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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Night time company

 Lucky dogs, Lucky Kid.  Doggie Love Pillow.

At night Stuey is a little afraid of the dark and does not like to sleep alone.  The dogs keep him company, and he fears no evil.  Those dogs will not let anything get to him, and so assured he sleeps like a 'dog', er rather log.

I wish I was so lucky!

Friday, February 24, 2017

More Dogs Skiing

When you ski up the Upper Buskin Canyon to the 'waterfall' there is one tight spot where the canyon gets very narrow and there is a deep pool that generally stays open.  If I fall in, and I have quite a few times, that is the spot where it happens.  The last few days there has been a narrow shelf stuck along one edge of the pool, but every day it has been getting icier and icier and more and more sketchy.

Yesterday, on the way home from the waterfall Tank decided he'd had enough of the shelf.  Uh uhn, No way.  Tankie balked and refused to do the shelf.  He started to do the high pitched, repeated whine, 'eungghhh, enggghh', and scrambled back and forth on the other side of the pool.  It was pretty funny and after a bit I pulled out the camera and made a video. 

Needless to say, but Tankie takes an unexpected swim, and as you will see if you watch the video so does Brewster.  The link is below.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Goats in the canyon

Sheba's smells the goats! And if you look carefully at the upper right corner you can see them

Yesterday when I went skiing with the dogs we got to the waterfall and they were all acting very agitated - sniffing and looking around.  I looked up above the waterfall and there was a nanny goat and kid slowly climbing up the cliff.  They looked like they were climbing slowly, but I was amazed at how far they had moved by the time I got my camera out.  The doggies never spotted the goats either.  I suspect they would have spotted the goats if the goats had bolted up the steep slope.  Instead their slow retreat created less movement for the doggies to key in on.

Not that I was terribly worried about the doggies chasing the goats.  That was one steep slope!  Patrick

When I first spotted the goats when they were only half way up the slope and seemed VERY VERY close

Skylined Nanny and Kid

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


On President's Day I took the dogs on the daily ski.  I did not have work and so I went skiing a little earlier than usual.  When I got up to the Upper Buskin Canyon I found that the angle was such that the sun was shining down to the bottom of the canyon.  Generally the high walls keep the bottom of the canyon in shadow.

I was struck by the how the open patches of water on the canyon bottom reflected the sunlit walls high above.  The reflections has a golden glow that I just could not capture in my photographs.  I also had a hard time with the bright sunlight and shadows.  It was hard to get everything exposed correctly.

Needless to say, but my photos do not do the canyon justice.  It is stunning up there!


Monday, February 20, 2017

Family Outing

Where on Saturday it was only Nora, Stuey, Brewster and I on our Upper Buskin ski trek, today the whole family made the trip - Nora, Stuey, Brewster, Tank, Sheba and Patrick (dad).  The whole pack was present.

Of course it was pretty much impossible to get a picture with everyone in it.  Put Nora and Stuey next to each other and there is good chance they squabble.  And all the dogs were here there and everywhere.  But it was a family outing, and I could look around and see everybody on the trail all at once.  A Sunday morning ski in the sunshine.

We skiied to the river and did a different loop than we did on Saturday.  Stuey got to make a new trail and we all followed in his tracks.  Stuey had me promise that I'd use his trail later in the week during my daily ski.

Back in the car we were driving along when Nora said in a low shush type voice, 'daddy look back - none of the dogs are standing up'.  And indeed I looked back in the rear view mirror and all the dogs were lying down and trying to nap.  A well-exercised and happy pack.

We stopped at McDonalds for a well earned lunch and the lady at the drive through window included dog treats with our food.  Dogs happy, people happy.  Family happy.  Patrick

Nora's Science Fair project has to do with various types of wood - here she poses with cottonwood trees

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A ski trek to the River

Skiing the old military road to the river

My favorite area to cross country ski has always been in the woods and along the creeks in the area above Buskin Lake - the so called 'Upper Buskin'.  And I have always envisioned the day I could take the kids there to go skiing.  It has been my dream.

About three years ago the kids were getting pretty good on their skis and were almost ready to graduate from skiing at the golf course, on lakes, or at Swampy Acres.  And then we had 3 straight years of warm winter weather.  Sometimes we'd get enough snow to ski on the golf course but that was about it.  I was getting worried that the kids would give up on cross country skiing all together, and that all that time spent as a 'ski nanny' during their formative years would be wasted.

And then this winter happened.  A real winter with snow and cold and frozen lakes!  No garden vegetables all winter long, or crocuses in February.  Earlier in the winter I did take the kids to the golf course a few times, and I think they were getting bored of it.  It was time to graduate to some serious exploring on skis.  It was time for the Upper Buskin.

Yesterday it happened.  I learned that Stuey likes to make his own trail and that Nora likes the set track with me in front and between her and Stuey.  I also learned that they both like hills and the little 'challenges' we'd find on the trail - the stream crossings, 'low bridges' where we'd have to climb under a limb, the steep little pitches with a turn at the bottom.  All the stuff we did not find at the golf course or on the flat surface of a frozen lake.  We had moved up in the country skiing world.  And my dream had come true.  I guess the next plateau is that they go on there own without a 'ski nanny' - the dream lives on.

Today we went skiing again (another post to follow), and at the end of the ski Stuey asked, 'Daddy after school tomorrow can we go skiing again?' Yes Stuey I'll try and make that happen.  Patrick

Ah the river at last!

Skiing up the river - pretty good conditions

Daddy left the water bottle in the car - so Stuey had to make due with the USCG water supply

Stuey engages in risky behavior

Homeward bound there is a flowing river beneath the snow

Shadows on the snow - we leave the river

Plantlore in the sunshine

Snacks on the cliffs below our house

Friday the kids had no school and I had to work. Uh Oh. But as it turned out no problem - I took my kids to work!  It actually worked out perfectly because for 'work' I had to take some photos for an Alutiiq plantlore book the museum is helping to publish. So I took the kids and Nora's friend Emmy with me when I met with Gayla to get some plant photos.

What a beautiful day to be outside!  We met up at Mill Bay beach because we needed some seaweed photos.  The kids learned about how bull kelp was used for rope.  They had tug of wars with the kelp line and learned that it is indeed strong stuff.

Next we checked out the spruce tree trunks and found lumps of dried spruce sap.  Yum Gum.  Chew it and turns to spruce gum.  Stuey was a real trooper chewing the pitch until it got past the yicky crumbly phase and turned to gum.  Then he liked it so much he was wondering if we could 'collect a bunch of it and sell it'.

Later at Fort Abercrombie we checked out a few more winter plants and I was again impressed with Stuey and his desire to try anything.  The two of us chewed on a local wintergreen plant that we found growing beneath the snow.  I thought it tasted just like the wintergreen I used to chew in my youth out east in Maine.  Gayla and Stuey found it bitter.

It's not often that work and kid entertainment intersect.  But it certainly is a banner day when it does.  Next week we'll be taking inside pictures of plants in the kitchen, and the kids want to come along.  I'm thinking of scheduling the photo shoot for when the kids are out of school.  Patrick

Popweed - this stuff was good and Gayla told me about a recipe for dried snacks that I want to try

Spruce Gum - Yum

Yuck!  That's Stuey showing how the crumbly sap does indeed turn to gum

A local variety of wintergreen that we found beneath the snow

Friday, February 17, 2017

Buskin Beauty

Buskin River Canyon up by the waterfall

Yesterday we got a couple more inches of new snow and after work I returned to the Upper Buskin for another cross country ski.  The new snow made a huge difference!  Where on occasion I had hit the occasional rock now everything was covered.  A snow covered highway, and so silent with just the occasional gurgle of the water under the ice and the pitter-patter of snow falling off of the trees.  And best of all this time I did not fall in.  Patrick

Merganser in the landscape

The merganser scooted under the ice to escape my view

Glorious XC ski conditions on the river

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Buskin Canyon

Yesterday I took advantage of the fresh snow to go cross country skiing in the Upper Buskin River area.  I skied down to the river and followed it upstream and into the canyon at the headwaters.  I got all the way to the waterfall for the first time in 3 years.

I had one funny moment at the start of my journey up the river.  The new snow disguised some very thin ice and I fell straight through.  There I was standing in shin deep water with my skis on the rocky bottom.  After that I learned not to trust the really big flat areas of new ice, and stuck to the lumpy bumpy old stuff along the sides.

Good ski  Patrick

The frozen waterfall - end of the road

trail out to the road from the river

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Yesterday I braved the icy road to the pass and went downhill skiing on Pyramid.  The road is a sheet of ice and my car does not have studs on the tires. So there is always a decision to made - is the road worth it?  Is the risk of driving off the road worth the potential pay off in skiing?

Sometimes it is too risky.  On Monday the road was a sheet of ice with water on top and I turned around and went home.  Yesterday I got to the crux of the drive - the 'switchbacks' - and like a dog licking a hot iron skillet I kept on going.  Burnt tongue be damned!   The switchbacks are a particularly steep section of the road where there are 2 sharp turns.  If you can make it up (and down) that you got it made.  I could see the new snow on the spruce trees high up on the mountain.  I knew the skiing was worth the risk. 

And it was.  Patrick