Sunday, March 29, 2009

And after 'pressure' comes relief???

Sunday morning, and so far no events with Redoubt since last night at around 7:23PM. Today follows an eventful day, Saturday, of 5 significant eruptions. And only hours after the Saturday morning post, our luck would waver as one of those eruptions did in fact emit a trace of ash fall on Nikiski. As well areas of South Anchorage, Whittier and as far as Valdez saw ash fall from this event. What does ash fall mean to us, you ask? It means a slight deviation from daily life. Fortunately it was literally a trace. But things like trying to avoid letting the dogs roll in it, ash being tracked in on their paws....our shoes. The key is to keep it all to a minimum as it is harsh for electronics like tv's, computer, and is a bit nasty on the lungs and eyes. Again, with such little ash we are lucky I suppose. We thought it was good news that a dusting of snowfall overnight would be a good thing. NOT! With the morning temp now above 32 degrees, the trace of snow is melting making the trace of ash a trace of a mess. We will attempt to hose down the main decks this morning to wash it off on the main entrances. But with inches thick of ice on walkways, portions of the decks and feet of snow in everywhere else there is only so much we can do.
View from Soldotna minutes after the initial explosion.

This is the 'mushroom cloud' that John saw.

Yesterday at 3:29PM the eruption occurred and sent a cloud to 25,000 feet. This is relatively a low altitude compared to most of the other eruptions that have occurred. Maryann and I had just come back from running the dogs out at the high school. Shortly after we arrived home, John called, from his way home from Sterling, and said that the cloud was huge and looked like a mushroom cloud. Probably 10 minutes after his call Maryann said in that voice that always makes me think "oh crap", "hey honey, it's getting dark...oh, sh*^....". Excitement was elevated as this was quick moving and significantly lower than the last cloud taken from the house here.

Maryann is like....a superwoman of sort, as she managed to feed all 3 dogs, potty them and get these picks as it got darker by the minute. Heres to all the 'Mom's' and wives of the world!

This is the Southern most edge of the cloud as we were litterally on the edge of the ash cloud which eventually continued to drift NorthEast of us.

As usual, pictures do no justice, but you can see here a sample of how the snow looked like it was being peppered.

Left click this one and you can see the ash a little better. As I said, it was only a trace. It was very hard and particulate, and with the melting snow covering it this morning it became much like wet cement yet still very particulate in form.

As I walked out in the main room she is pasted face to the window looking up and a huge cloud was rapidly moving over us. Now at this point, she cleverly thinks to feed the dogs so she can let them out real quick to go potty, and I go out to back my truck into the garage, re-cover the garage heater vent, and try to re-secure the tarp over her truck, all of the time watching this thing get darker, and lower. We finished everything (most of what we do in response to an eruption was still in place from 3 days ago) and just stood outside looking up in awe, and figuring that this time we were going to get ash. You could hear thunder, not from anything but the ash cloud, echoing through the sky. Minutes later Maryann went inside and I went out on the back deck. I was standing there and felt something hit my head, like hail. At the same time I heard what sounded like sand starting to pelt the tarp over the hot tub. This is about the time I went in and seconds later it looked like gray snow across the lake, and all of the trees were beginning to turn gray. It looks like the snow was being peppered, and these little tiny gray hail looking balls were covering the deck. In all, it lasted about 15 minutes as the cloud began to blow further to the North. When you think about it, it is actually an intense feeling. To be standing out having rock, that was pulverized from an earthly explosion, sent flying 25,000 feet in the air, and then falling 60 miles away....on my head, no less. Wow. For a moment, I realized once again how very small we are. And so we deal with it considering ourselves lucky, all wondering if this is it, or if there is more to come. In the 1989/1990 eruptions, there was significantly more ash fall, and about 20 eruptions strung out over a 6 month period. This time around, the ash has been very little in quantity, yet we have had close to 20 eruptions in the past 6 days. Interestingly we haven't had any lava come out of the volcano to this point. Apparently it is still possible for 'red hot magma'. The explosions have blown away the dome that was building. It has been said that it is "like the volcano clearing it's throat" of old rock from pressure build up. Once the pressure is gone and the vent is clear, it is easier to allow lava to flow to the surface.

One thing I can assure you. We moved here knowing that we were in 'the ring of fire'. And not a day goes by without thanking God for being able to live here. And even now, after the past week and realizing that it may possibly get worse, we still thank God for being able to be here. The benefits of our move to Alaska have far outweighed by any stretch of the imagination any disadvantages. If you offered to by our cabin in Dorrington back for us, paid for, and assured us that our business there and clientele would begin again where it left off.....we still would never leave here. No, Alaska is beautiful with so many advantages to us, and yet many still to be had. Volcano's are a part of life here, much as violent crime and unrest are to large cities, forest fires to Arnold and Dorrington, tornado's to the Midwest. In fact, anywhere USA has it's situations that we find ourselves out of control of. Happy Sunday to all, and lets hope Redoubt is starting to wind down. At least that is our hope!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lets title this....'Pressure'....

Yes, pressure. A very fitting word these days. What happens when pressure is applied! We have been very fortunate since our last post. We have been out of the cross hairs for ash fall the past few days. There have been several eruptions a day since the last post, with 4 yesterday and already 2 this morning. Current NOAA ash trajectories are heading North right now. Here are a few pics of what ...pressure... can do!

Thursday evening of several eruptions this day.

Ash cloud seen near Homer.

Much like a wildfire, a volcano apparently creates it's own weather as seen here with lightning generated from the eruption that occured at 11:40PM last night.

More lightning....just intense! Mother nature at her absolute finest!!

Last nights 7:57PM eruption as seen from near Homer. Notice how light out it has become....woo-hoo!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's show time!

AVO photos from this morning.

I looked at the AVO website at 9:10AM this morning. We were cool. I go to work at 9:37AM and think to myself as I am driving down the highway looking across the bay seeing nothing due to overcast, "I probably should have grabbed my pantyhose and extra air biggie, we're cool". At 9:53AM the first call comes in, once again from the outside, that a major eruption has occurred. I am trying to call Maryann to have her check the AVO site but my phone won't stop ringing long enough for me to call out. 9:59AM, Maryann verifies that we are on, and I start to return home to prepare the volcano preparatory chores.....again. We are getting good at this. Only today, the wind has shifted and we are on the borderline of the projected ash fallout. This mornings eruption was reported as 'major' and occurred at 9:24AM Do you see that time table of events? Incredible how I missed it by minutes. We are currently standing by and watching the massive ash cloud 1000's of feet in the atmosphere blowing over our house. Here are some pics. It is an amazing thing....I suppose....until it gets 100's of feet off the ground....and then I suppose it won't be so amazing anymore! Anyways, much like the little news cuties who do their hair and make-up looking their best, only to be blown sideways in the eye of a hurricane to bring you the front lines story, as well I brave the threat of ash and the end of the world, to bring you a first hand account....pantyhose in hand... live from the compound....(wink)....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"It's your butt calling".

This was too comical to pass up. Maryann's on site manager at the lodge, Mike, was sitting in his cabin on the lodge grounds this morning taking in the ....well, morning! To his complete and sudden astonishment, two State Troopers come flying in, in their cruisers. Mike does what most confused folk would do....he walks out of the cabin to see what it was they were doing. They proceed to tell him they are responding to the 911 call they received. ? It took a minute for the three to put '1 & 2' together when they came to the realization that, quite like that Blackberry commercial where the girl walks into the room where the guy is sitting on the couch and her phone is ringing... Mikes butt apparently called 911! How funny is that!? According to the Troopers who thank goodness had a sense of humor, this type of thing happens all the time. Moral of the story: Know what your butt is up to at all times.

In other news, after a brief eruption in the early hours of this morning, Redoubt has been downgraded to an 'Orange' status once more. Whew! There are some pretty amazing pics on the AVO website of the aftermath of the past few days of activity. But all is cool once more, and we hope it stays this way.

Then there is the newest member of our family, of which I feel like a moron for not announcing sooner. No, it's not a baby so cool your heels. We adopted a new doggie! Seska is our 3 year old female Alaskan Malamute. We rescued her from the Anchorage Malamute organization about two weeks ago. She is adapting well to the family, and the other two are finding her to be a good companion for them. In fact, aside from her occasional bouts of complete stubbornness for which Malamutes are notorious for...Kenai and Cherokee are of no exception...she is getting quite into the grove with 'the pack'. These pics are of the first night so if it seems like everyone is a little befuddled....they are! Oh, and that is not dandruff on the dogs. It was the snow refracting the flash from the camera.
Seska is trying to figure out why Cherokee is on a pillow. She was a complete outdoor dog.
You can tell who the ham is. As Cherokee does his usual "look at me" pose for the camera, Kenai stands watch over Seska to make sure she isn't going to get out of line here.
Cranial love is the best kind of love for our dogs. Seska took an immediate liking to John and is geting into this 'cranial love' thing!

I also included some pics from our trip back from Anchorage the day we got her. They are of the Turnagain Arm, and the ice pack that was present.

Monday, March 23, 2009

"Elvis was seen wearing RED panties..."

At last. What we have all been waiting for has begun. Starting at around 10:30 PM (?) Sunday night until 5:30AM this morning Mt Redoubt emitted a series of 5 explosive eruptions. Now the funny thing of this is we had no idea. None. I walked out this morning to let the dogs do their morning constitutionals and thought to myself, "Man, Tesoro must be doing something this morning" as a foul smell was wafting about in the air. Minutes later, I get a call from a friend asking what was happening. I'm figuring, nothing much, just out pottying the dogs....whats happening with you?! This is how we found out. A phone call from outside!! Maryann and I began our prepratory volcano chores and then stood by. As of current, most ash is blowing NorthEast and is not affecting us at this time. Flights were suspended in and out of Anchorage's Stevens International Airport. Areas North of us are so far affected by the ash fallout. We did have a peninsula wide electric outage this morning for several hours, due to the main station in Anchorage having issues, more than likely to do with fallout I am assuming? Some of our cell service was intermittently affected throughout the morning. We did venture into Kenai a little while ago, and everyone is going about their day. You would never know anything is wrong, and hopefully it will stay that way. The AVO website is not keeping too much information updated, or at least what I can tell (I just got back online just minutes ago so I am just catching up on things) and with the overcast there is nothing much to see. The NOAA website (you can link it off of the redoubt Activity page of AVO) is keeping an ash fallout warning updated and as well a chart of the projected ash flow, but as I said, we are in good condition right now, so lets hope it all stays that way. The winds are blowing pretty good right now and they are our saving grace, so we will keep you posted on any continuing activity and lets hope for the best!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

If you don't know don't know Jack!

Yesterday, March 18th, at approximately 11:40 AM AKDT Lance Mackey crossed the finish line in Nome, in a punishing - 15 below with his dog team. For the 3rd straight year he has officially taken first place with the 2009 Iditarod. And the first order of business within seconds of crossing the finish the guys that pulled him the trek, their well earned raw fish goodies!! Oh happy dawgs! For the next several days other teams will file in and wind down the event of 2009. Another sure sign that Spring is due soon. As well on the 18th, we scored tickets for Tuna....and it ain't 'Chicken Of The Sea'! Yes, our first official concert in Alaska. Mind you, the local scene this past Fall in Hope at the "Winterland" gig would technically for all medicinal purposes, be posted as the first concert in Alaska. But, on a 'more' official, and 'more' for all medicinal purposes of a legitimate official gig, Hot Tuna in Anchorage at the Discovery Theater will be the first....officially...! =) June 11th 2005, my Birthday present to myself with the love of Maryann to guide it. Scott and I went to see Hot Tuna in Truckee at some park.....great venue.... Still not sure to this day whether Jack, pictured at left, was pleasantly surprised, or pissed when he shot me this glance? I may have inadvertently used the flash on the camera, thus annoying him. Or, he may have well just been 'into the tune' and no glance was ever shot, but a look of daze.... I will never know! =)

Back in the day Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy lead guitarist and bassist (pictured center and left), founded the famed Jefferson Airplane, a band that took off and soared the Age of Aquarius in the late 1960 and early 1970 San Francisco rock scene. As the Age would shift and the Airplane turned it's sights towards a new line up becoming The Jefferson Starship, Jorma and Jack broke off and formed Hot Tuna and would continue their diverse and viable blend of blues and rock through the years and yes...into 2009 still going strong. Now for those of you who know not of this musical magnanimity and could care less....for this I am sorry. But to two earthbound souls who love simple music and the gentle serenity that such brings to the body and being....well, we are just plain excited of this!!! So something for us to look forward to for the coming transition of a new summer.

The smell of Spring is in the air! The obvious signs are emanating about. The temps are a bit hokey pokey, but the feel is definitely here. Looking outside it is winter. Bountiful amounts of snow, ice, cold.... But to the pre-seasoned '2nd Winter' rookie, there is a feel. Or at very least that internal hope. Loved the Halibut and Salmon through the winter, and the freezer is getting low. No less in time for a new and hopeful season of fishing. Wood....would you believe we went through the wood, man?! What did I say back in September? Started out with around 12 cords?? We are down now to about 2 and 1/2, 3 now. It was a cold winter. Maryann insisted on a new ceiling fan up in the 'go-go cage' and like a fool I denied her this. But when we finally got a new one a couple months back, viola! Heat was being evenly dispersed about the house and efficiency was again retained. I made a silent/verbal suggestion just before we left Dorrington. I stated that I intended to do no more renovation/remodeling of any type on my own home for at least 2 years. After the long process of updating the cabin in Dorrington, and the even tougher push to wind it up on time for putting it in market in March of 2007 I had pretty much had enough for a while. Well, that 2 years is about up. We moved into the house here in June 2007 and it is in need of updating, renovating, maintaining and the like. My hiatus is about done. The jig is up! Where will I start? Where do you start??!! John is pretty intrigued by the idea of turning the unfinished basement room into a studio apartment complete with bathroom and mini kitchen. And we have been studying on that quite a bit actually. So that is probably the first order of the 3rd year.

Other than that, we are gearing up and still....still....grateful to be here, happy about what we have all accomplished and feel very blessed. Oh, another 'official'. We have all officially applied for the 2008 PFD!! Woo-hoo!! Now lets just hope that since the crash of the oil market that we still get something come October. HHMMMM.... Unofficially, we are setting our sights for a trip outside in Fall. HHMMMM..... HHMMMMMM! Yes, we will see about all of this official unofficiality.... Stay tuned......

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Back into the basement....

eAfter a significant quake today, we find ourselves at the mercy of Mt Redoubt, once again. These are pics taken today of the activity that has become once again apparent. This time there was a miner spew of ash at the mountain and mainly steam pluming from within. We were gratefully lowered to a level yellow last week, and were wiping the sweat from our brows. But, in leau of the recent occurrence we find ourselves again back at a level orange. So we wait, and patiently pray that the little activity will go away.

On a brighter note, currently Lance Mackey has thus far found himself in a significant lead as mushers reached the Kaltag village checkpoint this morning. This will be a turning point as they will be leaving the Yukon River and the interior and running along the brutal West coast of Alaska to Nome. It is exciting for us, to say the least, to have the coverage and updates via tv and radio daily. Especially knowing that soon after the last 'great race', Spring will be close at hand. Currently the temps are once again down in the single digits by night and 20's by day. The surise is around 8:15AM and the sunsets at around 8:00PM. Be safe, be kind and our prayers go out to our fellow bloggers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sunday at the races.

The beginning of a fine Sunday morning in Kackemak Bay. Quite literally, in Kachemak Bay. We had a treat this weekend as Maryann surprised me with a stay at The Lands End Resort on 'the spit'. We had our own condo with the water a walk out the back sliding door. Was too cool! After a long walk down the beach, we ended our weekend and left 'the spit' to head home. Now this is where it gets really weird. On our way off the spit we were heading through Homer and were going past Beluga Lake when I noticed a mass of vehicles out on the lake. Now remember, the lakes are still very frozen, and it is not uncommon for people to take snow machines (snow mobiles to anyone outside of Alaska), vehicles or the like out onto frozen lakes. But this was not an ordinary gathering of vehicles. No, this looked like some kind of fun was in progress. Serious fun! So being the explorers we are, we ventured with Maryann's truck out onto the lake....with the 'pucker factor' on high.... to find out just what it was that had drawn so many people to the middle of frozen over Beluga Lake. What we saw next I can honestly say, I....and I speak for Maryann as well...have never in our lives seen until this day.

There were two groups of vehicles in the middle of Beluga Lake this day. The spectators.....and the competitors. The competitors were gathered at the center of a make shift race track on the ice. The spectators were gathered in a line around one end of the track, with their vehicles pointed towards the track. This was in part so that people could stay in their warm vehicles...quite like the day of the old Drive-In Theaters, and still have a full view of the races in complete comfort. So we filed into a slot and watched in utter amazement. Let me tell you, ice or not these cars were hauling butt! The smell of alcohol blown engines, and the sound of serious adrenaline lined the lake. There were several different brackets, and unfortunately we came in towards the end. We saw the converted rice rockets run. These were old Honda's, Fiats, and the like pieced and scrapped together with worked over engines. And the last run was with.....I don't even know how to describe them! They are in the pictures. They looked like rolled over converted half snow machine half lawn mower/tractor.... We even saw one. pictured, that reminded me of Herman Munsters' drag racer!! The strange yet amusing ritual was for the winner to circle the track with the finish the opposite direction, while all of the onlookers would honk as he went by, for their applause! This was fun, definitely in typical Alaskan style, on a cold and brisk Sunday morning in Kachemak Bay. One thing I do have to give credit to.....Alaskans have shown more than once, the ability to entertain themselves through many a very long and cold winter!
Remember, on any post you can 'left click' any picture for a full size view. I highly encourage this!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

We are back on the air.

And imagine our astonishment, almost a month later to the date, when we rise out of the sealed basement, out of the sealed house into the outdoors to find that no eruption actually occurred?! Now don't we feel like a bunch of dumb asses? This is the only viable reason I can find as to why "no post" since February 11, is that we panicked, sealed ourselves inside, and waited out the dreaded eruption safe in the fresh air and fallout shelter of our basement. Only to surface and find it never happened.... Would you buy it? Me neither! Fortunately for timing, we managed to come out just on time to see the annual running of the dogs. The 2009 Iditerod starts today. The ceremonial start will be aired live at 9:30 this morning, and in tradition, Maryann, myself and the dogs will veg in front of the tv to watch all the excited doggies for 3 hours. Why would we choose to be in front of the tv when we could easily drive the 4 hours to bear witness in the flesh, of this event? Try: there is a sofa (and a comfortable one at that) 10 feet in front of the tv, a woodstove that is a blast furnace 6 feet from that, and it is 6 degrees on the curb at the race in the math. The past week has been the 'Fur Rondy' which is a bevy of festivities that take place the week prior to the actual race. People will come as far as Europe to watch this today. In fact, Anchorage is stoked of the poke it will receive with it's economy for this event.

And to date, still no eruption. It is old news it seems. Possibly 'brutha-O' changed the course of the inevitable eruption with his stimulus....or maybe Sarah ordered a shipping container of Gas-X dropped into the mouth of the crater. Or maybe....they just predict eruptions like they predict the weather? In any event, we are happy it hasn't happened, and frankly hope it doesn't. They say that since 1700, something like 48 eruptions have rained down ash on Alaskans....and none have been blown off the map.... we really don't want to be the 49th eruption.

John is happy in his new job. he has some pretty serious responsibility handed to him and although he finds his new position a challenge, he is taking it in true form. The highlight is the forklift. Which brings back a story, or at least one of many, of a friend who around Johns age worked at his dads canned food grocery outlet. One day while doing brodies with the forklift in the back lot....with a full pallet of canned goods ..... the pallet tipped, the friend quipped and dad flipped (wink). We won't even get into the story of the same friend and the cows.... Anyways, John is loving the forklift scene and has been encouraged against pulling a 'Bradley'. There is hope on the horizon that John will be getting on with the forestry service in Soldotna in the coming months. He has found out that they have a program to hire and train on site, which could have him working the summer fire lines. Not sure how all of this will affect his new job, although the owner of this company is a retired Fire Chief and has already let John know he will work with John on helping to accommodate any needs he has. Cool beans!

Other than this, we are really wanting Spring to spring, and happy that it is getting light out again. I did manage to get a few promised pics from the plow-cam. Guess we need to work on that a bite, don't we....maybe next winter I will have this feature perfected! however, here are a few nice shots taken from the beach here in Nikiski when we took the dogs snowshoeing. This was 2 Sundays ago. Was a brilliant, crisp and cold day. Enjoy and our hopes to every bodies health, happiness, and summer to come!