joe was up having breakfast telling Allen that if he wanted to go he had better get out of bed and get going. Allen slowly got up and got his clothes on. By that time Joe was ready and said to Allen, “you can use this pole, let’s go.” But Uncle Joe, I haven’t had breakfast yet.” “Grab a couple slices of bread and come on.” Off they went with Allen tagging along.
Soon they arrived at Lost Lake and Joe started to explain to Allen how to bait his hook and cast his hook out into the lake. Then Joe handed him the pole and suggested he sit on a near by rock and wait. Then Joe baited his hook and casted it out into the lake. Before he could even find a place to sit, he had a bite, and pulled in a beautiful 14 inch Cutthroat trout. Less then half later Joe had a dozen beautiful trout, none under 12 inches. “Well, we have our limit, let’s clean them and get back to the Cabin.” Allen commented “but Uncle Joe, I haven’t caught one yet. Don’t worry about it kid, I got enough for booth of us.”
Just then Joe heard a rustle in the bushes and out sauntered a black bear. Allen commented “Oh look Uncle Joe, isn’t he cute. Let’s pet him.” Joe yelled, “GET BACK, damn kid” as he fired a round from his 44 Smith & Wesson Magnum over the bear’s head. Fortunately, the bear took the hint and took off running back into the bushes. “But Uncle Joe, he was so cute.” “Yea kid, he wanted you and these cute fish for his lunch, now let’s get these fish cleaned and back to the cabin before he comes back.”
Joe went down to the lake and told Allen to come with him to see him how to clean the fish. “I’ll do a couple, then you can do the rest.” As Joe proceeded to slice the fish open, Allen moaned “that’s gross; you are hurting the poor fishes.” “Don’t worry kid, they're dead and can’t feel a thing. Now get over here and start gutting.” “Oh, the poor little fishes.”
That evening Joe had cooked up several of the trout and put them out on the table. Allen looked at them and commented “sorry poor fishes, but I am real hungry and guess I will have to try you. Uncle Joe, if you would have gotten them at the grocery store, no fishes would have had to die.” “Yea, right kid.” Soon Allen commented, “Darn, these fish are sure good, can I have another?” "Sure you can, but tomorrow you need to get down to the lake and catch some more and this time put some bait on your hook."
Allen’s Alaska stay was not going at all as he had expected. His iPhone gets no reception and now the batteries are dead with no way to recharge them. Allen is unable to find any of the environmental problems his professors told him he would find and he could not confer with them to find out what he should be looking for. His body was one ache from head to toe from bucking and splitting wood. What could be worse, he has only been here about a week and with two months to go, he was one very discouraged young man.
Over the next month or so Allen finds that his aches are going away, his blisters have turned into calluses and he can buck 4 to 5 logs in a morning rather than barely one. No longer does he want to gag and puke when he uses the outhouse. Allen had been converted from a wimp into a man.
Late one evening in early August Joe commented to Allen “I think that we need to take a trip to Millertown to get some groceries. We are about out of salt and ammo. Also, I need to cash in my nuggets and dust for cash so I can lay in store supplies for the winter."
At about 10:43 Joe and Allen were waiting trackside for the Flag Stop RDC on it's north bound run. Once They are on board, the train continued north and they arrived in Millertown just before noon. Once off the train, Joe comments that they need to have lunch at Alaska Bar and Grill. While woofing down a hamburger Allen comments that "this burger is nowhere as good as the fresh trout from Lost Lake". When they are finished, Joe tells Allen that he is going to go over to the Bank to sell his gold. To which Allen says that he would like to take a look around town.
Just down the street, Allen meets a rather attractive young lady who quickly strikes up a conversation with him and invites him into her establishment. Fortunately, Joe was not far behind and was able to grab Allen just before he entered the building. Joe explained to the kid that he was about to be hustled by a prostitute. Joe told him that he better stick close to him while they were in town.
Joe's first stop was at the bank to sell his gold. Allen noticed that the bank was equipped with a balance scale with which to weigh gold. Joe pored the contents of his pouch onto side of the balance and the clerk then added and removed weights until a balance was achieved. The clerk then entered some numbers into his calculator then told Joe that he would give him $24,387.24 for the gold. Joe quickly agreed, they shook hands and shortly there after the money was counted out to him.
With the banking done Joe went a couple stores down the street to the General Store. The clerk knew Joe quite well and the two exchanged greetings. Joe purchased several different boxes of ammunition in different caliber and gage, several cartons of table salt, a few jars of homemade preserves. Then he picked 4 flannel shirts and 2 pair of jeans and some other items. After paying for his supplies, they loaded everything into their backpacks and headed back to the train depot to catch the southbound train back to the cabin.
Arriving back at the train with hardly a minute to spare they boarded as the train was ready to depart. As soon fond seats, the train was pulling out, and Millertown disappeared from view. Their trip back to the cabin was made in silence, each lost in their own thoughts of the day events.
Soon, the train rolled to a stop at the trail to Joe's cabin, they got off and slung their packs on. As they started up the trail Allen rounded the first bend when he came face to face with a bull moose with an enormous antler rack. Seeing the animal the kid immediately froze in his tracks. Cautiously Allen whispered "Uncle Joe, please let me take him." Joe slowly handed the kid his Winchester and watched as he took aim, and slowly squeezed the trigger dropping the moose in it's tracks. "I got him Uncle Joe." "Yea, good shot kid." Quickly removing the male parts Joe exclaims "Let's gut him so we can get it hung and skinned." "Keep a sharp eye out for bears, we don't want to share it." It was a long evening for Allen before they had everything butchered and put away.
It was now the middle of August and about time for Allen to return home and his Environmental Studies at UC whatever it was. Allen had really learned a lot about living and what it takes to survive in the bush. He especially learned a lot about the environment, especially where food really came from and how nature really worked. "Wow, were his professors full of Moose Nuggets about what they had taught him and he was going to tell them a thing or two.
Allen had come to Alaska as a misinformed kid, but was returning as a well informed man not only in mind but also in body. The next afternoon Joe put Allen on the south bound train heading for Johnstown and eventually home. Just before Allen boarded the train he exclaimed to Joe "I love it here and would really like to come back next summer." "Now I really know just how dumb those folks back home really are"