Snow turns to rain

Posted December 24, 2022 at 10:36 pm by

Freezer Burned: Tales of Interior Alaska

Posted December 24, 2022 at 8:15 pm by

Freez­er Burned is an ongo­ing series for the San Juan Update, writ­ten by Steve Ulvi. Read the pre­vi­ous sto­ry in this series.

Kuuk Riv­er Holidays

The cel­e­bra­tions dur­ing the short­est days of the year are cher­ished by most high lat­i­tude res­i­dents. Proud rur­al north­ern­ers tend to embrace frosty chal­lenges. Well ahead of the cal­en­dar day that sig­ni­fies the first offi­cial day of win­ter, on Decem­ber 21, they live sur­round­ed by thou­sands of miles of snow and ice. The spe­cial days clus­ter togeth­er in the dark­est, but not yet the most bone-chill­ing weeks of the con­ti­nen­tal win­ter in north­ern Alas­ka. The two months of “boom­ing ice and crack­ing trees” are yet to come to this vast upper Yukon Riv­er basin, far from ocean­ic influences.

The nota­tion of the Win­ter Sol­stice on cal­en­dars is a small font in our time; the exact moment of the annu­al solar tran­si­tion, the max­i­mum tilt that shrugs off the sun’s warmth, is now under­stood via pre­cise com­pu­ta­tions and can be pre­dict­ed to the sec­ond far into the future. For most of the era of mod­ern humankind, recog­ni­tion of the day depend­ed upon the care­ful align­ment of stone struc­tures by high priests in long-gone, advanced soci­eties. It was rec­og­nized as a pre­dictable cyclic pat­tern in the heav­ens while the imme­di­ate nat­ur­al world was fraught with dan­ger and flux.

This annu­al demar­ca­tion is espe­cial­ly impor­tant at high­er lat­i­tudes, where the sun burns as bright­ly as any­where on earth, but with­out a scin­til­la of warmth while bare­ly skim­ming the south­ern hori­zon or dis­ap­pear­ing alto­geth­er. We can only imag­ine that the return of the mys­te­ri­ous, life-giv­ing orb was any­thing but cer­tain; espe­cial­ly so for our skin-clad ances­tors endur­ing the bru­tal mil­len­nia of glacia­tion. Even mod­erns embrace pagan roots; light­ing large burn piles to watch sparks join the dome of stars, to invite the return of the sun.

A few days lat­er, the 1983 Christ­mas on the Kuuk Riv­er, just south of the fore­bod­ing arc of the Brooks Range, would pass as so many have in the Alas­ka bush and remote out­posts; in small gath­er­ings of good­will and shar­ing home-made goods and saved treats. But bush life requires labors and flex­i­bil­i­ty in a win­ter-dom­i­nant cli­mate with only a tem­po­rary break for cel­e­bra­tions. Son­ny jumped at the chance to help with every Hen­der­sen fam­i­ly chore; wash­ing dish­es, car­ry­ing fire­wood and even tend­ing to the least pleas­ant dog yard duties. Nate helped Lars make some repairs to the old tracked snow plow. Con­tin­ue Reading

The show will go on for Island Stage Left tonight

Posted December 24, 2022 at 3:57 pm by

Despite the pow­er out­age ear­li­er in the day, Island Stage Left­’s final per­for­mance of A Christ­mas Car­ol will still take place tonight at the San Juan Coun­ty Fair­grounds at 6:30 p.m. If the pow­er goes out again, the orga­niz­ers say that they’ll use a gen­er­a­tor instead. And if the gen­er­a­tor quits, they have lanterns at the ready.

Our 20 favorite photos from 2022 — #7

Posted December 24, 2022 at 11:17 am by

From Feb. 28 — Reflec­tions in the rain on a bench out­side Peace Island Med­ical Center.

Countywide power outage, round two

Posted December 24, 2022 at 9:42 am by

Around 8:30 a.m., San Juan Coun­ty expe­ri­enced its sec­ond major pow­er out­age in less than 48 hours. Accord­ing to OPALCO, the co-op’s main­land feed­er has been affect­ed, which means that all co-op cus­tomers in the islands are cur­rent­ly with­out power.

“With main­land events, response time is slow­er than if it was a local event,” OPALCO said in a state­ment pub­lished on their web­site at 9:30 a.m. “We don’t have a restora­tion time but it will be longer than four hours.”

Encased in ice

Posted December 23, 2022 at 10:31 pm by

High School Eco-Club advances in national technology competition

Posted December 23, 2022 at 12:47 pm by

The San Juan Island School Dis­trict shares good news about the Eco-Club at Fri­day Har­bor High School.

Fri­day Har­bor High School has been named one of 300 final­ists in the 13th annu­al Sam­sung Solve for Tomor­row competition.

Solve for Tomor­row is a nation­al com­pe­ti­tion that chal­lenges U.S. pub­lic school stu­dents in grades 6–12 to explore the role sci­ence, tech­nol­o­gy, engi­neer­ing, and math can play in solv­ing some of the biggest issues in their local communities.

The high school’s Eco-Club stu­dents put togeth­er a pitch to build a more robust emer­gency infor­ma­tion and resource app for our com­mu­ni­ty to help pre­pare for earth­quakes, stronger storms, and poten­tial wild­fire events. They have won $2,500 to help start imple­ment­ing their idea, and if select­ed as the state win­ner will get a $20,000 prize and a poten­tial $50,000 bonus for the high­est-impact-idea award. The nation­al award win­ner receives a $125,000 prize.

The com­pe­ti­tion engages stu­dents in active, hands-on learn­ing that can be applied to real-world prob­lems, mak­ing STEM more tan­gi­ble and show­cas­ing its val­ue beyond the classroom.

Oth­er schools par­tic­i­pat­ing in this year’s com­pe­ti­tion have pro­posed ideas to tack­le geopo­lit­i­cal mat­ters, cli­mate change, school safe­ty, per­son­al safe­ty, men­tal health, school bus com­mut­ing, and more.

Our 20 favorite photos from 2022 — #8

Posted December 23, 2022 at 10:44 am by

From Sept. 6 — Direct­ing traf­fic on the inter­is­land dur­ing Labor Day weekend.

County Fair seeks artists for 2023 poster

Posted December 23, 2022 at 8:51 am by

The orga­niz­ers of the Coun­ty Fair send along a request for help for the 2023 edi­tion of the Fair.

San Juan Coun­ty Parks and Fair staff are already plan­ning for the 2023 Fair. It is with great excite­ment that San Juan Coun­ty announces the theme — Danc­ing with the Steers, a play on the TV show Danc­ing with the Stars. With this in mind, the Fair invites all inter­est­ed artists to sub­mit art for the 2023 poster. Show us your cre­ative ideas of what Danc­ing with the Steers looks like!

The 2023 Fair runs from Aug. 16–19.

The San Juan Coun­ty Fair Board enjoys work­ing with the local artists who donate their tal­ents to make each year’s Fair poster spe­cial. Please review the poster guide­lines on the Fair web­site and email sub­mis­sions to by Mon­day, Jan. 30. The Coun­ty Fair Board will review sub­mis­sions and make a choice dur­ing their Feb­ru­ary meeting.

Another chilly morning

Posted December 22, 2022 at 8:38 pm by

The power is out countywide

Posted December 22, 2022 at 6:09 pm by

Update, 7:25 p.m. — Puget Sound Ener­gy has iden­ti­fied the source of the out­age. Pow­er restora­tion is not expect­ed to start for at least three hours, but pos­si­bly longer.

Accord­ing to OPALCO, Bon­neville Pow­er Admin­is­tra­tion and Puget Sound Ener­gy crews on the main­land are inves­ti­gat­ing the source of the pow­er out­age affect­ing all of San Juan Coun­ty. They aren’t able to offer an esti­mate of when pow­er will be restored.

OPALCO asks co-op mem­bers to turn off heat and most of lights so that the pow­er sys­tem can more eas­i­ly return to full capac­i­ty once the out­age has been resolved.

Our 20 favorite photos from 2022 — #9

Posted December 22, 2022 at 11:43 am by

From March 7 — Evening along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Island Stage Left presents A Christmas Carol

Posted December 22, 2022 at 9:57 am by

Contributed photo

Island Stage Left shares news about the sec­ond pro­duc­tion in their hol­i­day series.

The most delight­ful­ly cold-heart­ed, cyn­i­cal, greedy, mean old man in Eng­lish lit­er­a­ture gets his come­up­pance in Fri­day Har­bor on Dec. 23 and 24, when Island Stage Left presents Broad­way actor Allen Fitzpatrick’s one-man ver­sion of A Christ­mas Car­ol at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. each day, weath­er permitting.

Fitz­patrick plays Ebenez­er Scrooge — “hard and sharp as flint, secret and self-con­tained, and soli­tary as an oys­ter” — plus 25 oth­er char­ac­ters in this vir­tu­oso adap­ta­tion of the Charles Dick­ens clas­sic. Fitz­patrick mod­eled his show on the dra­mat­ic read­ings Dick­ens him­self per­formed. The inti­ma­cy of a one-man show gives a spe­cial per­son­al flair to the sto­ry of a wicked man brought to his knees by a series of painful­ly hon­est ghosts, one of them in the form of a door-knocker.

Fitz­patrick is a sea­soned Broad­way actor who has worked with stars of the pro­fes­sion rang­ing from Stephen Sond­heim and Andrew Lloyd Web­ber to Vanes­sa Red­grave and Pat­ti Lupone. He main­tains a close con­nec­tion to the Pacif­ic North­west, hav­ing appeared many times at the 5th Avenue The­atre, ACT, Seat­tle Rep, the Inti­man The­atre and at Benaroya Hall with the Seat­tle Symphony.

Seat­ing for A Christ­mas Car­ol is lim­it­ed, and though a few no-shows may mean seats will be avail­able at the door, Island Stage Left can’t guar­an­tee a place to those who come with­out reservations.

The first three shows are ful­ly booked, but a few seats remain for the 6:30 p.m. show on Dec. 24. To make a reser­va­tion, email

Admis­sion is free, but dona­tions are grate­ful­ly accept­ed. Masks are strong­ly encour­aged. Per­for­mances take place in the Marie Boe Build­ing, at the San Juan Coun­ty Fair­grounds — 849 Argyle Ave.

A frigid afternoon in the harbor

Posted December 21, 2022 at 7:53 pm by

5k Resolution Run happens New Year’s Day

Posted December 21, 2022 at 5:20 pm by

Island Rec’s sev­enth annu­al Res­o­lu­tion Run 5k run/walk kicks off anoth­er new year in 2023, start­ing at 10 a.m. on Sun­day, Jan. 1 at Jack­son Beach. The route starts and ends at Jack­son’s so that par­tic­i­pants can take an option­al polar dip in the Sal­ish Sea at the end of their run.

Snacks will be pro­vid­ed and Island Rec will have a fire going dur­ing the event. If you’re tak­ing the plunge into the sea, remem­ber to bring a change of clothes.

Reg­is­tra­tion for the Res­o­lu­tion Run is open now. It’s $10 for ages 16-plus and free for every­one 15 and under.

Our 20 favorite photos from 2022 — #10

Posted December 21, 2022 at 11:44 am by

From July 4 — A very big dog in a very small car at the Fourth of July parade.