Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jökulhlaup time

Glaciers are a big thing around Southeast Alaska, and there are several of them in danger of cutting off lakes and creating a dam. Once the water is blocked off, there is a danger of flooding. This phenomenon is called "Jökulhlaup". This occurs pretty regularly at the Tulsequah Glacier near Juneau and the Salmon Glacier near Hyder. It is close to happening right now at the Tweedsmuir Glacier, which is surging towards the Alsek River near Yakutat and Dry Bay.

We are also in a large tsunami zone, with one of the largest tsunamis ever recorded occuring in Lituya Bay in Glacier Bay National Park.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Weekend wildlife

I was out picking blueberries in front of my house and heard this loud, reverberating sound. Robin and I looked at each other, eyes wide, and both said, "Whale." We looked out at the water and sure enough, there was a whale swimming around in Bartlett Cove. Absolutely amazing.

Now that I've successfully harassed and chased down Porky for his picture, I've since been on the lookout to get a good photo of a bear. Yesterday, one of our friends called to alert me that a bear had his paws up on his office window and was snorting and spraying bear snot all over it. I hopped in the truck and went down to see for myself. By the time I got there, the bear was up in the blueberry bushes, chowing down. I got a few photos (but it's raining and windy so that upload has to wait), but am still on the prowl for a more up-close and personal shot.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Alaska anniversary

It has been one whole year that I have been in Alaska. What a year it has been!

I can't believe all that has happened (getting here, getting engaged, getting on ferries, boats and float planes), all that I have seen (bears, rain forests, whales, eagles), all that I have done (hiking, touring, fishing, boating) and all the places I have had the great opportunity to visit (Yakutat, Anchorage, Seward, Gustavus, Sitka, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Juneau, Skagway, Coffman Cove, Craig, Naukati, Thorne Bay, Whale Pass).

I extended my official SEAtrails commitment until Aug. 31. After that, I will be playing for a month or so and not working (although my work has been phenomenal).

What could be better?!?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Top 10 Thorne Bay trip highlights

  1. Touring the countryside and marking a trail with Robin, Karen P. and Jim (KP's husband, Forest Service geologist and record-breaking huntin' fool) on 4-wheelers during our quest for an unmapped cave
  2. Seeing what must be one of the only places in America where you write down how many gallons of gas you pumped and your name and leave it in an ice cream bucket
  3. Watching fireworks with Robin in Craig over the 4th of July while KP worried and fretted in the background about fireworks injuries and EMS calls
  4. Having my ass fall asleep (and hearing about KP's and Robin's asses falling asleep) from sitting 4 abreast in the cab of a pickup for hours on end while driving all over the place on gravel logging roads (El Capitan, Whale Pass, Thorne Bay, etc.) and trying to scare KP with our "reckless" driving
  5. Eating soft-serve ice cream (something I haven't had in a year!)
  6. Staying at a backcountry lodge owned by KP's and Jim's friends
  7. Stocking shelves and seeing how to run a liquor/video store in the middle of nowhere
  8. Watching Jim call in a deer to within 5 feet of him using a simple blade of grass
  9. Seeing the boys fly fish at Trumpeter Lake
  10. Seeing things uniquely Alaskan, like a teeny, tiny Sitka black tail deer fawn, a bear beside the road, salmon jumping upstream, signs about how to use your firearm in a residential area, hanging roadside effigies and more

Take a look at pictures of Thorne Bay and Prince of Wales Island.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Even more photos

Here are a slew of photos from when my sister Pat (daughter #2) and sister Betty (daughter #6) visited in June. (This was also the first meeting between Robin and any members of my family. We're still engaged so they didn't scare him off!)

We took a trip up Glacier Bay and saw all sorts of wildlife and awesome scenery.

Check out these pictures of Glacier Bay, hanging around my house and Sitka.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Photo show

Fortunately, it hasn't been windy and thanks to a tarp over the satellite thingy, I have been able to upload photos despite the rain.

Gustavus doesn't really offer a lot of social activities, but there are things to do. So far, I haven't made it to the monthly bunko game, but I have done a lot of fishing, seen a lot of wildlife and taken a lot of pictures.

Take a look at some wildlife around Gustavus.

For those of you who have been asking about where I live, Google satellite has it down to where you can see my house, too. The house overlooks Bartlett Cove and is great (except for the recent crack though the entire living room ceiling from when some young workers were putting insulation in the attic and stepped on the drywall instead of the rafters).

See pictures of the inside of our house.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The girls in Gustavus

My sisters were here in June and really enjoyed their time here in Gustavus. They thought the town tour would only take an hour or less, but in reality, they never ended up seeing the whole place.

For instance, they didn't get a chance to golf on the 9-hole course or tour the petroleum museum inside the one-and-only gas station in town, complete with working 1930-something pumps. They didn't get to partake in mushing the huskies at the husky ranch (on a wheeled sled) or dine at the pizza place at the "mall".

But, they did do a neat hike through the rain forest, tour Glacier Bay, get an up-close and personal look at a rural health clinic and see some incredible scenery and wildlife.

See the photos of the girls in Gustavus.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Top 10 things I learned while in Thorne Bay

  1. If you see a porcupine, beware! Prince of Wales Island has no porcupines and what you're looking at is a bear cub who's pissed off mother is not far away.
  2. As with almost every other place in Alaska I've been, there is a place named Sandy Beach and a bar named Pioneer Bar.
  3. Running a liquor store is not as glamourous as one would think ... it is ~a lot~ of work hauling, moving and throwing around cases of beer and wine.
  4. Camp meat is meat obtained that is not subject to hunting rules and regulations (although you won't find anyone admitting to such a practice around law enforcement...I hear fawn is really quite tender and really falls off the bone).
  5. There are virtually no road signs on the island and if there are, they are probably not correct. For example, in one 20-yard stretch of road, one sign posted mileage to Hollis as 90 miles, another as 74 miles and a third as 94 miles.
  6. You can still buy gasoline on the honor system. Simple write down who you are, the total gallons of fuel you pumped and leave the slip of paper in the 5-quart ice cream bucket.
  7. You can use firearms in a residential area, but a sign requests that you "use caution".
  8. If salmon fishing is out of season, nothing says you can't "hunt" them (which means shooting them while they jump out of the water on their way upstream).
  9. If done properly, you can emulate a bleating fawn by blowing through blades of grass and attract a deer (or bear) to within 10 feet of you.
  10. Driving sideways, getting too close to the shoulder, catching air or meeting an oncoming vehicle while driving down the road is a slam-dunk way to make Karen P. scream and cover her eyes.

News around Gustavus

We returned to Gustavus from our POW trip to news of a grounded cruise ship up Glacier Bay. Robin helped get the boom (a temporary floating barrier used to contain any leaks) ready that they deployed around the ship.

Read the full story: Cruise ship runs aground in Glacier Bay.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Traveling to Thorne Bay

Wow, I can't believe I've been here almost a year! This week's travel brings me back to Thorne Bay, originally a logging camp and site of one of my first travels in Alaska (you can see my old pictures from my "you know it's a small town when" posting).

Robin and I will be visiting my "official" supervisor, one of the Karen triumvirate associated with SEAtrails. She is amazing and someone I truly admire. A quintessential over-achiever, KP works at a regular job ... and she finds time to run two liquor stores, is part of the emergency medical team, is a board member for numerous organizations (including the Red Cross and SEAtrails) and is involved in a whole bunch of other things making things move and shake on Prince of Wales Island, the third largest island in the U.S.

On the docket so far: clearing a trail, fishing, eating hot dogs, four-wheelin', celebrating the 4th of July and whatever other adventures (always guaranteed with KP) that we'll have on POW.