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Anything But…

Kenai Canoe Trails

I am sure most of you are aware of the northern boundary water canoe trails up on the Minnesota-Canada border.  What you may not be aware of is that Alaska has the second largest canoe trail system down on the Kenai Peninsula.  Daniel Quick has put together the first (and only) comprehensive book on the trail system and it is a winner.  In this day and age of 149 character limit tweets and authors who throw something against the wall and hope nobody cares whether it sticks, Daniel has gone through a tremendous amount of effort to provide his readers with genuine research that is useful and can be trusted.  This book comes from years of personal time on this system and a ton of time with Fish & Game, rangers, other users and the library.  (What a concept).  If you want to float this system this book is a MUST have.  If you want to go and camp within this system, this book is a MUST have.  You can get it at Amazon of course or head straight on over to http://www.northlite.biz/Canoe/

New Book From Alaska


If you have the Alaska bug there is a new book out that you will want to check out.  It is getting great reviews and I have it on my short list on Amazon.  Now that the summer is over and some work is actually done (but never all done) I will be digging into this.  I pretty much consume anything about the Brooks Range I can snap up.  Check it out.

10 to the 15th power


How much is that, 10^15?  A lot.  A new survey of the universe has been released and a map of that survey is shown above (Dr. Chris Fluke of Swinburne University of Technology).  The map contains 100,000 dots and each dot represents a galaxy.  A galaxy is thought to contain an average of  roughly 100 billion stars each.  So what you are looking at is a representation of a number of stars that is too large to comprehend, 10 to the 15th power.  The volume of what you see is 13 billion billion billion cubic light years.  Uh, that’s a lot.  For a better look:  http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/~cfluke/6dF/0001.tga.jpg

This the result of two years of work so far, the goal is 250,000 galaxies mapped.  For the information on how this is being done check out this article: http://asia.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=1981

Mr. Porky


We were cruising down the Denali Highway and came around a corner and this guy was in a fire ring rooting around for leftovers.  They are quite endearing actually and you really want to get out and pet them.  That would be disastrous of course.  They don’t move very fast and they tend to have great facial expressions so they are fun.  They pretty much know that they can hurt you far more than you can hurt them (unless you have a gun.  See last years Alaska Experiment.)  We gave the old boy some room and he waddled on past in no particular hurry.  I think no particular hurry is a good way to waddle.

Too Much Skookum


This is what it looks like when you have had too much Skookum.  We went up and hiked the Skookum Volcano Trail in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.  The trail starts out from Nabesna Road and goes about 2.5 miles up a creek bed to the pass.  I hiked this trail last year scouting for some photos and I knew there were Dall sheep up there.  Some recon the evening before showed several sheep visible so we decided to head up and the plan was to camp out and photograph landscapes and Dall Sheep.  Well, that didn’t work out so good.  We decided to take our dogs with us (as usual) and our oldest, Hairy, had a really hard time.  This years flooding really brought out the boulders and when it was wet it was slicker than anything I have ever been on.  After about 2 hours lifting Hairy over boulders he finally found a sand patch and laid down.  He had had enough.  It was a beautiful day so we chilled and ate lunch and let Hairy take a nap.  Then it was down the trail to do it all over again.  He wasn’t too happy about that either and parked himself a couple of times in some soft cool sand.  We managed to keep him moving and finally made it out, he finally got what he wanted too….

Alone Across Alaska


Now here is a great resource for seeing what Alaska back country hiking is all about.  Buck Nelson traverses the Arctic on foot and by raft and takes you along with him on the journey.  If you want to see the Brooks Range and get some beta on a trip you have been dying to make then you will want this video.  If you are undecided about making a trip to the Brooks Range well, this will get you off the fence so get out the check book, the maps and pop in this DVD.  Buck’s site has links to air taxis’, gear list for this trip, maps, and a discussion board that you can ask him questions on.  Buck is a great guy and will tell you everything he knows.  Steve Howe reviewed this in Backpacker Magazine a couple of months back too if you need another source (www.backpacker.com).  Here’s the link, come on up…http://www.bucktrack.com/Alaska_Brooks_Range_Traverse.html

Making a Photograph


There are two things one can do with a camera; one is to take a picture, two is to make a photograph.  Do you want to know how one makes a photograph?  See above.  

Ansel, of course, made photographs.

Midnight Wilderness


Debbie S. Miller has written one of the best, if not the best, descriptive books on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and it is certainly the most enjoyable that I have read.  Debbie has real world years of feet on the ground experience in ANWR and her book will impart to you her passion for a place of moving beauty.  I’ll let her introduce herself in her own words (http://www.debbiemilleralaska.com/).  Midnight Wilderness is a book to read if you want to know what the fuss is about with regard to drilling ANWR.  http://www.debbiemilleralaska.com/MidnightWilderness.htm.  It is available on Amazon of course.

Just got back from Denali NP and Denail State Park so I have a lot of catching up to do.  I have a ton of photos to go through; I will put some up asap.

Chased By the Light


Chased by the Light is an absolutely excellent book.  Maybe it is so popular that you have heard of it and own it already, if not it is worth taking a look at.  The photography is excellent because of what it is a part of, taken in context of the project all of the images become special.  I think that is what a lot of photographers try to communicate to their viewers with stories of how they suffered and endured to make a particular photograph, that sense of context.  Context is there when I view a photograph of mine because I was there, it is not there for you the viewer except for what you can draw from the image and add to with your imagination.  It is a dilemma that is perplexing for a stand alone piece of work for an artist; will the viewer “see it”.  Well…back to the book, Jim in writing this book does an excellent job of completing the missing contextual information and out comes a superb book that is revealing, inspiring, and thought provoking.  I have enjoyed it immensely, take a look.

Anchorage Concert Association


Check out this link for a great write up on a really neat performance http://www.adn.com/life/arts/story/739809.html.  I did not make this concert and I was very skeptical about the advertising that I was hearing about this Ukulele player, it seemed really over top.  Well, if you read this review I guess it was actually understated; apparently this guy is all “that” and more, really a fantastic review and write up and frankly I am very sorry I missed it.  It sounds like I missed more of an experience than a concert.  If you hear of Jake Shimabukuro performing in your area I think you should really consider going, I wish I had, wow.

Where is he today?


We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul.  We in succession, in division, in parts, in particles.  Meantime within man is the soul of the whole;  the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal One.  And this deep power in which we exist, and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing, and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object are one. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love Ralph.  Is there anyone writing now like Ralph did?  That man had a direct line to God, his wisdom was other worldly and he understood the essence of every man.  Pick him up and see if you don’t agree.  He tells you what you know inside about yourself.

400 Photographs


A great book of photos, a broad insight into the work of a great photographer, Ansel Adams 400 Photographs is a pleasure.  Ansel felt his photographs as much as he saw them, he worked harder at printing them than making the image.  He gave himself to every image and every print.  He never had the consistency that we have now with the digital process and I am not sure that we haven’t lost something there.  As an artist when you come back you see the work just a bit different each time.  When I finish a print I could theoretically keep it exactly the same forever, I can save the file and print it exactly the same every time.  We call it “reproducible results” but may its a little colder than the experience of creating and recreating the print for each viewer.

This is a real book not something to breeze through in an afternoon. Enjoy slowly and in smaller portions so pour a scotch or a glass of wine and unwind with the work of a master.

Artist’s Way

Artist's Way

This is an absolute must read.  This book is one of the best I have ever read and will cause you to take a very serious look at yourself, your past, and your future.  Amazon has or you can google it and go to the Artist’s Way website.