Welcome to my blog.

My blog expresses my views and thoughts and in no way intends to offend however that does not guarantee it wont.

I write in a stream of consciousness and sometimes the odd typo or bad grammar may appear - please excuse these.

Please feel free to leave a comment if something inspires you to do so.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Stupid Sexist Put Down Inspired A Passionate Response That I Just Had To Share

I normally don't post these types of things here, you are more likely to find them on my FaceBook page, but this, this bought me to tears.  If only we could all find a voice as passionate as this.

Dear Man on the Bus

I would hope that I would have the courage to actually call someone out if I heard them say this, but would I given it is a public space?  Food for thought.

Thanks for popping by xxxx

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cold, Cold Water and the Stars, A Retrospective Tale of Two Travellers Part 14

Sitka's Aquarium is small and housed in one room and basically has a large touch pool and a salmon tank and few wall based exhibits.  It is attached to the salmon hatchery and research centre, but for all it's smallness, it was unique and fun.

On the day we went Whale Watching, I was amazed to spy some brightly coloured stars (sea stars or star fish) in the shallow water surrounding the dock.  Given that the water is so cold and my lack of knowledge I had always assumed that sea stars were only found in warmer waters.  So it was so much fun to see a touch tank full of all sorts of stars (and anemones and sea cucumbers and sea urchins).

I also had always assumed that sea stars only had 5 legs and that they were hard and knobbly, as that is the kind I have always seen in Australian waters and aquariums, so imagine my amazement to see spongy multi legged stars in all sorts of colours.  Even better was I got to touch them as well.

The water is fed into the tank from the ocean directly outside (the Research Centre and Hatchery sit right on the water's edge) and it is freezing.  My hand was so cold by the end that it was actually aching and I didn't touch all the stars or even keep my hand in the water for that long.  Makes you acutely aware of how easy it would be to get hypothermia in the waters around Sitka.

Green sea anemone

Pink sea anemone

Sea urchin

Stars, stars and more stars

Cushion sea star

Look how many legs this one has, got to touch him as well

A convention of stars, or is that a galaxy?

Hanging on for dear life?

Now that has to be a galaxy, doesn't it?

Now this wont hurt you as much as it hurts me, brrr that water is freezing

Just hanging out together, the three amigos!!

How's this for colour?

The other really cool thing is the baby salmon tank, which if you are fit enough (and small enough) allows you to crawl underneath and emerge in a bubble right in the middle of the tank.  Guess who did that?  Need a clue?  Well it wasn't me, or my daughter or my daughter in law, so it really only leaves one person and here are his photos from inside looking out.

Now who's taking who's photo??

No don't walk away and leave me here, hello are you listening??

Another exhibit was the skeleton of a baby Orca, and the fibreglass model to show it's size.  The skeleton came from a dead baby found washed up on the shore and sent to the Science Centre.

I also loved the artwork on the windows and walls.

This will be the last in the "A Retrospective Tale of Two Travellers" posts that covers our trip to Seattle and Sitka in September 2013.

I have enjoyed reliving the memories, and there are heaps more photos I could share but they basically will just be more of the same.  I hope you have enjoyed reading as much as I have enjoyed sharing and reliving what was a wonderful time in our lives.

Thanks for popping by xxxx

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sunset and Vapour Trails over Sitka Sound, A Retrospective Tale of Two Travellers Part 13

This quick succession series of photos was taken by hubby as the sun set on a cloudy evening and includes some vapour trails that always fascinated us while we were there.

Here in Western Australia it is very, very rare to see vapour trails and while there are only a couple of commercial flights that land in Sitka every day there are always vapour trails floating in the sky, that obviously come from planes that are flying over on their journeys somewhere distant.

I love the tones in these photos.

And just because I can, here are a couple I took on a clear day, at one point I think we had 5 or 6 within our view forming pretty lacy patterns as they drifted across the blue sky.

Thanks for popping by xxxx

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sitka, A Retrospective Tale of Two Travellers Part 12

Sitka is where our youngest daughter now lives, with her wife and their daughter.  It is where we spent an amazing 12 days in September.  As you would have seen by Parts 4-11 of this Retrospective Tale of Two Travellers there are lots of amazing things to do in and around Sitka, but what about Sitka itself.

Well here's what I know:

Sitka is the fourth largest town in Alaska (although I've also heard it is the third) and with a population of just under 9,000 that seems quite small to this Aussie.  Makes me wonder just how big are the bigger towns?  Next time we are there we intend to find out, but back to Sitka.

Sitka (Sheet Ka - Tlingit name) has a rich Tlingit history that goes back thousands of years, more recently there is the history created when the Russian's laid claim to the land and plundered the waters for the rich spoil of sea otter pelts that they traded with the Chinese.  Then there was the Alaska purchase when Russia sold the territory to the USA, I often wonder why Canada did not purchase the land given it sits right next to them.

Sitka straddles two islands, with most of the town on Baronof Island and the airport, SEARHC, the Coast Guard on the southern part of Chichagof Island.  Sitka is surrounded by lots and lots of small islands some which have houses and lighthouses on them.  If you buy a house on an island you need a boat to get there and need to supply your own power and water, rubbish needs to be bought back to the main island for disposal and if the waters are really rough you can get stranded either on the island or on the main island, but just imagine having a small island that is your home - awesome.

There is a bridge that spans the gap between to the two islands and we regularly saw bald eagles perched on the top of the bridge on our near daily trips over the bridge.  (Hubby's photos from the bridge are featured below)

Sitka's harbour is full of fishing boats and there was a regular parade of small trawlers that cruised past our accommodation each day.

During 'tourist season' there is an influx of visitors which arrive on cruise ships (around 2-3 a week while we were there).  Tourists can choose to disembark for a day of tours or just strolling around the town and shopping (lots and lots of shopping).

The harbour is busy on these days with the ship's tenders ferrying the visitors to the dock as the harbour is not deep enough for the ships to tie up.

Fly in, fly out fishing charters are also big business with fishers coming in and out through the airport.  I lost count of how many large boxes of frozen fish I saw being taken out through the airport.  Each box can weigh no more than 50lbs and fishers are often seen taking the snap frozen fish out and putting it into their carry on luggage if they are over the limit.

There are various land and water based tours offered to the tourists as well, from bus tours to bicycle rickshaw tours around the town itself.  We were there towards to the end of 'tourist' season and the last couple of cruise ships cancelled their port call due to forecast storms and heavy seas (which didn't actually get as bad as forecast).

Sitka is surrounded by mountains and coastal temperate rainforest much of which is part of Tongass National Park.  In the book Sitka, Portraits of the Wilderness by Dan Evans (photographer) and Dan Hardy (writer) I found the following:

... Sitka, Alaska, a rainforest wilderness of mountains and clouds rising from a vast and temperamental ocean ....   

Couldn't have said it better myself.

The mountains are just there, I can't describe it any other way.  Where we stayed you basically walked out the front door and over the road was a mountain (there was a road and a couple of blocks between us and the mountain, but for people like us that come from a very flat environment, the mountains were just there).  I loved the mountains, I loved the forest and I loved the water.  Truly I could live here and be happy, there is a little piece of Sitka in my heart now, not just because people I love live there, but because the place itself spoke to me that much.

Out the front of where we stayed, this photos just doesn't give the perspective of how big the mountains are, we struggled with that in all the photos we took.

The local supermarket and the view from the car park, again it is hard to really show that the mountains are just there and how high they are.  I suppose if you look at the red ute just under the tall trees and then look at that against the height of the mountains, it sort of gives you an idea.  

The street my daughter lives on, and yet another mountain.

All this and it also snows in Sitka (my idea of heaven), although it doesn't get as cold as some parts of mainland Alaska, and there was only a tiny bit of snow left on top of a few mountains as most of it had well and  truly melted by the time we arrived at the end of their summer.  I imagined how awesome all this would be with lots and lots of snowy mountains.  When I mentioned this to Randy the night we had dinner at his place he shared some more of his photos with me.  Now I just have to go back (his photos at the end of this post).

I love this photo of my daughter when within days of her first arriving in Sitka to live last year it started to lightly snow, that look of amazement and awe that is on her face is just how I feel about this beautiful place, even without the added joy of snow.  (I know for people that live with snow it is not always joyful, there is slush and being snowed in, and cold and more cold and black ice.  But for me, who has never had more than a fleeting (one day at Mt Buller in the mid 1970s) experience of snow I know I am going to have to spend at least one winter in Sitka sometime in the future.

My daughter's balcony after the first heavy snow fall when she arrived, she was so excited she just had to share

On the day of our Whale Watching adventure, we had lunch in town and hubby decided to go for a walk over the bridge and then up Castle Hill which sits close to the bridge.  Here are his photos of Sitka, the town, the harbour and the mountains.

Now I hope I have these in order.  So first up from the bridge:

Then from  Castle Hill and including some of the interpretive signs on site.

And here are just some of Randal's photos of Sitka, it's harbour and the ever-present mountains, topped in snow .. pure bliss and an invitation for me to return in the not to distant future.

The bridge between the two islands on which Sitka sits
Don't you just love the light in this photo??

A snowy Mt Edgecumb in the distance.

Looking towards St Michael's Church (which literally sits in the middle of the street with traffic going to the left and right of the building with very little spare earth on either side).  The bookshop in the left foreground shares it's space with the awesome Back Door Cafe. 

So once again I present you with a photo heavy post, I offer no apologies to having more photos than words, for these photos say as much if not more than my words ever could.

I have to admit that the memories that have flooded back as I write these posts have given me a certain amount of melancholy, I'm missing the place and the people I left behind there.

Thanks for popping by xxxx


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