Monday, July 13, 2009

...back at Elmendorf AFB

We moved a grand total of about 30 miles Friday. Homer was a pretty little coastal community, heavily steeped in the counter-culture, liberal tradition of the post-1960s flower children. These flower children have aged right along with the rest of us, but they still long for the Utopian ideal of a modern world full of electronic communication (I-Pods and I-Phones abound), BMW motorcycles (to save gas, of course) and twenty-first century medicine (they are entering the age of coronary bypass and the need for medications to assist with erectile dysfunction), but abhor the desecration of the pristine Alaskan wilderness. While Brenda was in the Post Office mailing a package to Florence, I was in the parking lot chatting with a lady of about my age. She is an avid birdwatcher (having traveled all the way to the Florida Keys to see her most rare bird), who admitted to “being hypocritical” because she buys ground meat and steaks at the store (in answer to “do you hunt?”), and who informed me that she is reluctant to even buy that beef because the “cows” don't really like corn, “they make them eat it”. Apparently, according to this lady, this process is due to the rapacious nature of the corn producers...forcing the cows to eat corn to provide a market of the corn growers. I was going to coin a new cliché...something about leading a cow to corn, but being unable to force “him” to eat it, but the whole topic of bovine gender – cows, bulls and steers – was too daunting and I just let it slide. I did correct her misunderstanding about what “cows” consider palatable, assuring her that we have fences to keep them out of the corn fields, not in them.
We left Homer and drove about thirty miles to Stariski State Campground. We'll be here for at least three nights. It is a dry camp, but the location and view are wonderful. We are on a bluff about 150 feet above Cook's Inlet. It is nearly shear, but I may try a descent. Brenda and I had a discussion about whose “dead body” – hers, over which I would have to step to make my attempt; or mine, which would be at the bottom of the cliff, if I tried. After setting up the trailer, we backtracked to the Norman Lowell Gallery. He is an 80 year old artist, who has captured on canvas the wild spirit of Alaska. His paintings are magnificent. They are mostly paintings of snow covered mountains, waterfalls, and springtime re-greening. It was curious to me that his works do not include the indigenous animals...not even an eagle soaring near the mountains. Which reminds me, when we returned to the campsite, I was sitting on the bluff watching the water and the shore. Some gulls were arguing about ownership of some fish scraps on the water's edge, when suddenly they all took to the air...and a shadow drifted across my field of view. Almost immediately a Golden Eagle landed and claimed the fish. He was more than twice the size of the gulls he chased away. After about ten minutes, a passing boat prompted him to take to the air again. Later, I was delighted to see a Bald Eagle fly by, confirming the ID of the Golden, because of the contrasts between the two.
The next day (Saturday), we drove up into the mountains seeking a small lake to fish. We were well off the beaten track, and found the lake I'd seen on the topographic map, but it was fishless. Not even a small minnow along the sunny bank. I suspect it is too high, too shallow and gets too cold and frozen in winter. On the other hand, it did provide a good breeding place for mosquitoes. I'll attach in a later post some photographs of a hen Ptarmigan and some moose tracks from that trip. We did see a cow moose about 50 yards from the road on the way up the mountain. They really are huge animals.
On Sunday we went to Bob's church, St. Augustine's Episcopal, in Homer. I'll also attach some photographs of the church with a later post.

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