Monday, January 24, 2011

Gentle Leviathons of the Deep

I do not watch much television. But when I do occasionally I see an ad for Pacific Life. Their logo is a whale breaching out of the water. One of the best locations in the world to film breaching whales is Point Adolphus, a few miles across the strait from Gustavus. In one ad behind the whale is a jagged point that I recognize as the northwest corner of Pleasant Island. In another I see the rocky beach on the west side of Icy Strait where we trolled for salmon on our first magical visit to to this area. And in the third, Pleasant island is partially behind, but to the left of Pleasant Island, I see the tree line secluding Gustavus (and way back in those trees my mind's eye can see a half completed cabin). Every time I view one of those ads I smile inside and call to Paulette to come look, even though she responds back that she has seen them a dozen times. Here is a video clip of the relaxing whales in the exact area where we first saw them five years ago while fishing. These are the same whales that appear on the ads. They come up and breather five to eight times before disappearing for a few minutes to feed. Enjoy with me! Our Whales

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Desert Dessert

Last weekend we joined friends for an annual winter buggy trek across the Mojave desert. 14 buggies attended. We ran about 400 miles in three days, approximately half of that distance off-highway. The weather was the best we have encountered for this run, cool but not cold. We had a lot of rain early in the season and it showed. Lots of fresh erosion and the dry lakes were no longer dry. I was leading a group up a canyon when suddenly the sand got soupy. We had literally crossed onto where an underground river was making the surface unstable like quicksand. I grabbed the radio mic and advised everyone to keep clear. Most were able to take evasive action. But my location was too saturated. All but three buggies made it to higher ground. The rest of us were a photo shoot for the group. I was only inches from making riverbank when the rear tires buried. If you double click the middle photo you can see all the tracks plowed through the quicksand and another stuck buggy. This was the most memorable day of the trip because of the degree of difficulty.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I'm sorry about not being as dedicated to posting. Here is a quick update.
The holiday season has been good, with the exception of too much great eats and treats. I think I put all the weight I lost working in AK back on, and perhaps a bit more. Paulette and I gave each other a new point-n-shoot camera as a main Christmas gift. I think the .pdf manual for the camera is something like 150 pages. I doubt I'll ever use all the bells and whistles but it's a lot more advanced than our old dying model. I'm looking forward to not missing some of the action pix of Alaska that our old camera wasn't fast enough to capture. A lot of my energies have been spent looking for build materials for the cabin. I scrounged the used ads and stores and have most everything I think I will ever be able to find used. The savings are huge and will more than pay for transportation getting it up there. I added up the weight of everything we want or need to bring north next spring and it comes to 3,300 pounds! Last summer we toted about 4000 lbs of materials up in the toy hauler. We were very heavy and I hope to be a little lighter this year.

Crazy but we were colder here in Calif last night than they were in Gustavus. This from a weather web site:

Latest Reported Weather Conditions Observed at Gustavus, AK
Updated 10:56 AM AST SAT JAN 1 2011

Happy New Year to you all! Mel & Paulette