Friday, August 19, 2011

Bend, Oregon

On Wednesday night, I got back from a week long trip to Bend, Oregon, where my grandparents on my mom’s side live. It had been more than a year since I had been to see them, and so we decided to go down as a family.
At Seatac
Last Thursday we drove onto the ferry to Juneau. Our car needed some work done on it that we couldn’t do in town (like replacing a cracked windshield) and so we were just going to leave it Juneau until we got back.
We got to Bend at about 11:00 at night where my grandpa picked us up. My grandma has cancer, specifically multiple myeloma, or cancer of plasma cells, and has been undergoing intermittent Chemo treatments for the past year. She is off of Chemo now, but is still recovering and couldn’t visit with us all day long, so we stayed with some friends of our grandparents who had some extra bedrooms.DSC_9532DSC_9547DSC_9540
A butterfly on my grandparents porch, along with their cat, Jacob, drinking out of a bird bath.
The next day, we borrowed one of our grandparents cars and did some shopping, then went to visit my grandma. We had salmon (I had tofu, since I am now a vegetarian) for dinner, then went shopping some more that night.
The next day we did more shopping. I got a suit from my grandpa, and took it to a tailors to make it fit. We also went on a hike to Tumalo Falls, a very spectacular waterfall. Unfortunately, while we were there I got a bloody nose and we had to leave. Usually my bloody noses only last for a few minutes, but this one wouldn’t go away. I started to feel like I was going to lose consciousness, so my parents took me to a clinic. By the time I got there my nose had stopped bleeding, but I was still feeling faint. After laying down for a bit I felt better, and the doctor told me how to stop bloody noses in the future.
The next day we went canoeing on Sparks Lake in my grandpa’s canoe. It was a little hard to fit myself, my sister and parents, and my grandpa in one canoe, but we managed. It was very beautiful, and I got to practice steering a canoe (we don’t have a canoe, so I don’t get to practice much).DSC_9506DSC_9477DSC_9485DSC_9489DSC_9498
That night we went with my grandma and grandpa to see The Help at the theaters. It had been a while since I had gone to a movie theater, since the nearest one to Haines is a four-hour drive. The Help was a pretty good movie, although my mom said it wasn’t quite as good as the book.
The next day we did more shopping. We also went to a quilt show, where we saw some quilts my grandma had made. Later that day my dad and I helped her photograph a few of the quilts, as she was making a book of them. We also went to visit my aunt and uncle for a hour later that night.
On the second to last day of our trip, we got Chinese takeout and went down by the river (specifically the Deschutes river) below my grandparent’s house for a picnic. The next day we went into town and went canoeing on the same river. My sister got out and swam for a while, I got more practice steering a canoe.
We also went to a tile store and bought twenty rock tiles to put around our woodstove at home. We packed them all in boxes, then paid $100 to check them all. We caught a taxi to the airport at four in the morning the next day. I got some nice pictures of mountains on the way to Seattle. From Seattle we flew on a 737-400 Combi, which is half cargo and half passenger seats. It was the first time I had flown on one before.
We Juneau we did a lot of shopping for food and supplies that we couldn’t get in Haines, or were simply cheaper in Juneau than in Haines.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sea Kayaking and Ice Climbing

This weekend I went on a three day (two night) Sea Kayaking and Ice Climbing trip. It was a free trip offered for kids by Alaska Mountain Guides, a local guiding company that offers mountaineering, kayaking, and climbing trips. I guess the purpose of the trip was to expose kids to these kinds of activities. I went on a mountaineering trip last year to Flower Mountain and a kayaking trip to Moose Meadows.

The night before the trip we had all of our gear checked. They provided the climbing, kayaking, and camping equipment (including food) and we brought our own clothes and sleeping bags, etc.

We left at 7 Friday Morning. We loaded our gear into a truck, then got into a bus to go to Chilkat State Park. From there we loaded up fiberglass triple kayaks with gear. Since we had so much stuff, we only loaded two people in each kayak and loaded the middle cockpit with gear.

From the State Park, we kayaked to Moose Meadows. It was very windy, so it took us an hour or two to get there. It was also low tide, so we had to go through a bunch of rocks without hitting them. We finally made it to Moose Meadows around 11. From there, we planned to go to Glacier Point, where we would camp. The next day we would climb Davidson Glacier.
On the left, Davidson glacier from moose meadows, wide-angle and close-up.
On the right, a random shot at moose meadows and a view of the Davidson Glacier from the air, taken while I was flying to ASRA.

Unfortunately, it was too windy for us to cross to Glacier Point, so we had to stay at Moose Meadows. We had lunch and then set up camp. I setup a few tents, including a big 4 person tent that was five feet tall. After I finished setting it up, everyone else had picked a tent, so I got this huge one all to myself, even though most of the other, smaller tents had three-four people in them.

My huge tent on the left and on the right is the cooking tent, with just two poles and a whole bunch of guy lines.

Later we went out for a short kayak. We tried to go to Kochu Island, but the wind was too strong and we had to turn around. It took us ten minutes to go down near the island, and about a hour to get back. Pretty amazing what the wind can do.

The next day it was calm, but the weather report from a weather radio said the wind was going to pick up that night. Since climbing would take a while, we might get stuck over there without being able to get back by Sunday afternoon, when we were due back. The guides decided not to take the chance. In the end, that was probably best.

So instead, we kayaked out to Twin Coves and had lunch, then turned around. The waves were getting pretty big, probably about two-three foot swells, which is pretty big for a kayak.
Twin coves, as seen from my plane on the way back from ASRA and a Panorama taken from the first cove (the cove with the little point in the middle). As an experiment, I uploaded a hi-res version of the panorama (actually about 50% smaller than the original). Click on the picture to see. Update: Hi-res panorama didn't upload properly, so it the same size as normal. My experiment failed! I will have to try some other time and figure out what happened.

After we got back, one of the other kids informed the guides about a fire they had accidentally started. While we were camped at Moose Meadows, the guides had been telling us to go to the bathroom in the intertidal zone or to dig a hole in the forest. But we were supposed to use a lighter to burn the toilet paper. It you are going in the intertidal zone, that isn’t a big problem. But if you are in the forest, it is sort of hard to burn toilet paper safely. You can’t exactly hold a piece of paper until it is completely burnt.

Anyway, one of the kids had gone to the bathroom and caught some moss on fire. He thought he had put it out, but discovered that he hadn’t after we got back from twin coves. All around a tree the moss was smoldering, making a lot of smoke. Everybody ran with their full water bottles to put it out. While I was running through the forest, I was thinking that we’d never be able to put it out with water bottles. I quickly scanned through our gear in my head and came up with dry bags. So every body filled up dry bags full of water and dumped them on the fire. I must have carried 15-20 half full dry bags to the fire, so somewhere around 40 gallons. Multiply that times 17 (the number of people on the trip), and you get a whole lot of water (about 680 gallons).

Since we were still pretty close to town, we still had cellphone reception, so one of the guides called the fire department and, who showed up an hour later. We had it mostly put out, but they double checked it and tore up the ground around the tree, checking for hot spots. They also gave us a short fire safety talk.
Later that night the sun came out and I took a few pictures.DSC_9325DSC_9384DSC_9338

The next day we kayaked back. Since we had the wind behind us, we made it in just 20 minutes. So in the end we didn’t get to go ice climbing, but we got to put out a forest fire and do some kayaking, so I had fun.

First day
Red line: to Moose Meadows from Chilkat State Park dropoff point.
Yellow line: From Moose Meadows, attempting to reach Kochu Island.

Second Day:
Green Line: From Moose Meadows to Twin Coves.

Dotted Orange Line: To Glacier Point to go Ice Climbing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Back to Haines

I got up at 3:30 and got dropped off at the airport with a few other kids. We were all on the same flight, although most of them got off in Anchorage, while I went to Juneau.The captain of our plane was Captain Kirk, which I thought was funny.

I got some nice views of glaciers on the flight from Anchorage to Juneau. DSC_9174DSC_9157

I also saw some more glaciers and other views on the way to Haines from Juneau.


Upper right, overlooking Juneau and the Mendenhall glacier. Upper left, overlooking the Valley of the Eagles golf course in Haines.

When I got back, some friends of ours from Bellingham were visiting. That night we went out to Chilkoot River and saw a bunch of bears. On our side of the river was a mother with two cubs, and on the other side of the river was a male bear. The bears were climbing on a fish weir, which is used to count fish coming down the river.


The Southeast Alaska State Fair was in progress when I got back. The day after I got back, I helped operate the dunk tank to raise money for our DDF (Drama, Debate, and Forensics) team.

I had my dad enter a few of my photos in the fair as well, and all but one got first place, the other getting a second place. Since I was in the Junior division, there weren’t a lot of entries, meaning it wasn’t that hard for me to do well. I also submitted my rain video, which won first place, but since it was the only video, it didn’t have much competition.

In case you’re wondering, the below picture, which is also my blog background, is of my cat Cyrus.


The one below got a second place, because there was a very nice flower photo entered by a friend of mine that won.


Day 12- Presentations

The presentations of all the modules were  today, all 15 or so of them, so we sat in  the auditorium from 9-3, just listening to  presentation. I set my computer to render it  again, and finally, during lunch, about a  hour before it was our turn to go, it  finished. I put it on a presentation  computer and got it to work.


Images by Peter Johnson

The presentation went very well, and we had  a funny Q&A session afterwards. If I can, I will try and post part of it.

I said goodbye to my classmates and teachers  that night. All but one of them was leaving  that night, while I didn't leave till the  morning. We had burgers for dinner.

McIntosh, the remote dorm, wasn't rented for  that night, so they gave me a new room all  to myself in the Lathrop dorms. It had very nice new furniture.

That night I played games and ate popsicles.  I played Apples to Apples until 11:00 and  then I finally had to go to bed (but not  before eating another popsicle!).

Day 11- Paleontology and Presentations

We worked on the presentation all day. At  1:30 we went to the museum of the north and  got a tour of the paleontology department.  We got to see a huge "vault" of shelves full  of specimens. It was down in the basement,  and it almost felt like a Indiana Jones  mysterious vault. We couldn’t take pictures of the vault, but we did get to see some reproduction specimens.


We also practiced our presentation, although the video wasn't rendered yet, as I kept  getting errors.

That night I started rendering the final  version at 12:00, then set my alarm to wake  me up at 1:00 so I could check it. But I was  so tired that I slept through my alarm,  which I've never done before, and didn't  wake up till 6:30. I found the render had  another error, and I was starting to worry  that it wouldn't work. I could always play  it from my editing program, but it would be  jerky and slow.

Day 10- Back at the Lab

The next day, we took a bunch of our rock  samples down to the lab and prepared and  analyzed them with some of the cool equipment. First we prepared the samples,  either cutting them up, grinding them  smooth, grinding them into a powder, and  coating them with carbon. Then we stuck some of the various samples into a X-ray analyzer. This  was like the handheld one, except it operated in  a vacuum, so it worked much better and gave  a full analysis. It was also cool because it  used a robotic arm to move around the sample  (see the clip in our video when I post it).
X-Ray Analyzer on left, SEM on right.
Next we used a carbon coater to coat some of the rocks in carbon. Then we stuck them in a SEM  (Scanning Electron Microscope) and looked at  magnifications and analysis of the elements.
While other people were preparing samples, I  worked on the video for a while, editing and helping Kelly, a classmate, write up a  script for our presentation.
We had decided to do a newscast. The news  anchors would sit in the auditorium and  report on the news, news backgrounds and the  video segments would appear on the  projector.
I worked on the movie all that night, and skipped activities to finish it. I stayed up till 2 and got a preliminary version finished, then set it to render.  When I got up at 5, I found the render had a  error, and I had to start over.

Day 9- Back to Fairbanks


The next morning we packed everything up and  left around 10. We stopped at Savage River  again and climbed up a small hill. At the  top was a amazing view of the valley and we shot a segment of me explaining glacially  formed valleys. We also shot a segment where  Peter, a classmate, used a radio to talk to  Jill at the bottom of the hill. We used this  as the final sequence in our video.


We climbed the pointy hill in the upper left hand corner, which is where the rest of the pictures are taken.

We left the park and drove into Nenana  Canyon, which is right outside the park.  Everyone started calling their parents. As  they did, they realized that  many of their  parents had been worried about them. While  we were in the park, a group of 7 students  and 2 instructors (almost exactly the same  as our group) had been attacked by a bear  near Denali. This made national news, and a  few of the parents thought it might have  been us.

On the way back we stopped at the Stampede  Trail, which is where the guy from into the  wild was staying in a bus (Or so Emily told  me). Emily was slightly, just slightly,  obsessed with the book and movie, and  narrated the whole story to us in about 3  minutes. I recorded it, and although we  didn't have time to put it in the final  video, I think I will put it in a version  for all of the parents. Anyway, we stopped  and took a picture of the sign, which just  said Stampede trail.

DSC_8987DSC_8997DSC_8999DSC_9006Layering Pano

Next we stopped at a canyon near the Usibelli Coal mine in Healy. It was a  beautiful canyon, with visible sedimentary  layering in the walls. There were a few  veins of lignite coal, which stood out from  the rest of the layers. We found a bunch of  fossils, and also did a video segment about  layering and sedimentation.


While we were there, a bunch of kids started jumping and sliding down scree slopes. We nicknamed it “screeing” These were some of the best pictures I got.


We didn't get back to the dorms to eat  dinner at the cafeteria on time, so we  stopped at a burger joint and ate dinner.  Then we drove back to the dorms and  unpacked.