Thursday, December 21, 2017

The 7th Web Based. . .

"Occasionally" Annual Salmon Beach Bulletin

Wow; my 2nd post of the year! I'm not sure whether I'm doing less, or the time is moving faster, but I'm really not happy to find myself at the end of yet another year, but I don't know what to do about it.  No matter, I'm ecstatic to still be here, and in good health; hopefully, this wonderful season finds you all the same.

This has got to be one of the strangest years that I can remember living through, politically speaking, and I have to remind you all:  (BTW, if you click on a photo, it will expand to give you a better look!)

 The R's are divided; the D's are divided; the indies are divided, and the races are as divided as ever.  I keep hearkening back to the words of "that great American", Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"  And, as cynical as I am, I suspect that the powers that be are happy for us to stay this way, as we don't have any political power, divided as we are!  OK, 'nuff said!

This year, I only took 1 trip, which was up to British Columbia on a photo shoot, and if you didn't check out the photos that I posted back in mid-April, you should find it just below this post.

And, I wound up taking my new avocation to another level, by actually printing some of my photos on aluminum, and man, was I ever happy with the results!  This is the first one I had printed, and after a year, I still find my eyes drawn to it:

I'm finding that there are a lot of things that are fun to shoot besides landscapes; this was my first attempt at "focus stacking", which is combining a bunch of shots, focused at different depths, and then combining them into one photo:

Yep, I realize the background is out of focus; that's on purpose, so it doesn't draw attention from the subject!  A couple of days later, I shot this, which is also focus stacked, and I was just tickled, because it doesn't even look real!

There are 2 trips planned for the coming year; a 9 day trip to Hawaii; 5 days on Kauai, and 2 days on Hilo, and a couple days traveling, and sometime in the fall, I'll be realizing my Iceland fantasy, both trips with James Brandon, the guy who headed up the Banff trip!

In August, on my birthday, the northwest received the "present" of heavy pollution from Canada.  In last year's SBB, I mentioned the miles and miles of dead standing timber (courtesy of a pine beetle infestation), and that I was afraid of what might happen if that started burning.  Despite my fears, it wasn't that area that burned, but the pollution was here for a couple of weeks, and yielded some surreal sunrises & sunsets:

Believe it or not, this was shot about 1/2 hour before sunset, on August 4th at 9 o'clock!  There were a couple of days when I couldn't even see the bridge or Gig Harbor from here; it was rough for people with breathing problems.

We had a couple of weeks of "clear air" at the end of August, but on Sept. 8th I shot this at 6 p.m., and this time, the smog was because of the fires down in Oregon:

YUK!  Once again, though, there was a silver lining to the smog:

I had the wonderful experience of being taken back to my early 20's, via my friend, Neal, the doctor that got me into the UW Med center back in '14 (can't believe that's been almost 4 years!).  This guy is an amazing dude; not only is he a surgeon, but a fine classical guitar player, and in his "spare time", he managed to do a frame-off restoration of this gorgeous little '63 356 C, Porsche:

I had a '59 356 convertible for the couple of years that I was in Halifax back in '67, but I have to admit that it didn't hold a candle to this little beauty, and Neal let me drive it for about an hour, and I was sooooo nervous; man, was it fun!

I’m pretty excited, as for the last year or two, I’ve been thinking about getting back into camping (I really want to get back up to the Point of the Arches, up on the Macah Indian Reservation at the top of the peninsula!), but most of my friends are more interested in staying in their RVs, or the Red Lion, and aren’t in any shape to hike, nor do they have the inclination to do so.  20 or 30 years ago, I would have gone by myself, but. . . Maybe “they” are right; “With age comes wisdom!”, because I realize that disaster can happen in the blink of an eye (witness last week's Seahawk’s game), so I’ve been leery to do that.  Last fall, I found that one of my friends, who is also a photographer and got divorced a year ago, was in the same boat, and we’ve made plans to do some camping when he returns from doing a bathroom remodel for some of his friends, back in Maine.

I’ve never been very competitive, and my photography, like my music, has always been pretty much for myself.  For some reason, performing was always stressful for me, and I never enjoyed it as much as I loved just sitting around playing by myself.  The 3 years that I played trumpet at Chief Jo Junior High was the same thing, and back in ’80, I tried, unsuccessfully, to overcome that by getting into the jazz band at Tacoma Community College, and realized that I had found my niche as a teacher.  Unfortunately, over the years where a lot of friends were getting married, I got drafted to play at their weddings, and just didn’t feel like I could turn them down when they asked me to do it, but by the time that I had worked pieces up to performance level, I was dreaming the music, and sick of the tunes!  For some reason, putting pictures out there just doesn’t feel “threatening” to me, and it’s kind of fun to share that aspect of my Life with my friends.  I do wish that I had that same outlook on my music, but it is what it is.

And speaking of music, my tastes have always leaned toward guitar oriented stuff, and "the kids these
days" (remember your folks talking about "them"?) aren't leaning that direction, so, for the most part, I've been using Amazon Prime's site for discovering new music, and I'm being drawn back towards country (rock!), so you might want to check out (if you're interested!) to listen to:

  • Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit: Anxiety, Cumberland Gap, 
  • First Aid Kit:  My Silver Lining
  • The Avett Bros.: It’s the Beaches
  • Beck: Turn away
  • Lake Street Dive: I don’t care about you
  • Jason Aldean: The only way I know
  • WILLIAM Clark Green:  Ringling Road
  • Cody Jinks:  Rock and roll
  • Mike Ryan: Bad reputation
  • Ryan Adams: Gimme Something Good
  • Drive-By Truckers:  Sink Hole
  • Lucero: Summer Song

  • (the artist's name is first, and the name of the tunes, second)

    I must be "maturing" as I’ve been thinking about selling the bike; the fun, where I used to be impatient for nice days to ride, seems to have disappeared as the freeways have gotten worse, and the thoughts on nice days run more to the, “I need to get the bike out, ‘cause it isn’t good for it to sit without riding it.”  The operative word there is “need”, rather than, “WANT”, and  even your crazy ol’ friend realizes that hitting the freeway around here is a bigger gamble than he really wants to chance.  Since I’ve had ‘em most of the time since I was 17, and have never been hurt (I just knocked on my desk 3 times), the odds are mounting against me. . .

    My Life took a dramatic turn for the worse about 6 weeks ago.  It was one of those "diamond days", as a nice piece of firewood floated up under the house, and I spent most of the day cutting, splitting and stacking it, and for the first time since I was diagnosed, I have an almost full wood shed.  About 4:30, I threw on a pot of coffee, and while it was brewing, I decided to scope out the beach under some of the adjacent cabins.  I went to go down the steps to the beach, and slipped on the last stair, and down I went, very hard!  If this had been a cartoon I would have been levitating, both my feet would have been out in front of my face, my eyes would have looked like saucers, and the narrative in the "balloon" over my head would have read, "This is gonna hurt!"  I scraped up my right arm but slammed down on the big muscle that kind of wraps from underneath your armpit down around your ribs on your back.  It hurt so badly that I couldn't even swear and I lay there for a couple of minutes and gently got up and got back up the stairs, but then I had to brace myself for about 5 minutes before I could get back to the house.  I either cracked or broke a rib and I missed the next 3 weeks of lessons, because I could only stand to be upright for a couple of hours before I had to get horizontal, again.

    I couldn't sit at the computer for more than 15 minutes, hence the late start on the SBB, but since I'm now almost back to "normal" (yeah, yeah; I can hear several of you snorting in amusement!), I was out working on the wood pile yesterday, and am thinking about getting back to my exercises.

    Today is the first day of winter, and it felt like it; it was 30• this morning when I got up, but I had the wood stove prepped and ready, and the house was toasty 15 minutes later.  Sia had her own way of handling the cold night:

    but 10 minutes after I fired up the stove, she emerged from the comforter and was stretched out about a foot from the door of it, where the heat concentrates.  All these years of heating with wood, and having so many animals that claim that area for themselves, and I still don't understand how they can deal with it!

    I know that for a lot of you, that this has been an emotionally disturbing year, with all the crap that's gone on, so, as a parting shot (pun intended!), here's something to think about (you who are on FaceBook will have seen this.):  during tough times, there are still incredible moments of peace and beauty, if you take the time to look around; I just wish there were times we could all take flight and leave our  troubles far behind!

    I hope you all have a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    Monday, April 17, 2017

    First Adventure Of The Year!

    I'm not sure how long ago I stumbled across the Digital Photography School ( ), a free web site that has an amazing amount of material that covers almost any kind of photography that you might be interested in (and for every level of expertise), but it's been years, and I'm still downloading articles that keep expanding my knowledge of my relatively new passion.  I've had cameras all my Life, and for years, I carried a nice Pentax with me, camping and traveling.  Somewhere between 2003-5, I picked up my first digital camera and was happy with that until 2010, when one of my best friends, a pro photographer, sold me his Sony A100 and a kit lens, which I used for a few months, and then bought a nice lens, which completely blew me away with it's color and sharpness, and then I was truly screwed!  Man, I used to think that being involved in music was expensive, but it doesn't hold a candle to being involved in the world of photography!

    So, I'm now 7 years, 2 cameras and and 4 lenses down (up?) the line from there, and looking for different scenery than we have here, in and around Tacoma.  Most, if not all of you are well aware of how much I love my place here, and how reluctant I am to leave it for other spaces, but the trip that I made down to Arizona in 2014 to visit my best friend of almost 50 years, changed all that.  We hit Zion and The Grand Canyon, and my feet seemed to have picked up a permanent "itch", so after a brief detour through the "Land of Cancer" (not much to photograph), I headed up the Al-Can Highway with my bro-in-law and sister last summer, and back for another visit to Nova Scotia in October.

    Now, DPS isn't the only photography resource I use, and I noticed that the name, James Brandon, kept popping up here and there, connected to his absolutely gorgeous photos, and well written articles from Sony, and I found his web site ( ).  It had a link to his workshop lineup, and in September, with some misgivings (money, time of year, time away from The Beach, someone to watch my 4 4-legged "anchors"), I signed up for a 5 day workshop in Banff, Yoho & Jasper National Parks from April 6-11.

    Decision time: fly or drive?  Well, since almost no airlines are letting you do free carry ons now, and I had 3 bags of stuff, along with the ticket, the decision was easy, so I left here in the Outback on a Tuesday morning.  Mapquest told me it was a little over an 11 hour drive; heads up: don't believe Mapquest!  Not only was their timeline a bit short, but the directions were wrong; "Adventure Time"!  Most of you are close enough friends that you know I may be one of the last remaining people on earth who doesn't have a smart phone, but stopping and talking to a couple of cops got me back on the right track, and I spent Tuesday night in Kamloops, B.C., and I got into Banff a day early, about 6:30, Wednesday evening.

    Good thing, 'cause I was going to go walk around the town and shoot some photos on Thursday morning, but as I pulled on my boots and went to tie them, one of the laces broke (Quigley-luck strikes again!).  "No big deal!" you say?  Tell you what: you haven't looked for boot laces in Banff!  You'd think that in a recreational area like that, everyone would handle bootlaces, but it took me about 10 stores to find them, and when I did, the owner informed me that he has to buy them from Europe!  I couldn't resist; I asked him if he'd heard of this new thing called the internet, and he gave me the stinkeye, and then started laughing, and launched into a 5 minute story about the struggles of locating a source.  No REI up there, I guess. . .

    I met James and the other 3 guys in the lobby of the Rundlestone Lodge at 5, and we headed out for dinner before going out for some evening shooting, and it may have taken about a half hour before we were all talking and laughing like old friends.  Besides photography, I had at least 2 things in common with everybody.

    James is amazing; he's 31 years old (everybody else was up there in . . . ummmm. . . "middle age [?]" with me 🙄), and besides being an incredible photographer, he also plays guitar, practices jiu jitsu a few times a week, is a husband and father of 2, runs these workshops, is working on 2 instructional videos for LightRoom and PhotoShop, writes articles for a couple of companies, and, oh yeah, also has his private pilot's license.  It makes me believe that time runs much slower for the young'uns!  And on top of that, he's a nice guy, and very personable (Hey, don't let this all go to your head, James!)

    So, after dinner, we headed out to Lake Minnewanka, and at around 7:30, I got this one; not much color in the sky, for which I chided James (c'mon, you all know me!), but still beautiful. 

    (Don't ask; I can't, for the life of me, get the next one to "center"!)

    The next morning found us at Vermillion Lakes at about 6:15 (groan) . . .

    And at about 6:45 the light show started:

    And an hour later, the color had gone back to a dark blue sky.  Timing is everything!

    4:30 p.m. found us at Morrant's Curve, waiting for the train and I fumbled this one, and almost missed it; I asked James for an "instant replay", but he told me it wasn't available on this channel.  The next shot (not pictured here) had  only the cars of the train;  I guess I'll have to go back. . .

    From here, we wandered up to Lake Louise, and for some reason, I didn't take many shots; maybe it was because the lake was covered in snow and people, but the background was pretty nice:

    The third morning found us (6:40, yet again!) looking at the reflections of the 3 Sisters and Mount Lawrence Grassi, in the lake at Canmore:

    That morning, I managed to sleep through 2 alarms, and woke up with about 15-20 minutes to get down to the car, and I seriously thought about going down and telling them to just go without me, but luckily I put that thought away, and hauled butt.  Anyway, when the sun broke over the mountains, a few minutes after the picture above:

    This was a day packed full of beauty, and we were out most of the day.  I'm pretty sure that this was the day that James introduced me to the music of Monte Montgomery  ( ), a finger picker extraordinaire.  Here we are, driving down the road, surrounded by the majesty of the mountains, and I'm already in awe of my surroundings, and then this incredible music attacks my aural senses, and honestly, folks, I was completely overwhelmed; it literally reduced me to giggles!  Thanks, so much, James!

    From here we moved onto Emerald Lake, which was completely frozen over and covered about 6" deep in snow, and we walked over to the avalanche fields (observed from a safe distance, although we were all hoping we'd witness one!) on a cleared path.  Then it was back to Lake Louise, and we wrapped up the day at Bow River, looking up at Castle Mountain, at about 7 o'clock.

    The next morning found us back at Vermillion Lakes (anybody getting the idea that this was a favorite place to start our days?), which is only about 15-20 minutes outside of Banff, and made it handy to get back to town for breakfast.

    After lunch, we drove out to Johnson Canyon, and about 2/3 of the way there, it started to snow hard enough that we considered heading back out, but decided to keep going, and we hiked back into the canyon, and it was one of the highlights of the workshop, at least for me!  This was at about 5 p.m.:

    And as you can tell, the light wasn't so hot, because of this:

    And, no, those are not spots on my camera lens!  😄 A bit closer, and through a very short tunnel through the rocks, afforded us this beautiful view:

    And another orientation. . .

    The last full day, at Two Jack Lake (bet you're happy to hear we're almost at the end, eh?  Oops; too much time with Canadians this last year!) blessed us with what, for me, was one of the most beautiful pictures I think that I've ever shot:

    The alpinglow is hitting the back side of Mt. Rundle, and once again, you can see we were out there at the crack of 0:dark:30.  On the way back to breakfast, we pulled over at a wide spot in the road to get this:

    And then we were off to Jasper National Park, where we got out and hiked back into the woods a ways,  into Mistaya Canyon.  It might have only been a quarter mile back or so, and would have been very easy to miss:

    The last night, James took us up to the Norquay Overlook, for a last look at Banff; man, it got a bit nippy, and  hungry (!) and we barely made it into the restaurant before the kitchen closed at 11, but again, it was well worth it.  (I've got to work on the "night photography".)

    The last morning found us back downstream from Two Jack and Minnewanka for a shot of (Doogie MacLean paraphrased) "the marching mountains' majesty":

    Breakfast was the official "end" of the shoot.  We got back to the lodge at about 9, and I jumped into the shower.  I figured that I had one more night reserved, and thought that I'd get a head start on my packing, so I could get an early start the next morning and maybe make it home in 1 day.  I also wanted to go out and get some shots of the town, because no matter which direction you looked, there was a beautiful view.  At approximately 11:30, there was a knock on the door, and I opened it to find a kind of confused looking "room cleaner", who said, "Ummm. . . haven't you checked out yet?" (11 a.m. checkout!), and I answered, "Well, I think that I'm booked in for one more day."  He snagged his phone and called downstairs, and after minute, said, "The manager is going to call you in a minute or two." and left.

    At this point, I'm frantically throwing my stuff in the bags, and 5 minutes later, I popped by the desk, where they told me that, indeed, my assumption of another night at the inn was wrong, and graciously offered to extend the reservation.  At this point though, half my stuff was in the car, and I opted to hit the road, and I didn't even have time to tell the "James Gang", "Adios!"  I turned left onto Highway 1, and 9 1/2 hours later, checked into an Econolodge in Bellingham.  I briefly flirted with the idea of continuing on to Salmon Beach, and decided that would be pretty foolish, considering I had been up since 5 a.m., and was running on between 4 and 5 hours of sleep since the start of the workshop.  The next morning I started out on the last leg of the trip at about 9, and was home by noon.

    All of my previous "expeditions" had been, in usual Quigley-style, improvised; where ever I was, whenever I was, that's what I shot.  I have no idea of how much time James put into preparing for this workshop; I do know that he and his "partner in crime", Mike, were up there in the winter to scout things out, so as not to be wasting time looking for places to shoot.  He seamlessly transported us from one gorgeous site to another, and I simply can't imagine a more organized workshop.  I fully intend to accompany him again, and we plan on making my Iceland dream a reality in the next year or two.  And on my own shoots, I think that I've learned that preparation is probably more than half of what makes a good photographer, so researching places will be a new endeavor!  And, again, thanks, James, for yet another valuable lesson!

    Thanks for hanging in here with me; I hope you enjoyed the photos, and feel free to leave comments and/or critiques.  I feel as though I'm in about the 4th grade in the School of Photography, and hope I have enough time left to make it through high school, or maybe even college, before embarking on the "final adventure"!  

    Stay tuned!

    Tuesday, December 20, 2016

    The 6th Web Based. . .

    "Occasionally" Annual Salmon Beach Bulletin

    Congratulations, folks; we've made it through yet another year and another election cycle!  Other than saying that it's been one of the most entertaining campaigns I've ever witnessed, I hope that we'll never see another like it, and no more politics will be included in this issue of The  Bulletin!
    This has been a great year, although it started with me struggling to bring all the photos I had since I first got to Salmon Beach, from a Mac program called, "Aperture", which Apple decided to quit supporting, over into another program called, "Lightroom".  I thought it was going to be fairly simple, but it actually wound up being almost a 6 month long procedure, since there was no way to bring over any changes I had made to them. . . Done, and now in the rear view mirror!
    In February, I almost pulled the trigger on purchasing a photo tour (limit of 6 people) to Iceland, and then noticed that the first day would be spent purchasing cold weather clothing for extended periods of -15•F, whereupon I quickly readjusted my sights on a spring or fall tour, when it’s available.  Yeah, yeah. . . I know. . . “What a wuss!”  I mean, really?  Laying out a huge amount of money for good clothing that I might use for 3-5 days?  I don’t think so!
    In May, I had a scare that I wanted to share with you guys, that may save you a little heartbreak.  I’d been noticing that both Sia & Kydai (the "new" kittens) had been scratching around their necks and ears, so after breakfast, I broke out the Hartz Flea & Tick spray for Cats and gave them each a couple of squirts around the back of their heads, and then kind of rubbed it around, under their chins, where they couldn’t lick it, and up between their ears. About 10 minutes later, I looked over at Kydai, and intermittently, her head would give an extended “tremor” (kind of like Parkinson’s), and then it would stop, but she was acting kind of weird, so I snagged her and wiped her off with a wet sponge, but figured that it might be smart to call my vet. I talked to the receptionist and told her what was going on, and she put me on hold for about 45 seconds, came back on and told me to wash her off and get her to the emergency vet’s, post haste; "This is serious!"  5 minutes later we were on our way up the stairs.  I got there, walked up to the desk and told the receptionist why we were there, and she grabbed the PA mike and said, “Triage; main desk!”, and about a minute later they whisked the cat into the back room . Long story short, she’s OK, but we were in there for about an hour and a half before they called me in to talk to the Doc. She said that Kydai seemed fine, but I should take her home and give her a bath in Dawn (dish soap), and then watch her closely for the tremors to return, or even a seizure.  Home & into the sink, and bless her little heart, she was actually very good, although she didn’t appreciate the bath, the towel, or the hair dryer, but had no problem eating a big lunch, afterwards.  The vet said that they have had an awful lot of problems with the Hartz products, and she didn’t understand why it’s still on the market, and, of course, offered up some expensive options, which I will be checking out, ‘cause we aren’t risking this, again. The other cats had no problems with it, at all, but the vet got to keep the remainder of the bottle!

    At the end of July, I got another "CFZ" (Cancer Free Zone) designation from the docs at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and a week later, on my birthday, I joined my sister and brother-in-law, and we headed north on the Al-Can Highway, for a 2 week road trip.  It was a lot of fun, and, as you might expect from your friend, highly fueled by massive amounts of caffeine, which kept my mouth running more than usual, keeping Elaine and Chuck amused and in good spirits, which was my intention! 

    On the 4th day, we stopped in Ft. Nelson, B.C. about 2 p.m., checked into the Super 8 and then went to a little “museum” (the first of 3 "diamonds" on the trip) where we spent a couple of hours; an unbelievable amount of stuff, from ancient telephone and switchboards, gas pumps, tools, radios, pictures, and clothing, to a HUGE 16 cylinder diesel engine (outside!) that developed over 4500 hp @ 350 revs/minute, and was probably 30’ long, and maybe 12-16’ high, and BC still has 5 of them in storage to use in emergencies, to generate power.  They had a garage, kept up by a grizzled 84 yr. old dude who hand cranked a 1 cylinder 1909 Bush car; I didn’t know such a thing ever existed!  The garage was stuffed with maybe 25 beautiful old cars, motorcycles, chain saws, and walls full of old license plates, shelves full of oil cans. . .  That crusty old guy keeps every single powered machine in there running!  Friggin’ unbelievable! 

    The car in front of him is a 1908 McLaughlin Buick that he drove from Ft. Nelson to Whitehorse, Yukon and back (1180 miles!) in 2008.

    Speaking of Whitehorse. . .Whitehorse is. . . ummmm. . . "rustic", to say the least; the buildings here are basically rectangular blocks, with absolutely no redeeming qualities; God, it sucked, but the surrounding country was beautiful, if a bit redundant.  BIG country, but after awhile, boring!  We saw black bears, bison and a few mountain goats, and what may have been a baby moose; not sure, but he was small and far away.

    The next day we headed off to Dawson City, and as some of you know, my bro-in-law is kind of a quiet guy, so to keep the atmosphere in the car “light”, I had been supercharging myself in the morning before we hit the road, and continuing through the day, with massive amounts of caffeine, which, of course resorts in a horrendous case of motor-mouth, and releases my sometimes “odd” sense of humor, which worked as planned.  Well, this day, the plan went slightly awry, when about 15 minutes out of Whitehorse, we entered a thick cloud bank which lasted long enough for the first hit of coffee to fade, and I found myself nodding out, leaving the car in silence.  I kept trying to dig myself out, with very little success, and finally asked Chuck to pull over at the next gas station, so I could fill my rather large Starbucks insulated cup, realizing that the gas stations brew really strong coffee for the truck drivers and long distance travelers (hmmmm. . . sounds like a great title for a Moody Blues album!).  Anyway, I’m working on getting that down, and, of course one can't talk and drink at the same time, so. . . I hear Chuck ask my sister to hand him the new disc that he just got.  I kind of expect to be subjected to some country or western, the 2 types of music that he seems to enjoy, but . . . No; much to my horror, I hear the bass drone of a BAGPIPE!  I had either forgotten, or, more likely, repressed the fact that he studied and played bag pipes for 10-15 years, and I swear, on my honor, that CD had only 1 whiny, wheezy sounding song that lasted about 35 minutes, at the end of which time I swore my ears were bleeding.  OMG, folks, I was biting my tongue not to say anything; I kept telling myself that maybe that’s how he felt about my music, and was just getting a little payback, but I can’t ever remember playing the stuff I like when he was around!  So, the song ends (OK, maybe there was more than 1 track on the disc, but you couldn’t prove it by me!), and I’m just starting to breathe a big sigh of relief, when my sis asks, from the back seat, do you want another, and he shrugs and quietly says, “Nah”, where upon, I relax after having immediately tightened up, like being hit with about 220 volts of electricity, in anticipation of even more agony.

    Did I mention that my sister was in the back seat?  Did I mention that she is suffering from some hearing loss, no doubt as a result of listening to Chuck practice his pipes(!)?  A hand appears over the console between the 2 front seats, holding a CD, and Chuck ejects the symphony of pain and replaces it with this disc, and while I'm scrambling for my ear plugs, which I use while on the bike (not really; I'm slightly exaggerating here), from the speakers comes the sound of Irish fiddle and penny whistles, of which I'm also not overly fond, but compared to what I had been listening to for the last little while, was almost a salve to the soul!  And there is a girl vocalist with a decent voice, contralto, which I don't find at all objectionable, especially because when she is singing, the fiddle and penny whistle aren't!

    Now, back in the day when we (some of us, that is!) were buying albums, that sometimes the artists might not have enough good material to fill an album, so they would record what we unkindly referred to as "filler", right?  Well, somewhere toward the end of this album, there is an acappella piece, about 2 1/2 minutes long, whose lyrics go, "Beer, beer, beer beer, beautiful beer, how we love drinking beer, beer, beer , beer. . ." ad infinitum.  Now, you guys all know that I have not always treated my mind. . . ummmmm. . . "gently", but honest, it only took me one listening to memorize the lyrics; I was sooooo proud of myself!

    Dawson City is a small town, to say the least, where the only paved road is the one running through town, to a ferry, which takes you across a river to "The Road To The Top Of The World", which would be closing for winter, the week after we were there.  It's 79 miles of unpaved road, but they keep it in very good shape; we saw a couple of different road graders working on it in different places.  The Dawson City seems to be a ghost town in the making, and here's my favorite photo from there, which will give you the flavor of the town:

     In Fairbanks, a week after we started, we visited the Foutainhead Car Museum ( Fountainhead Museum Video ), which, for me, was another of the 3 "diamonds".  I spent a solid 2 1/2 hours shooting ancient cars that are all in world class conditioon, some of which aqre the only ones still in existence.  Although it is only about 12/6 the size of the LeMay Auto Museum in Tacoma, it is even more impressive.  The cars are all original, and they all get driven at least once a year.  The last hour was spent talking to the manager, to whom I copped to slipping inside the ropes to take some shots I couldn't have gotten without doing so.  He grinned and said that they were aware of that, but they saw what I was doing, and knew I wasn't "up to anything".  He then told me that the ropes werre wired with cameras, as a security measure, and that there were also some other active security precautions.  He asked me to come on back into the garage, where they were working on a couple of beautiful old cars, and I finished off the second camera battery back there.  He gave me his card and asked me to stay in touch; I was honored! 

    This is the engine compartment of a 1917 Owen Magnetic; what a beautiful piece of machinery.  Now, walk out to your car and compare the incredible beauty of this engine to what's under your hood!  Kind of makes you long for the day when "Made in America" meant craftsmanship and quality!

    This is a 1918 Biddle; incredible.  Just look at the shine on this baby!

    And the last is a 1906 Pope Toledo; dang, what can I say?  Maintaining this monster actually bankrupted the second owner, who wound up selling it to the railroad, who turned it into a "rail car"!

    The next day, we were off to Denali National Park, and were greeted with this sign, as we pulled into the motel parking lot:

     The funny thing was that everyone I talked to before the trip, warned me about how bad the mosquitoes were, and I went prepared with an 8 oz. bottle of 98% pure Deet, and we didn't see a single mosquito, the whole trip!  The folks told us we missed mosquito season by about 10 days; shoulda been a musician, with timing like that!

    And speaking of signs:

    Really; they need a sign to tell you that?  And I thought drivers around here were goofy!

    Denali, where we spent 3 days, was the 3rd "diamond"; what a beautiful area!  According to the weather forecast, it was supposed to keep on raining, but the day after we arrived, it stopped, and the sun came out for the next 3 days.  30 miles is, if I remember correctly, as far as you can drive in; you're welcome to hike or bicycle beyond that point, but we elected to take the bus, which will take you 90 miles in to where there is a "roadhouse", and it was definitely wonderful, albeit a bit frustrating, because I kept wanting to stop and get some shots, but, alas, no getting off the bus, and although our driver would stop if somebody yelled, "Stop!", she did have to maintain some sort of schedule.  We got there at a perfect time, as they had had about a month of rain, and Denali herself had only been "on display" 3 times in all that time:

    A photo just doesn't do justice to the majesty of this gorgeous mountain, but I still feel pretty lucky to have been able to score these; the photos were taken about 20 minutes and 10 miles apart.  The mountain is so big that she creates her own weather systems: 20,300 feet high; about a third taller than Mt. Rainier!

    This beautiful little lake was about 3 miles from the roadhouse:

    As we were leaving the park, we were going over a bridge over a dry streambed, and the bus stopped for us to be able to get this shot (the moma & her cubs were about 40 feet away):

    What a thrill, made even more so when we talked to some folks back at the motel who had been on a bus the day before, and they hadn't seen either the mountain or any bears.  We saw 7 of them, but this was by far the closest view.

    The next day was another beautifully clear day, and, since I was not able to take up Uncle Sam on his generous offer to "see the world", back in the late '60's-early 70's, I had been debating whether or not I wanted to lay out the money for a 2 1/2 hour helicopter ride up onto the glacier, but finally decided that I'd probably never be back up here, so why pass up a once in a lifetime shot.  I'm sure that it wasn't as exciting as the one that Uncle Sam may have provided back then, but it was definitely worth it!

    The people in Alaska are well aware of the consequences of "global warming", as the glaciers truly are shrinking, and the weather changes are also affecting the behavior of the animals.  Like most people though, they seem divided on whether or not there is anything that can be done about it, and whether or not mankind has anything to do with it.

    In October, I returned to Halifax again, with the idea of heading north on the Cabot Trail.  Unfortunately, my timing on this trip was not quite what it should have been; I landed the day after the tail end of Hurricane Mathew blew out, devastating the north end of Nova Scotia, and making the trip impossible.  I should have known, after the way that the trip started out, that it was destined to be not quite what I had hoped.  I got to Sea-Tac Airport about 4 a.m. for the 6 a.m. flight, and going through customs, I forgot to pull the change out of my pocket, so, of course, the TSA asked me to correct that, which I did.  But, when I went through the scanner, something set it off, and darned if they didn't have me "assume the position" against the wall (another first for "the kid"!), and patted me down, finding that I had forgotten my guitar picks in the tiny side pocket of my jeans!  Then, when they ran the hand scanner over me, damned if I didn't test positive for the residue of some type of explosive, so my hands and arms got wiped down; "Quigley, the terrorist"!  Anyway, they finally sent me on my way, and the rest of the flight was fine.

    The week that I spent there had great weather, and the foliage was putting on a brilliant display:

    This old power station was built in 1935, and I gather from the metal roof that it is still functional:

    Since our plans for going north had been scuttled, we spent the time doing day long "outings" around the area and had a lot of fun, although I'm sorry to have missed the chance to explore the north end.

    Returning, I had a 3 hour layover in Toronto, and damned if I didn't almost miss my connection!  That friggin' place is huge, and I would have been alright, but I didn't realize that American customs was there instead of Sea-Tac, so I wound up running the last 300 yards (my best OJ impression!), and everybody in the airport heard my name announced on the P.A.  Last one on, they closed the door behind me, and we were in the air 5 minutes later.

    So, back home, I've settled in for the rest of the year, braced for winter, and a good thing, as we just had a stretch of 3 days that the temps didn't get above 30•; apologies to you in the mid-west and the east coast!  I realize that you probably consider me a wuss, but I do live out here where we have "civilized" weather.

    Well, you're probably wondering if I'm ever going to wind this up, so I will.  I wish you all a  MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!  No matter what the coming year holds for us, remember: