Saturday, July 30, 2011

Yet Another July TUSAL

(What's a TUSAL?)

Well, the canvaswork pieces certainly fill up the jar a lot quicker than the one-strand-of-silk samplers, now don't they? Most of the volume here is due to my work on Sapphire Star, with a sprinkling of Random Thoughts on top.

Hmmm..."sprinkling of random thoughts on top"...sounds like a lot of my blog posts....

Friday, July 29, 2011

Alaska Stop Two: Skagway

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Previously, on the Alaska trip...
Alaska Photo Highlights
Setting Sail from Seattle, the Sunny
Cruising to Juneau

So did you guess that the weird-looking contraption in the Photo Preview post...
...was actually a train?
Snowplow, yes...on a train. So cool; I'd never seen this kind of thing before.
Skagway is a gold rush town, where people would come before hiking into the Yukon with the year of supplies required by the Canadian government. (The Diamond store probably wasn't there back then.) Most of them were on foot and would group up to transport that massive pile of food a little ways, then turn around and go back for more of the pile, "inchworming" up the trail, while some of the group guarded both piles.

The National Park Service has buildings throughout the town set up to display what life was like.
Apparently, it was like Cheers. With an arctic fox.

Seriously, though the displays were pretty good overall. This house was restored to look like it did during that time period. These people were packrats! I didn't take any pictures inside the house, but one room had a display of brightly beaded moccasins...nailed up on the wall, over VERY busy wallpaper. =)
Their story was kind of tragic; they realized there would be a need for a port here, so they claimed a lot of land, built their homestead and docks (entrepreneurs!) and then...people pretty much just took their land. They also had tragic personal lives...lots of divorces and such.

They did have a great view, though.

We did not go on the White Pass Railway, which pretty much EVERYONE ELSE did. Instead, we hung out, sampled some local cuisine (I had a pumpkin cookie which I pretty much could have eaten a dozen of), and made our way to...
...featuring Soapy Smith! Was he a political activist? A shifty salesman? A philanthropist? A downright outlaw weasel?
(Answer: YES.)

We sat in the front row, and when this charming gentleman came out on stage, he asked me where I was from.
When he heard "Atlanta", he said, "I've got a song about Atlanta." I expected "Georgia on My Mind" (it's very cool having a state song pretty much everyone knows, but it can get tiring)...HOWEVER, he launched into a song about Atlanta, naming highways and all, that I'd never heard! And no wonder...when I asked him about it afterward, he said his buddy wrote it! He also did some other songs and some entertaining poetry reciting. I KNOW.

If you go to Skagway, see this show. It's unfortunate that a lot of guests probably got on the railway, missed all the shows, and got right back on the ship. These actors and actresses had been on national tours, and the pacing of the show was great.
I've found that "local theater" (or community theater) typically suffers from lax cue pickup ("you could drive a truck through the space between the lines") and poor pacing, or else actors thinking EVERY. LINE. Is soooooo... IMPORTANT. These guys were great.

Also: Audience participation.
Michael wishes me to tell you that my leg is on the downswing here...there's another picture with me facing the other side where my foot is in front of my face (and he wishes me to tell you THAT was on the downswing as well). But I do like our synchronization here, and the fact that I'm completely skunking the other audience member. ;) Goodness, I still need to send the theater pictures! When we talked to the girls afterwards, they asked for them. They also said they usually pick much older ladies to Can Can with them, because it makes them look good, LOL!!

After the show, we went on a van tour of the same valley the railroad winds through. We had wanted to go earlier in the day, but this worked out great because it ended up being a private tour for just the two of us!

One advantage of the van tour is that you get to stop and get out and wander around (which you clearly can't do while on a train).

The other advantage is that you can actually see the train! We also could see some of the actual path that the prospectors took to Dawson just below the pretty much follows the original route.

It was chilly, but the views were totally worth it. Make sure you check out the cool bridge in the background, which is designed to move with the tectonic plates!

Parts of the landscape almost looked like the surface of the moon.

The Spring thaw meant that running water was everywhere, even up here at the summit.

Will you believe me when I tell you that these trees are over a hundred years old? We had a great guide who answered all our questions.
I never knew this, but the reason these trees are so short is not because they are "stunted" because of their difficult environment, per-se. That is, it's not that they don't grow, it's just that when it gets really cold, any part of the tree that's sticking out above the snow will die. In the snow, the temperature is a constant 32 degrees F (0 C), even if the outside temperature is negative! This is also why you'll see trees along the road with branches on only one side...not because of the wind causing branches to break or bend, as I thought, but because that's the side the snowplow piled the snow against!

These are the kinds of crazy questions you ask when your Dad was a Forestry major in college. ;)

After a few more photo ops, we headed back back to town, just in time to snag me some qiviut yarn. Our guide was kind enough to stop off at a grocery store on the way back so we could get some lotion...there was none on the ship!! I've never been to any (decent) hotel that did not provide lotion!

(No lotion here.)

Skagway, the starting point for the gold rush, gave us history, some aerobic exercise, and more great landscapes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WIP Wednesday (Origami Turtle)

I have made a little progress on Random Thoughts...I finally buckled down over the weekend and used every daylight hour to finish the over-one verse. But other than that, there's not much to see.

So instead, here's my "Origami Turtle" (Santos by Berroco).
I've made it to the armhole shaping on the back!
Edited to add: Sorry for the misleading title! "Origami Turtle" is my Ravelry project name, because it's knit with Origami yarn, and the color name is "Turtle Bay". I can't promise any actual turtles, but I will have an actual squirrel soon!

For more WIP Wednesday eye candy goodness, head over to Tami's Amis!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Remember That Poll Thing?

I had put up a poll recently because I was considering splitting out travel, or maybe the more geeky posts, into another blog. Thanks so much to those of you that took the time to vote. We are agreed: The blog stays as one. I'm much relieved; if I don't update the blog enough, I start to feel...not guilty, but pressure. All I need is pressure on more than one front!

Sorry the poll just disappeared...I had this wacky idea that when the poll closed, Blogger would have some way for me to post the results...not so much. The majority of you said you read everything, a few said you just skipped the stuff you didn't care about (and that was OK), and two of you said, "Where are the game posts??" Hey, I'll get around to them someday!

Thanks for your support! =)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

War of WIPs Call to Arms #1

Click now for JiffNotes

So, when I started the Crazy Challenge in January, I was restrained. Some people were starting fifteen projects! FIFTEEN (15)!! I was only starting five. AND I was committing to finish six existing WIPs. I was awesome.

Well. Let's ignore for a moment how that's all progressing, shall we? And focus on something more important...I HAD NO KNITTING WIPs on that list!

So to rectify this egregious oversight, I DECLARE WAR!

Here are the miscreants threatening the border of my Peaceful Knitting Land:

leafy scarf
Leafy aka "Branching Out"

When you think of nice green leaves, you think...calm...peaceful...relaxing.... BUT THIS IS NOT YOUR GRANDMOTHER'S LEAF. Scarf. Whatever. This is LACE, (somewhat) serious lace. WITH K3s!!! This. Must. End. (Especially since I want to knit some even more serious lace, and this was my learning piece).

(no pic; Ravelry page)

This scampering scalawag has been left literally in pieces, just a warm bath and some embroidery away from being A REAL SQUIRREL. I am going to go all Blue Fairy on his tail.

Errant Lace Socks

NOTE: Out of date photo!
These lawless lacies have been toeless long enough. Only one exists in sock form; it's hoped that once a mate is finished for it, it will settle down from its life of recklessness.


Stare straight into its eye...OF DOOM! The heat generated by this swirling vortex needs to be channeled into something keeping my shoulders warm this Fall. Alone, this circle has no end, but with others, it will reach its conclusion!

Herringbone Block Shawl

Not sure what it wants to it a scarf? Is it a shawl?? This identity crisis has caused it to plague the Land of Peaceful Knitting with doubt. It must be helped along to reach its full potential (whatever that may be).

acorn bag
Acorn Bag

Born as an experiment in technique, can this creation live a normal, useful life?? It can, and IT WILL, as it is hooked into service!

I think it should be pretty clear by now that I desperately need sleep.

Visit The Delusional Knitter to declare your own war!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

WIP Wednesday (Leafy & Random Thoughts)

Look! Actual knitting!
This is Branching Out, from Knitty. It's my "learn how to lace" project. It's also just recently had a bath, because it was trapped in a very musty place. Well, part of it has had a bath. Can you tell where I started knitting afterwards? I'm amazed and pretty excited to block it for real.

I'm also still plugging along at Random Thoughts! I think I'm about halfway through; good thing, because the year's halfway over!

We had a great weekend, though very tiring, seeing the final Harry Potter movie and doing our usual party. (See previous years' parties here and here.) I'll do a full post, but here's a quick preview...
Pre-movie snacks!

For more WIP Wednesday eye candy goodness, head over to Tami's Amis!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cruising to Juneau

Click now for JiffNotes

Leaving Seattle, the waves were a little rough (up to 20 feet!) so the next morning the captain decided to take a more inside passage.

The difference was night and day! I don't usually get seasick, but I was seriously bemoaning the absence of Coke on the ship. They only had Pepsi! Being from Atlanta and literally living within spitting distance of headquarters, Coke runs in my veins, and Pepsi tastes like...well, let's just say the hubby does a spit-take if he ever participates in a taste test. I had a Mug root beer, but it didn't have the same medicinal value as a good ol' Coke. But the next day, no home remedies were necessary to enjoy the smooth-as-silk ride.

The passage was very narrow at some points. We would periodically scan the shoreline for animals, but had no luck.

We did see many waterfalls. Since we were right in snow melt time, there were more and bigger waterfalls than "normal".

In the afternoon, we reached Juneau. We were in port from 2pm - 10pm. We had originally just thought we'd go out to Mendenhall Glacier, but since the day was so beautifully clear, we decided to also take the sky lift up to the top of the surrounding mountains (hills?).

When we got to the top, there were binoculars provided so you could scan the surrounding mountains for goats...we could see the little off-white specks all over once we knew what we were looking for. We also got to meet this elegant lady:
This is Lady Baltimore, who was rescued and cannot be released into the wild because of injuries.

Then we got to hike a nice short trail in and out of some fabulous trees. Look how the snow has caused them to bend!

This would be the "out" part of the hike. =) Can you believe the beautiful day we had??!?

I have no idea what these plants are, but I thought their shapes were so cool. They were all over the place in various stages of growth.

Snow! You can see from the short sleeves that it was a lovely temperature even though there was snow on the ground.
Scratch that. It could be 50F and Michael would still rock the short sleeves. Let's say you can tell it was warm because I was was not wearing a coat in the picture up there!

This is the peak where we were scanning for goats, only from farther away. It's amazing the beautiful shapes that water can create.

Another gorgeous view.

I kept hoping we'd see some critters, but we only got to hear a squirrel scold and see a brief flash of tail as she scurried through the underbrush.

And now you'll have to indulge me for a few pictures...because I do love me some old growth forests. I LOVE the shapes the twisted old trees make.
I did NOT turn the camera on its side!

Fantastic moss everywhere. We just don't get that in the South!

When we got back down, we were dismayed to learn that the glacier park was only open until 6! We should have done our homework better, but when it's light until 10 or 11, you hardly think that the park service is going to close the outdoors at 6! A short bus ride and some speedwalking later, we were at the glacier.
Notice it was a little colder here with the wind blowing off all that ice! I eventually ended up with my hat and gloves on.

It looks so "small", doesn't it? Let me help you with scale. See the waterfall at the very right-hand edge of the picture above? Here's a closer shot.
Now, I'll wait while you click on it to make it bigger and look at the tiny people!

Yeah. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to hike out to the falls (it looks close but you have to go back in the trees to get around the water). No worries; something for next time! We were very lucky in that we got to see a bald eagle fly toward that sand bar you can see there. Well, lots of Arctic Terns were nesting there, and they all rose up and ganged up to chase the eagle away! We were able to see the nesting terns through the binoculars, but they were too far away to photograph. I thought you'd rather not see more teensy blobs. =)

Here's another shot without me blocking all the lovely ice!

We did not get to see the glacier calve while we were there, but it's clear things were breaking off in fairly large chunks!

Our luxury coach to the glacier. =)

We had some great views even from the bus. This is the tip of the ice fields (in between the peaks).

The bus driver was nice enough to drop us in town (a 10-minute walk from our pickup point) so we could see the sights. What a nice backdrop, eh?

Finally it was time to head to the restaurant where we'd made reservations earlier before riding the sky lift. See that first square window right by where the girl in white is standing? That was where our table was! There are definite benefits to making a reservation, as we got to look out the windows at the mountains across the water.
You know, when we weren't gazing into each other's eyes dreamily. It was our anniversary, after all. ;)

NOM salmon!! Yes, more salmon! But it had been, like, AN ENTIRE DAY since I'd had any!

We ended up with enough time to go back up the sky lift one more time, so we took advantage of our all-day pass.
What a gorgeous day!

Juneau, a beautiful relaxing hike, great old growth trees, a glacier and our first bald eagle sightings! Stay tuned...

Old Geek-outs