December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas everyone!

Ernie and I are having a quiet Christmas this year, just the two of us, for the first time ever.  We got a tiny tree and put it on the hearth, where we can watch our faux fire burning beneath.  We got lots of great gifts, with an emphasis on warm clothing, and Ernie bought me the most beautiful Norwegian sweater I have ever seen.  It has been very nice, but we miss you all, and hope you are having a wonderful holiday!  We are off to visit friends and share the day.

Also, it is snowing!  I have had very few white Christmas' before, and the snow has been around for a couple of weeks this time, which is a very nice treat.  Full disclosure:  I took this picture a few days ago, so that I could still say we have a white Christmas, even if all of the snow rained off before this day.  But the flakes just keep accumulating, bit by bit, and it is beautiful outside!
Another shot of Mt. McGinnis from our back porch, on one of the recent clear, cold days.
Merry Christmas Everyone,
Sarah and Ernie

December 10, 2010

Fame (internet style)

Last night we went to a poster session to see the poster that Ernie made for his GIS class.  We were looking around at all the posters that all of the students made, and I saw one about dissolved organic matter in Auke Lake.  The author had put a picture up of Auke Creek, and I went to point it out to Chris to show him were I work in the summer.  When I looked closer, I saw that my blog address was printed at the bottom (otherwise I might not have known that I had taken the picture).

Someone had stolen a picture from my blog to use on their poster!  (And cited it properly!)

I'm pretty sure that means I'm famous!

November 28, 2010

OMG Snow!

I love winter.
I especially love winter here, where there is snow and ice and dark nights and northern lights.
In Portland it seemed like winter largely consisted of colder rain.
And maybe the hope of snow.
Here there is more than hope...
I present to you (again): our back deck.  The prediction is for 3-8 inches more accumulation today.

Look!  Bear tracks on the deck!
Of course, there is a thick layer of ice underneath most of the snow, and tomorrow's weather is predicted to warm up a little, rain, and then freeze again.
But I still love it!  It is so nice to have seasons!

In other news, we had a very good thanksgiving.  We went to a friend's house, and it was a large, traditional, family affair.  I made a delicious spanakopita that even the carnivores enjoyed (come to think of it, most of what I ate was spinach-based--I love spinach dip!), and we were sent home with two more meals worth of food.
On Friday we went to the public market.  We mostly browsed, and hopefully will go back today to pick up a couple of things.  While we were there before we bought only, um, cheese.  And bread.  But it was a delicious french blue cheese (Vieux berger), and the sample guy let us try everything, so we were obligated.   And the bread was a rustic rye similar to the type of loaf that I hope to make soon, so we had to try it.
Now it is time to start decorating our house for christmas.  The few decorations that we kept are squirreled away at my parent's house, so we are starting from scratch.  This will be our first christmas on our own, so we have the chance to start up some new traditions.
So far all I have done is make some snowflakes to hang around the house (I'm pretty sure that is why it snowed so much last night, and I only made two or three.  Imagine what will happen when I make an army of snowflakes!  I can't wait!)

This was my practice snowflake.  I plan to find some shiny paper (maybe blue and silver?) and make some more.

So I will make more snowflakes and other things to decorate, and maybe we will get a tree soon.  And some lights.  In the meantime, our life is quietly busy, and nearly perfect.

October 30, 2010

Its snow time!!

It is just starting to get wintery here.  The darkness is starting to take over, but hasn't yet, and there have been a few storms.

But no snow.  At least not at sea level.

There is snow on all of the mountains though, and the snow level has remained at around 2000 ft for the past couple of weeks. 
I have been wanting to get out and touch the snow, but everyone keeps telling me to wait for it.  It will be here soon enough.  But that's not my style.
So today, with Ernie at work and all the chores done at home, I decided to go to the snow.

I chose the fastest and easiest route possible to get there:  I went up Mt. Roberts. 

A view of downtown Juneau from about half a mile up the trail.

The trail is nothing but uphill (unless you are coming down) and I gained almost 2000 ft in an hour.  It was tiring, but I finally got to the snow, touched it, and headed back down.

The first snow that I saw on the trail, just below the tram.  Pathetic, I know, but you gotta start somewhere.

All around the trail there were birds and squirrels collecting food for the impending winter, and I saw deer and rabbit tracks all over the snow.

Mt. Roberts.  I didn't go all the way to the top, even though it is only another 1000 vertical feet or so.

I am satisfied for now, and of course, the snow level is predicted to come down to the 800 ft level in the next few days, so I really could have waited for it.
Except I couldn't.

Looking across to Mt Juneau, down the channel, and towards the valley.

September 13, 2010

Winter Garden???

Yesterday Ernie and I built a cold frame.

What that actually means:

I built the wooden box for the cold frame several days ago when Ernie was at work.

I decided I wanted to build the top.  I asked Ernie for some advice about something.
And then the engineer took over.  It is probably better.  He is capable of cutting in a straight line (partly because he keeps his eyes open, I'm sure), and the whole thing is probably more structurally sound.  And he got the challenge of building onto something that I had already started. 

You see, I am not an engineer.  I don't think that I have ever heard the phrase spoken aloud, but I'm sure I have been thought of as an "anti-engineer".
And when I built my part of the frame, I just kinda thought about it for a minute, and then started cutting.  And pieced it together as I went.
It worked fine.  But that was also my design for the lid, which is slightly more complex.  (But only slightly.)  And Erno's brain doesn't accept that level of planning.  So he had to turn it around in his own head until he came up with A Plan.  At least it entertained me as I stood watching him work on my project.

And I also got to run to the store for more screws.  And clean everything up.

Is nice though, no?
It is made of real cedar fence boards, and the lights are acrylic sheets, and the hinge is vinyl fabric.
And I have very many seeds to test out in it.  I just hope it is not too late.  And I hope that none of the seeds need direct sunlight.
But it should keep things relatively warm and dry.

We'll see how it goes.  If there is progress and success, I'm sure I will update you.  If everything fails, we may just forget this ever happened.

September 11, 2010


Hi Guys!!
Sorry for the long absence.  I have been in the process of rethinking this blog.

When I first started this blog, it was to keep everyone updated on the goings-on up here in Juneau.  A way to stay connected, if you will.  I had no idea that Ernie would also be interested in having a blog.
For a while I saw his blog as some sort of competition, with his updates making it unnecessary for me to update.  His argument was that we see things differently, and write about different things, which is true, but for awhile I didn't know how I would do that.  I'm still not sure...

The other thing that I have discovered during this process is that I am not a photographer.  I don't think my pictures are that bad, but I am unwilling to spend time with my face behind a camera when there is stuff going on.  Case in point:  during the last two major events in my life, whale-watching on my birthday and our wedding-on-the-roof, I haven't even taken a single picture.  It either didn't occur to me in all of the excitement, or I haven't wanted to give up the big picture to record the little picture.  Ernie, on the other hand, is an aspiring photographer and constantly takes pictures wherever we are.  Very good pictures at that.  And a lot of them.  Thank god for digital cameras, or we would be spending a fortune on film.  Again.

What I am interested in is the writing.  I just have this idea that no one would be interested in my blog if I didn't sprinkle it with interesting pictures throughout.  Which is actually okay with me, now that I think about it.  So I think I have decided to keep writing, and not stress out about not having pictures to put up.  I will leave that part to Erno.  I still have plenty of words.

That said, I also have some pictures...

Turns out, I like to take pictures of ice and blueberries.  So that's what you get.

Look mom!  I got my picture taken with an iceberg!
The Mendenhall glacier visitor center.
I love the clouds in this picture! 

We are currently in the process of clinging to the last bit of summer.  The weather has been good, but it is getting dark early, so we brought our kayaks to Mendenhall lake (3 minutes from our house), and kayaked around the icebergs for a couple of hours.  There is some sort of sign saying we couldn't get within sight of the face of the glacier, so we didn't, but Ernie said it had been there since he was a kid, so maybe they just forgot to take it down.  I'm sure we will give it a try when there are less tourists around.

August 14, 2010

The Weir

Auke Creek--looking towards the ocean

Every morning for work the first place that I go is to the weir to count sockeye (and all the other types of fish mentioned in the last post).
The weir spans Auke Creek entirely, and the only spot where fish are able to move upstream or downstream is through a little (1 foot) opening that leads into a big trap.  This allows us to get an exact count of all the fish moving up the creek.  In the winter the weir is in the downstream position, and all of the out-migrating fish can be counted.

Auke Creek--looking toward the lake.

Auke Creek is a fairly short creek that drains Auke Lake, and runs into Auke Bay.  The weir is located just above tidewater.  The salmon are collected into the trap and once or twice a day we come down and count them and take a tissue sample to extract DNA from.  Then they are released into the creek on the upstream side of the weir to go spawn.

The trap.  It is about 12x24 feet.  I could go back and take a picture that is in focus--but I probably won't.
Fishes in the creek--upstream side. 
So that's the weir.  It's not a bad place to wake up (most mornings).  There are eagles that hang out there, and berries, and it is quiet and forested, and until recently it even smelled good.  Now, not so much.  But the live salmon aren't rotten yet, so that's a plus. 

Now I am gonna go play.  It is a gorgeous Saturday that is supposed to hit 80F, and we are going to hang out at a beach barbecue, and go hiking, and other fun stuff.

And I will go buy shoes another day, when it is raining.  I have a pair picked out though, I swear.

Also, it is salmon derby weekend, which seems to be some sort of weird holiday here.  It pretty much means that we can't go kayaking, even though the water is supposed to be perfect.  Oh well, we will have all winter to go out in the boats.

August 10, 2010

And just like that, it is raining.
And we turned the heat on.

So now I will have plenty of time to babble on about my life to you all.

And now its time for 5 things make a post:

  • As I turned on the highway this afternoon, on my way home from work, a little black bear bounded out of the bushes, saw that I was there, milled around on the side of the road like he found something interesting, then galloped across the road as soon as I passed him.
  • I love Alaska!!
  • Every morning for work the first thing I do is check the fish weir.  There have been a couple hundred fish holding in the trap the last few days.  The species:  Pink salmon (Oncorhynchus  gorbuscha), Sockeye salmon (O. nerka), Chum salmon (O. keta), and some Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma malma), and Cutthroat trout (O. clarki).  We should get a king salmon (O. tshawytscha) or two in soon, but it is too early for coho yet (O. kisutch).  
  • The pinks are the main research subject of one of the grad students, I work on sockeye, and the chum are all strays from a hatchery called DIPAC.
  • Tonight we went out and ate mexican food, and it didn't suck nearly as much as I remember!  It is still impossible to get a burrito in this town though.
That's all!

August 09, 2010

Juneau Summer

Juneau is beautiful. 
It is a tiny (relatively) strip of land that is surrounded on all sides by magnificence. 
There are trees, and mountains, and forests, and wildlife surrounding us all of the time.
And mostly, the people that live here know it is beautiful.

But Juneau is also in a rainforest.  Statistically, any day is more likely to be rainy than not, and even if the rain isn't falling, it is a fair bet that the clouds are edging their way towards sea level, sometimes sneaking down the mountains, while other times things disappear into the fog before you even noticed it was there.
It's as if someone is lowering the ceiling.
The fog swirling along the mountains and forests can be breathtaking too.  And even, sometimes, rain is beautiful (actually I usually think it is pretty, I am just guessing at how others may feel).

But it doesn't take long for people to forget what is behind the clouds.  Yeah, they can look at pictures, but pictures are never the same as the whole view.
And people go on about their lives, knowing where they are, but not thinking about what is obscured by the mist.

Luckily, rain doesn't last forever, and eventually the mist is burned away to expose the complete landscape.  And even though we knew it was there all along, somehow we had forgotten the details.  And the colors, and the views, and the feeling that someone is opening your cage to release you is quite intoxicating. 
Summers are short in Alaska, and when it is sunny the residents are driven to absorb every precious minute of it.  Every sunny day at work we remind ourselves that this could be the last day of summer, no matter the month, and we should enjoy it now.  There will be plenty of time to accomplish things in the winter, and anyway it is nearly impossible to be productive with the sun shining in the windows.

It is fair to say that I hated summers in Portland.  I dreaded them for months beforehand, and hibernated in the basement during the hot spells.

But Juneau summers have meaning to me.  They are things to enjoy.

So that is why I don't post when the sun is out, or answer my emails quickly. 
I am out hiking, or kayaking, or sitting on the beach absorbing every possible moment of the sun (note:  this is different than getting a tan, the sun is usually too far away to burn even me).

Summer won't last forever, and even now the darkness is gaining. . .

August 03, 2010

For mama

                                               Die sicht auf der Gletscher ist fabelhaft.

Hi everyone.  The weather is great around here right now, but I have failed to take many pictures.  Posting will resume with the rain.  We have been spending a lot of time around the glacier, trying to avoid the tourists that are trucked there by the bus load.
I hope everyone's lives are going well.

July 25, 2010


It has been kinda quiet around here lately.  Ernie has been working all the days, and it has been cold, and rainy, and November-ish, so I don't feel like going on many adventures by myself.

And we make really good hermits.

So mostly we have been sitting around reading, or watching movies based on video games (which are as good as they sound).  It has started to get dark early, maybe by about 10:30, so that adds to the wintery feeling, and somehow we have become morning people, who get up before we have to.  I'm blaming the transition from the basement for that.

I have just started the second year of a 10-year Buddhist practice program, and what I am doing right now is fairly physically demanding (kinda like yoga maybe?), so that is taking up a lot of my time right now, and I am all sore.  I will get used to it.

I picked blueberries today, this time with the intention of making jam.  There are so many out in our yard that you can't even tell where I have picked.  My per-quart time split is about 40 minutes, and I'm sure I could knock several minutes off that time if more than half of the berries I picked ended up in the container.  Alas, there is nothing I can do about that.  But all of the berries are ripe now, and since I am going to cook them, I don't have to be too picky.  I try to avoid the berries that have been predated on by birds or squirrels(?), but I am not worried about the ones with tiny holes.

You see, every wild Alaskan blueberry has a chance of having a worm in it.  Well, everyone calls them worms, but they are really a tiny caterpillar.  As a biologist, I wouldn't go near any food source that I knew had the chance to give me some sort of intestinal parasite, no matter how delicious (except maybe cheese, but not maggot cheese).  But I would, and certainly have, consumed caterpillars.  (I draw the meat line at flesh; organized muscle fibers.)  There is a way around larvae-eating though.  The trick is to soak the berries after picking.  This causes the worms to crawl out of the berries in search of precious air.  (It makes sense that you would have to soak them longer than the average Juneau downpour, I just do it for "awhile".)  When you soak berries that have a large gouge out of the side, all of the remaining flavor leaks out.  When you soak berries that have a tiny wormhole in them, they are still pretty good afterwards, maybe even better for the lack of worms.  (And maybe you can travel through that wormhole to an alternate blueberry dimension.)

Now you know.

So I am soaking the berries now, and will make jam this evening.  I'm pretty sure I should be cleaning the bathroom right now, which is why I am blogging.

                                              A blueberry caterpillar in his natural habitat.

I will understand when nobody wants my blueberry jam as a Christmas present...

July 21, 2010

New Camera!

As I mentioned in my last post, I bought myself a new camera this weekend.  I'm pretty sure that it is the coolest present I have bought for myself, at least in recent memory.

                                            A Fuji Finepix XP10.  It's not this blurry in real life.

I don't know that it is any better than the camera I already had, in terms of picture quality, but it has several things going for it.  It is tiny, so I can take it with me anywhere.  It has a rechargeable battery, so it don't have the added weight of extra batteries to carry with me.  And it came with a 4 GB card, which I may never use up.

The best part about it though, is that it should be Sarah-proof!
It is dust proof, freeze proof, and shock proof, so I can drop it or take it into snowy or dirty conditions.
And. . .it's waterproof, which means I can take it kayaking and not worry about it.
Okay, I'm pretty sure it doesn't float, so I have to worry about it a little, but now I can take pictures on the water!

Ernie is totally jealous!!  (Which is not why I got it, I swear :) )

So for you all, that should mean more pictures that are more interesting.  Yay!

July 19, 2010

You must be as sure-footed as me to ride this trail... me, that's not setting the bar very high.

Today after work I decided to go on a walk.  Ernie had already left to go kayaking by himself, so I chose to go hiking by myself.  I did not get eaten by bears.  (Although interestingly enough, I have chosen to go in some of the the most beary-areas of this region right off the bat.  Maybe I am getting it out of my system.) 

I chose to go on the West Glacier trail, which runs up along the side of the Mendenhall Glacier, though not really on the west side, since the glacier itself runs pretty much west to east.  It took a long time to get this straight in my head.

Anyway, it is pretty cool being that close to a glacier, although today it was pretty warm.  I think there might have been a temperature inversion, though it is possible I was just wearing more clothes than usual.

Also, I got a new camera!  I will have a special post about it later.

This is Mendenhall Lake, near the start of the trail.  The glacier does go all the way to the edge of the lake, but you can't see it from here because the point of land blocks the snout of the glacier.  Yes, there are icebergs in this lake, and yes, Alaskan kids do swim in it.

This is a viewpoint a little ways up the trail.  No glacier yet.  That point of rock is fairly recently exposed, maybe in the last 20 years.

Now we have a glacier...

This is what the trail looked like in several areas.  It seemed nearly vertical, but there was a bit of slope to it.  I took this picture from about halfway up that section.  It is mostly slick rock, but in some cases stair steps have been made, and there are quite a few places where you have to use your hands to get up the trail.  Up actually isn't so bad, but it seems like down could get tricky, especially in the rain.  Luckily it was mostly sunny when I was up there.  Its kind of neat because the soil on the trail is mostly as thick as the moss that covers it, and when you pull that away it is just bare rock, where you can still see the scrape marks from the ice.

This is up near the end of the trail.  I didn't quite make it to the end, because I was trying to stay within a certain time frame.  The trail gets pretty close to the ice, but the official trail doesn't go all the way.  There are many unofficial trails though...

And a close-up of the ice-edge.

This is where I turned around.  Not because I couldn't cross a creek, but because it was getting late and I don't know when the bears are eating their dinner these days.

July 17, 2010

Doing my part to keep the bears out of the front yard

As I mentioned in an earlier post (which you all probably haven't read yet), the majority of our yard is covered in blueberry plants.  One of the good things about all of the rain we have been getting is that now they are plump, and juicy, and ripe.

Today I picked about two quarts, but there are probably about a million more berries out there.  I plan to make jam, and maybe pie, and freeze some for winter.


July 14, 2010

Our Home

Seriously, once we were actually in Juneau, we didn't have a plan.  All of our planning abilities had been used up just in getting there.  Juneau was a much easier place for us to move to, as opposed to Anchorage or somewhere smaller.  At least we have friends and family here.
But we did not have a plan.
Okay, we did, but it focused only on getting some coffee that didn't taste like ferries.

Luckily, the first person we dropped in on said (after she was fully awake), "of course you can stay for as long as you need to.  And you can let your cats out of their tiny boxes."
We stayed there for a week and a half, which seemed like forever, especially to Ernie and the cats, but in retrospect it wasn't that long.

And then we moved into the place we are staying now.  This is the same place that was offered to Ernie as we were driving through Washington, it just took awhile for the details to get worked out.

It is a beautiful one bedroom on the top floor of a house.  Underneath us is mostly a garage, and a tiny efficiency (studio) where someone else lives.  And laundry.  Yay!!
It is far and away the most grown-up of any place we have lived, except my parents house.  It has wood floors and nice furniture, and almost everything works.
And it is reasonably priced, by Juneau standards. 
It is close to my work, but remote enough that we can barely see the houses of our next door neighbors.

So here is the grand tour:

                                                  This is the driveway coming into the house.
                              The house from the front.  The french doors on the balcony go to our
                                                 living room (left) and bedroom (right).

                                                                      The kitchen.
                                                The left (port) half of the living room.

                     The other half of the living room.  You can see our new cat sleeping on the couch.
                                           Her name is Funnyface.  She came with the place.
                                                         My cats don't love her yet.

          The view out the side windows of our living room.  You can see houses through there.  Kinda.

                                                                     Our back deck.

And the view of our backyard.  Most of the brush you see are blueberry plants, and there is a good sized duck (mosquito) pond just beyond.  This means we hear ducks quacking at all hours, at least in the summer.

So that's where we live now.  I forgot to take pictures of the bedroom, but I will get those soon. 

July 13, 2010

The Journey

Now that we are here, and comfortable, and starting to settle into a routine, Portland seems soo far away.
Everything seems so far away.
And some things seem like we never left.

When we left Portland, the weather was shite.  We spent the last morning and the night previous packing and hauling away the things we didn't need anymore, and we were drenched the whole time.

The weather in Juneau was perfect, of course.  Sunny and 80.

But the hideous downpours stayed with us the entire time we drove to Prince Rupert.  Everyday there was at least one stretch of road where we couldn't see anything through the windshield wipers, and my tires weren't actually touching pavement.
I suppose the weather since we got here hasn't been that bad, but it hasn't been what I would call perfect.  That's fine by me, since I get worried if I go without rain for more than about 36 hours.
But I do appreciate the sun more here than I do in Portland.  It is nice to see.

Anyways, we pulled out of Portland at about 1 pm, which was just in time to hit three hours of the Seattle rush hour traffic, which is my favorite in the world.
(I still love living in a town where there is literally no such thing as traffic, and I think I always will.)
We were incredibly stressed out and frazzled and sleep-deprived, and our goal was to make the border crossing, just in case there were problems.  Cause there is nothing better than a couple of crazy americans and their cats, trying to enter Canada.

Somewhere around Seattle, Ernie got a phone call from a woman who had seen his housing wanted ad on craigslist, and wanted us to rent her house.  This was very promising news, since we would be there in 4 days, and we had no leads on housing.  And we did end up renting her house.

We slogged our way through the Seattle traffic, and made it through the border with no problems, as long as we promised not to let our cats go in the Canadian wilderness.  A friend of mine promised me that Canadians are not scary, and that turned out to be true.  Even their traffic signs are polite.  "Please don't kill the construction workers", etc.
WARNING:  In Canada, Mountain Dew contains no caffeine!!
That's a little too nice for me.

We took two days to drive through Canada, which was by far the farthest I had ever driven in my life (in one stretch).  That seemed to be a decent pace, especially considering that we were originally going to do the whole 1200 miles in two days, which would have been brutal.  After the first day we were more comfortable.  It was too late to turn back (as we had left everything behind), and it seemed the vehicles and the boats were going to make it.  The drive through the Fraser Canyon and forests of Southern BC was pretty, but it got a little monotonous and flat and dry farther north.

And boy did the cats love it!!!!  Now they always want to go for a ride in the car!
Or not.
I would do it again, but preferably not by myself, and not carrying everything I own.

When we got to Prince Rupert, we knew the only thing left to do was get on the ferry.  We ate some bad chinese food, then got a hotel room to hang out in until we had to be at the boat at 5 am.  It stormed like mad all night.  After a long wait through the line and the Canadian customs (again), we finally made it on the boat.  We covered up the cats, and went upstairs for the 27ish hour run to Juneau.

On the ferry we hung out, ate crappy food, and slept at random intervals.  I love boats, and can't get enough of looking at the ocean.  On the other hand, you are trapped on a ferry, and have no responsibilities, so it is a great time to catch up on all the sleep you've missed.  Sometimes we slept in the bar (to get away from the screaming kids going to Ketchikan), sometimes on the couches, and sometimes in the chairs, but it really didn't matter.  Unfortunately I slept through my favorite part, the Wrangell Narrows, but it was dark and I wouldn't have seen anything anyway.

The next morning, we pulled into the ferry terminal in Auke Bay, and got off the boat.

We were in Juneau.

Of course, we didn't have a clue what we were going to do next.

July 11, 2010

Point Bridget

Today we hiked out to Point Bridget.  It is still cloudy and rainy in Juneau, and we wanted a hike that didn't require a high ceiling to enjoy.

The trailhead is located north of town, almost at the end of the road.  The trail is boardwalked most of the way because it runs through muskeg and mucky forest (most of the time), along a creek, and ends at the beach.

This is looking back at the beach where the trail comes out (right in the middle of the meadowy area).  We walked down the beach and around the point to look for interesting things washed up from the sea.

There are two little state-run cabins along the trail that can be rented by the night as well.  One of them used to have a sauna, but that appears to be missing now.  It probably burned itself down during a party one night.
                                                               Cute cabin, no sauna.

It was a really great hike.  Fairly flat and easy, but lots to look at.  Many types of wildflowers were in bloom, including a variety of orchid, lupine, and of course, fireweed (but the flowers haven't reached the top of the spike yet, so summer will return).  We saw lots of eagles and ravens and smaller birds, harbor seals playing, two toads, a marmot, two porcupines, and...
                                                                                    a ton of bear sign.
This trail consistently has more bear sign than any other trail I have been on in Juneau.  I chose the trail and I knew that going in.  Along with the usual scat piles, which virtually line the trail, there are claw marks in the trees, trails in the grassy areas, patches of ground that have been dug up for roots and grubs, and footprints.  Pawprints.  Whatever.

Now I have only seen one bear (family) on a trail the entire time that I have hiked in Juneau.  I realize that in most cases I would have to try to see a bear (that is, not wear my rain pants), and that I would be lucky to see one.  And I want to see one.  Or more.  Just not on the trail, up close and surprised.  But I pay attention, hike carefully, and am not in the practice of carrying large dead animals out of the woods on my back (which is when most people have problems).  So I know that I am less likely to be surprised, and if I do run into a bear, chances are good that nothing horrible will happen.  I know that bears aren't lining the trails, hiding in tree branches, and waiting for me to walk underneath them so that they can ambush me.  I know this.

That doesn't mean that every snapping branch behind me, and every rustle in the bushes ahead of me doesn't turn a nice walk in the woods into an aerobic exercise.

But I decided long ago that I would rather live in a place where bears roam free.  Even if they eat me.
I'm grain fed and delicious.

July 10, 2010


I know that I have promised some of you a blog.  I know that I am a little late on that.  Soory.

The delay is not because I don't know what to write.  Trust me, I have more words than any of you would ever want to read.
It is not because I have forgotten.  I think about posts to write everyday.  I have even written out 6-8 of them already.
No, it has more to do with the fact that I don't want to bore you guys to death.  I can live on words alone, but I realize that many of you are more interested in pictures.  And really, who am I to deprive anyone of Alaska porn?  The problem is, I am not used to being the photo-taker in this operation, and even when I do remember to bring my camera, I usually forget that I have it.

I am working on that.
And in the meantime, I can borrow photos.
So never fear, I will use pictures to fill the space, at least sometimes.

 So now I present my blog, from Juneau.  It doesn't have a permanent name yet, and I will probably change up the layout, but here is the beginning.
However, 5 posts make a blog, and only one person knows my address so far (and I am sure that he has forgotten all about it), so I won't send out the announcement for a couple more days.
Then it will be real.