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By: joealaska , 7:15 AM GMT on February 25, 2013

Weather continues here. Daily snow, daily thaws. Hard to keep up.

Had to have the Tahoe worked on, to get the 4 wheel drive fixed. I need that to get out of my driveway the last few days. The snow plow leaves a nice WALL of snow to blast through as I exit. But if I blast too boldly, I end up blasted in the other side of the road WALL. Each day I leave tire tracks to be used later. But they get filled with more snow..

Two of the larger boats who come to Dutch docks are in town right now. They do not always come to the dock, as they sit out in the harbor and various boats go to them. They are keeping us busy.

We had a 10 AM delivery scheduled for today. It kept being put back until now it is scheduled for 9AM tomorrow. Guys were on call for a few hours, until the boat made a decision. Not 3 PM. Not 5 PM. Not 10 PM. Now it is 9 AM. It is a BIG boat, and heading to Crowley Dock in view from my window. There is supposedly big weather later tonight (as usual) and Crowley dock is exposed to that. So they will just not come in until tomorrow.

Only after arranging KENNELAGE with OSDianna did it hit me she will have the cats for 8 months. At least THAT based on plans. I may have to go for a visit on the bigger road trip I will be taking in May. I hear there is GOLF in Ocean Shores.

OH yeah, the BOOK is DONE. I finished my last FREE edit tonight. I got up to 50 corrections for free. I used 49. Many of them were GAPS in the paragraph I submitted. Call it Publisher errors.

Search for THE ROAD TO UNALASKA. I need to charge $90 per paperback, factoring in my expenses compared to demand.


I am packing already. All my personal stuff. When I return I have no idea where I will be living.

Looking into the California Zephyr still. Most of the reviews say the train is not the best food or cleanest. But the scenery is awesome. SOLD. Service is spotty good / bad.. Will probably do it.

Crazy Sunday today. We had shipments via three different shipping companies this weekend. They arrived together just by bad luck. 145 pallets to receive and deliver (most of them). Plus a ton of air freight that was all backed up do to weather. Actually several tons.

Three hot deliveries first thing in the AM.

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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12. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
5:58 AM GMT on March 02, 2013
joealaska has created a new entry.
11. insideuk
6:24 PM GMT on February 27, 2013
The Kulluk is on her way back to Dutch Harbor. The 3 tug tow plan got underway on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to take 10 days.

Weather permitting.

Though it's not yet clear if Shell have that permit in place.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
10. osdianna
4:45 PM GMT on February 27, 2013
Enjoyed the Snow Black video...you're right, surprise each time.

The weather looks brutal to be out working in it.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
9. miyuki
10:59 PM GMT on February 26, 2013
I wholeheartedly agree with you UK on Snow Black!

That photo could be a future Alaskan postage stamp, providing they are still in business by the time someone recognizes Joes talent.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
8. joealaska
6:46 PM GMT on February 26, 2013
Thanks UK.

I admit I was pretty happy with that photo too.

The whole encounter with Snow Black was very interesting. I had 10 minutes of just him and me, I got plenty of photos and film footage.

Every time he looked up from his food he looked startled I was standing there, like he forgot. Always wide-eyed surprise.

Putting together a short video of it for toutube later today.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
7. insideuk
12:35 PM GMT on February 26, 2013
Incidentally, in my opinion, this is right up there with Hoppy's "Nice Place!" BEST EVER wildlife photo...

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
6. insideuk
12:24 PM GMT on February 26, 2013
On the Trip Advisor website there are many recent reviews on the California Zephyr service. Mostly positive experiences, minor complaints frequently feature the basic 'airport standard' food choices and the clean but slightly shabby looking bathroom facilities. The train staff are variously praised as friendly and efficient or dismissed as grumpy and uninterested.

You have to take people as you find them but with a little informed knowledge and planning you can greatly lessen the impact of any disappointments.

Take some bananas, wear dark glasses and don't ask stupid questions.

Sorted. Book now.

I've always been good at planning and organising, I'm meticulous down to the nth degree.

On paper I'm hard to beat. But paper isn't reality is it?

In reality the TOTALLY UNFORESEEN WHATCHAMACALLIT STUFF sometimes gets in the way.

However, when I happen to come across someone capable of fine tuning details, like I do, I always find myself admiring them for it. A few months back the British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes set off on an expedition to become the first person to cross the Antarctic during the winter months. We are talking almost permanent darkness in temperatures as low as -90c (-130f).

Nobody has ever gone more than 60 miles in such conditions, but this intrepid 68 year old was embarking on a 2,000 mile trek.

The Coldest Journey On Earth.

It took some serious planning. Obviously he has a support team with him, all experienced people with specialist skills. They are using specialist Caterpillars (NON TAHOE) to haul all their stuff which is housed within two 28ft shipping containers, locked together.

Just before they left England the press were invited on board the ship. It would have been horribly embarrassing had a journalist thought of questioning the suitability of something that had not been considered by the team. But I had few worries on that score, this was our Sir Ranulph – he knows how to do 'planning'.

Sure enough he was asked how the shipping containers might expect to last given the conditions. The journalist had obviously been doing some research on possible stress fractures in steel during extreme weather events. Clearly he wanted to trip Sir Ran up.

Not a bit of it.

Sir Ran was ready for him. He had scientifically tested the heavily modified containers under the coldest possible conditions available to him before arriving in Antarctica. Laboratory conditions went down to -50c (-58f).

From these tests they discovered it was indeed possible that some welded joints could fail. No amount of reinforcement prior to the trek was going to GUARANTEE such an issue would not occur. Their lives will depend on those modified containers (Cabooses), they function as heated living space. They will act as survival pods if all else fails. So it was considered rather important that they didn't tear open like a sardine can and let that nasty weather in.

How do you PLAN for structural steel failure in the middle of nowheresville?

Why you track down the worlds foremost expert in cold weather welding and convince him to come with you of course.

It's called dotting the i's and crossing the t's.

I hugely admire Sir Ran, even now that I learn he has had to be evacuated from Antarctica after suffering frostbite to his fingers during a training session. He removed his gloves to try to fix a broken ski binding and as a consequence contracted frostbite. If his fingers hadn't already suffered a cold injury from previous trips he would likely have been OK. On a trip to the North Pole in 2000 he suffered frostbite to the top third of all his fingers on his left hand.

On return to Britain he removed his fingertips with a fretsaw - to save time and money.

The rest of the team will embark on the trek without him, starting March 21.

The official website gives details on the converted container 'Cabooses'. It occurred to me that these could help with the Dutch Harbor housing shortage and the Caterpillar D6Ns could help with the current dire transport situation. What do you think?

Maybe we should wait a cuppla months to see what the cold weather welder writes on Trip Advisor...

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
5. DHaupt
9:16 AM GMT on February 26, 2013
osdianna, we took the Skunk all the way to Willits many years ago, I think around 1996. We had been camping with the banana slugs for a week and wanted to see sunshine. By the time we got to the top of the pass, it was sunny and pleasant. By the time we got to Willits, it was hot and we smelled bad.

Actually the smelly diesels that gave the railroad its name only ran from the summit down to Willits. Once we arrived in Willits, there was absolutely nothing to do. The nearest restaurant was about three blocks from the station; it was nothing to write home about either. The pleasantest part of the trip was at the summit. I saw my first Pileated Woodpecker up there. I actually heard a dozen or more that I never could see. Impressive birds!

On our way back down, just after we hit the flats coming into Ft. Bragg, a half dozen local teenagers lined up in a cow pasture and mooned us as we went by. I got such good photos of them literally making asses of themselves that I'm sure their mothers would have had no difficulty recognizing them if I could have gotten the pictures published in the local paper.

Then it was another four days of getting up in the morning and finding slimy slug tracks all over the campsite, especially all over the picnic table. We usually had to throw a few out of the coffee pot before we could have coffee. I think we always checked, not sure.

Be wary of those Canadian Cubans. They are legal and all that, but they are also charging scalper prices, especially to Yanks. Their attitude is that our stupidity is their gain; our embargo on Cuban tobacco is simply infantile. Actually, "Kennedy asked his head of press and fellow cigar smoker Pierre Salinger to obtain "1,000 Petit Upmanns' on February 6, 1962, so he could have them in his hands before they were deemed contraband." He actually got 1200 before he cut everybody else off. LINK. Hypocrite?

There is a brisk trade in Cuban cigars that has gone on for decades right under the noses of Los Federales. They get shipped in unmarked boxes without bands. The bands are sold and arrive under separate cover. Of course, you can get stung by disreputable merchants, but they have very short life spans. It is true that there are plenty of cigars out there that are as good as anything that ever came out of Cuba. Many of them are grown from "Cuban seed" in NIcaragua, Costa Rica and even Mexico. And they are a lot cheaper.

I have about two dozen "legal" Cubans in my collection. They were made from Cuban leaf that was legally imported before the embargo, but not made into cigars. It was locked up for decades in a government sealed warehouse, got caught up in a bankruptcy or two and even a probate. Finally, in the late 90s, a man got a court order releasing the tobacco so that it could be rolled into cigars, I think in Nicaragua, under strict conditions (to keep any fresh Cuban product out of it) and sold until the supply was exhausted.

There has been controversy over whether the leaf used for the wrapper was genuinely Cuban. This is important because most of the taste of the cigar comes from the wrapper, not from the fill.

Anyway, go for it!!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
4. jmx53
7:03 AM GMT on February 26, 2013
Joe, here are A couple of resources about the train:

The official Amtrak page for the route: California Zephyr
You can read about accommodations on the train, some sights along the way, and there are some positive trip reports from people who have taken the train. There are also menus so you can see what types and prices of food is served in the dining car and also the snack bar in the lounge car. Note: there may be specials in the dining car that aren't on these on-line menus.

Of course Amtrak is not going to post any info on their site that would cast their service in a bad light, so here is another site which is not affiliated with Amtrak but is a friendly group that enjoys talking about the good and bad of taking Amtrak. It is a good forum for anyone who has questions about taking the train and you do not have to be a member of this site to post a question.

There is also on board footage of California Zephyr on Youtube, so you can see what to expect.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
3. osdianna
5:20 PM GMT on February 25, 2013
We don't have fog so much as dreary overcast. Right now, we have sunshine, partly cloudy and gusty winds, but I know there are guys headed out to the golf course to take advantage before the next round of rain comes in. The cats and dog have been fed, gone out for their morning constitutional, and are now settled back in for the serious napping, though Maggie, the lab, is poised to leap up and head outside as soon as I say the word "ball"...soon.

The California Zepher...now that's a name out of my past. I always enjoyed my train rides, but they were north-south only. We took the Feather River train on one trip that was wonderfuly scenic. But the best ride I have been on is one between the Northern California towns of Ft. Bragg on the coast and Willets; it winds 40 miles through the redwoods, and is called the California Western "Skunk" Train...it's a gorgeous ride. I had always planned to retire to the Ft. Bragg area, or maybe as far north as Crescent City...same type of weather as I now have, big trees, near the ocean.

Dave, my bucket list includes smoking a Cuban cigar; I know there are probably a few others out there that smoke just as well, if not better, but since the first cigar I tried I have wanted a Cuban. I can probably find one in B.C., and it's only a 4-hour drive up there...another day.

Cats are funny, not ha-ha (well, ha-ha too) but interesting to be around. I'm a real fan, love to just watch them, love how each one is such an individual. In an earlier post someone mentioned having yours for that long and getting attached...you do what you have to do, but they were right. And you will miss yours. I have a Flickr account where I will post photos, and also on WU for outdoor shots. I tried to post some of my cats a few days ago but was denied because they aren't outdoor shots.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
2. dotmom
12:55 PM GMT on February 25, 2013
Dave - great that you were able to connect with old friends. If you are not getting around like you used to, it makes for a great day and really lifts your spirits. Hope you can do it more often. Now about that cigar smoking -- just kidding. I've never smoked, so I do not know the real pleasure of smoking, but sitting around with old friends sharing a cigar must be rewarding. A long draw on the cigar provides time to dream up more stories to tell each other. These are "the golden years" - enjoy.

Wonder what Dutchie and Fluff will be thinking about their adventure when it starts. Joe has more things going on than a one-armed paper hanger. And I wonder too - is he giving up his bed and he will have no place to put his head when he returns? Mothers tend to think too much. I find that no matter how old these "kids" get, we still have a lot of advice to share. One thing I have learned through the years is "Learn from the mistakes of others because you won't live long enough to make them all yourself." So I just try to make "suggestions" and they are usually rejected! :) Unfortunately, that doesn't make me stop making them. :(
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1. DHaupt
10:30 AM GMT on February 25, 2013
From what I've seen of osdianna's photos, I think the kitties may miss the Dutch Harbor sunshine! On the other hand, if it's really foggy when you golf there, you can dream that you are at Pebble Beach -- and it didn't cost $500.

I just did a Google search on "THE ROAD TO UNALASKA". It turned up this WU post and a few stories about school kids taking a field trip and some sailors who nearly died of exposure "on the road to Unalaska" when they were shipwrecked on the Servia back in December, 1907. Your book title, when it is publicly available, will make a big splash on Google. Better copyright the title itself ASAP.

Our weather continues cool and clear. But, it's supposed to really warm up later this week and over next weekend. Like 73F on Friday and Saturday. I can stand that. A couple of old friends from my pipe shop payed me a social visit in my decrepitude last Friday afternoon and evening. We sat out on my front deck and smoked a couple of really fine cigars, Liga Privada No. 9s by Drew Estates. I think my grandmother McCann would probably have enjoyed one.

Anyway, we had a great visit and plan to do this more regularly. The only drawback was the weather. Once that sun set behind the Dublin Hills, it got chilly and there was a breeze. Muriel had actually consented to our smoking in the living room -- probably would have worked as well as Febreeze does with the cats. Besides, clean cold air really enhances the aroma of a fine cigar. But, we all had jackets and hot coffee. They also brought me a couple of tins of Peterson's most select pipe tobacco, Peterson Reserve 2010.

Yeah, why not take the California Zephyr. Bad food and grunge is all in the tradition of rail travel in America, sort of like the days of Butterfield Overland Stage, only slightly faster. So, do it while you can. Packing up; the thrill of change and adventure.

Finally, remember that there is always one more typo. You will never find it. Not even a good copy editor can find that last typo,
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:

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About joealaska

I have just taken a new job in Great Falls, Montana. A new state and new areas to explore.

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