Dawes Glacier

On Monday, May 16th, aboard the Celebrity Solstice Barb and I got up early, 4:24 AM, to get good indoor seats for our possible visit to a glacier.

The first glacier we attempted to visit, at the end of Tracy Arm, was blocked by small icebergs. So we turned around and went for plan B. This was Dawes Glacier.

The video below was this second attempt. When we were about a mile away Barb expressed her opinion, multiple times, that it was time to turn around. We continued. We got within about a half mile of the glacier then did a 270 degree turn before leaving.

The scale of the glacier was hard to comprehend. It is so big it seemed much closer than it actually was. We got to within about a half mile from the face. The face was several hundred feet above the surface of the ocean and a half mile across.

The ship is 1041 feet long and 121 feet wide. I created the image below from a screen shot of Google Maps with the Celebrity Solstice represented by a rectangle approximately to scale at the point of closest approach:

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One of the possible excursion was to depart the ship and get on a tour boat which went into shallower and narrower waters to get a look at things much closer than what the Solstice could. Barb and I did not do this but others did. If you were to go on a cruise like this don’t count on getting so close to a glacier from the main ship. The cruise director told us that in doing this for 11 years he can count on one hand the number of times the ship has gotten this close to a glacier.

Here is the tour boat as seen from an upper deck of the ship:

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Here some of the many chunks of ice we saw in the fiord. They are incredibly blue. This is because the ice has virtually no air in it and the crystals reflect and absorb different colors of light differently. The ice ends up looking blue:

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This was the high point of the cruise for us.

Some of the other events of our Alaska cruise were:

Float plane to Misty Fjords National Monument

After visiting Saxman Totem Park we wandered around Ketchikan for a while, we ate lunch on the ship, then waited for the bus to pick us up and take us to the float plane excursion to Misty Fjords National Monument.

The float plane trip was pleasant and although the scenery was pretty amazing we thought it was similar to that which we find close to home.

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Departing Seattle

Friday the 13th we departed Seattle on the Celebrity Solstice for a seven day cruise to South East Alaska. We were told this was going to be the largest cruise ship in Alaska. It is quite large and even though we had one of the cheapest cabins it was, at least to us, luxurious. The glass elevators, the live tree suspended in the “courtyard”, the fountains, the lawn on the top deck, the hot tubs, the swimming pools, the food, the views, it was all amazing.

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Quote of the day—Chelsea Karthauser

I’ve been trained for bear encounters. So if we see a bear, what you need to do is, gather around in a circle with me in the very center.

Chelsea Karthauser
May 17, 2016
Guide for Gastineu Guiding in Juneau, Alaska.
[We went on a hike to see a glacier with Chelsea (her nickname is Whalebait, interesting story on how that came about).

If you ever get the chance ask her about the time she fell off the trail in the snow, lost almost everything, including her shoes, was saved by Devil’s Club, made her way around the mountain to the tram, where people took pictures of her but wouldn’t help her.

We enjoyed our hike but most of the time we could have easily mistaken the scenery for that which we could have found with ten miles from home. We could have seen the glacier with a ten minute hike instead of a three hour hike. Now, the people from Texas, Arizona, and Florida saw some things quite different from their home area.

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Thanks Chelsea.—Joe]

Mother’s Day dinner

With both kids away at college and unable to do something in person for Mother’s Day I decided to help by taking Barb to dinner. I told her to pick anything she wanted within an hours drive. She suggested Red Robin and I frowned. I told her I was thinking of something more like the Space Needle or a nice steak house.

After considerable thought and my repeated insistence that she should not be concerned about the price she came up with I Love Sushi on Lake Bellevue.

It was very nice. The food was good and we had a nice view of the lake.

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Joe and Barb’s unexpected bonus

Barb and I went on a walk to Poo Poo Point via Chirico Trail yesterday.It was a little more elevation gain than we wanted (1760 ft.). But it was supposed to have a nice view at the top. The weather was nice so we decided to go for it. We figured we should leave the house before 9:00 AM to be able to get parking easily.

We arrived at the parking lot about 8:15 to find the lot full and the sides of the road filled with cars. “What’s going on?” [Grumble, grumble] We found a place a couple hundred yards away that let us park for $5.00. [Grumble, grumble]

We were at the trail head at 8:27 and saw people with radios who explained this was the landing zone for paragliders and to not dilly-dally around as we cross the zone. [Grumble, grumble]

The hike was more than I was really prepared for. I got winded easily and sweat profusely even though the temperature was in the low 60s. There were a lot of people on the trail. [Grumble, grumble.] It was a nice trail though:

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We stopped to rest many times and it took us an hour and 45 minutes to make it to the top.

It was a nice view. It was a very nice view:

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But there were all these people:

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Oh. They were launching paragliders from here! Cool! No more grumbling.

This was an unexpected bonus. More pictures below the fold:

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Overheard

Barb is a very happy person and expresses this in many different ways. One of the ways is that she makes funny sounds at various times.

She works from home nearly all the time and sometimes when she “commutes” from the bathroom to her desk in the bedroom 15 feet away she will make sounds. Along with the hand motions of driving a car she will make sounds like, “Putt, putt, putt…”.

Yesterday she was kneeling on the floor next to a dresser as I was about to walk past. The area was a little tight for her kneeling at the same time I was walking through and as she shuffled back to get out of my way she started making the sounds of a truck backing up, “Beep! Beep! Beep!…”.

I couldn’t tell you how many different sound effects she has implemented. I just know they all make me smile and laugh. But I do know my favorite so far.

Last night she told me that sometime during the day she put on her holster and was practicing drawing and dry firing as it was suggested in class and the sounds sometimes just spontaneously came out during the practice session. The sounds? It was that of the spurs she imagined she was wearing, “Ching! Ching!”

Barb’s first day of class

Today and tomorrow Barb is attending Insights General Defensive Handgun class. I’ve been teaching her how to shoot and she does well with basic shooting. She just got her holster on Thursday so I have not taught her much about the draw and only the basics of defensive shooting. But I think she is more than adequately prepared for the class:

Prerequisites:

CONCEALED WEAPONS PERMIT or documentation of good character AND BRING THOSE DOCUMENTS WITH YOU TO CLASS. You must be totally familiar and comfortable with your handgun. If you have never shot before or wonder how your gun works we recommend our Handgun Safety and Marksmanship class or our Basic Handgun Safety and Responsibility class.

 

Required Equipment:

Reliable, functional semi-automatic handgun; Belt holster (rigid) with sturdy belt; pants with belt loops; 600 rounds of brass-cased, FMJ ammunition (minimum); minimum of 2 magazines and a magazine pouch; Concealment clothing; Hearing and eye protection.

I think she may be a little bit nervous. She didn’t sleep particularly well last night and said she was thinking about the class a lot. But the clincher was that as she was just going out the door she noticed she was wearing her holster upside down.

Reason #1777 why my girlfriend is awesome

Barb sent me a text message today telling me she needed some help. She figured out where to store an item but it was too heavy and awkward for her to put it in the dead body storage area.

Yes. She discovered one of my pieces of furniture has a spot where you could easily store a dead body and didn’t miss a beat in recognizing it for what it was good for then found an alternative use for it since we don’t currently have any dead bodies without a storage location.

Isn’t that awesome?!

I suggested, and utilized, an alternate location to store the item so the dead body spot will be readily available for future use.

That had to hurt

I’m a strong proponent of women learning how to shoot guns even though they sometimes use them inappropriately:

The wife, 60-year-old Victoria Reid, was arrested Wednesday evening in Rockledge and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault domestic violence.

An arrest report from the Brevard County Sherriff’s Office indicates that Reid forced her husband of 16 years to sit on a couch at gunpoint as she confronted him about having an affair. Once seated, she threatened to maim him, kill him, and give him PTSD – a condition she also suffers from – in order to punish him for his alleged acts of unfaithfulness.

Her threats indicated that she was planning to shoot her husband in the face or chest, however it seemed she settled on traumatizing her husband rather than flat-out killing him, opting to shoot him in his left knee instead. But once she did, the bullet ended up traveling past his knee, up his leg and to his testicles where it got lodged.

I’m also a strong proponent of not doing things you know will make them extremely angry.

Bear encounter

Via Brother Doug:

First Attempt to Find Flint Ridge

March 18, 2016 was a beautiful day with the sun shining bright, so I decided to go for a walk and see if I could find a place my father had told me about.  As a child growing up on South Road in the 1930s, he and his cousins had sometimes wandered south of their home over the hill to a flint quarry where the Nez Perce Indians had made arrowheads, tips for spears and other stone tools.  Reject points could be found littered among the rocks where a cutting tool under construction had broken in the wrong place and been discarded.  My father and his cousins had named the place Flint Ridge.  I wanted to locate the quarry and take a look at it myself.

I was preparing to leave and altered my plans slightly when I decided to take our two dogs along.  Kanobi is ten years old and slowing down some, but he still enjoys a good walk.  Leia is just over a year old and full of energy.  My brother had encountered a couple of stray dogs that had threatened him in that area a few years before and I had concerns for the safety of my dogs, so I went to the gun safe and brought out the 357 magnum I had owned since my college days.  I loaded it with 130 grain hollow points which would be more than enough to stop most dogs.  I loaded my two dogs in the pickup and we set out on our adventure.

I drove to property my wife and I own at 2767 South Road.  I parked at the top of the hill just east of the house and let the dogs out.  From there, we crossed the road into a wheat field and headed south.  The field was muddy, so I climbed over a barbed wire fence on the east side of the field and walked south through a grassy pasture.  As usual, the dogs were 50 – 100 yards ahead of me checking everywhere for new sights and smells.  We were only about 600 yards south of the pickup when we started down a steep hillside.  The dogs raced down into a brushy draw filled with hawthorn bushes so thick the dogs almost immediately disappeared when they entered the brush.  They had barely disappeared from view when suddenly I heard the brush crackling and snapping with the sound of a large animal crashing though the heavy brush.  It sounded like it was 75 – 100 feet ahead of me and at first I thought the dogs had frightened a large deer or perhaps an elk.  The sound of crashing brush soon gave way to the frightened yelps of the younger dog Leia and the heavy huffing and grunting of an annoyed bear.  Most bears don’t like loud noises and ordinarily run from barking dogs, but my dogs weren’t barking.  I didn’t hear anything from the older dog, but the younger one continued to yelp in distress.  I started shouting at the top of my lungs in part to frighten the bear away, but also I was calling my dogs back, telling them to come.  The sound in the bushes would pause momentarily, then again I would hear the sound of crashing brush, huffing, grunting and the helpless distressed yelps from the younger dog Leia.  I started down the steep hill into the brush yelling as loudly as possible to frighten away the bear.  Soon I caught sight of the older dog Kanobi leaving the heavy brush to my left and circling up the hill behind me.  Not far behind him came the bear.  They had nearly disappeared into the brush on the uphill side of me when I saw Kanobi turn and prepare to challenge the bear.  I suspect Kanobi thought he needed to defend his family from the attacker, but that was the last thing I wanted him to do.  I drew my revolver and in an attempt to make more noise, I fired one round in the air.  As sharp as a 357 report from a four inch barrel normally sounds, it now sounded pitifully weak to me.  I didn’t even notice any recoil.  Adrenaline does that sort of thing to our senses.  About that time, the bear turned and came crashing back through the brush directly towards me.  I was in heavy thorn brush on a steep hillside and could not easily maneuver.  I again started yelling at the bear at the top of my lungs.  I yelled BACK OFF!, STOP!, GIT!.  With my revolver still in my hand I weighed my options of firing another warning shot or saving the five rounds I had left to fire directly into the bear.  I remember thinking how woefully inadequate 130 grain hollow points seemed for the bulky animal headed towards me.  The bear slowed to a walk and when it was 10 – 15 feet from me, it seemed to notice me for the first time and it steered slightly to the right and walked on past me disappearing into the heavy thorn brush.

Kanobi soon returned to me shaking in fear.  He was limping slightly, but I think he had probably stepped on a thorn.  My biggest concern was the younger dog.  I called out to her, in part to warn the bear we were coming deeper into the brush patch.  I didn’t get any response from Leia, no whimpers, no whining, no nothing.  I thought of a story I had heard about a dog challenging a black bear and with one swipe of its paw, the bear had sent the dog flying through the air with its side ripped open.  In this case, I had heard numerous yelps of distress, but I had not heard Leia screaming in mortal anguish.  I was once with a dog when it stepped in a coyote trap.  I didn’t know dogs could scream in pain and fear until that day.  Leia hadn’t made that kind of noise, but I also knew if the bear had caught her, he might have crushed her before she could make any further sound.

It was 3:45 PM as Kanobi and I crawled deeper into the brush searching for Leia.  I was on my hands and knees.  It seemed like I was getting puncture wounds from the thorns with every move.  For a while, I tried to keep my revolver in my hand, but it was too difficult to crawl that way, so I placed it back in the holster and made sure the snap held it firmly in place.  Being on my hands and knees in the brush was an awkward position from which to defend myself.  I kept looking around and listening, both for Leia and for the bear.  I also continued to call for Leia as loud as I could, in part to frighten away the bear.

We probably searched for 30 minutes and found nothing of the younger dog.  Kanobi and I headed back to the vehicle.  As we climbed the steep hillside, I called out to Leia and scanned the hillsides below us, but saw nothing.  I hoped we would find her at the vehicle.  The 600 yard walk back to the vehicle seemed like a long one.  It was 45 degrees outside, but I was perspiring heavily and took my coat off long before reaching the pickup.

As we came into sight of the vehicle, I hoped Leia would be waiting there for us.  I couldn’t see her anywhere.  The end gate of the pickup was closed, but the door on the canopy was open.  I was preparing to lower the end gate to load kanobi when I heard a noise in the pickup.  It was Leia.  She had climbed over the end gate and was cowering at the front of the pickup bed.  I lowered the end gate and called her to me.  Still cowering, she came to the rear of the pickup and I inspected her for injury.  I found nothing, although she was still obviously frightened.  I picked up Kanobi and placed him in with Leia.  He took an interest in her hip, sniffing and inspecting.  I checked that and found no blood or sensitive areas.  There was no blood in the pickup, so I concluded she was free of any serious injury.

The dogs and I came home and I told my wife of our adventure.  My voice was hoarse from calling for Leia.  We brought the dogs in the house and my wife threw a toy down the hall for Leia.  This is a common game my wife plays with Leia, but this time the dog would only go part way down the hall before returning to us.  She was afraid of what might be waiting for her at the other end of the hallway.  She often lays at my feet while I am at the computer, but while I was writing this, she rested with her head between my feet, something she has never done before.  I hope she will soon get over her fear and I am glad we all made it home in one piece.  I still intend to find Flint Ridge, but I plan on leaving my dogs at home next time.

The Gun State

Interesting. Idaho is state most dependent on gun industry, report finds:

Idaho depends more on the gun industry than any other state, according to a study by the financial website WalletHub. Idaho ranked No. 1 among states and the District of Columbia based on firearms industry activity in the state, gun ownership and overall prevalence, and gun politics — specifically, contributions by gun control and gun rights groups to members of Congress.

Idaho, The Gun State*. I could live with that.


* Idaho’s official nickname is The Gem State.

Code practice oscillator

Roberta just posted about telegraph keys and coincidently I ran across this as I was continuing to unpack boxes that hadn’t been touched in 20 or 30 years:

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The battery is new and that is all it took to make it functional. It’s a code practice oscillator that Brother Doug and/or I built back in the late 60’s or early 70’s. Once upon a time we put in a half-hearted effort to learn Morse Code but neither of us succeeded at learning the skill.

Charity request

From the comments here:

Joe, I would not normally solicit help from strangers but this is an extraordinary and dire circumstance. I am a fellow blogger and would like to ask if you would pass a link on for me. If you poke around my site you will see that I am a real person with a real family. I don’t have facebook or anything and any posting of the link or her gofundme page would be greatly appreciated. Thank you,Jim https://eatgrueldog.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/funding-for-shaylyn-2/

The direct links are:

https://www.paypal.me/FundsforShay

Update: Here is a go fund me link if paypal doesn’t work: http://gofundme.com/p5kymvxe

I donated a minute ago.