Saturday, August 30, 2008

Alaska Follow Up

A newspaper in South Carolina reports on a trip to one of the unknown National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska, Togiak. I had the opportunity to spend nearly a week in Togiak several years back, and it is a jewel that does not deserve its anonymity, an incredible place of rivers, mountains, rugged shoreline, salmon, walrus, sea birds, bears and wolves. Unmatched fishing.

When I was in the Refuge, I was going to fly up to Kagati Lake, where these folks started their trip, but never made it there. Soon, I hope.

Read more here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Arctic in August

My friend Brad takes an annual trip to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Before I go on, note the name of the refuge--Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. not Alaska Refuge, and certainly not ANWR. Too often the media uses these other names, which are either mistakes or an oil company concoction to reduces the significance of the place. But I digress...

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a huge place, 19 million acres, located in the northwest corner of Alaska, above the arctic circle. Of that total, 8 million acres are designated wilderness, and are some of the wildest and most spectacular landscapes on the planet.

There are several great rivers that come off the heights of the Brooks Range, draining down the north slopes and the south slopes. What Brad has been doing the past few years in the refuge is hiking and floating rivers using a pack raft, an extremely lightweight but durable single person raft that can easily be lugged up to the top of a drainage and then used to float back down. These things have revolutionized travel in the Alaska backcountry.

Brad heads into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with friends and alone. This time he's heading in alone. While a risky things to do, it's also reasonable for someone who is prepared and has the judgment and luck necessary. Trips to the Refuge can be done fairly easily, either through a commercial outfitter, or on your own. We did a trip a few years back on our own and it was pretty easy to plan and much cheaper than a commercial trip.

I expect to hear back from Brad sometime next week.

Friday, August 22, 2008

40+ inches!!

We've been in Florida on vacation with TS Faye.

Still there in fact.

It has been raining all week...and we have disconnected from the web until this AM.

Signing off again.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

This Bigfoot Stuff

I have a friend who has devoted his life to saving wild critters. He and his wife rescue all sorts of wild things and keep them all at their place in Indiana. They travel around the country with their wildlife friends and get kids excited about wildlife.

Check out their site, and send them some support if you can, they need to buy lots of food.

Larry is also an expert on bigfoot. I talked to him recently about Bigfoot, and he carefully went through his argument for the existence of this big critter, including its range, which he says is across North America.

"I want to believe you Larry, I really do." I said to him. But Bigfoot in Indiana?

I was with George Schaller in his cabin office a few years ago and had commented on George's bigfoot track cast, and George had said that he believed that Bigfoot really could exists. Damn, that's a good endorsement if you ask me. Apparently Jane Goodall has said similar things.

So the other day I look at Google trends and there is bigfoot, number three. I click and see some lads in Georgia claim that they have a bigfoot carcass. Problem is, their bigfoot looks a lot like a $500 costume for sale on the internet, with a little pig intestine thrown on top to spice it up. Scientific American chimed in the day before the press conference, skeptical like any good scientist.

Apparently the press conference yesterday left a lot unanswered, and it appears that this is just one more hoax. Oh well, maybe next time...

I want to believe.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tent Trailers

My parents took us on long, epic camping trips that touched every state but Alaska and Hawaii. The first trips we used a tiny Nimrod Capri tent trailer, the later trips a Coleman Brandywine. These made it a real camping trip, rather than the 28 foot behemoths some of my friends parents had.

Seems like tent trailers are back.

Mr. Endter, 41, a special-education teacher, had done the math: flights for his family of four and renting a car would have cost around $3,000, which seemed prohibitive. He didn’t want a motor home. “I don’t want to sound like an elitist,” he said, “but I’ve never been interested in the hotel-room-on-wheels R.V. thing.” And Mr. Endter didn’t have a vehicle powerful enough to pull a full-sized pop-up camper. Then he read about the Go, released in stores in April, in an outdoors magazine.
My parents did the same calculations, and the trailer and the cheap campground fees allowed these trip to be four weeks in length.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Kidsickness

“But what do they really want?” Mr. Konigsberg asked. “I think they want to know that their child is being taken care of. That their child isn’t sick. Or homesick. Or lonely.”

“Well, in this situation by definition you are dealing with emotionally needy people,” I said.

“Homesick kids?” he asked.

“No, kid-sick parents,” I said.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I always loved aerial lifts and trams. I remember as a kid skiing or when camping in the summer we would head up chairlifts and trams, to cheat the hike.

The tram is a rare thing in New England. Jay Peak has one, Cannon Mountain has one, but the balance are the smaller gondolas spread around the North.

I even have an aerial tram scale model made in Europe. Wish I had a place to hang it up.

Last year the tram at Jackson Hole was demolished, and they're building new one. Here's a short film that talks about the construction of the new Jackson tram, for you tram junkies out there.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Phone Nation

Watching the passers-by holding their smart phones in front of them as they walked was like watching a parade of monks with heads bowed over their breviaries. As night settled in, I could see the glow of the screens shining upward on the faces of their owners, who were being guided down the street by peripheral vision and the feel of the sidewalk under their feet. It was like being in one of R. Crumb’s street scenes — everyone lost in a private thought bubble, everyone walking with a private posture.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The CT River Valley

One of the great American pastoral areas is the Connecticut River Valley that divides New Hampshire and Vermont. We spent a lot of road time driving through this area on the way to the Whites, and it is spectacular natural area, if a bit depressed economically.

The NY Times reports on this unique area.
Still, the ambition of Mr. McAllister’s eco-resort, Liberty Mill, has surprised locals in this struggling town, whose lodging choices now include the Hetty Green motel — not exactly the green Mr. McAllister has in mind. “Avoid at all costs,” said one traveler in a review of the motel on Trip Advisor. Liberty Mills plans to offer an Olympic-quality kayak race course, a skate park and a pool where a coal furnace once fumed; photovoltaic, wood pellet and geothermal power; and compost toilets for guests that will fertilize a farm growing food for the resort.

Friday, August 8, 2008


I've been out of commission with Knee surgery this week.

Been watching the goings on in the Karakoram--another series of deaths on the world's most dangerous mountain, K2.

The times has an editorial today. Every person who steps up to K2 knows the danger.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Here's an interesting report that follows up on what we mentioned last week about camp and catered parents.

It's not that parents never moped for their mosquito-bound moppets before. But parents today — some of them, anyway — have become so accustomed to constant contact with their children (thank you, Verizon) that a summer hiatus feels less like a break and more like a breakdown.

"I cry for the next three weeks," a father named Syd said as he prepared to put his daughter Jackie on the bus.

"He doesn't," the daughter, 11, reassured me.

"You don't know!" the dad said. "I walk into your empty room. I'm lonely all summer."

More comments in the Times.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Ecogeek discusses a new way to do electrolysis, courtesy of MIT.
The scientists seem to be confident that this is a game changer, and a breakthrough, though they're saying it'll be a decade before it can be fully implemented. Nonetheless, this is a big freakin' deal, especially if combined with the next wave of cheap renewables. Power storage remains a huge issue, and if this could solve that problem, it would be the second step we need toward a truly renewable future.
This could lead to every home having its own power source and fueling source for electric vehicles--with renewable energy for our kid's future.