"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Phenomenal Three Hour Dash-and-Grab

My dash-and-grab trip to Anchorage Saturday was an emergency, albeit an emergency in my eyes only.  My latest project was stopped dead in mid-print, all for want of a cyan ink cartridge, and I was running dangerously close to being out of the special paper I needed, too.

The sun trying to break through clouds on the way to Anchorage.

During my sojourn in Halibut Cove I finally completed formatting The Africa Journals, a “book” I will print and have bound at Office Max.   It's better than a photo album because it contains all the stories from my blog about the trip as well as many photos.

Printing had to wait until I returned home as I needed my printer with its ability to print on both sides of the page automatically, as well as the above-mentioned special paper.   Sold under the HP label, the paper is two-sided, meaning it is specially coated to produce photographs and text with quality and without bleed-through. 

The Alaska Railroad annual Christmas train, full of partiers.

It is heavier than normal copy paper (20 to 24 lbs.) at 32 lbs. It’s also expensive, selling at just under $40 for 150 sheets.   I usually wait until it’s on sale at half price before I buy it.

My Africa Journals came in at a whopping four volumes, requiring more than 300 sheets of paper, printed on both sides, and requiring two three-packs of color ink to produce, plus at least one black ink cartridge.

With ink and paper, a four-volume set was going to cost me in the neighborhood of  $300 to produce.  That was a deal-breaker, but I needed at least two sets.

So, with expensive paper and expensive ink cartridges (just under $90 for a pack of the three colors), I headed into town.

A very blurry drive-by shot of the Rainbow sheep at Windy corner had photographers out.

My first stop, Office Max, dashed my hopes.   Not only wasn’t it on sale, it wasn’t in stock.  A couple years prior, I had checked prices at Office Depot and they had been higher, so it was with a heavy heart I went there, after stopping at Costco and buying three packs of color cartridges and one of black, and getting $10 off each pack.   Well, now, things were looking up.

On my way out of the store, I paused at the photo counter to see if they refilled a different type of ink cartridge for my “travel printer.”  A very nice man handed me a brochure with a list of cartridges they fill and lo and behold they now fill 950XLs and 951XLs, just the ones I need and had just purchased.   Now I can get cartridges filled for about $10 each, a big savings.

Costco had Seattle Seahawks tees for $16.99, my favorite team.

Costco now carries Stephen's hot chocolate mix, my favorite, $8.99 for 4 lbs., as opposed to one lb. at Wal-Mart for $5.69.

I also got a new pair of my favorite jeans, marked down $3 to $14.99.   I went to the gas pumps to fill up the truck and got another pleasant surprise.   The last time I’d been in Anchorage was Nov. 5.   Since then gas has fallen from $3.42 to $3.15 a gallon at Costco.  Things were definitely getting better.

A rear-view mirror shot of clouds and fog over Turnagain Arm.   Though it's nearing sunset it really isn't this dark.  My camera is aimed at the sun.

I went into Office Depot with a heavy heart and searched for my paper.   I found it and gawked at the price.   Not only was it on sale, it was on sale for $7.50 for a pack of 100 sheets!  I checked the description on the box five times to make sure I was getting the right paper, then bought every one they had, and beat it out of the store before they realized their mistake.   

Usually selling for almost $40 a pack of 150 sheets, I bought this 100 sheet pack, and all its brothers,  for $7.50!!!

 Then I made a dash to the other store location and bought the last five packs they had.

Just before I completed my transaction, the clerk said “We have reusable shopping bags on close-out for 14 cents each.”   I handed five to him and said, “Fill ‘em up,” which is a much safer method of carrying heavy packs of paper than plastic bags.

My 14 cent reusable shopping bags.

My next stop was Wal-Mart where I found two-packs of 2GB SD cards for my cameras for $12.47.   Two GB cards are hard to locate these days because purchasers are opting for the higher capacity cards.   I prefer the 2 GB cards for a couple reasons:

1           1.   If I lose my camera on a trip, I haven’t lost all my photos.

       2.  I use Picasa for my photo program.  To import photos, my tablet downloads and copies every single photo on the flash card, even if it’s in the thousands like on 8 GB and higher cards.   This was I only have to wait through a few hundred.  Because I do this every single day, it can become a time hog with a higher capacity card.

       Wal-Mart also had my favorite tea for $2 less than the grocery stores.   Bought every one they had because they are pretty slow about restocking their shelves.

My last stop was for something to eat before I fainted.  Subway was across the parking lot and WOW!   They had pastrami again after a year without.  Pastrami on flatbread with just a bit of mustard.   Nothing else.

(Sorry, no photo.  I ate the subject.)

Then I headed for home because (in case Patti is wondering why I didn’t drive across town for a visit) my energy level on three hours sleep was running dangerously low and I did not want to subject myself to driving almost a hundred miles through the mountains in the dark. 

What's this at Potter Marsh?   The rear engine of the Christmas train heading south again.

On the way out of town, there goes the ARR Christmas party train again, full of revelers.   I have fond feelings for the ARR.   It was the promise of a job for my dad that brought us to Alaska.   He retired from the railroad 30 years later.

I could not have scripted those three hours in Anchorage any better if I’d tried!

And my little Thanksgiving cactus is blooming.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Herons of Halibut Cove

I pulled over to the shoulder on the long downhill slope to the “End of the Road,”  as the City of Homer bills itself.  There are many “ends of the road” communities in Alaska, primarily because of its paucity of roads and also because all but one side of this huge state, the one that abuts Canada,  end at salt water.

Kachemak Bay with the Homer Spit extending into it.  The small boat harbor is the thick portion at its end.

This end of the road was Homer, the farthest you can drive on the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage.  My immediate destination was the Homer Spit, an almost five-mile long bar of gravel that juts into Kachemak Bay from the mainland, and then across the bay to Halibut Cove.
I drove through town and onto the Spit.   At the iconic Salty Dawg saloon, I turned left and backed onto a portion of the small boat harbor, where I unloaded my luggage and groceries.  Then I drove around to the other side of the Salty Dawg and parked my truck where it would remain for the next three and a half weeks.

The Salty Dawg Saloon

With the help of Jay and others, all my gear was loaded onto the Stormbird, a retired military vessel that now plies the waters of Kachemak Bay and carries the denizens of Halibut Cove, the US mail, groceries, appliances, and freight for the small settlement across the bay.  I took a seat in the wheel house, avoiding the larger passenger cabin with its sight odor of diesel fuel.

The Stormbird is the green and white boat tied to the dock.

An hour later, the Stormbird sailed through the tiny entrance to the C-shaped cove, past Clem Tillion’s lighthouse B&B, and tied up to the dock.

As soon as we passengers debarked, a raucous cawing across the water got my attention and when I turned I saw a large, crooked--necked bird fleeing for safer environs.  I had no idea what it could be and why it had chosen to winter in Alaska, unlike the hundreds of thousands of fowl that head south to warmer climes.

Jim pulled his skiff up to the same dock and we loaded all my stuff into it and motored across the cove to his dock.  I asked him what that bird could have been and his reply was “Herons.  They nest right there.”   He raised his hand and pointed into a grove of spruce trees.

Sure enough, a heron burst from the shrubbery and landed in a nearby tree.  A heron, for Pete’s sake.  I had no idea they wintered here.  In the eight years I’ve been coming to the cove to house-sit and open the door for Jim and Jan’s cat, I’ve neither seen nor heard the herons before that day.  A second heron remained hidd

And that day was the last day I managed to get a decent photo of one of the herons, though it was silhouetted against the winter sky.

I've seen plenty of crows, ravens, sea gulls, and sea ducks, even some sea otters.

The crows or as they are known locally, The Motorcycle Gang.

A sea otter diving off a dock, another reason I turn the camera on before I get to the dock.

A mallard drake with two hens.

Sea otter.

The same sea otter with its pup.   Have to take the better camera to get a better photo.

Tara bringing me some groceries from Homer.

Part of Halibut Cove.   Homer is located in the hills beyond.

Where I'm staying and opening the door for Geri the cat.   Such a tough life.

My view from the living room.

Night lights in the cove.  This was over the Thanksgiving weekend.   I almost never see lights on this side of the cove.

Every time since, when I walk down to the dock to check on the boat and skiff, I turn on my camera before the last curve on the approach to the dock.   And every time, the heron gets outta Dodge before I can get a photo.

The steep, icy corner where I turn on the camera.

Until today.  Today I managed to get somewhat of a photo.   Not a good one, though.

There it is, fleeing for parts unknown.   Two more seconds and this could have been a much better photo.

But one of these days those herons and I are going to have a meeting of the lens.

Halibut Cove in the mauve alpenglow of a late winter afternoon.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Godspeed, Katy

Wherever there’s a campfire, you’ll be there,

Wherever there’s adventure, you’ll be there,

Wherever there’s a trail, you’ll be there,

Wherever there’s a story , you’ll be there,

Wherever there is beauty, you’ll be there.

Wherever there is music, you’ll be there,

 Wherever there are mountains, you’ll be there,

Wherever there are friends, you’ll be there,

Wherever there is love, you’ll be there,

Wherever there is laughter, you’ll be there, 

Wherever there’s Here Comes Trouble, you’ll be in the middle of it,

May your spirit rise gently and be with us always.

Love you, my dear friend,