Thursday, August 28, 2008

End of an era

I have officially completed my VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) term. What a great experience it has been! I could not have asked for a better year, nor predicted what paths this odyssey would lead me down this year.

My project was SEAtrails, Southeast Alaska Trail System. I worked with 9 board members and one awesome previous board member (Davey -- you are the best!) spread throughout Southeast. What a great group of people ... each one contributes something unique. I am impressed how much each does for their community and what a big impact something each one has on the place where they live and work.

I also worked with a very diverse range of people throughout the Forest Service, Alaska Marine Highway, National Park Service and all the local community contacts. I can't even begin to convey how much I learned about the region, life in Alaska and life in general from everyone.

Now, I am (sadly) handing over the reins to the new VISTA volunteer, Jesse, who could only be so lucky to have as great of an adventure as I had.

As for me ... stay tuned for when I outline the next chapter of Karen's Great Adventure -- you won't even believe this one!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Slowest internet in the nation

I knew it! My suspicians have been confirmed. Alaska internet speeds really ~do~ rank the slowest in the nation according to research from the Communications Workers of America.

If they drilled down a little more, they might discover that Gustavus internet speeds are almost the slowest (speeded up only marginally by the Kirkland water bottle that serves as a "protective" barrier against the rain drops). The slowest would have to go to Thorne Bay, where internet service is often nonexistent due to no phone service whatsoever (phone service often goes out for days at a time -- especially long distance).

Alaska internet download speeds rank far below any other area, a mere 0.8 megabytes per second, compared to a 6.8 megabytes per second download speed for those lucky schmucks in Rhode Island.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vegetarians beware

If you partake in eating a Hostess SnoBall (like I did recently -- yum!), they contain beef fat and pork rinds. Yikes!

If you haven't had one of these, they are a "distinctive marshmallow, coconut and chocolate cake combination" introduced in 1947. (They mostly taste like they were made then, too, but you're not eating it for nutritional purposes.)

What's disturbing is that Hostess devotes an entire web site section to SnoBall recipes ... like SnoBall Ornaments made with liquorice and gum drops. Eew.

Some have even used Hostess products for wedding cakes. (I'll have to run that by Robin.)

Read all about the SnoBall history, recipes, and their 60th anniversary.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

$5.36 a gallon

Is what I paid for gas today. Yikes! But the price is worth it because where else can you see all the great things I see every day?

Take a look at fishing pictures when friends Hal and Lindy were in town.

Take a look at whales, scenery, boating and bears in the back yard pictures.

Top 10 great things I've seen recently

  1. Little Bear, our new neighbor, hanging out in the 'hood and almost coming into the kitchen (I shut the door!). Plus, I saw a mama bear and three cubs and Other Bear, a big old bear rubbing his back on a tree!
  2. Whales breeching all over the place at Point Adolphus, a premiere whale watching spot. (Fortunately, our friend Hal's camera was going every millisecond. This was a good thing because my camera broke -- literally -- and Robin's camera had battery issues.)
  3. The Coast Guard helicopter doing what they do around here ... which is medivacking patients from cruise ships. This, however, has been happening way too much -- almost every week. (For a mere $75, you can buy a policy from Guardian Air to cover just such a catastrophe.)
  4. A boat who's captain didn't anchor in the right place so it was grounded during low tide.
  5. Big fish ... and lots of them. (Too bad Hal didn't really catch any...but Lindy made up for that!) We had quite a haul one day, bringing back 8 whoppers!
  6. A crazed porcupine being chased up the hill by our friend Tom. It ran back down towards us while we were sitting in the truck, checked for traffic and kept right on running across the road. (Tom looked a little crazed, too.)
  7. Unbelievably gorgeous sunshine on the mountains and water.
  8. A mama moose and two, yes two baby moose.
  9. Porpoises, sea otters, sea lions, moose and eagles while fishing.
  10. My awesome fiancee's smiling face every day! (We recently celebrated our 1 year anniversary.)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Another police chase after bootleggers

Only this one is a "long-distance boat chase" (25-miles) with the two drivers switching drivers when one of them "either passed out or slumped out from behind the wheel."

Reportedly, the two guys being chased repeatedly tried to ram the troopers' boat.

They were charged with driving under the influence, eluding, third-degree assault, importing alcohol (because they had five bottles of vodka in their possession, which is illegal in the area of Alaska they were in) and reckless operation of watercraft. Plus, one of them was charged with harassment and disorderly conduct for spitting at the trooper and taunting him.

Read the story.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Lawn mowers, beware

Don't think you can drink alchohol and tootle around on your lawn mower -- at least in North Pole, AK. Here's the full story....

NORTH POLE — A North Pole man is accused of driving a riding lawn mower over several yards while intoxicated and then trying to elude police.

Wyatt Lewis, 20, has been charged with driving under the influence and failure to stop at the direction of a peace officer.

Shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday morning, Alaska State Troopers were called to Garnett Drive in North Pole about an intoxicated man driving a red Craftsman riding mower over several people’s lawns.

When troopers spotted Lewis, they put on their emergency lights and sirens, but he allegedly led them on a brief pursuit for approximately 200 feet at speed of about 5 mph. As Lewis turned into a backyard on the street, the trooper exited his vehicle and finally got Lewis to stop, according to a criminal complaint filed in court.

Lewis admitted to drinking a few beers and said he did not hear the patrol car’s sirens, according to the complaint. A chemical test found his breath-alcohol content to be 0.184, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 to operate a motor vehicle.

While it is not very common for someone on a riding lawnmower to be charged with driving under the influence, it’s not outside the statute.

“Basically, the law says you’re not authorized to operate any motorized vehicle after drinking,” Trooper Charles Inderrieden said, noting it usually only extends beyond motorists to pilots and boaters.