Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall comes to Kodiak

The day after the equinox, we woke to 30 degrees. Frost covered the lawn and they say a dusting of snow dropped on the mountains. Overnight the fireweed sprouted their cottony white tufts. By the next day their red leaves turned brown.

Now its time to prepare a few things.
1. Mow the lawn for the last time and put the tractor away.
2. Change the water in the hot tub before the faucet temperature drops below 50 degrees.
3. Find the ice scrapers for the car's windshield.

But don't get too depressed. It still gets to nearly 50 degrees every day. Just start a hike with a jacket and take it off as the day goes on. Just think: no more sweating in that hot, nearly 70 degree weather!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Where does your sun rise?

In the East... but only on the 2 days of the year that are called the Equinox: Sept 24 and March 18th. In the winter it rises further south than tre East.

Here is our sunrise. On June 14 it was to the North, over the neighbor's house at 4:30 AM. On August 22 at 7:00 AM, it was just off the tip off Spruce Cape. And on September 21st (three days before the Autumn Equinox), it is rising close to true East at 8:30 AM.

By December 21, the Winter Solstice, our sun will rise 50 degrees further to the South than it does on Sept 24...... well outside the right side of the picture.

Where it rises depends on how far north of the equator you live. We live at 58 degrees north of the equator. Denver (which is 40 degrees from the equator) will see the sun rising just 30 degrees south of East! At the equator, it will rise just 22 degrees south of true East during the winter Solstice.That's because the Earth tilts more the further north you travel and, in fact, is alot more elliptical or thin at the top and bottom than midway from the equator. So the position of the sun rising and setting changes alot more on the horizon the further north your travel.

If you want to know where your sun will really rise on any day, wherever you are, check it out at

Sunrise Locations

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wedding in Chiniak

We had a wedding last weekend in Chiniak. This is a very small community, of about 70 people, about an hour drive south of Kodiak. Let me spend a small amount of time describing the town. After you turn off the main road to Chiniak, the road is unpaved and there are continual potholes...large potholes. The US Post Office is open 3 days a week for 2 hours at a time. There are no grocery stores or gas stations.

Anyway, this is where the wedding was held. It was set on the beach with a beautiful backdrop of the bay. The bride wore a lovely long gown and the groom a tux. What I want you to enjoy is the attire of the guests. It had been raining all day and could start again at any moment during the ceremony. Luckily, it didn't. Many guests wore ExtraTuffs, the standard Kodiak rain boot, and everyone had on their raingear.

So, even with the inclement weather, the poor roads, and the long drive, the entire place was full. I don't think anyone turned down the invitation. We need all the entertainment we can get here in the North Pacific.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Autumn Storms are Beginning

Last Friday we had a typical Autumn storm. 40 knot winds and 18 foot seas were expected off Baren Island. That is on the course the ferry takes to Homer, AK. Even the Tustumena decided to stay in port...and that is the ferry that makes it here even in the winter storms.
I, of course, decided to take pictures at Mill Bay and off Spruce Cape. The dogs decided to stay behind. I can tell you that gusts actually knocked me over twice as I tried to photograph the weather. Here are a few pics. Compare the one of the point to the one with the helicopter landing on the blog form last week. Aren't those some waves? On the bluish picture (taken just before dark near 9 PM), the rocks in the far ground are 30+ feet above mean water level!. An if you still want to go out in that, note that the picture with the pine trees is close to where we usually put in the kayaks.
A seal kept looking at me as if saying, "Help me , please". Whenever a wave came, it would dive under the water. But knowing what rocks are visible at low tide, I can only assume that it was getting battered up pretty bad. I like that seal. I thnk it is the one which comes close to me when I kayak around the bay.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Coast Guard Training

It is after Labor Day. The Kodiak Fair is over. We've already had our first front. Now the Coast Guard is taking advantage of the bad weather to give its new pilots practice landing in cross winds at Spruce Cape. Round and round they go. Meanwhile a 150 foot boat is barely visible in the fog. Shades of gray are just beautiful, don't you think?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More about moss than you ever wanted to know...

With our 75 inches of rain a year, moss grows thoughout the forests in Kodiak. It makes a wonderful cushion for your feet as you hike. Although at first sight all moss in a forest might appear the same, I have been told there are actually 50 different species in Kodiak alone. You can see them growing from the top of a Sitka Spruce all the way down to the ground! If you look carefully, you can pick up their differences. And in the winter almost all stay green; so even though it might be cold and the skies are gray, you get to see greenery all year long!!

Here is some information I gathered from Wikipedia for those who do not mind "TMI" (Too Much Information). Algae and moss are quite different from animals and even higher plants. They do not have a vascular system. They do not make seeds. At certain times moss produce spores that may appear as beak-like capsules borne aloft on thin stalks. Most interestingly, the moss, and even the kelp we see, are more like our sperm or eggs. They have only 1/2 the number of chromosomes as adults than when they make their spores. That is opposite from animals and higher plants. Their adult number of chromosomes is haploid while we, as animals (and most plants), are diploid in number.

Now you know the rest of the story. So next time you have an argument with someone and want to make them think you have insulted them, tell them they are just a diploid!