Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Why We're Here

Well, nothing as deep as our literal existence but why we're here in Juneau. Here's a blog ( that Tim set up for the project he's been working on. He's been quite busy pulling it all together. I know that he may have sounded a little vague when first asked about the wasn't entirely clear in the beginning. But he's made tremendous progress since he started the project in February.

Right now, if you have cable, you should be able to see 360north listed in the guide. Its channel 18 in Juneau. In Anchorage I think its 17 plus its also being broadcast on KAKM's digital signal at DT7.3 - here's the listing for your community.

Scary Skeleton for Halloween

We saw this over by the ferry terminal the other day - hanging from a crane. A couple of days later they had moved it to one of the telephone poles - must have needed to use the crane for something else!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Computer Hints

Here's a great hack for my mac-user friends to add the date to the menu bar:

You go into the International option in your system preferences: a place I would never have thought to look. Simple and easy with a few options for modification.

I've recently downloaded MagiCal ( which offers an alternative to the system date/time option. It also gives you a full monthly calendar with one click on the menu bar. I had a calendar widget on my dashboard but it seems like it always took so long for the widget images to open up and appear on my desktop that it wasn't really worth it. MagiCal lets you pull the calendar off the menu bar so you can move it around and have several months open at a time. There are a lot of options you can select to really modify and customize it to your taste.

Getting-Ready-For-Halloween Recipe

I made these pumpkin bars this weekend and they were mighty tasty. If I had an office to go to I would be sharing them with my co-workers!

Pumpkin Bars

2 C flour
2 t baking powder
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1 t baking soda
1 t salt (I left out)

4 beaten eggs
1 16-oz can pumpkin
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c cooking oil

Sift together the dry ingredients. Combine eggs, pumpkin, sugar and oil and beat until well mixed. Add dry ingredients and beat till well combined and fluffy. Spread batter in an ungreased 15 x 10 x 1 in baking pan. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.

The recipe called for you to frost with cream cheese frosting but I figured with all the oil, eggs, and sugar in the bar they really didn't need the frosting and I was right after tasting the first (or second bar)!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Not Cheese Whiz

We've been enjoying a selection of cheeses sent by Claudia recently and thought that since we don't seem to be going out to eat in restaurants around here thus not providing any restaurants reviews, that we'd share our experience with these cheeses:

St Andre - France - triple cream cheese like a Camembert - this is rich and buttery, with an edible rind hugging the soft cream center. YUM

Boursault - France - double cream cheese - ooh my gosh - this was so good we licked the paper wrapping. With 74% butterfat content...we had a glass of red wine with this goodie so that cancels the fat content out, right?

Aged Cheddar with Caramelized Onions -England- this was a great cheddar - kinda dry and then sweet from the onions. We had this on poached eggs and it was delicious.

Graskaas - Holland - made from some famous cows coveted for their creamy milk. A very gooda gouda. Very tasty on sourdough bread.

Smoked Cheddar with BBQ and Chilies - England - we took this hunk on our backpacking trip to have as a snack - a smoky cheddar that was rolled in crushed chilies and bbq seasoning. Since its packaged with the crushed chilies, it has time to take on that flavor. Maybe not the best choice of snack food when you aren't able to carry in the accompaning 6-pack of beer and are relying on boiled stream water as your beverage du jour.

Maytag Blue Cheese - America - a family and friend favorite highlighting many dinners at the Southside Bistro in Anchorage. Delicious on salads, melted over chicken or steaks, stuffed into strawberries, or eaten with just about anything!

Brush your Teeth!

I think I've found a potential substitution for when you get that chocolate craving and it just doesn't go away - chocolate toothpaste. Apparently its been available for awhile and this company at actually has chocolate toothpaste plus an additional 31 interesting flavors including cafe au lait, darjeeling tea, caramel, and various fruit flavors. mouthwashes! But wait there's more - they even have flavored mouthwashes! Flavors like sweet potato, pumpkin pudding, caramel, lavendar, sweet carrot, cola.

They claim to be sugar-free and sweetened with Xylitol which helps prevent plaque build up. The paste is also low effervescence to it doesn't foam up and make you look like you have mange.

Anyway, check it out and if you try it let me know how you like it!

High and Low Tides

We're experiencing the highest and the lowest tides (see tide chart) since we've come here. They are ranging from -4 feet to 20.5 feet in a 12 hour period. Its been interesting to watch because since it ranges within these 25 feet it happens so quickly. From one extreme to the other.

Our house has a bilge pump in the basement and its been going non-stop. I leaned out over the deck raining and out this picture. Thank goodness its still working!

Its kinda hard to show how high the tide actually has gotten but here's a picture of the tide with huge logs and other garbage floating in it. You can normally walk along a beach at the normal high tide.

I've heard that when there are extreme tides this is a good time for clamming. I have never been clamming so I don't know if this is true or not. I guess if we find ourselves at the beach this weekend we'll find out if we see people with their little shovels.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Getting in Trouble

Protecting the Capitol

This totem is located on the backside of the capitol building (the red brick building in the background) and seems to either be laughing or screaming – I don't know which!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Major Marine Tour in Resurrection Bay

About a month ago my sister's and I took advantage of my niece's benefits with Major Marine Tours and went on a half-day trip out of Seward. The weather was beautiful if a bit windy.

After entering one of the coves we came across a pod of Orca. Of course, most of my pictures I took show more ocean than whale. They were fun to watch anyway.

Several times the orca came almost completely out of the water, face first, like you might see in one of those great old swimming movies with Esther Williams.

Other memorable activities included:

Sea Lions basking in the sun:

Rock Arch at Sea:

Attempting to clean out the back of the car (filled with encyclopedias) but getting caught and reprimanded (he did it nicely, though)

Tim's buddy, Petey

After returning from Carnage Cove on the Point Bridge Trail we stopped at the Cowey Meadow cabin to rest before heading back to the car. Tim found a new friend and named him Petey. He was very small and was munching away on the greens under the table. He didn't seem too concerned by us. Luckily we saw him before one of us stepped on him!

Not very perky for a porcupine

DOT Sign - needs NO explanation

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fall Color's Achangin'

A walk at Auke Rec Area, one of our favorite places to walk on the beach when the sun is out, was awash in fall colors. As you can see we're still enjoying fall down here although we had one pretty hard frost a few days ago. You can also see the snow moving its way down the mountains. I heard that we might have snow mixed with rain this evening. So we know its on the way!

Can you tell which sky belongs where?

So one of these pictures was taken in Fairbanks and one was taken in Juneau. Yes, the trees are different and yes, I seem to have a smudge on my lens which I will try to remove before I take more pictures. Can you tell which was taken in which location?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Birds

We've had several new birds to document lately - either to add to our life list or ones that we've seen before but not in Alaska. A new life-list bird is a Hooded Merganser which we've seen several times recently at Twin Lakes (map - look for Twin Lakes). These birds are really beautiful and can be seen easily without binoculars because of the large white feather headress.

Twin Lakes is made up of a continuous man-made lake that runs along the Eagan Highway. This rec area has a 1-mile bike trail alongside it that is especially nice when there's lots of snow. This is the park at the south end of the lake. This is new this summer.

The other bird is a Northern Shrike. We've seen these outside but this was our first in Alaska. I noticed that this picture on the Cornell Lab site makes the bird looks relatively tame and almost cute - but let me tell you - they are mad, mad killers. It all happened at "Carnage Cove."

We were enjoying a turnaround treat with friends Terry and Oso a couple of weeks ago, when out from the meadow flew a bird that looked similar to a gray jay but there aren't any of those seen around here. The gray bird was chasing a smaller bird (probably a junco or chickadee) from the trees edge in the meadow out over the ocean and right towards us. As they got closer the gray bird struck out at the smaller song bird (the Shrike is a song bird too - as well as the Raven) and brought it down to the ground. I tried to focus with the binocs but right as I got them in the frame the gray bird grabbed the smaller one in it massive, hooked beak and flew off to the woods. No doubt about it - it was a Northern Shrike, aka the "Butcher Bird"!

** (added 10/24 at 7:37 PM) I almost forgot! We also saw several American Coots at Twin Lakes. We've seen these all over California and the southwest but this is our first sighting in Alaska.

Friend and Chum

I forgot to post this in July - better late than never! (or maybe not)

Here's our buddy Logan and his chum, one tired out salmon.

He was smelling and stinky and the salmon was too! Jokes!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Night at Blue Mussel Cabin

Tim and I took off work Monday so that we could try to get in at least one overnight cabin stay at of the many cabins offered by the state or the forest service before winter sets in. We chose the Blue Mussel Cabin (map - look for Blue Mussel Cabin) that is located about 1/10th mile from Pt Bridget. We walked here on a day trip this summer and thought it looked like a good spot to come back to. The cabin is only about 3 miles from the road and the trail runs through the forest, a meadow, and the beach. We don't really have very good backpacking gear as we haven't been doing very much of it at all but we managed to throw a few things together (only the lightweight ones) for an overnighter. We are more familiar with going to a cabin by snowgo (with a couple of sleds) and never worried much about weight. Plus the cabins down here don't have lanterns or woodstoves - most of them have propane or diesel fired stoves so we had to think about light and how we'd be cooking.

Anyway, before heading out we thought it responsible to check the weather forecast - oh dear, hurricane force winds (category 3) and 90% change of rain. Better keep the rain gear in the car and put it on before leaving the trailhead!

Here we are - after walking through a downpour - but protected from the rain and wind while walking through the woods. We just finished the last of the forest walk and had climbed down to the beach again.

And here I am just moments away from dropping the pack

Before leaving the house, the wind really picked up at our pier house and even had waves crashing in over the deck. Could be an adventurous trip! By the time we got to north end of the road, however, it was hardly raining and the wind wasn't so bad...but then by the time we got to the cabin it let loose again. Perfect timing for us!

Since we were packing everything in we decided the cribbage board and the bird book would make up our entertainment...

Here we are playing cribbage (Heidi won the tournament) with the storm brewing in the background. The stovepipe coming out of the Heidi's head was a diesel fueled stove - very efficient even at the lowest setting. (plus all the windows open!) Also notice the short just reaches my shoulders!

It was a dark and stormy night...

We didn't have to pack in any extra water because we knew there was a creek that flows behind the cabin and with all the expected rain we were pretty sure that there would be enough water to boil and drink. We hadn't noticed on our trip in July that there was a shower too!

As we started packing up and thought about heading home we decided to do what we could to lighten the load and we burned what garbage we could. The wood around the cabin was all wet but we had enough paper goods to keep it going to accomplish our task.

Off the point we watched 4 sea otters getting breakfast all supervised by an eagle and several Red-Breasted Mergansers. Sitting with us on shore was a Song Sparrow.

The weather today was much nicer and we even saw patches of blue sky. We packed our rain gear in the backpacks and took our changes. Here we are leaving the beach for the last time and entering one of the meadow areas.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Burst Bubble

I'm so sorry that my update to the blog after a brief absence has to be announcing bad news. I was sent this link this afternoon during a discussion with a Claudia about one of my favorite tea flavors: Vanilla Maple from Celestrial Seasonings. I haven't been able to find this particular flavor for maybe a year but managed to find it at the Natural Pantry when in Anchorage last month.

This link has special significance for good friend Vern, and for my family, who have spent many hours of cooking and eating this special treat. Sharing this treat has provided hours of entertainment and has provided special memories that will be kept close to our hearts. We've experimented with flavors and added additional ingredients and I grieve that we weren't the first ones to create a product for resale.

The site says the taste is inimitable, and I would have to agree that its very hard to reproduce or substitute some flavors for others. I am curious though to know if they got the correct ratio of ingredients right in their product. Its a delicate balance that combines the flavors that is so important to your palliate. But I won't be purchasing this product - some things just can't be bought.