Leaves and Walnuts

Leaves and Walnuts

Leaves and Walnuts

While we were in Alaska, most of the leaves on the trees have fallen here. As seen a couple days ago, the Zelkova trees are still holding on but those will be bare shortly. Around my office building most of the trees are bare or nearly so. There are lots of leaves down in the parking lot and where I park, there is a black walnut (Juglans nigra) that has been dropping its fruit for a while now. As you can see, there are willow oaks (Quercus phellos), red maple (Acer rubrum), and elm (Ulmus americana) represented here.

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

As I was driving home today, the sun was setting in my rear view mirror, as it does these days. At one point, I had had enough and pulled onto a side street so I could get out and take some pictures. As you can see, I’m along a road and there are power lines on the left but they don’t really distract from the main event. I didn’t notice at the time but I see now that what I assume is Venus, the evening star, shows up on the left side of the photo.

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Autumn on Norbeck

Zelkovas on Norbeck Road

Zelkovas on Norbeck Road

Having returned from our trip to Alaska, I am going to have a hard time getting photos as nice as those from our trip. It’s going to be made more difficult by the fact that we’ve gone off of daylight saving time, which means it will be getting dark about the time I leave work. Today I went to the store and on the way home I stopped along Norbeck Road to take some photos of the Zelkova trees in their glory. IT’s really a pretty show every year and this year is no exception. The range of colors is really quite amazing.

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Sunrise North of Seattle

Sunrise North of Seattle

Sunrise North of Seattle

Our ten day journey to Alaska, like all good things, came to an end today. We were very sad to be leaving and of course were not very excited about getting up at 3:00 AM to get to the airport for our 5:00 AM flight, but it meant we’d get home during the day instead of the middle of the night. We had a great time and would happily have stayed for another week or even two. Of course not having to go to work is part of it. Anywhere on vacation is generally better than anywhere else with work. The weather was about what we expected, cool and damp, but we came prepared (and Dorothy gave me a really nice rain hat as an early birthday present). That meant we got out regardless of the weather and enjoyed pretty much every minute of it.

Sunrise North of Seattle

Sunrise North of Seattle

The trip home was relatively uneventful, which is sort of what you want when flying. There’s not much better than a sunrise or sunset from the air and we got a pretty good one as we headed south to Seattle, on the left side of the plane. Someone who knows the area might be able to recognize the coast line seen through the clouds in this first photo. The second, taken about ten minutes after the first, is possibly Mount Baker, but again, I don’t really know the area, so I’d be happy to be corrected. Much of the country from eastern Washington until we neared Maryland was covered with clouds, so there wasn’t much to see. We did recognize some landmarks as we made our descent into Dulles. And thus ends Alaska Trip, 2019.

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Brian, Lisa, Nathaniel, and Us

Brian, Lisa, Nathaniel, Cathy, Henry, and Dorothy

Brian, Lisa, Nathaniel, Cathy, Henry, and Dorothy

It’s our last evening in Juneau and we went out to dinner with our good friends Brian and Lisa and their son Nathaniel. This photo was taken by Nathaniel’s girlfriend, Alex and it’s nice to have a picture with all of us in it. We were sad to be leaving and could easily have been happy staying another week or even two. We’ve know Brian and Lisa since early 1986 and Dorothy’s been living with them since she arrived in mid July. I’d say it’s been very good for her to be here, although not without its struggles. But as a wise man once said, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.”

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Tongass National Forest

Tongass National Forest

Tongass National Forest

One of my favorite hikes around Juneau is on the western extremity of Douglas Island. back in the 1980s there was a trail through woods, across muskeg, and to the shore. There is now a much shorter loop trail called the Rain Forest Trail that we took today. Wile I like the longer, older trail better, we didn’t have a huge amount of time to spend and it was also fairly wet as we drove out, with rain softly falling. You shouldn’t get the impression that the shorter trail isn’t very nice, because it’s actually wonderful. I took quite a few photos both in the woods and on the shore. This one is of a small pond just into the woods as we headed back on the southern part of the loop. The light in the woods is quite difficult, with fairly low light levels along with a very bright sky showing through. I’m pretty pleased with how this one turned out.

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Fourth Street Stairs

Fourth Street Stairs

Fourth Street Stairs

When we first lived in Juneau, back in 1985 and 86, we rented the downstairs of the pale blue Quonset hut seen in the upper left of this photo. Our address was on Fourth Street but the street ended at Harris Street, almost two blocks away. To get to and from her job in the Goldstein Building, Cathy would walk down the long flight of stairs from above our house to Fourth and Harris. I don’t remember for sure how many steps there are, but my remembrance is that it’s 174 or so. Quite a few, anyway. In this photo you can see a person near the top of the stairs wearing a bright, red jacket.

We moved from the Quonset to an apartment on Douglas Island after a year or so and lived there the rest of our time in Juneau. Living in downtown Juneau certainly had its advantages, but it was also nice to have a few more windows as we did in the apartment. I’m not sure where I’d want to live if we moved back to Juneau. Land is at something of a premium, with usable land squeezed between the shore and the mountains and with so much given to National Forest. But I think I’d be inclined to be outside downtown at this point, just for the sake of having a bit more of a yard and garden.

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Granite Creek

Granite Creek

Granite Creek

In addition to our visit to the Shrine this morning, Cathy, Dorothy, and I took our longest walk of the trip with Brian, Lisa, and their two dogs. We drove out Basin Road and went up Perseverance Trail and then a ways up Granite Creek Trail towards Granite Basis. I don’t know exactly how far we walked but it was at least three miles each way, possibly a little more. The Perseverance Trail goes up hill pretty significantly in places but it’s an easy trail to walk on. The view of Ebner Falls was nice, even in the light rain that was coming down. We turned off onto the much smaller Granite Creek Trail that zig-zags up a steep hill before becoming more gradual after that. We didn’t go too far up that and this photo was taken somewhere near where we turned around. It was after 5:00 PM and it was going to be dark before we got back. In fact, it was quite dark as we made our way past Ebner Falls and the rest of the way down, particularly those places under trees. But we didn’t lose anyone and had a really nice time.

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Shrine of Saint Thérèse

Shrine of Saint Thérèse

Shrine of Saint Thérèse

We went out to the Shrine of Saint Thérèse this morning and enjoyed a very pleasant walk onto the island (well, it was an island but is now connected by a causeway), into the chapel, and along a path on the shore (from which this photo was taken). It was cool and when we got there it looked like rain. Nevertheless, it didn’t actually come down and by the time we walked down the shore, there was some blue in the sky. If we see anyone else on any of our walks around Juneau, we like to joke that the place is getting overrun with tourists. Of course we’re tourists this time, and it’s only a joke anyway. There may have been a few other people at the Shrine the same time we were there but we hardly saw each other.

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The Empty Chair

The Empty Chair

The Empty Chair

In May, 1942, the valedictorian at Juneau High School, John Tanaka, was absent because he and others of Japanses ancestry had been forcibly removed and incarcertated in government internment camps a month earlier. The graduating class left an empty chair in his honor at their graduation, honoring John and the other Japanese Americans. John’s younger brother, Bill, was in my mother-in-law’s class and naturally she remembers this incident. The Empty Chair Memorial is in Capital School Park between 5th and 6th Streets and Franklin and Seward.

Today was the rainiest day of our trip. While Dorothy was at work, Cathy and I spent the morning in the State Museum and Library, which I highly recommend. We also drove around downtown a bit with Dorothy after she got off work. That’s when this photo was taken. You can also get an idea from this photo of the steepness of some of upper Franklin Street.

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Cathy, Henry, and the Dogs

Cathy, Henry, and the Dogs

Cathy, Henry, and the Dogs

This photo wasn’t taken by me, but I’ve already posted two photos from today that I did take, so I think I can get away with it. I don’t appear in many photographs and for the most part, that’s my preference. Nevertheless, I’m trying to learn that if I want to expect others to let me take their picture, I need to be willing to return the favor. Dorothy took this with my camera and while I don’t think it’s a particularly good photo of me, it’s at least evidence that I was there. Nugget falls is larger than it looks in this photo. The reality is that we’re quite a ways from it. If we walked so that we were right below it, you’d see how high it really is. I have a few photos like that, but this isn’t one of them, so you’ll just have to trust me, or better yet, go visit it for yourself.

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Cathy at the Mendenhall

Cathy at the Mendenhall

Cathy at the Mendenhall

We have a very fond and somewhat funny memory from the winter of 1986-87. It was on a relatively mild day in February when Cathy, Brian, Lisa, and I drove out to the glacier. There was eight to ten inches of snow on the ice on Mendenhall Lake and there were kids sledding on the hills of glacial moraine. Brian, Lisa, and Cathy walked out into the snow on the ice wearing boots and their bathing suits. The took off the boots and settled on a blanket laid on the snow (which naturally sank into the snow when they sat down. I took a handful of photographs of them, pretending it was a lovely day. Actually, for February in Juneau, clear skies make it a lovely day, regardless of the temperature. Anyway, here’s Cathy, 32 years later, in front of the Mendenhall, although she was dressed warmer today than she was on that day in February.

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Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier

We went to the glacier today. In Juneau, that’s short hand for the Mendenhall, since it’s the one you can basically drive to. When we lived here in the late 1980s the face of the glacier was just a little past Nugget Falls, on the right in this photo. When my mother-in-law lived in Juneau, the face of the glacier was considerably further out into the valley. Like most (but notably not all) glaciers since the last little ice age, roughly between 1300 and the mid to late 1800s, it is receding. It’s still pretty and the clouds separated long enough for us to see some of the mountains around it, at least briefly, although you can’t really see them well in this photo.

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Treadwell

Treadwell Beach

Treadwell Beach

In 1898, Cathy’s great grandfather traveled from the iron mines of Michigan’s northern pinensula to the gold mines of Juneau. Specifically, he worked in the Mexican Mine in Treadwell on Douglas Island, across the Gastineau Channel. In 1917 the mine flooded and all work ceased. This photo was taken from near the cave-in site, which is on the extreme right although it’s not really visible. As you can see, it was more overcast than the previous two days, which were pretty nice. We couldn’t see the top of Mount Roberts across the channel. Nevertheless, it was good to get out and to walk where Cathy’s ancestors had walked (although we’ve been there before, of course). The Treadwell Mine’s office building, which was in pretty rough shape when we lived in Juneau, has been cleaned, painted, and gotten a new roof.

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Airport Flats

Airport Flats

Airport Flats

As mentioned in my earlier post for today, it was a busy day. In the afternoon we went for a walk with Brian and Lisa around the airport. It’s a pretty place and it’s not like the busy airports we’re used to from the DC area with planes taking off and landing one after the next all day. It’s a relatively quiet place except for the occasional plane and we had a nice time outdoors. If you need a reason to go to Juneau, here’s one. It’s beautiful regardless of the weather. The clouds were high enough today that we could see the mountains pretty well. We didn’t have a clear day the entire ten days we were there but if you need clear skies to enjoy a place, then maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The airport walk is an easy one, with virtually no hills to deal with. Very nice for a mid-afternoon walk. Highly recommended.

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Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Day four of our Alaska trip (the third full day in Alaska) was busy. Dorothy had to work so we dropped her off and then went into town. We started by going to Evergreen Bowl and walking around a bit. That’s where this photograph was taken. After that we took some pictures of her mom’s old house, across the street from the Governor’s mansion. Then downtown for a little while to do a little shopping and also spent some time in the library. I took pictures of the mural on the parking garage that features Cathy, her aunt, and her aunt’s great grandson. There is a new park that runs from near the bridge to Douglas towards the Coast Guard dock and we went there for a while. It’s probably nicer when the fountain is running but it was nice. Finally we went to Evergreen Cemetery to find a few grave markers. My memory of where Cathy’s grandparents are buried was pretty good. We also found the markers for her mom’s sister and her husband. We had a few more to find but had more opportunities later in the week.

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Rainbow Over Mendenhall

Rainbow Over Mendenhall

Rainbow Over Mendenhall

As mentioned in my previous post, it started raining as we returned to our car at the Eagle River trail near the Boy Scout Camp. It rained fairly hard but as we approached the Mendenhall River the sun came out and there was a rainbow to our left. We stopped at Brotherhood Bridge, where there’s a pretty decent view of the glacier and we had it framed by the rainbow. Rainbows can be tricky to photograph because the colors are fairly faint relative to other things in the photograph. Slight underexposure can help but that tends to make the rest of the shot dark. Anyway, This one turned out pretty well. At a different time of year, this photo would benefit from fireweed in the foreground, but the autumnal colors aren’t bad, either.

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Muskeg

Muskeg, Boy Scout Trail, Juneau

Muskeg, Boy Scout Trail, Juneau

Near the confluence of the Eagle and Herbert Rivers, about 26 miles from downtown Juneau, there is the Eagle River Scout Camp. A trail leads from there along the south bank of the Eagle River to the open waters of Favorite Channel and Lincoln and Shelter Islands. Cathy, Dorothy, and I took the dogs and had a nice walk through the woods, along the river, and along the sandy shore. This photo was taken near the beginning of the walk in an open area in the woods.

A muskeg is “a nutrient-poor peatland characterized by acidic, saturated peat, and scattered or clumped, stunted conifer trees set in a matrix of sphagnum mosses and ericaceous shrubs.” I personally find them to be beautiful, although it’s not something you want to walk through if you can get around it. I particularly enjoyed the fall color as seen in this photograph as well as the reflections on the pool in the foreground. The sky was particularly overcast today and we only had glimpses of the mountains that would otherwise be in the distance. The overcast tends to heighten the colors, though, so that’s a plus. And the rain was barely noticeable until just before we got back to the car.

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Bald Eagles in Lemon Creek

Bald Eagles in Lemon Creek

Bald Eagles in Lemon Creek

Well, we landed in Juneau after a long day of flights and layovers in Los Angeles and Seattle. We slept well and didn’t worry about getting up early (although I woke up at 7:00 anyway). We took a walk with the dogs in Lemon Creek, where Dorothy is living with our good friends, Brian and Lisa. The dogs, Kippen and Ayla, are border collies and are a lot of fun. The walk in Lemon Creek is surprisingly pretty for something so close to their house and it was nice to get out. The air was cool and it was raining very lightly but we knew what to expect and were ready for it. I got one photo with three bald eagles in it but I think this one is better. You can see the one at the top of the tree pretty easily but there is a second that’s not quite so obvious a little ways down on the right side of the same tree.

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Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens

From Los Angeles we flew up the coast and had a nice view of Lake Tahoe. We also had a nice view of Yosemite Valley from the west and I was able to make out some of the most notable features, including Half Dome, Cathedral Rocks, and El Capitan. I only had my wide angle lens so the pictures I got were not very good, although I can identify landmarks pretty well. A little further on we passed Mounts Hood, Adams, St. Helens, and Rainier. At this point I had retrieved my 100mm lens was able to get some nice pictures such as this one of Mount St. Helens in Washington. You can clearly see the hole in the top from when it blew its lid in 1980, an event that I remember vividly from the news reports of the time (but thankfully didn’t experience anywhere near first hand).

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