Monday, August 31

A Fairly Hard Day

Today was was a full 8 hours wandering around the Alaska State Fair which is held in the small town of Palmer. We did all the usual "fair things" - ate too much, looked at animals, learned how to cook rhubarb bread, watched the pig races and a tractor pull, along with the lumberjack competition. Listened to live music - the Bellamy Brothers were the day's headliner. Good fun, long day!

Can't imagine why I liked this painting.

 

As we all know by now, when you travel unusual connecting threads occur. Earlier this year while exploring Florida (before this trip started) I attended the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida. At that event I enjoyed a performance by the Redhead Express - seven months later I listened as the same group (born and raised in Palmer) as they performed 4000 miles away.

 

Sunday, August 30

Termination Dust

Today we were greeted by some "termination dust" on the mountaintops around our campsite, that's an Alaskan term referring to the first dusting of snow in the mountains. Summer is "terminated" and the long dark winter is on it's way. Might be getting time to head south?

 

Saturday, August 29

Adiós Kodiak

We've returned to mainland Alaska after a great week on Kodiak Island. Only real problem we had during our visit - it was a tad windy, our floatplane flight was canceled and the 9+ hour ferry ride back to Homer was very rough.

Nothing newsy to report, so here are a few leftover pics from the island.

 

 

Thursday, August 27

Blowing In The Wind

We had planned to take a floatplane flight today but it was canceled because of high wind. So . . . . we decided to visit 1204 foot tall Mount Pillar (no wind up there, right?) instead. The mountain has six wind turbines on top and has some pretty spectacular views. We parked near one of the turbins and had a nice hike - but, for some reason, it was a little breezy.

The airport and Coast Guard Base
See the van?
How about now?

 

Wednesday, August 26

Out And About On Kodiak

We've had a run of great weather since arriving on Kodiak Island and have been out exploring this unique place. Somehow we've racked up over 400 miles on a island that has fewer than 100 miles of main roads (not all of which are paved). We've also managed at least one hike each day.

First up, a few general island pictures.

 

Surprisingly, the island also has some very interesting WWII history. A small Japanese force occupied the islands of Attu and Kiska (in the Aleutians) and the rush was on to build defenses to protect the Alaska Territory - Kodiak Island was at the center of that buildup and you can still see military structures scattered about the island.

 

 

 

On today's Kodiak, the United States Coast Guard Base occupies the old navel base and performs search and rescue operations (and enforcement duties) over a 4,000,000 square mile area. Because my nieces husband is a pilot stationed here, we got a tour and had a chance to meet many of those that fly in this beautiful (and VERY dangerous) area.

 

 

 

A big surprise - something every island should have, it's own commercial rocket launch facility for sub-orbital and orbital space launch vehicles - The Kodiak Launch Complex (KLC).

Finally, a few pics from our numerous hikes.

 

 

 

Sunday, August 23

Kodiak Island

Our first two days on the island have been great! First up on the agenda, make contact with my niece (her husband is a Coast Guard pilot stationed here). Leni and Jed had invited to us to join a group of Coast Guard families on a weekend camp out, so after meeting at the base front gate we headed out to Middle Cove. Great group and we had a fun two nights around the campfire. Most impressive thing - the kids, how much fun they were having, how independent and adventurous they all were.

 

During the day we were out exploring the island.

 

 

 

 

Friday, August 21

Uneventful Voyage

Had a smooth crossing to Kodiak Island, even saw two whales. Loading was a bit unusual - you drive the vehicle onto an elevator that lowers you into the hold and then the elevator becomes a turntable. The turntable rotates and you back the vehicle into your parking space. Interesting!

Down Elevator
Around You Go

 

Ocean Sunset

 

Entering Kodiak Harbour

 

Thursday, August 20

On The High Seas

We're at the dock in Homer getting ready to board the MV Tustumena for our 14 hour voyage to Kodiak Island. We get underway a 9:00 pm tonight and arrive on Kodiak around 11:00 Friday morning. This will be our third time on the Alaska Marine Highway - a fleet of ships that connects many of Alaska's remote coastal towns. Hope this sailing is as smooth as the other two - will have a report (Internet permitting) tomorrow.