Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Boy Scout Camp

On Sunday we decided to drive out the road and try out the trail to the Boy Scout camp since the snow has melted since we visited in April. Its such a great trail - I think its my favorite spot so far. The trail is nicely maintained and its about 1.2 miles to the beach. It starts out in the forest and then opens up to a grassy meadow. Right now all the wildflowers are starting to bloom and there's a large variety of blossoms. The trail continues through the forest before opening up to meadows and marshes at the beach. The trail follows the Herbert River. Right now there are lots of little streams of water flowing down the hill and I have a feeling that they probably run all the time if they aren't frozen. There's lots of little birds flitting in and out. We walked out to the beach and had lunch while sitting on a huge driftwood tree trunk along the beach. Then we walked along the beach and came across these huge clam (?) shells. They were much larger than our hands.

We walked along the beach for awhile and then decided to cut through the meadow and look for the boy scout camp. The meadow was filled with different wildflowers, berry bushes in bloom, ferns, and grasses. We stopped to look at a bird in a tree (we think it was a Townsend's Solitaire) and watched a porcupine eating fresh shoots. It finally saw us and lumbered away looking over its shoulder.

I think this is lupine.

and I think this might be a salmonberry.

We finally spotted the main lodge and saw a few cabins along the bluff behind it. What an incredible spot. It looked like erosion might be a problem soon for one of the cabins - it was perched very close to the edge. I believe this is called "Russell Hall."

and here's a look at what the view is like from the front porch. There's grass out to a real sandy beach. I even saw some drift wood to make a bonfire.

We walked back to the trailhead on the camp's trail. It had two ruts but I don't know that the regular trail was wide enough for a vehicle. We'll have to come back when the fish are funning because it might also be a nice place for Dolly Varden.

RSS explained

Do you have several blogs or newsites that you like to visit to see what's new or been added since the last time you looked at them. Maybe you wish that you wouldn't have to keep checking back here to see what's happening with us and wish you could just be notified? How about compiling all of your favorite sites and letting a new/blog reader do all the work for you! Its called RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and gives you the opportunity to check one website to see what's new on all of your blogs or newsites that you view.

Here's a short video called "RSS in Plain English" created by Common Craft Show, that gives a pretty good explanation about the steps you need to set yourself up with an RSS feed, why you want to do it and maybe even save yourself some time.

Like the video points out, there are several different aggregators you can use. I use bloglines as my aggregator and I probably have subscribed to about 150 blogs, newservices, or other aggregators. For a first time user or it you just want to see how it works, a really easy one to use is Google Reader.

If anyone needs help with one of these let me know and I'll walk you through getting subscribed. And once you have the reader installed look at the bottom of this blog for the Subscribe to Posts (Atom) link and copy this link (right-click, copy link location) - and subcribe to it!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Caribou Steaks?

I stopped by the Botanical Garden and Ag Farm on lower campus this morning on my way into town. I wanted to see the baby caribou and see what was happening at the garden before I have to leave town. The baby bou's are always so cute and their coats are so lush. They are doing road construction on the Parks highway and it doesn't look like they are using the lower lots for the caribou so they must have moved them up to the Musk Ox farm on Yankovich Road. I image the constant truck and heavy equipment noise could be disturbing.

So here's a few young'uns. They wouldn't come very close but didn't seem too concerned when I walked close to the fence.

I was surprised at how the mature caribou seemed to notice me and actually started to come towards me and follow me as I walked along the fence. I must have been wearing the same color shirt as the "feeder" because they seems quite excited to see me and started smacking their lips.

There's one of the big ones:

and the rest of the crew

Not too much to see at the gardens except some newly tilled dirt and lots of places stacked out. I wish I had more time to volunteer to help get things started. Maybe on my next visit in July they will need a weed puller.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Heidi didn't get a chance to post this on Sunday because she's been so busy at work during the day and we don't have internet access after hours. My apologies!


We waited with anticipation for the grand event to begin. Here Ruth is talking to Roxi and Richard to Lori. Others included Al, Zac, Tim and Heidi.

The proud Mother sitting by…

Sorry this is one is a little blurry but you get the idea of the grand entrance…go on, start humming the memorable tune…

this the Robert's row

and the hand-off of the diploma

Woo hoo! Let the celebration begin!

Robert with Zac

and Robert with Heidi

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

restaurant review #9

Lemon Grass - Fairbanks

Had a lovely dinner at one of our favorite Thai restaurants in Fairbanks with Susan and Lillian last night. We started out with satay and veggie rolls. I really like the marinated cucumbers that come with the satay. The peanut sauce was also good. I had chicken in red curry that was very tasty. I asked for medium and it had a perfect spiciness for me - maybe hotter than a normal medium. Tim tried a new dish with ground pork and tomatoes in a chili sauce. It was also on the spicy side but delicious. It came with sliced cucumbers, chunks of cabbage, broccoli florets on the side. Lillian had the veggie panang curry which is always a good selection and Susan had chicken and eggplant. I didn't try it but others said it was good. The place was packed so I'm glad we met early. We had a good dinner and great conversation.

Back in Fairbanks

We arrived back in Fairbanks on Saturday morning to a huge rain storm. It was pouring. When we left Juneau the skies were clearing and it was looking like it was going to be a blue sky day. Oh well! Fairbanks needs the rain and it will help bring the leaves and grass out.

Its good to be back in town and we're visiting with friends, getting cars started and sorting out and looking at the boxes and stuff in the storage locker wondering what to do with it all. I'm pretty sure that most of it will just be staying right where it is. We've identified a few things that we're like to have with us in Juneau so we'll try to take back what we can on the plane. We are also thinking about driving the truck and camper (with stuff) back down to Juneau, probably mid-July. We'd probably end of selling off the camper down there but at least we'd have a second vehicle and a dry way to get some more junk down there. So we'll see if that works out for us.

Tim goes back to Juneau on Saturday and I'll be here another week. Some of the things on our TO DO list include walking / birdwatching at Creamers, Botanical Garden, Turtle Club, Bamboo Panda for General Tsao's chicken, buying a rain proof jacket, and of course visiting with family and friends!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mendenhall Glacier in Tongass National Park

After work Wednesday we made sandwiches and took off for the Mendenhall Glacier. There was only one cruise ship in town and they had been in port for most of the day so we figured that the tourists had already come and gone from the glacier and were probably all back on board eating their fresh Alaska salmon.

I had heard that this was a really good time to see ice bergs in the lake. We talked about walking back to the waterfall like we'd done a couple months ago. When we got there we walked over to look at the lake and saw some ice but nothing really impressive. I guess I was thinking it would be like a river break up full of huge chunks.

I had my birding guide with us and we read through it and found that one of the "birdest" places in Juneau was off one of the trails that we were right by. We didn't have a map and the map in the book wasn't that good but we thought we'd head in that direction and see what kind of signage we ran into.

We took the Moraine Ecology Trail and headed towards Norton Lake.

It was a little wet and we ran into some snow but it was a nice little loop trail through the moraine (as you might guess by the trail name). We thought we missed the cut off to Norton Lake when we ran into some signage and a little better map than we had. The book must be a little out of date because the two didn't jive but we did see that we could easily get to Moraine lake so we headed that direction. It looked like Norton Lake was a little more than we wanted to tackle this evening - we'll save it for a weekend when we can start earlier in the day.

We came across several small ponds that we thought might have some ducks in them but didn't see too much. You could really hear the varied and the hermit thrushes calling through. We did see robins and gold-crowned sparrows.

A lone mail buffelhead swam on Moraine Lake. Could be his mate was hidden in the woods. It was a pretty little lake - not very big. We ended up walking around it and stopped for a sandwich and veggies on the opposite side.

I'm pretty sure that you can access these lakes from two sides (click to see about where I think this is - not positive through) and we think it would be a pretty good place to do some mountain biking when we get our bikes down here.

Big Day for Heidi

I went to the grocery store today and I actually saw and talked to someone I knew who I met here about a month ago. This is a first for me and it makes me feel like I'm finally a part of the community!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Forever Stamps

I admit that I've gotten caught up in the USPS marketing hype of buying the "forever" stamps. They are currently selling a book of stamps at the 41¢ rate which will be the new rate for first-class mail on May 14. I've put a couple of these books away for future use when the rates increase once again. WOW - what an investment! Lifehacker has a good information on their blog if you want more information.

North Douglas

On Sunday it was really cloudy, windy, and rainy in town. We had scheduled a walk with friend Terry so we got our gear on and headed out to meet her. We picked the perfect spot to walk because it was heavily treed and provided a canopy for us so we hardly got wet at all. Of course because we didn't get wet I got overheated because I dressed for rain. I've come to realize that I have no jacket that is water resistant - plenty that are water repellent but that's not going to cut it down here! So I've been dressing in layers in hopes of not being drenched.

So we drove to the end of the North Douglas Highway (click to see map - look for End of North Douglas Highway marker) and walked the powerline through a couple of cool meadows with small streams running through them to the beach. The forest was relatively easy to walk through because the growth is so tall that there isn't a lot of ground cover.

There's lot of cool intertwined roots and trees through here. This one was particularly large.

That's not a bear! Well, not a real one - that's Oso - our little black furry friend. He's a nice dog and was good company on the walk.

We also saw a lot of very wide trees. This one was probably at least 4 feet across.

Terry called this "bear's bread" and you can guess who might have been gnawing on it. We saw a lot of these and some bigger than a basketball.

What's at the end of your Rainbow?

We're taking this as a sign that one day, ours can be found the Douglas Boat Harbor!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A reason for the name

It appears that one of the first plant that sprouts around here is the Skunk Cabbage. Its bursts through with a brilliant yellow and green leaf in boggy areas. We found these along the Treadwell trail on the uphill side of Sandy Beach. Apparently, its also a favorite food for bears.

I know that we have these in the Interior, but not to the extend or to the gigantic size that they grow down here. And with the numbers and the size comes the stink! They really do have an odor commonly attributed to the skunk.

Monday, May 7, 2007

First Tourists of the season

First ship of the season entering the cruise shop dock in downtown Juneau. And what a welcome: gray clouds and rain for most of the day. This is probably the worst day, weather-wise, we'd had since our arrival in Jan! Later we saw that another cruise ship had arrived and docked next to it. Both ships left around dark 6 pm and 9 pm off for more adventures.

And this puts their size in perspective. The Coast Guard boat cruising towards to ship is probably 30 ft from bow to stern. This is looking from the deck across the channel. And yes, we went out to wave!

Now I heard that there are a million cruise ship passengers accepted this year. So the way I see it if each of those million guests would just give Tim and me a dime we could live with that. We've been brainstorming and trying to come up with the perfect thing. And as you may expect, some are better ideas than others.

arrrgh - that's captain and matey to you!

So we did it and have the certificates to prove it! We took a 6 1/2 week Basic Boating and Safety course through the Coast Guard Auxiliary and took and PASSED the test. We had readings and homework for each of the 13 class sessions – some lessons more valuable than others. The beginning classes started out pretty rocky – I think the one who was going to conduct the first classes got called away so there was some shuffling going on. Tim has a good foundation and didn't really get too much out of the classes but he was kind enough to sit through it with me.

Probably the best classes were the safety classes where we got to try on a bunch of different life jackets and mustang suits, blow whistles, and use the air horn. I also enjoyed the knot tying class where we got to play with rope. (note: once the rope gets put on a boat it becomes LINE) Another favorite was the navigation classes where we got to play with charts (maps to you landlubbers) and compasses. Unfortunately, the charts and exercises we used were for the Martha's Vinyard area. If anyone needs to go to Cuttyhunk Harbor I know how to set the course from anywhere in Rhode Island Sound.

So now all we need is a boat and we should be all set!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Birding with Bob…Mr. Armstrong

Some would do almost anything, like slog through an entire sandbar of mud to go birding with the expert…

Much to our surprise this week's bird walk was hosted by Bob Armstrong - the Robert Armstrong who compiled the Birds of Alaska Book that's the guidebook for birding in Alaska. We had a larger group this week, I sure due to the guide, and we saw a lot of birds too. The shorebirds are working their way thorough towards the north and there was a very low tide so we had to walk a long ways out through the Mendenhall wetlands to actually get to the shore. And it was wicked windy so holding onto our really light weight tripod was a challenge.

We're not too good at identifying the shorebirds - the gulls seem to have similar traits and distingquishing the immature gulls is a lot of work. The little "peeps" are really flighty and never stay still long enough for us to look at, look through the book, and look at again. With guidance from the experts we did see western, semi-palmated sandpipers, dunlin (identified on our own!), ruddy turnstone, black-bellied plovers, numerous ducks, numerous gulls, numerous sparrows, pipits and robins, northern harrier, and of course eagles, ravens, and crows.

Here Tim and Bob discuss the differences between a Western Sandpiper and a Semi-Palmated Sandpiper while looking through their scopes.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Knitting tips

I've found quite a few interesting knitting books at the local library here and have been looking through them for potential patterns. I normally avoid buying books because when I do and get them home I realize that there isn't that many patterns that I really like. They must just look better under the bookstore lights. Plus I'm trying not to collect large heavy objects that will need to be packed up again.

I've never really taken the time to read through the knitting instruction part that almost every pattern book has: how to cast-on, purl, ssk, etc.

A couple of things from these sections have caught my eye recently, so I've started taking the time to skim through the current books I have.

Casting On: Long Tail cast on- this is what I normally use to begin my projects. I can't count the number of times I pull out what I think is enough of the long tail section to cast on and find myself short. Then the first of many frog stitch sequences (rip-it) begin. So here's a trick. Before you begin, wrap the yarn around the selected needle to equal the number of stitches you need. I've tried it several times now and it comes out perfectly. Keep in mind if you are planning to use the tail section to sew up a seam you'll want to add to it.

Or another method is that the length of yarn you'll need is 2 1/2 times whatever the final width of your piece is. The width isn't always apparent in some patterns so this might not be as useful.

And how many times have you found yourself actually knitting with that long tail, huh? Especially when knitting with circular needles? So I've started to wind up the extra tail and tie it into a little package like a very loose overhand knot.

Picking up Stitches: If you are picking up stitches in rows you normally don't want to pick up a stitch in very row. You would have too many stitches and it would knit up bigger than your original piece (like for a button band, gusset on socks). Look at your gauge and pick up that number of stitches and skip 1. So if you gauge is 16 stitches = 4 inches (so 4 stitches = 1 inch - for those mathphobic) then you would pick up 4 stitches from 4 rows and then skip one row.

Felting Tips: When you are knitting your gauge (you always knit a gauge, don't you) mark ever 10 or 20 stitches with a non-wool yarn piece so that when you do a test felting on the swatch you're able to count the stitches.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

This is one of my favorite soups and I like to make it with different kinds of mushrooms. I think my favorite is a mix of white and portabella.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter or 2 T olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 teaspoons dried dill weed
5-6 shakes cayenne pepper
2 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 cup milk
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or 1-2 T corn starch or dry potato flakes for gluten-free)
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup sour cream

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onions. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute until softened. Stir in dill, paprika, cayanne, soy sauce and broth. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

In a separate small bowl, whisk milk and flour together. Pour into soup and stir well to blend. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Finally, stir in the salt and pepper, lemon juice, parsley and sour cream. Mix together and allow to heat through over low heat, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not boil. Serve immediately.

Of course it tastes better if you let it sit for a day or overnight. I sometimes make it up to the point of adding the sour cream and stuff and refrigerate it overnight. The warm it up and add the sour cream et al.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Must be Spring!

Playing at Sandy Beach
Spring Blossoms from around the neighborhood

I actually thought this was a dandelion when I snapped the photo and was pleasantly surprised when I opened it in photoshop and saw differently!

Test driving the downtown tram that goes up to Mt Roberts–I think they are opening up this weekend. They are advertising for a huge Mother's Day brunch. Look out on the way down!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Resources to help with Font Selection

I've found a couple of websites that have been helpful to me when I work with fonts. You may or may not find them useful in your activities:

Typetester lets you compare up to three different font and see what they would look like on your monitor. It includes the default fonts from windows and mac OS plus it pulls the fonts from your system so you can add them to the mix. Be aware though that not everyone has the same fonts that you've added to your computer so if you want your page to look just as it appears you'd have to work something else out.

Another website recourse that I've been using a lot recently as I've been reformatting a bunch of print material that wasn't necessarily created by me or my computer. Its called Identifont. This site helps you find fonts by name, appearance, and most useful it helps you to find similar fonts. In my office I'm trying to move all of our print stuff to Opentype fonts from a package we purchased a couple of years ago. This way when we share documents we have limited font issues. Since we have over 120 courses in print I don't expect this to happen overnight but its a goal for new courses created and for those that get reprinted over the summer.

Happy May Day!