Alaska

For my retirement celebration I went with long-friend Laura Zweigbaum on a cruise to Alaska. We set out from Vancouver, British Columbia on the Norwegian Jewel for 7 nights at sea followed by a 4 night land excursion.

Inside Passage

Laura Zweigbaum
First day out on the passage from Vancouver to Ketchikan

We left Vancouver late in the day – the weather was very rainy and a bit on the dreary side. The next day was sent at sea crossing Queen Charlotte Sound before making our way into the inside passage and our first stop in Ketchikan. While overcast, it was not very rainy and our hopes improved for better weather for our first port.

Inside Passage of Alaska

Ketchikan

Ketchikan is a harbor town on Reviillagigedo Inland – it can only be reached by air or water as there are no bridges to the mainland. The area is in a rain forrest that gets over 150 inches of rain a year with a record of just over 200 inches. They count on all this rain it seems and after 5 days with no rain they officially declare a drought and their water supplies start drying up!

We spent time walking around downtown and had two excursions.

Saxman Village

Taken at Saxman Village near Ketchikan

The first was a tour to nearby Saxman Village. In the late 1800s, Tlingits from the old villages of Cape Fox and Tongass searched out the Saxman site as a place where they could build a school and a church. The site (just one square mile) was incorporated in 1929 and has a population of just over 400 today, mostly Native Alaskans.

The tour included a visit to their lodge decorated with totem carvings where the villagers performed some traditional dances and we learned about their people and history; viewing and learning about the many totem poles in their collection; and observing some carvers in action.

Eddie does his best in a native dance in the lodge!

After the tour we headed back to Ketchikan and had an early lunch of Dungeness crab at Annabelle’s on Front Street. Very tasty!

Duck Boat Tour

After lunch we headed back to the dock, doing some shopping along the way and then boarding our afternoon excursion on the Ketchikan Duck Boat tour. The duck boat is an amphibious tour bus. We started with a tour of town by land and then headed to the harbor to take the plunge! Once wet we toured the harbor. Our capable tour guide (who was a drama major at school) kept us entertained and informed!

We visit the harbor in Ketchikan on the Duck Boat Tour

After the tour we spent some time visiting the shops on the waterfront. Ketchikan is unique as the first couple of streets closest to the water were actually built on piers!

A restaurant on the Ketchikan waterfront

The only downside to the day was I accidentally deleted some of the pictures from the earlier part of the day. We enjoyed a 80’s disco theater presentation that evening as the ship headed north for our next stop.

Inside Passage to Juneau

The next morning found us working our way up the inside passage to Juneau. This was the longest passage between ports and there were opportunities to observe some of the activity that morning before docking.

Juneau

We arrived in Juneau before lunch with moderate temperatures and dry if not overcast skies. Our only excursion for the day was whale watching.

Whale Watching Tour

Whale Watching in Stephens Passage near Juneau Alaska

Our excursion was with Allen Marine Tours located about 10 miles north in Auke Bay were the ferry terminal was located. The tour was on a large three deck catamaran that allowed for good viewing. We headed out Into Stephens Passage and it wasn’t long before we spotted humpback whales.

We spent several hours a spotted many whales – many of them mother and calf that made the long trek from their birthing grounds near Hawaii to feed in the rich waters of Alaska in the summertime.

It is thought they give birth outside of the Alaska waters to avoid the deadly Orca whales which are known to prey on newborn humpbacks. We did not see any Orcas on the trip as it was too early to spot them in the inside passage.

A highlight was seeing a bald eagle perched on a large navigation buoy together with several Stellar sea lions. I learned the sea lion population has been on a severe decline in the last twenty years perhaps due to an overfishing of their main food source pollock. At one point there was some excitement as a male sea lion unsuccessfully tired to get a spot on the buoy as shown above.

Laura chows down at Tracy’s King Crab Shack in Juneau

After we returned from our Whale Watching excursion we toured Juneau’s tourist area and stopped by Tracy’s King Crab Shack for a very tasty king crab leg. Without a doubt the best meal of the trip!

We skipped dinner on board that evening but caught a good show that evening featuring acrobatics and some interesting light shows.

Haines

The next stop on our journey was supposed to be Skagway where we had booked two excursions. I woke up early the next morning to discover we were stopped outside of Skagway. We learned shortly that there was an issue with contamination of our berthing spot with spilled jet fuel. Instead we were to dock at the town of Haines slightly south of Skagway. This also meant that our excursions were cancelled which was perhaps a bigger disappointment.

Chilkoot Inlet looking south from Haines

Haines was much less touristy than our previous ports of call and set in a stunning location in Chilkoot Inlet. We toured the town by foot in the late morning and spent the afternoon back any the ship relaxing and enjoying the view.

The area around present-day Haines was called Dtehshuh or “end of the trail” by the Chilkat group of Tlingit. The area became more important in the 1800’s as a trading post and an army base was established in the early 1900’s. After the army post was disbanded a local group of veterans bought the barracks.

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay National Park

We departed late that evening and found ourselves early the next morning entering Glacier Bay National Park. We woke to the best weather of the trip so far – albeit a bit chilly – there was not a cloud in the sky.

Glacier Bay National Park

We started up Sitakaday Narrows and as I started drinking my first cup of coffee I happened to be looking at the right spot on the port side of the ship to see a humpback whale breach! Shortly after that a group of park rangers from the visitors center near Point Gustavus came aboard. They boarded ‘on-the-move’ from a small tender that came along side as we headed north up the bay.

Glacier Bay National Park

We took our time heading slowly north. The park rangers would come on PA system and tell us more about the bay and what we we seeing at the different locations. I was amazed at the incredible blue skies and brilliant white capped mountains.

Tarr Inlet

We worked our way north to Tarr Inlet. Our destination were the two tidewater glaciers at the top of the inlet. A tidewater glacier is one whose terminus encounters seawater at least at high tide, if not at all tide levels. The Grand Pacific Glacier was the wider of the two straight to the north. The Margerie Glacier came in from the west on the left side of the ship. The two were strikingly different.

The cruise ship spend several hours slowing circling the glaciers at the top of Tarr inlet.

The Margerie Glacier was a brilliant blue-white. Rising 250 feet from the water with an additional 100 feet underwater you could not see. The overall width of the glacier is about 1 mile. We watched as large chunks would periodically fall off the face (glacier calving) and land in the water below. It was hard to gauge how large the chucks were but I would guess 30-50 foot high.

Grand Pacific Glacier

The Grand Pacific Glacier by contrast was as dark as the soil of the mountains themselves. This is from landslides and other geological activities that have occurred over time. It is about 2 miles wide at the terminus, averaging about 150 feet high at the ice face, up to 60 feet deep at the waterline.

Cruising Glacier Bay

Park Rangers head home after spending several hours on the cruise ship narrating the trip and answering questions.

The weather was fantastic the whole time we were cruising up and back throughout the morning and into the afternoon. It was so calm and the sky was brilliant blue without a trace of haze. I got fantastic mirror reflection shots and magnificent panoramas. As we got nearer to the entrance to the park the rangers boat appeared to gather their crew and head home for the day.

Sailboat crosses Sitakaday Narrows in Glacier Bay

We saw marine life through out the trip – Steller Sea lions, otters and many different species of birds. It was on the cool side but as the morning progressed it warmed up nicely. A day to always remember!

We spent the rest of the day making our way through the Icy Striating and Cross Sound to emerge back in the Pacific Ocean in the Gulf of Alaska.

Yakutat Bay and Hubbard Glacier

We arrived in Yakutat Bay early the next morning. About 150 miles up the coast from the exit of the interior passage, it lies in the Gulf of Alaska and is home to the largest tidewater glacier in North America – the Hubbard Glacier.

Hubbard Glacier – the longest tidewater glacier in North America

As we enter the bay we start to see ice floating in the water. As we get closer to the glacier the scene becomes surreal – hard to tell water is water and what is ice. Again the sheer size of everything makes it hard to really appreciate how big it is.

Laura and I at the Hubbard Glacier

It is 76 miles long,7 miles wide, and 600 feet tall at its terminal face (350 feet exposed above the waterline and 250 feet below the waterline). Ships are warned to stay back a safe distance as the ice calves blocks of ice the size of skyscrapers. Since much of it is underwater they can cause some serious action when they move.

We spent the morning observing the glacier and slowly made our way back to the Gulf of Alaska to make the crossing to Seward. By afternoon it was very overcast and rainy. Later in the afternoon we encountered a fairly large swell – enough to cause to boat to shift and rock a bit. I kept my eyes out for wildlife and did see some whales, dolphins and other marine animals including birds.

That evening was the finale from our acrobatic singers and dancers followed by an appearance from a lot of the crew including the captain.

Kenai Peninsula and Denali

I awoke the next morning to find us docked in Seward. This would be the end of the cruise and the start of our land tour to Denali with several stops along the way.

Seward

After loading up our coach, we drove a short distance to the town of Seward. Seward is an ice free harbor and plays an essential role in the distribution of goods throughout Alaska. The original dog sled runs of mail and goods in the Winter months originated from Seward to points north on what is known as the Iditarod Trail.

Seward Alaska

Alaska SeaLife Center

The Center combines a public aquarium with marine research, education, and wildlife response.
A Puffin at the seabird exhibit.

We visited the Alaska SeaLife Center with the time we had in Seward. There were many exhibits and areas that we used to study and observe marine life including Steller Sea lions, otters, marine birds and fish of all kinds. While primarily dedicated to marine research and education, the Center is the only permanent marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation facility in the state. 

Researchers use ultrasound to measure fat content of the sea lions.

We observed as several researchers carefully measured the fat content of Steller Sea lions. The sea lions seems to be very happy to lie there and have the measurements made as long was a steady supply of fish nuggets were ready from the pail in the foreground!

It was back in the bus around lunch time and time to head north to our first overnight stop in Girdwood. We got to know our tour director Lisa and driver Mike a bit more. Lisa told us many stories about the areas we drove through and life in Alaska. She talked a lot about her personal experiences as a long term resident which was a nice touch.

Kenai Penninsula on the way from Seward to Anchorage

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

We stopped here in the afternoon after several hours of driving. The center is at the end of Turnagain Arm – a long tidal basin south of Anchorage. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a sanctuary dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, research, education and quality animal care. AWCC takes in injured and orphaned animals.

Alyeska Resort

View from Alyeska Ski Area looking south to the Turnaround Arm tidal basin
Alyeska ski resort in Girdwood near Anchorage.

We stopped that evening at the Alyeska Ski Resort in the town of Girdwood southeast of Anchorage for the evening. This is a beautiful resort and had the nicest accommodations of any stop on the trip. We headed to town for diner before heading back and up the tram to the top of the mountain.

The view shows the tidal basin that runs south of Anchorage called Turnaround Arm. This area got its name in the elusive search for the Northwest passage. Periodically a tidal bore wave appears when conditions are right and surfers flock to ride the never ending wave.

I finally got a good hot tub soak at the ski resort! After a good night sleep and a leisurely breakfast we loaded up again the next morning for the final leg to Denali.

In Anchorage we went through Lake Hood Seaplane base – home to over 700 seaplanes which are so important for getting around in Alaska. From there we headed to the town of Wasilla to get some lunch and then made our first stop to see a Iditarod dog kennel.

Happy Trails Kennels

This kennel is owned by four-time Iditarod Champion Martin Buser and has been in operation since 1982. As I learned over the time we spent on our land tour – the Iditarod is a very big deal in Alaska and taken very seriously. Martin was no exception and his enthusiasm for the sport – and mainly the dogs – was touching for sure for this dog lover!

We got to meet the dogs and watch Martin exercise them using an ATV. And no – the dogs are not pulling the ATV! They use this technique as well as open runs to exercise the dogs when snow is not on the ground. It was noted that the dogs need at least 2 hours of hard exercise during the summer months to stay in shape.

In the summer time the musher’s use ATVs to exercise the dogs. They can’t wait to get going!
Laura holds a young musher popper at the kennels

At the end of the tour they brought in a litter of puppies only a couple of weeks old. Their eyes had just opened and they we still getting used to be alive much less man-handled by a bunch of tourists. But this two is good for the dogs to get them used to being handled and around people. I was taken at how friendly and loving these dogs were. It was no surprise however when you saw how devoted these handlers were to their dogs and the stories of how much they sacrifice to do what they so passionately care about.

At the end our tour guide Lisa got a picture of the group.

Our tour group at the Happy Trails Kennels

After that we loaded back up and headed north to our lodge for the next two nights. We stayed at the Denali Village Lodge near the park entrance. It was a nice resort with a picturesque main lodge, very expensive dining (like pretty much everywhere else) and a lot of places to rid yourself of cumbersome wads of cash 💰.

Even though it was around dinner time we still had about 6 hours of daylight left. Time for our next excursion!

Yanert Glacier by Helicopter

It was noted how we did not get to do our planned excursion in Skagway. So we opted instead to take a helicopter ride to a nearby glacier! The plan was to ride about 25 minutes out and land on the very large Yanert Glacier just east of Denali National Park.

We flew with TEMSCO. After putting some glacier boots on we loaded up with our pilot and one other passenger and headed easterly to the mountain range which held the glacier. The ride initially was over wooded areas before accessing the more monitions areas. We eventually landed and surveyed the alien landscape.

Helicopter ride to the Yanert Glacier

We saw some wildlife on the ride including Caribou and Dall sheep. We saw a beaver damn creating a high altitude lake. Eventually the terrain changed and we were in the heart of the mountain range. the views were breathtaking. Eventually we landed on the ice near a blue-white pool of water and got out for a look around.

The landscape reminded me of something I would have seen in a science fiction movie. Rivers of water carving channels in the ice only to plunge into a hole not to be see again. Bridges of ice that are prone to collapse if you walk on them. What an incredible experience it was.

The Yanert Glacier

After 15 minutes or so we got back in for the Long ride down the glacier. At one point there was no more ice and just a large flat river bed with meandering streams now that the main snow melt is over.

The whole trip was ever in the blink of an eye but the memories will hopefully remain for a while longer 😊. We got back to the lodge around 9:30 PM in time for a late dinner.

Denali National Park Tour

The next morning was an early one. We met at the lodge and packed on to a modified school bus that would take us on a 53 mile trek into the park. We picked up some other passengers at another resort and headed into the park. Our guide was also our bus driver and seemed to have a head full of knowledge about the park. He urged us to look for wildlife and call it out so we could stop and observe. He had a camera hooked up to TV monitors in the bus – a recreation of the days when the guide would setup spotting scopes to let their passengers get a good look. And yes – you could buy a copy of the video feed!

At several points along the route we had the opportunity to see the mountain.

Looking south to Denali mountain. North peak to the right at 19,470 ; Denali peak to the left at 20,310.

Denali means ‘the great one’ in the local tongue. For many years the mountain itself was called Mt McKinley after our 25th president William McKinley. This was a gesture at the time to get his support for the area and in fact he never once even visited Alaska. Eventually the park was named Denali and then as soon as 2015 the name was finally changed officially back to Denali (over the objections of McKinley’s home state of Ohio).

Two white Grizzly Bears forage for food in Denali National park

We got our moneys worth and more with. double helping of great water (just like in Glacier Bay) and wildlife. Before we we barely in the park we saw a cow Moose with a 2 week old calf foraging around the building areas. Along the way we saw many Dall sheep, several groups of Caribou, and at the end two Snow White Grizzly Bears foraging the dried river banks for their favorite foods after a long winter’s hibernation.

The ride took us over some spectacular scenery. At one point named Poloychrome trail the road became very steep with shear rocky sides. Several of the passengers were having a obvious problem but were troopers and hung on tight. We made several stops to get photo ops and a chance to stretch our legs and look around. Even the box lunch we got was pretty good!

We finally reached our goal at mile 53 – the Tolkat River and visitor’s center. At this point we starched out legs for a while and then piled back in and went the same way out! As we neared a river we passed earlier we got reports of a sighting of two Grizzly bears nest one of the ranger’s cabins. Of the big five (Moose, Caribou, Bear, Sheep and Wolves) we scored 4 out of 5!

We got back to the lodge late in the afternoon. That evening we took in the ‘Cabin Evening’ – a dinner served by singing waiters who told the stories of the early days in Alaska. Fun was had by all. That evening I woke up around 1PM and actually confirmed it did eventually get dark outside. My next check at 4:30AM showed it to be mid morning already! Wild.

Train Ride South

We had a late start the next day and boarded the train around 12:30PM for the 4 hour trip to Talkeetna. We boarded at the Denali Park Headquarters and out tour bus followed us to p[ick us up at out destination.

View from the train headed south of the Matanuska River and the Alaska Range in the background.
Our trip car for the ride from Denali to Talkeetna

We have lunch on the way down – very nice and super nice scenery as we ate. Before long we had arrived at our distentions and got back on the bus for a several hour ride to Anchorage. We were headed for the Hilton for several hours of rest before heading to the airport to catch the redeye back home.

Our tour group at the end of a long journey that started in Vancouver 11 days earlier!

Vacation 2017

Scaly Mountian North Carolina & The Appalachian Mountains

Jake and I spent a week at Dave & Lisa’s cabin at Scaly Mountain in North Carolina. At the end of the trip, we drove to see my grandparent’s old house in Gate City VA.

Highlights and impressions!

Best Weiner Schnitzel west of Vienna at Wolfgang’s in Highlands (I first ate here about 20 years ago – still a fixture in the Highlands).

Rain all day Monday – Laura brought it with her when she came 😉 charged the waterfalls and made for two great hikes to see them.

Jake loves to hike – does great on the trails!

Almost got lost on the trail on the way out on the second hike! Jake assured me everything would be just fine.

Asheville NC reminded me of a smaller version of Atlanta complete with bad traffic and a snarled up downtown. However – everyone I saw looked like an ad for REI! It does, however, boast to be the most friendly dog city in the South (or some such).

Beautiful drive to Gate City from the cabin. This must have been a similar route we traveled in the 60s but with no interstates. Gorgeous scenery!

Gate City and surrounding area seemed about the same as I remembered 50+ years ago except the cars were newer :-0

Summer break

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. It has been a busy Summer and I am back home for a while which feels good.

Serenity

At the beginning of Summer I bought my first boat – a kayak that I have named Serenity.

My first boat!
Serenity – a 11 1/2 foot Ocean Kayak – my first boat!

I grew up here in Florida on boats that belonged to the family or my friends but I never truly had a boat that was mine. As a kid we would spend hours (seemed like days) in our boats exploring the waterways of the natural and man-made islands in the Indian River lagoon. As I got older I learned to waterski and spent many a morning before school skiing after my paper route.

So far I have been out a couple of times in my old home town of Cocoa Beach – in the places I used to spend days when I was a kid – in the ocean right up the road from me where I am now living, and a number of times in Panama City when visiting my family.

AA 80th Annual International Convention

Over the July 4th weekend I traveled back to Atlanta to attend the 80th International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The 80th International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous was held in my old stomping ground of Atlanta this Summer.
The 80th International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous was held in my old stomping ground of Atlanta this Summer.

I went and stayed with my friend Mike. The convention was attended by over 57,000 people from all over the world. I met many of my friends from Atlanta, here in Florida and others I have met along the way in my own journey of recovery. I also made many new friends from all over the world. Happy, joyous and free indeed!

Diving

I rekindled an early love of SCUBA diving and underwater photography this Summer. I learned to dive growing up here while attending Brevard Community College  (now called Eastern Florida State College) in 1974. I have done a lot of diving and have done it consistently since then although I tapered back over the past 15 years being distracted elsewhere.

Underwater Camera Upgrade

Eddie with Nikonos V amphibious camera
Eddie with Nikonos V amphibious camera

I bought (and still own) my first underwater camera while going to college in California. It is a Nikonos II which was one of the very early amphibious cameras made by Nikon. While living in Europe I upgraded to a Nikonos V which was with out a doubt the most popular underwater camera ever made. I sunk thousands into these rigs only to have them made obsolete with the coming of digital cameras.

Eddie with Nikonos V amphibious camera
Eddie with Nikonos V amphibious camera

In my humble opinion there is still no amphibious digital camera that lives up to the quality and versatility of the Nikonos series cameras and (most importantly) lenses. However, there are a lot of great housing that work with very good digital cameras. I am also glad I waited until the advent of the mirrorless digital camera systems which are substantially smaller and very high quality as compared to the very popular DSLR.

Olympus OM-D E-5 Camera with Sea & sea YS-D1 Strobe
Olympus OM-D E-5 Camera with Sea & sea YS-D1 Strobe

I had been looking at the Olympus OM-D series mirrorless cameras for a while now and when they upgraded the E-5 to the E-5 Mark II there were some great deals on the E-5 with the Olympus housing. At the same time I had to upgrade my underwater strobe to take advantage of the fiber optic based triggering so I purchased a Sea & Sea YS-D1 to replace my old Ikelight Ai-n strobe. It’s a fraction of the size of my old strobe, very easy to setup and works really well. I have made 6 dives with the rig so far and slowly getting the hang of shooting with it.

West Palm Beach – June

My first local dive trip after moving back to Florida. I went out with the dive charter ‘Narcosis’ out of Riviera Beach. It was also my first mixed air dive after getting certified in late May. Finally, it was also the first dive on my new camera rig. I didn’t quite have my camera settings right but I did manage to get some good shots. We dove in the morning on two spots – Breakers and Bath & Tennis. Both names are from landmarks on West Palm Beach where the dives are located. I missed the first reef since I was not paying attention messing around with the camera. I did come across a turtle on the first dive. the second dive was my best so far this Summer where there were ton’s of fish and pretty nice reefs.

Panama City Beach – August

I dove in Panama City while visiting my Mom for my birthday. I went out with Panama City Diving dive charter on the ‘Steel Slinger.’ I had dove Panama City in the 1990s and remembered it as a pretty bad couple of dive with almost no visibility. This experience was much better. We dove on two wrecks about 12 miles offshore – the Chippewa and a wreck on what’s knows as Mac’s Reef. Both were in about 100 feet of water. The visibility on the second dive was a bit better than the first – maybe 40 feet. There were huge schools of fish on both wrecks. On the second wreck I saw my first Goliath Grouper.

West Palm Beach – August

My last dive was back at West Palm Beach – this time with Paul Walker’s dive charter on the boat ‘The Wetter The Better.’ Unfortunately, there was an upwelling of cold water the day I dove which plummeted the water temperatures into the low 70s and reduced the visibility to between 10 to 20 feet. We dove on Shark Canyon for the first dive and the wreck Danny on the second. I missed the first reef (again) but managed to find a couple of good spots where there were fish and some other marine life. The second dive was a bust visibility wish but the wreck had maybe a half dozen Goliath Grouper living on it. I got some decent – and rather eerie – video of the grouper on the wreck.

Woodworking

I started back into my woodworking in the Spring and have completed a number of new projects. The first was a restart of a project I started some 3 or 4 years ago while still living in Atlanta. I was coming off a major project and had a lot of milled hardwoods of various types on hand. I glued up a bunch of them with the idea of building a large jewelry box as a gift. One thing led to another and the project got put on hold for a while. One of the glued up boards was even used as a cutting board for a period of time!

I restarted the project to make a nice big box for myself with lots of room for small personal items I have collected over the years in addition to the couple of pieces of jewelry I still own.  I wanted to use dovetail joints on the construction so to get started I out making a simple oak box using my dovetail jig for practice. I quickly realized that it was not going to work on the jewelry box so I starting constructing i t using standard reinforced mitred corners.

At the same time I was given a fabric painting of an African drummer by my nephew Carl who has been living in Ghana working with the peace Corps the past two years (he is coming home next month). I started making a frame for it and wanted to try my hand at some simply inlay work. I extended that to the oak box I was building to add an interesting detail to it’s design.

Finally, my old friend Rik Thwaties had long ago given me a slate carving with the word Valhalla on it. I used it when I build my house in Colorado in the 90s but kept it when I moved twenty years ago. I finally made a simple wooden mount for it. So all in all I was working on four projects are the same time. Here are some pictures:

Panama City

I made a couple of trips – one in July and one in August – to stay with Mom in Panama City. My brother Dave and his wife Lisa have been taking care of her for the past year and needed a break while they did some Summer traveling.

Brother Dave's house and boat from the water
Brother Dave’s house and boat from the water

My brother Dave lives on a bayou that leads to St Andrew Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. He has always been a boater and now owns a small motor boat. I took it out several times on both trips and explored the bay and even went into the Gulf once. It was especially nice taking it out early in the morning when the wind was still calm and getting up on a plane in the calm waters.

 

 

 

For the trip in august I took Serenity and launched it from Dave’s dock to explore the bayou. I managed to get out 10 times in the two weeks I was there! The highlight was getting close to a very large container ship that was leaving the dock from the cardboard plant across the bayou from Dave’s house.

My 60th Birthday

From my good friend Margaret on my birthday.
From my good friend Margaret on my birthday.

Eddie Nose
A picture of me a long time ago, far, far away when I was living in Germany.

Finally, I turned 60 in early August while visiting my Mom. I am happy to report that I survived the episode intact and am now no longer a middle-aged idiot but instead a supremely serene senior (well – on a good day). Thanks to all that wished me a happy birthday on Facebook or with your cards. Especially a couple of wonderful friends that posted these shots.

Steamboat – February 2015

I am grateful that I was able to go to Steamboat Springs and Steamboat ski resort this year! I went with Myhra Tubridy and the NASA ski club. We spent 7 days at the Boat with 5 incredible days of skiing. After the driest January in history, it started to snow on the bus ride from the airport. It kept skiing through mid-week and the last two days were sunny and warm. The snow was perfect and I got many fresh tracks and freshly groomed cruizers. Other highlight including spending time with Myhra (my brother Rick’s wife), a trip to Strawberry Park – a natural hot springs in the woods outside of Steamboat Springs – and a western BBQ dinner & dance at Thunderhead Lodge at the top of the Gondola. I used to ski Steamboat regularly when I lived in Colorado in the 1990s – it was good to be back after 14 years!

Cruise to the Edge

I made reservations with my good friends Robin and Laura to ‘Cruise to the Edge‘ this November. We will leave out of Miami on a four night cruise listening to old and new progressive rock bands featuring my all-time favorite Yes.

I last saw them just last summer with Robin in Orlando. It’s a shame that lead singer Jon Anderson has left the band but the singer that they replaced him with Jon Davidson does a a great job as well as having the same first name!

 

Christmas Trip

2013 – The End (of the year)

I spent last Christmas in Idaho. The highlight was two days of skiing at Brundage Mountain — my first time back on the sticks in nearly thirteen years.

Like they say – it’s like riding a bicycle. Within an hour or two I felt the old rhythm coming back. I have to say that the equipment – particularly the skis – have changed. Instead of 210 cm it was more like 160 – 170 cm and at least twice as wide. It was weird at first – being on such short skis. But after a while I really appreciated how much easier they are to turn and how well the absorb vibration.

I stayed at Bear Creek Lodge just outside of McCall. You could see the ski mountain from the lodge. It was a very nice lodge and I enjoyed talking with the guy that owned the place.

It was an interesting end to 2013. I can tell you that it will not be another 13 years before I ski again though!

You can view a full HD version on my YouTube channel.