Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hiking in Kodiak

The three of us have enjoyed the sunshine in the past week. The rain eased up just before the Christmas holiday, and we have had a good time taking in the sea smoke, snow covered mountains, and sea lions. Our local stellar sea lions sun themselves on a platform within St. Herman's harbor. Their calls can be heard from certain vantage points along some of the trails on Near Island, but they are best seen and smelled at the edge of the large floats that house some of the area's largest trollers.

While standing there, I could not help but be mesmerized by Barometer's reflection in the water.
My poor attempt to be artistic...
I just love the name of this boat.
A floatplane heading out.

And lastly, here is a shot of the sunrise last Wednesday, 24 Dec. As I drove home from Rotary and a couple of stops to wish clients happy holidays, I took a short cut along Mission Road, where I saw the crescent moon in the morning hues.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More Eagles

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Greetings

Each year, I revel in the joy of holiday cards. Our relatives send quirky cards, and our witty political friends send us the year's best politico cartoons dressed in holiday gear. Regardless of the shape and size, each one is met with utter joy. Opening the mailbox becomes a much anticipated daily ritual. I slice open the envelopes to reveal glitter, bows, pictures, hand written notes, long diatribes about the past year, and wishes for a healthy and happy season and new year.As an Army Brat, I still keep in touch with families with whom we were stationed over twenty years ago.

As our horizons broadened as a new couple, our list has grown extensively, as has our collection decorating the entryway. Tales of retirees, of active duty stations, and families abound, each season updates us on our loved ones' pursuits and happiness.

This year has been a big year for many of our friends and family: weddings, new additions to the family-- bipedal and furry alike--, home ownership, and new stationings. We are thankful to hear how well everyone is doing, and I am delighted to continue adding to our list. Even if they/you are those from whom we only hear once a year, your tidings are more than welcome.

Happy Holidays from Kodiak!
(Oddly enough, this picture is from Yellowstone in June!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snowshoeing in Girdwood, AK

Brad and I escaped to Girdwood, AK, to enjoy snowshoeing at the large public recreation area near Alyeska Ski Resort. The sun rose on the pristine, snow covered mountains that protect Moose Meadows from the elements. At 4 degrees and the sun rising, we set out with a few cross country skiers, wandering along the major, groomed trails. During our second hour, Brad started taking side paths that gave him a more difficult terrain [that he had the gear to transverse]. Exhilarated and addicted to our new hobby, we finished with icicles hanging from our eyebrows, eye lashes, and scarves.

Anchorage Zoo

Due to weather, we had a quick layover in Kenai. After loading up the rental car, we checked the temperature gauge, which registered 8 degrees. We checked in Big Mama at her hotel and commandeered her room to put on our long underwear. With an hour of daylight left, we headed to the Anchorage Zoo. Along with two other people, we entered a winter wonderland. Snow packed paths and covered signs made it difficult to get around, but Brad and I were overjoyed to not have stroller slamming into us as we navigated the poorly designed map.

Our first stop was the series of tanks that hold seals, otters, and polar bears.

Onto land mammals: lamas, camels, musk oxen, wolves, and yak. There was an elevated platform that allowed us to peer down into the wolf compound and the amur tiger compound. The pack of wolves reminded us of Tok, and the four year old male tigers are new to the zoo and their keepers. Their keeper, a gregarious transplanted New Englander, showed us how he continues to bond with the tigers who had female handlers in their former home. He uses a bottle filled with heavy whipped cream to sooth the beasts and gain their trust.

This same handler showed us the way to the converted elephant house that now holds two abandoned brown bear cubs. As the cubs snoozed, we learned about their trip to their new home, which is a stopover for their permanent home in Memphis, TN.

The sun set, we stopped in to see the lynx and snow leopards and hurried to the car.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Big Mama is visiting, and I am trying to learn my new camera. Brad used his Family Separation Allowance to purchase me the Nikon D40. I took the short lense with me and Big Mama as we explored the Buskin, where we found chum salmon and lots of eagles...lots.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tok, Going on Eight Months Old

Playing the in the snow last week.

Pentagon Nuances in Kodiak

It's a small, small world sometimes.

As a member of Rotary, I attended the Kodiak noon Rotary meeting on Tuesday. Our guest speaker was Lt. General Atkins. Atkins wears many hats, and the purpose of his visit was to meet supporting USCG personnel at ISC Kodiak. In his speech, he expanded upon the roles among his other hats, including his role in the Joint National Training.

My ears perked up. My company had been trying to find more intelligence on the proposed Pacific Alaska Range Complex (PARC), an $80M proposed joint training range. Despite the high level colleagues dedicated to this, whose jobs are to be sleuthes-- in a sense, we had come up dry on details.

Until little ol me attends a Rotary meeting on a Rock in Alaska. He took questions, and I posed one (of course! Do you think I would miss this opportunity?). In particular, he had spoken of the attributes of the Battle Area Complex and Combined Arms Collective Training Facility (BAX/CACTF) at Donnelly Training Area (DTA) and how cool it is that the Army has this amazing training center to reinforce what troops learn at the National Training Center (NTC). I posed my questions in complete acronym-ese (I worked on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the BAX CATCF at DTA). The looks on his entourages' faces were priceless.

Afterwards, one of the majors asked how I knew about all those nuances, and I informed them that I worked for US Army Environmental Command and G3 (the Training Support Division of the Army's sector within the Pentagon) before PCSing to Kodiak as a proud Coast Guard wife. Again, blinks. Priceless.