I recently retired as a nature tour guide and boat captain, after 24 years showing people from all over the world the wonders of Prince William Sound. Before that, I enjoyed an even longer career as an oceanographer and wildlife biologist, working on projects as diverse as plankton ecology and fur seal food habits. It may seem odd that someone with such fascinating work would end it early at age 51 to start an uncertain career, but that’s exactly what happened. Finally selling the tour business (Sound Eco Adventures) after the 2013 season was a big life change. Being “retired” still seems strange.
With this blog, I aim to share many of the stories and adventures from those amazing years on the Sound. Continue reading
It was just over 22 years ago that I house- and critter-sat for my daughter Christine and hubby Jim Crossen at their homestead in the Alaska bush. I had volunteered to take care of their place while Chris and Jim were away on a needed break. Their place was located on a small lake a half-hour by float plane west of the Parks Highway near Willow. In winter, oversized skis replace the plane’s floats. This was to be the longest I had ever been alone, away from civilization — 16 days. It turned out to be a very relaxing time that I spent writing and exploring near their cabin. I also split firewood daily, kept their wood stove stoked, and kept their three dogs and assorted chickens, ducks and goats fed and watered. Here’s my original log, with minor edits for readability. Continue reading
As one who has sometimes been plagued with taking myself too seriously, I’ve discovered upon growing older that it helps to laugh at myself and my circumstances whenever possible. One of the things that we “seniors” have to deal with is that our bodies’ various functions start acting up. Things that we’ve taken for granted all of our lives and haven’t even had to give much thought to, now start demanding our frequent attention.
When I started “leaking” a few years ago, first my reaction was nearly always swearing and fretting. Then at some point, I realized things weren’t likely to improve and fretting was just souring my disposition. I began experimenting with words and phrases that tried to make light of the situation. These somehow eventually evolved into the “poem” below. When the occasion demands, I still quote these lines to myself (out loud!), and invariably, the cursing stops and the smiles start.
I’ll end this intro with a gentle warning that, if you are offended by mild bathroom humor, stop reading here.
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Here’s another breaching whale to pique your curiosity — and to hint at more to come. But this one is special, because it’s the very last breaching whale shot I captured on a Sound Eco Adventures trip, on August 28, 2013. The boat and business were sold the following April.
I had been especially looking forward to this wildlife photography trip, which had been booked the prior January by two couples from Sweden. Continue reading
It is now early summer 2014 as I write this piece. Just last fall I had begun seriously looking at bicycles that would work better than my trusty old Specialized Crossroads on the many dirt trails around Anchorage. I had been looking forward to a new mountain bike ever since, and here I was on my very cool new Specialized Hardrock “Hardtail 29er” on my favorite paved trail, Anchorage’s Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. I rode my usual out and back nine-mile route from Point Woronzoff to the hill that rises from the flats up to the Kincaid Park chalet. No problems, and I felt great about finally having a bike I had waited so long for. Continue reading
This essay was my response to the Unit 3, Day 3 assignment in the study course, “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God.” I signed up for this men’s group course soon after I began attending the Baxter Road Bible Church in east Anchorage, February 2013. The basic “task” was to take a walk of at least 30 minutes, praying and reflecting on God’s love for me, and my love in return. How did I see God’s love during the walk?
For my walk, I decided to do one of my favorite outdoor recreation locations in Anchorage, the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, from the Kincaid Chalet, down the hill. Continue reading
Note: I first wrote this January 2, 2015, while camped in southeast Arizona in a camper van I had at the time.
Ten different cats have been a part of my bachelor household for different stretches of the past 36 years. As any cat owner knows, their pets are individuals and can be independent little cusses, some more than others. Then occasionally, one joins the family who seems to be maybe not so much independent as just slow. “Slow” is a kinder term than stupid. One of my current two cats, “Lighter,” as sweet as he is, is just such a cat. I adopted Lighter (an orange tabby) and his fraternal twin brother Darker, as kittens in 2008 while I lived in Whittier, Alaska. Darker died from a wasting liver disease summer 2014, but Lighter is still going strong, along with Boots, my old-girl black-and-white “tuxedo cat.”
The latest episode of Lighter’s slowness happened just last night. Continue reading
Genesis 1:21 (NIV)
So God created the great creatures of the sea . . . And God saw that it was good.
I see whales as gifts from their Creator from a couple different perspectives. First is the fact that they exist — they are alive on earth. Similar, but on a deeper level, is the capacity of some people to appreciate them for the magnificent creatures that they are. Just seeing whales in the wild can inspire peoples’ feelings of happiness, excitement, thankfulness, and even awe. An up-close encounter with a creature half again as long as the 30-foot boat one is watching from is an unforgettable experience, likely to turn many people into instant whale fans and conservationists. Continue reading