Do the Alaskan Bush People get paid? We asked! Read our interview with the Brown family.
On Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People Season 2, Episode 14 “Rocky Seas” (July 3) Billy must sail rough waters to bring his new boat, the Integrity, from Petersburg. Matt and Noah construct an electric generator out of a bicycle.
Season 2 Recaps: Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7 | Episode 8 | Wild Times | Episode 9 | Episode 10 | Episode 11 | Episode 12 | Episode 13 | Episode 14 | SHARK WEEK! | Episode 15 | Episode 16 | Lost Footage | The Wild Year
Billy, Bam, Gabe and Bear are homebound on the Integrity, and the boat is handling well. They even get to see pods of dolphins and orcas, a good omen according to Billy. This is just a total guess, but the Browns could probably make a crap ton more money by taking tourist rubes on dolphin and whale-watching excursions than they could by transporting contraband in their bush freight business.
Back on Chicago Bears Island, Ami is taking Rainy to school. Today they’re going to learn about iron. I’ve spent more than 20 years trying to force everything I learned about chemistry out of my brain, but there’s still some residue somewhere in the corners. It sounded to me like Ami was teaching Rainy about the oxidation of iron, aka “rust.” Ami says, “You can gather some sticks and limbs and twigs and it teaches your kids that learning is much more than just textbooks.” Yes, it teaches them that learning is also about sticks and limbs and twigs. Let’s just absorb the idea for a moment that Ami Brown is teaching someone about chemistry. … Think about that. … I’ll wait. … Rainy is lucky she’ll never need that stuff, anyway.
But enough teaching. Let’s talk about more important things, Rainy, like the main plot of tonight’s episode. Ami tells Rain about the time that Billy went deep into debt buying a bulldozer that only went in reverse. Ami doesn’t want the Integrity to “come back to bite us like the Opal and the Lorcan.” Here’s a little reminder for Ami of exactly how the Opal “bit” them:
Meanwhile, Noah and Matt are in Hoonah at the dump. Noah is looking for bicycle parts and an alternator. Matt is looking for a girlfriend. They’re going to construct a generator to recharge batteries. Remember when Noah tried to build a generator out of a chainsaw and an alternator? Hilarity ensued. “Electricity is life,” says Noah Brown, Tesla of the Bush. Matt gets distracted easily by shiny things, like a bunch of old TVs. He finds a TV/VCR combo, and a few VHS tapes. Matt starts pulling a few feet of tape out of one of the cassettes, and stashes it in his coat pocket as if he’s planning to use it for some shady purpose.
If electricity is life, then the Integrity is S.O.L. It has no lights, and it’s getting dark. Billy’s concerned about floating log “deadheads” like the ones that took out the Opal. (Let’s not tell Billy that all the Deadheads have gone to Chicago for the weekend.) “I don’t want another Opal. I don’t want a log to take this boat out,” Billy says. Here’s a little reminder for Billy of exactly how the Opal got taken out:
Billy is eventually able to dock the boat safely near the Taku Inlet, not to be confused with the Taco Outlet, which is a fast food restaurant I just founded.
Next lesson, Ami is showing Rainy how to sew deer hide. There’s lot of stuff you can make with deer hide, none of which we’ve actually seen the Browns wear or use on this show. For thread, Ami uses dental floss, because she has no need to use it on her three remaining teeth. Obviously, if Ami had been using the dental floss as recommended by the American Dental Association all these years, she’d have a few more teeth. Now there‘s a good lesson for ya, Rainy!
Billy and the boys have been gone a long time, and since Billy can lapse into a coma at the drop of a hat, she’s worried. In fact, the last time she’s been away from Billy is when he lapsed into that coma at the drop of a hat. Ami takes Matt and the Lorcan to Hoonah so she can call
her mom the Petersburg harbor master to find out if/when when Billy left. Ami says some stuff, and then there’s silence, because I have a strong feeling that the Petersburg harbor master was not actually on the line. But hey, we chewed up a little more clock with some pointless drama.
On the subject of pointless drama, the Integrity is now heading into rough weather and choppy seas. Bear is out on the bow getting hit by the spray, and he comes in the cabin saying, “When that hits the face, it’s like freezing and AWESOME!” Because this kid is contractually obligated to say awesome at least once per episode. And then, POOOF! Storm is gone. Seas are calm. It’s almost as if there was no storm at all! That’s that unpredictable Southeast Alaska weather for you! It’s contractually obligated to appear in a few cameos each season.
Noah introduces us to bush welding. Yes, he’s got this welding torch rigged up with a car battery, jumper cables, some vise grips, a metal rod and some flux. All he needs now is 1.21 GIGAWATTS!! He’s going to weld the bicycle gear to the alternator. This sounds to me like something incredibly dangerous that couldn’t possibly work [UPDATE: It can be done!], so you should definitely try this at home. Hey, look! Sparks! Stuff is all welded together now!
The Integrity arrives at Chicago Bears Island. The Skiff has a chance to take out half the family, but he doesn’t. He’s just biding his time. There is much howling and oooing and aaaahhhhing over the size of Billy’s big-ass 1943 62-foot Debtcraft. “Literally I think we’re standing in our future right here,” Billy tells Ami. Rainy’s next lesson should be about the proper use of “literally.” No, your father’s not actually standing knee-deep in future.
And now back to Noah’s ElectroCycle. Noah has mounted this thing to a wooden structure so it’s stationary. They howl Bear over to operate the pedals. Noah’s got an amp meter or something like it to see if Bear is making the juice flow. IT’S WORKING, even though I didn’t see the needle actually move. Did you?
So how long does Bear have to keep pedaling to produce enough power to recharge the battery? About an hour, Noah says. Matt wants to put that power to good use and watch TV with it. Bear gets to be exxxxxxxtreme and just run on the hamster wheel for the rest of his life. Fine by me.
(Digression! This whole bicycle generator thing reminds me of how awful bicycle lights were in the 1980s. I had one of those lights that was powered by a generator attached to the rear bicycle wheel, commonly known as the bottle generator or bottle dynamo. The generator needed to fit tightly against the tire sidewall to spin, and it created so much friction and resistance against the tire that it took a huge effort to pedal. Bart knows what I’m talking about:
I also had a battery-operated one, and those things were even worse. I was a kid and did wheelies and stuff with my bike, and every time I brought the front wheel down, the light would fall out of the housing and dangle by the wires while two big D-cell batteries rolled down the street. And I couldn’t find the batteries BECAUSE I HAD NO LIGHT! Cyclists these days have their advanced compact LEDs and stuff. Dave Lange has a tail light that he wears on his ass while biking, and occasionally he forgets to take it off when he gets into the office. I was at a traffic light once and there was a bicyclist across the street who was flashing some kind of strobe headlight at me. Dude was lucky I wasn’t prone to seizures. A simple headlight and tail light is sufficient. You don’t need your bicycle to emit a Laser Floyd show.)
The Browns gather round the television to watch Attack of the Giant Leeches.
Of course they’re rooting for the leeches.
Back to business, or complete lack thereof. How do the Browns expect to get their bush freighter business up and running if no one knows about them and all the half-assed work they do? You can’t exactly “take out an ad in the bush paper,” Billy says. Well, there’s always Bush Craigslist.
Or MAYOR KENNY SKAFLESTAD! The Brown boys are taking this all the way to the top, because they know Hoonah’s Mayor Kenny likes to be involved in the Browns’ doings. “I do know a lot of people around here, for sure,” Mayor Kenny says. In fact, he knows at least two more people than his opponent in the runoff election knows. Mayor Kenny knows a guy who needs four drums of fuel transported a whole 11 miles, because this is important stuff you need to know as mayor. Since both the Browns and their prospective client communicate by smoke signals, they should have no trouble getting this deal done in the next year or two.
But go figure, the guy gives his business to the weird family with the boat they just got and don’t entirely know how to operate yet. He must not really care all that much about fuel. The Browns are going to do this one at cost, since they want this guy to spread the word about the business. “Hey, this crazy dude just shipped a bunch of my stuff for free! Get in on this deal while they’re still desperate!”
Conveniently, this is the same time that the Lorcan loses the Battle of the Bilge and has to go up on the barter block. “She’s more like the LOR-CAN’T!” Bear says. Hey, Bear, shouldn’t you be pedaling somewhere?
In the interstitial, Noah builds a rotating grindstone to sharpen axes, knives and broadswords. He rigs a hand crank up using leftover bicycle parts. The thing is awkward and barely spins. Rainy just wants to file her fingernails on it.
The Browns have four drums of fuel, and we’re told they weigh 600 pounds each? I call B.S. on that. First, a full drum of diesel fuel at roughly 7 pounds per gallon probably weighs around 400 pounds. And no way in hell would they be able to roll 600-pound drums that easily down the ramp to the dock. And then it starts raining and the deck gets slick while they’re trying to lift the drums into the boat, and Gabe slips and almost loses a drum and a sibling in the process. Oh yeah, sure looks like Billy’s going to give Hoonah the Exxon Valdez treatment. (Sorry, AK friends. Too soon?)
A pretty good episode. You guys know I love whenever someone named Kenny makes an appearance, plus there were some nice references to the Opal incident, Billy’s coma, magical disappearing weather events and bush uses for dental floss.
There’s no new episode next Friday (THANK YOU, SHARK WEEK!), so have a good one. Thanks for putting up with The Skiff while I was away.