Thursday, July 31, 2008

Beets from the Produce Box

We've been getting some great organic fruit from the Full Circle Farm box that we get delivered weekly. We've enjoyed some really delicious black and red grapes, cherries, and plums. We had some nice nectarines and some good peaches (if you cut the fuzzzzz off). The white corn has been delicious as well as some tasty greens. Last week we got some chioggia beets. These are cool! I need to get some of these seeds for Lori to plant in her garden next year.

These beets are really mild and have a slightly sweet taste - but the best part is that they are so cool looking - I'd definitely want to plan a hippie party since they look like they have been tie-dyed. I guess the second best thing is that they hardy bled at all when I boiled them up. I trimmed the greens about 4 inches from the top of the beet and left the roots on while I boiled them up. Normally you have to get out your painting clothes when you prepare beets because of the deadly red stain that gets all over everything. I didn't save the greens to steam up because they were really big and they looked like of strong.

Our favorite way to have beets is boiled up then sliced and heated through with a little butter, black pepper, and horseradish.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Kingfisher on the deck

We've had daily and nightly visits from a Belted Kingfisher. He works his way from the Douglas Harbor over to our house stopping at the empty pilings along the way. He often stops on the railing at the south corner of the house. They have a distinctive call–I think he sounds a lot like woody woodpecker. But of course, he's not a woodpecker at all!

These are pigeon guillemont - can you see their red feet? They also have a distinctive call. Its almost like a high-pitched whistle.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

USS Juneau

The USS Juneau, a navy transport ship, stopped off on its way from Tokyo to San Diego. Its going to be decommissioned when it hits its home port in San Diego and since we're celebrating the 50th anniversary of Statehood and Juneau is the ship's namesake, I guess a stop-over seemed like the right thing to do.

This is the third ship to be the USS Juneau - the second ship became famous in WW2 when it went down carrying 5 brothers - the Sullivan Brothers.

We watched her come up the channel on Sunday. I'm sure it was a coincidence but it seemed like all of a sudden all the boat and air traffic stopped while she maneuvered into place at the coast guard dock.

At one point to tug boats came along side to help her into place. You could see the sailor's getting ready to show themselves on the flight deck - making sure they were spaced an arm's length away from each other. And I saw several flashes going off as we watched them from the deck. I wonder if they saw Cappy?

I stopped by for a tour today just to see what it was like. I a managed to get in with the group of 13 4-year olds so the tour was a little slow going. Actually I'm sure the best part of the tour was getting to stomp in the rain puddles that had pooled up on all the decks. Plus going up and down all the step ladders with the chain's on them PLUS pushing the swivel chairs in the galley to see which one had the loudest squeak – that was really fun.

Here's the boat deck and one of their painted murals. Their mascot is the alligator since its an amphibious ship. One quick-minded granny on the tour said, "well last time I looked an alligator is a reptile, not an amphibian. What are they teaching you in school these days?"

Here's our (guide boson's mate) with the granny's great-grandson. He wasn't with the 4-year olds - comm'on he's at least 5.

We got to go to the area they call the "steel beach" because they can lower their ballast and flood this area so they can load and unload as needed. I didn't realize it when I was standing on it but this is part of the hovercraft - its was as wide as they ship (and deflated). They were taking back a few personal items from Japan. The Toyota jeep looked to be in pretty rough shape.

Here's another one of the misrepresented logos - Its painted on some sort of garage door - maybe that goes down to the transport area (or where they keep the ammo).

And finally, after a weekend of rain, we had out sights on some blue sky!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Interesting Links

Here are some interesting links that I come across lately. Some of them I found and some of them came from my network of friends and colleagues.

So you have that new ipod - what else can you do with it besides just listen to your favorite tunes? Check out some of these ideas - who knew it could be so handy! Thanks to Carol for adding it to her bookmark list. The list includes study guides and tutorials like SAT-prep, auditory and video notes and reviews, links to audio books, some applications that help use your ipod along with some support software.
Make you Mac sing using terminal commands:
Walking Directions now available in Google Maps
I tried this from our house to a house for sale that we are going to go look at in Thane. They didn't give any walking directions. I also asked for directions from my sister's house on 8th and Kellum to the CDE office and got a pretty good route to walk. Its about 3.2 miles and says it would take 1 hour and 3 minutes. I guess if I had to walk I'll meet Sage at the bus stop.

Printable ruler - every find yourself without a meauring tool while sitting at your computer? Here's a site that has many different kinds of rulers.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Word Clouds with Wordle

I found this website that lets you add text (or a link to a website) and it will create a word cloud for you. I used the url for this blog on two different days and created the following two word clouds. You're able to give the program some direction like to remove common words, or specific words and you can also assign different colors or perspective to the layout.

So this time it looks like I use the word MUCH alot because its much bigger than a LOT of other words, GO figure? I don't SEE how I MADE that error?

And in this pass at the blog it looks LIKE SCONES are PRETTY good.

Anyway, if I were working on a term or research paper and wanted to see how often I reused the same words I might try this Wordle out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bear Sighting

So I've lived in the area for over a year and haven't had a bear encounter yet. We went to visit BG who was staying overnight in the hospital after surgery. Because of his age they just wanted to watch him after the general anesthesia. Everything went very well and he's feeling much better.

But as we were sitting and visiting I looked out the window and there was a small grizzly bear walking up the side hill from the parking lot into the woods! Unfortunately, I didn't think to pack my camera to the hospital (would you?) so I didn't get a snapshot.

The nurses assistant said that they often see them and always check around before going out the hospital door at the end of their shift - much like we might check for moose in Fairbanks.

For Sale...again

We sold our camper about a year ago - it was a hard decision but we really needed to do it. When we thought back on how many nights we had sent inside on the very comfortable bed, how many miles we traveled in it and all the great times we had with Saba, with our family, and with our I said, it was a hard decision but we had to do it.

So we were really surprised to see this flyer at the grocery store! They put it on an old truck bed and made it into a pull-along! Looks like they added a port-a-potty. We had one when we got it but got rid of it soon after - rather go in the woods!

So we bought it in 97 for $1000 made several improvements and sold it for $1000. Does adding a trailer axle add $500? Of course we know that we sold it for a great deal - it was more important that we find a good home for it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Gustavus Proper

Gustavus is flat compared to the rest of southeast. The land is covered with meadows. This time of the year there is green grass and blue lupine everywhere! Gustavus is actually on the mainland of Alaska and since a lot of the glaciers have melted or receded there are actually moose living here. We almost ran into one on our drive from Bartlett Cove into town! What a surprise - and it was so fun to see a moose - but not at such a close range!

Susan met us at the main road in the Mule! We drove in partway on her road and then walked the rest of the way through the mud on the new part of her road that she's having built to their home on the Salmon River.

Gustavus is Green...and the soil seems fertile - everyone has a garden and we got to sample some of the fresh produce during our stay. We enjoyed a great dinner at the Gustavus Inn, a famous inn and restaurant in town. They grow a lot of their own produce and we enjoyed fresh greens in a salad with a homemade vinaigrette, homemade rolls, a mixture of steamed carrots, green beans, and beach asparagus, a delicious halibut/cheese dish (I can't remember the name they called it) much like a dish my mom made, and homemade fresh rhubarb pie. YUM!

Here's my mom's recipe:

Marinate halibut fillets overnight in white wine (we don't always do this and it doesn't seem to make that much difference so you might want to just save the wine and have it while you're fixing this dish!)

1/2 c chopped or sliced onion
1-1 1/2 c mayo
1-1 1/2 c sour cream
1-1 1/2 c shredded cheese
black pepper, to taste
cracker crumbs

Rolls fillets in cracker crumbs and place in a baking dish. Mix mayo, sour cream, part of the cheese, wine, garlic, pepper. Spread onions over halibut, then the mayo mixture and top with remaining cheese. Sprinkle top with paprika.

Bake for 40-60 minutes at 350°.

We sometimes add sliced mushroom, thinly sliced cauliflower or other veggies and have used different kinds of cheeses to vary the taste. YUM!!

This was taken at the Inn at the entrance to the garden - because there are moose around they have a large fence and other deterrents to keep the garden for the patrons of the Inn.

View from the front porch - looking towards the Excursion Ridge (in the clouds) and the Salmon River. River - more like a very clear creek. Gustavus used to be called Strawberry Ridge because of the abundance wild strawberries - we did see a lot of strawberry plants and a lot of them had fruit or flowers - Susan told us sometimes that sometimes the berries are everywhere!

The homestead

The bath house (with loft) where we stayed very comfortably. The view from the front door looked out over a slough with the bank filled with sitka roses and lupine.

We thought we should get out a take a nice long walk and enjoy the rain-free day so we headed off through the meadow towards town. We got to the "four-corners" where if you go left you go past the corner "mall" and down to the liquor store; go straight to the school, library, and airport, right to the grocery store, golf course and city dock. and if you turn around...well that takes you back to the place you came.

We made it down to the city dock and walked to the end. What struck me was how much sandy beach surrounded the area. We didn't take the time to walk it but it seemed to go on forever.

By the nine-hole golf course...

Here's us with our hosts: Susan, Lillian, and Tipper - thank you so much - we had a great time!

Noise in the Neighborhood!

Some of you have been in phone conversations with me during the day and wondered what was going on in the background. From what I can tell they are rebuilding part of the dock at the douglas harbor. I can see this barge filled with old pilings and a big crane working away.

Once is awhile you hear some rat-a-tat-tatting, backup-beeps, and you can feel the house shake when something thumps. I'm just hoping that they don't have to replace all of the pilings - that could get really disruptive!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Gustavus Part 1

Tim and I finally made it over to Gustavus and Glacier Bay National Park last weekend. It was a place that I've been wanting to visit since I first started working for Westours and Grayline of Alaska in 1981 and has been a destination we've wanted to see since getting to know Susan and Lillian in Fairbanks. They have a cabin there and invited us over for a stay many times and we finally took them up on it.

So we picked a weekend and had an incredible time! We took the Glacier Bay and Lodge catamaran over on Friday night. It was a 3-hour trip and not very crowded so we had great seats and a quick and smooth ride. We've taken the ferry many time along part of the same route so that part wasn't new and Tim has traveled through the area a couple of times by plane, boat, and helicopter, but most of the water was new to me. We left Auke Bay Harbor at about 7 pm and got into Bartlett Cover at about 10:30. It was just getting dark and you could see the few lights of Gustavus as we traveled by. Bartlett Cove is around the corner from Gustavus. We decided to stay the night at the lodge and go into the park the next day. We made our way to the Lodge along a lighted pathway, where we spent a few hours before getting up early on Saturday for a full day's boat ride into the National Park.

Since we had plenty of time while getting to Bartlett Cove we scoped out good seats for the next morning! It was supposed to be an 8-hour day so we wanted to be comfortable.

Right away we saw humpback whales off in the distance. The area is a breeding ground and one of the most famous spots to see humpbacks. The water spouts we saw were pretty far away for us but the other tourists were pretty excited.

We didn't expect the weather to be that great - the forecast was for clouds and rain so we were prepared with our rain gear. The day started out a little cloudy but as the day went along the clouds lightened up and it was pretty warm out. We stayed out on the boat deck a lot anyway.

We slowed down at South Marble Island to see a sea lion and bird rookery. We saw a bunch of huge sea lions lounging around on the rocks. We also saw Tufted Puffins, Pelagic Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots, various Gulls, Common Murre, White-wing Scoter, Oyster Catcher, Arctic Terns, and Eagles. Before we left the dock we saw junkos, crows, and barn swallows.

One thing the ferry does is drop off and pickup campers who are out kayaking. Glacier Bay is immense and by using the ferry to help get you around between points you can see a lot more. There was a group of about 15 kids going out for a kayak-camping trip. All their gear and kayaks were loaded on the boat with us.

We stopped at two different places to check on the kayakers. One group wasn't supposed to be picked up until the next day but had to call the trip short when one of their kayaks and a tent was destroyed by a bear. When we were picking up the group we did see a grizzly bear just a short distance along the shore - I don't know if that was the bear or not. He didn't look very good actually, it was very thin and his fur was all scruffy. He didn't look very healthy. We did see several other bears during the day who looked much healthier. We also saw sea otters and Mountain goats.

Towards the ending of the bay are two large glaciers. The Grand Pacific Glacier is about 2 miles wide as it hits Tarr Inlet. It looks dirty and has rocks embedded in the ice. The other is Margerie Glacier - also a tidewater glacier. This is Margerie Glacier from miles away. It was easy to image that in 1907 the Margerie Glacier was a part of the Grand Pacific Glacier and extended about 5 miles more than it does today. The Grand Pacific Glacier face is actually in Canada now so I don't image the boat trip will get much closer in future years.

Tim at Margerie Glacier - we did see a few small chunks falling off and making a big splash - but nothing very national geographic.

It was a long day and very much worth it. I would say that the best way to really appreciate the area would be with a kayak. The NP is very large and getting off by yourself to explore would be a good way to go. And I have to say that if time and money are a factor - Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glacier is more spectacular as far as scenery and glacier viewing.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Florida Guests

We grabbed a photo of our friends from Florida (prior Alaskans) while the clouds were high and the sun was trying to peak through the clouds. The rainy weather held off until their last day in town.

Larry, Suhtling, Lawson, and Sian kept busy sightseeing and FISHING! They brought home dinner one evening - some king salmon from Fish Creek. They also caught and released a bunch of smaller fish at various places around town. We'll be sure to visit them in Orlando in the winter!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wish you could Join Me for Tea

After a short discussion about scones with Krista and Pat last weekend I couldn't get the memory of tasting a warm, fresh scone, buttery and flacky, not too sweet, but not too plain... out of my mind. I really do miss those scones from the trailer, especially the apricot scones they had on Thursdays. I had some pumpkin that I wanted to use up and found this recipe for Pumpkin Scones - if you frequent Starbucks during the holidays you might have seen them there.

I followed the recipe pretty close but I didn't have enough powdered sugar so I only did the spicy glaze. I used brown sugar instead of the powered sugar and reduced the amount of milk.

I read in another recipe that the secret to flaky scones was based on two things: a) don't work the flour too much and if possible, use a good pastry flour, and b) make sure your butter and other wet ingredients are very, very cold.

I didn't have any pastry flour but I did have some frozen butter and my pumpkin was frozen too - perfect! I did let them both thaw out and used a pastry blender (or cutter) to mix the butter up with the flour mixture. I tried to get it to look like sand with a few pebbles mixed in. I didn't stress over getting it completely even. I read that you actually want to have those little burst of butter in the pastry. I mixed the dough up and put it in the fridge while I waited for the oven to preheat. I didn't use my normal cookie baking pan and didn't have parchment so they got a little dark on the bottom but I think they are pretty tasty despite the ugly bottom.

The recipe says it makes 6 scones but I thought the scones were a litter to big unless you were really hungry. I will think about dividing the dough into 8 or 9 next time.

I had one this morning with a cup of ty.phoo tea - just like Mom used to make.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New Hike - Gastineau Meadows

A new trail opened up last fall and we didn't get a chance to explore it until recently. We weren't exactly sure where the trailhead left the road up to one of the water towers on Douglas Island but after checking a few potential breaks in the woods it became very clear where the trail was . There's an organization in town called, Trail Mix, that works on a lot of the trails around here. They have special projects and have paid and volunteer help. I'm pretty sure that the trail to Gastineau Meadows (look for Gastineau Meadows) was one of their projects last year.

As you leave Crow Hill Road you go through a chained gate that protects the road to one of the water towers. The trailhead is marked by two large boulders (ah ha...this must be where the trail head is!). The trail is made up of crushed rock and quite wide. It would be perfect for bikes! After maybe 1 1/2 miles you come to a fork - where the Treadwell ditch crosses the trail. If you go left (south) you go towards Paris Creek. The trail is very pretty and there were lots of salmonberry bushes in blossom - we'll have to check back in about a month and see if there are any berries. The trail gets washed out after a ways and unless you want to be adventurous you might want to turn around like we did!

Isn't this pretty - we noticed it at the top of the meadows (sorry its a bit out of focus). Its called Lapland Rosebay. Its a delicate little pink flower and the leaves look a lot like rosemary. Its the small plant of the Rhododendron family.

and look at this...YES blue sky! Its possible in SE Alaska to see blue sky!

If you go right (north) you head towards Lawson Creek. The trail gets a little muddy here and there but it wasn't too bad. We had our lunch at the creek which was actually a lot bigger than I expected. most of the creeks around here are pretty small. I understand that there was a bridge here in the 80s but it got washed out in a flood.

Here's Tim at Lawson Creek. It would make a really nice place to camp if you were so inclined!

The walk back to town was really quick - all downhill!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Here's lookin' at you

My nephew's dog has many names, like other dogs, it might depend on what they are doing at the moment and whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. His documented name is Sanman but you can't help but call him Marty when he's looking at you. This was taken for Uncle Tim. Marty misses you...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Foreign Cruise Ship

We see lots of the same cruise ships coming and going each day. Occasionally there is a ship that we don't see very often like the Nippon Maru from Toyko. I remember seeing it last year too but I can't remember what time of the summer it was.

These folks came just in time for the great fireworks show on July 3rd and they didn't leave town until after the first big parade. What an experience for them if they took the opportunity to get off the ship.

One thing I know - mice and rats BEWARE the Nippon Maru is not place for you!

New Bird from the Deck

Tim spotted a Pigeon Guillemot from the deck today and it was confirmed by Heidi. We thought we saw a pigeon fly by the house earlier in the day but didn't get a good look at it. But after seeing the guillemot feeding off the deck we think that this is what we probably say before.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Close to Eagles

We woke up the other morning to find a visitor at the front window - too bad he (or she) wasn't sitting close to Cappy! We saw the adult sitting in the same spot later in the day but he took off before I could take a picture.

We have two sets of adults who hang out here in the winter and have each claimed a tree on either side of the house. I'm not sure they have nests there - its too hard to tell. But we normally see them in the late afternoon and evening.

This year each set has had two youngsters so in the evenings its not unusual to see 8 eagles flying around the house – 4 with white heads and 4 juvys. Especially since one of our neighbors is an avid (and successful) fisherman and often brings home salmon and throws the scrapes out on the beach and another one brings home totes of whole salmon and smokes them. He probably throws scrapes out too.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy July 4th!

WOW - it wasn't a coincidence - Juneau really puts on a party for the fourth of July. In fact, a lot of people start right after work on the 3rd. We started to see people gathering with their trucks, campers, motorhomes, tents, awnings and bbqs at about 5 on the 3rd and the fireworks started about 8:30p and went pretty much all night! The official fireworks show started at 11:59 and went for a good 30 minutes. Since it does get dark here at that time of night you get a good show. And although it wasn't hot last night it wasn't -30 below or colder like New Year's in Fairbanks.

J and Krista from Fairbanks were in town and they came over to the house to see the show and brought along J's sister Pat and Clayton. We enjoyed wine and snacks before starting on the key lime pie and champagne. One thing that is really noticeable at our place is the echo you hear within the channel from setting off the fireworks. I can see why they don't do anything for New Years as it could cause a lot of avalanches. At times the sound was deafening. I'm sure that those who were on the barge setting off the fireworks were wearing ear protection.

It was a fun show - I encourage anyone who hasn't been to Juneau to plan a trip here next 4th of July. I can't image we'll be in this same house but that doesn't mean we can't start our own beach fires and watch from the beach.

Again there were two parades - one in the morning in Juneau and one in the afternoon in Douglas. Pretty much the same entries...except for some reason the one in Douglas seems more laid back. I guess all the participants are tired so they don't rush through. There's more space between the entries, a lot more kids and equal amount of candy. I can't believe how much candy was thrown. Amazing! The local dentist assoc. should think about having an entry and throwing floss or tooth paste. They probably wouldn't be very popular though.

We're sorry that Ginny and Wrangler couldn't make it down for a visit - we found this patriot pal for Wrangler for next year.

There were a couple of entries that were very interesting. This is one group that was really energetic with drums, and dancing...not sure exactly which Filipino group they were representing but they were fun to watch and listen to. Their featured costumes were incredible.

We rode our bikes over to watch the parade and after about an hour and 1/2 I wasn't the only one who was tired.