Sunday, August 2, 2015

Alaska Day 7 - Homer and Russian River Falls

After we left Whittier, we headed south to Homer.
We got into Homer late and were lucky to get a room without reservations in July.
 On the trip down, we spotted this Moose cow right next to the road.  This was my first look at Moose in the wild (...and it was the only Moose that we saw on this trip). 
 Homer has this strange finger of land that goes out into the bay.  They call it "the spit".
 As we drove out onto the spit the next morning, this Bald Eagle kept pace with the car and then flew low right over us.
 We took a long stroll along the beach...
 ...just to see what we could find.
 As we left Homer and drove back north, we stopped at this rock shop and bought some Alaska rocks and other cool stuff.  The owner, Tom, was great to talk with - I recommend this place highly.
 Our last adventure on this trip was a 2.3 mile hike (in the rain) back to Russian River Falls.  By the time we got back there, the rain stopped and the sun came out.
 The Salmon were gathering in a pool below the falls
 Trying to get a picture of Salmon leaping up the falls is like trying to photograph falling stars - it happens too fast.  Meg got some great pictures, but this is the best I could do.  We stayed back there for a long time hoping that a Grizzly Bear would make an appearance - but no luck.
On the way back to Anchorage, we were treated to this full rainbow.  A great way to end the Alaska adventure.
 (...and, coincidently, we were treated to a full double rainbow over the studio in Kentucky when we got home.  I take my omens where I find them...)

Alaska Day 6 - Whittier

Actually, these first 3 pictures are from day 5...
 South of Anchorage, Meg wanted to stop briefly at Bird Creek to watch people catch Salmon.  July is when the Salmon are running upstream and every creek looks like this.  Everyone has 'Salmon fever'.
 It was getting late and we knew that we could go no further, so we took a chance on a left turn toward Whittier.  It was unplanned, but the best part of the trip.  You have to go through this 2.5 mile long, one lane tunnel that shares the space with an active railroad track.  You have to hold the wheel with both hands and drive 20 mph because the rails throw the wheels of the car back and forth.
 Our first glimpse of Whittier were the docks with this HUGE cruise ship docked for the night.  Whittier is exclusively a sea port and railroad terminal.  It has no gas stations or shops, and as far as I could tell, 1 grocery store and 1 restaurant / bar inside the only hotel, the Anchor Inn, (and we were lucky that they had a room for us).
 This is Whittier.  Everything was built by the army in WWII.  The large building on the left is a derelict ruin abandoned after the 1964 earthquake.  The large building in the middle houses 85% of the town folks who make their living off fishing, charter boats or the railroad.  The place has a strange "vibe"; I don't know if it's the glacier looming over the town, the large creepy abandoned building or the only means of escape is a long, narrow tunnel that is only open once every hour and closed at night.  The running joke about the tunnel is becoming a P.O.W. - a Prisoner Of Whittier.
 After breakfast, we decided on the "26 glacier tour" with Phillips Cruises and Tours.  They took about 200 people out on a large catamaran.  There were waterfalls everywhere!
 This is a mountain goat with a small herd of deer; strange to see a mix of different species hanging together.
 This Lion's Mane Jellyfish was a first for me... were these Steller Sea Lions.
 Out in front of the glaciers were Harbor Seals hauled up on ice flows.
My favorite part of the wildlife spotting were the large numbers of Sea Otters.
 Of course, lots of glaciers to see.

 We got 'up close and personal' with some, and saw a 'calving' as a large piece sheered off and fell into the water.
 If you're inclined to see Alaska's glaciers, better do it soon.  They're disappearing fast.  They pointed out places where you could see how much they've receded in the last few years - unbelievable!
The last stop was a colony of Black Legged Kittiwakes.  I was very happy with the emphasis that the captain gave to wildlife viewing.  It was an excellent experience that I'll remember for the rest of my life.  I totally recommend this if you plan on going to Alaska.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Alaska Day 5 - Hatcher Pass and Matanuska Glacier

Saturday, July 25 was the 5th day of our trip to Alaska.
 We started the day in Palmer.  Just north of town is an overlook across this wide valley with mountains all around.  The photo does not give the sense of scale and distance - it's an impressive landscape.
 On a whim, we took a left turn and drove up into the mountains beside this turquoise-colored stream.
 I want to give 'honorable mention' to these unknown pink-purple flowers that were all along the highways in Alaska during our trip - a nice bit of color to go with the green trees and grey rocks.
 Way up Hatcher Pass is an old gold mine.
 This sign shows how it looked in the early 1900's before it was closed during World War II.
 This is how it looks today - nothing that a little paint won't fix.
 Next, we traveled north to Matanuska Glacier.  This is the view from Highway 1.
 For a fee, you can walk out on the glacier.  When you first start walking out toward the glacier, it looks like a gravel pit.
 But, after crossing a mud pit on a bridge of boards, you look down through the gravel and realize that you're already on the glacier.  It's cool, looking down through the clear blue ice.
 You've got to watch your step out there - it is criss-crossed with crevices.
 It's a strange landscape to explore.
This girl is doing a bit of ice climbing - looks like fun!
After that, we went back south and stopped in Whittier for the night.  It's a beautiful drive - mountains all the way.

Alaska Trip - days 1,2 ,3 & 4

Meg and I flew up to Alaska to install her 27,000 lb. American Lion at University Alaska Anchorage.
 We flew out of Louisville on Tuesday morning July 21.
 On this trip we saw lots of great public art at various airports; not much in Louisville but plenty in Atlanta and Anchorage on the trip up.  On the way back we were routed through Denver and Chicago.  My favorite airport art was an installation of large Shona stone sculptures in Atlanta.
 They were all creative and compositionally excellent - but this "Leap Frog" sculpture really pushed the envelope with the top figure held up by the 2 thin wrists.  I don't know how they moved it without breaking it!

The trip up made for a 22 hour day!  (...and about 26 hours coming back!)
 On Wednesday, we met her contact person at the site and reviewed the installation process.  Then, we got tools from a rental shop and supplies from a local hardware store.  With some time on our hands, we went a short distance to the south of town and checked out the boardwalk over Potter's Marsh.
 We finally made contact with the semi that had the sculpture and drove north to meet them to inspect the piece after the 4,000 mile trip.  Finding the sculpture in perfect condition we explored Eagle River while on the north side of Anchorage.  We drove back to Anchorage and ended day 2 with our traditional celebratory pizza.

Meg will show pictures of her installation on her blog (link to the right).  That basically took up most of Thursday.  After the installation we were treated to dinner at a Thai restaurant by her contact person and an art director from the local art council.
  Friday, she had a "meet and greet" as well as 2 newspaper  and 3 TV interviews at the site.  That evening, we drove north out of town after sealing the installed sculpture: signed, sealed and delivered.  We took a 1 mile trail back to Thunderbird Falls; a great way to unwind after all that.
...and a little further to the North, we stopped and took a slow stroll along Knik River.  That 4th day ended in Palmer, Alaska where we found a place for the night, having stayed the first 3 nights in student housing at UAA.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Log Jam

...and that's not the name of an instrumental song...
but what has been happening at the studio.
 I was scheduled to install this sculpture in Cave Hill Cemetery this past week.  But, there's been too much rain to drive heavy equipment over grass-covered graves.  It needs to wait for the right time...
 This bench is 1 of 5 pieces of mine that were accepted into the juried Yew Dell Outdoor Sculpture Show.  It has been sitting on the back of the crane truck for a week (or two) because it's too wet to drive out into the sculpture garden.
 It's going to have to go somewhere, because these 2 pieces have to move in 2 days - before a 70 ton crane comes in to load up Meg's Alaska commission.
 I made a custom base this week for the Bubble Bench.  I thought it was ready to come out of the studio...however...I found little fussy details that need a day or more to clean up.
 ...and this sculpture has only a day or two of fussy detail clean-ups before it gets moved out, as well.
 I did manage to pin this sculpture and move it out by hand.  It's called "Updraft" and it's a bird bath inspired by watching hawks and buzzards swoop over the studio.
 This is the back view.  (I'll need to go back out on an overcast day and get better images...the direct summer sun has really contrasted out the details...)
 I also set out this small sculpture.  I have been considering the idea of making a stone circle of about 5 of these type sculptures.
It is inspired by the big "Fairy Rings" that sprout huge fungus / mushrooms.  Whether I'll actually make 4 more similar pieces in this series, remains to be seen.  At least the rain has stopped...but now it's about 90 degrees with a very high humidity.  It's miserable out there!