Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Vacation time is here! We're headed to Hawaii tomorrow for a 12-day vacation where the weather is warm, being barefoot is comfortable and the sun is out. We flew over to Juneau today to make sure we weren't weathered out. Good thing, too, because a snowstorm started mid-way over.

On our flight over was one of the National Park crew on a special assignment to help evacuate Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (one of our destinations). We'll see if we actually make it to that park or not ... stay tuned for what will happen with those reservations, too.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Gridless in Gustavus

Gustavus/Glacier Bay has its own infrastructure for water, power and sewer that runs entirely off the grid. Power comes from diesel generators. Water is collected from rainfall and streams (which is a good thing because there is a natural arsenic supply contaminating the groundwater). Sewage is treated and released or burned (don't ask!). All of this is meticulousy operated and maintained by the excellent staff (Robin and crews) in the Glacier Bay maintenance and utilities departments.

Take a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to keep these systems functioning properly. Make sure to read the captions for the blow-by-blow account of each aspect of the operation.

There are also some photos of a recent patrol trip (Robin is also a boat captain) up Glacier Bay. Another very unique aspect of Glacier Bay is that is one of the only protected areas where commercial fishing is allowed for those holding special permits. We were patrolling during the short (1-week long) tanner crab season. Hey, all in a day's work!

The barge has arrived

And my vehicle was on it and in good shape. Now, it's time to unload, unpack and inspect for any damage.

My only concern is that the flamingo (see the Traveling Trophy blog entry) made it through the journey OK.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tidal influences

The barge with my things missed its window of opportunity yesterday. Turns out it wasn't loaded in time to make it by high high tide and high tide wasn't high enough. (It sails up the Salmon River and needs all the water it can get!)

Rumor has it that it is sailing today and is actually on its way. It is due to arrive at high high tide tomorrow at 4:50 a.m.

The weather report is good with calm seas -- all excellent news for a vehicle parked on a flat piece of metal floating on Icy Strait, an oftentimes treacherous body of water.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Top 10 Things I learned during my move to Gustavus

  1. Moving to Gustavus requires multiple modes of transportation: ferries, planes, barges and automobiles. (See some photos of my journey.)
  2. If you get a flat tire in Juneau, don't call AAA. They'll refer you to a place in Ketchikan, 300 miles away and only reachable by boat or plane.
  3. Quiet bullets are a subculture phenomenon. (In fact, Robin and Molly had a lengthy discussion about the best way to kill a porcupine with them.)
  4. If you're on the fast ferry, hang on for a thrilling, roller coaster ride. Touted as a four-hour tour, this is entirely dependent on sea conditions. If you have sea swells, wind, crashing waves or all of the above (like I had), it's hard to project how long it will take. My journey actually took five hours (not bad).
  5. If you shop enough (we spent much of our time driving up and down the only highway in Juneau, repeatedly stopping at every possible store), you can find some deals: bananas were 7 cents/lb at WalMart (plus 30 cents/lb to fly them to Gustavus -- still a real value!) and eggs were $5.99/5 dozen at Super Bear (it was $11.99/5 dozen at one of the places). Robin also experienced Costco for the first time.
  6. The Juneau WalMart is eerily empty. This is the only WalMart in the known universe that is not jammed with carts, people, kids, RVs and the usual conglomeration of all things uniquely part of the WalMart experience. It feels like a scary movie because of the absence of people!
  7. The barge into Gustavus only arrives at high tide. Estimated arrival date of my jeep, filled with all my stuff, is 4 a.m. Tuesday.
  8. It is possible to fish in a survival suit if you don't have a boat.
  9. The Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles height chart range starts at 2'4" and goes to 6'6". Plus, having your dog with you in the office is OK, but dogs are not allowed in the car during the road test.
  10. Alaska Brewery makes several wheat-free beers ... and Robin's tried them all! (From what he recalls, his favorite is their ESB.)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Fast ferry, flat tire and fevered pitch

The fast ferry, despite a few roller-coaster type incidents (literally) was great. I saw several whales breeching (unbelievable) and several schools of porpoises (cool!) along the way. I even had cell phone coverage to call my mom!

I made it to Juneau and Robin was waiting at the ferry dock. We are staying with this couple and the husband somehow forgot to tell the wife our arrival date. Fortunately, there was still space at the inn.

After tons of shopping, shopping and more shopping (including Robin's first real Costco experience), the Jeep's tire gave out and was completely flat from all the stuff loaded in it. Actually, it wasn't the heavy load. There was a gigantic nail in the @#$#% tire.

After a ridiculous call to AAA for help (the AAA person in Florida offered up Ketchikan, hundreds of miles away and only accessible by boat or plane), we were able to locate a tire repair shop that was actually open on Sunday.

Tomorrow, we drop the Jeep off at the barge company for it's voyage to Gustavus and then Robin and I fly to my new home in Glacier Bay (provided it isn't too foggy, windy, snowy, etc., of course).