Thursday, June 20, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 405, part 1

Sitka, Alaska

The postcard photograph is by Dedman’s Photo Shop, and distributed by I.A.A.C. Inc., Seattle, Washington.  From the informational blurb on the back of the card:  “Sitka, Alask, located on the west side of Baranof Island facing Mt. Edgecombe.  Sitka was the Russian capital of Alaska and fur trading center before Alaska was purchased by the United States in 1867.  Commercial fishing and the lumber industry are the basis for Sitka’s economy today.”  Mt. Edgecombe is considered an extinct volcano.  The last eruption was approximately 4,000 years ago.

We had a couple errands we hoped to do while in Sitka.  I knew that Adolph Landaas had gone to Alaska in1904 toward the end of the Gold Rush era and had done some prospecting.  He worked as a clerk for one mine and also worked a placer mine for a while.  He lived for several years in Fairbanks but spent his last years at the Pioneer Retirement Home in Sitka and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Sitka.  

Adolph and Sogne Landaas, ca 1910s
[Al Johnson Photographer, Fairbanks, Alaska]

While he was living in Fairbanks, Adolph married Sogne Pedersdatter Bogge.  We do not have the exact date but can place it to between 1907 when Sogne arrived from Norway and 1918 when Adolph registered for the World War I draft and stated he was married.  Al Johnson of Fairbanks took their wedding picture.  Sogne died in 1922.  They did not have any children and Adolph never remarried and remained in Fairbanks until he moved to Sitka in 1948.  We hoped to visit the Pioneer Home and also the cemetery. 

Prospector statue in front of Pioneer Home, Sitka, Alaska

As it turned out there was a free shuttle bus from the dock that dropped us off within a couple of blocks of the Pioneer Home and it was an easy walk from there.   The Pioneer Home was established in the 1930s to provide housing for retired prospectors.  Originally only men resided in the home later quarters were added for women.  Today it is still a retirement home.  

One of our errands in Sitka was to locate the statue of the Prospector that stands in front of the Pioneer Home.  Alonzo Victor Lewis, my friend’s grandfather, made this statue.*  She had found and visited many of the statues he made and although she told us this one was in Sitka, she had not seen it.  We promised to take pictures and email them back to her.  When our dads were young, and the statue was in the process of being built, they climbed up on it and put their initials on the backpack.  When I told the staff at the Home about it they told me not to try and climb up there to see if I could find proof of this family lore.  It is bigger than life size at about 13 feet tall and 3 feet wide and appears even taller because it is on this rocky base.  There was no way I would climb up there but it was funny to think about doing it anyway.  

Hand drawn map with highlighted route to the cemetery from the Pioneer Home

The staff at the Pioneer Home was very friendly and helpful.  We soon knew which section and the approximate row in the cemetery where we should find the marker for Adolph Landaas.  All the markers are the same size and shape and lay flat on the ground.  We were told that it might be necessary to scrape some grass aside to read the stones.  Armed with a hand drawn map and a highlighted route to guide us we started off on a non-touristy path to find the cemetery.  

 This sign was the only indication that we were on the cemetery grounds

Once we reached the end of the road we found the gate we had been instructed to walk past and started climbing up the hill expecting to see a sign “Pioneer Cemetery.”  There was no sign and the cemetery turned out to be meadows within the forest.  The only indication we had that we had reached the cemetery grounds was the blue sign.  Grass and moss had covered the gravestones. 

A few markers had been partially cleared off by volunteers but the section we were looking for had not been touched yet.  The prospect of spending our shore time scraping off multiple stones loomed large.  However, I think Uncle Adolph wanted us to find him because the first stone we could see poking out of the grass had part of the right corner exposed and we could make out the numbers 195.  He died in 1958 so we pushed the grass, dirt and moss off the rest of that corner and found the complete number, 1958.   Suppressing some excitement for fear this could not possibly be the grave we removed more on the left corner to find 1875.  That was the correct birth year.  I turned to Bob and said, “You don’t suppose this is him, do you?”  Bob found a stick and started removing the rest of the debris.  Unbelievably, it was Adolph Landaas.  

Bob clearing off Adolph Landaas’s grave

Another cousin visited in 1994 and the cemetery looked like this at that time.

And, yes, there was enough time left to walk down to the totem poles in the National Historical Park and take some photos, do a little window shopping and small purchasing, get a couple of postcards, and get back to the ship without mishap.

Three of several of the beautiful totem poles at the Sitka National Historical Park are shown in the picture.  There were trails through the forest and poles along the pathways.

The ship waiting for returning passengers

Part 2 of this Thursday postcard will be posted next week.

*  See Thursday postcard 405, part 2

Monday, June 17, 2019

Deception Pass State Park, Rosario Beach, 2019

This past week has been so filled with tears and sadness that nothing much was getting done.  For those who do not know, my son, Q, died suddenly from a heart attack on Tuesday, 11 June.  He was 46 years old and left a wife and 5 children behind.  Since he was one of the administrators of this blog I may eventually have to enlist one of his kids to help out.  I think I would like a grandchild to help and maybe one of them would enjoy it too.

Entry into the parking area

There are several cove type beaches along the trail with easy access.  This one is near the parking area.

 The tide was out so there were a few tide pools

It has been so hot in the city that Bob decided we should go to Deception Pass State Park that is on the water and see if we could cool down and refresh ourselves with the beauties of nature.  What a beautiful day it was.  We have been here a couple of times and enjoy the park.  The sun was out but the breezes from the water made it much cooler and very comfortable.  The scenery, small animals and birds, plus the flowers were just what we needed to soothe our sorrow.

 There were several of these bunnies munching on grass in different areas

Harvest Brodiaea, a lily

Indian maiden statue

Oregon Sunshine

 Cow Parsnip

Indian Paintbrush

 Stonecrop, a type of sedum

 A patch of tiny twin flower

 Wild roses

Grass growing along the edge of a pond

Orange Honeysuckle

Nodding onion


 By the time we started back there were 5 boats tied up to this float

 In addition to these scuba divers we saw kyakers

Deception Pass bridge

Dropping down from the trail it is possible to walk a ways on a beach like this one

Lighthouse Point was the destination

A couple of the sections of the trail had rails along the bluff

 These buildings were originally bath houses for the CCC in the 1930s.  Today they are a free museum with information about the CCC

A couple of samples from the exhibits in the museum

Serenaded by this little wren

This hike was 4 miles round trip with a total of approximately 300 feet elevation gain.  The trail is mostly dirt with a few rocky sections.  There are flush toilet restrooms at the main parking lot and the camp grounds. 

Count for the day: 58 hikers including one baby being carried, 5 dogs.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 404

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

The postcard shared this week is another Mark Kelley Images of Alaska card.  It shows kayakers paddling in front of a calving Johns Hopkins Glacier in Glacier Bay, Alaska.  The identifying number of PC159 is found on the reverse at the upper left corner.

We enjoy getting out and hiking, seeing wildlife and wildflowers so visiting a pristine place like Glacier Bay was a wonder and a delight.  We were fortunate that Park Rangers and people from National Geographic were aboard ship during the day in the bay.  It was cloudy and foggy and we could not see much of the mountains above the glaciers. 

Wilderness Adventures boat with kayakers, Lamplugh or Blue Glacier

Two views of the Lamplugh or Blue Glacier showing the color in the ice

Glacier Bay is protected and has limited access for ships and boats.  Cruise Liners are allowed to enter the bay but only two ships a day.  Smaller vessels are also limited.  The day our ship, which was slightly smaller than most cruise liners, visited it was the only larger ship in the bay.  Two smaller vessels, one from Wilderness Adventures, and an even smaller open boat with about 10 life-jacketed passengers were in the bay at the same time.  The Wilderness Adventures boat had kayaks and was letting people paddle around closer to the glacier.  

Small open boat with life jacketed passengers, also near the Lamplugh or Blue Glacier

The ship captain slowed and almost stopped the ship so passengers could get a good look at a large mama grizzly bear and cub strolling along a river, spot mountain goats climbing on the rocky cliff side, observe otters swimming fairly close to the ship, and seals diving and swimming alongside us.  We also saw calving of glacier ice and even a large iceberg finally breakup and disappear under the water the leftover small pieces floating into the bay.  There were many different gulls and other birds, even some sitting on icebergs.  We brought binoculars and could see things with them that our camera was not quite able to pick up with the lenses we had.  If we go again, there will probably be new lenses coming along with us.  We were glad we had listened to friends who suggested layering clothing and dressing warm.  It was cold on deck and we were grateful for many layers, ski hats, gloves and scarves.

Gulls on iceberg

Sea lions on a rocky islet

Glacier Bay Basin is located in Southeastern Alaska and includes not only the glaciers but also the surrounding mountains.  President Calvin Coolidge first named it as a U.S. National Monument in 1925.  In 1980 the area was enlarged and designated as a National Park and Preserve.  UNESCO declared a huge area of over 3 million acres a World Biosphere Reserve.  It is the largest protected biosphere in the world.  It was added as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1992 and expanded to include the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, plus two parks in Canada, Kluane National Park and Tatshenshini-Alsek Park.  Part of the National Park is designated as a Wilderness and covers more than 2 million acres.  The total park area is about 3.3 million acres.

Views of Margerie Glacier, stable

Pieces of ice were calving off Margerie Glacier, a fallen piece of the ice sheet can be seen approximately in the middle of the picture in the water.  We saw pieces fall and then a few seconds later heard the tremendous noise of it just after the ice hit the water.

Johns Hopkins Glacier, still advancing

As the glacier creeps along it pulverizes rocks and debris and drags the dirt and rubble with it as it advances or exposes it as it retreats making some of the glaciers we saw look very dirty.  All the glaciers we saw emptied into the bay but extended miles toward the back.  We saw only a tiny portion of the entire glaciers.

Today the glaciers cover about 1,375 square miles or 3,560 km, and are about 27% of the Park area.  There was one single large glacier in the 1700s.  As the ice retreats and recedes the bay opens up more ocean.  Instead of one glacier today there are many inlets, lagoons, islands and channels with about 20 smaller glaciers.  With the exception of the Johns Hopkins Glacier that is advancing, and the Margerie Glacier which is stable, the other smaller glaciers are retreating.  First known as Grand Pacific Glacier, the name, Glacier Bay, was suggested by Captain Lester A. Beardslee of the U.S. Navy in 1890.

For additional information, see:

Friday, June 7, 2019

Old Sauk Trail, 2019

Sign at the main trail head, Old Sauk Trail

Still keeping to the level trails to baby my mending Achilles tendon, this week we hiked along the Sauk River near Darington.  Starting at the main trail head we walked along the river and through the woods in dappled sunlight.  There was just enough shade to make it comfortable and not too hot on a wonderfully sunny day.  Our turn around point was the Murphy Creek trail head and according the the sign this was a 6 mile round trip but it felt more like a 5 mile hike probably because we did not have much, if any, elevation gain.  The trail varies from wide to narrow to almost overgrown with bracken ferns.  There is also a wider 1.3 mile interpretive loop trail that branches off from the one we took.  The main trail head has parking, a picnic table and an outhouse, Murphy Creek has parking space but no place to sit and eat nor an outhouse.  Usually we have a small lunch at the turn around spot but without a good rock or log to sit on we opted to start back and found a dry log with a view of the river after about 1/2 hour.  

There were many of the usual flowers in bloom but a few we either had not seen yet this season or ones we don't often come upon.   We also saw a red-breasted sapsucker but it was camera shy and flew away before we could get a photo.  Maybe next time?

 Orange Mountain Danelion just opening


 Salmonberries, almost ripe

 Goat's beard

 Queen's Cup -- the first we have seen this year

 A large group of Western Coralroot

 Closer look at the individual blooms on the Western Coralroot

 We sometimes find painted rocks like this one that was almost hidden at the base of a tree

 We think this is a Winter Wren.  It had the most remarkable, long, complicated song especially for such a tiny, tiny little bird

 View of the Sauk River from the trail

The glacier run off gives the river a beautiful blue green color

 Many of the trees were covered in moss and lichen

Trailing blackberry


 Miner's lettuce along the trail

 Twin flower

 This is a mixed forest with evergreens and deciduous trees and some old growth