Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A relaxing weekend....

Barkley, relaxing in one of her favorite spots, the back of our friend Chris' truck at work, watching the world go by. 

A much needed relaxing weekend was had. Saturday saw catching up with errands, cleaning my office and going to a SEA party in Rockport. It was nice to see old friends again, and nice to get out! Sunday was even more laid back, grocery, a walk at our favorite trail, then Chris and Gabby over for dinner. I needed a slow weekend and definitely feel refreshed for it. 

The next few weeks are going to be hectic, in a good way though. Sometime next week Jenny, Doug and the kids are coming to visit! They're on the east coast visiting family and will drop by to stay for a few days. I'm totally thrilled to see them again, then on friday Laura G. comes to stay for ten days - and that's pretty much 99% of what I miss about Hawaii over here in Maine, so i'm going to be in bliss! The week after next is the AAUS diving meeting here at the Darling Marine Center and in Portland (both Laura and I are presenting), and then it's the beginning of November and Dad and Sanchia are coming to visit. So it's all go, in a good way...:0) It does mean i'm running around a little this week trying to get things squared away so I can spend some good time with friends. 

As for Barkley, she's doing great and still seems to be loving Maine. Our 6yr old neighbor has decided she's the best thing since sliced bread. For her part, she's putting up with it, was very proud of her today that she didn't snap at him when he ran at her full speed. She's doing really well.....:0)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Barkley shows her Welsh pride.....okay, maybe her Mamma's Welsh pride.....:0)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Miss Barkley

It's been so nice to be back from Alaska, and so nice to see miss Barkley again. She's really a hoot, I love having her around, makes me laugh on a daily basis. This week has been a bit crappy at work, so having someone to make me smile has been awesome. :0)

I woke up Saturday morning to this, someone had tucked herself all the way under the bed. I wonder if she was a little chilly (we have had a bit of a cold snap!). 

Sunday meant paddling. Someone was very keen to get going. Kept glaring at me being slow loading the canoe! 

Though a little fidgety today (I forgot the campmat she usually sits on), she did seem to enjoy herself. I love this shot, just seems to scream Maine.  

Finally caught a photo of it (almost). Someone likes to sit on the gunwales. Which of course is cute, except it makes the whole canoe lean.....

Monday, September 12, 2011

Heading back to Maine

A whirlwind 8 days in Alaska, and i find myself sitting in the Seattle airport again, waiting for my flight back to Boston (via Chicago). The trip as a whole was fun, it was great to see Bob and Michelle and Jennifer again, and I did get to see my first Alaskan Bear, as well as got to enjoy a little of Juneau yesterday afternoon.

The cruise though was pretty much a bust - we managed to sample half our colonies, but that in itself was a miracle. Our first dive all three of us went in the water. We were expecting poor visibility because of the time of year (glacial melt tends to be murky), so had already planned to go in making sure we held onto each other until we got to a coral, then break off do what we needed to do, then rechain to head to the next one. Despite pretty good visibility to 15ft, a wall of silty blackness appeared at 32ft, making it impossible to see even past my elbow, and the reflectivity of the silt meant you couldn't read your gauges, no matter how close you had them pressed to your mask. Jen and I managed to stick together, but we lost Bob within 5 minutes and headed back to the surface.

The visibility improved a little over the few days, making it possible to at least read your gauges, but if you lost contact with the fjord wall or your buddy you were done. So we'd sample by heading to an exact depth, then moving hand over hand across the wall, hoping to bump into a coral colony, and hoping it was one of our tagged ones. Frustrating to say the least, and since both Bob and Jen said it was the worst they had ever experienced, and they have a lot of experience, i'm glad to say I hope never to have to dive like that again! To say it again, we were incredibly lucky to get the samples we did.

Some photos from the trip below. Barkley has apparently been having a ball with Amy, Peter, Stuart, Jackson & Farley all week, and i'm sure is not going to want to come home tomorrow. I can't wait to see her though, i've missed my fuzzy friend!

Heading out of Juneau super early on Wednesday morning. 

The Gastineaux Channel
We were lucky enough to see the humpbacks again - hundreds of them - in almost the same place as last year! 

My "lab" on the Steller - not quite as luxurious as previous boats, but none the less functional. 

The back deck of the Steller - we bring a lot of stuff! 

Entering Tracy Arm

Tracy Arm. 
The Steller, parked up by our sampling spot. 

One of the more important tasks of our Tracy Arm cruises - collecting the glacier ice for the evening gin and tonics....:0)

Getting ready to dive

Going in by the "Bullseye" - which is underwater, but we know where it is from that white mark on the wall. 

Lots of ice and icebergs this year - probably because of all the rain Juneau has had this summer. 

Iceberg. I love the variety of shapes and sizes of iceberg. Of course up here I have to remind myself to not look for penguins! 

Heading back out past the Tacu Inlet on our way back into Juneau. The weather was glorious for most of the trip - just one day of rain. 
The Herbert Glacier just north of Auke Bay. We unpacked (and repacked) like crazy on Sunday so we could have a little of the day to enjoy the sunny weather. Bob and I mountain biked out 8 miles on a great trail to this glacier and then sat and ate donuts (we were hoping for another bear sighting, but alas no). I haven't been on a mountain bike in a really really long time - but it was a lot of fun, and I managed to mostly keep up! 

Sunday ended with a few beers on the beach overlooking the channel. The mountains in view there are the eastern side of Glacier Bay National Park. If you could cross over those mountains you'd be smack bang in the eastern arm of the park. Stunning! 
A beautiful day today meant some great views from the plane. Down below on the other side of the channel there is Juneau. 

And that is Tracy Arm fjord, where we were just two days ago. Just as beautiful as on the water, and at some times of the year, in the water! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

In Alaska

Back in Alaska - arrived here on Sunday night - ready for the last in our series of diving cruises. Weather is not quite what it was last September, a little wetter to say the least, but still, Alaska holds a place in my heart. The last two days have been hectic, getting supplies, chemicals and dive gear ready to go, and tomorrow early we head out down the Gastineaux Channel towards Tracy Arm fjord to collect Red Tree Corals. No cruise blog this time, i've just been too pushed for time, and we have no internet or phone coverage while we're out there anyway, so it's never quite the same. So wish us luck, and we'll be back in "range" on Sunday! 

Despite a hectic packing and organizing schedule, we have managed to go by the famous Mendenhall Glacier trail in search of the mysterious Alaskan Bear (which I have never seen in any of my three visits to Alaska!). Some pictures of the last 2 days....

The Mendenhall Glacier trail at 7am this morning, in hope of seeing bears before I headed to the lab to continue packing. This was the 4th visit to the trail in hopes of seeing bears. 

"Bears Woz 'Ere" - see the dead fish in the foreground. Lots and lots of evidence of bears, but alas, no bears. 

The glacier is however as spectacular as ever. 

Despite the signs, no bears this morning. Maybe it'll wait until after the cruise. 

The view of Auke Bay from the NOAA lab this morning. Crows flying all around calling out into the cool morning air. It's been a little warmer than expected (60F), mostly raining, but spates of sunshine and dry. 

Auke Bay - the view from the lab pier. 

Auke Bay Marine Lab - or at least part of it. 

A bald eagle overlooked our packing operations this morning. So beautiful, I can never get enough of bald eagles. 

The Steller - our research vessel for this trip. Somewhat different from our luxurious tourist boat of past cruises, but none the less functional. The one shower/toilet is going to be interesting with 3 divers onboard. After 40 minutes in 40F water, it's always good to get a warm shower in. 

We finished packing the boat at 4pm and headed back to the lab. En-route Bob decided a fifth visit to the trail was in order....and as luck would have it, my first Alaskan Black Bear! 

A beautiful 16yr old female, no cubs this year as the rangers told us. We'd just been eating donuts in the parking lot. We figured it helped. There's certainly a positive correlation there....:0)