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: