Sunday, October 9, 2016

Change is finally happening?

I have been absent from blogging for a bit. It's not that the adventures have stopped. It is just that I have been so busy. I finally hired someone to move all my old content to my new site.

So stay put... hopefully it will all start happening!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Rasta- My New Hearing Dog

Rasta is my new service dog. I received Rasta last week from Canine Companions for Independence. We have been very busy in training, learning everything there is to learn about taking care of each other, and finally, getting her back to Alaska. I am going to add Rasta to the website now, as she has become a “Wandering Alaskan” Rasta says “woof”!

Rasta is the name of my new hearing dog.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Counting Down the Dog Days…

I leave in just 3 days to go to California to pick up a service dog. I have been struggling with my hearing loss for years, and now I am getting a hearing dog from Canine Companions for Independence to help me.  I am really excited. I have been with any pets for many years. It will definitely be an adjustment.
Canine Companions for Independence doesn’t want us to blog too much while we are in training. When I get back home with my new service dog, I will keep you up to date on all the wonderful things we are learning together and updates on this new chapter in my life.
We will be going to the Santa Rosa, CA campus for two weeks to be trained by my companion.  We do not know the sex, color, or name of my future companion. The dogs have been raised and trained and will be about 2 years old.  There will be several of us working with several dogs during the next two weeks. By the end of the two weeks we will be paired with our new companion.
It is going to be an adventure.
We return to Anchorage, hopefully, with a new member of our family!
Visit Canine Companions for Independence to learn more about these wonderful dogs!
Friends let friends have a turn. Image:

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 – A full year for Adventure

Today, I am reflecting on all the good things come.  I have tons of trips planned in my head for 2015. I have pulled out the calendar and began penciling in the possibilities.  This is an exercise I go though every year. I have found that it’s best to keep track of where you want to go and what you want to do throughout the year. I check back on that list the first week of January and use it as the basis for planning the new year!

Many of my adventures are just that… seeking out places I have never seen, or experiencing new places in different ways or times of the year. Sometimes, adventures are not so physical. They can adventures in your mind, through hobbies, or even adventures at work (not always good I suppose).  The point of adventures for me its keep it exciting and to approach life like you did as a child… full of wonder, excitement, and thrill.

My adventures without travel this year will be learning how to eat more plant-based and healthy, the Navajo flute (left over from last year), and… yes  REGULAR EXERCISE!

Finally, I am shooting for one blog a week this year…

Keep it Real!


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Going to My Angry Place...

I awoke to a cloudy day in Sitka and took off for a 4 mile run. The town is so small, that this distance covered everything. I ran the totem walk and through the woods and ended up on the beach at low tide. At least a dozen eagles were hanging out on the driftwood looking for breakfast. I tried to get close enough to take pictures, but no luck. I didn’t want to harass the birds and I could tell they were not comfortable with my presence.

Totem walk - my morning jog.

The driftwood on the beach was loaded with eagles. The is only one piece.

A little closer.
Coffee bike cart down on beach...  I got to enjoy my walk back with a hot cup.
We visited the Rapter Center  - a rescue center for birds injured in the state. Unlike the bears, if these guys can fly, they are released back into the wild as soon as possible. Some birds are long term tenants – their wings too damaged to fly. Most of these birds have been shot – a lot of eagles and owls. I didn’t particularly care too much for this center. It seemed slick and robotic, set up to make money. The employees seem to be mostly young males bent on moving people through as quickly as possible (pack them and rack them). If you can only visit one of the animal places in Sitka, go to Fortress of the Bear. We had coffee with Becky from Sitka NHP and talked shop for a short bit.

Eagle with most of wing gone from shotgun blast. Bird center.
We drove to Old Sitka (NHL) at the other end of the road; this means Sitka, Juneau and Haines are all thoroughly explored. We ended our day with a walk on the beach and dinner at Ludvig’s. Oh my goodness – what a wonderful jewel in Sitka. If you can only eat one place in Sitka, this should be the one! 
Halibut and wine at Ludvig's

We passed gift shops that were actually selling sea salt to the tourists. Now this is better than moose poop... don’t you think? They had many flavors of sea salt.

Flavored salt for sale to tourists.

The residents of Sitka definitely have a thing for cross walks. They want to make sure you cross at the walk, not 15 feet on either side of it, or at some random location. They will stop and roll down their windows and tell you that you are not in a crosswalk. This phenomenon occurred numerous times; perhaps because many folks drive worse here than in Anchorage and there is genuine concern for your safety?  There was one particular exchange I’m not proud of since I let an individual draw out “Angry Judy”.  We were crossing a bank parking lot and this crazy maniac raced around us to park, cutting it uncomfortably close.  I got him to go from “buzz off lady” to “fuck you” in 10 seconds. I smiled sweetly.

This trip has been a little challenging for the digital photographs. Jazz inadvertently deleted all the photos she took of the Russian cemetery (first on her computer, second on the memory card). Although she didn’t swear like a truck driver – she is getting mellower as the years go one.  I washed and dried my memory card that contained all the totem pole images and my images from my recent Nome trip. I had forgotten it was in my pocket. Luckily, after an overnight dryout, my photos recovered fine. 

We boarded the ferry and headed back to Juneau. It was a nice easy trip with lots of walking and photo shooting.
fishing nets


A Day of Totem Poles

We started the day off with cappuccinos and crepes at Homeport. We road our motorcycles to Sitka National Historical Park to walk the totem pole trail. Sitka is small enough that you can park your bike while here and walk everywhere. We didn’t know this yet, but once discovered, we enjoyed being able to stretch out the legs. And walk /jog I did. I think while in Sitka, I put about 22 miles on the legs.

Sitka National Historical Park is the oldest national park in Alaska (set aside in 1890 to be a federal reserve). Near the main visitor center, there is a walk through a tranquil rainforest environment. Along this trail are 18 totem poles whose design originates from throughout Southeast Alaska. In addition, the fort and battle site for the 1804 battle between colonists Russians and Tlingit Indians is located here; the area is considered sacred by the native community. We started out very slow, enjoying every pole. I walked around every pole to admire it from all different angles – how the light hits it. The rainforest added to the beauty of the poles. It took me several hours to enjoy the poles. We walked back to the motorcycles and I happened to run into Joel Hard, the deputy regional director and Mary Miller the superintendent of the park. We chatted for a bit about Sitka in general (where to visit, what to see). I bid farewell to my coworkers and we moved on.

We then went out to visit Fortress of the Bears. This was an unusual place, and ended up being more pleasant than I expected. The site is located outside of Sitka in an old water treatment plant. The tanks have been converted to cage like containers for the bears. The bears housed here are orphaned or injured to the extent that they would not survive in the wilderness. The current bears are all orphaned bears where the mother was killed during bear/human conflict. If the bears are too small, they won’t survive. Once the critical opportunity to teach bears the skills they need have passed or the animals are used to human contact, they cannot be successfully reintroduced. They are destroyed instead.

Fortress of the Bears is a non-profit organization that tries to intervene and either keep the bear locally, or provide assistance in placing the bear in a zoo in the lower 48. When we came out here, I wasn’t expecting much, but it was pretty obvious the bears are happy here. They are well fed with salmon and berries, the water in the areas flows naturally and they even put live salmon in the water to allow the bears to catch them.  Because the competition for food is low, the bears tend to get along with each other and be pretty playful. I have never seen zoo animals as happy as these guys were. I guess it is better than the alternative.
Once finished with the bears we moved on to another National Historic Landmark by visiting the Russian Bishop’s House. Authentically restored to its 1843 appearance and includes many of the original furnishings and icons. The building is one of only four surviving examples of Russian colonial architecture in North America. The construction of the joints and walls are interesting.

 We had a late lunch at the Larkspur, which was wonderful food, but the service was so agonizingly slow that it impacted the overall meal. The late lunch, coupled with lots of walking meant there was no need for dinner. We did find a cute coffee shop called The Back Door. Gandhi was hanging out.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Castle on a Hill

We woke up on the ferry. Gorgeous patterns in the wake as we cruised into Sitka.

Wake from the ferry with reflection in Sitka Sound.
I have wanted to come and photograph the totem poles for some time, and also visit some of the National Historic Landmarks (NHL) in town. I used to work for cultural resources in the regional office, for the National Landmark program. I am very familiar with the history in this small little town.

We arrived in Sitka too early to check into our hotel, so we hit the ground running… first Castle Hill (an NHL), drove around the St. Michael’s Cathedral (NHL), walked around town, watched the fisherman fish, visited the Sheldon Jackson Campus (an NHL) and Museum, and an old Russian Cemetery. We finished the day of exploring by walking the fishing docks and admiring the ships.

Castle Hill or Noow Tlein (Tlingit) is a rocky hill that overlooks Sitka. The top of this location is significant to the history of this area. First the Tlingit, then the Russians built and lost forts in battle on this hill. It was on this very hill where the Russians lowered their flag and the American flag was raised, signifying US ownership.
At this ceremony in 1867, a dual cannon salute was fired. The Russian flag got stuck in the lanyards as they tried to lower the flag. Several soldiers tried to climb the pole with no success. Eventually they got it down, but once it was untangled, it fell, landing on the Russian soldier’s bayonets. The American flag was raised with no incidents, and Alaska became part of the United States. Today, there are no sign of forts, structures, or bayonets. Two cannons sit there, and the space is a grassy spot with a view.

1827 illustration of Castle Hill in Russian-controlled Sitka. The hilltop building was an imposing fortification on a hill overlooking the water and Tlingit areas. (Old Sitka, Alaska) by Postels.
Source: Alaska Department of Natural Resources.
The top of Castle Hill today.
In 1959, after Alaska was admitted as the 49th U.S. state, Castle Hill was the location where the first 49-star U.S. flag in Alaska was raised.

Sheldon Jackson (May 18,1834 – May 2, 1909) was a Presbyterian minister, missionary, and political leader. His history and legacy in Sitka is very interesting, particularly his interest in education. He is interesting enough that he should have a blog post all about him, but instead I will mention where my interests are. Sheldon was a collector. An early scientist and ethnographer, he believed in preserving the material objects from all his travels. He traveled extensively in Alaska, and early. I wanted to go to the museum to see some of these artifacts that remain in Sitka. I was not disappointed. If you ever get a chance to get to the Sheldon Jackson Museum, it is definitely a must! Some of the best artifacts I have seen in Alaska are here. I purchased a couple of books on Sheldon Jackson and toured the museum.

Sheldon Jackson School

Center of the Sheldon Jackson Museum has 3 totem pole artifacts.
Collection cases in the museum.
 From the collection (I particularly like the masks):

We spent a good part of the afternoon enjoying the boats.

more boats...

I glanced at a map and noted there was an old Russian Cemetery in town and we opted to wander through there. What an amazing find. The cemetery was overgrown and was very lush. The Russian Orthodox cross was to be seen in many places, and someone had been planting flowers randomly in the cemetery. We later ran into the security guard who told us that she spends a lot of time in the place; she thought natural wildflowers growing would be respectful and add a touch to the graves, many long forgotten. The place was very peaceful and beautiful.
Russian cemetery
mostly forgotten graves
 Soon we will visit the totem poles... my primary reason for coming to Sitka, aside from the fact that I have done every other road in Alaska, and I am now reaching...