My year started at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Chris flew to Albuquerque to join me. We spent several days, photographing in the refuge. The temperatures were in the low teens in the early mornings when we arrived but it didn't diminish our enthusiasm. The noise of the sandhill cranes and snow geese is worth the trip. But hawks, cormorants, herons, ducks, songbirds, and eagles are plentiful. Chris saw his first javalina (collared peccaries).
The highlight of the train trip was the surprise he learned about after we arrived on site. Sunday morning he got to ride in the steam engine with the engineer, engineer-in-training, and fireman.
This year's summer job was as a naturalist with Allen Marine Tours in Ketchikan. Five days a week I did narration aboard a large catamaran rated for 150 passengers. The 4.5 hour tours went to the Misty Fjords National Monument. We went up Behm Canal, passed New Eddystone Rock, a 237 basalt rock, core of an ancient volcano, and into Rudyerd Bay. The entire area was carved by long ago glaciers. The geology shows its history of volcanoes, uplifting of tectonic plates and constant erosion of wind and water as well as glaciers. The heart of the monument is a bit like Yosemite Valley with its monolithic granite cliffs. Unlike Yosemite, fjords (salt waterways filling old glacial valleys) take you there. Its a bit like looking up at Half Dome from a boat with little shoreline as rock comes straight down to, and below the waterline. The emphasis of the tours was geology and scenery, but we almost always saw bald eagles. Dall's porpoises, harbor seals, pigeon guillemots were common. Sometimes we saw marbled murlets, humpback whales, or orcas. On a few occasions we saw bears and wolves. Seeing wolves from the boat is a rare treat. The crew was thrilled at the sight, then appalled when a guest couldn't see why the captain had stopped the boat because, as he said loudly, "they just look like dogs." My bear and wolf sightings in Alaska were never as close as the ones in Yellowstone nor were they as frequent.
One day a week (yes, I worked 6 days, which is fine when you live on an island and can't go far), we did a shorter tour to a defunct salmon cannery. I had several of small world encounters. On one tour there was a couple from one of my Yellowstone tours. The wife and daughter of the City Manager who hired me in Antioch were on the cannery tour and later, back in town, I got to see Lee. Ed, who hired me in Richmond for my first public administration job, was on a tour with his wife. And one day a voice called out, "Betty Prange." I turned to find Mark, who was a police corporal when I first arrived in Antioch and who rose a couple ranks while I was there, becoming Chief after I left. Not on tours, but visiting Ketchikan were Mary and Elaine, RVing friends and Cathy, a close friend of my cousin, a woman I had met at a few gatherings at Bonnie's over the years.
Ketchikan lies on Revillagigedo Island in southeast Alaska. Living on an island for someone who is used to traveling as I am, is limiting. You must travel by air or water. And even if by air, the airport is on neighboring Gravina Island so you take a ferry across. This got a lot of attention a few years ago. The "Bridge to Nowhere" was between Revillagigedo and Gravina, and while few people live on Gravina the purpose of the proposed bridge was to link the airport to town. I did take a few days off and flew to Sitka, the old Russian capitol of Alaska. I had always wanted to see it and was not disappointed. Delightful town.
|Saxman Native Village south of Ketchikan|
Take a look at the blog entries for this year to see lots of photos and hear about our adventure. At the bottom of this page, click on the "older posts" at the bottom right side. They are in reverse order, so the first one will be Washington DC, our October adventure. Then a report on the ferry and train trip from Ketchikan, Alaska to Martinez, CA, then, keep clicking at the bottom for "older posts" and see an entry on Sitka, Alaska, and several on my summer working in Ketchikan.
I am looking forward to connecting with many RV and former RV friends this winter.
Look forward to news from all of you. I enjoy hearing what has happened in your life since last we talked or wrote.
Happy New Year to all.