Tuesday, June 29, 2010

High Alert

I really like this picture.
It was taken on a cool and cloudy day one evening last week, when I stopped at Lena Beach on the way home Out the Road.
Lena Beach is a small protected cove, with a rocky shoreline, picnic shelters/benches/campfire areas, beautiful overpriced waterfront homes, mountains and usually calm water, and what I think may be a nesting area for eagles.
I see eagles (many times couples now) in the trees.  And this is where I watched an eagle swim food to shore one cold and cloudy day a few months ago, while I was walking the beach alone early in the morning. 

I see these small "shrines" everywhere I go.  So many beaches in Juneau are rocky, and that just seems to compel visitors to build towers small and large made of this so-readily available natural resource. 

One more stop on the same drive home was to the pier immediately adjacent to the ferry terminal.
I can't begin to tell you how many times I have stopped here over the past almost six months since I arrived in Juneau.
And I have taken probably hundreds of pictures of this place. 
When it is sunny and clear here, you are drawn to sweeping and very beautiful snow-capped mountains off in the distance, endless sky and endless water.
When it is overcast (as it was that day last week when I stopped) the jagged snow-capped mountains disappear
And when that happens your focus is forced closer to home - you see pine trees, you see the fishing vessels and the hard-working guys who man these vessels regardless of the weather.
You see the textures and colors and beauty and flaws of the pier.
When the weather is gorgeous you can look out and see forever.
When the weather closes in you can't see forever.
But sometimes you can see yourself.......
Two hardy young fishermen laughing and easily joking with each other, while sitting and repairing their fishing nets........
Late yesterday afternoon Juneauites were out enjoying a sunny day.  The weather was forecasting this to be the last sunny day in a while - but I take those forecasts with a very large grain of salt.  I'm a sucker for every sucker patch the weather gods throw our way..........
These pictures were taken downtown while I was waiting for an evening meeting to begin.  I am an unwilling  participant in evening meetings because they move into "my time". 
A necessary evil unfortunately, but with a good 45 minutes to kill before it started, I took the time to walk leisurely downtown with my Mountain Boy - walking the boardwalk, watching the float planes, weaving between the multitude of tourists....

When the sun is shining the sky in Juneau is beyond blue.  It is bluer than blue......it is breathtakingly blue.
Downtown Juneau is a beautiful, enclosed, well-maintained, picturesque small city, that rests comfortably and snugly beside wonderful wonderful mountains.
A middle aged native Alaskan woman, accompanied by who I assume was her mother crossed paths with me downtown three times yesterday, and asked me each time if I could give her some money.....
My meeting did not finish until after 9pm last night, and while I was walking back to my car that was parked at  Centennial Hall, I noticed a middle aged native Alaskan man (who was walking with three other badly dressed men) stop walking, stand in one place and stare at me from the sidewalk and across the street.
I looked away for a minute, and when I looked back he was still standing in the same place staring at me.  It was not a good look.  It was a look of malice.  Something was badly out of place.
He stared at me, and I stared deliberately back at him.
My Mountain Boy was with me, he noticed the man, recognized the malice also and instantly went into high alert. 
The stares from all sides continued for another minute, until we eventually moved out of what I would consider the "danger zone". 
I love this city, but it comes with some of the same dangers and concerns that all cities come with..... 

My fragile lobster trap made it all the way from middle Tennessee to Juneau Alaska.  Good deal.
Very good deal.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Boy Scout Trails In The Sunshine

When we realized late this morning that the weather was clearing out, that it might actually be sunny today, and that the temperatures looked to be warmer than yesterday, we debated briefly about how we would spend our day.
First order of business was digging out some belongings that were still packed in boxes and sitting down underneath the house.  LC needed a rain jacket and jeans.  I needed jeans and to see if some of my stoneware crocks had made the trip from Tennessee to Alaska in one piece. 
We thankfully found all clothes that we needed.  And the crocks made it - at least the few that we opened this morning.  Very good deal, but it will take some doing to figure out where the heck to put these things in this small cabin-in-the-woods.
After some digging through.........stuff, we decided to head out to the Boy Scout trails rather than go back downtown to the Goldrush Days event.
The logging competitions were scheduled for today, which we were both interested in.  But in the end walking rather than sitting, being Out the Road vs being downtown, being by the water and at the beach all won out over town and crowds of people.  Truthfully there was really no competition.....
These pictures can describe why, better than I could ever try to describe in words

My Mountain Boy has only ever seen the Boy Scout beach from across the inlet at Eagle Beach.  So today we took our dog Jamie with us for a walk along the trail and out to this very very beautiful place.
Since she adopted me and my boys, Jamie has always lived at homes that had fenced yards, and car sickness prevented us from taking her on many trips. 
So LC and I walk her on a leash, and over the past few weeks (with doggie treats as bribes if she returns to us on command when we call her name) we are trying to train this adult dog. 
We are hoping that eventually we will be able to allow her off the leash so she can run and play - but return on command.  I truthfully do not know how that will work. 
When she is intensely focused on something, and when she wants to run and chase, she is in an unhearing and disobedient place.  But we will take our time, not rush this "competant voice command" issue, and hope that we can bring her to a place where she will learn to return to us when we expect her to.
But in the meantime she walks well on a leash, and is having a very wonderful time exploring all the sights and sounds of her new home.......
The first time I explored the Boy Scout Trails was a couple of days after I arrived in Juneau, when I went out there with my short-term room-mate. 
 It was early January, cloudy, windy, freezing cold, with ice on the trails and ominous looking mountains on all sides of me.
After only being in Alaska for a few days, still not being sure that this was the right move for me, already missing my Mountain Boy and my son and my house and my dog, I thought that it was a beautiful place.  I was curious, eager, but I was also overwhelmed. 
Overwhelmed by everything that was happening in my life.
We saw either otters or seals on that cold day - their little round black heads popping up out of the icy waters and then quickly disappearing again, only to reappear a few minutes later.
I had not been to the ocean since the late 1980's. 
I had never seen either seals or otters that were not in a zoo.....
Almost six months later I was at the same beach with my guy and my dog.  It was sunny and warm.  As before, there was an entire family (maybe 9 or 10) seals or otters swimming in the water. 
Instead of grey and angry water though, the channel was blue, calm and beautiful.  Instead of ominous mountains there were gorgeous snow capped mountains shining against the blue sky.
And the wild flowers.........so so so so many wildflowers.........and so so beautiful.  Everywhere I looked.  I truly love this place.
And so does my Mountain Boy. 
So far so good.......
Somebody said to me one day a few weeks ago that you could "drop your camera in Juneau and still take a good picture". 
When it comes to the Boy Scout Trails he was right - just point your camera in any direction.  You cannot take a bad picture at this place.
My local ignorance will show when it comes to describing this picture - I honestly do not know if this is Eagle or Herbert Glacier.  Both the Eagle and Herbert Rivers are close to this area so I can't even guess which one it is (although I could look it up if I really wanted to know, and I will look it up one day when it comes time for me to walk the trails leading up to both of these glaciers).
Regardless, this glacier is visible from the trails we were walking, and was just one more beautiful scene in an overwhelmingly large number of beautiful scenes that were within our grasp this afternoon.
As LC has said a number of times since he arrived in town "....and we LIVE here!!"
Welcome back Chilcat Mountain Range.  I saw you only partially and only briefly among the clouds, rain and fog this past week.  But truly I have missed you...........
Today was Jamie's first time ever being in the ocean. 
This land-locked Tennessee pooch was very scared at first and did not want to go into the water.  I had to drag Jamie to get her in, but eventually she relaxed somewhat and seemed to enjoy it.
It was very funny to watch her though - she stood right beside me and would not leave my side the entire time.  And she was scared of the small waves coming into shore. 
She stared at the waves, and whenever she saw one go into shore she would back up and away from it, moving deeper and deeper into the water.  
Jamie honestly had no idea what to make of the entire experience and was happy when we finally got out of the water.
A young mother, her beautiful daughter, and her friend, all enjoying a sunny and warm Sunday at the beach....
There are really no words to adequately describe this kind of beautiful.  The entire beach and trail area is breathtaking.  It is only a few miles from our house.  And we LIVE here!
Some of the pictures I posted in this blog post were taken by my Mountain Boy.  He is the true nature lover in this family.
He is the one who, a few years ago slowed me down enough to allow me to see and feel nature.  He sees the beauty in everything outdoors.  
The ying to my yang.  The soft to my hard.  The hard to my soft.   Somehow we balance.  Somehow it works.  Somehow......
Me taking a picture of him taking a picture.
And James having a great time wandering in and out of the grasses and flowers that are taller than she is.....This dumb mutt made me smile because she was having such a great and joyful adventure today.
LC snapped probably 10 pictures trying to capture two eagles that were happily circling together on the winds.  I told him "welcome to my world" because I have found it very difficult to get a decent picture of eagles in flight, and I have tried many many times. 
This was the best one of the group.  There were many eagles out today - most flying on the breeze, and a few resting in the sun on stumps by the water.
With all the blue sky and warmth that we enjoyed today, the mountain range behind us was still grey and ominous.  The sky changed rapidly as the rain clouds kept getting pushed downwards by the jagged mountains.
The mountains are beautiful.  So is the channel.  But there is one place just off the trail that is a meadow full of nothing but tall grass and abundant wild flowers. 
When you climb over the little rise and see this meadow (with the mountains in the background) it is unbelievably beautiful.  So wonderful to have this place that is so accessible to us.
LC taking a picture of me taking a picture.
The Goldrush Days is an annual event in Juneau, and I guess that we could have gone to see it.  But then we would have missed out on a day that we could never get back.
The Boy Scout Trails would have still been there for us to see one night after work, or maybe next weekend.
But the sky, the clouds, the flowers, the seals or otters, the playful dogs and small children and young parents and circling eagles.......it would never have been exactly the same as it was today.
I loved today............

Forests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes - every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon the soul of man........
Orison Swett Marden

Exploring Mining History

I am used to being behind the camera........
My Mountain Boy and I headed over to Douglas Island late yesterday morning to take in some of the mining and logging event that was scheduled this weekend at Savviko Park in S Douglas.
We are so much alike - we are both drawn to mountains, water and boats, and even though there were hundreds and hundreds of people milling about across the road we stopped for a few minutes after we parked my truck to take in the harbor and mountains that were surrounding and embracing us.
It did not rain the entire time that we were at the beach, but I don't think that the temperature got much over 50 degrees yesterday. 
Summer in Alaska.........cherish the days when it is warm, dry and sunny.   Dress appropriately, and do whatever you had planned on doing that day regardless of the weather.  Find joy and beauty even in grey and cold days..........
After crossing over to the event we walked around for just a short while taking in everything that was going on around us.  Young children and parents standing in line for pony rides.  People sitting in the stands of bleachers set up for the weekend.  Old machinery sitting unattended and waiting for some upcoming competition.  Young people competing in a back-hoe competition.  Young children and parents waiting in a long line to play carnival games.  A very long line of people standing and waiting patiently to purchase "Memphis Style Bar-b-que."  A large red and white tent filled with hundreds and hundreds of people and tables set up by non-profits, cotton candy vendors, political hopefuls.  Softball tournaments running non-stop on the adjoining fields.......
We decided to go walk on the beach.
We are also alike in that regard - unless the event is compelling to us, we would rather be where people are not.  For two people who can be highly sociable when engaged or required to be, we would both rather spend time away from people and close to nature.
The snow on all of the "local mountains" is almost gone now.  And that snow has been replaced by multiple shades of green on the mountains, and abundant wild flowers.  Wildflowers cover the sides of roads, the mountains, the trails, people's yards (including ours) and the meadows of this beautiful beautiful town and borough.
Although we drove down to S Douglas a few days after LC arrived in Juneau we had not walked it together before yesterday.  I greatly enjoyed showing him this beautiful and interesting beach.  
It is filled with sand, water and boats, as well as old piers and old rusty mining artificats - all remnants from the old Treadwell mining days:
I think that my Mountain Boy enjoyed it as much as I did.  He loved the beach and REALLY enjoyed seeing some of the old artifacts and structures that are still in place along the easy-to-walk gravel trails that we took on the way back.......
LC had great fun trying to identify these so very interesting pieces of old equipment....
There were some interesting prints in the sand yesterday - not sure what they were, and with my lack of experience in track-recognition, and with all the very big dogs that live in this town, I find it difficult to figure out exactly what I am looking at.
We noticed this morning that we have a lot of ripe blueberries in our yard, and well as salmonberries that are beginning to ripen. 
We'll be picking blueberries today before some other animal has a chance to eat them all.
While we were walking on the Treadwell trail yesterday we also saw many salmonberries.  Many of them had been picked already, and I agree with LC that it was probably bears - because you can see many places where it looks like a heavy animal has wandered in and out of the heavy growth around the berry plants.
If it WAS a bear he was very efficient because there were very few ripe berries that remained behind - most of those left still need a week or two to ripen by the looks of things.
Regardless, we snacked a little along the trail as we got closer to the park area and civiliation again.
This piece of old mining equipment is located at the trail entrance and is beautifully architectural in its appearance.
Yesterday turned out to be a cold, grey, drizzly day.  We had planned on spending our visit at the S Douglas park hanging out with some colleagues and taking in mining competitions.  We changed our plans on the fly, deciding that there was really nothing we would rather do more than take a walk on the beach alone, and explore some of Juneau's rich gold mining history. 
Big fun together on a cold summer day.