Magnificent Ritzie at Discovery Station

While in Hagerstown, Maryland, we took Ritzie to the Discovery Station.

Ritzie was somehow supposed to be learning about sustainability by playing in this mailbox.

She just thought it was a good place for a cat.

She easily learned about the life cycle of honey bees.

She made a friend!

She got engrossed in exploring the entomology tools.

But Carrie was not one to let Ritzie hog all the fun.

Carrie completed several space missions.

In her bare feet.

Ritzie met Manekineko.

We found these miniature instruments in an exhibit on India inside the old bank vault.

In the new arts & crafts room, the first thing Ritzie did was make herself a new outfit.

Again, not one to let the cat have all the fun, Carrie started painting.What’s that she’s wearing, you may ask?

A smock.

Why is Carrie wearing a smock?

Because a sign said that all painters were required to wear smocks.

So Carrie wore a smock.

Unfortunately, Carrie forgot all of her artwork on the drying rack.

Carrie also got into some chalkboard wall action.

They had just washed it.

Carrie got exercise.

This was Alain’s favorite part of Carrie’s drawing.

Carrie also fulfilled a long-held desire of painting with roller stamps.There were many more exhibits we did not visit this trip.

We shied away from the new transportation room because there was the most ill-behaved daycare we have ever seen in there.  Too bad because they have a Cessna!  We’ll have to go back.  With our Carnegie membership, Discovery Station is free anytime we are in Hagerstown.

Automatically Created Videos of Greenfield , Shadyside, Butler (PA), Bolivar (WV), and Downtown Pittsburgh

The purpose of blogging lately has been to gather photos, videos, thoughts, and other memories in one place because as technologies advance and our lives become more intricately intertwined, we find there is no one repository of such information any longer.  Also, we are taking advantage of being in the land of the internet.

In this spirit, we bring you a collection of recent automated slideshows created by Carrie’s phone:

We found a set of seven self-guided art walks for downtown Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.  We picked a spot in the middle of one of the downtown walks and took advantage of the easy parking the evening before a holiday.  We made it about halfway through one of the downtown walks before we got distracted by taking a free ride on the T.

Because these are automatically-created videos crafted by Carrie’s phone, sometimes weird things happen.  The above videos starts with the Staghorn Cafe, a shop we walked to in Greenfield, a neighboring neighborhood in Pittsburgh, and then switches to more of the downtown art walk.

This one is from our visit to Bolivar, West Virginia with Alain’s mom.

And this one is from the second time we spent a day in Butler, PA.  It shows Saxonburg Coffee Company, Element Cafe, the courthouse and some beautiful houses.

This one literally popped up on Carrie’s phone while this post was being made.  It has pictures from when we walked down the hill the other direction to the neighboring neighborhood of Shadyside.

Carrie Reads Torah to the Cats

Once upon a time, back when we lived in Barrow, Yiddie asked Carrie to read him some Torah.  So Carrie got out her little chumash and read him something.  Pretty soon, all of the cats had crawled over and climbed up.  They were all excellent listeners.  And for reasons unknown, Alain found this oh so very amusing.  We have both had this video on our computers for years and thought it is a shame we’ve never shared it.

Bonus points to anyone who can figure out what passage Carrie is reading.

Witty Learns about Seal Tagging

In Adak we have tried to help with the Bunkhouse Chats.  A bunkhouse chat is an informal chance for locals and visitors to talk with researchers, scientists, and other wayward souls.  As an outpost of western conveniences, Adak hosts many scientists and researchers on their way farther afield.  Others hunker down and conduct their research right on the island.  The US Fish & Wildlife Service has a bunkhouse where they can stay (boy does it have a NICE kitchen!) that has a big living room that is perfect for hosting a chat.  Carrie makes treats, usually with some local ingredients (like petrushki crackers or nagoonberry pound cake).  Sometime in summer 2016 while Witty was attending summer camp on Adak Island, she got to go to a bunkhouse chat.

Witty liked the pictures of birds on the walls.After the chat, Witty taught the other cats what she learned.  These researchers were trying to learn about seals.  They were concerned that numbers of seals had dropped.  For several years, they had been attaching tags to seals’ heads and flippers.  The tags can be tracked and thus build maps of where and how far seals travel. The cats were all very interested in the seal tagging project but are not sure they like the idea of the tags.  They worry they might bother the seals.

Transportation Adventures in and Around King Cove AK: Aviation and Boating Photos and Videos for Transportation Geeks

First, a couple of pictures of boats in King Cove for the maritime geeks:

For the aviation geeks, some videos of flying in and around King Cove, the first two with Eider Air:

Next, you may remember recently reading about Carrie’s trip on a fishing boat from Cold Bay to King Cove one day when the planes weren’t flying.  These are some pictures of the view out the kitchen window on the Island Trader.

These videos give a sense of the amount the vessel rocked en route:

And finally, some lovely footage of the beautiful maritime and mountain scenes as we sailed into King Cove in February 2016.

Tsippy Goes Camping

Tsippy asked to go camping.  She got in her sleeping bag and went inside her tent.

Then she said “This isn’t comfortable.  Where’s my blankie?”

She tried rolling over.

Still no blankie.

Still not comfortable.

We told her that you don’t take your blankie camping and that she should try wriggling into her sleeping bag a little better.

Tsippy said “That’s better.”

But soon Tsippy was done with camping and decided to play with her tent.

Chilling Out in Cold Bay

While flying around the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutians for her short-lived regional job, Carrie spent some time in Cold Bay.

Everyone who lives or works in this region spends time in Cold Bay, whether they want to or not.

This is the community center, run by the City of Cold Bay.  During this visit, in summer 2016, the running wild strawberry plants were fruited all alongside the roads.  Thrilled, Carrie tried eating them, but realized that even though Cold Bay has a smaller official population than Adak, they are more big-city in some ways.  The strawberries were filthy: covered with road grime.  There was a lot more traffic in Cold Bay and the roads are gravel.  So Carrie’s strawberry-picking adventure was short-lived.  But she nevertheless made the most of her unplanned evening in Cold Bay.  She walked all over town, visited the grocery store (with their walk-in cooler!), and met the staff at the clinic.

These pictures are assorted buildings around town from a February 2016 trip through Cold Bay.  Carrie had landed in Cold Bay with PenAir and found that none of the airlines were flying over to King Cove, her destination.  The PenAir staff offered to drive stranded passengers down to the dock to hop onto a fishing boat.  Carrie blindly followed the fishermen/processors.

It wasn’t until the driver started driving over the water to the dock that Carrie remembered that Cold Bay’s dock is way out in the water.  When we sailed on the ferry many years ago the ferry docked here for three hours while we got to quickly explore the tippiest tiniest edge of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.  Meanwhile, our tent got ripped to shreds on the upper deck, courtesy of Cold Bay’s winds. That’s the little fishing boat Carrie would sail on from Cold Bay to King Cove.  The Island Trader wasn’t very big at all.

Bouys on the deck of the Island Trader.

Why does everyone love bouys?  Bouys in yards, bouys in boats, bouys in abandoned building, even deflated bouys in luggage.  Who knows, but Carrie has taken a lot of pictures of bouys around Alaska.  But we don’t have any in our yard.  Alain thinks they are tacky.  And everyone agrees they are targets for dog pee.

Anyway, back to Carrie’s adventure in Cold Bay.  This is a view out the back of the fishing boat Island Trader.This is the door to enter the Island Trader. A view from the deck of Island Trader.  The water got much choppier than this–consider this dead calm.

Island Trader‘s kitchen.  They used bungee cords to keep food and soap from sliding around and flying.  The fisherman were watching a James Bond movie in the kitchen.  Carrie considered it a cultural experience, when she wasn’t enjoying the wind, rain, and waves on the tiny deck.

Many thanks to the captain and crew of Island Trader for the free ride from Cold Bay to King Cove.

When Carrie wasn’t sailing upon the seas, she flew on Eider Air, Grant Aviation, or Kenai Floatplane Service (yes there is an airline in the region with that improbably name…plane didn’t have floats though).  Here is some footage aboard Eider Air in November 2015:

More Scenes from Unalaska

In February 2016, Carrie’s couchsurfing host tried to take her on this hike:

Along the way, we picked up some hitchhikers.  They were young folks who were “observers” aka entry-level biologists who ride around on fishing boats counting fish, watching procedures, and observing.  You can recognize them in the airport because they all have the same ‘luggage’ of rolling carts stacked together.  You can recognize them on the street because they wear xtra-tuffs but look a little too arty and clean to be fishermen.  Certainly, they do many other things.  Carrie later met one who taught fishermen to be gentler with their fish.

At the trailhead we ran into Susi Golodoff who wrote the book Wildflowers of Unalaska Island.  We tried the hike but didn’t get very far once the observers fell into snow up to their thighs.  We drove to a different area that was brown and yellow tundra and wandered there instead.

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One afternoon in April 2016 when Carrie was out in “The Valley” aka a sprawling residential area with homemade small and sprawling suburban-style homes, Carrie noticed what a beautiful day it was.

Carrie stood in one spot and turned around, taking pictures in all directions.

Here is just a small selection of Unalaska’s taxi cabs:

Here are some more: This is the Cornelia Marie, that is supposedly in The Deadliest Catch.

A cool harlequin duck leading the pack.

This is the Katie Jean, a halibut boat that spends a lot of time in Adak.

Views of some of the many, many fish processing plants.

    Views of downtown Unalaska featuring the Russian Orthodox church.

One of many historical markers around Unalaska.

Downtown Unalaska.  This may seem like a small town to you all, but to Adakians, this is the big city.  Or nearly so.  They have big-city recreational facilities.  $5 high-quality yoga classes.  High-tech gyms.  After-school programs for kids.  Swimming pool.  Daily toddler activities.  Library.  Paved sidewalks.  Parks, playgrounds, ball fields, museums, memorials.  But Adak has much better air service.  Can’t beat that.  No When Air for us! The blue complex is part of Unisea, a major seafood processor.  Many of the buildings are housing for their employees who hail from all over the world.

The long building with the red roof in the background is the Grand Aleutian Hotel, the more expensive of the only two housing options.