The Great Debate #1

I tried to watch the debate tonight, and was initially foiled. My first attempt was at the Homer Movie Theater, where they were projecting the webcast of the debate on the big screen. I had a tech support appointment until about 4:45, so I arrived a little after 5 to find everyone leaving. I peeked inside and I saw a big frozen image of Jim Lehrer with his mouth open, and a mouse pointer frantically clicking the Play/Pause button on the web player. After waiting around for a few minutes and not seeing any more progress being made, I followed the crowd and left.

Since it was mostly sunny today, I stopped and took some pictures of the fall colors at a spot I’ve passed a couple of times and thought “that would make a good picture.” What do you think?

Turn the camera 90 degrees right, and here’s what you see:

I hopped back in my car, and started searching the radio for the debate. Fortunately, the local PRI station was carrying it on AM, so I listened to it all the way home.

Here’s what I heard: Obama explains his position on a subject. McCain attacks Obama, then gets around to explaining his history with similar decisions. Obama defends himself, maybe takes a jab at McCain, tries to stay on subject. Repeat.

I had to turn off the radio when McCain told the story of his bracelet. I’ve heard enough heart-wrenching stories told about “real” people by presidential candidates. Sadly, I turned the radio back on to hear Obama’s “I’ve gotta bracelet too!” story, and turned it right back off.

I returned home and fired up the old interweb and watched the CNN live feed, in time to hear McCain say something like “North Korea being the harshest dictatorship maybe in the world, and South Koreans are 3 inches taller.” Huh? Maybe he meant something about malnutrition due to mismanagement stunting their growth, but without some sort of context, it sounded sort of crazy.

Each candidate had their little go-to nails to hammer during each answer: McCain’s was Obama’s “naivete” and “misunderstanding situations,” Obama’s was McCain’s support for most of the Bush Administration’s policies. I think McCain’s came off as more childish and arrogant.

Hopefully the theater gets their troubles worked out before Thursday’s VP debate, since Our Very Own Governor Sarah Palin will be center stage. The town seems to be very mixed in its opinions on her, and I would like to see how that pans out in public.

Remembering a rare morning…

…when the sun was able to break through the cloud cover.

I found that in folder of pictures I thought I had posted, but that one slipped through. I also meant to continue the story of us getting to Alaska, but I just found an entire 4gb memory card full if images I haven’t even imported yet, from our time in Washington and British Columbia. So I will need to break up the catchup posts even more, because some of these pictures need to be seen!

That might be a job for the weekend, because I’m pretty busy with Journalism work this week, including preparing to interview candidates for my position!

Tonight we’re going to see two documentaries at the Homer Documentary Film Festival: Young@Heart and Man On Wire. Should be fun!

A Morning Accident

Around 8:30 this morning, I was driving Skippy, our friend and neighboring dog handler Tiffany, and a sled dog named Opal into town, because Opal was scheduled to get spayed, and we all needed groceries.

It, of course, has been raining for the last couple days. After passing Fritz Creek (about 7 miles from Homer), I watch a big Chevy Tahoe in the opposite lane drift off the side of the road right as we pass it. I continue to watch it in my mirrors, waiting for the driver to pull back onto the road. Instead, the truck veers further off, and disappears down the hillside the road is cut from.

“What are you doing?” Skippy asks.

“Watching a car wreck.” I responded. “We have to go back!”

Both Skippy and Tiffany agreed, as I pull into the next driveway and drive back to where I saw the Tahoe vanish. The driver is already back up by the road, seemingly unharmed but extremely shaken. About 20-30 feet down the hill are the remains of her vehicle, resting on and against some smallish trees (they looked like birch trees to me, but I’m not quite versed in the local arbor yet), smoking. Skippy leans out the window and huggs her, and asks if she was hurt. The driver says no, and start crying, so Tiffany gets out to take care of her while I drive a little further down the road to find a safe place to park.

Fortunately, there is a gravel pull-off about 50 feet away, and Skippy calls 911 while I hike back up the hill to see what I can do. Tiffany had already climbed down and turned off the ignition, but found smoke inside the truck, and had called the fire department. I take the driver back down to our car, so she can sit and also so she does not have to look at her crumpled truck.

A woman stops to see what is wrong, and then brings us back a flare to put at the top of the hill so we don’t get creamed by some other speeding vehicle. Tiffany and I walk back up the hill while Skippy stays on the phone with 911 and keeps her arm around the driver. I’ve never lit a flare, and while Tiffany and I try to figure out the simple 3-step instructions (the flare was old, and the instructions were hard to make out. Really, they were!), another truck pulls over and a woman hops out with orange cones. All of this is before any emergency personnel have shown up.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is, Alaskans are awesome.

About 20 minutes after the accident, and 15 minutes after the initial call to 911, a volunteer fireman arrives. Shortly thereafter, an ambulance and a firetruck pull up. I stay on the hilltop, waving at the occasional person who continues to drive fast, past a flare and several orange cones, on a wet road.

An amendment: Alaskans are awesome but can sometimes be a little slow on the uptake. Some of them, at least. :-)

Finally, the driver is declared undamaged, though she apparently got verbally ripped apart by the paramedics for not wearing her seatbelt. Her story, as told to Skippy and the paramedics, was that she was between shifts at her job, and was trying to get home in a hurry (20 miles away). She took a curve too fast, and the rear of her truck slid out. She over-corrected, and that’s when she went off the side of the road. So…we arrived just in time to help, and just late enough to avoid getting smeared.

We agree to give her a ride back into town, and drop her off at a towing company, so she can begin the process of recovering what was left of her car.

Then we take Opal to the vet clinic and start our day. I’m only just now able to sit and write this all out, at 9pm.

So, no pictures tonight. Instead, picture yourself not in a hurry. Plan your days out with your full attention, to avoid over-scheduling and feeling like you need to rush to accomplish everything. What is it worth, really? If you have trouble meeting deadlines, perhaps you should adjust your expectations, instead of your speed. Please take care.

Road to Alaska catch-up Part 1

Okay, I think I should probably finish out the story of us getting to Alaska. When we left off last, Skippy and I had made it into the Yukon Territory, and were spending the night at Sebastian’s place, just outside of Whitehorse.

First, a little about Whitehorse. We arrived in Whitehorse just before sunset, and by the time we decided what to do for food, I had run out of light to take pictures. But, Whitehorse was not what I expected. What did I expect? Well, I thought we were going to be driving into something more akin to Dodge City in Wyatt Erp: Saloons, people shooting guns in the air, horses tied out in front of brothels…

Why, I don’t know. I guess because it seems like it’s in the middle of nowhere, and the name “Whitehorse” just sounds like the kind of place a person could get shot for looking at a man the wrong way.

Anyway, our first loop through town pretty much shattered all those preconceptions. There were a lot of modern buildings, including some really cool looking apartment complexes. I kind of felt like we were driving through a modern, small seaside town in Sweden, not a town in the middle of the Yukon. Too bad I didn’t get any pictures.

After spending the night at Sebastian’s, I hiked up a big hill behind his property and took some of the pictures found in this post: Yukon Hilltop I also took this picture, which I didn’t get edited until recently:

After saying goodbye to Sebastian as he was hooking up his sled dogs for training, we left and drove towards Alaska. Along the way, we drove around the edge of Kluane National Park, which looks amazing. We encountered construction while going around Lake Kluane, so we got out and I took a couple of pictures. Okay, I took a lot of pictures, but these two were the good ones.

The construction apparently involved dynamite, though we didn’t get to see anything that cool. There were large trucks and bulldozers on narrow cliffs above us though, so that was exciting.

As we continued to get closer to the Alaskan border, the road condition progressively deteriorated. The 5 miles between the Canadian border crossing and the US customs gate were some of the most dangerous miles we drove the entire trip. I was constantly swerving to avoid car-swallowing pot holes, and almost ramping off of buckles in the road.

However, we also saw more wildlife in those 5 miles than anywhere else! We passed a brown bear romping in a field beside the road, and another fishing in a creek. We saw dozens of swans and cranes, and several eagles in flight. I probably would have seen more, but I had to keep my eyes on the road for fear of hitting a road defect and dying.

We reached the border intact, and crossing back into the US was fairly painless. We handed over our passports and documentation for Macgee and the rifle, answered a few questions, and we were let through.

Tomorrow I’ll finish up with our drive through Alaska.

Interspecies snorgling

It’s raining again, so no pretty sunrises this morning. Instead, I thought I’d share an image of a common occurrence here in the cabin. Our dog Ashlee likes to sleep on the couch. Our cat Jacques likes to sleep, period. Put the two of them together, and you get uncontrollable cuteness:

Too bad they’re both similar colors, otherwise the interlinked legs would stand out even more.