Thursday, May 30, 2019

Perk of Academia

Today, there was a poster session at the UAF Arctic Research Open House.

I agreed to stand by a poster of my research and answer any questions that pop up. I gamely wore a sticker that said, "I'm a scientist! Have a question?" and stood there and nibbled on cheese and drank fancy flavored water. I also agreed to go because I learned that there would be puppies at this event:

So I went, and, indeed, there were puppies. I was already anticipating squeezin's on my way there!

6 weeks old!

I squoze one:

And then the other:

And some of the time I stood at my poster with my colleague:

A very successful event! Did I mention there were puppies??

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Arthropodic Friends

I love bumblebees! If I ever get a newfie, I'm going to name him Bombus.

Bombus blackfuzzybuttus:

Bombus orangefuzzybuttus:

Polygonia faunus (I looked this up for real!):

This is a Canadian Swallowtail. That I do know! It was sipping nectar from the bluebells:

Monday, May 20, 2019

Warm and boneless

Well, I guess we have charged right through spring in the last week and gone right to summer.

The trees are fully leafed out, and the dogs are boneless:

We put the screen door back on, and Roo lies in the doorway:

I wanted to photograph our newly green yard, but didn't want to disturb the Roo Bear, so I did it through the window:

I learned that we have a new family in the neighborhood that has baby goats, so MK and I decided to make cookies and go welcome them to the neighborhood because of course:

They were very personable and wanted to nuzzle:


DL is used to coming home to notes like this:

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Cordova III

On our last full day in Cordova, it quit raining for half a day, and the sun came out:

So we decided to drive to the present end of the Copper River Highway, which until a few years ago terminated at the Million Dollar Bridge. However, in recent years, the road to said Bridge has been washed out, and it now terminates shortly after crossing the Copper River.

The drive there is really beautiful, through low swamp that would be unbearably buggy in Fairbanks, but the constant breeze and cooler temperatures in Cordova keep bugs down.

Honkers arriving! Both Cordova and Homer host annual "Shorebird Festivals" to welcome them back. It had occurred a week prior to our trip.

The road goes along the bed of the old railroad that used to go to the Kennecott copper mines, at the time the richest copper strike in the world. After the copper was extracted, Kennecott became a ghost town, but at some point there was apparently a plan to turn the railroad bed into a highway and then extend this highway North to Chitina, but that plan got interrupted by the 1964 earthquake. Anyway, that is why this tiny rural highway whose only current purpose is for scenery and hiking is this wide and straight:

Swan! Either trumpeter or tundra. I cannot tell the difference, I am afraid.

A glacial view, one of many:

DL ponders:

The mouth of the Copper is quite anticlimactic. It is a much more violent river than the Tanana, but the mouth spreads into a gentle delta of many streams:

The end of the highway. This is Not the Million Dollar Bridge:

Another glacial view:

The half-a-bridge:

At the river, there was some snow left!

Camera timer selfie!

Down beneath the bridge, you can see how swift, deep, and turbulent the Copper is. This is why dipnetters in Chitna tie themselves to the shore. The Ahtna people say "The Copper never gives up her dead."

More swans!

A creepy section of forest. The entire road had a lot of standing dead trees. I'm not sure why. DL hypothesized that we were observing a process of succession, from a forest to a swamp.

These crazy yellow flowers were everywhere. I wish I had put something in the photo so you could see the scale. They were like the length of bananas, and wider.

Look how dam cool these beavers made their home environs! This dam was downstream:

And this dam was downstream:

Making a dam nice pond in between:

And you could see they were still dam hard at work:

Still making dam progress:

Another glacial view:

When we got back to town, it was raining again. We took a walk up behind town, and I showed DL my old post-supper walk, including the creepy old school. DL led me around to look at the side of it:

Gang-related graffiti! These Cordova kids apparently have a sense of humor!

The next morning, the weather was still mild (although drizzly). We got up early for breakfast and watched the fishing fleet head out, one boat by one:

A clearer day!

We are home now. The ladies were super happy to reclaim their couch:

Holy Dog got some very regal photos of them on this visit!



Spring also arrived Very Suddenly while we were gone. Roo and Cricket insisted in supervising me swapping out my tires:

Roo (the Official Spokesdog of Comings and Goings) "Rooooooo'ed" to be let out. Then, after I had lowered the jack on the last tire and rolled the last winter tire into storage, she promptly "Rooooooooo'ed" to go back inside.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Cordova II

Yesterday afternoon, DL and I took a walk down among the docks and seawall even though it was raining. It seemed like it would never stop, so we figured, what are raincoats and boots for? People here all live their lives with 148.37 inches (226 cm) of annual rainfall.

How different the seawall looked! I had only ever been out there at high tide. With a tidal swing of 15-18 feet, there is quite a difference!

And all of the mud! Oh my goodness!

Compare this view:

Against this one!

Or this one:

Against this one!

This wrecked boat is now gone! It washed away in a storm last winter!

Then we looked down toward the docks, and what did we see?


There were four of them swimming around. After a while, three of them hauled up on docks to groom themselves and take naps. We noticed that several fishermen walked right by them, and they didn't budge, so I figured I could walk by too! All nonchalant-like. And notsqueal and notshriek and just casually take some photos!

They noticed that I stopped, and looked up at me:

Then they'd get comfy and go back to their naps:


We also saw this huge flock of gulls, feeding on fish guts that flow out from the waste line from the fish processing plant:

Like Homer and almost every fishing town, Cordova has a Fishermen's Memorial to those lost at sea:

If you have ever sat through a storm in a coastal Alaskan town, all warm and dry and sipping a warm beverage as you look out the window at the cold, blowing rain, you cannot help but imagine what it would be like to be out there on a small fishing boat, battling the elements and earning a living in the only way possible in this town. Dear loyal readers, we really ought not to be shocked at the price of seafood!

I bought souvenir cheese, haha:

Alaskan towns often have an ethnic bent that you would not guess--Ukrainians in Delta Junction, Samoans in Utqiagvik, Thai people in Fairbanks--so I like to look at their grocery stores, and I often find unique things to sample! The Cordova stores have a lot of mixed Asian food, due to the fish processing plants--Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. They also have this unique-sounding cheese! I can't wait to try it at home! It is described as "buttery-flavored, flat, and squeaky!" Oh my!

Here is Mr. Eagle:

I must confess that I struggle a bit to find this creature majestic. I guess I have seen too many of them dumpster diving and eating fish gut piles. Apparently, the apocryphal tale of Benjamin Franklin's preference for the turkey as the national symbol is not true (although he has been quoted as saying that he has a personal preference for the turkey over the bald eagle), but I like that idea! (Although I'm partial to corvids, and if I had my druthers, I'd ruther crown the raven!)