Saturday, June 30, 2007

Try back in a week!

I think we have it figured out how not to exceed our paltry bandwidth. No podcasts, fewer pixels. We'll see how it works. I will probably take several days off between pics, but I'll be back!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Port Moller International Airport

I did not get a very good pic of it, but the sign on that shack says, "Port Moller International Airport." The pilot literally has to stop the plane, get out, undo the electric fence and then get back in and park the plane. Apparently bears REALLY like to chew on planes.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Kodiak flashback

I arrived in Kodiak a few weeks ago just in time for the last day of the annual Kodiak Crab Fest, and after dumping my stuff at the Fish and Game bunkhouse, I walked downtown to check out the Blessing of the Fleet. The crowd was small, as it was a bit of a walk from the main carnival-like festivities, but it was definitely worth the walk. Any boat can come by and be blessed with holy water by a Russian Orthodox priest.
There was a line of boats when I got there, everything from small fishing boats to large tenders. The priest was singing and flinging holy water from a gold chalice. He was all decked out in his priestly finery. A bunch of Coast Guard guys were there, too. The blessing is meant to keep your boat and crew safe for the season. A good tradition, I think.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Shedding, muddy, still cute.

Red Fox in Port Moller. He was not very shy and posed patiently for me, showing me all his angles so I could decide what was best. I can't decide so I'm posting them all.

Some Bald Eagle shots from Sand Point. Like Moose, I never get tired of seeing/photographing Bald Eagles.

A couple of Fish and Game biologists looking very fashionably Alaskan indeed. You don't get ridiculed for ear muff caps here.

One more view of the Babouche. That's Sebastian loading up the lifeboat. It looks like one of those Dutch clogs.

From these tracks it looks like the bear and dog were cavorting down the beach side by side. Probably not the case but it looks cool anyway.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sailing from Anchorage to Greenland...

Sebastian and Anne-lise arrived in Port Moller the day before me but not in the conventional way. They are the creators and sailors of "Babouche," a sailboat with retractable rudder blades that glide over ice. They are accomplished sailors in their native France and are attempting the first ever crossing of the North American Archipelago from east to west with no power whatsoever. They are attracting an interest in climate change among other worthy goals by sailing and when they have to, ice-gliding, from Anchorage to Greenland. They have already been at sea a month and have two months to go. When they left here, they were on their way to Nome, then Barrow. They are following strict date guidlines due to ice conditions. Their boat was beautiful and practical. Each lives on one side of the boat in little "pods" and the tiny boat underneath is one of the lifeboats. We had a big dinner for them at the head biologist's house and they took off early the next morning. What an adventure. Check it out at:

Monday, June 18, 2007

A quick view of some cool cliffs out of the Cessna window on the trip to Port Moller. I got to sit in the front seat, which was a little harrowing but fun.

This evening the same cub and sow from earlier came down to the beach in front of our place. The sow walked near an old boat while the cub explored an old abandoned barge for a bit and then both had some fish carcasses before heading back to the grassy hills. They stopped suddenly when they encountered a third bear. I didn't get pics of the third one but I did get the pair's reaction. First they sat down and then the cub got on its hind legs for a better look. Of course I ran out in the middle of dinner to capture all of this while everyone else stayed put...they've seen it all many times before!

I am now in Port Moller, Alaska. This is a tiny community on the northern side of the Aleutian chain on the Bering Sea. It is a very beautiful place and a close-knit community. The Fish and Game people out here have been here for years--one for 18 years, one for 16 and another person for 8, so I knew right away there must be something special about this place. There are LOTS of bears out here. This is literally my view out of my bedroom window 10 minutes ago, and the picture is not blown up at all. Quite different and dramatic.

I was only in Chignik, a small village at the beginning of the Aleutian Island chain, for a short time to drop off a fellow Fish and Game employee from the ferry, but I came across this typical Alaskan scene. You've got many Alaskan elements in play here. The man on the left is wearing Helly Hanson waterproof bib overalls, a must in the Aleutians. The man on the right is wearing his XTra Tuff boots, which no self-respecting Alaskan would be without. Of course there's the four-wheeler, which everyone seems to have a least one of, and then there's the town dogs hanging out where the action is.

An amusing combination of signs in King Cove.
They are very "Bear Aware" here but still go about their lives. All the kids have interesting bear sighting stories. One girl was telling me about a grizzly that jumped on top of her dog last week, but then got off and walked away. I guess the bear just wanted to play a little...

Monday, June 04, 2007

We made it through the ferry ride, which was actually smooth sailing. Lots of interesting people on the ferry (tourists, fishermen, etc.) as it goes all the way to Dutch Harbor/Unalaska. I even met a women who is starting a TV station in Dutch Harbor. We have been in Sand Point for the past few days, dropping off the Wildlife Tech that will work here and getting organized. Sand Point is a village with a population of around 900. It's absolutely gorgeous, surrounded by snow capped mountains. The entire island is only 7 miles long and 3 miles wide. Almost everyone in town is involved in the fishing industry. We've taken some great hikes and gotten to know the Fish and Game folks here. Today we are taking our first plane trip to King Cove in a little four-seater Cessna. King Cove is much smaller but I hear another nice village with a population of about 250. I'm sure I'll get some good pics, there's three volcanos on the way and I'm sure tons of islands. It was foggy and drizzling since Kodiak but the sun is shining today and the sky is clear and blue, what a nice change! I don't think I will have internet access in King Cove and will be there for at least two weeks, so please check back in a few weeks! Sorry no pics, I'm taking good ones, though and will hopefully be able to post at some point!