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Do not expect to be impressed.  If you want impressive, look for stuff from the pros.  Taken from somewhere dryer than southwest Oregon.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I bought the eclipse viewing glasses, and this morning made a couple of pinhole devices.  Had them all ready and waiting by the time the eclipse started.

At that point, I was not optimistic that I’d see much other than a dimmer than usual gray morning.  However, a bit later, it seemed the cloud cover was thinning, and at least the glow of the sun could be seen through the clouds. (The first time I looked I couldn’t even see where the sun was.)  Looking through the glasses, I could see that there was a bite out of the disk of the sun.  Still too much cloud cover for the pinhole devices to work, but not long after, I could see a tiny image with the cereal box.

It seemed to me that the moon covered the sun rather quickly, and then took a long time to get across it.  This has to be some kind of illusion, but that’s how it seemed.  

Coverage here was 96%, and that did result in noticeable dimming of the light, and an absence of shadows, but that was about it as far as I could tell.  There was at least as much ambient light during maximum coverage as on a cloudy winter day, probably more.

I tried taking pictures with my phone, but even at max coverage the sun still appears as a ball.  There was some distortion, but that was likely from the remaining clouds.  However, in some of the pictures I tried, you can see a small crescent image of the sun nearby.  

I’m sure the nearby crescent sun image is some kind of artifact from the camera lens, though what I couldn’t say.  The crescent image showed up in unpredictable places depending on the angle at which I held the phone, and I didn’t always notice it.  In fact, once it showed up down in the tree, and I didn’t see it until I  was going through the pictures just now to select the rest of the images below.

Crescent sun in the tree, taken when the peak eclipse was past:

Ironically, that’s the sharpest image I got. 

The glasses gave the best view, but I only took very quick glimpses through them, and obviously have no pictures through them. However, eventually I tried my other pinhole device–a pinhole held over a white surface–and took pictures of the images that gave me.  Below are a few.  

One of the reasons it seemed to take so long for the sun’s crescent to start to grow again was that the sliver of crescent sort of slid around the moon as things moved. 

I warned you not to expect to be impressed.  I was holding the pinhole in one hand and trying to get the pictures with the other. And the pinhole was too big for a really clear image.

Eventually, getting a bit bored, and hav figured out that perhaps my pinhole was too bit, I poked another few.  And then like the multiple images, so poked some more.  The clearer images are from the smaller pinholes.

So that’s it.  No doubt it was much more impressive elsewhere, especially where it was total and the air is dry.  But there’s a lot to be said for not having to leave home for it, too.

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Early home thoughts 

Home, and have done enough to get through the night and wake up in the morning comfortably. But feel like I’m having to reclaim my house. And there’s a ton of yard work that needs to get done. One cat has appeared, and is kinda hanging out nearby, but seems pretty indifferent to my presence. But temperatures are lovely, and while there is some haze in the sky probably from smoke, there is also blue. It feels almost weird to be home–my road habits have become so well-established and comfortable, and now I have to remember and resume home habits. But looking forward to a nice long shower, and no bucket, in the morning.

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Last Alaska post

Unless something remarkable happens, that is.  Am planning to run for home starting tomorrow because of heat, so don’t expect to have energy or time for blogging.  Or material, either, for that matter–drive, stop, set up, sleep, get up, drive doesn’t make for interesting reading, or good pictures.

But yesterday and today I’ve been in Stewart, BC, just across the border from Hyder, Alaska.  As near as I can tell, tourism is what’s keeping Hyder, at least, going, and it’s bears that keep tourists coming, and salmon that keep the bears coming.  So first, here are a few pictures of salmon who have come to Fish Creek just north of Hyder to spawn.  They basically hang around awhile, and every now and then have a burst of activity, then hang around some more, so that’s the order of the pictures.  They can be hard to see, but I promise the first and third have visible salmon, and the second has salmon activity.

They way people seem to talk about Hyder is “It’s really cool, you can see bears fishing right in front of you.”  Which is sort of true–you can, one bear at a time, if you are patient and prepared to wait up to an hour or more for one to appear.  Both last evening and this morning I was able to force myself to wait, and eventually it paid off.  

Grizzly last night.

She walked along the opposite bank until she got past the people, then casually caught a fish and took it into the bushes to eat.

This morning my patience was rewarded with a black bear. Who went up and down the opposite bank for quite awhile and eventually made several attempts to catch a fish, but I don’t think she ever did.  But I got quite a few pictures and even some video, but WordPress won’t post the video and life is too short to work around that, so pictures will have to suffice.

​She finally gave up, left the creek and strolled up the road, and disappeared into the bushes.

Saw an eagle both last night and this morning.  Took lots of pictures this morning while waiting for a bear to appear; here are a few.

In the last two, s/he had perched in a tree right next to the observation boardwalk, and appeared to be warming itself in the sun.

So to mark the occasion of transitioning from Alaska trip to high-tailing it for home, I cooked a meal, for the first and last time on this trip.  Evidence:

Since I brought my single-burner stove, supper was in courses.  First course:

Second and final course:

I normally don’t talk about what I eat, and now you know why.

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And have cell, so here goes.

First, turn away if easily offended.  Or scroll quickly past the next several pictures.  

You know the question “Does a bear shit in the woods?”  

Well, I cannot attest to that, but I can tell you that bears shit in the road.  Often.

Evidence 1:

Evidence 2:

And the definitive evidence, presented in the order in which they were taken.  I’m not sure why the camera refused to focus clearly for this next picture; perhaps it’s modest.  But the second one is pretty clear.

So.  That’s settled.

Here’s another critter from the wildlife tour.

They had us howl, which got her howling.  The camera preferred to focus on the fence.

And another of the lynx, just because.

Grabbed the chance for a close-up of a reindeer’s hoof.

Jumping to today: the drive up from Skagway was beautiful as promised, so stopped often for pictures.  Here are a few.

The next one is looking back toward Skagway. 

Once you get to the top, there are lots of lakes and ponds.  I love the complexity of the texture of the landscape.

Further into the Yukon, past the border station, which is several miles inside Canada, there’s this largish lake (probably Tagish Lake) that was completely still and reflecting its surroundings.  The reflections looked almost more clear than the originals.

Tomorrow I should start down the Cassiar, into unknown territory (for me).  Looking forward to it.

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Alaska goodbye

Or at least farewell.  I may never make it back–there are so many places to go and my remaining time is limited to an unknowable degree–but then again, maybe I will.

Ironically, Skagway may be my favorite town of all those in which I’ve stayed, because based on what I’d read about it, I didn’t think I’d like. It at all.  “May be” because I’ve seen very little of it and done nothing in it.  Another reason to return to Alaska someday.  Anyway, my breakfast view.

Not bad, now that all the big rigs are gone🙂.  Waved goodbye to Barbara and Michael this morning as they pulled out–they’ll be ahead of me now the rest of the way.  

So in lieu of more of Skagway, here are some random pictures from the past several days.

A snowshoe hare, exclusive diet of the lynx.  

A very alert CJ, who had noticed the hare.

A bear, checking me out after I had stopped and rolled down my window to take his picture.  I thought it was nice of him to turn around and sniff at me long enough for me to get this one–much nicer than just his disappearing rump.

Since I seem to be on an animal kick, here’s a cute porcupine from the wildlife tour.

And a moose ” kissing” a woman, also from the tour, achieved by putting a carrot in your mouth and offering it to her.  I tried it, but she knocked it out of my mouth rather than getting it.

Ok, breakfast is done and it’s time to finish stowing stuff, get diesel, and head for Canada.  I have no idea when I’ll hace cell access over the next several days, because I’m heading down the Cassiar, to Stewart BC, Hyder AK and more bears (hopefully).  Blogging will be slow and perhaps nonexistent, though if I do have decent cell and a bit of time, I’ll continue with doing shorter, less comprehensive posts.  

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Alaska Yikes! Post

After five days without decent cell service, I’m now at least four posts behind.  There’s no way I’m going to catch up soon–or maybe ever–so here’s a couple of bear pictures, a lynx picture, and a wolverine picture as a place-holder.  All from Haines.  The bears are wild and were fishing near the campground; the lynx and wolverine were captive rescued animals that are part of a “wildlife tour”.  Check out the paws on the lynx.  

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A few disjointed thoughts about the trip overall.

1) It has been the best trip since retirement, so far.  Why?  I think a combination of accumulated learning and adjustments from experience on previous trips–modifications to the van, what to bring and not bring, planning for my own preferences–and the perfection of the north country for camping.  My style of camping, anyway.  Temperatures–daytime highs–range from mid-sixties to high seventies, mostly in the lower temperatures, and humidity has been in the comfortable range even in the midst of rain.  All easily adjusted for (add a layer of clothes, use my propane heater, or find a shady spot as I have today).  Lots and lots of underpopulated territory.  Bugs have mostly not been as bad as advertised, likely because I haven’t spent any time in really primitive places.  And even where they’ve been bad–there are plenty of places in the lower 48 where I’ve experienced worse.  Wisconsin a few years back, on my sabbatical trip with the Aliner, springs to mind.  Or–I hate to admit it but it’s true–Idaho near Stanley, in the Sawtooths.  

2) The mix mix of social contacts and being on my own has neared perfection.  CJ is always with me, and she is the near-perfect dog.  Undemanding, but company.  Makes no conversational demands 🙂.  Indeed, rarely makes any demands of any kind, though I’m sufficiently aware of her needs that guilt induces me to take her for walks, more walks than I would do on my own, and those walks often pay off in experiences I would otherwise miss.  FB is always there, and my blogging has created some interactions with people who are far away but I have the comfort of knowing are following my trip with at least some interest.  My friends Barbara and Michael are also touring Alaska, with an RV caravan group; I deliberately planned my itinerary to parallel and intersect with theirs periodically.  The combination of texting about asynchronous shared experiences and occasional face to face experiences (mostly meals 🙂) has enhanced the trip a lot for me, without placing excessive social coping demands on my somewhat introverted self.  

3) As near-perfect as the trip has been, I’ve still learned a few valuable things for the future.  i) There’s an important difference between camping–being out in a natural setting with few if any people around–and using the van as cheap housing.  Both happen on any decent trip, and the van is valuable for both.  Even in a small town such as Valdez, in a campground with a lovely view– if I’m in a town, I’m having the latter experience.  A comfortable bed, my own space, at relatively affordable rates–but it’s not camping.  Tonight I’m camping.

In the woods, one other occupied campsite, no one visible.  (Addendum:three more parties came in before morning, but I still had no one visible from my spot.)

A high percentage of camping to cheap housing is important to my trip enjoyment.  Staying in a town is worth it iff there are activities afforded by that town that I actually want to do and will enjoy.  Otherwise–avoid towns.  And avoid cities like the plague.  (How to incorporate cities into a trip is a whole topic unto itself.)  They make me feel crowded–even small towns–(especially if I end up surrounded by big rigs) and I shrink into myself.  Although they are good for groceries, showers, and laundry 😄.  

ii)  the slow pace I mapped out at the beginning of the trip was just about right.  Once I got to Denali, through the Kenai, I began to feel too scheduled, too much like I had to meet deadlines and do longer travel days.  Some of that was necessary–you really do have to plan and reserve in advance for high-demand places like Denali, and long distances will require some longer travel days–but a little of that goes a long way with me.  I’m glad I did the amount of planning I did, but another time I’ll plan out and reserve a few well-spaced highlights and leave lots of slack between for short travel days and changes of plans.

iii) I want to come back to Alaska.  And do more summer travel up north in general.  Have even fantasized a bit about Newfoundland and Labrador and getting back to Nova Scotia, which I loved last year.  I had thought of this as a once in a lifetime trip, and figured the same about Nove Scotia–but now I’m not so sure.  Yes, it’s lots and lots of miles–but with the right amount of planning, it could work, if my health lasts.  We’ll see.  Anyone want to caravan along, or in parallel with intermittent intersections?  Or join me for legs of such trips?  Don’t know that I could handle companions for an entire trip, but compatible company for short to medium time frames has proved to enhance trips significantly for me.

Ok, my thoughts weren’t as disjointed as I they’d be, and now they are down for future reference.  I have to say, I wonder if anyone will read this post besides me at some future time, given its billing as text-only 🙂.

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