Journals, Photos and Videos

Some shuttling experiences and conversations

Let me tell you a little about Wildman’s Shuttling.

First you should meet the drivers.

  • Pat is the most experienced driver. You can see it in his backing with a boat trailer. Alaskan born and raised and knows a lot of local history. Lived in Seward and Moose Pass most of his life and has done many Alaska jobs.
  • Rudy is also a long time Alaskan and also shares Alaska history. He has been telling me about the Japanese attacks on the Aleutians in WWII. Was also around for the 1964 9.2 earthquake.
  • Denny is a Florida resident that has been returning to Cooper Landing for 17 years. He’s been attempting to teach us how to catch red salmon but we’ve had no luck. He can catch 5 while we’re struggling to get our first.
  • Bill is also a Florida resident. He’s the newest to join our shuttling crew and is loving Alaska.
  • Ron is the 3rd Floridian. He’s living in the RV next to us.
  • Cheryl, Jerry and Maureen have stepped in when needed. Cheryl and Jerry are scary good truck/trailer drivers.......Maureen well, just scary.

What we do:
A typical event would have a customer stop in at Wildman’s and schedule to have his truck and trailer shuttled from the Bridge Landing - “Putting In” - to Jim’s Landing - “Taking Out” - about a 10 mile drive. We will go to the Bridge at after the customer’s designated “Put In” time and one of us will drive the truck/trailer to Jim’s (usually 2 hours before the “Take Out” time) while the shuttle vehicle follows.

This is a 10 mile shuttle while the boat or raft is negotiating a pleasant, winding, rapid moving Kenai River. More than likely the customer(s) will stop at several hot fishing spots along the way and when they arrive at the “Take Out” spot their vehicle/trailer is waiting for the.

There are about 5 common shuttle itineraries that range from 3 miles to as many as 20. There is one that requires us to go to Sterling (about 30 miles from Wildman’s) but the shuttle is about 10 miles as it usually is from Upper Skilak Landing.

Two aspects of this job need to be mentioned.
  1. It’s a kick to drive a variety vehicles
  2. Encounters with the Alaskan wildlife is awesome. Please take a look at this. I took this video on a Bridge to Jim’s shuttle.

Early in the season there were a couple of minor scratches to vehicles by the drivers but those seem to be behind us. And Cheryle (the Wildwoman) does a great job of rectifying the situation and pleasing the customer.

The biggest incident occurred a couple of weeks ago. I went down to Wildman’s at 8:30 PM to take a shower and got there just in time to do a cab run. After returning to the store, I noticed a trooper on the deck and, when I walked in, was informed that a truck was missing from the Bridge. The question was - “Could we have moved the wrong vehicle?”. My reaction was “Of course not”.

I went back to look through the Can (where we keep our shuttle work orders). At first glance all looked fine. But there was one thing that jumped out - the last 3 digits on the missing truck was the same as one we were supposed to move. The first 3 digits were different, however.

It turns out that we grabbed the wrong vehicle. The 3 checks we make to identify the vehicle are: Make, Color, Plate. The make was Ford on both. The color was missing on the work order. The plate wasn’t completely checked.

After calling the police, Cheryle took the correct vehicle to Skilak (the 20 miles - 9 of which are dirt and so dusty that the shuttle car following cannot see the customer car) and picked up the “stolen” vehicle. She returned it to Jim’s Landing to a frustrated boater. She was able to cool off the guy and finally got back home at 12:30 AM.

Answer to 2 outstanding questions on your mind:
  1. No, it wasn’t me (it was Bill)
  2. The customer was totally unaware since he was doing an overnight float