Monday, September 27, 2010

Why Idaho, redux

Sometimes, I really wonder about Idaho.
I mean, I drive out towards "Craters of the Moon" National Monument, about ninety miles east of where I live (and believe me, it is exactly what the name describes), and I have to go through Arco.

One thing: when you go through Arco, eat at Pickle's Place. and have the fried pickles.

The Park, in front of "Numbers Hill," across from Pickle's Place.

The relevance is due to the long-time nuclear energy research done at the Idaho National Research Laboratory, 100 miles southeast.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Valdez, Boise State and the Orange Hat

Marshall and I poked around Valdez, walking the streets and visiting the docks....and decided to have a beer before returning to our campground, which was about twenty miles from the city. We stopped in the bar of a restaurant that overlooked the harbor - and the Boise State - Virginia Tech football game happened to be on....

I overheard a guy at the table next to us, talking about the game - and he was clearly a Boise State fan. I asked him if that was the case, and he enthusiastically asserted that was the case, as he was attending school there (although originally from Cordova, AK).

He told me that he thought I might be a fan - because of my orange hat.....which is actually from the Sun Valley Gun Club, which is no longer in existence - I picked it up for a buck at one of the thrift stores....(For those of you who don't know, Boise State's colors are blue and orange - they're the football team with the blue astro turf at home...Matthew Barney, married to Bjork, grew up in Boise and used the stadium in one of his films.)

Misc Photographs - Narrative and Something Else B

Steward, B.C.

Dawson City (catty corner to Jack London's cabin and
a half block from the cabin of Robert Service)

On the Road, outside Glacier (west side) in Montana

Homage to Ken Josephson

Ken Josephson is a very cool photogapher, who also has happened to be an influential photographer and important educator.

                               The photo of Denali (below) is an homage to a series of works that he made in which he held postcard views against the site of the original place (as it was, the "new view" did not necessarily match that reality of the postcard - he made photographs of "images within images" for over fifteen years).

Denali, 2010
Ken was a long-time professor at the Art Institute of Chicago; sometime in the mid-1980s (I'm forgetting the actual year) he did a visiting professor stint at UCLA.

                                                                                 From the early 1980s, for about ten years, there was a group of us in LA - photographers, artists, filmmakers - who met regularly to play poker from early evening until sometime near dawn the next day (for about ten years afterwards, it became an annual poker game during the day of the Super Bowl - rotating houses, where the host would make chili - and we could all return home while it was still light).

                               Ken got invited to one of the poker evenings, which happened to be at my studio in downtown Inglewood (Los Angeles), and a group of six or seven of us played into the early/late morning hours. Ken left somewhere around 4 AM and, unfortunately, drove the wrong way down the alley behind my building onto a main thoroughfare - and had the unpleasant experience of spending the next few hours of an early Sunday morning at the police station.

I've always felt badly about that.
                                                       So Ken, if you ever happen to read this - I'm sorry about that, and wish you could have been in Alaska with us.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Misc Photographs 5 - Bar elements

Bynum, Montana - where me missed a pig roast by a couple of days.

The Salty Dawg in Homer, AK - which could provide the basis for an entire art exhibition (ideally it would be an installation, not just photographs).

Friday, September 17, 2010

Misc Photographs 5 - Chetwynd

More images of the artwork from the World Chainsaw Carving Championship that was held in Chetwynd B.C., in mid-June. Chetwynd has billed itself as the “Chainsaw Sculpture Capitol of the World” since 1987 - the approximately 50 pieces that are annually on display are part of a public art program.

Misc Photographs - Denali

Marshall photographing Denali

At some point in the next few weeks, we'll be adding some of his photos and text.

Misc Photographs 3 - Buffalo

There is one wild herd of Buffalo still roaming free range in northern British Columbia....we encountered about fifty of them grazing along the road...

September 17

Well, the trip got short by a few days - mostly because of weather. The last few days we got tired of trying to do things in the rain and kept driving; subsequently we covered more ground than we had planned.

Final tally for miles covered: 8010

(I also had 430 each way between Hailey and Helena.)

Given that we had a full day riding on the bus in Denali (170 miles roundtrip) and a full day on the boat in
Seward (100 miles roundtrip) and lost a few half days in other spots, we legged a lot of miles.

I'll still be making posts over the next few weeks, as there are opportunities to process more images and fill out texts that presently only exist as notes.

Outside the west side of Glacier Park in Montana

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Valdez and Haines

We wanted to take the ferry from Seward to Valdez, but ending up driving the route for two reasons: first, the ferry only runs a couple times a week, and the schedule didn't really dovetail with our itinerary (and we couldn't twist it), and b; it would cost us about $500. Hello?

So, we made the drive, which was pleasant enough (that translates into half rain, half sun - of course with a few other stops), and found a beautiful campground on one of the mountain ranges ringing the city - Blueberry Lake.

We drove down into Valdez, and found what seemed like a slightly depressed town. I only say that because for a city of 4,000 with a great fishing trade and where the pipeline ends, there isn't a whole lot to see outside of the main street and the "other" street facing the docks. 

Above: the docks facing the mountains

Left: Main Street (click for a larger version)

Below: Fishing Captains' Humor

These are salmon crowding the water's edge near the boats....
(I assume they have spawned and might be dying).
Haines is a much smaller town (about a quarter of the population of Valdez) and depends on much of the same work (fishing, shipping, important historical sites) - and is in much the same state as Valdez. We decided that we absolutely had to have a salmon dinner before leaving Alaska, and got pointed in the direction of The Lighthouse, at dock's edge. It was a most forgettable meal - over-priced, poorly prepared (I've had better fish in some of the most out of the way, small, land-locked places). Except for the bartender Tim and the bar (which dates to late 19th century), you're better off eating somewhere else - or cooking your own meal.

It is a wonderful little city, and while we weren't able to spy any bears 11 miles south, where they come down most days to fish in the river, it is absolutely beautiful.

Snowhook Club, August 31 - outside Delta Junction

When we crossed over the border from the Yukon Territory into Alaska (albeit at a very delayed, slow pace), it was, as it has been most of the trip, drizzling. We bought some groceries ane washed the van in Tok, and headed towards Fairbanks.

After passing on one campground (all gravel, lots of construction supplies lying around), we decide to drive up the and thought that the camp sites offered by the Snowhook Club, outside of Delta Junction, sounded promising – smoked meats and spirits.

We pulled into an empty campsite (only one other was occupied), and went over to the main building for a beer. The Inn was closed to the public, but was running a private banquet. It was a dinner for Dave Roever who was scheduled to talk at the high school the next day, sponsored by a conglomeration of Delta Junction Christian Fellowship churches.
While we sipped beers at the bar, they finished dinner and Dave said a few words. He runs an evangelistical organization out of his home in Texas, and bases his inspirational talks on the combination of his horrible disfigurement during service in Vietnam and a message of hope. He is a “booster” kind of speaker, drawing on feel-good movie references and “chicken soup” type aphorisms to appeal to a broad audience.
Marshall and I got to talking with the Snowhook owner and chef during all of this post-dinner blather, who swayed us to buy plates from the smorgasboard. (Note: the smoked chicken was superb, the ribs very tasty, the baked beans amazing, the macaroni and cheese excellent, and the salad fresh. Oh yeah, the fresh bisquits were great too!). After everyone left, we spoke more with Rick - and I expressed my desire to see the sled dogs he kept out back.
An hour or so later, we visited them – and for a couple of hours we both talked about dogs, and I got to meet his team, their back-ups and the pups he is raising. I had the good fortune to also meet his cohort in the enterprise – the place (restaurant and all) is changing fast – and will be great! It was a most enjoyable time – stop by and say hi to Rick, eat and drink – and wish him good luck on next year's Yukon Quest!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

By the Way

You can get a much better view of the images by clicking on them. They should open up in a larger format box.

Comments can be left at the bottom of a post.

Stewart, Hyder

Friday, as we drove down (south) the western route of Alaska through B.C.,  we decided to make one last run to the coast - and Alaska.
                                                                      So we turned west and drove toward Stewart and Hyder, which are at the end of the Portland inlet, one of many inlets along the Inland Passage. 
               We had to drive through Stewart to Hyder (it is on a little spit of land, and in late morning was under the shadow of the mountain it is nested against)....It was muddy, a few houses - and the bears, which come down to feed where the river dumps into the inlet, were no-shows.


So we came back to Stewart, where there were many people milling around on the street. (Interestingly enough, although we had been in Hyder less than twenty minutes, we got the usual border interrogation from Customs, trying to "re-enter" B.C.
We had a great breakfast at the Silverado. I only wish the Toaster Museum had been open.

Miscellaneous Writing I - A&W

Canada (at least Alberta and British Columbia) seems to have a love affair with A & W Root Beer. Every town with a population over 800 seems to have one (oddly enough, often near the Visitor Center), and many have two, even three. Is it a Canadian company?

Haven't yet tried it again, after thirty plus years....but am about to - now.

And hitchhikers.
We've probably seen/passed at three to four dozen on the highways of Canada (mostly) and Alaska.
Interesting sign of the times.

Writing, Photography

Whether image or text, reproduction and description of what is real does not have to be literal.

There is s fine line between the creation of something that is true, and a mere facsimile of it.

 All Alaska Gifts shop, Tok

Writing is often to imagine new possibilities; ignorance blunts both that potential - and the expansion of thought.

Toad River Lodge, B.C.
Neecheah Lodge, Bow Lake, Alberta
Neither writing or photography should be as weak as taxidermy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Big Hammer

Hammer Museum, Haines, AK.

World's Largest Fly Rod

Sixty feet high.
Houston, B.C.

Misc Photographs 2 - Narrative and Something Else A

The vast majority of the photographs in this blog have been descriptive; however, there are many others that, as images, are more interesting to me - riding a line between narrative and something else.

Misc Photographs 1 - Prince George B.C., Whitehorse Y.T., Tok AK

 (left) "Mr PG," Prince George, B.C.

(above right) "Neecheah," Transportation Museum, Whitehorse, Y.T.

Crow, Tok, AK

In the van (post sauna), Bell 2 Lodge (RV parking lot), Lake Meziadin, B.C.

Lake Louise (beginning of the trip)

Copper River Valley to Vanderloof

It is the end of a several days that have had frustrating elements - nothing tragic, just the feeling that my wheels are spinning....

Our last few days involved driving to Seward - and spending a couple of days there - then over to Valdez, and up through the Wrangell-St. Elias Park. During our couple of days there, I picked up and read Two Sisters, by Aileen and Sammi Gallager, the "Coming of Age and Living Dangerously in the Wild Copper River Valley" (2004). Aileen, at the age of 21, moved to Alaska and lived with (eventually married) a man almost twice her age - in 1927. Her younger sister Sammi came up for a year at two different times - she was six years younger than Aileen. All this took place in the Wrangell area. One of the many things that was striking about their accounts is how little the place has changed in 80 years.....(Aileen died several years ago at 89, Sammi was 97 as of a couple of years ago.)

Marshall and I then began a trek back across Canada, taking the Tok cut-off (at the northwest edge of Wrangell), going through Tok and then Port Alcan towards Whitehorse.   We spent a night in Teslin (back in an endless landscape of trees, all the while in drizzling rain),   and down south towards Stewart and Hyder, just north of Prince Rupert.
Four images of Teslin - an overview (above)
and three at our campground.

While driving these hundreds of miles, we saw virtually no wildlife (while it had been generally abundant in the middle of Alaska). Two moose and three bear - two of the latter were dead, a cub hit by a car and hunters dragging a kill to the side of the highway. It was so meloncholy, after all the wonderful sights and experiences of the previous two weeks.

Dave's RV Park, Vanderloof, B.C.

And, I've spent several frustrating days trying to post images. I've got 'em, but just can get them uploaded. Ah, we get so accustomed to using the internet and computers as a crutch. 

(11:30 PM - they're finally uploading...)

So, I'll get images posted when the cosmos smiles on the circumstances. Right now, we're in Vanderloof, B.C., the geographical center of British Columbia.

The checkers board at Dave's RV Park