Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Rainy day in Florence

Florence, Italy



It's raining in the morning so we break out the umbrellas and plastic raincoats and head for the market. Our hotel is centrally located a block from the market, train station and three historic churches. The Nerbone in the market sells Staccatto (slow-cooked beef stew), Lampredotto (stewed intestines) and Panino con Bollito (sliced beef on a roll)...


The Duomo has a line of umbrellas about four blocks long waiting to get in so we go to plan B and walk the back alleys to the Pitti castle...Luca Pitti (not to be confused with Luca Brasi) built this palace ...you should read about Luca, Machiavelli and the Medici clan...somewhere in here they came up with double entry accounting...


 Same deal...long lines...my Dad told me never to stand in line so we go to plan C and walk up the hill to the Pazzalle Michelangelo which has a super view of Florence and the Arno River bridges...


 Later I wash my sneakers and jeans in a laundromat...it was one wash too many for the sneaks and the soles separate from the tops...too bad but they were stinking too much to wear in public anyway...


 We buy a bottle of Chianti to drink in the room...


 Maybe a train ride to Pisa in the morning?


 A nice day for a white wedding...

Hey little sister, what have you done?
Hey little sister, who's the only one?
Hey little sister, who's your Superman?
Hey little sister, who's the one you want?
Hey little sister, shotgun!

It's a nice day to start again
It's a nice day for a white wedding
It's a nice day to start again




Sunday, 17 September 2017

Desolation Angels

 North Cascades National Park, Washington

Not that many people still remember Jack Kerouac, the "Beat Generation" or Beatniks (How many even remember Sputnik?).

 
Jack spent a winter here up at Desolation Point in a fire tower writing "Desolation Angels". We could only handle two nights with no internet, telephone, television, FM radio, satellite radio, GPS, electricity, running water or sewer connection. The trees pressed in so closely overhead that even our satellite technologies failed to work (GPS, TV, Sirius Radio). It was kind of like the 1980s when all the National Parks had pay phones from which you could call your stockbroker...if you had a pocketful of quarters...


"No maps, packs, firefinders, batteries, airplanes, warnings on radios, just mosquitoes humming in harmony, and the trickle of the streamlet – But no, Lord has made this movie in his mind and I’m a part of it (the part of it known as me) and it’s for me to understand this world and so go among it preaching the Diamond Steadfastness that says: “You’re here and you’re not here, both, for the same reason,” – “it’s Eternal Power munging along” – So I up I get and lunge along with pack, thumbed, and wince on ankled pains and turn and turn the trail faster and faster under my growing trot and pretty soon I’m running, bent, like a Chinese woman with a pack of faggots on her neck, jingle jingle drumming and pumping stiff knees thru rock underbrush and around corners, sometimes I crash off the trail and bellow back on’t, somehow, never lose, the way was made to be followed – Down the hill I’ll meet thin young boy starting out on his climb, I’m fat with butchers, and it’s Springtime in the Void – Sometimes I fall, on haunches, slipt, the pack is my back bumper, I burnst right along bumbling for fair, what words to describe hoopely tootely pumling down a parpity trail, prapooty ........."...Desolation Angels"


Jack ended up living with his mom in Indian Rocks near Tampa. At the end he was best known for projectile vomiting cheap red wine.



The North Cascades National Park is a huge place that is a strange combination of dams to generate power for Seattle and hundreds of miles of lovely hiking trails.



There are three big lakes up in the Cascades. They are named Gorge, Diablo and Ross. Each lake terminates in an electrical generating dam that feeds into the next lake.


We did find two tennis courts. I played well against Mrs. Phred, but I prefer not to disclose the scores. It was sort of a sports movie and I was part of it (the part known as me).

“Pretty soon...do you realize there'll be so many additional childhoods and pasts with everybody writing about them everybody'll give up reading in despair-There'll be an Explosion of childhoods and pasts, they'll have to have a giant Brain print them out microscopically on film to be stored in a warehouse on Mars to give Heaven Seventy Kotis to catch up on all that reading- Seventy Million Million Kotis! - Whoopee! - Everything is free!” -Desolation Angels

Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Kenai Fjords

Fjord...a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, as in Norway,Iceland or Alaska, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley.


Orcas or "killer whales" can eat an 80.000 pound humpback whale. In the 1950's they were much feared. Divers were cautioned to exit the water when orcas were present. There is only one documented instance of an orca biting a human and he was spit out when the orca realized that the surfer was not something that it was used to eating.


We see tidewater and alpine glaciers. This one is 700 feet high and two miles wide. It "calves" several times while we watch.


Kenny after we stop at Fox Island for salmon and prime rib. Orcas have an expanded area in the brain for hearing. Sound travels faster and further underwater. They use ecolocation (like bats) to hunt prey. They make clicks and receive echos on their foreheads.


Phred Firecloud shading his eyes. The mammal eating orcas sometimes develop fatal levels of PCBs. When they eat a seal, all the PCB that the seal has accumulated is deposited in their fat tissues. One beached orca had 15 plastic seal tags in it's stomach. Much of this PCB is deposited in the mother orcas milk and fed to her babies. Orcas have a lifespan and sexual maturity similar to humans, although the males tend to have a much shorter life span than the females. Orca pods are matriarchal  and it is thought that the older females teach their offspring how to hunt prey..


"Resident" orcas swim in pods and eat only fish like salmon and halibut. "Transient" orcas also swim in matriarchal pods and only eat mammals like harbor seals, stellar sea lions or humpback whales. The two types of orcas have separate languages of clicks and whistles and have not interbred for thousands of years according to DNA analysis..There is also an "offshore" type of orca but these have not been studied and little is known about their behavior or eating habits.


I was once the president of SLAMM (Society to Liberate All Marine Mammals) Our plan was to don our SCUBA gear at night and dynamite the holding gates of Marine World and release all the captive orcas and porpoises. Unfortunately, that plan ultimately failed to come to fruition because I was the only member of the society and had no actual idea how of to buy dynamite or how to set it off underwater.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Seward, Alaska




This puppy in Kasilof gets my attention by putting a paw on my arm. Dogs are wired to be friendly most of the time.


Ken takes a picture of Exit Glacier near Seward. The Harding ice field between Homer and Seward was first traversed in 1968. The explorers exited the ice field here. The glacier has been retreating since the last mini ice age which ended 10.000 years ago. I stopped where the glacier ended in 2005. Ken wen another half mile to the 2017 terminus.


Old passenger car at Lowell Point near Seward. A man named Ballantine dreamed of connecting Seward and Nome around 1900. After several bankruptcies and a government takeover his dream came true in 1923.


Art at the Seward aquarium.


Seabird




More art

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Kenny Catching Salmon on the Kenai River



We got lucky with the Gallery Lodge in Kasilof. It's right on the river. We saw a moose swim across this afternoon. The owner loaned us waders so I took Kenny into Soldatna and he caught a ten pound sockeye salmon in the Kenai River.


Yesterday we visited the town of Kenai to watch the "natives" dip net sockeye. Between 50,000 and 100,000 are entering the river here every day.


On the way we saw a moose browsing on the roadside.

Another Kenai picture above.


Back porch of the Gallery Lodge in Kasilof. We're cooking steak tonight.


Something to do with an old shoe.


A Picture of Seldovia harbor.


We stopped in Anchor point to watch them launch halibut fishermen.


We also went to Ninilchik to watch people dig clams but for some reason it was empty.


We've seen a bunch of old Russian Orthodox churches everywhere we've been. The church was expanding aggressively into Alaska 200 year ago, before Seward purchased it from the Czar for 2 cents an acre.


This is Kirill I, the current Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Seldovia, Alaska


After two days of Halibut fishing, we take a boat over to Seldovia. They spend about two hours pooting around Kachemak Bay to see whales and birds and drop us in Seldovia for a little over two hours.





On the way we see this custom RV which is always at the Homer docks.


The bay is full of islands, mountains, glaciers, whales, birds and fish.


We try our hands at snagging salmon in the Seldovia slough, but lose a triple-gang weighted hook about every two casts and give it up as a bad idea. A blurb from Wiki explains the devastation of the 1964 earthquake on Seldovia, population 255.
The Cook Inlet's waters prior to 1964 would rise or fall 26 feet every six hours during the peak tides. After the Good Friday earthquake on March 27, 1964, which registered 9.2 on the moment magnitude scale, the surrounding land mass dropped six feet. Seldovia's "boardwalk" was a thick wooden plank and piling, and the town's main street was built almost entirely along the waterfront. Most of the community's businesses, and many homes were similarly constructed upon pilings on either side of this "street". The sudden sinking of the land caused higher tides, peaking at 32 feet, to completely submerge the boardwalk and flood the homes and businesses along the waterfront. The waterfront was rebuilt (known at the time as "urban renewal") using fill from Cap's Hill, which was demolished to rebuild the town on higher ground. 


The flower here is the fireweed.  We've arrived in Kasilof today on the Kasilof River. We will try salmon fishing one more time...Our hosts have loaned Kenny waders and tell us that 50,000 sockeye salmon entered the river today. I got my salmon last year....hope he gets his tomorrow.




Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Back in Homer Alaska

Kenny and I arrived in Anchorage about 7:00 PM local time after a seven hour flight from Atlanta. We picked up our rental car and spent the night in a motel about a mile from the airport. We had some drinks and Chinese food, slept and hit the road for Homer on the Kenai Peninsula at 5:00 AM the next morning. On the way to Homer we visited the tiny village of Hope and watched people catching "humpies" in Resurrection Creek.


We checked in to the Ocean House Inn. It's probably my favourite place to spend some nights. The view from our room on a cliff is of Cook's Inlet and a wall of mountains and glaciers.


We booked two days of Halibut fishing. This year the rules are even more restricted. Your limit is two for the day and four Halibut for the year. In addition, one per day must be under 28 inches. All those rules are new. We limit out for the year in two days and are very thankful not to have booked and paid for three trips.The Halibut charters take two hours to drive out into Cook's inlet, two hours of fishing and two hours back. Captain Cook explored  these waters with his navigator and mapmaker, William Bligh, in 1778 on his third voyage of discovery. Bligh is the second greatest navigator of all time (next only to myself (blushes modestly))...


We have our fish flash frozen and vacuum packed in preparation for a Fed-Ex shipment back to the lower 48. Tomorrow we take a cruise over to Seldovia where we hope to catch some Sockeye, take a hike and eat some ice cream.


This is the first time Kenny and I have vacationed together since we spent a week touring Puerto Rico in 2005.


We went on the Spirit Sunday and the Jackpot Monday. We also hit the Nature center Monday morning I got some great picture there but managed to delete them. Maybe I'll go back. The Jackpot is the second vessel on the left.


These Halibut are all white side up....their eyes are on the other (dark) side....The trip reminds me of the resupply missions I used to fly out to the end of the Aleutian chain: Adak, Shemya and the Pribilof Islands...That was 50 years ago and far away...I was young then and full of life...

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Istanbul Protests


We end the day wandering along a back street in Istanbul where the real people live and only a few confused and lost tourists are ever seen. Walking is our main activity.


This abstract seems to be about whiling dervishes. We like it a lot. Maybe I'll blow it up and put it on the walls of the RV?

"Abstract art is a product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled, to the utterly bewildered". ~ Al Capone on Zen Twitter....



We set the alarm and hit the "Blue Mosque" at the scheduled opening time of 0830. The crowds move quickly.


Tourists cannot come into the mosque during prayer times.


After the Blue Mosque we went to see the Istanbul Archeological Museum.


Cat in a chair.


Cat in alley.



Another cat.


Ancient cat head. We saw one mummy box in the museum where the mummified priest had made mummy of his cat and placed it in the mummy box at his feet. What is the name of a mummy box? I don't need Google, Mrs. Phred knows everything....


This guy is really scary. He's about ten feet tall and holding something or someone upside down. There is no explanation near the state or on the audiotape. I think maybe his name is Baal. The museum is high tech.  You can use an iphone app where posted to get more information.


Part of the Code of Hammurabi is written on a tiny Babylonian Cuneiform tablet.  The original code has 282 laws involving divorce, inheritance, crooked judges and other matters.


Cat on a Roman pillar. They have too much stuff to put it all inside, so a lot of it is laying around  the yard.


Cat in the restaurant.


Cat with it's own house.


The GPS with the Turkey microchip comes in handy. We find another art gallery but it has been abandoned since our Frommer's was published.


Cat waiting for a train.


Fishing in the Bosporus from the Galata Bridge on a Saturday is a very popular activity. Lots of fishing. Not much catching..


The main street in Istanbul runs about two miles from Taksim Square to the funicular that takes you down to the Galata Bridge. The funicular is a short line underground. It's the third oldest subway after London and New York City.


The May Day protests here were violent. Today things seem peaceful but there are hundreds of riot cops ready to move if needed. It all seems very familiar to Mrs. Phred.  I ask her if she misses her gas mask and gas mask bag and shoulder strap...."Hell No, We Won't Go..."...