Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Don't Strangle My Dog..."

These are the words Kim told me yesterday morning. Now many of you are wondering... why would someone have to tell me that. I can assure you, I would never strangle her dog (or anyone else's)... intentionally. You see that is the key word... intentionally. The other key word... is "again".
Yes, I tried to strangle Kim's dog once before.

Ursa Minor, Ursa for short, is a handful. She is cute like most dogs are, but she also has this irritating way of getting on my nerves. Sometimes I think about strangling her. I'm sure some of you have had similar thoughts of strangling another person's pet? Come on now, lets be honest. What I suppose makes this story different, is how close I actually came to following through... and the most horrific part, was that I couldn't stop laughing about it.

It all started out with a harmless barbeque outside.. food, beer, friends... all good. Ursa wears a body harness and a collar, and when Kim walks her she attaches her leash to the body harness (this is important to understand... so that you don't get offended). To keep Ursa from enjoying the barbeque too much (translates to: eats everyone's food when they are not looking), she tied her leash... to the garage door handle.

Now... stop for just a moment and think about how garage doors work... and then image a dogs leash attached to the handle. Guess who pushed the garage door opener... accidentally.

Now, in all fairness... I didn't know the dog was tied to the garage door.  I truly wouldn't have given the critter an amusement park ride... or stunned the BBQ guests in such a manner...

Truthfully, the dog's reaction was not fear or freaking out... it was one of confusion. She couldn't understand why she was being lifted into the air with no humans nearby to be the cause.The door started going up, and the dog was gently lifted into the air... like one of those pet rescue scenarios... fully secured by harness, all legs facing down... stunned look on pups face. No fear.

Kim on the other hand... that was a different story, come to think if it.. .same with the guests.

You know that moment when delayed reaction occurs... when your mind is trying to make sense of the information your eyes are giving it... the moment between understanding and action.? This is the time that you usually say... What the Fuck?

So in this moment of human WTF, someone hollers... THE DOG...  because you see... I still don't know the dog is tied to the door. So I look... and see the most amusing, horrific, unreal image.. people running to support the dogs weight, the dog with the WTF look... I hit stop on the garage door.

Dog is down... and she was fine... she actually scored a bratwurst from the grill... (mostly from guilt)
Kim was fine... too... although she tied the dog to the garage handle today...
She is too trusting.

I still can't help but laugh at the absuirdity of it all. The guests at the party... never returned.

Ursa Minor... WTF (tied to the garage handle... again)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Names Will Be Changed to Protect the Innnocent

What a crazy week!

My anticipated weekend getaway in Seattle turned into a week-long marathon of driving, meeting family, and funeral-related activities. I lost my grandmother last Saturday. It was the passing of an Era. Her life touched many, as apparent to the number of folks that came by to pay their respects.

We were sitting around enjoying crepes in Seattle when we got the call. Quick checking of airline tickets and associated travel arrangements from Seattle to Salt Lake City for two on such short notice left the bill close to a staggering 2K. Plan B: a tag-team drive to SLC with my daughter Nikole departing on Monday after her school. Nikole is going to school to be a mortician (I can't make this shit up).

We started the 14 hour drive late in the day and drove non-stop through the night with only two pee breaks. This meant we actually made it in 13:45! All this for less than 2 days in Salt Lake City.

The math comes out this way: 1700 miles. 80 hours total of which 28 hours is spent in the car... with Nikole.


Enuff said.

Once in Salt Lake City, we spent the majority of the time visiting with family and attending the funeral. Nikole and I got to spend some time with Linzy, my other daughter.

No sooner did we get there before we found ourselves heading back to Seattle. This time, we left mid-day and I found myself distastefully traveling through Idaho.. again.

Let me tell you... Idaho sucks. I took a poll of family members at the funeral... they all agreed. Idaho is the toilet of the universe! At least when we came down from Seattle, it was dark.  Did I mention how much I dislike Idaho.  Name one good thing that comes out of there?  Okay wait... nevermind.

Needless to say, I gritted my teeth passing through.. of all the awful places, bad memories... the people that are best forgotten, and the place on the road where I decapitated that animal with my motorcycle mirror. To tell you the truth, if I wasn't pushed for time, I probably would have driven around Idaho. So here I find myself crossing this place where smart people shouldn't live when I checked the GPS on my Iphone to see exactly where we were... and this is what I got:

 I allowed it to load and load and load and load. I had great connectivity. I'm wondering what the hell. Why won't this work. And then I look out the window and this is what I see:

Idaho = Dislike

 Don't you think it matches? I mean... if you wanted a picture of "Where the hell am I," wouldn't this be it? Welcome to Idaho.

Then Nikole informs me that we have a dinner date... in Twin Falls. ^&*(%@
I reason with my inner voice... Nikole is driving. I can drink.

Hours and hours later... somewhere in Washington... I ask Nikole how much further do we have to go... she responds by holding up two fingers in a pinch motion... "this far - according to the GPS."  Pretty damn helpful.

We roll in to Nikole's apartment in Seattle and we both climb into bed. I was planning on catching a plane via standby back to Alaska, but decided a couple of hours sleep might be needed first. Nikole got up an hour later and headed out for class. Poor kid. I snuggled into bed.

So apparently, in the world of miscommunication via texting and IM, Nikole's boyfriend and one of her girlfriends didn't get the memo that I was still in town.  They had a key to her apartment. They thought I was her... sleeping in the bed when they crept in early in the morning.

They thought they would come over early and drag her ass to breakfast...
Nikole's boyfriend, otherwise known as "don't blog about this unless your going to change my name to 'Diego' or something unrecognizable" - thought I was his girlfriend that he had been missing for days....

I'll let you imagine how that turned out. Once again... I can't make this shit up.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Would You Like Some Cleavage with Your Cappucino

Welcome to Seattle! A quick 3 day trip to sip coffee, shop, and visit the motorcycle shops of the greater Seattle area were my plans. There are many good things about this area, good coffee, good food, my daughter lives here... great culture and art. The coffee is so good here that, perhaps, places with coffee that is not so good... must resort to other tactics?

I have heard about the bikini barista brigade before, but I have never actually experienced brassieres with my breves..


How did this happen you ask? It started out with Michael and I wanting an innocent cup of coffee. We did not want Starbucks, we are in Seattle for gods sake. We left McChord AFB and headed North towards SeaTac. I turned on the Iphone map feature, got our position, and typed in coffee for search.  We got 3 places in the general area we were passing through...Lakewood (Nikole later said... oh.. that's why... you were in Lakewood).


Sounds innoncent enough... I'm not reading breasts into my coffee shop title... we find the place... it's a small drive though with a long line.  Next (we wanted to sit down and chat).


Okay... now where I am from... this means girls or boys that know how to make coffee....
 We got Bikini Baristas...  like not much on when you make my coffee..... we passed.


Place down the street... SWEET CHEEKS!
This one I could decipher the hidden meaning.
"Can I have some more Sweet with my Cheeks" Michael bursts out laughing.  We had coffee at Starbucks.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hatcher Pass… here I come!

Who put a Federal holiday in the middle of the week? What is that all about? Since I didn’t want to take any time off, and the holiday didn’t payout a 3-day weekend… I decided that I would dress casual this whole week at work! So there!  I also needed a quick get-away. Where do Anchoragites go when they want a quick get-away? Hatcher Pass near Palmer.
The drive to Palmer was nice… on account that every car in the state was in Seward for the Mount Marathon festivities. The sky looked a little ominous… but the possibility of no rain still existed. We took N. Palmer-Fishhook Road out to the park and enjoyed the massive amounts of water coming down the Little Susitna River. I have never seen the river as high as it was! The nice pullout to visit the river offered an opportunity to enjoy the sound of water and feel the spray hit us. Kim tried to negotiate the large boulders with sandals. It was interesting to watch.

Kim enjoying the Little Susitna River near the entrance to Hatcher Pass, Alaska.

The mountains all the way to the top were bright green, covered in small flowers. We enjoyed the drive all the way to Independence Mine. I have stopped here many times and had no interest in visiting the historic area this trip. We did drive through the parking lot… packed with people who had the same idea we did. We sat on the side of the road and scoped out the cliffs with binoculars looking for old mine shaft remnants.  We headed towards the GATE. Those of you familiar with this area know what I am talking about. The gate the state locks 9 months of the year that provides access to the summit and Hatcher Pass road down to Willow. The gate was unlocked!
The snow fall was large this last winter making access to this part of Hatcher Pass even more limited this year. In addition, I wasn’t sure how far we were going to be able to hike in the area before we hit snow. So we did what any adventuresome girls would do… we just went to check it out!

Our hike above April Bowl near Summit Lake and Hatcher Pass, Alaska.

We parked at the lot just East of Summit Lake and climbed about 1000 feet to roughly the 4500 foot peak that rose above April Bowl. This very small valley has a cirque/tarn lake and several small ponds and the views from the bluff viewpoint are outstanding, including the Willow Creek Drainage, the Susitna Valley, and the western arc of the Alaska Range.

One of the 5 or 6 cirque/tarn lakes we hiked passed on the way to the top of April Bowl.

The wind was raging in some places requiring gloves and hats, but the view was drop dead gorgeous.  We sat up there for the better part of an hour in a small wind shelter someone created out of rocks to give us a break and enjoy the breath taking scenery. I took tons of photos. Not a single soul ventured up that high on a busy 4th of July. We had the mountain all to ourselves. Granted, we did pass someone going down when we were climbing up, but it was ours for an hour.

Kim sits in rock shelter on the bluff taking pictures of the Matsu Valley - April Bow, Alaska.

I choose to slide down the snow patch we crossed on my butt. I felt like a kid in a slide at the park…
We followed up with a great dinner at Turkey Red in Palmer.  Back to work tomorrow.

Educational piece (Wikipedia):

A cirque (from a French word for "arena"), corrie (from Scottish Gaelic coire meaning a pot or cauldron) or cwm (Welsh for "valley") is an amphitheatre-like valley head, formed at the head of a valley glacier by erosion. The concave amphitheatre shape is open on the downhill side corresponding to the flatter area of the stage, while the cupped seating section is generally steep cliff-like slopes down which ice and glaciated debris combine and converge from the three or more higher sides. The floor of the cirque ends up bowl shaped as it is the complex convergence zone of combining ice flows from multiple directions and their accompanying rock burdens, hence experiences somewhat greater erosion forces, and is most often scooped out somewhat below the level of the cirque's low-side outlet (stage) and its down slope (backstage) valley. If the cirque is subject to seasonal melting, the floor of the cirque most often forms a tarn (small lake) behind the moraine and glacial till damming the outlet.

Image of a how a cirque/tarn lake is created. (Image: Wikipedia)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Souvenirs from Tok

So I rolled into the driveway, 1784 miles later from my Klondike Loop motorcycle ride. Exhausted enough that I almost couldn't climb off the bike, let alone unpack it, wash it, and do the maintenance needed for the next trip.  Sigh.  It looked like rain.

When Jaz and I rolled out of Tok last Tuesday, the sky looked angry. Angry enough to take extra precautions. We both suited up with all the warm clothes we brought. Jaz joked about having lots of empty space in the saddlebags for souvenirs from Tok. I looked like a condom meets Michelin Woman! I was wrapped in rain gear over my heavier riding gear. I had my heated jacket and gloves. I was a toasty warm slug.

Images: (condom), and

So the trip is over and I have all this maintenance I need to do on the bike. The chip seal on the Canadian roads ate my rear tire tread away. All the shops in Anchorage want way too much to change this tire (~$200) or can't get to it until the summer is over.  I guess I'm going to have to spend a weekend fixing my bike rather than riding it.  But not this weekend, I'm going to Seattle for some R and R from my ride.

Chip seal takes it's toll on factory KLR tires - ~5000 miles

                               Here are the trip details:
Click on map for a larger image

Total mileage was close to 1800 miles, and it is referred to by the locals as the Klondike Loop. 
  • We did it in roughly 7 days. 
  • The trip was mostly paved road, but there was a section from points H to C (Taylor Highway and the Top of the World)  that contained mostly dirt/challenged road. This portion of the road is weather dependent on how safe/good you can travel. It is roughly 130 miles of dirt/challenged road.
  • The worst part of chip seal occurred between points C and D.This part of the road was also very repetitive (granted gorgeous repetition) and it's easy to fall asleep here. Do this section after a good nights rest!
  • There are two ferry crossings. One is free and a no brainer. That is the Yukon River near Dawson, at point C. The second ferry crossing requires you to pre-purchase tickets from the Alaska Marine Highway system. This is a one way ticket between Skagway, Alaska and Haines, Alaska. The boat trip is about 45 minutes, but they require you to check in 2 hours prior to departure. We have no idea why, we stood around and waited. You should have your own tie down straps for the boat ride.
  • We took one day off in Dawson to drink Black Death at Klondike Kates. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS.
  • There are two liquior stores in Dawson... the best one is on 3rd Street.
  • Our schedule allowed a leisure pace to photograph and take our time. Even so, some of the roads are hard... the mileage should not be measured with Freeway/Interstate mileage in mind.  It is tiring because the roads are filled with potholes and heaves, dirt and water trenches. You waste a lot of energy looking for road issues.
  • Gas was not a problem.. anywhere along the way.
  • There are numerous US Border/Canadian crossings. Make sure your papers are in order.
  • It is highly recommended that you carry both US and Canadian Money.
  • Don't forget to call your credit card company and tell them you are traveling between two countries... or you might end up like Jaz.... threatening the guy at Wells Fargo that your going to reach down his throat and rip his fucking lungs out if your card doesn't work tomorrow... oh wait. She did call, but they still fucked her. Have a back up plan.
  • Cell phone coverage could not be counted on while traveling the roads, but we had internet service at all hotels/B and B's we stayed in.

We stayed at:
Red  Eagle Lodge @ Chistochina (on account of having to work the same day we left)
5th Avenue B and B in Dawson (Highly Recommended - They are cool)
Casey's B and B in Whitehorse ( Okay... but nothing to write home about)
The Historic Halsingland (It is historic.... but I like old buildings) Not right in town, but they have a nice place to eat and a bar right on the premises.
Kluane B and B (very rustic!) but gorgeous. If you want a view this is the place for you - right on the beach of Kluane. It is right next to an old ghost town, so you can take pictures. BE WARNED - it is remote... bring your own dinner/lunch. They serve a nice breakfast. Closest cup of espresso: 30 miles.
The Golden Bear in Tok (as always... they are very biker friendly and highly recommended)

DO NOT EAT or STAY in Glennallen, AK at the Caribou!!!
DO NOT EAT in Beaver Creek, YT. Canada at Buckaroo Betty's. The one thing this place has been over the last 15 years is consistently bad! It looks nice outside... but trust me!