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Monday, April 21, 2008

Alaskan Adventure - Adak Island

To get to Adak commercially you have one choice…Alaskan Airlines on either Sunday or Thursday on a 3 hour flight aboard a modified 737. The modification is that the front half of the seating area has been converted to cargo space. Adak doesn’t get a whole lot of visitors. There were only about 20 people on my flight. It was an uneventful flight, with some comic relief from an FAA official sitting in front of me who was coming down to do a rotation at the airfield. When the flight attendant was giving the “emergency exit” speech, the FAA dude muttered, “yeah, yeah…in case of emergency jump out of your seat and get to the aisle. Run left OR right until you hit a wall. Turn left OR right and jump out of the plane. No problems.”

Himself met me the airport, which was a treat as we weren’t sure he’d be able to come in (the medical officer has to be at pretty close call). Not only did he get to meet me, he had a few hours before he had to be back! So we gathered my bags, got the key to my lodging and the key to my rental truck. Ah my rental truck. It was an OLD Navy issued F150 with so many dents and rust that there wasn’t much more I could ever do to it. Worked for me as the ice potholes sure made driving rough going. Found out a few folks from Trident corporate had come in on my plane too for some business on the ship, so I offered to drive them from the airport to the ship. Then Himself and I headed over to my place to get rid of my things.

What a pleasant surprise when we arrived at my digs. It was a townhouse left from when the Navy had a base here. I had a fully furnished 2 bedroom apartment, complete with satellite TV with 103 channels! Nice! After bringing in my stuff we hopped back in the truck and headed out to get some supper at the “Aleutian Bar and Grill” and take a quick look around. All too soon it was time for Himself to head back to the Indy.

Next day was shore leave and everyone was able to come in to enjoy a bit of time off. Himself and I checked out the General Store (or I should say I checked out the store as he has been in it many times) and had lunch at the “The Cold Rock Café”. Then we took off in Ol’ Rattletrap to explore what we could of the island. Thaw was just starting so I didn’t get to range far afield as I had hoped…the outer roads were still snow covered to the point that you could not see where they were. But there was a beautiful black sand beach that we spent a long and lovely afternoon exploring.

Tide was out and we beach combed for shells (leaving those who still had someone living in them), interesting rocks and the rare piece of driftwood (there are hardly any trees in the Aleutians so driftwood is not common). We were the only ones on the beach unless you count the seagulls and eagles (both Golden and Bald). Too soon the day ended and I took Himself back to the ship which was headed back out to the bay.

Due to the ship business being done by the corporate folks, I ended up spending 2 extra full days on Adak. And it worked out wonderfully. Day two was one of the rare ‘perfect’ days on Adak. Blue sky, no wind…calm and peaceful. I was out as soon as it was light – that being around 9am and didn’t come back until around 7 pm. If there were something to see…I saw it. Back to the black sand beach, over to the seawall at the harbor to watch eagles and a Stellar sea lion, down to the small boat dock, up on the ridge. Rattletrap and I were everywhere. I shot a lot of photos that day.

The next day showed the other face of Adak. It’s is called “The birthplace of the winds” and she showed her moodiness with a snowstorm and howling 45 MPH winds. A good time to nestle in and enjoy a bit of that satellite TV while watching the swirling snows outside my picture window. The blow died down (winds went down to around 25 MPH) about the same time as my “Top Chef” marathon was finished, so I headed out to see this side of Adak life. BRRRR!! Dropped in to tell Elaine ‘hello’ and headed over to the grill to get a carry-out of their egg rolls for supper.

Adak town itself is an extremely small, close-knit community, from what I could see. There is a fish processing factory, the ship docks, a community medical clinic, a small public school, the airfield, public works buildings, the “General Store” for most household needs and also the “Bake and Tackle” that has a nice little bakery in it, the “Cold Rock Café” for breakfast and lunch and the “Aluetian Bar and Grill” for supper and a drink. The post office is open on Sunday cause that’s when the mail comes in and then closed on Monday. Since everything comes in by cargo ship or on the airplane, prices are a wee bit outrageious. Let’s see… I paid $7 for a package of BallPark hot dogs, $6.89 for a half gallon of milk and $3 for a loaf of bread.

Golden eagle...I think!

A cold afternoon.

Fishing boat coming into Adak harbor.


The Adak gas station.
Better not run out of gas!
Beach treasure.


  1. That was an excellent article..Can one just ruck up and set out to hike round the island there?


    1. While there are a few 'off limits' areas, as I understand it one can pretty much explore the whole island. When I was visiting there was about 3 feet of snow so I didn't much looking into hiking opportunities.


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