OOPS and PICS!!!

Let me do the oops first. Patty said I understated the number of Orcas we saw and overstated the number of people on the boat. She got her numbers from the boat captain; I got mine off the top of my head. I think we’ll go with her’s There was only about 25 people on the boat and we saw at least 30 Orcas.

I have a bunch of pictures re-sized and available tonight. I’m not sure how many of them I am patient enough to do, we’ll see. They are still unedited, just like they came from the camera.

The first one or two are the eagles on Ketchikan.
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One from the Mendenhall Glacier at Juneau.
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A Pacific Sunset
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The next bunch are from the boat ride out of Seward
An Eagle and a bad shot of a porpoise
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Sea Lions and Shoreline

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One I like and a Humpback putting on a show

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Landscape, Glaciers and Harbor Seals

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A series of a Humpback
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I think I better quit tonight before I jam the system.
I have some more from that run and some from today. We are in Talkeetna for a couple days.
Yes, I know this one is pretty crude and thrown together and I didnt even take the time to proofread it.
Good Night and God Bless.
Dave and Patty

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Doin Some Laundry…

How about that title to build some suspense and excitement.
It is Monday about noon and we are back in Anchorage doing exactly what the title says. It may be Tuesday or Wednesday before I get this written and posted.
We went down south for two or three days. We spent time in Homer and Seward. I thought we we might be the only people to go to the fishing capital of the world and didn’t fish, but we saw a couple in Seward yesterday, like us, they were in Homer the previous day, they didn’t fish.
We just kicked back and enjoyed our time in Homer. We did some people watching on the Spit, an excellent place for that sort of thing. Our hotel was right on the beach, not the white sand and sunshine you visualize when you think of a beachfront hotel, but dark almost black sand and a lot of rocks. The tide was out, we spent a pleasant hour or so just kicking rocks, sand and a little,salt water. The weather was nice, a light jacket kind of day.
We stopped at the Saturday Farmers Market. The folks in Homer know how to do a farmers market; beautiful homegrown veggies, we even saw a cabbage named Stella, crafts some jewelry, art and a guy with a ukulele was tuning up for live music as we were leaving.
Visiting Seward wasn’t on our original schedule. We listened to a recommendation and rearranged the schedule, good call. Honestly, if we have a better day during our visit I will be surprised.
We took an all day (9 hours) wildlife and glacier viewing tour aboard the Viewfinder through the Kenai Fjords. It was a small boat, I think 40 or so passengers. If we hadn’t even seen glaciers,or wildlife the scenery was worth the cost of the trip.
I’m sure I will forget something but we got a reasonably close look at a bald eagle, sea otters, sea lions, it almost looked as if the sea lions were waiting for the boat to come by so they could put on a little show. Some porpoises played with the boat for a few minutes. Two Humpback whales put on a heck of a show for several minutes, we actually left before the performance ended.
We left early to maybe get a look at a pod of Orcas. And get a look we did, we found, not one but three pods of Orcas traveling together, it is hard to count them when they are on the move but there was at least 17 or 18.
As the day progressed we encountered several more Humpbacks, a wide variety of birds; with the exception of Puffins and Sea gulls I don’t remember off the top of,my head what all we saw; I think Patty knows.
A large group of Harbor Seals were enjoying the sunshine in front of one of the glaciers.
The glaciers were very interesting and attractive, one of them was popping cracking and releasing large chunks of ice into the bay. I sure there is a name for that sort of thing, but this old southern redneck doesn’t know about that.
We have enjoyed our two stops in Anchorage. Prior to going south we visited the Native Heritage Center. That was a very entertaining and educational experience.
It is now Monday the laundry is washed, dried, folded and packed. We finished that in time to spend about four hours at a hidden gem, The Anchorage Museum. If you are ever in Anchorage allow at least a half day and longer if you can find time in your schedule.
Downtown Anchorage is kind of a,neat place, just fun to walk around and kill a little time even in the rain.
I am going to try to get a few pics of,our day yesterday to work actually what I hope is the first one is a pic of the Eagles in Ketchikan, I think there are four of them in the tree.
I tried, honest I did. The pics didn’t work and I have already put the laptop in the car tonight, doing this on the iPad. I will give it another go maybe tomorrow night. I have some decent unedited pics of the Whales and some of the other wildlife.
We leave Anchorage tomorrow. We will be in the Talkeetna area for a couple days, we aren’t sure what we will find to do there, but it should be interesting.
Good Night and God Bless.
Dave and Patty

A few Pics….

Just a few random pics. Some of them are iPad some iPhone. Those from the phone are pretty fuzzy, I had to reduce the file size to get them to them from the phone to the iPad.
A couple from the Oregon coast and a great little lunch stop

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Dinner on the Columbia:

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Tent City on the Columbia, always need some duct tape:

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Downtown Ketchikan and some Totem Poles:

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A couple sunsets and other scenery between Ketchikan and Yakutat:

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A couple from Anchorage and Homer, we are in Homer tonight.

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We found this in Ketchikan:

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Apologies for the quality, I think I will have to wait until I get home to do the pics right.
Dave and Patty

Back on the Water

I did this one and the Ketchikan thing a couple nights ago on the boat didn’t have internet until today. We are in Anchorage tonight, more on the last couple days soon and I think I can include some pics

We enjoyed our time in Ketchikan and to be honest neither of us was real excited about getting back on a boat.
We arrived in Ketchikan on the Columbia, we left on the Kennicott. The Columbia is a little bigger and a little nicer I guess. I talked earlier about the broad mix of passengers on the first boat, this one has that mix but a much larger percentage seems to be tourists, and there are more families with small children, a few of those small children like to run and scream, some of their parents are OK with that.
Overall, I like the facilities better on the Columbia, I believe the atmosphere is better on this one.
The scenery has continued to improve as we go north. Patty and I have taken a bunch of pictures and I promise to get some of them in soon. I won’t go into detail, just believe me, I need to work some technical issues. I think when we get on land for a few days I can work those issues. I will try to catch up and post some pics on the stuff I have already written about.
We have seen a lot of whales, and a beautiful sunset last night. It sets a little late here, I took sunset pics at 9:55 last night; it is 9:20 now and it looks like another nice one will happen in 30 or 45 minutes. Just a note: it is a lot easier to photograph a sunset than to photograph a whale, still don’t have a decent shot of a whale.
The whale sitings create a lot of excitement, everyone goes a little crazy and jockeys for position. I told Patty f we need to improve our seating on the observation deck we can just fake a whale siting; everyone will rush out on the outer deck and we can choose new and better seating.
We got a little unexpected bonus today. Because of the way our tickets were written and the way we were loaded in Ketchikan we got to unload the car and spend about 3 hours in Juneau this morning.
The boat arrived at 6:30, not too many things open that early, so,we might as well have some breakfast. Some things we do quite well, finding good, local eateries seems to be one of them. We ate with the locals in downtown Juneau, good food and friendly people.
We cruised around a little, checked out Juneau. It is a clean place and seems like a nice town.
We then visited the Mendenhall Glacier; a very pretty place and also very interesting. The site is a national park, it is very well maintained and the staff was friendly and professional. They didn’t give us a global warming speech or anything, but it is amazing how much it has decreased in size the last forty or so years.
We spent an hour or so there and would like to have stayed longer but we had a boat to catch.
We left Juneau at noon (Tuesday), we have been northbound for about ten hours. We have seen some very pretty scenery this afternoon. I think we are through with the scenery for a while, we are in open water with no shoreline in sight. The old boat is rolling pretty good tonight. Sure hope the guy driving knows where we are. We are scheduled to stop in Yakutat at 5:00am, I hope I sleep through that, and we will end our northbound portion of the ride in Whittier at 6:00am Thursday, I hope I don’t miss that one.
One quick observation from the boat ride so far. I think old men lie to other old men more than old women lie to other old women. Or maybe they just talk louder and don’t care who hears them. After listening to some of them I have a better understanding of the old term “The older I get the better I was.”
Keep us in your prayers.
Good Night and God Bless.
Dave and Patty

Catchin’ Up: Ketchikan…..

I know I am about two or three days behind, we’ve been busy, OK.

We arrived in Ketchikan early Sunday morning. Three of those huge cruise ships got there before we did; those guys get to park about two blocks from downtown our ride had parking about two miles from downtown. I knew there was a reason we brought our own car. To you old salts, I know you don’t drive a boat or ship to town and park it, you take it to port and dock it, but it is my blog.

We found a downtown diner open, kind of a neat place a pretty good mix of local residents and early birds off the cruise ships. While waiting for a table we almost got in trouble; we were blocking access to the thing senior citizens sign so they don’t have to pay tax. We had a good breakfast, paid our tab and tax.

Ketchikan has some talented local Indian artists (I don’t remember the tribes) the downtown district was loaded with art shops, a pretty good mix of the good local stuff and some imported. I believe it came from China. I think a lot of this stuff leaves town on the cruise ships.

I remembered, from some of my research prior to the trip, Ketchikan and Totem Poles have a longstanding and harmonious relationship. We spent some time at a Totem Pole heritage center and two different parks. We both left with a better understanding and appreciation of the things.

We got off the beaten path a little bit, we left the tourists in town and went south. A few miles out of town but still on a paved road we started to cross a bridge over a small creek. We were greeted by about 15 or 20 Bald Eagles and a bunch of Salmon. The Salmon were making their way upstream and the Eagles were salivating over the thought of fresh Salmon for dinner. There were also some of the local residents with fishing gear with thoughts of Salmon for dinner.

Naturally, I had the wrong lens on my good camera, by the time I changed the lens the eagles had kind of dispersed. We watched the action for a while and were told by some f the locals that at low tide or about dark sometimes the black bears like to come and have Salmon for dinner.

We went back about dark (you knew we would), I guess the big bears weren’t hungry or maybe because the tide was in; for whatever reason we didn’t see bears having fish for dinner. We did have to stop and let a baby bear take a leisurely stroll across the road in front of us; and he stopped at the edge of the road and checked us out as we passed. He was a cute little guy.

The day in Ketchikan was a good,one and served as a reminder of why we wanted to come to Alaska.

God Bless, it is too early for Good Night.
Dave and Patty

A Change of Pace

I’m sure at some point you have done the old “hurry up and wait” thing. We did some of that since I was here last.
We were scheduled to leave Bellingham at 6:00pm Friday on the Alaska Marine Highway, the instructions said we needed to check in 3 hours prior to departure. We planned an additional hour to take care of traffic issues, getting lost etc. We didn’t get lost and traffic was OK for midday Seattle. We had a leisurely lunch in Bellingham and still got to the ferry terminal about 2:00pm It took all of about fifteen minutes to get tickets instructions and find our place in line.
I have known for many years that I don’t wait very well, I think Patty and I share that characteristic. We were almost last to board, after what seemed like an eternity, we left Bellingham on schedule for the 36 hour ride to Ketchikan.
We spent the next 30 minutes or so getting our sea legs and figuring out the lay of the land, or boat in this case. We then settled in for the remaining 35 1/2 hours of the first leg of our little boat ride. I don’t know,if you know it but that is a long time to just kick back and watch the world go by.
I addition to the scenery, which improved as we went north, the boat was an excellent place for people watching.
I’m not sure how many passengers were on board, probably two or three hundred. There was a broad mix of cultural, economic, and social backgrounds. Some completely normal, maybe not as normal as Patty and I but normal, there was some that beared watching and everything in between.
We soon realized watching and visiting with people was a better time killer than watching trees and shoreline, although seeing a few whales on day two was pretty exciting.
Accommodations on the boat range from pitching a tent or rolling out a sleeping bag on one of the decks at the back (I should say stern) or finding an empty chair somewhere inside or a cabin with a bathroom down the hall or do what we did and get a cabin with, of all things, a private bath.
There were young families and there were even some people older than me, if you can believe that and everything in between.
One guy asked us what day it was and then how long til the end of the month, we helped him with that. He then turned around excluded us from a conversation that continued for a while.
The was a couple from Virginia hauling their RV, a couple from Minnesota taking their Harley up north.
There was a group of very well mannered students from LSU going on an educational exchange program of some sort. And two old guys from southern Arizona going to help a friend complete a project.
Some were following new career opportunities or maybe just a dream, others appeared to be on just another leg of a never ending journey to somewhere or maybe nowhere.
For me, it was the first time in a few years that I didn’t lay my iPad on the nightstand just before going to sleep. We went about 34 hours without WiFi or cellphone service. I think that might have been a good thing for me.
The first night we were out, sleep didn’t happen quickly, I wandered about the boat for quite a while, surprisingly it was almost eerie quiet. I settled in a chair with my feet on the stern rail, listened to the peaceful sound of the water and “gathered my thoughts for a long time. I would share those but most of them aren’t worth sharing and the others are too personal or private. I looked back, I looked at the present, and tried to look down the road. I am OK with then and now, we never know about the future but I like what I think I see.
To sum up the boat ride: The thing was clean, we met interesting people, saw some very pretty scenery and it got us from point A to point B reasonably hassle and stress free.
We are in Ketchikan tonight. We had a good day, maybe I can put something together on it in as day or two.
I’m not going to do any pics tonight. The ones I have need editing, I’m tired and we have a boat to catch first thing tomorrow.
I am going to apologize again, I am still having trouble getting my thoughts to your side of the keyboard. Maybe by the time we get home I will learn to write on the road.
Good Night and God Bless.
Thanks for riding along.
Dave and Patty

The 101…..

Apologies if I sounded a little tired and grumpy last night. Some things are just hard to conceal. I am still tired tonight but the mood is much better. Maybe that will eliminate the grumpy overtones.
Part of the plan was to run US 101 up the Oregon coast. We did that today. We started in Coos Bay, OR . As is becoming the norm, I lied to Patty again. I projected about a 5 or 6 hour day. Ten hours later we arrived bleary eyed and tired in Aberdeen, Washington.
The difference in today and those first three, today we saw about 300 miles of the most attractive coastline in the lower 48. The tough part of the day was sharing that crooked two lane with a whole bunch of other folks interested in that same coastline; most of them were in cars or RVs, however a lot of them opted for bicycles or sneakers.
I promise better pictures later. This is a couple I snapped with my phone. I have some better ones in the car in my camera and Patty definitely has some better than these. We gotta do a little high tech stuff and get some of those to my iPad. We’ll work on that.
If you travel with Patty, you just know you are going to dine in places with great food and good character. This place qualified in both categories.

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And a couple of shots of the coast.

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I know you and Patty has heard it before, but the GPS tells me we are 3 1/2 hours from the dock. We need to be there at three in the afternoon to start the kickback and let the ferry boat captain drive part of this little trip. We sail or motor or whatever a ferry boat does at six tomorrow. First stop Ketchikan.
I don’t know if we will have WiFi on the boat. If we do I will probably write some. Maybe I will have time to relax and do it right.
Good Night and God Bless.
Dave and Patty

Endurance…..

It is easy to sit in the comfort of your living room on a cold February night and plan a great summer vacation.
The plan starts with what seems to be a reasonably easy three day drive from Longtown, OK to Coos Bay, OR.
Somewhere west of Cheyenne, Wyoming the first night you start to think that plan might have been just a bit ambitious. This thought occurs as you head on to Laramie in search of lodging. You see some little celebration called Frontier Days occupies every available room in Cheyenne.
That over ambitious thing hits a bit harder the next day when you realize southern Wyoming and Idaho are just about as scenic as western Kansas. The main difference being the changes in elevation are more significant and not as subtle in Wyoming.
I did see both trees in western Kansas, Patty took a short nap and missed one of them. We think the wind generators out number the trees by at least 2 to 1 in Kansas and Wyoming.
We spent night two in Boise, ID; fatigue contributed to a poor choice of hotels. We got one too close to the interstate, heard the big wheels roll all night long.
If anyone wonders, eastern Oregon is scenic kind of like southern Wyoming and Idaho. I have never seen as many miles of unmolested sagebrush.
The last few hours of day three were quite scenic, and we are in Coos Bay tonight. We had a relaxing seafood meal and plan to slow the pace for the rest of the trip.
I know I said something about pictures. Believe me you don’t want to see what we saw the first 2 1/2 days and by this afternoon we were both to tired to focus a camera.
Patty is still speaking to me although I would fully understand if she weren’t. No one needs the kind of endurance test she has withstood the past three days.
This one is from the iPad and kind of unedited so forgive the grammar and punctuation errors.
Good Night and God Bless
Dave

Gonna go . . .Way up North!!!

When Old Glory had, just, 48 stars and I was a kid, I read about a road that went all the way to the Alaska Territory. I made a mental note to drive up there someday, like most kids I made a lot of mental notes, a few of them stuck, that trip to Alaska is one of them.

About 15 years ago a friend told me about a fleet of ferry boats operated by the state of Alaska. They serve seaports along the Alaska coast and down south to Bellingham, Washington. I think most of the boats accommodate two or three hundred passengers and some vehicles. The system is known as The Alaska Marine Highway. They don’t offer the amenities available on the cruise ships; they just provide basic transportation.

I modified that mental note. Someday I will ride one of those boats to Alaska and drive home.

A few months ago Patty and I decided the summer of ‘14 would be a good time to make that trip.

We looked at lots of brochures and even more websites. We talked to anyone who would listen. We checked the weather. When does the snow melt? When does the first snow fall? When we were completely confused, we picked a date. It just happens to be after the Midnight Sun and before the Northern Lights; if we’re lucky maybe we get a glimpse of those lights.

Another change to the old childhood plan; we are going to take the boat both ways, occasionally we do something sensible; this was one of those occasions.

We start this adventure in a few days. We’re hoping this guy will get us to the port in Bellingham Washington.

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In addition to Alaska and a little bit of Canada we will see (mostly out the car window) parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and on the way home we probably add Montana and Nebraska to the list. We do plan to get out of the car and enjoy some of the Oregon coast.

This is our ride out of Bellingham to Whittier, Alaska.

The Chrysler has to ride down here in the basement.

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I think Patty and I get to ride upstairs.

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We will be in Alaska and the Yukon Territory about three weeks. We wanted to do it without advance reservations but we listened to some experience and reluctantly made hotel reservations (didn’t want to sleep in the car), those reservations are certainly subject to change.

The only scheduled activities are a charter bus trip to the back of Denali National Park and a plane trip out of Fairbanks that will take us inside the Arctic Circle.

We will see Ketchikan, Juneau and some of the other inside passage ports. We will do a little “bright lights big city”, Alaska style, in Anchorage and a few days later in Fairbanks. We will spend a couple days on the coast around Homer; maybe fish a little or Kayak in the bay. Then a few days with the tourists in Talkeetna and Denali, we’ll try hard to look and maybe even act like normal tourists. I really don’t think normal and tourists go together.

After the Arctic Circle and Fairbanks we will spend a little time in Tok and Chicken, maybe just kick back, relax and get to know some of the people that call Alaska home. We plan to drive the Top of the World Highway from Chicken, Alaska to Dawson, Yukon Territory.

I guess it is time for a little trivia; they wanted to name the town Ptarmigan, they couldn’t agree on the spelling so they just called it Chicken, and yes Chicken, Alaska is on the map.

From Dawson we will go through Whitehorse, YT and down to Skagway, Alaska. If the plan works we will get to Skagway in time to board the ferry for a relaxing 3 day ride back to Bellingham.

I suspect the trip from Bellingham home will be one of those get in, sit down, shut up, buckle up and hang on deals.

I’m sure we will make some interesting side trips and probably go see what’s on the other side of some of those pavement ends signs.

If the keyboard will cooperate and I can find some Wi-Fi I will do a little blogging along the way. If the words don’t flow maybe I can flood the site with pictures; Patty is a pretty good photographer and I don’t mind sharing my futile attempts. The plan is to use a good combination of words and pictures and sometimes a plan comes together.

Keep us (especially Patty) in your prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

Got Ur Done!!!

A couple years ago in one of my posts I talked about three things I needed to work on. Obviously there are way more than three things in my life that need improvement, but tonight let me bring you up to date on those three.

I think first on the list was a need to lose some weight. I did that long enough ago that I have managed to find about half of what I lost. Someday I guess I need to do that again or maybe not.

I expressed a desire to learn to have fun at the lake again. I have done that; I spend a lot of time here and enjoy it.

The third thing on that list was to overcome four years of neglect and get my yard to look like my yard again. That one didn’t go well. I didn’t have a clue about what to do or how to do it to the flowerbeds. I knew about mowing and watering and fertilizing the grass. I knew about chainsaws and trimming trees. I also knew about all the reasons to wait until tomorrow to do those things. It can always be too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry. I used all those excuses but I made gradual progress, so gradual I never noticed a significant improvement.

When I finished mowing today, I gave it a good look and I liked what I saw; the place actually looks as good as it did in the summer of ’08. Sure, there are some things that need a little attention, maybe trim a few low hanging limbs or weed eat the back fence a little better. I’m sure there were a few low hanging limbs in ’08 and that back fence has never looked real good.

If you drive by you won’t see a “Yard of thee Week” sign. It isn’t that good but all I wanted was as good as it was in ’08. It just took two years but I got ur done.

It's a start

It’s a start

Sun was wrong.  Should have waited til morning, but I wont be home.

Sun was wrong. Should have waited til morning, but I wont be home.

Tomorrow if it isn’t too wet or too dry; too hot or too cold, I get to see if I can make the lake place look as good as it did in ’08.

Have a safe and fun Independence Day.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave