Sunday, August 23, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Not much posting this week, when I haven't been working or attending Fire Volunteer Academy, I've been packing.  Goldfish and I are starting a new chapter out here on the island, we bought a house and are moving out of company housing into a place of our own.  It was a tough decision - as any regular reader of the blog knows, I have a great view from the living room in my company housing, and I have a 90 second walk to my desk at work in the morning.

Despite all that, we're pretty thrilled with our new digs - 2 bedrooms, 1-1/2 baths, a hobby/laundry room, a beautiful entry room, and open living/dining room and kitchen all combined.  The huge hot tub is just gravy . . . .

So, since my company housing comes furnished, any spare moments I've had have been devoted to looking at furniture on-line.  Heaven help me . . . . . . . 

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Quick Word About Poor Photos

I take bad photos on purpose . . . . usually, it's because the picture calls for something I just can't provide at the moment - a tripod, a better lens, different light, fresh batteries, a better camera, more time - but I still want to remember the moment anyways, so I snap the photo.  Here are a couple photos that are bad taken in the last week or so.

In the top two, Goldfish and I had just dropped my brother off at the airport and were leaving our place to go on a walk with Chico when an eagle landed in the water, capturing a salmon.  We saw this from our front doorstep.  I turned around and ran back in the house to grab my camera, knowing full well the batteries were pretty much dead but hoping there was a little juice left as I didn't have time to raid the Wii controllers for fresh batteries.  By the time I was back outside, the eagle had managed to fly/flop itself onto the riverbank with the fish and was getting ready to take off - I took the top photo and everything worked fine.  The last gasp from the batteries was the second photo where the autofocus has already given up the ghost and the rest of the camera died soon after.  It pains me deeply that an eagle flew right by me, 10 feet away, with an eagle in its talon, and I could do nothing but watch but I'm still glad I took the poor photo and I'll keep it because it reminds me that day, and how emotional it was to put my brother on the plane after a great visit, and the irony that perfect eagle pictures escaped right under my nose, just steps from my door.

The bottom photo is a night version of A View from the Living Room, and I knew it would be blurry because I wasn't using a tripod and I was having to expose the shot for over a second to get the effect I wanted - I knew I couldn't hold it that still that long but I still wanted to remember how that huge container ship looked in the fog.

Of course the best pictures are captured by the mind's eye when you don't even have a camera.  A favorite mind's eye picture for me was the day my sister and I were walking along the beach out here last year when puffins flew right by our faces, right at eye level, just a few feet away.  They had fish in their beaks and the sunlight flashed on the fish and the bright colors of the puffins and we were glad we didn't have time to consider taking a picture so we just watched, a magical sight that no camera could have ever captured.  

What is the most amazing sight you have seen in the last year that you didn't take a picture of - or took a picture you knew would turn out poorly just to remember the magic of what was happening?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Quick Post

I've been staying up way too late all week burning the candle at both ends but I wanted to post a quick picture of these two partners-in-crime I ran across on the pass road.  They were heading home after hiking Ugadaga Bay trail when they came upon me pulled to the side engaging in a guilty pleasure and admiring the view.   Good to see you CB and CD!  I'm sure they will be posting photos from the hike soon.  Okay, night all, I'm off to bed, Goldfish is covering the pre-bed Chico walk for me so I can get some extra shut-eye, the 4 or 5 hours a night is catching up to me, I'm trying for 7 tonight!  Cheers . . . .

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kicking Back, Watching The World Go By . . . . . .

M/V The World left Unalaska this afternoon and here are four very different looks of the departing vessel.  I like the one on top, it looks magical and surreal, and of course Steve's Rule of Photography #83 - any image is improved by including a passing bird!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

M/V The World

I'm sure every island blogger will post pictures of the cruise ship in town today, The World.  You can learn more about the beautiful vessel here.  I have been fascinated by this floating residential community ever since it was launched in 2002 and made a big splash in the press so I was thrilled when I saw it was going to dock out here for a couple days.  I spoke with some of the people that live on The World today and they said the best thing about the experience was the other passengers and the sense of community.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day today with a rainbow splashing up the walls of the valley enclosing Summers Bay.  A picture really doesn't do it justice.

Steve's Rule of Photography #37 - any scene is enhanced by including a passing boat!

A view of The World from the spit.  We went for an easy dog walk today as Chico has sprained his paw and is limping around.  We spoiled him with bison meat and rice for dinner and he is passed out on the couch in ecstasy.

You know, Cookie Dough's husband's vessel actually still looks pretty big, even parked next to the whole world . . . .

And my lesson to everyone today is that sometimes, no matter what fabulous things are happening, the very best view can be right from home - I took this photo this evening about 25 steps from my front door after the dog walk.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Few More Pictures from the Goose

There are a few more pictures I took when we were circling the town that I thought might be interesting to my local friends.  Here you can see Strawberry Hill.

This shows a view of the work at the new small boat harbor.

Here is Strawberry Hill in the foreground and Bunker Hill in the background with Unisea in between.

A nice shot of the Safeway grocery store and the hotel.

A look up Summers Bay.

Little Priest Rock - I thought it was interesting there are WW II fortifications visible at the top of the frame - now I want to hike up there and check them out!

Another view of Little Priest Rock and Summers Bay.

It is humbling to contemplate what a tiny portion of the island is easily accessible - and exciting to dream up new ways to explore!  Some of us scheme of finding the perfect undiscovered berry batch, while some of us dream bigger and plan to trek the length of the island, each to their desires and abilities.  What a wonderful place we live!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

All Aboard the Goose!

Back in January, Kelly and I bought an 30 minute island tour on a Grumman Goose at a charity auction and have been saving the certificate, hoping to use it when Bro was visiting but also understanding that those types of things are highly weather and schedule dependent.
Kristine and Max were over at the pool but they got changed and met us at the airport where I was checking everyone in and giving out body weights.  Thanks Max for only weighing 40 pounds - this allowed the rest of us to carry a little extra "baggage".
As you can see in the second photo from the top, I let Bro sit in the front - I assume he didn't drive the plane but you never know with that guy, he's pretty capable.  During the flight he was getting insider scoop from the pilot and we figured he's share once we got on the ground; he claims he didn't really hear anything due to the engine noise.
I was actually amazed by how quiet the Goose was, given the pair of 450 HP Pratt & Whitney piston engines bracketing the passenger area.  I think it is probably more quiet than the Saabs they use for the Anchorage to Unalaska run - I always use earplugs for that flight.

This is Bro getting more insider scoop from the pilot - again, he claims he didn't hear anything.  I'll get the info out of him somehow, eventually . . . . 

It is hard to describe with words the beauty of the island seen from the air, 95% of which you can't get to by road.  I could see how a guy with a boat could spend a lifetime right here on the island and never see it all and it reinforces the idea that global travel just isn't needed to have a rich full life, there is so much in a guy's backyard.  Unfortunately, none of our families are in the backyard last time I checked - except a precious visit from Bro - so travel we must.
You can see I was having a pretty miserable time.
I took over 180 pictures from the air and it was very hard to narrow it down to 20 or so to post.

In this shot, the north side of Ballyhoo is out the plane's left side and this is looking at the area where Skip and I went fishing for rockfish last week.  I gave Skip the camera so this is out of the front of the plane with one of the engines visible at the top of the frame.  Clouds were pouring like smoke out of that mountain valley.
Bro took a picture of the pilot, a very cool guy.  I know his wife Rhonda and they are both missed as they recently moved to Anchorage.  He is just out here temporarily helping out covering some pilot shortages.
The Grumman G-21 Goose first flew in 1937 and has been a workhorse in Alaska and all over the world ever since.  It has hand-cranked retractable landing gear allowing flights from either water or a conventional runway.  There were only 345 of them manufactured from 1937-1945 and there are only about 50 left that are still flying and in museums around the world.  Some interesting links are the Wikipedia entry for the Goose , Goose Stories where the author does a great job of capturing the essence of flying in the Goose in Kodiak, Goose Central where the author has many Goose links and maintains a database of all the Goose serial numbers, and finally the KIAL news story about the Goose that crashed last year out here, and now serves as invaluable spare parts for the planes few planes still running in the world.  Ummm, yeah, I didn't really mention that last one to Bro before he got on the plane . . . . 
Here is a view of Alyeska Seafoods with Haystack Hill in the background, and beyond that Captain's Bay with Westward Seafoods just visible just left of center at the top of the frame.
One of my favorite shots, this shows Alyeska Seafoods with part of the town of Unalaska in the foreground, including the Russian Orthodox Church.  You can see how the plant is on an isthmus of land with a salmon stream on one side, and the Bering Sea on the other - and ideal location that has been occupied for almost 10,000 years, the oldest continuously inhabited coastal settlement in North America.
Still circling, here is Little South America and the bridge from the awesome Unalaska town side to that other side where the hotel is located . . . . 
Making a water landing in Dutch Harbor.
Touchdown!  It was so smooth when we landed you almost couldn't tell.  
Joe and Max watching the approach to the ramp.  Max thought it was pretty cool the plane could turn into a boat.

Revving the engines, the pilot climbed up the steep boat ramp.  The Goose truly is a cross between a Jeep and a plane - and it makes a mighty fine boat as well!
A plane crossing the road - especially a special historic plane like the Goose - makes quite a scene.  I was taking pictures of them taking pictures of us . . . 
Joe, Max, Kristine and the pilot pose after the ride.

Skip and I posing after the ride.

In the afternoon we went salmon fishing.  I stood on a rock in my sneakers to fish but Bro didn't feel he was getting the full experience unless he was waist deep in the Bering Sea wearing sandals and jeans!

After we got home we vacuum packed the fish, ordered out for pizza and watched a movie - all in all a pretty full day of vacationing!  Cheers!