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Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Fishin'

These days here on Cliffside Fishin' is all the rage. Yesterday the plan had been to ski from the golf course to Buskin Lake and try to catch Dolly Varden Trout at the melted inlet to the lake. However, the weather was NASTY so we tried Mill Bay beach instead. Once on the beach I even dared to put real hooks on their lines. But no fish bit - not even a sculpin. Still, everyone got to practice casting and at least no siblings hooked each other.

Nora has a cast where according to her she 'can get it WAY out there'. Stuey has even learned to back up the beach to get the line in faster. When there finally are fish willing to bite I think these guys will be ready. Patrick

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Visit to Mr. Otter

Monday I took the kids for a cross country ski out at the golf course. There is plenty of snow and I've been feeling a bit guilty about not taking the kids cross country skiing more often this winter. I'm worried they will never learn or like to cross country ski. The fact of the matter is that it is a lot of work to get the kids all gussied up in their ski gear and then they usually only want to ski for 10 minutes or so. It is often easier just to go sledding.

However, on Monday afternoon I tried something different. The kids set off on their skiis and were having fun, but I decided to try something new. We'd go exploring and visiting. The last few days the kids had been playing 'tree house' in the backyard so I thought I'd employ the same sort of game on skiis at the golf course. So I pointed out a tree in the distance and said, 'let's go visit Mr Otter.'

The kids loved it! We got to Mr. Otter's house and I pretended I was Mr. Otter and gave them each a snow cone (snowball). And then off we went to see Mrs Beaver, Mr Rat (only rotten cabbage to offer), Mrs Weasel, Mr Muskrat, Gump the man who watches Santa's house on Kodiak (and who fed us oats), nasty Mr Wolverine who would not give us anything to eat, Bruno the Brown bear, and finally Nanook the Polar bear. We went from tree to tree all over the golf course and even when the wind picked up and it started to snow the kids did not want to stop. It ended up as their longest ski to date by far.

I guess the take away message is that I should not worry or stress about them learning to cross country ski and just take them exploring a bit more often (but on skiis of course). Patrick

Monday, March 28, 2011

Goin' Fishin'

Ever since Stuey's fishing pole broke last fall (after a summer of HARD use), he has asked, "how about a new fishing pole?". The past month I told him he could get one when the snow melted. So over the weekend when the snow was almost vanished from our yard, Sara took he and Nora down to Macks and they got him the fishing pole he has been waiting for. Stuey was thrilled...beyond thrilled. They went to the beach and tried them out--by the time they got home, the line was tangled and it took a good 20 minutes to untangle. Thus begins fishing season here at the Saltonstalls....months of casting a pinecone or stick in the yard...simple pleasures.


Sunday Snow

Yesterday I went up Pyramid and went downhill skiing. Lately, I've been mostly cross country skiing - trying to catch the last of the snow at sea level before it disappears for the summer - so it felt slightly novel to go up the mountain to catch some powder. And the conditions were pretty darn good. About a 1/2 foot of powder and graupel on the North side of the mountain and sun warmed corn snow on the south side.

I climbed up the mountain by myself, but as usual when spring skiing on a beautiful sunny afternoon on Pyramid I was joined by lots of friends. I ran into Paul Z, Tia and Danny up for a family ski and Gregg and Lisa too. Up on Pyramid on a day like sunday is sort of like going to a Christmas Party. You really never know who you will meet and everyone you do meet you are really glad to run into. I guess like minded people climb mountains and go to the same Christmas parties together. Patrick

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Playing Outside

This weekend was an outdoors kind of adventure. Nora and Stuey have discovered "playing house" in the small alcove of trees we have next to our house. They have little trails, "bedrooms", "bathrooms" (a boys and a girls), a kitchen, etc. Yesterday the kids played outside in the barely-40 deg temps for close to 2 hours. It was magnificent! I remember playing house for hours and hours and hours as a kid and its fun to finally see Nora and Stuey at an age where they are enjoying it also!

Yesterday we went sledding on the mountain across from Pyramid. The hill was steep, sleds were fast and there were lots of sqeals of delight from the kids.

There is still so much snow in the mountains! I'm getting excited about the prospect of downhill spring skiing. I didn't go at all last year and regretted it. Not sure how I let that happen...

I can feel spring in the air--snow is almost melted around our house, (just one tiny patch left) and our driveway is finally drying up.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kodiak's Tsunami

Japan's recent earthquake and disastrous tsunami got me to thinking about the earthquake and tsunami that rocked Kodiak 47 years ago. I found these images in the Alutiiq Museum photo archives - they were all taken by Nick Nekeferoff. The Good Friday Earthquake in 1964 was about the same size as the one in Japan (around a 9.2) and like in Japan it was the series of tsunamis following the quake that did most of the damage.

When I was looking through Nick's photos I was surprised how close the roads were to the water. And I suddenly remembered that during the earthquake the city of Kodiak also subsided approximately 6 feet into the sea - Hence, the higher sea level. If you look closely at the third (Old powerhouse after the quake) and fourth (old powerhouse prior to the earthquake) you can see the change in sea level quite dramatically. Prior to the earthquake the bottom of the snow line illustrates your typical high tide. Afterwards the high tide is quite a bit higher! It's kind of cool to think that that building on the left is now one of our favorite Kodiak restaurants.

The top photo is of Potato Patch Lake (taken from where Marion Owen used to have her garden) and one of those buildings floating in it is the old Beachcombers Bar. I gather the beach at Shahafka Cove was covered with bottles of booze and there was quite the party on the beach afterwards. They replaced the old beachcombers floating in the lake with the hull of a boat. The beachcombers was still a bar when I first came to Kodiak in the mid 1980s but closed shortly there after.

The second photo shows the Old Donnely Building where the USFWS Visitors center stands today. At the time it was a post office, but when I first moved to Kodiak it was the KANA building. Today the waterfront here is dominated by the ferry landing and canneries.

Looking through all these old photos and hearing about what's happened in Japan has me wondering what would happen if Kodiak got struck by another series of tsunamis. The scary thing is that I don't think we are prepared for another tsunami. I've heard people say that Kodiak only has a big quake every 400 years or so and that we don't need to worry about another tsanami. And while it is true Kodiak will probably not get hit by another 9.0 for a long time - we do have to worry about tsunamis and large earthquakes on the order of an 8.0. Three Saints Bay the first Russian settlement on Kodiak was wiped out by an earthquake on the scale of an 8.0 and tsunamis don't even have to be generated by a local earthquake. So you bet we should worry. This could happen again.

And if it did happen again, my biggest concern would be all the canneries. I think they would all get demolished just like the ones in Japan did. And while we don't have any nuclear power plants to worry about - I do wonder how hazardous all the cannery refrigerants are. Should we be worried about an ammonia cloud over Kodiak? How about a chlorine and bleach mustard gas cloud? Doomsday scenarios for sure, but I just hope the canneries and the City of Kodiak have considered the possibility of another tsunami. Patrick

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tracks in the Snow

The top 2 photos was what our driveway looked like in the morning. If you are a good tracker you could figure out that an adult walked out to the car side-by-side with a child. The simple story is that I walked out to the car holding Nora's hand, and then tucked her into her booster seat. And then it was off to preschool.

By afternoon the sun was out and the kids biking down the hill in the sunshine. Typical March weather in Kodiak - sun, snow and MUD. Our driveway is a swamp. I also noticed that the crocuses are peeking up out of the snow. Springtime in Kodiak. Patrick

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Focus, Mom

Yesterday I was helping set the counter up for Nora to paint. She got her paints out and some paper. I was behind the counter, cleaning and putzing around. I realized that Nora needed a glass of water and I turned around to give it to her....right at that moment she said, "Focus, mom". I started did she. I replied, "Did you just say, Focus?". She said "yeah! I needed my paint water". Some of the things she says take me by surprise! Its fun to be able to laugh at yourself--my kids surely help me do that!


A tower Stuey built when I was gone last week.
Birthday photos from Patrick's 46th!
Strike a pose!! Sara and the kids.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Skiing

Yesterday Zoya and I went cross country skiing on the riverbed up above Buskin Lake. Absolutely beautiful. No wind, temperature around 40, and plenty of corned up snow. We are at that moment that happens every year when winter hangs in the balance and the skiing is great. It's basically still winter down at sea level, but spring is in the air, and with one big rain storm all the sea level snow could get washed away and never return. Pretty soon we'll lose our night and it will stop freezing at night. Crocuses will bloom and stuff will start to grow. But for now at sea level the snow pack is at its max and the skiing is great. Patrick

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Bozeman Family

Today I returned from a 5 day trip to Bozeman, Montana-to visit my sister and her family. My sister, Peggy, fractured her leg quite severely in a fall about a month ago. She underwent surgery and will have more weeks of rest and then rehab ahead of her. After finding out about the fall, I booked a ticket to visit her and give her family an extra hand. This was my first trip to Bozeman and I had such a great time with my family. The week was filled with visiting with Peggy, running errands as needed, grocery shopping, cooking, going on walks, watched a couple of movies...

My niece, Cami, is 14 and she and I cooked up a storm. She was an awesome prep cook and baker! There is nothing I love more than cooking with someone so enthusiastic and lovely as Cami.
Monday-Bean and veggie burritos
Tuesday-Home made Pizza (actually, dough was bought fresh from local co-op. YUM! wish we had that option here!!)
Wednesday-Salmon Patties, Roasted veggies and salad. For dessert, Cami made Apple Crisp. YUM!
Thursday-Roasted Broccoli and Veggie/meat lasagna

The meal which made me the happiest was the salmon patty night. I bought 3 small cans of canned salmon from the local store, and made the standard fried patties we make here at home. I knew my brother-in-law, Bern, would eat them along with me-as he loves seafood. But I didn't believe any of the kids would enjoy them. I went into it expecting that the kids probably wouldn't touch them. I was WRONG! My older niece and nephew ate them and enjoyed them! And their teenage friend who was over for dinner wanted seconds as well! I was so honored and excited to see kids enjoying salmon patties! (I know they would find me completely silly for getting so excited about this...) There wasn't a crumb left. I was such a happy chef that night. Seeing that the patties were gobbled down and appreciated.

The week went so well. Peggy is making a gradual recovery and has incredible strength through it all. I admire her for the attitude with which she has approached the injury and state of disability. She can't bear weight on her leg for 8-12 weeks total...and has to use an adapted walker, as she also fractured her wrist on the same size. Makes getting around challenging for her, to say the least.

Bozeman is a beautiful city--can't wait to go back some day with the kids and check out the natural wonders of the area....yellowstone, geysers...skiing...dinosaur museum...etc. Stuey and Nora would love it. And Patrick too. But its often hard to peel him out of Alaska....


Photos: Cami and I cooking a batch of calzones (to go in the freezer for Peggy) and lasagna yesterday evening.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Philip's Snow Video

Snowboarding the Kodiak Backcountry from Philip Tschersich on Vimeo.

Philip made a video that partially uses some of the video he shot on my birthday ski. He almost totally excluded us skiiers, but if you look carefully Lisa and I do make brief cameo appearances in the background. Philip does an awesome job with imovie and his videos are so beautiful it actually sort of discourages me from making such videos. But mine are just different. I see myself more as a 'Robert Frank' type videographer (famous for grainy high contrast Black and white photos) while Philip is more the Ansel Adams type. One thing for sure - my videos load up a lot quicker.

In any case, take the time to watch the video. It's a pro job, and it really shows how nice the skiing was over the weekend. Best of all, with all the new snow it should be getting even better up there now. Patrick

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Earthquakes and Rocket Fuel

The large earthquake in Japan and the melting down nuclear reactors has had me thinking about Kodiak's own rocket launch facility. Like Japan Kodiak is one of the few places in the world where REALLY large subduction type earthquakes take place. Our large earthquakes can be up to 1000 times worse than anything that'll ever hit Southern California where the faults are of the strike and slip variety. Kodiak and Japan are perched on the edge of subduction zones where oceanic plates slide under continental margins (Seattle and Chile are other such places).

Anyhow, a few years ago I was at a Kodiak Island Borough Assembly meeting where Rocket launch VIPs were making the case to store highly unstable, toxic rocket fuel out at Narrow Cape (see my blog post from February 2009).

After the meeting I asked the head guy if they knew about the fault that is literally right next to the facility (you can see it both of the Google earth images I've posted - it shows up quite clearly from the air). The head guy assured me that the Vandenburg rocket launch is also built near faults and that Kodiak has already withstood a 7.0 earthquake. I pointed out that said 7.0 occurred over 50 miles away and far under the earth's surface and not on the fault that lies just 10's of meters away from the rocket launch. He got mad and stressed that these things are built to withstand earthquakes - END OF STORY.

Now with the melting down nuclear reactors in Japan I wonder if they too were built to withstand earthquakes. I bet that the officials that built them assured everyone that they could withstand anything nature threw at them. They were wrong. And I know that the rocket launch VIP is wrong about the Narrow Cape facility too. Nothing built by man can withstand a nearby 9.0 earthquake or even a 7.5 earthquake that is on a fault less than 10 meters away (a 7.5 that close would probably shake worse than a 9.0 whose epicenter is 30 miles away). And that is why nuclear reactors should not be built in subduction zones or on top of earthquake faults - END OF STORY. Nor should we be storing highly unstable and toxic rocket fuel in such places. Because in such places there will eventually an earthquake and the best laid plans WILL GO AWRY. Patrick

Monday, March 14, 2011

Birthday Ski

Today's my birthday, but yesterday I went for what has become a tradition - the birthday ski. For the last few years Philip, Adelia, Gregg and Lisa have joined me for a ski on my birthday. Every other year we have gone exploring on cross country skiis, but this year we went on snowshoes and alpine gear.

The conditions were pretty darn good - powder on a soft crust. A little windswept and icy up high on exposed ridges, but that made the sojourn a bit more adventuresome. I have been at a conference in Fairbanks, and cross country skiing every day on groomed trails. It felt good to get back on the ungroomed! Back into the backcountry. Patrick

Friday, March 11, 2011

Post-Tour Peace

The professional photos from the Tour were posted and its fun to look at them and be thrilled that the race is over. I have been able to breath easier with my schedule now that the race is over....our friend Bruce wrote on his blog (north 2 the future) about the relief of the race being over, and not having the details of the race being such a focus of his mind. I wholeheartedly agree-I feel lighter now that it is over. The good part about doing a race is it gives you something to work towards. The downside is that in the weeks preceeding the race, it is easy to feel mentally taken over by it.

Stuey has been in such a good spot lately. I had some hard times with his stubborness for several months and now he has come out of it. Yes-he still has a stubborn edge, but my sweet little Stuey is back. Kids go through phases where they push limits and its not fun but then they come out the other side of it, and all is well. Amazing how it works.

Nora is blossoming on many levels as well--tonight she wanted to make Patrick several Happy Birthday posters, as Patrick's birthday is this weekend. She had me write out the letters, "Happy Birthday Dad" on a piece of a paper and she quickly transcribed the letters and words onto her posters. She is becoming much more confident with writing. She draws big upper case letters, and it works. I can see she is having fun with writing which is the important part.

When school starts in the fall, she'll be very ready for kindergarten. Its going to be an exciting time to watch her start school in August!


Monday, March 07, 2011

The Tour - Goals met and unmet

Oh where do I start. The Tour of Anchorage completely kicked my booty. That said, it was such a great weekend.

Patrick was VERY happy with his place-he took 36th overall in the 50K, which exceeded his goal of placing in the top 50, and he got third for his age group. He was very excited to keep up with some of the elite skiiers in the Spencer Loop. The Spencer loop is in the beginning of the Race and is a 800 foot climb up and is the worst part of the 50K.

It was so fun watching him ski by me...there were some very fast, very serious guys that flew by and then in the next couple small groups of guys, Patrick flew by. I had a feeling he was in the top 50, as there weren't too many guys before him. THe 50K'ers are 100% business. Shiny bodysuits, and legs and poles just flying ahead. I was proud to see Patrick with them and I yelled out "Go Patrick! Love you!!". He chimed back, "Go Zoya" as he flew into the sunrise and I was huffing and puffing along.

My race was brutal. The 25K course I did had a new start at Alaska Pacific University. At the start line, the announcer said, "We don't really know how long this route could be 20K or it could be 30K...if you have a GPS, track it for us and let us know." At the end everyone agreed it was closer to 28K....

The trail looped back and forth all around, up and down moderate hills. I felt encouraged by how things were going until I saw the sign that said, "20K to finish". I looked down at my watch. I had been skiing for 56 minutes. I thought, "NO WAY". I have skiied more than 5K, surely. But I didn't let it fluster me and just focused on the trail and my form. Towards the middle/end of the race, the snow felt very slow. It was soft and dirty.

At 1 or 2 points during the race, I lovely would it be to catch a ride with one of these nice spectators back to the finish...but I really pushed those thoughts from my head. I had moments throughout where my hip flexor and low back muscles would tighten for about 5 minutes and I was just inching along. The final hills to the finish were brutal. Everyone was in the same boat--exhausted. As I approached the finish line, I saw my ski instructor, Lili standing in the crowd and I smiled at her...she said "Hi" and waved and then took a picture of me with a camera with a big lense. I wanted to sink form was HORRIBLE. I was practically walking. I think she understood.

There were 9 people in my family cheering crowd, screaming, "Go Zoya! Go Zoya" as a I finished. Nora and stuey were 2 of them. I finished in 3 hrs 17 minutes, about 50 minutes longer than I had hoped for.

I'm really glad I did the race--it gave me something to work for this winter. The process of training got me back into regular exercise. And I'd like to do the race every year instead of having 3 year gaps between the times I do it.

Patrick did awesome and I'm so proud of him. He was up there with the big guns...he worked for hard for it all winter. Here in Kodiak--where there are no groomed trails.

A major highlight of the weekend was our friends and family who also did the race--my brother in law Todd did the 25 freestyle, My stepdad did the 25 classic and did incredible (took second for his age group!!), and our friends Ray and Bruce in Anchorage also did awesome. Bruce did the 50K for the first time and Ray met his goal of being in the top 100 for the 50K. Julie took second for her age group!!! Our friend Aubrey who has done archaeology in Kodiak before took first for our age group.
Everyones personal times were slower than prior years, because the race was most likely longer due to the new course.


Photos: Nora and Stuey with the Tour Moose at the finish. On the car ride home last night nora said, "Mom-I think that moose is actually a human underneath. I think that moose wants kids." Pretty funny.
Cousin Will and Nora. Patrick loved that Nora wore his bib after the race, and struck a pose like she was double poling in the race!
2 pictures Beth S. took of me at the finish....the smile was somewhat forced....I was moving VERY slow.