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

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.


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...