Monday, April 6, 2009

More Ashfall Reflections

Driving into Homer today, I was on the lookout to see just how much ash they got and what the "hit hard" that some people had said was like. I my nose started itching before I was visibly able to see the ash. There is very little snow past Fritz Creek (mile 8 of East End Road) heading into town, so it already looked like a typical dreary, gray spring day. At about mile 3 of EE Road my nose began to itch and I could see what looked like it might be ash on the side of the road. The more I looked (and the further into Homer I got) the more I saw. Where snowpiles in parking lots were melting, a sludge of ash was created. As cars drove down the road clouds of dust? ash? billowed up behind them. Thirty minutes in town and my throat was sore. A few people were wearing masks, but not many. It wasn't something I could smell or feel, but looking closely I could see the signs, and when walking it was even more obvious (and distasteful, and I'm not a particularly finicky person).

ATM's at banks have gone on the blink because of blowing ash and have been shut down, my hearing aids have been behaving erratically in the past few days (they are "delicate electronic equipment!"), I feel grit on my computer keyboard too often (and that is without ashfall here), cars that were dirty before are even dirtier now. People swap stories about "cleaning up" and "how bad was it at your place?" Aaaaaahhhh....nothing like being an Alaskan right now!!

Up where we're at the snow is melting in the warm spring sunshine and the "old ash" from a week or so ago is being exposed again in strange patches like in the photo above. I keep wanting to ski, ache to ski, but it's just not appealing to ski on ash. I've taken up running again, and I'm thinking this is a good summer not to be in Alaska! Normally I relish the clear, untainted air of sea and mountains, but from what I hear, when the snow melts the ash is blowing all over the place. Someone jokingly told me today that the air quality issues we now have remind him of Los Angeles! I'm shaking my head, but not laughing. Of course, this is "natural causes," and who is going to get angry with the Earth for being "earth"?!


B. Diederich said...

Hello. My daughter just moved to Alaska on Sunday, but today when she called with her address, she said it was East End Road, and Fritz Creek, which confused me because I thought she was in Homer. When I google it, the area looks confusing and she even said her sense of direction was all mixed up. I'd warned her during their trip about the ash, but she didn't think there was any in her area (they did put pantyhose over the air intake on the vehicle). Would you happen to be close by?-sorry--perhaps 'close' in Alaska means within 30 miles, not a couple! I think she said her address was 57460, but the phone was cutting out!
Thank you!
I am currently learning a lot about Alaska and this area; I have a brother that has lived in Fairbanks for years, but it seems much different down lower in the state.
I've only read James Michener's 'Alaska' and 'The Journey' and just starting 'Alaska's Wolf Man' and have re-read some of Ben East's short stories. Brrr!

Michelle Waclawski said...

We had the same problem! We couldn't figure out where the heck Fritz Creek was. Basically, it is just a post office that has the Homer zip code, but it is 8 miles out of town for the "hicks" who don't get to town often!! Mail goes through the Homer post office and then we pick it up at Fritz Creek. We kept trying to MapQuest it, and for the life of us could not figure it out!

Wish your daughter luck in her new home! I'm not sure where on EE Road that address is.