Friday, December 25, 2009

Winter in Anchorage

One of the things that Alaska has that most people in the rest of the United States doesn't have is ice fog. That's when it is so cold that the moisture condenses out of the sky and rains down on us. It clings to everything, and it's known as hoarfrost.

The world is white with ice crystal and snow until the wind blows it all away.

This is from my front deck, with the camera sitting on the railing. It's about zero degrees F., and the time is around 6 pm.

Our winter days are very long, with Anchorage getting about 5 hours of daylight on Dec. 21st. Then we start gaining light until we have summer again and long days.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hawaii adventures

What's Hawaii without some time on a beach? Depending on how you look at it there's lots of 'eye candy' to be seen.

I'm told that usually the beaches are a lot more crowded. A sign of the economy. But I've been there twice now and both times I was told the same thing. Maybe it's because I don't travel during the holidays and spring break.

And you have to attend a luau. Roasted pig in a hole, lots of costumed dancers and lots of laughs.

Then you get dragged up on stage to do a hula. Which was more fun then I thought.

Ken, me and Mekenna. Who says Ken can't get into the spirit of a luau?

I did not know you could go into the Dimond Head crater via tunnel. The old volcano is long extinct.

Inside the crater there are lots of hiking trails, what's left of an old miltary outpost, and loads of geologic things to explore.

From the top of Dimond Head lookout, Honolulu looks really crowded and developed.

Me and Mckenna. We had a good time.

I got the chance to spend a day diving, which was the one thing I wanted to do. I got spooked in Mexico and it was nice to see I could still do it, and enjoy it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Arizona Memorial

We spent a morning at the Arizona Memorial. This was my 2nd time here. The museum and the memorial are very powerful reminders of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

The Memorial sits across the sunken battleship Arizona where it sank within minutes of being hit by Japanese torpedoes. The majority of the crew died with the ship.

Various plaques relate the names of the crew and the valiant efforts made in Pearl Harbor that Sunday morning.

The battleship itself is visible in the shallow waters. In the 60 years that the hulk as sat on the bottom of the harbor oil has leaked in droplets, rising to the surface and creating rainbows and sheens on the water.

The drops of oil known as 'Rainbows of Tears' add to the legend of the sunken battleship. The battleship is a tomb, containing the remains of the crew. Now there are concerns about the rusting metal and the volume of oil that may still be in the hull. The memorial is sinking as the hull collapses. Efforts are being made to secure the memorial more firmly to the bottom of the bay.

If the hull still contains thousands of gallons of fuel oil, an environmental disaster may happen if the hull ruptures before the oil can be removed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hawaii scenery

These beautiful dolphins are sculptures outside one of the most famous art galleries in Honolulu. Hang onto your wallet if you walk in. I can never walk into an art gallery with my purse in hand.

These photos are of the National Cemetery on Oahu. I didn't know such a place existed but it's one of the largest military cemeteries outside of Arlington in D.C. There are thousands of military members buried here from WWII and the Korean War.

The graves are all marked with identical plaques in the ground. Several years ago various religions were protesting the white crosses marking the graves. To ease all the furor over "Christian" crosses, they were all removed.

The memorial is beautifully landscaped with incredible blooming trees. I would love to see it when everything is in full bloom.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Honolulu cityscapes

Anybody that knows me very well knows that one of the things I love to photo are buildings and things around cities. While I wasnt able to wander the city like I wanted to, I did get some nice shots. Lewers Street and Royal Hawaii Ave. have some great artwork and wide sidewalks to stroll. The only drawbacks are people and buses spoiling the frame. I guess people just don't get a person kneeling on a sidewalk with a camera, waiting for a light to change so that traffic is stopped in all directions.

Views from our 23rsd floor balcony.

Sunrise around 7 a.m. I am not a morning person. However, for whatever reason, I was up with the sun every morning this trip. I would have a cup of coffee and juice on the balcony (they call them lanais over there) and spend the first hour of the day watching the sunrise and reading. The rest of my travel companions would be snoring away so I had some peaceful mornings.

From my perch on the 23rd floor I watched freighters and cruise ships disappear over the horizon.
I took a bus ride around the city one day. It was the easist way to see a lot of the area. It's just amazing to see these tall towers standing in the sun from the oldest parts of Honolulu. When you think about how expensive it is to get building materials to the islands it's even more mind blowing.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hawaii Interlude - October 2009

Before winter moves in some friends and I went to Oahu for a week to soak up some sun and warmth. I'd been there about 10 years ago. This trip was a little more laid back then the previous one. Unfortunately surfing was not in the cards for me.

But the waves were easy and light so surfers were everywhere.

The main hang out on Waikiki Beach. The statue is covered with lais everyday from local surfers.

Anybody remember the movie "From Here to Eternity"? Remember the beach make out scene? Nice beach.

Hanauma Bay. This is one of the best places in Oahu for snorkeling. Great reefs and great fish. There are different areas among the reefs for the beginner snorkeler and the advanced snorkeler. Wonderful park with grass to lie on under the palm trees, showers, bathrooms, gear rental, etc. It's a little outside of Honolulu so you have to catch a shuttle or bus to go there.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Summer's end

The snow is already creeping down the mountains and the 1st day of Fall brings wind and rain. My attempt at a flower bed yielded some interesting colorful items. Bright pink peonies and I only got one bloom.

Mixed in with the ferns, the wildroses, irises and liliacs, I had mushrooms.

Too bad it's poisonous. But I had a pile of them in the yard, along with lots of other ones, like button mushrooms, little brown ones that I think are eatable.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hillsville flea market

Have you ever seen a flea market that stretches as far as the eye can see? The Labor Day weekend flea market in Hillsville, Va is the biggest spectacle I've ever encountered. Booths stretched across multiple streets in every direction. What ever you wanted you can find it here.
Over the three day period over 100,000 people were expected to attend.

To support the hundreds of vendors local residents rent out their homes to the influx of people and go somewhere else. People rent out their lawns for parking, $5 a car.

The flea market got its start as a gun show. While a gun show is still part of it, it's a small part. However lots of gun trading goes on, from dealers to private citizens. I was surprised to find someone walking the street with a rifle, but it was a common sight. Va. has open carry laws.

There were a lot of crafts for sale. Fountains made of every thing that held water were everywhere.
There were beautiful additions to a yard. I wish I could have gotten one home.

This is an ice cream engine. It's a one cylinder gasoline engine from the 30's, powering an ice cream maker. Kinda neat. Good ice cream.

And then there were the advertisements that made you go 'Huh?'

And a couple great jokes. Any guesses what's in the barrel?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Visiting my Va. roots, fall 2009

I spent this past week visiting my family's home in the mountains of Virginia. Wonderful summer weather and lots of relatives to catch up with. My mother is 90 and her health is always a concern among my many siblings.

My mother's home is an old farm house in the Blue Ridge mountains. The house was originally built in the late 1800s and has been rebuilt and remodeled to make it comfortable for a senior citizen.
The yard is full of tall green trees and carport providing some shelter for a boat (my brother's) and various cars belonging to brothers who live close by and always visiting.

The fields around my mother's house are home to lots of critters. Like wild turkeys, feeding in the hay fields on a summer evening.

Or white-tail deer, helping themselves to the pears on the trees around the edge of the yard. This doe had two fawns, still with spotted coats.

The family uses 4-wheelers to get around the farm and surrounding land. Trails and old logging roads criss-cross the mountains.

The trails cross heavily forested mountain sides. One of my younger brothers has marked safe paths across the mountains and streams.

Besides deer and turkey black bear call this area home. This particular tree had been chewed up by a large bear marking his territory.