Thursday, October 29, 2009

Denali NP

Sand hill cranes fly in front of Denali as the fog rolls in.

A couple months ago, I heard about the Denali NP lottery and mentioned to Tim that it would be cool buy a slot. "Oh, yeah, I heard about that. It's too late to sign up this year" he told me. A few weeks later he emailed me the winners list-we where on it! So on Sept. 21 Tim, my grandfather, and I were up at 6:00am to drive the 90 or so mile park road into the pristine Alaskan wilderness with Denali looming over.

It was not far into our drive that I learned just how pristine this wilderness is kept! We had pulled over to the side of the road and I disappeared into the brush with my trash bag and toilet paper when a ranger pulled over. And watched me. No privacy here! Then followed me. "umm, mam, did you get it all?" he asked. "Are you sure?" I thought he was going to look in the bag! Jesus, I actually can't think of anything that we leave laying around that would be more natural!

So, quite embarrassed but laughing, I got back in the car and we headed off deeper into the park. Soon we turned a corner, and there she was, Denali looming ahead! We got lucky that day. By 11:00 am the mountains had fogged in and obscured the mountains, but before that we had about an hour and a half to enjoy the views. On the return drive we saw 8 bears, 3 caribou, 1 coyote, numerous mountain sheep including two nice rams close up, a moose, 4 golden eagles, and lots of snow shoe hares. That night it snowed about a foot.

Denali from Petersville

Denali from Eilson visitors center

Hiking above the clouds

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Desolation in the Sahara

Dunes stretch out as far as the eye can see in the Mauritanian Sahara.

Dust storm at the end of the road.

Self portrait in the Sahara

A camel dies in the desert.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


The Wilson's Warblers are migrating through again; I love watching them. These took about two hours sitting quietly with a tripod.

Wilson's Warbler, female

Wilson's Warbler, male


A Wilson's Warbler launching into flight

And coming in for a swift landing

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fall, Berries, and Hornets

It's August; and while most people in this hemisphere are sweltering in the heat, fall has come to Alaska, with a definite chill in the air and the days growing shorter. I saw the moon a few nights ago for the first time that I can remember in months. The berries are ripe and the bears are moving into the mountains to eat them, so I can begin feeding the birds again. I have been picking a few berries myself this year, for making liqueurs rather than for jams and jellies like last year. A great website for liqueur recipes is here. Currents are my favorite, and sometimes you have to suffer a bit to get them, like the other day when I stepped on a hornets nest.

Having finished picking, I climbed to the top of the steep hill for the view and was just starting to make my way down when I felt a sharp pain on my pinky finger. I raised my hand and watched in shock as the hornet sitting there continued to dig its stinger in me. Tim always tells me "don't swat at them or they'll sting you" so for a moment I did nothing, those words ringing in my ears (don't swat, don't swat, what should I do, oh no, don't swat). Suddenly it occurred to me that the little bastard already was stinging me, and it hurt! I swatted him off and it was only then that I noticed I was being stung in the arm and shoulder and leg and a small swarm was forming around me. With a girly scream I began running down the steep, slippery hill, falling face first, tripping, sliding on my heels, and sliding on my butt the whole way down. You probably never saw me get down a hill so fast! But, I manged to keep my berries the whole way down! At the bottom, I stopped to breathe a sigh of relief, having outran the swarm. It was about then that the hornets got in the last word-one that had been stuck under my pack finally made his way to the center of my back where he decided to give me a parting shot!

Yesterday I processed about half of the berries into a triple recipe of current liqueur. I sure will enjoy it once its ready!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bear food

Click to enlarge and check out his paw on the window!

We emptied the bird seed and rehung the feeder. This fat bear knows what a feeder is! He licked out the remaining residue. The feeder is in the garage now!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mauritania Fish Market

Sorry its been so long since my last update. Well, I have been doing what most Alaskans do during our short summers: frantically enjoying every minute of warm weather that I can!

Here are more photos from Mauritania. What a colorful country that was, with lots of new sights! Nothing was more colorful than the fish market near the capital, Nouakchott.

About 4:00 every evening the small, brightly painted, wooden fishing boats begin coming back to beach, loaded with fishermen, and hopefully, fish. After dragging the boats ashore, men in rain gear begin running back and forth with crates of fish balanced on their heads, dodging small boys along the way who jump up and try to snatch a fish or two from the overflowing baskets. The boys are not the only ones who try to get a meal to bring home; the runners themselves often try to hide a fish, or two, or three by stuffing it into the papers lining the bottom of the crates.

The beach itself is lined with a few thousand of the tiny, gailey painted boats. Muscular men and boys play in the surf without shirts, while women wade out fully clothed in long, flowing traditional dresses. Nearby is a small fish market; long covered benches piled high with the days catch are the focus of attention for hundreds of people shouting and bargaining. All around colorfully dressed people wander, work, shop, fish, and play.

Nouakchott fish market

Bringing a boat to beach

A man takes a quick break, leaning against a boat.

A woman watches over her families fish at the Nouakchott fish market

A truck loaded and headed for other markets

A fish runner

A man bringing home some fish from the beachside market

This little boy is in the midst of the fish market action, tied by his ankle to a pole by the red cloth you see in the right of the photo.

Men in the traditional long flowing blue robes.

Baskets of fish atop a car

Beach Side Fish Market

Playing games beside the beach

Friday, May 8, 2009

Morocco, Moving South

My first day in Morocco, eating a big fish plate in Casablanca.

Heading south along the coast I passed through El Jadida. It was here that I first began to notice that the men were. . . well, a little strange! I really wish I had taken a photo of P0rn Man!

An old underground cistern in El Jadida

Fishing boats in El Jadida

Colorful fish in the fish market of Essouiria

Moroccan Viagra in the market at Essouiria. Yeah, right, like they need that!

I am starting into the Southern Territories now, and beginning to feel as if I am reaching the ends of the earth.

A fishermans shack by the coast. The roof is held on with fishing nets.

Fish is served fried up whole, heads, eyes, and all.

The lady of the house serving up tea. I stayed with this family for two days after turning down P0rn mans offer.

A neighborhood to be in Layounne. The earth is all brown and dusty here.

Dahkla, the end of the road. To the East about 400 KM is Mauritania.

More brown, and old land mine signs, on the way to the Mauritanian border.

A fisherman serves up tea in his tiny tent by the beach. I am on my way back to Dahkla here, having hitchhiked a ride across the border.