North Kenai, now Nikiski, Alaska
Since the Beluga’s are showing up I thought this would be an appropriate story..
I arrived in Alaska in 1967 with three little kids and three suit cases. It was my first ride on an airplane and about my first time out of the State of Colorado.
Never in my 29 years had I seen a large body of water or the ocean or big river, until I came to Alaska. I thought Cook Inlet, with its muddy glacier silt and strong rip-tides, was absolutely beautiful. I still do. I never tire of going down to Arness dock and look out over the water and marvel at the ever changing beauty. It has changed through the years. The sunken landing craft for a dock is gone and a wonderful large dock in its place. The oil rigs in the Inlet have multiplied, produced oil and some are shut down now. I still get great joy in showing newcomers and our visitors, Arness dock or as they call it now – OSK. I kid people and tell them I was born in Colorado on a mountain top and the biggest body of water was a rain puddle. Only half true. I was born and raised on a farm in Northern Colorado and the biggest body of water was mud puddles we played in and the largest stream of water was an irrigation ditch. Black Hollow Lake held irrigation water. The swift waters of the Poudre Canyon and Big Thompson Canyon required days of planning and a few chickens to kill, pluck and fry so we could enjoy a picnic in the mountains. So when I saw all the ponds, lakes, streams, Kenai River, Cooke Inlet and the Ocean out of Homer, I was both fascinated and terrified. I cannot swim a lick and do not like water in my face and I am not terrible found of boats. I do not particularly like to fish, but love to watch other people fish.
One day shortly after we arrived in Alaska, I had to find a job in a hurry and was offered a bookkeeping position at Offshore Fabricators, located at Arness Dock. After the interview, I went back to get my kids being baby sat by my new friend Helen. I wanted them to see how beautiful Cook Inlet was. Beside, said my new boss, “The Beluga’s are in.” “What are they?” I asked. “Big White whales,” he said, “Go down to the dock and walk out on the ship (a sunken liberty ship poured full of concrete to make a dock) and you can see them jump out of the water.” Wanting my kids to see everything, I hurried up the hill in my old Willis Jeep, put the kids in the jeep and thanked Helen for taking care of them.
I drove back down to the dock and parked where the sign said No Parking and walked with my kids in tow, onto the big World War II Landing Craft. That was my first time I had ever been on a boat, sunk with cement or other wise. We walked the long expanse of the deck sticking high out of the water and walked up to the bow, leaned over the railing with the other on-lookers and started looking for Beluga’s. ALL OF THE SUDDEN this BIG creature leaps high out of the water!! My heart jumped out of my throat and I took off running. I stopped when I got to the edge of the dock, realizing then, I had left my kids standing out there!! The kids shouted MOM, their eyes wide with shock. I hollered what was that???? A bystander, who later became my good fried said, that’s a Beluga.
I had to walk all the way back out to the bow of the boat, while everyone was giving me side ways glances to retrieve my kids. They wanted to stay and watch for more Belugas and I had to act like I was brave enough to stay and watch.
My boss and all the welders in Offshore Fabricators shop were looking out the big wide doors and saw my swift get-away. They were impressed at how fast I could run. They eventually became my good friends and I was always teased about the first time I saw a Belugas and my running abilities.
My kids reminded me when I went to get them in the old green Jeep, that I parked very close to the No Parking sign, just in case we had to leave in a hurry. They think I thought Beluga’s were as big as Jonah’s Whale. The kids knew how scared I was of water, boats and a ship in this case. They also knew that I wanted them to see everything in the great State of Alaska. They tell me that I made them hold hands and walk down the middle of the sunken ship with its concrete deck, so we would not fall off or be thrown overboard.
When we got to the bow of the ship. I instructed them to hang on tight to the railing, don’t climb on it, don’t move around, just stand still and watch. The next thing they remember is the Beluga jumping out of the water, me screaming and taking off down the middle of the ship without them. In there utter disbelief Mom was running away from them and leaving them stranded. After all I had told them NOT to move. My oldest daughter says that when I walked back to retrieve them, down the middle of the ship I was shaking like a leaf and barely could talk. I must have been quite a site. A tug boat tied to the dock and all those guys in the fabrication shop saw this lady who had lost her mind, running down the middle of the deck screaming at a Beluga jumping out of the water. And that is how I made my mark and my beginning in Alaska.
The series is written by a 47 year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her Mother, a self taught wonderful cook.
She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day.
Grannie Annie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org