Catalina Island continued…

The rest of our time in Catalina was like something out of a dream.  We sailed from the quiet solitude of Small Harbor Anchorage to a mooring ball in the raucous town of Avalon on the southeast side of the island.  Our first glimpse of Avalon was obscured by the towering Princess cruise ship parked just offshore.  The large ship dwarfed Avalon harbor and intimidated those of us who hadn’t seen more than a handful of boats in the better part of a week.  Except for the hundreds of tourists milling about, the town itself was fairly quiet.  By weeks end it was a different story, Avalon had metamorphosed into something that I have a very difficult time describing, but think MTV Spring Break meets Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and you’ll be on the right track.  From our vantage point near the coastline with the other “small” boats we were mesmerized by a sea of drool worthy yachts with more than a sprinkling of enormous mega yachts complete with working deck hands and dinghies so large they made Resolute envious.  Up until that weekend we had never so much enjoyed just folding ourselves into the cockpit and watching the cinema that unfolded around us.  To starboard there was a 30 foot power boat with so many partying 20 somethings that it looked like it might capsize, off our stern quarter there were surfers attempting to backflip off the back of a sailboat and land upright on their surfboards tied off a few feet away (they didn’t come close but it would have been pretty impressive if they had), and to port there was an intoxicated young woman floating by in what looked to be a human sized hamster wheel.  The astonishingly elaborate, impromptu St. Patrick’s Day dinghy parade rounded out the weekend nicely.

While we weren’t people watching from Resolute we were enjoying Catalina’s wildlife both above and below the waterline.  Although Erik and I may not have enjoyed our encounter with an adolescent rattlesnake on a hiking trail after dark, we did enjoy the jolt of adrenaline that accompanied the encounter sending us scurrying down the trail, and shaving at least 20 minutes off the hike.  Below the waterline the fish were plentiful.  It was our first  time diving since getting certified over a year ago and to call us a little rusty would be a mariner’s understatement.  But after we finally got all of our equipment together and pulled on our full length wetsuits in the 90 degree weather, we waddled over to the waters edge and jumped (or awkwardly fell depending who you ask) into the sea.  To live like a fish for even one hour was worth any effort and we look forward to many more dives, in hopefully warmer water as we move south.

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise flowers lining the streets of Avalon


St. Patrick's day parade

Surprise St. Patrick’s day parade put on by fellow boaters


Mooring balls

Nearly all full over the weekend


Avalon, Catalina island

Avalon’s casino and mooring field


Dinghy Dock

Dinghy dock full and not even the weekend yet


Real-time Global Wind and Ocean Current Map

Earth global wind patterns


Want to be mesmerized by global wind patterns? No? Well maybe you will change your mind after taking a look at this great site. This nifty tool can be used to view earth’s wind patterns in real time using visually stimulating graphics. Not only can you view surface wind, but you can also take a look at ocean currents and temperatures by simply clicking on the earth logo in the lower left. Want a better way to visualize trade winds? Need to see how global wind patterns influence local weather? This may help.


I have just stumbled across this site but can already see its potential as a very useful tool for planning on our upcoming sailing adventure.  By getting a global view of weather patterns and wind intensity, it gives you one more tool to add to your weather toolbox. It’s not like you couldn’t do this before, just not in such a fun way! Have fun and enjoy this great tool…


Earth wind navigation


San Francisco skyline

panorama of san francisco

Here is an image taken from our friend Debbie Miller’s back patio. It is a fantastic view filled with the sounds of gently crashing waves and bird calls. It also illustrates many of the locations Meagan and I have been fortunate to visit and sail near including: alcatraz, the golden gate bridge, the bay bridge, Sausalito, and the San Francisco wharf.

I crossed the River Styx, and lived…

For me, summer is a time of chaos, long hours, travel, and moments of serenity found in nature. These are a sampling of images that tell a story of the first half of my summer field season. As a geologist for the State of Alaska I was fortunate to explore the Western Alaska Range’s Styx River and Kuskokwim  River regions by foot and by helicopter. There really is no better way to see the state. We were based out of the historic Rainy Pass Lodge, one of the oldest lodges in the state and also one of the first checkpoints on the iconic Iditarod dog sled race.


surreal lake

glassy puntilla lake


long exposure puntilla lake

Long exposure of puntilla lake


4th of July Fireworks

4th of July fireworks at Rainy Pass Lodge


northern volleyball

Volleyball at Rainy Pass Lodge


Puntilla lake float plane

Float plane taking off out of Puntilla lake


radio repeater setup

Radio repeaters and solar setup


Rainy pass lodge

Rainy Pass Lodge looking South


glacial lake swimming

Glacial lake swimming


GoPro selfie

Solo morning traverse



glacial geology


Steep slopes

Any sheep?


never ending mountains

Never ending mountains


rock and ice

Brightly colored slope


scree slope

The beckoning slope


colorful ridge

Ridge worker


helicopter pilot and view


women looking over ledge

The ponderer


summer slowers

Alpine flowers


sunny slope

Sun spot


narrow landing

Tight landing


helicopter fieldwork

Helicopter fieldwork


glacial recession panorama

Glacier recession


Foggy Morning

Foggy morning


Print Giveaway!! see below to enter and view image

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win this image in high quality 13 x 19 in glossy print! This image was composed of over 500 individual images. Satellites can be seen crossing the path of the stars in the upper left and middle of the shot. Watermark will not be present on printed image.

Remember to share on twitter once per day to receive additional entries.

stars spinning over trees


Wedding Rings

It’s been a long time coming but Meagan and I finally have real wedding rings in addition to our tattoos. I thought I would share them with you all in photo. Meagan’s was found in an antique shop in Coo’s Bay, Oregon on our trip up to Alaska from Utah. It is white gold with a small diamond inset in a heart. The engraving has always made us laugh, it says “Forever yours -Tumor”. Meagan recently surprised me on our 2nd anniversary with a Damascus steel ring from a local shop here in Fairbanks. In keeping with the spirit of the engraving she had “Forever yours – Squash” etched on the inside.

wedding rings on cushion

Mt. Prindle and Nome Creek

Gold rush! Those words were rattling through Meagan and I’s heads as we headed up towards Nome Creek on the Steese Highway north of Fairbanks. The plan was to gold pan the Nome creek recreational gold panning area in the morning and then take off later in the day to backpack up to Mt. panning at Nome Creek, AK

Needless to say, we did not strike it rich although we did get a *very* little piece of “color” in the pan. The area was quite packed with large motorhomes which beg the question of how and why they got them back there in the first place. Since Meagan and I are much happier hearing the creek noises than those of fellow campers we drove back down the road and found an empty spot near the creek to pitch our tent.

The following day broke with the sun’s heat working its way into our early morning dreams as it turned our tent into an fiery sauna. The hike began well with several creek crossing which require a second set of water shoes to cross as the water is not overly deep but will turn your legs numb within seconds. backpacking up Nome CreekOnce out of the willows of the creek bed the view up the valley reveals itself and gives you just enough of a mountain view to tease you forward. The hiking went well although we were perhaps a few weeks early as the trail was hidden by several large snow patches which required sloppy post holing and most of the trail was covered in a small flowing creek.

As we reached our chosen campsite in a bowl just before climbing up to the ridge that will take you to the top of Mt. Prindle we noticed the dogs were getting on edge. In the Alaskan wilderness this is usually a good sign to get your bear spray or gun handy. backpacking Alaska with wolvesClimbing a small knoll we looked up valley and spotted a group of eight wolves working their way in our direction. We quickly grabbed the dogs, took our packs off and prepared to defend ourselves. After some discussion we decided to try and make noise to scare the wolves off, a few loud calls and we succeeded. It was a mixed felling watching the wolves launch water into the air as they ran across the saturated tundra. What a neat experience it would have been to have a closer encounter, but what a relief that we did not have one either. We did however have many close encounters with Alaska’s smallest bird the mosquitoe. Which can be seen flying around the lens in the photo below.

mosquitoes in Alaska

backpacking Nome CreekThe night passed without incident with the four of us (two dogs) crammed inside a rather small two person tent. We stayed up well into the morning watching the sky paint itself every color it could come up with. We had to remind ourselves to go to bed and not wait for the darkness to give us that cue.

We headed up to Mt. Prindle’s south west ridge after a fantastic oatmeal breakfast filled with the essential dates, nuts, brown sugar and powdered milk. With every gain in elevation more and more of Prindle’s fantastic tors were revealed, each one looking like a new scale to some sleeping giant. Mt. Prindle AlaskaAfter playing around on the rocks and watching a local marmot who had perched himself in a precarious position, Meagan too decided to take a small nap.backpacking Mt. PrindleFearing we would get caught in a nasty lightning storm that was headed our way if we continued on to summit Prindle, we turned around and headed back to camp. The weather quickly turned bad leaving us in our tent for several hours as it sounded like chicken little’s words may have been prophetic.

As we walked out of the valley and back to our car we noticed the smoke from a nearby wildfire getting thick. Must have happened during the night from one of the lightning strikes? Alaska wildfires

In all it was a fantastic getaway and a must do hike for anyone in the interior looking for a change in scenery. The Prindle  Mountain area is unlike anything else around.

PT-04 wireless flash trigger

Just picked up a set of these wireless flash triggers from cowboy studios off Amazon. I am excited for the possibilities they can create in my portrait and wedding photography. Off camera flash is advantageous for many reasons not the least of which is more flattering and natural light since shadows are revealed and not removed. The flat 2D image look with harsh highlights you get with on camera flash rarely turn out worth keeping.

More info about off camera flash and how to use it can be found at the Strobist blog.

I plan on testing these units out and putting them through their paces to see if they are as capable of some of their more expensive competitors. First impressions make me think they will not be as durable as the pocket wizards but if they are as good of performers then in y opinion it may not be an issue.

And for those of you who just want a nice picture, here you go


Alyeska Pipeline

Alyeska Pipeline in front of Atigun River Brooks Range

Alyeska Pipeline in front of Atigun River- f/18 1/10 sec at ISO 100

The Alyeska Pipeline is an interesting form to Photograph. As a naturalist and environmentalist you are repulsed by the idea of such large amounts of oil flowing over the environment with such a high risk of contamination and all the pollution that comes with the extraction in the first place, but as a photographer, the pipeline creates a stunning foreground capable of transforming a beautiful scene into a fantastic photograph. Let’s face it, photos with a human element are often more pleasing. That may be because things become less foreign and we can relate to them more easily.

At any rate, the pipeline is also a marvel of engineering on many fronts but here are a few facts. It was completed in 1977, runs from Prudhoe Bay in the north to Valdez in the South (the farthest north port that does not freeze), has transported over 16 billion barrels of oil in the last 33 years, and is currently at a capacity of around 611,244 barrels per day.