Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hiking the Breadline

Near Annie and David's place was a sign to the Breadline trail. Because it supposedly crossed somewhere near their home, and because both Richard and Alex had done it we went. No one indicated how brutally tough this hike was going to be and about 3/4 of a mile into the trek, I was reminded of my sister, Lynn, who laughed at how much folks whined when just starting the Appalachian Trail which she has completely hiked. So...I tried to not whine!
 An intelligent person who read this posting might have chosen to not try the hike. Fortunately, we found this at the end of the trail! Apparently, this is only worth posting at one starting point!
I did ask why this was called, "The Breadline" and Alex indicated I should look down over the bluff...that is where peoples' "bread" or living came from! We looked right down into the Lynn Canal which was teaming with jumping fish.
Our trail was very narrow and we were fairly certain, most of the time, that we were on the "trail." There were a few instances when trees blocked everything and we had to crawl around looking for evidence of where the trail might resume. Alex was great at this...amazing skills he has picked up.

For those of us who are parents, we spent so many years leading our youngsters, holding their hands and protecting them. Then, one day, if we live long enough, we get to see our children guide us, taking our hand and helping us face whatever is confronting us.

 That was the experience I had with our son. Alex led; planned; assisted and he motivated us to keep going.
This was a very steep section and Alex was looking at the path, looking at the roots and then, looking up the hill at his momma to see how best to get me down without my hurting myself. I did not fall once and every time I thought I might need a guide, a hand, a shoulder to lean on...he was there.

 Saw a bunch of mushrooms, some of which are poisonous. Saw these brightly orange fungi of some sort. Very pretty and I must look them up to see what they are.
Most of the time, as I indicated, there was a path of sorts. This gooey, mucky mess morphed into our path for about a 1/4 of a mile towards the end. Surrounding the path, no matter what kind were the Devil's Club you see to the left...big and leafy and prickly. On the right, the huge green leaves are "skunk cabbage" which the bears apparently enjoy when they come out of hibernation. Steep, tough terrain...had a ball!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Alaskan wildlife

While we were out hopping over rocks to get to a primo fishing spot, we ran across this huge anemone. Really could see it "breathing." And, we have been on the look out for a bear to photograph and while we did see a small cinnamon bear, a black bear but brown, around a turn in the road, we couldn't get a shot at him because the car scared him off.
It is very common to spot bald eagles everywhere. Saw one yesterday with what Alex thought was about a five pound salmon in his beak. Very cool. There is a huge eagle building a nest near Annie's deck and Richard keeps seeing him carrying huge sticks and what looks like seaweed. Haven't viewed the nest yet, but we are trying to locate it.
We have seen quite a few stellar seals...huge, several hundred pounds a piece. Saw one on our breadline hike yesterday. This photo is of the stellar seals snuggled up in a buoy which we saw the other day when we were out. These guys somehow climb up into this buoy and settle in. Fascinating is the one that climbed up to the middle of the buoy. He was dead asleep.

Juneau, Alaska

 I haven't been to Alaska in several years and I forgot how pristine and gorgeous this place is. The scenery is outrageously spectacular. From the glacier bed seen here to the ice covered mountain tops, there is nothing to not like and enjoy. If you want cold and ice...they have it. If you want greenery and lush it. Want wildlife...check. Gorgeous indigenous craftwork...done.


One problem we are having which is a bit unsettling for me and which our son has adapted to very well is the lack of connectivity. I find it frustrating that I cannot make a call when I want. I now understand why his calls are always made to us on the way to or from work. The mountains just get in the way of reception. An issue that I think, with time, I could trade for the wonderful views.

 We walked out over this seaweed and the rocks to get out to a fishing area. Richard and Alex have been able to fish almost every day and sometimes...twice per day. It is truly a blessing to have lived long enough to see our son enjoy a sport and activity that his father tried to share with him when he was younger and which he absolutely hated and wouldn't try. Today, he is eager to head out and Richard has brought him many a fishing pole, lures and more.  Poking our way carefully over this rock beach took some doing. I worried that I might fall and break my already hurting back....but did just fine. "Beach" is used quite a bit here and we actually did visit a sandy beach which was immediately covered quickly by the rising tide.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Western Union...the alternative to checks

Our son, being a responsible young man, needed to pay off a debt to us recently. He had asked that I order a book for his sister and he wanted an upgrade on his phone. Because I had been at war, AGAIN, with Verizon, I was able to get him a $39. upgrade to an I phone 4. Because Alex doesn't have a bank account with checks, he decided to wire the money to us via Western Union. That might be a great idea if one lives in a city...but, the closest location to us was at a Shell gas station 17 miles away.

No problem. Off I went to get the payment sent very quickly after I had told him the amount required. Start to finish, the process of retrieving the $59. took one hour and a half, including drive time. What took so long? Well, Alex sent me a code which I needed to give to the cashier. When asked, I told the Shell cashier I had the code and he pointed to an old fashioned white phone and asked me to dial the number taped to the phone handle.

The person answering the phone,  asked me for the code and then....we began playing 40 questions. I was asked my name, which I got wrong! I said, "Teresa Calkins" and was told that was incorrect. At this point, I became intrigued. Alex would never have given my name starting with Maria. So, I gave the Western Union rep, "Maria Teresa Calkins" and we moved on to my address, my PO Box number, our zip, my driver's license number, our son's name and finally, his address, which I could not remember. I had the street name correct, but not the actual house number. But this is the good ole USA, so, I was given another chance...what is the zip code for Juneau? Somehow, I pulled that out of my butt and got it correct. Final question? How much money is being sent to you? I knew that because I had told Alex the amount and assumed he was sending the whole amount.

At this point, I was asked to write down another code, which I did. I had to give this to the Shell cashier, which he punched into another device. That printed out a code which he could input and which generated a lengthy yellow receipt for me, and a much shorter Western Union check.  Western Union checks cannot be cashed anywhere other than at a Western Union station, by the way. So, the cashier cashed my check and gave me the $59. and asked me to sign the check indicating that I had actually received the money.

Transaction complete! Now, inquiring minds had to ask...what happens if I am sent $2000.? The cashier said he could handle that but I would have to call ahead a couple of days to let him know that this was going to happen. Additionally, I would need to  know what time I would come in because he would have to go to the bank to get that much cash. The whole way home I kept thinking that it would really be much easier to buy a box of checks than go through such a tedious process. When I got home, I called Alex to share this process with him.

To send the money to me, he had to answer only four questions and he did not have my driver's license number and couldn't have given that if anyone had asked. Nor did he give my name as Maria Teresa Calkins. He didn't have to give a zip, just city and state. I mentioned to a now quite upset young man, that the cashier had told me that this process was much easier just a few months ago. Terrorism and fraud have caused Western Union to use much larger databases to confirm who is sending and receiving money. Yup...big brother is watching us and pulling bunches of pieces of data about us into pots so that places like Western Union can double check that I am not a terrorist nor have I stolen a code sent via text from my son's phone to me. WOW!! 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Delinquency...not pretty!

A friend I met while working in Kenya gave me an earful via Skype last night. I have been delinquent and negligent and just not communicating very well. Apologies. My mind has been occupied with organizational issues; settling into our life here in Caseville; reconnecting with Weight Watcher groups; training; gardening; assisting with and attending McKenzie, our second oldest granddaughter's graduation, banquets and open house. Other than that...I have not been busy at all!

Missing writing very much. Miss travelling to work abroad even more. Everything in our lives is pretty much the same. Heidi is still home bound and had another surgery and is on the mend. Both Logan and McKenzie are now college students and moving on to adulthood. Three of the younger grandkids: Chase, Owen and Addison will be going camping with us in Canada in August and that should be a great adventure.

Richard and I leave this next Monday for Juneau and we are looking forward to seeing Alex and visiting with Richard's sister, Annie and her husband, David. We anticipate taking some glacier and whaling trips that Alex has arranged with the company he works for: Allen Marine. Should be a riot and I have new hiking boots and plan to hike some not too difficult trails while out there. That trip will cover two weeks and then, right when we get back, we will enter "Cheeseburger" a 10 day celebration of Jimmy Buffet music, burgers of all types and tons of folks in town for the ongoing celebrations. The town actually resembles a city during this celebration.

Last weekend, we had a Motown group here. Serieux (serious) was a superb group with an outstanding saxophone player. Tickets were $7 in advance and the best music ever. People were singing along and dancing...lots of fond memories of the sixties and seventies were replayed.

I am learning more each day about gardening. My neighbor came over and helped me plant a bunch of flower bulbs and plants and I am smiling as they grow. It was fun trying to do some landscaping around the yard...needed to start making this place look less like a cottage and more like home. The veggie garden is also doing well and I am praying it doesn't burn up from all the heat and lack of watering while we are gone for two weeks. I want to can a bunch of tomatoes and need to make more zucchini relish this year. NO jam is happening...we have too much left over and unless grandkids are up and we have fried dough, we never use jam or jelly. Have to move to an every three year plan for making sweet things!

Speaking of which...the Brew Moon is still making the best macaroons which I should not be eating ever! I buy 10 at a time and freeze them and try to pace myself and not indulge too often. Love them.

I will get back to sharing...I have lots of photos that I have taken and will begin getting back on track. Part of my absence has been due to some health issues and all of the tests have been run and I am cancer free. Issues are treatable and I am now on track to having a caffeine free life. Second day and I am doing better than I thought I would do. Am also supposed to give up drinking red wine, for at least 30 days. I decided to have four ounces each night til the bottle, which was open, is emptied. Then, I will skip four or five days and open another bottle and resume the 4 ounce consumption. I must take a pill for the stomach acid but the doctor said if I am careful, I may be able to stop that after a year or so. So, working on this but so happy to hear all the biopsies were negative. Happiness!