Monday, September 26, 2011

Up, up and away................makes me smile

Guess what I did yesterday??   Times up.   I got to fly in a single engine airplane over the second largest glacier in Alaska.   Wowser!!   First we gathered at the airport by the little airplane.   Only 5 of us and we nearly hid it.   If I still weighed what I did a year ago it would be gone.

After all coattails, fingers, legs and camera straps were tucked in the tiny compartment, we took off.  What I didn't expect was the eery resemblance our pilot, Cy, had to Randy Quaid.   Thank goodness he was a lot smarter than the characters Mr. Quaid has played.

Somewhere down there was the place I found that served the Alaska sized strawberry daiquiri.  Note to self.   Must find that place once again.  

Alaska is incredible from the air with the exception of waterfalls.   They are best on the ground.

Control panel.   Note the empty guage holes.   I asked Randy, uh, Cy where the altitude guage was.   I hate it when you find out about missing guages 3500 feet up.   Altitude was there.   Nothing important.
Nothing to see here.

There were pools of water that were unbelievably blue.   My understanding is because it is hydrogen rich water at that altitude.   It is still legally H2O and is very good to drink.  Hmmmm.   Tempting.   Wonder if I can afford plastic surgery at 124.   Nevermind.   I don't think I can overcome damage to the veins from the years of eating fast food.

There are Dall Sheep in those hills!    I missed them the first time because as we flew over the mountain top I flashed back to the end of the movie about Patsy Cline and I was closing my eyes momentarily.  I couldn't believe those little nimble creatures living up on the top of the mountains.  You will see them if you look very carefully.

We could see an oil tanker.    Coming into Valdez.   Please be careful.   I heard that in some of the outlying marshes and islands, you can still see some black ooze from 23 years ago.

And there's the runway.   My little overhead Alaska adventure was over.   I'll never forget it.   Thank you Cy, Devin and Robbin for making it possible.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sitting on the dock of the bay.......makes me smile

Valdez is a bay town and I've sat on the dock of the bay a couple of times.   Once having an Alaska size daiquiri and then yesterday.   My daughter works at a fish hatchery.   It attracts more than just people.

I sat for most of the afternoon in the gazebo at the hatchery.   After the first two hours I got up to take a walk and sat at a bench by the bay down the road.   When I headed back to the hatchery I was met at the door by a guy who asked me if I had seen the bear.   No!!   In fact, I had not.   Apparently, when I walked down the road to the bench, the bear had been somewhat behind me.   I had no idea a bear could be so quiet.   My descriptive word for a bear would veer more towards lumbersome.   Certainly not lithesome and silent.   Around 5 in the afternoon, I folded up  my camp chair and headed back to my daughter's car when another guy yells, "Did you see the bear?"   NO!!   NO, I DIDN'T!!!   What does it take to see a bear in Alaska when they seem to be silently following me around?   He motioned for me to follow him around the corner so I can see it.   Gleefully, I followed him until I saw the bear on the water's edge. Directly below where I had just been watching the sea lions.

The guy goes close in while the bear disappears beyond the bend of the bay and then motions for me to follow.   I've been a rebel all my life but when it comes to bears, I follow orders.   By the time I got to the other side, there he was contentedly chowing down on a medium size salmon he had managed to steal from one of the hatchery lanes.   After several people showed up and took pictures and disappeared, along comes my daughter asking where I had been since she wanted me to see the bear.   Bear was moving along the shore and I was no longer able to see him so I pointed to him so Robbin could take a look.   Since she wasn't able to see, she turned around to go look from the other side of the bend.   After she momentarily disappeared, she was right back walking stiff leggedly towards me telling me to turn around and walk away but don't panic.   The bear was right behind her.   Okay.   Bear following us.   Right behind us.   Don't panic.  Um-hum.   Yes.   Right.

I love Alaska!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Slip sliding away...........makes me smile

I'm in Alaska!!  I grew up in Texas and with the meme of "Everything is bigger in Texas".   Well, that is just not true.   I've never seen a glacier as big as this in Texas.

Right before I left Quito, I found some hiking boots and I'm glad I did.   I was able to appear cool since I didn't need the sissy looking ski poles some of the tourists needed.

At the point of where the lake met the ice in the center seems to be a bit of a cave.   The water is frozen even though the day temperatures are at least 45 degrees F.   At night it makes up for all that warmth.  I nearly froze my arse off last night.   Unfortunately, it is still there today.

That's pure glacier Robbin is standing on.   I was foolish enough to think we had hiked to the middle.   Not so.   That glacier wound around the mountains for as far as we could see when we were back on the highway.   We were just on the "toe".

I will be going to Fairbanks to spend Tuesday and Wednesday night.   I'm really looking forward to that but I can't wait to write a post about the Alaska dive bar I'm going to be going to this weekend.   At the roadside cafe, I got a look at the portions of food served and the size of the truckers in this state.   Not everything is bigger in Texas....

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My own special Ground Hog Day.................................makes me smile

For four days, I have had long days at immigration in Quito to make sure my visa is correct for re-entry into Ecuador.   Everyday I got there at around 8:30 and drew numbers for our turn as to my (new) attorney's suggestion.   By 9:00 the numbers had been called and passed.   Every single day.  And I didn't even get to hear Sonny and Cher's tune in the morning.

My attorney told me she might be a little late because she had to take her children to school and this is, well, Ecuador.   One day she didn't show up at all.  One day she showed up at 11:40.  At 10:00 I would stand in line once again and draw new numbers.   On Wednesday by 11:00 one had passed, but they were going a little slower on the second number which was the one concerning me.   I called my attorney.  I found that we were waiting for her assistant to get his translation for my social security papers copied and notarized which is one of the papers my original attorney failed to do.   By 11:30. I spotted him sprinting across the street just as my number is being called.   He talks to the clerk and after five minutes he tells me we have to wait one hour. After an hour he says to  come back at 4:30.  

In the end, on Thursday, it was decided that since I am approved they will send the papers to the consulate in Miami.   I will be coming back through there in November.   But  this is, after all, Ecuador.   I love the manana lifestyle.   But hopefully, I won't get caught up on the dark side.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The idea of home.................makes me smile

The other day, I wanted to buy something and I didn't have enough money with me.   The shopkeeper spoke spanish, of course, and indicated that she knew me and I could take what I needed and bring the money back later.   I am ever so conscious of the locals and their life being so very much harder than mine that I declined.   Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad to show her I could be trusted.   It did get me to thinking about this life I've carved out here and what makes a place a home.

Margarita pouring coconut water out of a .....coconut.

I will be leaving in a matter of days for an adventure unlike one I've ever had before.   In one week I'll be in Texas awaiting a plane to take me to Alaska where I will be seeing my daughter, Robbin, for the first time since I watched a bus diminish in the distance on February 10th when she left me for Peru and a set of adventures of her own.

Robbin.  The last time I saw her.

After two weeks in Alaska and a weekend in NYC, proving myself to be a very self-indulgent individual, I will be taking another plane to Japan where I will be seeing my son, Zach, for the first time in a little over a year.  A lot of people here want to know why I want to go to Japan.  My heart is there.  Home is many things but mostly it is where love is.

Zach doesn't like his picture posted so I'm being sneaky.
1978 with his daddy.

My brother.  My hero.   He is in Texas and has done so much for me I can't imagine how I could ever repay him.   He made a lot of things work with my move.   I don't have the same ethics as he does.   No one does.

Fred in 1968

There are just some people who are unforgettable.  Like Carlos.   I've adopted him.  Just like everybody else in town.   I haven't a clue how old he is.   He doesn't ask me so I don't ask him.

This was taken 25 pounds ago.  But it's the best picture I have of this
dear sweet man.  He always wants a hug and always has to pet 
my dogs.  I couldn't let ego keep me from showing him off.

I've met so many new friends!!  Far too many to picture here.   When you are far away from relatives and home, new friends become family.

Alex.   I'd like to hate her because she is so beautiful.
Look at her eyes.   Impossible not to love.

If you are doing it right, you don't just make friends with people who look, act and talk like you do.   You open your heart to the people who have lived here all their lives.   You will be enriched by doing so.

This cab driver always honks at me and never EVER refuses to take my
dogs in the cab.  Plus he knows where I live.

I'll quote my friend Marycharles who, when I express my love for this place, said "That shows how much you have made Vilcabamba your own---and also how much the people there have made you their own." Home is not a building.  It is not a state.  It is not even a country.  It is where your heart is.  That means my heart is in Japan.   It is in Alaska.  It is in Texas.  And it is here with my new chosen family.  Hearts don't divide.  They multiply.  

I'm going to miss these guys.