Mar 30, 2009

Redoubt blows

So I was supposed to teach in a rural village for a week as part of my teacher certification program. I was slated to go to Kiana (pop. 401) with two other guys from the program. Kiana is 60 miles east of Kotzebue in northwest Alaska. We even went to Sam's and stocked up on freshies to bring out to the teachers and staff of Kiana school. But about 10 hours before we were supposed to leave, stinking Mt Redoubt decided to let off some more steam and FAA closed the Anchorage airport. (more volcanic photos and info can be found at AVO)
Bummer! I have not been off of the road system in Alaska save for my undergraduate research (which was just published by my former advisor!) near Prince of Wales Island in southeast, and a handful of not-very-far-off-the-road hiking trips.

As for the northern latitudes, I'm amazed that people have been able to survive for so long in such an unforgiving environment. For anyone interested in the history and science of Arctic survival - mostly humans and other animals - I recommend
Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez. Certainly a western perspective, but highly informative, a good read and winner of the National Book Award.

Mar 16, 2009

Spring Break in Oregon

We spent a wonderful day hiking in the Columbia River Gorge with Amanda, Sebastien, Alec and Chickenman. It was pretty cold and rainy, but still beautiful. We walked out to the Devil's Punch Bowl waterfall:Alec pretending to be a penguin dad: The following day we biked around town taking in the sights and sounds of Portland. Mike and I headed out to the coast for a couple of days, which turned out to be gloriously sunny! We got to hike both days - first out to Cape Lookout where we saw whales off the coast. Gray whales migrate from the Bay of California (between mainland Mexico and Baja) all the way up to the North Sea in the spring, and back down south in the fall. It is the longest migration of any mammal on the planet (12,000 miles). We were really lucky to spot them as some locals on the coast had never even seen whales. (They should get out more.)
We stumbled upon the cutest hotel ever in Wheeler, Oregon. It was renovated in 2004, but they kept a few of the old artifacts around, including phones and a typewriter, but with modern touches like jacuzzis and WiFi. The amazing view from our room:The absolute best happy hour spot in Oregon (from my limited experience) is at Ecola State Park on the bench on the Capistola Trail near Indian Beach:Great, and plentiful, microbrews in Oregon. There are dozens of microbreweries in Portland alone. My favorite was the Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale, yum. Mike is hogging the beer as usual. A nice sunset on Cannon Beach. After a winter in Fairbanks, I'm amazed at how quickly the sun sets.