Birds and Beaches

Friday, I received my first assignment for a potential part-time job. I haven’t actually discussed the terms of the job with my employers yet, so I won’t be posting anything more about it until I know the details.

Anyway, it took us down to the Spit on short notice, so we packed up the dogs (including the boss’s dog, as Libby hadn’t made it back yet), and headed down there. After I finished my assignment, we took all the dogs for a walk on the extremely windy beach. Skippy was kind enough to manage all three dogs while I took some pictures.


She had her hands full:
Lot of dogs

A couple of friendly birds looking for handouts were nearby.


Not yet, the tourist season won’t start for another couple months, little one.

Tiny beggar

Most of the businesses on the Spit are elevated up to road level, as the shoreline drops away a little too steeply. Here are the pillars holding up a series of restaurants and touring companies.


We managed to stay out on the beach for about 10 minutes, before running back to the car to regain the feeling in our faces.

Blizzard + Volcano = Just another week in Alaska

It’s been a crazy week here in the 49th state. Monday, Mt. Redoubt finally erupted, and spewed an ash cloud over the area north of itself (Redoubt is north/northwest of us). Our boss was supposed to fly back from the Iditarod finish in Nome that day, but her flight was canceled due to the ash cloud. For some reason, the power went out shortly after the eruption, and stayed off for a few hours.

Monday night, we had high winds that drifted in our driveway, trapping me here at home for most of the day Tuesday.

I managed to make into town Wednesday morning, though it was already blowing snow when I left. While there, I received a call from the boss, who had made it to Anchorage and was boarding a flight to Homer. I went to the airport to pick her up, and watched as the pilot circled a few times in the high wind and heavy snow, contemplated the odds of crashing while landing, decided they were not in his/her favor, and then headed back to Anchorage.

By the time I returned home, I could barely see the road, and spent the last 5 miles of the drive crawling along between lulls in the wind, when the whiteout would relent for a few seconds. Skippy had gone home ahead of me, and was bearing the brunt of the storm while trying to feed the dogs and rescue the lids to their houses that the wind had blown off (yes, it was that strong!). She faced down the storm and beat it, even after being knocked flat several times by gusts of wind and flying dog house lids.

I arrived in time to help assemble kennels and move all the ice-encrusted old dogs inside. I also took some video of the storm, for your edutainment.

Here’s what it was like outside, though the wind had died down a bit by this point. As I pan to the dog yard, you might notice the blue poop sled flying in the breeze:

I moved inside, fearing for my camera’s well-being:

And this one is looking out the east window of the cabin. Don’t you just want to run outside and play?

This morning broke calm and clear. As is typical after a snow storm, we found that most of our paths had been drifted over, making walking anywhere a chore until we get them packed down again. Also, this is our driveway.

This was a driveway

The drift was over 5′ high in places, leaving a narrow path to walk through. I sent the boss’s dog Bean down through it so I could at least get some perspective shots.

Drifted Drive

Also, check out the new rims Mother Nature gave Skippy’s truck:


It took most of the morning to dig out the dog houses and pull out whatever snow had blown into them. While we were out working, the plow arrived and started digging us out. The first couple of snows we had, back in October and November, the plow company sent a standard 4×4 pickup with a blade attached to the front. Now, in the depths of winter and snow banks on either side of the road that are 7’+ high, they bring something more substantial.

Mr. Plow, Alaska style

Around 10:30am, as I was preparing to go pick up the boss from the airport, a friend called and told me Redoubt had erupted again, and this time the ash was headed our way. Sure enough, the volcano had erupted and sent an ash cloud 65,000′ into the air. Had it been clear to the north of us, we probably would have been able to see it, but of course it was overcast at that point.

The boss’s flight was once again canceled, and we’re beginning to think she’ll have to build a house in Anchorage because she’s never going to get back here. We prepared for the coming rain of volcanic debris: gathering fresh water for the dogs and ourselves if the power went out again, moving the old dogs back inside, and making sure doors and windows were shut tight.

We finished up as the first flakes of ash began to fall, and celebrated by taking a 3 hour nap. When we woke up, the blinding whiteness that had surrounded us for the past 5 months was turned into a dirty gray, like those piles of plowed snow in mall parking lots.

Volcanic ash

Dirty snow

We fed the dogs with filter masks on, since the wind was blowing again, and I don’t fancy having volcanic glass in my lungs. I also wore my glasses, since microscopic ash on contact lenses can scratch the cornea, and I don’t want that either. Of course, breathing into the mask meant my glasses kept fogging up, so I eventually just took them off and worked in my nearsighted blur.

Here’s a special message, written in volcanic ash:

Now the volcano is sending out seismic pulses every couple of minutes, and I wonder if it’s going to blow again.

So, at least it isn’t boring around here.

Look, a post!

No, the volcano did not get us. This time.

It’s been really busy the past week, as the boss has been away in Nome for the end of the Iditarod. That means more work for us, including hand feeding a sick kitty. More on that later.

For now, enjoy a picture from a sunset last week.

Color Clouds

I could’a been a contender!

Back in January, I spent a good 2 weeks planning, filming, and editing an entry for the Best Job In The World contest. If you haven’t heard about it, basically Queensland, Australia will be paying somebody AU$150,000 to live in a house on one of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef, and blog about all the fun stuff there is to do. Applicants had to make a video explaining why they would be a good person for the job, in 60 seconds or less.

Given my interests and skill set, I figured I might have a decent chance. So I made a video.

Entering the contest meant filling out an online application and uploading the completed video. I first uploaded the video on Feb. 5th. Applications closed on the 22nd (strangely, one brother’s birthday is Feb. 5th, and the other brother’s is Feb 22nd). I waited 10 days, and heard nothing. They were supposed to email once the application had been reviewed and approved or denied for technical reasons, usually within 5-7 days. So, I uploaded it again. Again, I heard nothing. So I uploaded it 3 times in one day, until their website stopped giving me the “Thank you for applying” message and started saying “Your account has already been created.”

I never heard a word back.

But, with 34,000 people applying, what are you gonna do? So here it is, seen for the first time on the internets. I wish I could be asking you to vote for mine on the contest website, but luck was not on my side.

Let me know what you think. Did I have a chance?