September 12th - September 20th

Table of Contents
  1. Spenard Hostel, very Friendly
  2. Still feeling like crap.
  3. Riding the Tony Knowles Trail
  4. Hiking up Flattop Mountain
  5. Carlos Lozano's place.
  6. Homer Alaska
  7. Russian Villages in Alaska?
  8. Seward and the Alaska Sealife Center
  9. Whittier, Odd..
  10. Back in Anchorage

Summary September 12th – September 20th

            Anchorage Part 1 (Spenard Hostel, Carlos Lozano’s, and the Kenai Peninsula)

September 12, 2001 Spenard Hostel, Anchorage Alaska. (13th)

            Yesterday was long. I spent most of it working through the strange feelings that I’m sure most people are having after this odd, and unbelievable turn of events that have taken place. I forced myself to get up, after one of my bunkmates snored quite often during the night. I woke up early, shaved my head, and took a shower. Then I had breakfast, and walked out of the Hostel to look for some parking, so that I could explore Downtown Anchorage.

            I took kind of a roundabout walking tour of the city. The highlights were: an art gallery, the Public Lands place, where I walked through a metal detector to get in, the grass roof on the visitor center, the Knowles trail that extends 14 miles along the shore, (I didn’t walk it, but I went along it a little), also the “Alaska Job’s” center, where I looked for employment in the Area. Also, the library, which was huge, although the line, and method for signing up for Internet access was ridiculous.

            The job center was very helpful, but they were a little unprepared for some of the questions that I had for them. After a little talking, they got it, and provided me with some great information. I walked around the downtown area quite a bit. I parked in a parking garage, and figured that I would have to pay the 5 dollars that was the charge for it.

I also paid for Internet access in a smoking Internet café, which was ridiculous. A woman sat down next to me, and was smoking a cigarette. She stank, and was stinky stinky, and my throat hurt sitting next to her. I focused on what I was doing, which was e-mailing, and ACS Alaska, in order to send them notes about my job search. The guy didn’t have any idea about the machines, and one of them kept puking each time I tried to use it. I hit the properties on the Network Neighborhood, and explorer sent an error. Gotta love Microsoft.

Anchorage didn’t really impress me that much. I almost regret a little putting in the applications at the two ISP’s, just because I don’t really think that I would stay in town. The applications were for: a UNIX System Administrator, and for a kind of Team Leader / Director of a department at ACS Alaska. I looked also later for a couple things at the State, and at the University. But, by the time I got around to applying for the other two jobs, I hadn’t found current listings for the University and State Jobs, so I didn’t end up applying for them over the Internet.

I went out to the Bar the night before, and met a couple sitting at a table. I spoke with the one, and I asked her what she thought of Anchorage. She said, “It’s a little Pedestrian”. I think her description is fitting, at least so far as I have seen. Most of the culture is slightly sparse. Most of the things that are authentic are Native. I went to a Musk Ox wool co – op, and talked with the Native People that worked there. One was working on separating the wool, another was working the desk, and a third was on the phones. A little baby’s hat was 140 dollars, and a bandana that was knitted, brown and white, which is bleached was 265 dollars. Very expensive. Neat and soft though.

A couple times I went back to my car, and ate a little. I was wearing my thumbreaker outfit during the day. A couple people who saw me were a little concerned. I got second looks during the day, and while I was sitting in my car eating. I think people were definitely on edge following the events of the day before. Other than the Musk Ox wool place, there were furriers, and a bunch of fast food places, hotels, etc. Not much neat cultural things. Nor historical things, nor anything that was really super interesting. Even the Town square park was a little plain. I think the architect of it could have used some help in designing and implementing the plan. The benches didn’t look like benches; they looked more like arm rests. They didn’t really look inviting to sit on. They almost looked like if you sat on them, they would have kind of not felt like you fit in with the surroundings. One could tell that there was a lot of money in Anchorage. There were flowers hanging from many of the streetlights, and there were police and law enforcement officers at several corners, making sure that things were ok. I liked that.

But, overall my impression with the town is that it is a little plain. I think that it could certainly use some spice in the town to make it a little interesting. Maybe a little more history. It has money that is evident from the Oil, and it has a lot of nice parks, but other than that, it is a little plain. Plain Jane. I will explore again today by car, and check things out. I skipped the Museum, because I don’t think that that gives one a good sense of a town. I am surprised that I like Fairbanks more. I think I will check out the University, and the college community today to see what that is like. I am surprised that I like Fairbanks more. I think I will check out the University, and the college community today to see what that is like.     

Maybe I will walk around Midtown. That is a little like what downtown Rochester is like. However a little more sprawled out. Midtown looks a little like Henrietta. Maybe I will check out the malls today, and possibly REI, and the other Outfitter in the Area. I think I will do these things. I am surprised that I feel the way I do, but I do.

Each of the places I went, I kind of looked for televisions for updates on the crap that happened. I really still can’t believe it happened. What an unbelievable event. I still think that the most exciting place to live would be New York City, even after the tragedy happened.

What else did I do yesterday? Oh, I walked around a bit, and made it to the Hostel that I am in now, it is only 16 dollars a night, and I like it. There are phones that I can dial in with, and places that I can eat, and shower. Plus places that I can park. So, it seems like I am saving a couple dollars on different things by paying the 16 dollars for the night stay. It is very reasonable. I crushed cans this morning, and put away dishes in each of the zones for my chores this morning. Maybe I will ask the houseparent about fun things to do in the area, or about groceries.

I saw the train station, and I saw green railings with red fish on them. I saw the industrial area down by the water. The shoreline is not as pretty as I thought it would be. – I may walk on the Tony Knowles trail today also. Depending on the weather. It looks a little crappy.

There are a lot of tourists in downtown Anchorage. They either take the tour busses, or they do independent tours. It was really empty downtown, not too many people. I think it was partly because of the tragedy, and partly because of the weather.

I am off to explore more of Anchorage.

Thursday, September 13, 2001 Spenard Hostel, Anchorage Alaska.

            Today was another day of walking around Anchorage like a zombie. I did less walking, and more typing though, so it seemed a little different. I decided that I was actually doing pretty good economically with the needs that I had in the Anchorage area staying at the hostel, to stay another day. The 16 dollars that I was paying, bought me convenience, a bed, a shower, Internet access, social interaction, and parking. Not too bad.

            So, I am here again, and may stay another night. Not too sure though. I would love to be able to stay with Martina. I will see how that goes. I don’t want to encroach, but from her e-mails she seems to be kind of nice, and interested in talking and getting to know me.

            Anyway, I woke up this morning, and since we don’t have to be out until noon, was a little lazy, and worked on the last couple updates that I haven’t written yet. I worked on yesterdays, and I worked on the 9th that I didn’t do, since I was too tired.

            I never got around to it, since the accident happened, and I hadn’t felt like it. So, I typed for several hours this morning. Maybe tomorrow morning I will get caught up with the entries that I penned in while I was hiking in Denali. Not sure about that though.

            So, then I drove around, Anchorage. It was a rainy dreary day, pretty terrible if you ask me. Most of the faces that you see on people are not happy. People are looking sad. In the grocery store, most people didn’t really talk to loud or boisterously. They were solemn and somber looking. Kind of the way that I feel. It’s funny. I feel depressed, even though I don’t really have any personal reason to be. I am angry that this event spoiled the end of my vacation.

            I don’t feel like being on vacation any more. I feel like being home with my friends and family. I am not too interested in doing touristy things, nor am I feeling very happy. I really feel bla. I think people that at least have work to go back to can focus on that, and kind of forget about this thing. I don’t even have work to go back to. Bumm, bummity bummer.

            I have to go through the process of getting over it, like it’s an extended vacation. I don’t think that being alone will help. I think I need to be with other people, and not thinking about it. Doing solitary things really hasn’t helped me. – I don’t feel like doing them. I don’t feel like biking, I don’t feel like hiking, I don’t feel like kayaking, I don’t feel like working on the website, I don’t feel like anything. I feel like being home with my friends and family, and working.

            And, I am not. I am in this hostel with a bunch of folks whom I don’t know, and whom don’t really mean too much to me. Hmm. Maybe I should work on the website, that might take my mind off this other crap that’s going on. In fact, thinking about it has put me in a little better mood. Maybe I will go and do that.

            So, on to the update. I drove around today, and tried to get lost. I drove to REI, and bought webbing, I drove to Fred Meyers, and bought food. I hiked around a lake, and I hiked around Earthquake Park, and some Skijor trails + worked on some journal updates. That’s about it. 

Friday September 14, 2001 Spenard Hostel

            Today, I woke up and decided to ride the Tony Knowles Trail. I got up, and took a shower earlier than I meant to, then I got my bike together, and started riding. I made a detour to R.E.I. to get a nut / bolt for my seat post clamp. I noticed that it was threaded earlier, which is why it mounted better. I stripped the bolt this morning and had to replace it.

            I met Carlos, and he got me a new one, and invited me to spend the night at his place if I wanted. Cool. Not sure if I will call him though. Then I rode to Earthquake Park, to the Tony Knowles trail. Took a right and rode to the trailhead. Rode back, then to the end. At the end is Kincaid Park. Rode around there a little. Saw two black bears on the trail. Rode around. Oil is missing in my fork. I need to replace it. It bangs when the shock compresses.

            Rode back, and waited for call from Martina. Didn’t get one. I wonder if she tried to get a hold of me when I was riding. Still a little annoyed that she didn’t get a hold of me.

Got back, waited, nothing. Worked on website a bit.

            Hooked up with a couple guys heading to the movies and dinner. Ed, Joe, etc. We went to the Horses Tooth, and couldn’t get a ticket to sit together. Then we drove to Moose’s Tooth, and had pizza and beer. It was good. Then back for the movie. More beer, and popcorn. Then to Chilkoot Charlie’s, and it was 6-dollar cover. Didn’t go in. Then to the United States Bush company (Strip club run by the Hells Angles).

            Hung out there, and watched the strippers a while. Then drove back, and passed out.

Saturday and Sunday 15th, 16th of September

            This is a strictly a documentation update for the last two days, because I am totally exhausted.

Saturday was my last day at the Hostel. I decided that I would do the day rate, only to find out later that the guy that took over for Lacy wouldn’t let me do it. Jerk. SO, I said who cares, and decided to call Carlos, who I had met at REI’s bike shop on Friday for a place to stay, and if he couldn’t help me, that was fine too.

            So, I woke up, and got my stuff together, and left the Hostel. I told Corey, Andrew, and Ed. Corey was the bigger kind of Bearish looking guy with longer balding hair, Andrew was shorter, kinky brown hair, and Ed was the fisherman who had the degree in industrial engineering. Guys I went out with on Friday night that I was going to cruise up to Flattop Mountain, and asked if they wanted to go.

            They were all game, and we went up there. Also, there was a market, so we drove down to that first, and checked it out. That was cool. There was some good stuff; there was also some cheap stuff. There was kind of some entertainment also, and a bunch of food vendors selling hot food. Ed went up to a woman selling individual fruit, and asked how much an avocado and a peach were. They were like two dollars each. I thought that was ridiculous, so did he, so he didn’t get either. They were pretty expensive at the Fred Meyer also. I don’t think he got any.

            We drove to the market, found a parking spot. I navigated, and got us there safely. Then walked around for about an hour. Then we looked on the map, and drove to Flattop Mountain. It turns out that we had to hike up the mountain to get to the top. I had no problem with this, took my little fanny pack, and put a water container in it. Corey and Andrew asked a couple times to have some of the water. Ed was prepared for the hike too, and brought a little daypack of his own. I am actually wearing the same thing that I wore for the hike, except for the tee shirt, socks and such. I wore my khaki pants, and my Capilene shirt, and my blue fleece top. I was a little sweaty when I got to the top, because there were some parts that required the use of one’s hands. It was a little sketchy, and I was impressed that people would climb up there with their kids.

            We all made it except Andrew, and he helped a woman down who had broken her leg. We got to the bottom, and drove to Fred Meyer. We got groceries, and I got a hold of Carlos, and asked him if I could crash tonight. He said cool. I also got the message from Jen, who was into hanging out later.  After groceries, we drove back to the Hostel. I called Jen and we agreed to meet at the movie theater.

            We met there, and we say “O”, it was a modern day Othello, and it was pretty good. It was quite depressing in light of current events, and we both agreed that we probably could have picked a more fun one. But after it was over we went for a drink at the Martini place downtown, and enjoyed it there. It was a cool hip place, with a little Bocce ball court, fountain, and mirrors on the lawn. It kind of felt like a house party when we were there.  I liked it. They had one of those Panasonic Flat screen TV’s in the main room, over the fireplace, and it was surfing the web, cycling through the personal adds for 35 year and older women. Kind of weird that they had the site up, but the TV was cool, I hadn’t seen one in person before.

            Then we went for Ice Cream, and enjoyed our time there. The only thing really to note about the date is that Jen was a Christian, and most of our conversation, I could make her laugh. But her eyes only really lit up; when I said that Nathan was a minister. She said “HE IS???” then said, I’m a Christian too. I could tell that she wanted to meet a nice Christian guy, and I think the fact that he was Christian made her think that I might be as devout as he. – We had that talk, and I told her my beliefs. Then she was back to normal mode.

            We said goodbye, and I followed her to where I would find Carlos’ street. I found his house, but it was 11:45, and I said I would be there around 11:00PM. I rang the doorbell, but he didn’t answer. So, I slept in my car.

Sunday. 16th

When I woke up, I really had to pee, so I decided not to wait around for him, and drove to the nearest gas station, and used the bathroom. I then decided it was time to drive to Seward, so I was in the process of packing up my car, and he pulled into the lot, and said, “What’s up”. He said he saw me this morning, and thought, “Now where did he go?”

So, he invited me back to his place, and I certainly obliged. His friends were interested in riding, so we got my bike together. I looked online for the fork manual. I found it. The bottom of my fork had come unscrewed because of the knocking on the side of my car pod. It was knocking, and wasn’t getting any compression, because of this. I thought it was because of the lack of oil, but we looked at the manufacture specs, and it told us the amount we should have, and we measured it, and it was ok. – So, I then put it together that I just needed to tighten up the screw, and I should be good to go.

Sure enough, it did the trick. I was stoked. Carlos, even drove to REI, and got me some fork oil. He totally didn’t have to do that, but he did, and it was really cool of him. He is a super nice guy. We got the bikes together and met his friends. We first met Phil, who was shorter, and had kind of a power thing going on. He liked to be first. I guess I do too though. Then we met Brian who was funny. Kind of muscular, and shorter curly hair, and kind of a quick straightforward, opinionated straight guy. Then Jeff and Beth, who were married, and were very cool. Jeff was very jovial and funny. Tall too. Beth was little shorter, blonde. Jeff was part Greek. Both met in the military, and grew together. They were both teachers, and Jeff was also a Caterpillar salesman.

It was a good crew. I got some fun shots of everyone. Of course my battery was on it’s way south, so I didn’t get as many as I could. Bummer.

We decided to shuttle, so that we could just ride down from Flattop. We rode for about 3 hours. The riding was mostly single and double track. Excellent terrain, fast and hard packed. A little less than Ithaca, but more of it. There was one section that was very fast downhill, and it was sketchy too. It was very narrow, rutted single track, over a long prolonged downhill. I think I must have gotten up to at least 40 miles per hour on it. A couple parts, I was nervous, because of how rutty the track was, and how fast I was going. If I got sideways a bit, I would have biffed quite easily. Would have been bad business.

There was a lot of fast up and down rooty sections too. Those were less fun, but still a gas. It was a good ride. At the end, we hung out, and had a few beers. Then we went to “Little Italy”, Italian and Greek Cuisine. And had two pizzas, two pitchers, and a bunch of water. Oh, and a veggie appetizer.

The waiter told us jokes. About a guy with no balls. Who couldn’t get hired anywhere, then he went to a government job, and the guy told him he had all the right qualifications, do you have any physical problems we should be aware of. The guy said, well I don’t have any balls, but I can do anything. The guy said, your hired, you start tomorrow at 2:00PM. The guy thought about it, and said, 2 pm, not earlier. Oh, this is government work, from 8:00AM, to 2:00PM; we sit around scratching our balls.

Then we left, I said goodbye to everyone, and Carlos and I drove back. I organized my car slightly, and brought some stuff in. Charger, etc. I took a shower, and felt like a million bucks afterward. Then Now, I am journalizing. Good Night. 

Monday September 17, 2001 McDonalds Parking Lot, Homer, AK

            I left Anchorage today with the intention of exploring the Kenai Peninsula. I told Carlos that I was going to head to Seward / Whittier to do some Sea Kayaking. Possibly an overnight. He hooked me up with one of his friends, who gave me the lowdown on the places to Kayak in Whittier. Whittier is right on the Prince William sound, and is a great access point to a lot of little Islands in the sound, that one can explore via Kayak.

            I hit a couple tire shops, the Fred Meyer, and a gas station on the way out of town. The one tire place tried to sell me 4 new tires, then recommended me a used tire place. I went to the used tire place, and the guy said I don’t need the same kind of tire. I guess the jury is still out on whether or not I need a matching set. So far, with the spare I have on, things seem to be working ok. Plus the people that have told me I don’t need all four seem to be in the used parts business, so I guess I am inclined to believe them more.

            Fred Meyer was Fred Meyer. I kind of like the “Self Checkout” thing, but the assistant kind of annoyed me today. She kind of butted in, while I was trying to figure something out. I had it, and she did it for me. It didn’t anger, but annoyed me. She also took my basket, and I was going to use it to bring my groc’s out. I had to find another.

            I was already on the way out of town, when I realized that I would need to fill my tank for the trip. So, I came back in town, and found a reasonable gas station. As I was filling my tank, I noticed a blonde woman trying to get her fuel cover open. She had an accident, and the whole other side of her car was crunched up. It apparently had bent the quarter panel on this side too, because she was having some problems. I got my key chain, and offered to help. She said, “Can you just… Someone has to do this while I pop it” – She didn’t really have to tell me what she needed. I figured it out, and actually thought about it while she was messing with it. Someone would need to push open the cover door, while she popped it from the inside. She popped, I pushed, and it opened. – Then, I was off to Kenai.

            When I got to Portage, which is the side of the Portage glacier, which is right off the road, and is a tidewater glacier, well, at least is brilliant blue like them, I went to the visitor center. It’s on a lake, so it’s not tidewater I guess.  Anyway, I looked where Whittier was on the map, and noticed that it was way North of Homer, and Seward. I got the schedule of tunnel openings to go from Portage to Whittier, and asked about the weather. It was raining at the time, and I really didn’t want to start Kayaking in the rain. I mean, if it started raining when I was out, ok, but to start kayaking in the rain, no fun. So, I thought about it a bit, then asked the distances to Homer, and Seward. “Seward is about an hour and ½ away, and Homer is about 3 +1/2 hours away.” The young woman at the desk told me.

I snapped some pics of the ice that had broken off the Portage Glacier, and floated to the Visitor Center, and read the lonely planet description of Homer. It put it in a pretty good light, and the woman at the visitor center said “Homer is my favorite place in Alaska”, in response to my question “Is there anything cool to do in Homer?” – So I decided I would take a drive.

The drive was kind of interesting. I went along a river, and through the middle of the Kenai Peninsula. It was quite flat in the middle, with Mountains on either end. Then down the coast. It was fun to see the ocean, and the Mountains on the other side. I didn’t stop on the last leg, because I was sick of driving, but since I didn’t I missed a couple shots of some very pretty Mountains in the Sun. The rain let up when I was about 40 minutes out of Homer, until I was about 5 minutes outside Homer. Then when I arrived, it was crappy.

I stopped on the “spit”, and listened to two voice mails. One from Devora, and the other from Martina. Then while I was leaving a message for Allison, Martina called back. She said she wanted to apologize for not calling me. I told her thanks, but it wasn’t necessary. I was grateful that she called, and impressed that she apologized.  We talked a bit, and agreed to hang out this week when I got back to Anchorage. Although I felt a little uneasy talking to her for some reason, I got the sense that she was again very nice, and I liked the words I heard from her. I am looking forward to seeing her. I hope she doesn’t go a little nuts when she sees that I sent her two e-mails.

Anyway, then I explored the “Homer Spit”, which was neat. It was cold, cloudy, and rainy on it, but was very nice to smell the Ocean. I walked along the rocky beach, that looked as if it was at low tide a little, and drove to the end of the spit, which terminated in a Hotel, took a couple pictures of the “Seamen’s Memorial”, which is a memorial to all those who have died at sea.

Then I drove back towards Homer. I stopped along the way at “The fishing Hole”, which is so dubbed, because it’s a place that fish and game people release some fish, but they can’t spawn in the water. I don’t know the reason for this. Maybe it’s to be able to catch the salmon when they come back. Anyway, it’s a little area where “TONS” of salmon were hanging out, and people were literally pulling them out of the water. I looked at one of the bills that was posted, and it said that it was legal to use weighted hooks, and do “Snag” fishing. Basically this means that the fisherman put sharp weighted hooks on the end’s of their lines, and pull them through the water very quickly, in an effort to snag the fish on a fin, or somewhere else. The reason they do this, is because most often when they are at this stage, they have stopped eating, and their flesh has started to rot. – So, they usually won’t bite on a hook.

It is quite successful, and in the space of about 20 minutes, I saw one guy pull out three. A guy right next to him pulled out one, and people all around, were pulling them out, and cleaning them right on the shore. Fish blood, and fish carcasses where littered pretty much everywhere. I looked at some bright red color that I walked through, thinking it was red paint, but it was blood.

The guy that pulled the fish out, took a large rock, and bashed the fishes head in to kill it, and stop it from flapping all around while it was out of water. It was a fairly gruesome sight. After witnessing this go on for a bit, my stomach kind of felt a little queasy. But it passed. There were little children, definitely younger than kindergarten age, fishing too, and trying to snag a fish.

I walked a bit to the right, and there was a place for people to clean their catches, and toss fish carcasses. I took a picture of some people cleaning the carcasses. I think one guy felt a little uncomfortable. But what the heck. I went to a remarkably clean public restroom, and an 7 or 8 year old kid asked me “Hey Mr. Did you catch any fish.” – I said “I wasn’t fishing, how about you.” – “Yup, I caught some.” “Great”, I said, and peed.

Then I headed back into town, and kind of drove around, looking at things. There are several little shops, bars, and café’s on the main drag. There is also a “Family Theater”, which was showing Rat Race, and something else I hadn’t heard of. People lined up for it in the rain. It looked like it was being shown in a Barn. Definitely no Surround Sound, nor stadium seating. I drove around the mountain, looking for a good place to park, but in the fog, I couldn’t really find anything I liked, so I drove to the end, and back in town. I found a nice spot near McDonalds, and will go there when I am done here. It’s in a little business park, and there are no lights on the one side of the lot. It should be fine.

September 18, 2001 Tuesday, Parking Lot of a Municipal Park in Seward, AK.

            I woke up, and went to McDonalds to use the bathroom. Then I drove around, and looked for a place to get a Chai Latte. I found two Sisters Café, which was at first thought run by two lesbians. I walked in, and they were playing Natalie Merchant, and a rather androgynous woman was getting coffee, to sit down next to her other masculine looking woman friend.

            I got the latte, and sat, and thought for a bit, then found yesterdays Anchorage paper, and thumbed through it. I found want ads, and funnies, and did the jumble. I got it, it was reasonably difficult. Then I tried to start a little conversation with the women in the place, and didn’t get too far. They weren’t super interested in talking with me. One recommended going out to the End of East End road, 20 miles in the same direction I had been going all day, to check out some Russian Villages. I wasn’t super interested in it, but said thanks, and went on my way.

            I drove away, and stopped, and noticed an art gallery, and decided to check it out. It was adjoined to the Two Sisters Café, and might have been called the two sisters Gallery. It had some interesting stuff. I bought a postcard, and a card. One for Mom, the other for Trinity. I should send them tomorrow.

            I had a nice conversation with the woman who was working there about the aesthetics of the place, and recycling, and the environment, etc. It was nice to talk with her about it. Two other people, who popped their heads in, informed her and me that Anchorage was now recycling plastic again. I thought that was cool, so I could dump off my several containers of Hummus.

            Oh, I must say, that the Chai Latte was definitely caffinated. I felt extremely energetic, and almost a little hyper when I was there. It actually was good energetic though. I had a good command of most of my vocabulary, and was able to sound and say intelligent things. It was good, but I wouldn’t want to depend on the caffeine to get it. – Kind of a mixed feeling about it. I think sticking without the caffeine is better. I only had ¾ of the cup of Latte too. 

            Then I drove to two other galleries, the Fireweed Gallery, and the Ptarmigan Gallery. They were right next door to each other. I went to Ptarmigan first, and was not too impressed.  I didn’t stay there long. Then I walked next door, and met Rowan. When I walked in, she was playing her guitar. She said hello, and stopped when I opened the door. I said, “Don’t stop”, but before she could respond, the phone rang, and she answered it. Then she got another call right after, and had to answer that too.

            I looked around, and asked about some little boxes that she had on one of the display tables. I asked if they were made in Alaska, and she said “No”, Tennessee. I was bummed, but I liked them so much for Mom, that I had to get one for her anyway. I at least got the name of the Artist who made them. We talked for a long while about what she did, and where she came from to get where she was. She was teaching Guitar lessons, taking lessons, giving Massage Therapy, and working in an Art Gallery. She had a lot of different professions too. She was a registered Nurse, and she had built a house, and patched a boat, and been a bartender, and a waitress, and had done a bunch of different things. Cut wood too.

            I was impressed. She also said, that on paper last year, she only made 4000 dollars. She said she probably made twice that. – I was really impressed that she lived on that little of money. I talked about toys a little, and she told me of the toys that she had. A mountain bike, and a kayak, and two cars, and two chain saws. I considered most of those, as kind of essential items. Except maybe the kayak, but living on the coast in Alaska, one kind of needs one of those. – Maybe not need, but the toy aspect diminishes the more you utilize the item. My camera is a toy, but is becoming less so, because I use it so so much. Get my drift.

            She told me of one time that she was employed to build a house in exchange for living there indefinitely. When she finished, the person that she was building it for backed out of the deal. I thought that was shitty. She said that she learned a lot out of it, like how to build a house. She looked at the positive side of the whole experience. That really amazed and impressed me. She also told me of the time that she was employed by another person to patch the side of a boat. It was supposed to take 7 days maximum, and it took 32 days. She was stranded on an Island the time that she and another person were repairing it. She had a 44, and a shotgun that she had to carry everywhere, because there were so many bears on the Island. She said that after she and the other person ran out of food, that they had to shoot and kill deer to survive. Wild. 

            Anyway, we talked, and I took her picture, and told her that I was going to put her up on the Internet. She was cool with that. I gave her the address, and my e-mail, and she gave me her mailing address, and name. I was kind of surprised about that, but she did. She also encouraged me to go to one of the Islands on the Kenai. I wasn’t really interested in that. But, she also told me that the Russian thing was a pretty good Idea. So, I thought that I would cruise down there. 

            Then I went to a gas station, then to a bank to get coin. Then I cruised out the end of East End road, and just went for a ride. It was a very long and twisty road. There were a couple spots along the way that were beautiful, and amazing enough to take a nice picture of. Other spots, I couldn’t see anything except the trees on either side of me.

            I got to the end of the road, where state maintenance ended, and the ruts got bad pretty quickly. Then things kind of took a turn for the weird. Rowan had mentioned something about driving through a Russian Village, and a parking lot to park the car. I had kind of envisioned something of a tourist Russian village with little shops and stuff. No way. All along the road, were little shacks, and small houses that looked normal “Out in the semi-bush” kind of fare. I didn’t notice any Russian flags, or people in odd garb along the way. I didn’t think twice about it.

            When I got to the parking lot, there were like 6 other cars parked in the lot. I remember Rowan saying that at the end of the road was a switchback trail, which was clearly marked, and a parking lot. I didn’t remember if she said to go down. She said, “I don’t recommend driving down the switchback trail”, but she didn’t say anything about walking down it. So, I was a little unsure. As I walked up, a woman walked up the trail, and got into her Minivan. I asked her what was down there, and she kind of ignored me I think.

            A guy standing next to his car on the left hand side of where I parked was Russian, and evidentially had problems driving back up the road. He had put chains on his tires, because he was skidding all over the place with his normal tires. He had a Dodge Neon. I asked him what was down there, and he said it’s a Russian Village. “It’s about a 30 minute walk, and watch out, they have built the road along the shoreline, so when the tide comes in, there is no road”, he said. He also said “Good luck trying to talk with those people, I tried to talk with them, and I spoke Russian to them, and they totally ignored me. It is there mission in life to ignore people.”

I thought 30 minutes was kind of far, but figured that since I was down here, I might as well check it out. I walked down one of the steepest roads that I have ever walked down. I couldn’t believe that it was actually a road. There were about 6 or so switchbacks along it, and at one point, the road went over a cliff, and straight down for about 150 feet.

            When I got to the bottom, I looked left and right, and couldn’t see a thing. I did see a kind of semi road that ran along the shoreline exactly, as the guy said. I made the bottom in 11 minutes, and expected that I was ahead of my estimated schedule. But as I walked further along the road, I thought less and less so. In a short while I passed the first little cottage. It was nothing special. But there were no visible people, and the only living things were two horses that were grazing in the fenced in field next to it. The house didn’t look Russian, except that it was up on the hill a little, and kind of out of sight. It had a little yellow thing on the door, that could have been Russian, but I think I was kind of thinking it might be anyway, so I kind of made it so.

            After about another 10 minute walk, the road split. To the right was the shore, where the shoreline road continued, in front of me, was a large field, behind a bunch of crab pots that were evidentially being stored on the field. To the left, looked like the main road, so I followed that. I got about 40 feet down the road, and noticed a sign that said “Private Property, No Trespassing”. I thought that was odd, since I was expecting a little touristy town type of thing, and figured maybe that was someone’s private road that they didn’t want you to go on.

            So, I headed back to the shoreline road. On the opposite side of the field, I could see a bunch of small houses, that looked very shoddy, and old. Kind of like those one expects to see in a frontier ghost town. However, I did notice Telephone and Electric poles connecting each of the houses. At least they had power. While I was walking along the shoreline road, the tide was coming in. Slowly. The field was about 10 feet above me to the left, so I didn’t have a good view of any of the houses in the little village. After a while of walking along the garbage littered shore, I saw a car motor, a pair of kid’s corduroy pants, a rusty broken tricycle, some beer bottles, and some plastic soda containers, I came to another entrance to the town.

            It was a grated bridge that went from the shoreline road, directly into town. All along the field was a barbed wire fence. Where the bridge went into town, was a large archway that went over the bridge. It had old signs on it, similar to the one on the first road. Private Property, No Trespassing. The one in the middle was hand painted, and it said No Hunting, or Tress, then the second line passing, private property. About 30 feet to the left directly into town, was an old broken down barn that looked pretty decapitated. I could see some of the houses down the road, but felt weird about walking down there, since the sign said to keep out.  A truck drove by me slowly on my way along the road, and two younger people, who were dressed in Russian Garb, kind of looked at me sideways. The young man kind of waved. The girl he was with just stared forward. She had a little bonnet on her head, and looked vaguely like a Mennonite / Amish type person.

            My idea of a tourist type town was swiftly diminishing, and I started feeling like something out of children of the corn. I continued down the shoreline drive, and another woman in a huge Ford F350 pickup truck passed me. She didn’t even look my way, and turned into the road. I continued along the shoreline road, which really wasn’t much more than a gravely pathway, along the sand, and came to the end of the 10 foot field. Straight ahead of me about a mile was a long wooden fence, and another house. This kind of made it’s way back to the left, but I couldn’t see if it went towards the village at all. It was about 2:45, and I had left my car at about 2, so I thought Screw it, they don’t want visitors, I won’t visit them.

            I turned around, and walked back the way I came. I felt kind of gypped, but didn’t really know what I was getting into anyway, so chalked it up to unprepared ness. Walking back, I was passed by another large pickup truck coming my direction very fast. I was a little concerned that he might hit me, and visions of a bunch of Russians gathering around, and deciding what to do with my body filled my head. He didn’t though, but passed me going about 40 on the gravely road. He didn’t even look in my direction, although I tried to look at him. He had a thick beard, and looked like an Amish type. Another older Subaru passed me going the same direction, neither of the two youths looked at me, and continued going along at a swift pace.

            My take from this is that it was an isolated Russian Village that really wished to stay Isolated. I respected that, and decided not to violate it by crossing their signs. When I got back to my car, I was sweating profusely from the walk up the cliff. I thought that I might have driven through the Russian village on the way down, but was still perplexed by what the 5 cars were doing lined up along the parking area. I continued up the road by foot, but then said screw it, and turned around to get in my car.

            Along the road back, I kind of got a little answer to my questions. I decided to take a right, and follow one of the other dirt roads instead of take the main road. I happened by a school that was just ending for the day. In the playground, were about 40 or so children all wearing Russian Garb, and speaking Russian to one and other. The school’s name was in English, and in Russian. The bathrooms outside were in English, and in Russian. The kids were all speaking Russian. Most of the boys were blonde haired and blue eyed. Most of the girls were too. The dress of the boys and girls were again like Amish folks. The women had handkerchiefs in their hair, and pastel colored dresses. The boys mostly had button down shirts, and little ties, and jackets.

            They were extremely curious about me. They stared directly at me, and one kid kind of walked right in front of my car, staring. He didn’t realize that he was walking in the road. It was definitely an odd experience. I smiled at one young girl, and she smiled back. I thought that was cool. Most of the other responses were kids looking at me like I was from Mars or something. It was definitely interesting.

            So, then I headed back into town, took a few snapshots, and started driving to Seward. I called Allison along the way and had a nice little chat with her. Then I continued along the way, and got here around 7:30. I am going to go to a gas station, to brush my teeth, and use the bathroom, and then find a place to crash.

September 19, 2001 Wednesday. Prince William Sound Kayak Center Boathouse, on a Picnic Table.

            I would say it is about 40 degrees or so in here. I can see my breath, and typing is a little difficult. I don’t think I am going to take the offer that was placed before me to sleep in here. I however did take the offer to hang out, and type, and I cooked a little pasta a while ago. Even after cutting my thumb, and letting too much raw pasta get into the pot, and burning a couple of the Ditalinis, it actually turned out pretty good. I added a tomato, and two slices of terrible processed cheese that would have stayed around forever, unless I used them.

            It is kind of nice in here, but it’s very large, and cold. I am however listening to Jazz on NPR. You gotta love NPR. I mean anything that you can get in Whittier, AK. is something that I love. I think right now, I am listening to Winton Marsalis Jazz Profiles, or something. I can still see my breath. I don’t think I am going to stay much longer than when I finish entering my journal.

            Today, I woke up a little early, because of the several cars that drove by mine early in the morning. Then I changed, and shaved, drove down to the public restrooms, and had breakfast. My milk ran out, and I finished eating my corn bran this afternoon. So, breakfast tomorrow will be oatmeal. I talked with Carlos today, and he mentioned that the dog ate my raisins. I wondered where those went. Oh well. He wasn’t upset that the dog ate them, which was a good thing.

            I then cruised over to the Alaska Marine Wildlife Center to check it out. It was large and one could tell that the planners / owners dumped a large amount of money into it. 50% or more of the funds that built it came from the Exxon Oil Spill settlement. I could tell by the first large screen introduction video, that they just needed another “little something” to blow another 10 grand on. The video screen was a reverse projection screen, the size of which I have never seen equal. There was also a surround sound setup with it, and they were showing this little video that looped every 3.5 minutes. The video was kind of a waste, with no narration, except some inspirational words that came out every once in a while. Like “Explore”, “Discover”, etc.

            There was also a marine rehabilitation exhibit, and several aquariums’ here and there showing different species of fish, and plant life. The main display area had harbor seals, a large endangered sea lion, and several species of marine birds. Believe it, or not, my favorite was the birds. I got to see a feeding, and it was wild to have them flying around, and narrowly missing me. My favorites were the tufted puffins. They couldn’t fly, but could swim great. They dove deeply for their fish, and one could see below how they swam to get their fish, and on the surface how they behaved grooming themselves after they ate. It was neat, and I got a lot of footage from that.

The Settler Sea Lion was my second favorite. He was huge, almost 1000 lbs. He made a lot of noise, and seemed to hang out by a door in the rear of his living area.  He came toward me, and eyed me for a bit. It was kind of neat. I could totally tell that he was looking at me, although he might not have been. I forgot what his name was.

Downstairs was cool to watch the harbor seals. They swam a lot in the water, and were neat to watch. I was disappointed they didn’t have any dolphins. In another exhibit, you could also touch some marine life. Sea Anemones’ and spiked creatures, and crabs. The sea anemones kind of sucked on to you when you touched them. Our skin is too thick to be effected by the numbing stuff that they secrete to kill and eat fish.

A little kid that sounded kind of cute narrated the exit video. Then I jammed.

I drove around town, and got very depressed listening to the Economic report. Even more depressed thinking about getting a job when I get back. I cheered my self up a little saying that “Something will work out”. – I sure hope it does. I’m not sure if I paid Doug through October. I think I did, but I am unsure. I will have to check that out tomorrow.

I guess I will feel a little bad if I don’t kayak tomorrow, but if it’s going to be super cold, and not too much fun, then I really don’t think I want to anyway. I think I won’t have too much fun on the water when it is cold, so why make myself be uncomfortable. I guess I will be slightly disappointed, but I should have planned earlier for an extended kayaking trip. Next time.

Ok, then I was off for the Exit Glacier. I got there, and checked it out a bit. I liked it much better than the Mendenhall, because the hike to get up close to the glacier was much shorter than the Mendenhall, and it was just as spectacular. Even more I think. I also liked very much the fact that there were quite few people around, so it wasn’t busy, and I didn’t have to struggle to get any pictures.

Then on the end of the hike, I asked about the Ice Field, which was about a 6 hour round trip, as told by the park Ranger. He was talking with Kathy, whom I also talked with a bit. She was from Florida, and was on vacation with her Husband who was gambling. We talked about all the thing that I find interesting. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. More about jobs, and where each of us had lived, etc. She was quite interesting to talk with. I like talking with people. It’s much fun. I gave her my e-mail, and web site, and she said she would check it out. As we were walking out looking at the trail, she said “God I miss vertical relief.” I said, “That’s an interesting way to put it, is it flat where you are from?” “You have to walk on a bridge to get a vista” was here response. – She was a biologist, and I told her what my father did, and she was interested.

We said goodbye, and I drove to Whittier. I got here, and went through the 15-dollar tunnel. It was basically a train tunnel, which they had widened to allow for passenger vehicles, and busses. Whittier is small small small. The interesting thing about it is that it was a Military base until 1968, and there are two “Hi Rises” in the town. One is 14 stories, and about ½ of the town lives in it. As it turns out, it would have been good to kayak a couple days ago, even last weekend. But now, the weather is turning bad. Bummer, but I don’t really mind, I got to see homer, and I got to see Seward. So, my instinct to do breadth first searches kind of took over in my exploration of the Kenai Peninsula.

I don’t have a problem with that. There is only so much time to do things. So, I came into town, and went to the first Kayak place, and the guy seemed to indicate that the weather was going to be pretty bad. Then I drove around, and went to the other place, and that guy seemed quite iffy about the weather also. Even for a day excursion. But, he said I could sleep in the boathouse if I wanted. So, I thought that I would hang here. He invited me in, and we listened to the weather report, and it didn’t sound good. Seas to 24 feet on the ocean side for the weekend. – I definitely don’t want to deal with that.

His name was Perry, and there is even a bed in here, which I could have slept on. I won’t though, because as I said before, it’s cold. I can still see my breath. Even though my fingers have slightly thawed out, because of the typing. But not really. I saw a little Paramiscus walking on the ground around the outside of the boathouse. This thing is really like an airplane hangar it’s so big. I would say it’s probably three times the size of Rock Ventures. It quite possibly could have been an airplane hangar back in the Military times. There is stuff everywhere littered on the ground. I would love to own one of these things. That would be so cool just to have all this space. Maybe not to heat it, but to have all this space would be super cool.

To give you an idea of how big this place is, I just walked from one side to the other in the short direction, and it was about 40 paces. Those are leisurely, but still 40 paces. The other direction is about three times as long, so maybe 120 paces. Along ¼ of the south wall is an old Bus style RV. Along the East wall are two boats. One is at least 40 feet long, and the other I would describe as a yacht. It is longer than the first, and is more than ½ the size of the room width wise. On the west wall, there are a bunch of kayaks in storage. There are two racks of them end to end, and that doesn’t take up then entire length of the place width wise. The walls are all cement, and the ceiling has 5 large steel girders that peak in the middle width wise. This place is really the size of a gymnasium. There is a basketball court on the one end. It has stuff propped on it, otherwise I would shoot hoops.

This guy Perry is pretty cool man. He has a ton of old albums. Ton’s of Steely Dan, America, a Pink Floyd album (Animals), Van Morrison, Greatful Dead, Billy Joel, Doors, you name it. – I am going to bed. Tired.  

September 20, 2001. (21st) ZJ Loussaic Public Library, Anchorage, AK.

            This will be brief.

Thursday, I woke up in Whittier, and the weather was going to be poor this weekend for kayaking, so I didn’t go out. The Sea Report said that they were going to get 24-foot swells on the ocean. So, I talked a little with Perry and he gave me the lowdown on the building. He said it was the old gymnasium, and is now functioning as a boathouse.

            It is 120 feet, by 80 feet, by 45 feet tall at the highest point. When the military had moved out, they had gutted it. Taken all the wood out, and left the bear cement standing. We chatted for a while, and I gave him my website and stuff. Then I got my stuff together, and looked at the tunnel schedule. I had about 30 minutes to kill, and the town is small, so I went to check out the falls, then took some pictures of the small boat yard, and stuff. Perry also told me about the tunnel, and how they didn’t give any money to the town; they kind of just stopped at the creek. – No parking lot, no nothing. I saw his point, and noticed that the road up to the creek was new, and the road past it was old and rutty.

            Then, I went through the tunnel, and back to Carlos’. It was sunny on the way back, and the weather on one side of the mountains in Whittier was completely different from the weather on the other side in Portage. Cloudy and overcast to sunny and bright.

            Back at Carlos’ I took a shower, and it felt fine to have 10 layers of dead skin off my body. Then we went to the Bear Tooth for lunch. I had a burrito. I was surprised that it was good, because at the Movies when we got our order of Nachos, it was pretty lame. Burrito was big and good. Didn’t come back to haunt me either.

            Then, I got e-mail and made some phone calls, and basically relaxed for most of the rest of the day. I went to bed early, because I was exhausted and I felt a little on the sick side. I didn’t sleep that well though, and in the middle of the night, I kind of got up, and thought for a long time, and couldn’t get back to sleep for a while. I thought of a good company name, and who could be on my board of directors. I thought about what I would do when I got back to Rochester. It took me several hours to get back to sleep. I also thought about the jobs that I had applied to, and the things that I was doing in Anchorage. I guess I am still on the fence about staying here, it wouldn’t be bad, but it might be a little boring in the wintertime.

            Oh, Bushes address to a joint session of congress, and the nation was on around 5:00PM. I watched, and it was powerful and a firm warning to Afghanistan, but he didn’t really say that much more than he already had. Martina called during it, and I asked her if I could call her back. She told me her plans for the weekend were to hike the “Crow’s Pass” trail from Eagle River to the other end. I thought it might be neat to join her, but was iffy on how I felt. She was going to call me in the morning to firm up plans.

            I didn’t write in my journal, because I was tired, and then went to bed.