Thursday, May 28, 2009

Homeward Bound

I left Anchorage yesterday afternoon about 3:30 and was home just over four hours later. I had showers--sometimes heavy--most of the way but the road was good and traffic light so it was an enjoyable trip.

About forty-five minutes south of Anchorage, I pulled over to take this picture of the Twenty-Mile River Valley and the Chugach Mountains in the rain.

The weather was such that I didn't stop for any pictures on the way home and the photos I took in the nice weather heading up to Anchorage showed the mountains better, anyway.

I did snap this view--leaving the mountains to drop down to the plateau that makes up the western Kenai Peninsula--north of the Kenai-Soldotna area.

Reminiscent of that vista is the more modest but familiar view leaving Ninilchik, coming down the last big hill and heading for home--just thirty minutes away at this point.

I got home about seven-forty--and Denny was just putting the finishing touches on a lovely dinner. I guess he missed me as much as I missed him.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday in Anchorage

I slept terribly in a hot, uncomfortable hotel bed. (It was the day bed, really--my folks had the real mattress which was probably comfortable enough.)

Clouds had moved in overnight and the morning on Fifth Avenue was grayer, though dry. I watched the tourists queue up across the street at the Captain Cook Hotel for the tour buses and listened to a pair of kittiwakes squabble over building a nest on the streetlamp right outside the window.

Mom's procedure--a pacemaker replacement--went remarkably smoothly and her doctors were very pleased with how well it went and how well she has responded to the pacemaker. She went in about ten-o-clock and was discharged about one that afternnon. She is in much better condition than when it was originally placed back in 2003. Here she is getting her blood pressure taken prior to being released.

This is the little hotel downtown that we stayed at. My folks like to eat at the restaurants of the Captain Cook Hotel (the larger, brown building on the left) without having to pay the room rates. The Voyager was very adequate for our needs.

As we left the hospital, I said my goodbyes to my parents and started back toward home, after stopping at the warehouse stores to buy as many staples as I could fit in the Crown Victoria. I left Anchorage aout three-thirty.

Anchorage Bound - Part Two

Some more photos from my trip to Anchorage:

Following a Winnebago through Turnagain Pass. Despite the bright sunshine, some small patches of snow could still be found at road level.

The fresh green of spring is beginning to climb up the hillsides in the mountains.

The highway drops from the pass to the seaside, and follows the shoreline of Turnagain Arm around to Anchorage. This picture was snapped when I was on the east side of the Arm, heading north.

I met up with my parents at their hotel. They were staying downtown, just across the street from the Captain Cook Hotel on Anchorage's Fifth Avenue.

I took this picture from my parent's room, looking up Fifth Avenue toward the east. Some dark clouds were bunched up against the mountains but otherwise it was a beautiful afternoon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Driving to Anchorage - Part One

We had a quiet holiday weekend in Homer. Denny went across the bay to the cabin on MacDonald Spit--helping to transport the holiday crowd--while I stayed home on cat-care duties.

Denny came home yesterday afternoon; this morning it was my turn to leave. I had to drive to Anchorage to meet with my parents. My Mom is having her pace-maker replaced tomorrow and I need to be on hand to offer support.

I really didn't want to go. My heart aches when I am away from home, Denny and the cats. But I couldn't justify not going to Anchorage and I did want to see Mom and Dad.

So about ten-thirty this morning, I was pulling the car onto the Sterling Highway and turning left instead of my usual right.

The day was just gorgeous--clear blue sky and unlimited visibility. I pulled over at Starisky--about a half-hour north of home--to take in the view across Cook Inlet. (Click on the pictures for an expanded view.)

Mt. Iliamna looks serene under her snow cap.

Mt. Redoubt is obviously more restless. The constant fine shower of volcanic dust has covered the snow of the volcano and all the nearby peaks. Redoubt is about the same height as Mt. Iliamna, but you can see the difference in snow-cover.

And what Alaskan summer road-trip is complete without construction delays? This was twenty minutes further up the road, where bridge-work is being done at Ninilchik.

There wasn't much of a delay--only four or five minutes. It was such a nice day, I really didn't mind.

(End Part One)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Just Browsing

I caught this sight on my way into Homer today. Nice to see them out enjoying the greenery.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Signs of new life after winter...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fire Weather

By the time I left the Animal Shelter at mid-afternoon, it was apparent that there *was* a fire burning up toward the head of the bay.

Fire Burns East of Homer

Check out the photos from from The Homer News.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More Photos From Saturday

The cabin from the outside beach. The original room is to the left; the newer sleeping area is to the right. In the background you can glimpse the sheltering terrain that guards Kasitsna Bay.

Inside the greenhouse, looking out at the deck and Katsitsna Bay. That's Aunt Joanne on the deck, enjoying the sunny weather. They grow most of their own produce during the summer right here on the spit.

In Eldred Passage on our way back to Homer. A series of islands break the force of the open water and creat this sheltered corridor for half of the route to Homer. The other half is usually rough and windy except on the most exceptional days. This trip was one of the rougher ones and we were happy for what shelter we could get in the passage.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Outside Beach - Saturday

My uncle's cabin sit on a narrow strip of land with its back toward the sheltered waters of Kasitsna Bay and its front facing the wide open waters of lower Cook Inlet. This is the view looking northwest from McDonald Spit across the mouth of Kachemak Bay. The low bluff in the distance is where we live, about fifteen miles away on the far side of the Bay.

This beach gets unrestrained ocean wave-action and is much different in character than the inner beach.

Above the tide-line, we found traces of volcanic ash still distinct from the beach sand. It is the paler material on the slightly-darker sand.

sand and ash

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Saturday's Trip

Boy, we slept well last night!

After the relative inactivity of winter, it will take some time to get back into summer shape but the stiff muscles and fresh-air exhaustion felt good.

Here are a couple more photos from our trip.

The dock at Uncle Chuck's cabin is a focal point for activity along McDonald Spit. Here it is a welcomed berth for us after the crossing from Homer. Our boat is not a thing of beauty but it suits us. Denny is in the Captain's seat and our friend Butch is playing deckhand.

Looking back along the dock toward the cabin and McDonald Spit. The spit is a narrow strip of land, anchored by a row of spruce trees, that divides the sheltered waters of Kasitsna Bay from the open ocean of Cook Inlet. In this photo, the ocean is on the far side of the spit, behind the cabin. The cabin started out as a one-room shelter back in the 1960s and has grown over time, as so many Alaskan dwellings seem to do. At present, the old single-room forms the core of a living area that now includes a modern kitchen, living/dining room, bathroom, two bedrooms and a large bunk room that can sleep six (and frequently more.) The out-buildings include a shop, a greenhouse, storage sheds and the original outhouse.

The peace and beauty of this spot have been enjoyed by many over the years.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

On the Water

View from the dock at Kasitsna Bay

We put our boat in the water for the first time since 2007. We launched about mid-day and went across the bay to McDonald Spit. I will post some photos over the next few days.

I snapped this one on the dock on Kasitsna Bay, the sheltered side of McDonald Spit. The serenity of the bay belies the rough passage we experienced on the crossing of Kachemak Bay from Homer. Wind and closely-packed waves made the open water interesting, and we wouldn't have chosen to make the crossing when we did but often our boating schedule is determined by tides and circumstance. The ride was rough but nothing worrisome. Just a bit more of a "shakedown" than we expected.

As always, the pleasure of being at my uncle's cabin made the voyage well worth the effort. At the cabin--as it is all along the south side of Kachemak Bay--the pace of life is dictated by the pulses of Nature: sunrise, sunset and the daily rhythm of the tide.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009



March 1994 - 4 May 2009

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Ashes of Spring

That fifth season of the far north--Break-up--is never an attractive time. For several weeks between the time that the last snow has melted and the first rush of spring's green appears, the bare bones of last autumn re-appear. Our landscape is duns and grays and dried, dead things.

Still, today was a gorgeous day. I put BeBe out in his enclosure to enjoy the sunlight and fresh air.

Soon, his stark surroundings will be bright with new growth, but right now it looks rather bleak.

This year's thaw is made even more dull by the ubiquitous volcanic ash. It coats the vegetation and puffs into the air with every step, light as talc.