Friday, October 13, 2017

Life in a WW2 bunker wasn't too bad

For a while I lived in a WW2 bunker in Kodiak.

It was dry, solid and not too likely to fall in on me because it was made of concrete and several feet thick. It had a gorgeous view overlooking Monashka Bay and you could see the ferry going to Port Lions every so often. I had a bunk of sorts made of scrap lumber to keep me off of the concrete deck at night. I also had a small table I kept my primus stove on for cooking. The table could double as a bunk if needed.

The observation/machine gun slits let in enough light so I could get around during the day. They also seemed to let in very little rain or snow so the floor was generally pretty dry.

There was a nearby porta potty and there was water available nearby so one could stay fairly clean. I had a cold water shower rigged that was at least useful. Still, a warm water shower from the laundromat was a lot nicer. I seldom used the cold water shower. It was only a buck or two for a nice shower. However the homebrew shower was there if I needed it.

There was also an air vent that caused some discussion about putting in a barrel stove but someone had tried that and the powers that be nixed it.
All in all it was a fairly comfortable life that would be interrupted by being kicked out for about a week every month or so. The park ranger would give us the boot and we’d leave. He once told me to simply leave my bunk and table because he knew I’d be back in about a week.

About a week later I’d return and start another month or so. It was somewhat cyclic and I understood the drill. Someone would get on the ranger’s ass over people living in Abercrombie and he’d boot us out and report that people that had overstayed had been booted out.

Camping was legal there but there was a limit as to how long one could stay. However, there was no real rule regarding how many days per year one could stay, hence the ability to return.

Of course, I did not own the bunker and had no real rights. Every so often I would find a temporary roommate had appeared. I had no objections just so long as they were not too much of a slob and used the trash can located three feet outside of the door.

It really wasn’t too secure but I had already made a couple of friends and could stash my tools and any semi valuables at their place and could retrieve them anytime I needed to. It was a lesson I learned the hard way. I had been ripped off for most of my hand tools and my rifle, and old WW2 Mauser. If you find a German Mauser with a serial number of 3177T please let me know. I’d LOVE to have it back.

A couple of times I would arrive home to find an odd can of beans or hash missing. On the other hand, sometimes I’d find a few things dropped off, mainly Rainier beer. It all seemed to come out in the wash. Sometimes I’d find a couple dented cans of salmon or shrimp, most likely left by someone that worked in a cannery.

Transportation was no problem as I could either walk a couple of miles to town if I had to. I don’t remember walking all the way, though. Someone always seemed to stop and give me a ride.

For a guy in his twenties with no responsibilities it was a pretty good deal. It cost me exactly nothing. In short, life was pretty good.

While I didn’t have much, I didn’t need much and I had the one thing that most people didn’t have. I had time. I also had the ability to make a little money by working odd jobs. There were a lot of them to be had if I wanted them. I could afford to work to live instead of live to work.

What was amazing was that I paid very little for food. One would think that food in Alaska would be expensive and if I bought it food was expensive as compared to what it cost in the Lower 48. However, there was fish and venison to be had simply for the taking. There was a crab ring off of the fuel dock that was constantly full of King crab, free for the taking. Etiquette required only rebaiting it after taking a few crabs. The bait was free.

Salmon could be caught in the Buskin River, other fish I could catch off of the cannery docks. Sometimes I would trade an extra salmon or a couple of crabs for something else with fellow campers. Venison was pretty much a freebie as I knew a couple of poachers. They occasionally poached one of the King’s deer. (It’s an Anglo- Saxon thing. You wouldn’t understand.)

In addition to that I traded my skills along the way and pretty much lived on a barter economy. I’d fix things or make stuff and trade it for whatever I needed. Sometimes people would hire me to do carpentry. I had basic tools so I was good to go there.

Because I was somewhat talented I was welcome in a number of camps. I made myself useful. I recall more than one camper that I helped out by teaching them a few tricks. I taught a few people how to properly ‘ditch’ a tent to keep from getting flooded out in the rain that was pretty frequent.

Another time this couple had a rally leaky tent. I spied a tarp in a dumpster and snagged it along with some rope. I rigged a fly for their tent and from then on they stayed dry. I ate over their camp several times after that. It had cost me nothing.

My expenses were low so much of what I made I kept. When I left I had a few bucks to live comfortably on for a while until I found work in Seattle.

Between May and October that year I had one hell of a comfortable Alaskan existence with little fuss or bother.  Come October I left for the Seattle area and jungled up for the winter but that’s another story.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

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