Tuesday, October 14, 2014


The title "Ninjineer" was coined by either our landlord Charlie or his son Nolan. Charlie owns several boats and runs a charter business on the Yukon. He and Nolan leverage that into other projects up and down river from Galena. As far as I can tell the only thing that ties the projects together is that a boat is usually required to get to work. They call all theses jobs "ninja" work though I haven't figured out exactly why. I started helping them when Charlie saw the pile of wood I was hauling home and asked if I wanted to help clear a helipad on top of a mountain. Clearing brush will never be exciting work, but getting paid to boat down the Yukon and then hike up a mountain was pretty awesome...

We cleared a 40,000 square foot pad 1000 ft above the river. 
The second job came a week later when Nolan needed someone to run the cellulose insulation machine for a job thirty some miles down river. It was only a one day job, but it did turn out to be the most profitable single day of work I've ever had. Perhaps Nolan coined "Ninjineer" when he saw me modifying the setup to make running the insulation machine more efficient or maybe somewhere else. They've been calling me a Ninjineer ever since then though. 

This perfect mirror I'm sailing on is actually the muddy Yukon river. When the wind and current match velocities it goes completely flat like this. When the river is running against the wind it gets very rough. Getting to know the river a little has been quite interesting. 
A panoramic view with Nolan on the right. Nolan is about my age and has never left Alaska. He doesn't like Anchorage and won't drive there, but he seems to know every channel on the river. 
Heading home after a productive day. This has to be on of the best commutes in the world. 
I took this from Charlie's yard/boat ramp on the bank of the Yukon. The water level peaked above my head/camera level during the flood last year. 
The next project to come up was spraying urethane foam insulation in Galena. I really like the idea of spay foam insulation because it creates a very tightly sealed house. One of my earliest memories is actually spraying our house in Tok when I was a kid. I remember being fascinated with the foam growing after it hit the wall. I looked up some old pictures and the difference is striking. 
Apparently "safety" hadn't been invented yet in 1984.
I wish I had taken a photo of Nolan in a full body suit with face mask and an air hose from the trailer. I don't think Nolan is overly safety conscious, which makes me wonder how we ever survived the 80's at all.  
Towing a truck trailer (containing the foam spraying equipment) with a 4-wheeler. This is definitely a ninja project.  
Last week Charlie got a call for one last run up the river. There were supposedly tower parts (for assembly in clearing above) in Ruby that needed to be brought back to Galena. Why did they wait until it was well below freezing to make this request? I'll probably never know...

Sailing up the Yukon. The generator on the left is running an electric heater in the cab. It turns out river boats are not intended or equipped for operation in below freezing weather... 
Those are chunks of ice floating down the river towards us.
Just before we arrived in Ruby (middle left) we ran into heavier ice. I thought we might have to turn around, but Charlie managed to find a clear route through it Ruby was clear. 
The frozen beach in Ruby. Unfortunately most the stuff we were supposed to haul back wasn't actually there. 

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