August 28, 2010

Whale Watching

This is my favorite shot of the day, a whale's tail waterfall

Today is Sarah's Birthday and for her special day she wanted to go on a boat and do some whale watching. She researched the local options and chose a local company with a few small boats, 6 pack size. Sarah also invited along two of her friends so we had 2/3 of the boat and then two other tourists. The folks that own the company, and our captain for the day, live on the back side of Shelter Island. Its about a half hour ride to Auke Bay he says. Our captain's name was Jay Beedle, and he and a buddy of his started the company about 25 years ago, I believe. The call it Harvin Marv's, nick names from high school. He is a professional photographer and also the foremost expert on our local humpback whale pod. He has named and identified most in the area and works one on one with NOAA, also he writes articles for the local paper. Really cool guy, super nice and intelligent. Anyways, it was a nice day weather wise and the seas were moderately calm and the whale watching was spectacular. There were groups of 5-7 at a time, all blowing and fluking. We also saw some fin waving and nose bobbing after filling their mouths with krill and small herring. All around wonderful day! I took about 400 shots and of that 300 were ok. Of those only a few where really spectacular and one in particular is my favorite. Also some of my tail shots showed us that there were some new whales in the area that were not named or known of yet. I believe two of them. Would love to be able to name them after Sarah and I, ha ha ha. Anyhoo, it was about a 3 hour trip, not to expensive and a really nice boat. So onto the pics.
These two lazed around for a bit and then dived.
Down it goes!

The one on the right is a new whale

These two stuck together and fluked repeatedly
This is my best shot of a whale nose bobbing
This one rolled over his side, not a breach but he did flip water at the end
Beautiful shape to their tails!

The birthday girl having the time of her life!
Beautiful shot, great for identification

August 27, 2010

Cancelled Day of Work and the Gods give Us Sun!!!

I was scheduled to work a catering event last night, but it was canceled so I got a surprise day off from work and the sun came out!! Our dear friend Jon was in town for some business meetings and stayed with us. We had a good time, but my schedule didn't look to good for his super short stay. Then I get the night off, so while he was at is meetings in the morning I did a tune up on the old truck, new plugs wires cap rotor and oil (which was badly needed), and then when he was done it was time for a drive. The work on the truck paid off, it is running so well now!! knock on wood. So we decided to head out the road and enjoy some of the sun. It wasn't super warm and partly cloudy but that just makes things look even cooler. We went out to Sunshine cove and sat on the beach, drank a beer or two, talked about fishing, and made plans for a guys trip this season for deer. All around great way to spend the day, that was not expected to be much but work. Here is a pic of the views, pretty nice!!

August 22, 2010

Baby Naming

To my mother, no..there is no baby in our future. ha ha ha. My employers recently had twin girls and today was the baby naming ceremony. This, as was explained to me, is the female version of a brisk. Basically a reason for the Jewish community to come together and celebrate the births and introduce the newborns to the congregation, and to eat much good food. It was a very nice ceremony, spoken in both Hebrew and English, and the little ones even behaved themselves throughout. Which as we were discussing with Jill, it is a rare moment when they both are happy and quiet. They are both so very cute. There names are Tillie and Adina, named after grandparents on both sides and or their Hebrew name. I didn't think to take my camera, duh, so there are no pics to post other than this one which is right after their birth, stolen from Jill's Facebook, sorry Jill.

Jill and Ken also have an older son Solomon. So with the three kids their house is a busy one. We wish them all the best and congrats on the newborns. Now it is off to work for the night.

Beautiful Sunny Day!!

Ok, almost caught up. The other day was absolutely gorgeous here. Around eighty degrees and sunny, had to work unfortunately, but before going in I went downtown and took some pictures. The first here is a full 360 degree panoramic of downtown Juneau from the small float dock near the Hangar at the Warf. If you look closely you will notice a young couple dancing on the dock under the bow of a cruise ship. They were doing the tango!!

One of the many float planes that do tours on the glacier, getting ready for take off. The mountain in the back ground is Mt. Jumbo on Douglas Island. We are hoping for a good day and time off to do that summit this summer. If the weather is good the photos should be awesome!

This is the Merchants Warf that houses many small tourist shops and The Hangar Rest., the most beers on tap in Juneau, over 100!! The mountain behind is Mt. Juneau and really is as vertical as it looks. It was such a gorgeous day! The large white building is SeaAlaska, a native corporation.

One of the older cruise ships from water level. The building to the left is our parking garage, I believe it is about 6 stories tall. These ships are massive and literally dwarf downtown. They carry more passengers and crew on one boat than all the residents of the immediate downtown area and sometimes we can have up to six in at a time. It gets really crazy downtown on those days!!

In contrast, this small wooden craft powered by a wood burning steam engine, is very small and cute. It takes a limited number of passengers for a trip down the channel and gives info on the sites and history of the area. It really is a very cool boat.
Well that is about it for today. More to come if the weather returns!! Take care.

August 20, 2010

Perseverance Play Set

For those that are curious, this is the final set for the kids plays this summer. We have tarps over the backs to try to keep them dry. We then tore it all down on the 15th. I pulled these shots off before final strike, so sorry for the circles from the sun.

Catching Up

So life has been just flying along. Working long hours and at odd times so my outdoor adventures have been, needless to say, limited and at odd times. So I haven't had much time to catch up on the blog lately so I will just fill in the blank. The weather here was awesome for about a week, roughly 80 degrees and gorgeous!! At one point Sarah and I had a chance to take a quick hike out False Outer Point and enjoy the sunshine. We just happened to catch a ferry leaving Auke Bay and I got a few shots, this being one of the best
It is hard to tell, but it was either the LeConte or the Taku. The bugs were insane and so we were only there for a few moments and moved on quickly. Note to self, bring deet everywhere I go! Everywhere!!! Damn No-see-ums!!
 She hates to get her picture taken, but I love to!! I love the light that a sunset in Alaska throws on everything, its so soft and golden.

After obtaining about a zillion bug bites each and really not much to see after the sun went down, we hiked back to the truck and called it a day.

As we left in a hurry and ran back up the trail I pulled of a few shots for a panoramic.

August 5, 2010

Crossing to Shelter Island

An absolutely gorgeous day once again in Alaska!! After spending the day house cleaning, finally got through all the small detail spring cleaning types of things, we decided to go out and enjoy the sun. As soon as Sarah got home from work we loaded up the gear, slapped the boats on the truck and headed out to Tee Harbor, a few short miles out the road. The tides were not exactly in our favor, but at the same time not too bad. We were only looking at about an 8 foot change from +6.3 to +14.2,         which is pretty mellow for this area, yet when paddling out of a cove that is flooding it takes a bit more work. Luckily our boats move smooth and quick, so we were out in a jiffy. Once on the outside the fore casted 10-15 knot winds appeared. Had been totally calm on land, but now we had a stiff breeze and a flooding current in the same direction. We decided on our point on Shelter Island and headed across Favorite Channel. Due to the afore mentioned conditions it was much like ferrying across a river. It took us about an hour to make the crossing, paddle up the coast a little and find a place to land.

This shot is looking back across to Lena Point.  We then had wonderful bagels, cream cheese, and smoked salmon that a friend had given us. Yes, to those who know Sarah and that she is a vegetarian, she does eat the smoked salmon, she even had a pretty healthy chunk of it. Then after ambling around a little on the beach, we decided that we should head back due to the late hour and diminishing sunlight. This was only an after work trip, a 3 hour tour shall we say, and we had no interest in being stuck on the island. We assumed that the return trip would be much calmer due to slack tide, but the wind kicked up a little as it tends to do in the evenings. This caused the water to stack up in the channel and produced some pretty good seas. We ferried across in 3-5 foot seas with the occasional larger 6+ foot roller. As hoped and expected the boats handled wonderfully and only operator misjudgment caused momentary concerns, mostly on my behalf. Ha ha ha. Water was pretty warm, but still didn't want to swim in it. The return crossing didn't have the flood tide to deal with, so it only took about 20 minutes or so and then we had to run up the coast to the harbor. Luckily this part was with wind and waves at our backs, so we made pretty good time. I even got to occasionally catch one of the larger rollers and practice surfing my boat. Needless to say, more practice is needed!!! Returned to Tee Harbor about 9:30 just as the sun dipped behind the mountains and headed home for a snack and some slumber. Unfortunately pictures of the second crossing are not available, my hands were busy and the Juneau side was in full twilight upon arrival.
This picture is looking north back towards Juneau from our
picnic spot on Shelter.
After living in Portland for so long and having to travel great distances to find any amount of true wilderness, being back in Juneau where I can have my boat in the water within a half hour from time of pulling it out of the garage or being on a trail headed up a mountain within 5 minutes of my house, still seems so unique to me. I love it!!!

August 3, 2010

East Glacier and Nugget Creek Trail

Last night after work Sarah and I felt the need to get into the woods. We decided that due to the awesome weather we were experiencing that East Glacier trail would be the best choice.
Well we were right and this may be my best shot of the glacier ever, as far as colors lighting and the whole scene. For my parents and any others that have lived here in the past this might be seen as a somewhat sad picture. The glacier has receeded so far!! The small rock outcropping on the left side that had started to poke its head out when I was younger is a full on peninsula now. There is a new small water fall on the right up against the ice and Nugget falls is a long way away. This shot, for those that know the area, is taken from the end of the little point in front of the visitor's center. After braving the tourist mobs and getting my shot, we headed up the trail.

Occasionally we ran into large groups of "tourons" being led by young wilderness guides working their summers in Alaska, but for the most part it was much quieter and less traveled than down by the buses. For those that do not know what a "touron" is, simply the words tourist and moron put together. This doesn't apply to all tourists, simply those that act as a moron while wearing matching jogging suits etc. etc.  This is just a little fun, so nobody get offended now!

If you step in front of my truck while I am driving down the road with a camera attached to your face while looking up at a mountain, you might be a touron. If you encircle a small cute black bear cub for the purpose of taking photographs to show your grandchildren while ignoring the rather upset momma bear behind you, you might be a touron. If while standing in the middle of modern downtown Juneau with its moderate "skyscrapers" and you ask me if I live in an igloo, you might be a touron. If you come into my business and ask me if we use American money, you might, hell, if you do any of these or a number of others that I have had the pleasure to are definitely a TOURON.  For those that learn of the area, travel smart, obey our customs, and don't liter or destroy our great wilderness, you are tourists and we love you, well at least your dollars.  Ha ha ha, just a little fun. Kinda sounds like a Jeff Foxworthy spiel.

Now, after that major divergence from the topic, back to the hike. We eventually did the entire 3 plus mile loop of East glacier, but we also ran up about 3 miles on the Nugget creek trail. The area was once a hydro plant and mining center at the turn of the century, but now it belongs to the bears. The entire under forest is carpeted in blueberry bushes and the trail was littered every few yards with an excellent samples of blueberry bear shit. Usually I am pretty comfortable in the woods, even when I see sign and know they are around, but this scene really set my nerves. I eventually did the smart thing and started clapping and yelling out "hey bear", simply because you can't see 10 feet in any direction. Gorgeous area though. The first thing we ran into is the old coffer dam build for hydro purposes, mind you this was built turn of the century and still stands, well sorta, didn't really want to try my luck and climb fully down in front of it. LOL
Due to my Proximity to the dam I wasn't able to get the whole thing in one shot, so this is a patched together shot. I took a total of 6 shots upper and lower and pieced them together. This is a new type of pano for me, and it takes some work but it seems to have pretty cool effects and gets large scenes into one total shot. Eventually I hope to do this work with photoshop and be able to achieve greater potentials, but at the time I am pushing the ability of my simple pano program to its limits.  After the dam the trail just runs up along the creek and deep into bear country.

After the hike we went down to see the bears fishing in Steep Creek by the visitor's center, but the throngs of tourists and their camera flashes made me feel sick about the whole situation, so we left and ate some bagels and hummus over by Skater's Cabin on the west side and called it a night. It is so awesome to be able to just hit the trail 5 minutes from home and enjoy this great land and its beauty and silence.