Alaskan Sketches

It’s hard to make good pictures of beautiful places, and even harder when you’re traveling on a boat with two-thousand other people. Our cruise started in Seward, Alaska, just before sundown.

Seward Skyline sm
Seward skyline, after setting sail

The next day we pulled into Disenchantment Bay (great name) to take a peek at the Hubbard Glacier, which despite all odds is apparently growing. That turquoise color in the water is from glacial melt.

Haenke Island
Haenke Island, Disenchantment Bay

Then on to Hoonah, on Chicagof Island for a different kind of otherworldly beauty.

Hoonah Cemetery
Cemetery in Hoonah, AK

I would have been happy spending the entire week in Juneau if we had the chance. It felt like a place we could call home, if it wasn’t for the isolation from the rest of the world, and the cold dark winters.

Basin Road Juneau
Basin Road, Juneau, AK
Basin Road Juneau 2
Basin Road & 8th Street, Juneau, AK

Supposedly the skull of an infamous swindler from Skagway’s Goldrush days is the model for this cliff-side visage. It isn’t easy to tell how tall the tales are sometimes.

Skagway Cliff
Portside cliff in Skagway, AK

I’m still a little sore we sailed down most of Vancouver Island at night.

Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island, BC

Eclipse 2017

We drove down to Lathrop, MO last year to try and catch the total solar eclipse. The weather was not great, but I felt we had to try anyway. Of course when we found our way downtown and parked, it was sprinkling.

01 - Umbrellas
Umbrellas, Oak Street and Ridge Street – 11:46 am

We mostly sat around and waited for the cloud cover to break.

02 - Municipal Building
Municipal Building – 12:18 pm

The clouds started thinning as we got closer to totality. Maybe 100 or so people gathered on Oak Street downtown, which was closed off for the event.

03 - Oak Street Downtown Lathrop
Waiting for a break in the clouds – 12:28 pm

The light felt weird. It was hard to capture with the camera, and it makes sense when you think about it, but even when we got direct sunlight, it just felt weak.

04 - Barn on Oak Street
Barn on Oak Street – 12:37 pm

The cafe closed before totality so it’s employees could enjoy the show. They watched from the roof, silhouetted in front of a fantastic sky.

05 - Have Another Cup
Waiting on the roof – 12:45 pm

No luck with the clouds, but the nearly imperceptible rush of the onset of totality was still incredibly jarring. Crickets sang and street lights flickered on.

06 - Edge of totality
The edge of totality – 1:08 pm

We watched the clouds in the distance darken as the moon’s shadow moved east.

07 - One Minute Later
One minute in – 1:09 pm

The total solar eclipse lasted 2 minutes and 38.7 seconds in downtown Lathrop, all of it obscured. There weren’t crowds of people downtown, but there were enough people in the area to make the 4.5 mile drive back to I-35 take over an hour in the weird post-eclipse-not-quite-half-light

08 - Post Eclipse Traffic
Cornfield from post-eclipse traffic – 1:56 pm

Northwestern Missouri was the place to be for upper mid-westerners to catch the eclipse. The drive home took over six hours.

09 - Post Eclipse Traffic Truck
Still in traffic – 6:09 pm

Wollaston

Wollaston, MA was settled by and named after colonists who couldn’t stand the Puritans in Plymouth. I called this two square mile Quincy neighborhood home for four years, along with my wife and about 19,000 others. It’s old, dense, and a little weird. I miss it

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Ganesh on the sea wall

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Beach and Billings, afternoon sun

wollaston-garage

Detached garage, Calumet Street

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Tobin Towers, Quincy Housing Authority, with new construction

wollaston-madonna

Wollaston Ave, praying

wollaston-sovreign-bank

Dusk over Beale Street

Reference Points

Here are a few sketches of our new life in Iowa. I’ve lost pretty much all my reference points, and that’s disorienting. Just have to work on a new set.

balloon-watching

Ruthless sun at the National Balloon Classic

hydrant

Waiting for construction to begin

airstream

Clive La Quinta, adjacent to my office

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Visiting friends on the Front Range

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Aspiring Christmas tree at the top of Sherman Hill

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The view from Sherman Hill

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Wells Fargo West Des Moines campus giving off NSA vibes