Wednesday, August 31, 2011

kayak trip ends...we pack up for gustavus!

saw this truck a few times in gustavus. thought they had gotten themselves a very cool license plate. may change my plate this year. my personalized plate was great until...well, it got reversed and at first i ignored it, but then, i must admit it bothered me. i've had another idea for a bit. my one friend said the one i want has another meaning but then everything can mean that to someone. i looked it up online and didn't see any mention of it having said meaning so i may see if it's available and switch. obviously, alaska is taken!

the boat is all packed up. always a sad moment, but nice to return home again as well.

the ferry we'd arrived on the week earlier was also in town. our week was winding down, vacation coming to an end. many of us still had one more night in gustavus to enjoy and dinner reservations at an award winning restaurant, the gustavus inn.

i decided to get on that first boat back to town. the others had planes to catch. i thought being the planner i should get there and get the hotel bill all sorted out and make sure that end ran smoothly. took some time to sort out the hotel bill and even a month later i got a call from deb and went through the process all over again. lucky for me i'd kept my little piece of paper that i'd put all my notes on. i thought it was better to just take the total cost of the rooms we used each night and divide it by the number there. it was all quite complicated, but i think we got it all sorted out in the end.

that first boat was loaded with pretty much all the gear so we in that boat were responsible for unloading it. most of them hadn't been on the first boat out like i had and the bulk of the gear had been on that boat as well. so.....i got it coming and going. i cry foul...not that anyone cares. haha. i can still cry foul and whine. it's my blog and i'll whine if i want to...right?

back to the dock in gustavus...a lovely sunny day in southeast alaska. usually southeast is known for rain. we returned the next day to rainy anchorage. it's still rainy. came down steady all day today. did make it out to the dog park with the dogs. not too many folks braved the rain today so very few other walkers out there. not bad once you get out there in your gear. no big deal really, it is tough to get motivated to get on the trails though.

see how empty the beach is...just a few kayaks and their personal bags. don't they look happy. :-).

i'm so not excited to head back to work tomorrow. still coughing. not sure what is up with that. am tired of coughing though. thought maybe it was allergies, not sure allergy medicine helped. just took medicine to stop the cough for the night. so i'll be getting sleepy soon.

we all joined the chain to load the boat. for some reason we kept seperating our bags out, which in the end was silly since we were unloading all the stuff from the boat at the other end and we could have just seperated it out then. gave us the impression that we wouldn't be unloading. i must say the guides took care of the kayaks, which was awesome! those are heavy and that is a long ramp.

we went for a short paddle that day and then we waited on the beach, braving the sunshine and the horseflies. they were brutal that day. i was actually happy to get off the beach and away from those buggers. will secretly admit it was worth it unloading for that break. of course, they just sat in the breeze at the point and were pretty much safe from the bugs anyway.

empty kayaks....

a few pictures from that last paddle. we went the other way toward, hoonah. i believe hoonah is on the same rather large island. not sure how many miles, pretty doable though.

no time on this trip for that. we did a super relaxed paddle.

several times we just racked up and chilled. above bob and monica, below adam and sandra.

some tatoo's had faded off, mine held strong for a few weeks after and even then i had the tan line of the tatoo til that faded. i think i'm just about back to my usual butt white self. this rain makes tanning difficult. fall is coming on. the trees are changing, the nights have that chill in the air, the darkness is returning. alaska is ever changing. the seasons ebb and flow, never really staying one season for a prolonged period...well that is true of all but winter. winter settles in and makes itself at home. personally, i've grown to love winter. i can see how people tire of it and come to hate living in alaska. the darkness and the cold can get to you. i think most of it is a state of mind. living in ketchikan, it rained all the time, over 12 feet/year. while there it never seemed to bother me. you just resigned yourself to the fact it would rain, bought proper clothing and got out there. after you left, you found yourself loving the sun again, but while you lived there you just accepted and enjoyed.

i'm sure that is true here. i just accept winter and darkness and live around it. if i moved someplace else i'd just evolve to that place. some people adjust to change easier than others. i think i'm just a person who adapts. sweeping changes like i've made in my life can be frightening but i also found them equaling exciting. ultimately, i have no regrets. i've made some leaps and survived....thrived really. fear holds people back and prevents them from experiencing joy. am i fearless, nah, i think you just have to let go of fear at the right times in life. relinquish control to the powers that be. it's your path, it will wind on without you if you opt out, but who would want to miss that trail?

some try to act like thier life is better. we all just have different adventures. we can't live all the lives that are available. mine just went a different way. that doesn't make it better or worse. some have felt bad that i didn't find the right guy, get married and have children. maybe even some felt i made choices that prevented that from happening so i deserved to not "get" those things. i've come to feel that you just have to adapt to the life that is given to you. we can all be happy in this world, there are so many paths to happiness. there are poor people who are happy, there are people with terrible seeming lives that seem to find those moments of happiness where you wouldn't believe it possible. those are the stories of hope against all odds that always seem to inspire us. you don't have to have certain things or live a certain way for happiness to come. often those who strive for that "perfect happy life" end up being the most miserable people. adapt and evolve....

this little parasitic orchid has definitely adapted and evolved. i suspect when we hit those pearly gates it will be more about how we treated other people, the creatures and the earth that will matter most. i think it will be more about how we adapted to the set backs, the struggles we were presented with in this life. it seems life is easier for some than for others, but i suspect we often creat our own misery. there are no rewards for martyrs who do it for the sake of martyrdom.

i'm working on making the repairs in my own life. i'm far from perfect. i'm cool with less than perfect. i don't believe god expects us to be perfect. have seen way too many people try to just pretend they are perfect, that thier lives are all that, when indeed thier lives are crumbling around them. you wouldn't know it til it all falls apart. there have been so many times i've been floored by a couple that broke up or a family that went broke despite seeming wealthy.

watching these families really shook me at the time, but taught me the lessons. i can think of several marriages that i truely looked up to as being that perfect match, only to see it all disolve before everyones eyes. the lies that these people lived finally tore them all apart. another family seemed to have it all until the dad got caught imbezzling and went to prison. it's easy to get caught up in that "keeping up with the jones" mentality. he did his time and they landed on thier feet. they adapted.

sometimes it's good to learn from others. that perfection lesson was a really great one for me. i always felt so inadequate compared to so many of those around me. over the years you see that those perfect lives are often nothing more than a front. you never really know what happens in others lives. they don't know your life either. we do have to try and watch out for each other. there are so many wonderful people in my life. so many who have come and gone over the years. i feel very blessed to have made connections with such awesome folks. different people seem to come at the right times or under the right circumstances. i find the various people i've met have served different roles as well. people who i thought i would never befriend turned out to be some of the best friends. it's best not to just make a judgement and move on, you miss out on some great friends that way. first impressions are often full of crap. people often put out there what they think you will like instead of just being who they are.

trips like this are great, you get to know people and enjoy the different personalities. there can be differences of opinions and various personalities, but overall, you grow to love all the differences. real friends accept you for who you are, really, when the make up is off, the toilet is just a hole dug on the beach and you are sleeping in a tent with them or by them. spats can occur but real friends move past those. i accept those around me and their imperfections and i'm grateful that they also accept me and my imperfections. often those are what we are drawn to. what a dull world this would be if we all lived the exact same lives. love getting to know people with various backgrounds. it's amazing what you find out about people when you take the time to listen.

our last campfire of the trip. the guides brought out the map and we tried to sort out how far we'd paddled and also looked at options for other trips...always fun to come up with other ideas. we paddled 40-50 miles over our 6 days/5nights. a nice amount, but not crazy. am reading "rowing to latitude" by jill fredston. she and her husband paddle for several months at a time, some days they get 0 miles in and others they can do 20. it just depends, mostly on weather it seems. she mentions in her book that people ask say things like aren't you afraid, or must be nice to be able to afford to take off 3 months. mostly she responds that they aren't rich, but they do make a choice. you do without some things to have others. it's a choice. we all make those choices.

my bad choice in life has been using credit cards more than i ought to. tomorrow i will take out a loan to wrap that all up in a neat package and dispose of it in the next few years. was in there talking to the loan person and she initially asked if i wanted to pay this off over 15 or 20 years...i was dumbfounded. i guess that is the usual question. i wanted just 5 years with the option to pay off early. when i feel bad for my finances i speak to someone like this and realize what horrible positions people have put themselves in. she told me when she was in her early 20's she and her husband bought the $250, 000 house, the rv, the boat, the cars, the 4-wheelers and had over $40, ooo in credit card debt. she said she couldn't sleep wondering if she'd paid this or paid that. they cleaned it all up and now have zero debt. i'm nowhere near that so i can recover from my indescretionary spending.

stuff will bring you down. there is little we really need. they have found that once you have enough income to adequately pay for your basic needs you can't gain happiness by making more. as a matter of fact making loads of money seems to cause added stress. you no longer can tell who your real friends are, you get hit up for cash and it seems people lose tract of what is valuable in this life. stuff doesn't bring happiness. well, in truth some stuff will bring happiness. i like my camera equipment and i just bought some new pants at the rei sale. i guess it's about balance. i tend to buy what i need, replace what i've used. i don't tend to buy the best or most expensive thing. when i've started new hobbies i've always bought the cheaper stuff and then if i maintained interested i could reward myself with a higher end. so when i wanted to learn guitar i bought a $65 guitar, after i'd taken lessons and classes and improved, (though i still am not a guitarist by any stretch) then i rewarded myself with an ovation. it wasn't the high end ovation though, but i still loved it.

these annual trips can be expensive. this one i was able to pay a bit here and a bit more there so really it was paid for by the time i went. there are so many amazing things to see and do in alaska and these annual trips have made it possible to see sites that most other alaskans or tourists will never see. we got tired of watching other people come to our state and do the cool stuff while we worked and lived and didn't make time for it. still much to see and do and i hope i am healthy long enough to do more. have been making some photo collages for the spare room from some cool multi-picture frames i found. there are way too many photo's and memories to fit all in there, but it's a great collage of some super fun trips and even just hikes and rambles. each day is such a gift and i've been blessed to cherish nature on a daily basis.

good friends make that even more enjoyable. we all sat out on the point and drank wine and ate appetizers while the guides cooked our last meal. so relaxing. scott and bob below enjoyed not being the doers on the trip. we all got used to letting our guides cook/clean up and handle the water chores and such. we just enjoyed, they got to do the worrying . thanks monica and adam!!

that last camp site at pinta point even had a pit above. not sure why they didn't put walls up and make it an actual outhouse, but we were happy with the upgrade of pit toilet. not that we totally minded our bathroom on the beach with the incredible views and even whale and seal sightings. we joked that we needed to make a bumper sticker, "i took a dump with a hump, point adolphus". haven't gotten that made yet.

thought val and tanya looked like siamese twins. i've rambled, apologies...probably the effects of nighttime cough medicine. like that drunk that talks too much.

Monday, August 29, 2011

gold mint, independence mines and a few whales...

may have tried to put too many pictures in here. there is always so much going on in the summers and it's so pretty i just snap away. blossom is a willing participant in these photo adventures.

met these little guys on gold mint trail. it goes back 8 miles to the gold mint glacier. i have never been back that far. generally, i just go to the 4 mile marker. around there is really good access to the little susitna creek so the dogs can get in the water. 8 miles is a fine walk for one day. we saw a couple going out to camp out. overnighting it is probably a great plan.

boddhi enjoys the water at the 4 miles mark.

we were blessed and it was just a wonderful day. tanya and i drove out from anchorage and met our friend bonita out there with her daughter. 5 dogs went along as well. bonita turned back at mile 3. she has a boy in is back in up here. the kids get out early in may and return early in august to be able to enjoy all the added sunshine i think.

trying to take cool water pictures today. always trying to learn new stuff to do on my camera.

blossom and i pose at a nice lunch rock.

at this point bonita had turned back so we turned the rest of the dogs loose. this trail can be pretty well traveled but with the state fair taking peoples attention and school back in session we saw hardly anyone out there. the three dogs posed on this rock for us...okay, it wasn't as easy as that, but don't they look cute!!

loved all the fireweed that had turned bright and red. there were fireweeds in various states, some were still blooming. not sure if it had to do with sun exposure or what.

the colours made for a fall preview and some pretty dramatic photo's.

will have to plan a trek over the denali's always an amazing fall road trip.

tanya and i were already talking about a return trip to hanging valley in eagle river. that was an amazing place. i'd bet that williwaw would also be a great fall hike.

so many great fall hikes and drives, so little time.

this is just the begining. it is almost september...first the mushrooms, then the spectacular fall colours.

of course, then comes months of snow...we won't go there quite yet.

the dogs always love to take a dip in the beaver pond. can't say as i've seen a beaver in here. obviously created by beavers.

since i was in hatchers pass and it was a beautiful day it's always a good idea to drive on up to independence mine. it operated 1938-1941. there is another mine above this site which is privately owned. i started up the trail til i saw the signage...oops.

this is state park with a nice visitors center. that is in the old boses home. the buildings are in various states of repair or disrepair. they are trying to restore some, others they just allow to continue falling down.

this was a very large gold mining operation in it's day and with life back in the 1930's-40's i'd guess it wasn't an easy place to live and work at times.

the scenery is spectacular and i love the various buildings and equipment for a fun photo session.

today i used the macro and my little point and shoot.

the tracks and those actual operation buildings seem to be falling down for the most part.

they have some old carts that were used in the mines

tried to use the old broken out windows for photo ops.

in the background is the palmer valley. i do get palmer and wasilla confused at times. the matanuska glacier carved out the valley below.

love the red against the wood sides.

blossom is pretty beat after all the miles of walking/hiking from today. we wandered around up here, maybe just an added mile or two.

we walked the 8 miles at gold mint and then we had taken rio for a partial trek in the bog.

rio is snoring away. you would think she'd done all the miles blossom and i did. it was "hot" by alaskan standards so it would have been a tough go for rio. i try to keep her under 5 miles. she is 7 and for a bigger dog she is doing great...don't want to push it though. she seems to do okay at home. she may not want me to leave tomorrow without her though.

despite signs of fall, there are still some wildflowers out there. the lupine is going to seed. tanya told me i could collect the pods and put them in my garden if i wanted. may have to do that in the back forty. lupine is so beautiful!

more close in of all the buildings falling apart. obviously, they have that section cordoned off and encourage you to not go out there.

that is a view of the other, private mine area. there are several mines in this pass. arch angel road takes you to another trailhead to reed lakes, it also will take you to another mine, private. i understand that gold mining is gaining again in popularity as the price of gold has been soaring. there is still gold in them hills, we may be set up for another mini gold rush.

my uncle koyle did some gold mining in alaska many years ago. got himself shot in the leg. people get a bit crazy with the gold and the money. it's not easy, it's a rough gig.

there are historical gold sites all over alaska. independence is just close to anchorage. i still need to get to kennicott mines. that is another place i hear wonderful things about. a bit more difficult to get to.

love the black and whites with pictures of a place where one could have only taken black and whites in the day.

was a pretty busy operation for those years. not sure why it stopped and all that. i have read the placards at one time, but long ago and forgotten. never was good at remembering details.

you can walk to the top of the area i took from below. this is the rail in it's busted up state.

spent some time playing with my timer and waterfalls. this one came out pretty decent. now i need to go back to every waterfall i've ever seen and try again haha.

sunday was a beautiful day as well. i took the dogs for a few loops at the university lake dog park and then loaded them up. i was a bit slow getting moving so got a later start than expected. at first i thought i'd drive to the beach in seward, but i just went to the hope cut off and then came back to anchorage and met friends for dinner.

was actually lucky in that on my return trip i caught the bore tide. the bore tide happens in turnigan arm related to the extreme changes in tide. the tides out there can change up to 40 feet, this can cause a huge surge wave. guess it happens just over 2 hours after the low tide...i find i can never plan for this but occasionally i have just been lucky as i drove past. the daring like to use it as a huge single wave and surf it. today and often it's kite sailing or kiteboarding/surfing. i'm sure i have no idea.

anyway, you can get the idea from the pictures. you see them often out there waiting and hoping the wave will be decent sized. it can be up to 6 feet.

they will also just go out there and enjoy the very common wind on turnigan arm.

around windy point one can generally see mountain goats. below was my turnaround point heading into hope.

these are from our last full day at point adolphus. we got treated to a whale show. there was a pod of 7-9 whales and we sat in the kelp beds in our kayaks enjoying thier feeding session.

never saw any bubble net feeding...that remains on my list of hopes and hoo. can't have everything, eh?

often there were several diving at the same time and i think someone caught as many as 5 tails at one time. that one above had 5 whale backs as they swam along feeding.

didn't come out as hoped but there were times you'd have sea lions in the foreground and whales in the background. you can barely see the whales in this one.

we tried to get video and it wasn't bad, but we were all bummed as all the sounds the whales were making were drowned out by the wind around us.

there were some leaps out of the water...i got splashes as usual.

lots of the tails!

below are 4 setting up for a dive simultaneously.

dive, whales, dive!

it was just such a great experience to just be out there with those amazing whales.

pictures sometimes can't do justice to an experience. some stuff you just have to hope to experience yourself. i wouldn't mind spending more time in this part of alaska. so much wildlife and beauty. i can see why people settle there. making a living must be a challenge at times, but to live in this glory one can do without.

we all had a blast sitting out there. lucky for us these guys came along as it was turning into a bust whale wise before they showed up.

happy kayakers.

bob sits and ponders...

alex used the kelp as an anchor. sandra and i attemped this but it seemed to fail us. the others took lessons on kelp anchoring which we seemed to have missed. we kept drifting...making taking pictures a bit of a challenge.

great day, great hike...we'll see what tomorrow brings. for now, it's midnight and this girl should hit the sack.