Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fairbanks Clouds

I know what you're thinking, why would someone living in Juneau take pictures of clouds! We don't get these types of clouds very often and I didn't realize until I saw them on this last trip to Fairbanks, that I missed them.

I was walking at Creamer's Field after a very warm day and watched the big thunder clouds start to roll in. They gather together to form larger masses, rolling and churning until they get darker. On this occasion, thunder never developed and I didn't get rained on as I walked through the fields.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cruising Season 2009

I think I've mentioned before that the ships are in and we see more every day. We haven't quite figured out the schedule yet – they seem to be arriving later in the day and not staying as long. Might just be because its the beginning of the season.

They really are quite big and seem really close to the house at high tide. At low tide they take up most of the channel.

This princess boat (Golden Princess aka baboon-butt because it has a flat stern) has a new feature this year - a huge monitor on their top deck. It looked they were showing mostly promotional material and I don't know if there is any sound. But just think how fun it would be to be in the carribean at night watching a movie while the bar is open!

While I was waiting to take a shot of the screen I missed another whale breaching opportunity - I couldn't believe it!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wyatt Earp in Alaska

For one of my last biography readings in my Alaska history class I was taking, this was a fun read, Wyatt Earp and Friends, by Howard Clifford. The Novel, The Winter Wolf, by Richard Parry, seemed to follow along with the Clifford book and was also fun to read.

Born 1848 Illinois into a longtime American family, he was the 6th generation. His father was town Marshall so Wyatt grew up in law enforcement environment. At 13, he ran away to join in the Civil War (north) and the first officer he found to report for duty, happened to be his father and he was sent home.

As a young adult he had many jobs: constable, railroad crew – caring for horses and supplying food, buffalo hunting, and as bartender and gambler which became a constant and favorite source of income. Throughout his travels he met many frontiersmen, those in law enforcement, wranglers, and gunman.

The most important lesson I learned from those proficient gunfighters was that the winner of the gun play was usually the man that took his time. The second was that, if I hoped to live long on the frontier I would shun flashy trick shooting—grandstand play— as I would poison. pg 12
He is most famous for the shootout at the OK Corral – there is no record that he actually killed anyone and it was really his brother and good friend Doc Holliday who had the feud with the Clanton gang. In fact – he wasn’t even initially mentioned in any of the news accounts.

After the incident, Wyatt traveled around with west with his second wife, Josie. They went to ID, CO, WY, TX

1895 Shaky-Fitzsimmons boxing match in San Francisco was much advertised as the match of the season. Wyatt had become involved in the boxing circle, mostly as a respected referee. In the end it was said that Wyatt awarded the fight to the wrong man and there were accusations of giving the fight away for $$. Time to pack up and leave town for awhile until things settled down! This was one of the biggest scandals in the boxing world until Mike Tyson and the ear biting. (or so said the author)

1897 departed Seattle for Alaska to meet up with Soapy Smith. They had crossed paths in CO where their wives had gotten acquainted. When Soapy started taking over Skagway, a mutual friend knew they would need someone to keep “law and order” and they both thought of Wyatt.

By this time Wyatt may have had warrants out for his arrest for various financial misdealings. Even though he had been in law enforcement, this didn’t mean he wasn’t always on the right side of the law. He often used it to his advantage. When the ship pulled into Wrangell, he saw the Marshall standing on the dock and thought he was in for it. It turned out to be an acquaintance he new in the SW (who had also done jail time). The Marshall asked Wyatt to help him out as deputy while waiting for the next passage to Skagway. When the ship finally came they had a stop over in Juneau and here is where they heard that Soapy wasn’t in Skagway at the time AND that Josie was pregnant so they decided to go back to SF until the baby was born and travel was easier. This might also have been when he left his pistol in Juneau locked up at the Marshall's office while he was in town. It is supposedly at the Red Dog Saloon but I haven't verified that.


Wyatt later described Wrangell as “just like Hell-On-Wheels,” which in the old days was the term used to describe the unruly camps at the en of the rack as the Union Pacific rails headed West.

Wyatt was more into business – looking for his big opportunity in gambling, liquor, horse racing, boxing, transportation – whatever would make a buck!

Josie lost the child and they soon after decided to head to Dawson for the rush, as Skagway was already starting to see a decline in travelers. They decided this time to take the all-water route. They arrived in St Michael in last summer and took their chances heading up the Yukon river. Due to approaching winter and ice in the river they only make it as far as Rampart.

1898 Rampart was a temporary settlement of from 1-2000 during the gold rush and became home to many who were making their way to Dawson. Home to Rex Beach, Jack London, Robert Service, Joaquin Miller, Elmer Stroller White (known as the Mark Twain of the North and eventual member of house of representatives of Alaska Territorial Leg), Sid Grauman – Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre, Tex Rickert (built Madison Square Gardens).

I know that our Uncle Gus Conradt also made Rampart his home about this same time period, also being stranded by the river freezing up. I know he talks about Rex Beach but i don't think he mentioned Wyatt. And from what I've been told, I'm pretty sure that they would have gotten along really well as they seemed to have shared similar attitudes and morals. The Earp’s rented Beach’s cabin as he was out trapping and wasn’t in town very much. Wyatt became a bartender for the winter.

So here is something interesting and reinforced what I read in another biography about the teacher in the 1910s who was in Fort Yukon. Dogs knew that the paddlewheeler was coming before the people did – the cooks saved the table scraps for the dogs and fed them when they pulled into town. There is a similar story in A Schoolteacher in Old Alaska (Hannah Breece).

During that winter, a young couple wanted to get married. There was no satin material for a dress so the women got together and sewed up burlap and added hundreds of “Sparklers” by cutting tin cans into small bits and sewing them on the dress accompanied with a mosquito netting veil.

When the river started to flow again, Wyatt was approached about going to St Michael to run a canteen for a good percentage of the profits. The rush to Dawson was starting to dwindle so they decided to spend a year running the canteen. But the next year the lure of Nome and the newest, biggest, gold rush was too much and they headed up the Bering sea.

July 1897 – arrived in Nome to miles of tents strewn up on the beaches. Decided to build a wood structure and in the following year the had the first 2-story building called the Dexter. Profits must have been good because they decided to spend the next winter in SF and along the way they opened up a saloon in Seattle.

During these times, local option often pre-empted US law and here is one example: The sale of liquor was supposed to be prohibited since Alaska was considered Indian Territory, but if a majority of the men AND women in the area approved the sale of liquor then you could go ahead and did it. This was the first known record of American women being allowed an equal vote of men.

In general there are numerous accounts of misbehavior by Earp in the newspapers that can’t be confirmed – too many conflicting dates and reports in the various newspapers (San Francisco, Seattle, Alask) that don’t seem to jive. But all reports seem to agree on the incidents:
jumping claims, interfering with arrests, getting into fights. Reports were also mixed when describing Wyatt’s character: some say he was less than popular, others say he was well-respected. His reputation certainly prevented any gunfighter incidences from happening in the area.
He was as crooked as a three dollar bill. He and his brothers were racketeers, all of them. They shook people down, they did everything they could to get dough.
1901 – decided to leave Nome despite the rush still going on – came away with between $80 – 250,000 which would be well over a million dollars by today’s value.

Greatest Disappointments
Josie – not to have meet Soapy Smith
Wyatt – in 1900 a Deputy Marshall was to be chosen and Wyatt was the obvious choice, but another man was selected

After Alaska, they headed to Nevada and opened up another saloon/gambling joint. Retired to LA and was often called upon for special security jobs. Hung out at the studios and had a brief appearance in a Douglas Fairbanks movie in 1916. He came to know Marion Morrison (John Wayne) who has said that he based some of his western characters on Earp.

He died in 1929 at the age of 80. Josie died in 1944.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Kniting projects

I made this back scrubber from a pattern from the calendar that the Burton's send me for Christmas. Its out of a cotton blend. I had to add extra rows because when I followed the directions it seemed a little short - at least my my arms.

Felting on soap is still in the test stage for me. I have found that some wool roving felts up better than others. I tried out one that didn't completely get covered by wool in the shower and I'm not sure how much I really liked it. It didn't seem to suds up very much. Its also a pretty personal item - you maybe don't want to share it with anyone else. But if you pick the right soap (smelly) it make a pretty sachet for your sock drawer!

And these are for a friend at work who has a new grandson. I haven't made this pattern before and I looked interesting.

and after a spin in the hot washer:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Releasing Eagles

The Juneau Raptor Center released two eagles last night and have plans to release four more next week. The lady with the black jacket has had 8 eagles tethered in her yard this last winter, flying around gaining strength from their injuries. Now that would have been quite a sight!

The juvy took one step out and then was away – it flew in a circle around the meadow. Sorry so blurry - it happened really fast!

Then it perched in a spruce tree where it was immediately ganged up on by a couple of crows. Better get used to it–those crows around here seem to have no fear.

The mature eagle took a little bit of coaxing to get out of the kennel but once it got going it never looked back.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kindle 2

I had the great pleasure to try out one of Amazon's Kindle 2 electronic readers our office bought to test against other e-readers like the iTouch. I really liked it and found it pretty easy to use. I found plenty of e-books out there to try out and some of them were free! I created a couple of test documents based on pdfs that I could download to the Kindle and read. At some point my office might consider creating Kindle-ready files of our printed course guides.

On a short trip to Sitka I read F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a short story that later became part of Tales of the Jazz Age. It was a quick read but kind of fun on the kindle. It fits pretty nice in my hands - not too big to be cumbersome or take up a lot of personal space and not too small to cause eye stress. I wrote this review for another blog I participate in.

And you can read it out in the sun. A very useful thing here in Southeast Alaska!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Around town

This town is a really physical town but who would have thought that they would build a climbing wall right downtown! They have been blasting the side of this cliff for several months now removing some of the lower mass to create a sheer cliff.

Ok, actual they are planning a parking garage/bus terminal for this corner.

A totem pole at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. I signed up for a short Juneau 101 course at the museum. It turned out to be more of a training course for new folks who are new or returning to the tourist industry for the summer. It was still interesting and a few facts about Juneau were straightened out in my mind. We also received a nice collection of brochures and flyers that they sell in the museum in a packet. It will make for good reading.

I'm not sure why Harbor Books in Sitka doesn't have a more permanent sign then this one written on a paperbag!

Berner's Bay – Audobon Cruise

We saw it all! Full whale breaches, rafts of sea lion, porpoise, harbor seals, and a bunch of birds. On Saturday we took one of the annual Berner's Bay cruise sponsored by Audubon up along the coast on one of the Allen Marine Catamarans. It was a gorgeous day and the sea was pretty calm.

I've never see sealions rafting up before so this was a pretty cool sight. The naturalist on board thought that these were probably all females because they were just hanging out and there wasn't much aggression, normally shown by males. They light up with flippers out towards to sun and lean on the others to keep them up high out of the water.

There was maybe 40-50 all together some going under while others were hanging out on top of the water. These next two shots were through my binoculars so they are a bit shaky and out of focus. Its hard to keep two pieces of equipment completely steady while riding on a boat!

There is a flipper being lifted up on the left side of this picture.

We saw about 3 different groups of sealions. We also went by the sealion resting spot on Benjamin Island and saw about 75 females and male sealions hanging out on the rocks. It was amazing how different in size the female and males are - some of the males were 3-4 times larger.

And we saw whales - a bunch of them really close. And we saw a whale do two full body breaches and one beach where they came out nose first. But, I wasn't quick enough with the camera!

This is more what it looked like: Whale Breach 1 Whale Breach2

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Beach Survey

Its been gorgeous all week long - cloudless skys, temps in the 60-70s, and long sunny days. This is was the weekend for our COASST survey out at Boy Scout Beach and we thought we'd take advantage of the long day and go after work on Friday. It doesn't get dark until about 9:30 and since part of the walk from the beach back to the car goes through the woods where it can be dark even during bright daylight, we didn't want to be on the trail too late at night. The walk in usually takes between 30 and 45 minutes depending on how many little birds we stop to listen and/or look at. But this plan worked out perfect!

We are happy to report zero bird carcasses, but we saw an incredible number of people who had staked camping spots along the beach. I think there were about 5 or 6 groups - a few couples and some larger groups who either packed in all of their gear or brought it by skiff. In total we counted 48 people and 4 dogs. A much lower ratio than normal.

We were accompanied by Terry, Oro, Debr, David, and Kristi and feasted on great "turnaround snacks" a short way form the our turnaround spot. We finally got our beach walk where we could wear shorts and t-shirts! Its just too bad that we weren't able to come out eariler in the day with out beach chairs and cooler – what a day this would have been!