Tuesday, June 27, 2006
This Can't Be Right
What you see in this picture is an aerial view of hundreds of walruses, crammed on a beach somewhere in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. The reason this caught my eye is that federal wildlife biologists have installed a 250 foot fence to keep these walruses from falling off the edge of a cliff to their deaths. The cliff is located, I believe, in the upper left of this photo and last year some 30 bull walrus fell off and died, with more than 150 going over the edge between 1994 and 1996.
The native population of Bristol Bay wanted the fence installed to prevent unnecessary deaths. They are keenly interested in the welfare of the estimated 200,000 Pacific walruses for good reason - they kill them for meat. Trying to fence in 3000 pound walruses so that they don't accidentally die so they can be killed on purpose - that was too good to let pass without comment!
Monday, June 26, 2006
Isn't She Beautiful?
I got a nice email from Megan today, keeping in touch with the future Alaskan grandfather. I figured pretty much the best way to say thanks would be to post a picture of her belly on the internet. Are they not the cutest couple?? I'm looking forward to seeing them in August on my road trip portion of the journey to the apex. Trevor has found a good one - I've been impressed ever since she took off with Trevor and his buddies for Paris on last year's spring break. That took a certain level of craziness that I admire greatly in an individual . . . . . .
We love you Megan - stay healthy and see you soon!
Drug Of Choice
I think everyone has experienced what I'm talking about at some point in their lives, at least briefly. Everyone has their comfort foods, I'm sure. Do you know there have been times in my life I wished I drank to handle stress instead of ate? What I'm really curious about is the physiological effect of food on the human brain. Food can have some enormously powerful effects - chili for instance, eaten before bedtime, always makes me have amazing dreams, often involving my Mom. A little over a week ago, on a Friday night, I was in Walmart picking up a chamois cloth. I went through the food section and grabbed a can of chili - I can't remember the brand. I say I have a handle on this because I think the link between stress and eating is broken for me now because I'm eating really sparingly the past 2 months and even when I do stress eat, it is pretty minor.
Anyways, I ate this can of chili and dreamt all night of my Mom - and for that 7 hours, she was alive again. I really have no experience with drugs but I'm quite sure there is nothing out there that can make me as happy as I was waking up from that night's sleep . . . Heaven in a can of chili, that's powerful stuff. This is not unusual for me, and it is always something that has beans in it - like chili or a burrito. I've been researching on what causes this, and have found I am certainly not unique - there are even websites that tell you what to eat to achieve a particular dream - but I haven't seen anything about a bean/lost loved one connection. Does anyone else out there have a story about how food affected their dreams?
Thursday, June 22, 2006
The sun rose at 4:20 and set at 11:42 today in Anchorage for 19 hours and 22 minutes of daylight. It is after midnight and although the rain is beating on the camper roof like rice grains on a snare drum, there is still enough light out to read.
I've been in the camper for 6 or 7 weeks now and today I got a post office box. It seemed awfully final.
I am going to attempt to achieve one of my major goals for the year by climbing Pioneer Peak on the July 4th weekend. You can read about my original post about this goal here. I'm training my replacement at work and am finding that I know quite a lot some how, and passing it all on over the next 5 weeks before I leave is going to be a challenge. Happy solstice everyone!
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Happy Father's Day!
The older I get, the more I realize how truly blessed I was to have such a great Dad growing up. I know that the great example he set has made me a better father to the boys, and during my time with the girls. Here are my top six reasons why he is the best Dad:
1. He has an amazing work ethic. It is no coincidence that none of his children are ever out of work for long, and they can pretty much pick and choose the jobs they want to work. He set that example.
2. He always had, and still has, an incredible thirst for knowledge. He surrounded us with books and brought us to museums and plays and musicals, and exposed us to a wide range of people, cultures and experiences. It is no coincidence that all of his children are very intelligent, well-rounded and interesting people that look for something new to learn every day. He set that example.
3. He always put his children first. He sacrificed his time, his energy and his finances so that we could live better lives when we were growing up. I was always so proud that we were always warm, well fed, and had good clothes on our backs. It is no coincidence that all of his children are very giving people who put the needs of others before themselves, and put their own children on a pedalstal. He set that example.
4. He is a great husband. He is considerate and giving, and in the context of his generation, he is a loyal and committed husband to Mom, and now Penny. His children have it a little tougher these days (as does he) because being a good life partner seems like it requires a lot more than bringing home the bacon, but it is no coincidence that all of his children are also loyal and committed to their relationships. He set that example.
5. He is involved and giving in the community. He has always donated his time and energy and finances to helping worthy causes and those less fortunate than him. He has always made himself available to help and apply his broad range of talents to make life better for others. It is no coincidence that Skip plows driveways for the elderly and Bren works with disadvantaged youth and Boo is a great friend to all who know her and I enjoy helping others and give to a wide range of charities. He set that example.
6. He is involved in his church, and is a moral honest man that others admire. I didn't realize what a precious gift it was to have a Dad that always told me the truth, even when it hurt. The truth is sometimes tough to find in this world, but growing up in his household with the expectation that we all told the truth all the time took a lot of the drama out of things. It is no coincidence that he has children that are moral, honest and law-abiding. He set that example.
For these reasons and many, many more, he is the #1 Dad, and we are all very lucky to have him in our lives. A man's biggest contribution to the world is truly his children, and his example, love and guidance has set us on the right path. I love you Dad, and in my heart, every day is Father's Day. I can't wait to see you this summer, I am a lucky boy.
Note: This is an adaptation of a note I sent Dad last year, in case it looks familiar. It still very much applies and my recent failings as a husband are in no way associated with the amazing example that Dad set for me. I tried Dad, I really did. Just love me as you always have, and trust me. Happy Father's Day, I hope you have a lobster with my big brother today to celebrate, you are in my thoughts.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
One Man's 13,000 Miles . . . .
Anyways, I was figuring I am going to be riding somewhere between 10 and 15 thousand miles before it was all over. To some, this is an epic journey equivalent to Homer's Odyssey, to others - it is just a tease. The picture above shows two gentlemen from Pretoria, South Africa who left Anchorage yesterday on jet skis bound for . . . . Miami, via the Panama Canal. Unsupported. Okay, you guys win the alpha male contest, my little jaunt kind of pales in comparison.
You can read the article in the Anchorage Daily News here. You can also follow their progress on their website here, but let me warn you their web server is a bit overwhelmed at the moment by all the attention and load times are extremely slow. Hopefully they will get some more bandwidth or mirror sites to ease the congestion a bit as their journey unfolds because it is definitely a trip to capture the imagination. If they are successful, they will set a new world record, eclipsing the old record set in 2000 by a pair of Australians who circumnavigated their continent, with a full support crew. Best of luck to you mates, safe journey on what is no doubt a milestone on your individual Apex routes. We'll keep you in our prayers and check in on you from time to time!
Friday, June 16, 2006
It's the strangest thing - I can't seem to bring myself to go to a Laundromat. I've been in Alaska almost 18 years now, and there was only a couple of those years when I used a Laundromat, most recently more than 10 years ago. I didn't even know where they were located in Anchorage and I had to ask around! Kerri was letting me wash my clothes when I went over to watch the girls, but now that I don't do that anymore the laundry has been slowly accumulating. The basket is actually staring at me accusingly right now as I type on the laptop in the camper.
I have a stack of quarters right next to me, I bought a big jug of detergent at Costco the other day . . . but I think I have a mental block. Other people go to Laundromats, people with poor housing and no families. People with no washer and dryer. People who have suffered downturns in their life's circumstances and they now have to drive across town and suffer the indignities of a public Laundromat, the huge inconvenience, while the rest of the world throws a load in in between sitcoms. People who scrounge quarters and try to time their errands around laundry night so that the whole evening isn't a waste of time . . . . people like . . . me. I just need to get that through my head and I'll be fine, it's a bump in the road to the Apex, and good practice for a month or two on the road. Just need to bring a good book for my Reading List!
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Anyways, there is a loon cam in Maine that I first found out about by reading their blog here. The actual camera is sponsored by the Biodiversity Research Institute in Gorham. You can skip all the background material and jump directly to checking out the loon by clicking here.
I've been watching the site for awhile and waited to post about it until there was actually a loon to watch. Well this Friday, the first egg was laid!
Loons have always meant a lot to me. Seeing them (and hearing them!) out at the camp on Webber Pond, watching them from the canoe. I was thrilled when the cabin I bought on Cabin Lake in Nikiski had a nesting pair of loons that returned every year. Loons are part of the organic fabric that ties Maine and Alaska together across all the miles, and their call will always bring back wonderful memories for me. Enjoy the loon cam! And do comment with your favorite loon memories!
Saturday, June 03, 2006
My life will never be the same.
This is a very sad day for me.
I know I will be okay someday.
I don't want to be okay someday.
I know it is my fault but I don't know why.
There is nothing to be learned from this.
I am not smarter now. I am dumb.
Tommorow the sun will still rise.
Pain does not make you stronger.
Pain makes you bleed inside.
I am still me.