August 25, 2006

The Glacier and a Whale

Today was a glorious day out at Exit Glacier. After weeks and weeks of rain, we're finally starting to get a smattering of nice days sprinkled into the mix.

I've been a total slacker lately with this thing, but I do have an excuse. In the last month I have almost completed writing my thesis and have applied for jobs at Zion National Park, Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site, Joshua Tree National Park, Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Channel Island National Park, Montezuma's Castle National Monument, and Heifer International.

Haven't heard a damn thing from any of them, yet, though. Patience is a virtue, right? But then, I've also heard that ignorance is bliss. So does that mean that the secret to happiness is becoming someone who is stupid and doesn't mind waiting around?

While you contemplate that, here's a video of Exit Glacier:

And, finally, although the Alaska Sealife Center has not officially released pictures of the whale that was impaled on the cruise ship that came into Seward last weekend, I have decided to include a picture of another whale whose guts Sonja got to play with. This one was a bit smaller, however.

And it's a smiley, happy whale, too.

August 04, 2006

Rain, Rain, Rain

It seems like it's been raining for weeks now. It just won't stop. Although, I shouldn't complain too loudly. At least we don't have to deal with one hundred degree temps. In fact, I've been wearing my fleece jacket for the past week due to the chill in the air. I don't think it's warmed up more than 60 degrees since last Friday.

So Mom is flying in as we speak. I'll be leaving for Anchorage momentarily. I'll try to post lots of pictures from her trip up here over the next couple of days. We've got some fun hikes and boat trips planned, so hopefully the weather will begin to cooperate.

August 01, 2006

August in Alaska

For Alaskans, the month of August means hiking, relief from mosquitoes, salmon runs, berries, and an end to the explosion of wildflowers that sprout up during July. Taking advantage of a rainless morning this weekend, Sonja and I took the dogs for a walk to enjoy one of the last peaks of the flower season along the Ptarmigan Lake Trail in the Chugach National Forest north of Seward. Here's a sample of some of the more unique flowers we encountered.

This is called Alpine Bog Swertia. According to the book I had, either it (or something very similar) is an introduced species. It wasn't clear exactly which was which, however, so I'll pretend that it was the other one. Cuz this flower is way cool.

Listed as "Single Delight", "Shy Maiden" or "Wax Flower", I'll let you decide which name you'd like it to be. It's a cool little flower that's only a couple inches tall. Sonja thinks it looks weird.

This one's my favorite...the Chocolate Lily. I stuck this in here even though we didn't see it on the Ptarmigan Lake Trail. Rather, this particular flower is actually growing about two miles up the Harding Icefield Trail. But it's so swell that I just had to include it. It's name apparently comes from the color of the flower and not because it smells like chocolate. That is, unless the chocolate you eat smells like ass.

Monkshood, Wolfsbane, Weird Purple Flower That Can Kill A Whale...whatever you want to call it, this flower is way neato. One of the most poisonous plants in North America, the neurotoxin in its roots and seeds is so potent that the native Alutiiq people of the Kenai Penninsula would use it on their harpoons to help them kill gray and humpback whales from a kayak, mixing the monkshood with human fat to give it more magical potency. They'd spear the whale near the base of its tail, which would become paralyzed by the poison, causing the whale to drown. They would then wait for the current to push the whale to shore where they could harvest it for their village. Early settlers in the western U.S. would also use it to poison carcasses in order to kill wolves, bears and eagles. Hence the name "Wolfsbane." That dark blob in the background is Harvey diving for rocks in Ptarmigan Creek.

So there are some cool Alaskan flowers for your Tuesday morning.