The Vortex - 8/16
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It's another nice day out.  I can tell the dew point is a bit higher today.  Probably in the upper 50's as it's a bit humid.  But the temperature is in the mid 70's and with the slight breeze, it isn't too bad.

With all the trolling for lunkers, we haven't caught very many sunnies.  Thus we set out today in search of a spot to anchor the boat and fill the bucket with good sized sunnies.

One spot that's been good in the past is just off the shore from the bridge.  One could actually cast out that far but then he would likely get many snags reeling back in.  Anchoring the boat right in the area is much easier fishing.  Plus one has the advantage of a fairly comfortable seat instead of balancing precariously on the rocks.

Anscar, an 92 year old man that Lewie has come to know over the years, was fishing in the prime territory so we continued across the north lake in search of another spot.  We tried several but nothing yielded anything significant.  After an hour or so, we decided to go back near the bridge and see if Anscar had left.

But he had not.  Lewie instructed me to bring the boat close to Anscar so Lewie could talk with him and inquire about the fishing.  Anscar said it was pretty good and showed us a basket full of large sunnies.  Lewie asked if he minded if we anchored close by.  Anscar said that would be fine.

We were probably only 50 feet or so from Anscar but there were no sunnies in our spot.  We continued to watch Anscar pull them in one after another.  Lewie couldn't stand it anymore and started casting near where Anscar was casting.  Lewie said the trick was to do it when Anscar was "hunched down in the boat fixing his line".  Already embarrassed that we were anchored so close, Denise and I looked away and continued fishing over the side of our boat.

Well it worked for Lewie and he started catching sunnies.  However this only encouraged him to continue his deviant behavior.  Denise and I continued to ignore the situation.

But it didn't take long and we started catching them right next to the boat.  The fish were equivalent to the ones Lewie was stealing right from under Anscar's nose.  But Lewie kept casting in Anscar's direction.  Anscar was either oblivious to the whole episode or really didn't care as there was never any reaction from him.

Finally Anscar pulled up his anchor and started the motor.  As he passed by, he said he was going in because he had a date.  I was surprised by this comment and asked further details.  My mistake.  He did not "have a date".  He was "out of bait".  It's hell getting old.

Immediately, Lewie pulled up our anchor.  He was so anxious to move to Anscar's former spot that I didn't even bother reeling in my line.  I just started the motor and moved the boat.  Denise even caught one on the short trip to Anscar's spot.

We sat there for the next hour and filled our bucket.  There were many times all three of us were bringing in fish simultaneously.  The final count was 33 keepers with many little ones being returned to the lake.

But it was getting hotter and breeze had quit.  We headed in around 2:30 pm to rest our butts and have some lunch.  Although much more comfortable than standing or sitting on a rock, the bleacher type seats in the boat still (as Lewie says) "flatten your ass" pretty good after 3 to 4 hours.  Denise was done for the day but Lewie and I left our things in the boat as we thought we might head out later.

After lunch, I headed down to the fish house to assist Lewie with the cleaning.  The fish house is only large enough for two people at the same time and Lewie and Anscar were already in there.  Lucky me.  I stood outside the door while the two carried on friendly banter back and forth.  At one point Anscar said he wished he had a chair as his legs and back were getting tired.  I told him that I usually stack two boards up so I don't have to bend down as far.  He agreed that was a good idea and added a board that was next to him.  Lewie offered him another board.  Anscar quipped that he "was cleaning fish, not building a house".

About the Boats

Boats here are docked on lifts.  It's kind of like a boat trailer that doesn't have wheels and stays in the water.  It lifts the boat out of the water so it is not damaged when the wind whips up the waves.  If boats were just tied to the docks, the waves would ruin both the dock and the boats.

Those that don't have a lift pull the nose far up the beach.  But no matter if your boat is in a lift or far up on the beach, one usually pulls the plug on the boat so that when it rains, the boat doesn't fill up with water.

With the cleaning done, it was nearly 4:00 pm.  Lewie asked if I wanted to go back out but I declined.  He agreed as he was thirsty and hated to waste a good thirst on water.  We got our things out of the boat but neglected to pull the plug.

We sat outside chatting, having a few beers, and watching the storm clouds roll in.  This is a very common occurrence here and doesn't necessarily mean anything.  Many times the sky gets dark and then the sun is out again.  We joked that it would probably rain since we left the plug in the boat as that's what happened on August 9th.

It was about 7:30 pm and I decided to walk to the steakhouse to buy a bag of ice before it closed at 8:00 pm.  While in the steakhouse, a family from Alaska was inquiring about a spot for the night.  They were given the one next to us so I told them to follow me and I'd show them where is was.

No sooner than I got back and fixed a drink, it started to rain.  No problem for us as the awning was out to shade us from the sun that was beating down on us earlier in the afternoon.  I felt a bit sorry for the family setting up their trailer in the rain and offer them space under our awning.  But thunderstorms aren't common to Alaska and the kids were having a great time playing Frisbee in the rain while their father set things up.  Mom was already in the trailer.

The rain was falling at a steady rate much like a lawn sprinkler.  But it was OK because there was not much wind so the awning provided plenty of protection.  However Lewie and Denise opted for the refuge of the trailer.

After 5 minutes or so, the wind started to get stronger.  Although it was pouring, I've seen the wind come up here before and decided I'd better roll up the awning, no matter how wet I might get while I still had a chance.  The rain was falling even harder and visibility was reduced to about 100 yards.

I entered the trailer dripping wet.  Lewie had a very concerned look on his face.  Come to find out, his awning was out.  Since I was already wet, I offered to drive 3 blocks or so down to his rig and put it up.  But he stubbornly refused for reasons no one will ever know.  After another few minutes, Lewie claimed the rain was letting up and he was going to make a run for it.  The rain really hadn't let up at all and I offered to drive him to his rig.  But he refused and quickly said goodbye as he slammed our door shut on the way out.

The rain was falling even harder now and the wind really picked up.  It was maybe 5 minutes since Lewie left and all of the sudden, the wind started blowing harder than I have ever experienced.  It was driving the rain sideways right into the broadside of our trailer.  I could no longer see out the window.  Just sheets of water mixed with leaves.  The trailer started to rock.

And it didn't stop.  I think it even blew harder.  I figured that if the trailer did tip over, the majority of our injuries would come from shit falling out of the cupboards.  I made sure each and everyone was latched.  Another source of injury would be broken glass so I closed the curtains on the windward side to provide some protection in case they blew in.  I also locked the door for added protection.  Then Denise and I sat on the floor on the windward side of the trailer, hoping our added weight might be the difference between the trailer staying upright or blowing over on its side or worse yet, rolling down the road.

I don't know how long this lasted.  Probably less than 10 minutes but it seemed much longer.  We were concerned if Lewie and his stubborn fit had made it home safely.  I put my wet shorts and shoes back on and headed out to check.

The devastation was unreal.  There were torn awnings.  The empty rental boats on the beach had blown around, only held by their anchors.  Lots of large tree branches were down.  Trash strewn all over the place.  Garbage cans in the lake.  Two boats floating out on the lake with no one in them.  Screen rooms turned into nothing but a pile of metal.  And Lewie's awning blown clear over the top of his motorhome and sitting on his car.  But I could see movement in Lewie's motorhome and his lights were on so I figured he made it in safely.

I looked at the docks and was happy to see our rental was not one of the boats floating out on the lake.  It was still in the lift but the bow had blown off the front of the lift.  I got out and checked it .  The boat was full of water up to the second seat.  The weight of the water is probably the only reason the whole boat didn't blow off the lift and join the other floaters on the lake.

After another 20 minutes or so, the rain let up and it was actually nice outside again.  The stars were out and there was a gentle breeze.  Many people had emerged from their homes and were surveying the damage.  There is debate as to whether it was just a "straight wind" or an actual tornado.  Mike, one of the owners, was in his truck during this event and probably had a better view than most.  He feels it was a tornado because of the way the wind swirled from all directions as it passed over.  First from the north.  Then from the west.  And finally from the south.  Whatever it was (and I'm sure it was very mild compared to many), it's more than I care to experience again.

I took the pictures to the left the next morning.  Some of the debris were already cleaned up but you'll get the idea.  The rain gauge at the steakhouse showed that about 4 inches of rain fell in just about an hour.  Quite a bit of the water has already soaked into the ground but you can still see the flooding.

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