A few things are certain

No, I’m not talking about death or taxes, I’m talking about being up here in Alaska. It’s certainly beautiful, the weather has been pretty forgiving lately. We’ve had some picturesque foggy mornings the last few days that have been pretty inspiring.

It’s also certain that the next week and half will be full of “last ______ of the season”, which is always interesting. We were out at Tracy Arm yesterday for the “last time of the season” and I was almost frantic to get pictures of things that I won’t likely see for a while…. you never know, maybe never again! So as we go through our next few days, I’m sure I’ll be seeing things in an interesting light. Maybe some good will come of it.

I am excited to get on with the rest of the season, though. Transiting British Columbia is always a good time, and I haven’t been through there in a couple of years. The Columbia River season is just behind that, which is always a blast. I was just remembering how last year I didn’t even bring my DSLR! And oh, how I regretted it! Not happening this year. Stay tuned for some rocking pics, I promise.

What a great week….

This last trip was an extra-ordinarily good one, we had a chance to see just about everything that IS Alaska. Grizzly Bears, Humpback whales bubble-netting, Orcas, Bald Eagles and lots of ice. I ended up with some really nice photos out of the deal.

I’ll start my Alaska 2011 photo page as soon as I’m done here, so head on over and take a look….

First week in Alaska


Well….. I made it back up to Alaska all right, and things seem to be about like I left them. The whales are a bit better so far, which is good. We ran into this guy down around Sitko Bay, he gave us a pretty good show while trying to impress a cow. It was a good way to start the week. We did see a little bit of bubblenetting, but they were moving along at a pretty good clip and would always pop up in a different and far away spot. In other words, they weren’t cooperating with us.

It’s nice to be back to work, the boat is well and there’s a whole new group of crew on board. It’s nice to have the change, it makes things interesting and exciting.

I really do like it up here…..

Start ’em young

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One of my main philosophies of parenting is to keep kids involved in everything that I do. Mainly I do this because I want them to be just like their dear old dad, but I also do it for the sake of enriching my kids lives. I’d hate for them to grow up with no skills or passion. If they do, it won’t be because I didn’t try.

Whenever I want to risk cameras and life, I let the kids go crazy with my point and shoot camera or the flip video cam. They both have turned out some very cool stuff, and some hilarious videos. Lately, I’ve been handing over the “big” camera to Mia and teaching her how to use it. At this point I’m setting it up for her and she is just in charge of the zoom and the shutter. Most of her pictures to this point have just been ok, but I’ve been teaching her about composition and she’s getting better with every shot. It won’t be long before she’s better than her dear old dad.

And Eli is more interested in it than Mia was at his age. I think (once again!) that I’m a very lucky dad. I just have to keep them interested and keep them in places that are good for all three of us. Oh, bummer.

On the road again….

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Who is that masked man?

I made the successful journey out to Denver to drop my son off yesterday, and am now on my way up to Sitka.

My first time flying out of the Reno airport was a pretty good experience, small airports are so much better! It’s nice to not have to go a mile just in the airport. Plus they don’t have the full body x-ray machines yet and that’s just fine with me.

I ended up with a pretty nice hotel out here in Denver as well. The hyatt place hotel here in Aurora is quite a bit better than I’m used to, but I’m not complaining. I got it for really cheap on travelocity, so I don’t feel too bad about it. I’ll have to try and stay out here again next time…

Somehow I ended up with a 5 hour layover in Seattle today. I’m not sure how I’m going to pass that time, I hope they have a good book in the bookstore for me.

Sawmill Lake, CA

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Sawmill lake is a “classic” camping spot for me, it has a long history in my life. My first solo 4×4 camping trip with my now deceased friend Preston was to this lake. Countless early 20’s camping trips and best of all my daughter was conceived there.

Our trip up the mountain wasn’t as eventful this time, though it was my sons first time to this place and we did do some testing and photo stuff. The weather has been awesome here lately so heading up to 6500 feet I knew it’d be just right for us.

Sawmill lake is a fairly small lake positioned above the popular Bowman lake and just below a small lake named Faucherie. It’s around 20 miles north of the Interstate 80 and highway 20 intersection which is 60 miles west of Reno, Nevada and 70 miles east of Sacramento, California.

There’s many reasons to love this lake, from the water fall on the south side to all of the dead trees to paddle through. I also don’t mind the picturesque mountain tops surrounding it, and the Grouse Ridge trail to walk up them and take a look.

We did give the new 12 volt fridge a test on this run. Look out for the write up on that when I get my laptop back in a couple days here. I will say it’s a great piece of equipment and it’s amazing to be able to have cold food with no ice bath.

Look out for pictures soon, too!

Puma 12 volt air compressor

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The Puma 12 volt air compressor I installed on the van a while back has been working out pretty well for me. I’ve been using it with ZERO problems now for a couple of months. What I can say is that it’s not an engine driven York, but it will definitely get the job done. It’s just a bit slow.

In my testing the compressor would fill a 35×12.5×16.5 tire from 10 psi to 30 psi in about 3 minutes. While not extremely fast it’s certainly good enough for me.

The compressor is not totally up to running air tools for long periods, I found. During my testing I would often times have to let the compressor catch up, and using die grinders wasn’t really such a good deal.

It has come in handy for our outings, we use it for inflating rafts and air mattresses a couple times a week. The ability to do this easily with no hassle is where this system shines. I love the fact that it’s convenient, but it makes me feel a whole lot better knowing that I can fix my rig if something happens.

The Puma 12 volt compressor may not be the best compressor on the market, but it sure is a good deal for the price and convenience.

Working on vehicles

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It’s been an interesting couple of weeks! First, I have moved into a nice new house. It’s amazing how little I owned up until now. I’ve been buying furniture and all the little things for weeks now. It is coming along, and it is very nice to not be a homeless nomad again for the most part.

Second, my new laptop took a dump on me. It’s under warranty and back at toshiba now, but it’s been rough with no computer! Makes pictures difficult.

I’ve also been busy with stuff on both of the rigs. The van just needed some pre-smog love, it passed with flying colors thank goodness. The Toyota got a Warn 9000# winch and a mount on the front. All in the name of progress. After I get done with getting back on track with the house I plan to do some serious work on the Yota. Stay tuned for that.