Not to be sarcastic or anything, but I’ll just leave this here.
Well we started this New Year by correcting an egregious crime. See, my gal, Moni, hadn’t been able to eat much on Thanksgiving. This didn’t stop her from making a great turkey dinner for myself and several of our friends. (Her first time cooking a turkey.) It just prevented her from enjoying it herself.
…which was an egregious crime!
We corrected that crime tonight. Moni made an even better turkey for New Year’s Eve dinner, and this time she got to eat her share of it. Afterwards, we went on down to the fireworks display for the town. That’s the thing about Barrow. Fireworks aren’t that cool here in July, so we do our fireworks on January 1st, right in the midst of polar midnight. This being the modern age, it didn’t happen without some electronic record of it, so both Moni and I froze our hands for the sake of ontology. It was worth, I think. I got some pictures and Moni caught the whole thing on video.
Presented for your enjoyment…
(Click to embiggen)
Happy New Year everybody!
So I recently vandalized a piece of artwork. I totally tagged a painting by Austin Parkhill.
Cause that’s just how I roll!
…and because he invited me to.
Austin was in Utqiaġvik awhile back to complete a mural for Iḷisaġvik College. The man used to work here, before moving down to Homer. He is definitely missed.
Even so, we totally tagged his painting!
Yes, we did.
BTW: You should definitely check out more of Austin’s work on his own website, right HERE.
I’m at the airport in Anchorage. The woman standing next to me is visibly irritated.
“Yes, I’m waiting here for the shuttle. Another gentleman is waiting too. There are three of us. We called half an hour ago and you ssid it would be 15 minutes. You told the other gentleman you’d be here any minute. It’s been 30. We’ve already called you twice and nothing’s happened. We’re just waiting…”
…a group of at least half a dozen people walk up and pushes between us just as the airport shuttle arrives and opens its door right in front of them.
“Oh, he’s here already. Boy are they fast”
I thought I’d share this little gem currently on display in the Anchorage Museum. It’s called “The End of Everything” by Thomas Chung. I’m sorry, the photo-quality is really crap. Just thought the content was worth sharing despite that. Anyway, here is what Chung has to say about it:
“The painting explores why we may, at times, dehumanize others. It reflects our current political times, which are brewing with hatred and conflict. The cowboy character riding the bomb represents the male American ideal, while the cherubs represent the many living forms of bigotry from the past and present. The graffiti on the polar bear comes from posters repeatedly disseminated around the University of Alakas Anchorage’s campus this year by white supremacists as part of a larger campaign.”
I have papers to grade. So, I guess summer is really over.
I was planning to take it easy this summer, but it didn’t exactly work out that way. A move across town took up a lot more time than Moni and I expected. Our trip to Valdez is still the highlight of the season for me, but I also made it down to Montana on a work-related trip and down again to Fairbanks to help put on the Motif Film Festival. When I wasn’t traveling or taking boxes upstairs, I was busy working on class materials and whatnot. Suffice to say, it was an interesting summer.
One of the most interesting things about this particular summer is just how long the sea ice seemed to remain intact, and how long much of it stuck around shore. It seems like this last winter got started late (snow didn’t start sticking here in Barrow until well into October), so I suppose it’s fitting in some sense that the remnants of that winter would linger a bit. It certainly made for some beautiful views. Few sites compare to the midnight sun shining down on an entire ocean served on the rocks, so to speak.
Yeah, people do swim in this stuff, usually just for a minute or two, just long enough to say they did it.
Other people do this.
(Click to embiggen.)
An ice bow, some sea ice, and an annoying little blue dot.
Sorry, for the poor quality of this video, and in particular for my very shaky hand.
Between her new job and our move into a new apartment, my girlfriend and I haven’t had much of a chance to to travel together this summer. We did manage to sneak out for a week or so in mid June. What we decided to do this time was a quick road trip from Anchorage to Valdez. Of course, getting to Anchorage required a little flying time, but that’s old hat. We had to make a couple purchases for the new place, so that meant staying a couple days in the vicinity of Anchorage, so we found a lovely bed and breakfast in Palmer. After that, we hit the road!
Not literally, of course. I ain’t got nothin’ against the highway.
Anyway, the trip was about a 5 hour drive, but we made plenty of stops. We traveled along the Matanuska river for quite some time, made a brief stop a bit south of Glenallen, then headed off toward Valdez. To say that we found a number of beautiful sites along the way would be putting it mildly.
Valdez itself was absolutely wonderful. I hit a couple museums (The Whitney Museum and the Valdez Museum & Historical Archive) and we hung out at the docks for a time. We ate at the Fat Mermaid a couple of times and made stops at Mike’s Palace and Fu Kung. …suffice to say that we were well fed. We also ran into the folks from Sweet Cheeks Bakery, run by the parents of a coworker, but we didn’t get back in time to get our cinnamon buns. Still, …all of Alaska is just one small village! You just can’t travel through this state without finding connections to the people you meet. Eventually, we bought tickets on a tour boat, which of course meant that I got sick (yes I took some meds), but mostly that was just amazing. I almost never opt for a paid tour, but I’m very glad I did this time.
On the last day as Moni and I were strolling around downtown getting ready to say goodbye to the place, a random guy came out of Mike’s Palace and asked us if we lived in the area. The answer was ‘no’, of course, and then he proceeded to tell us that he had lived here himself once, 30 years ago. I cringed inside as he launched into his efforts to tell me about the good old days. A few minutes later I felt a twinge of sadness as he left us with tales of bar fights between Okies and Texan (oil workers) spilling out of the Palace and onto the street. Apparently, the police had once been disarmed so as to enable the fight to continue. Additional stories involved a pair of Korean prostitutes who paid him extra for a pizza every night so as to have a place to stay. Just how much of this was true, I have no idea, but the stories were a good deal more entertaining than I had anticipated. I found myself wishing we’d run into him before lunch rather than after and on the verge of leaving. Still, a few more eagle pics and off we went.
Hell, even the shopping we did back in Anchorage before boarding the plane back home went well.
I wish every vacation was this cool.
(You may click to embiggen!)
Yes, there are still Blockbusters in Alaska, at least two of them as I understand it; one in Fairbanks and one In Anchorage. I haven’t seen the one in Fairbanks, but Moni and I visited the one on Anchorage a couple weeks back. The one pictured above was still operating in Wasilla when we passed through on our way to Talkeetna this last Spring. Sadly, it has since closed down. Almost a year ago, we stopped into another Blockbuster in Soldatna, but that one too seems to have closed down. So yes, the great Alaskan Blockbuster lives yet in the wilderness of this great state, but it is an endangered species to be sure.
Why have Blockbusters lasted this long here in America’s ‘last frontier’?
Well ironic frontier jargon aside, the issue really does have something to do with the rough edges of our state. Simply put, the internet has not fully replaced video rentals in much of Alaska. Many of us have data-caps, and net usage can be quite costly up here. This fact makes video rental a more attractive option, and along with the various rental kiosks, it enables a precious few blockbusters to do business here in Alaska. But times, they are a changing, and we’re now down to two.
It’s a funny thing when you walk into one of these stores. You can’t help but feel as though you’ve been transported back a decade or two. They look just like you may have remembered them, which is of course the impression store managers want to create. But seriously, what else were they gonna look like? You might find moose in the parking lot, but inside the store, it’s pretty much the same.They will even ask you to be kind…
(You may click to embiggen)
Many thanks to Moni for contributing the Soldatna pics.
So, today, my girl and I happen to be in Valdez. I decided to pop into a museum or three, and, …and well, Moni said something about me being a nerd and told me she was going to take a nap. Lot she knows! Moni totally missed learning about the North Pacific Fur Fish. It really is an amazing specimen. Just see what the Valdez Museum and Historical Archive has to say about it:
North Pacific Fur Fish
This fish is reported to have been a rare sight in the waters of Prince William Sound. Its fur coat is an adaptation to the frigid glacial waters of the area This is one of a few ever caught.
The Northern Pacific Fur Fish was a popular tourist attraction during the late 1950s and early 1960s. This original Fur fish hung for many years on the Valdez Gift Shop.
* New information just in suggests that the Fur Fish is still alive. It has gone through further adaptation since this specimen was caught. It is rumored that one caught recently was not fur covered, but was instead covered in Fore-Tex with a Thinsulate liner.
If you believe this story then you are in for a lot of laughs during your stay in Valdez.
Fur Fish donated by museum supporter Jim Thompson.
So, there it is. I learned about a really really rare breed of fish, and Moni doesn’t know anything about it, because she took a nap instead of going to the museum with me. She knows all about the Mojave Penguin, but she doesn’t know about this one, and I mean to keep it that way. So, shhhh! My dear readers, please don’t tell Moni. This fish will be our secret!
I Made a quick stop recently at the Alaska Veterans Museum on 4th Street in Anchorage. I’ve written about this place before, but of course they’ve changed a few things around. I’m continually amazed at the amount of material they manage to cram into such a small space. The whole facility is clearly a labor of love.
Anyway, this little throw pillow definitely caught my attention. I think we’ll just let it speak for itself.