Sunday, March 22, 2015

Blog# 11

The following is an excerpt from a book I am writing about my eight years as a National Park Ranger. It is part of a chapter about Glacier Bay National Monument in 1969. Glacier Bay is now a National Park.

Life at a remote station

Our groceries came every eight weeks on the MV Nunatak. The boat was a seventy two foot vessel built for the U.S. Biological Survey in the 1920s and had been used in the Bering Sea. She would do ten knots no matter if you had her at half or full throttle and was an excellent boat for a base of field operations. The Captain, Jim Sanders was a former Coastguard NCO and knew his vessel and the waters very well. There was a cook-deckhand named Bill Meyers who was a backup at the helm, kept the boat reasonably well tidied up, and cooked our meals for us. Bill drank whiskey and read philosophy books in the evening and could be counted on for fascinating and hilarious discussions about politics and world events.

The down side to the old boat was that it was infested with cockroaches. When Susie and the children and I toted our groceries from the boat to our houses, we would unload the boxes outside and after inspecting every package, take them inside. We burned the boxes because the roaches would lay eggs in the corrugations of the cardboard and stow away into our pantries.

On a trip to Muir Inlet on the Nunatak, our regional director was aboard and Bill Meyers had purchased steaks for all of us. As he served the hot platters with steaks and potatoes, a roach dropped off the overhead and landed on the regional director’s steak. He jumped up and yelled at Superintendent Bob Howe, “Howe, why don’t you get rid of these God Damned cockroaches!” Bob grabbed his briefcase and pulled out a sheaf of old requests for funding for the exact purpose and told him, “I've been asking for this for three years and you keep turning me down.” With a lot of cursing, the Regional Director said he wasn't hungry and retired to his bunk. Ranger Greg Streveler and I cut out a little piece of the steak the roach had landed on and split the rest between us. But the cook had the last word. He looked at us and said, “I saw that bugger walking across the overhead and just as he got to the right place I willed him. Under my breath I said, ‘drop you sonofabitch,’ and he did.” That winter The MV Nunatak was taken to Seattle for a haul-out and was fumigated. We had Bill and his trained roach to thank.

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