Posts Tagged ‘Alaska’


A Bi-Polar Year: From the Arctic Circle to Antarctica

A Bi-Polar Year: From the Arctic Circle to Antarctica will be released in 2018.

Here’s a peek at the intro.

It’s something I wanted to do for years. That is, to be north of the Arctic Circle on the first day of summer (June of course), and then to be south of the Antarctic Circle on the first day of summer in the southern hemisphere (December). This had to happen in the same year, I thought. And so it did.

The trip began in June, an easy ride from Seattle to Alaska and the northernmost point in North America. Point Barrow, polar bear country! Then life wound through summer, and autumn, and family, and friends, till I boarded a plane for my flight to Santiago, Chile, and my southbound ship that got me to Cape Horn on December 22. We crossed the Drake Passage in time for Christmas on the White Continent, where I met my first penguin.

Join me?

(c) Linda Lou Burton 2017


Highs and Lows

Linda Burton posting from Juneau, Alaska – “Come over here Sam,” June said. “Stand by your Grandma and me. I want our picture together.” We posed, smiling; Mark came out of the office to snap us with June’s camera and with mine. “Are you sure you can drive this van?” Sam asked as June pulled her seat way, way forward. “You’re not much taller than me.” June and I burst out laughing and assured Sam that height didn’t affect driving ability. Then we proceeded to swap stories about our early driving days and near accidents we’d had. “I’m not going to listen,” said Sam from the back seat, covering his ears. It was 14 miles to the airport from downtown’s Driftwood Lodge along the Gastineau Channel; the tide was in at the moment; we’d seen it at low tide when it was mostly mud. Highs and lows. Hugs at the front door of the airport; the kind you have when you know you will truly miss a person. “Goodbye June in Juneau,” Sam said, and we wheeled our luggage in; easy maneuvers in this small airport. The nice ladies in Security chatted with Sam about his visit and gave him a TSA sticker for his shirt; he eyed me grinning “I didn’t have to take off my shoes!” Grandson Sam and I are leaving Juneau now, feeling high and low. High to get back to regular life – Sam to his Dad and Mom and a new neighborhood; me to my kitties and the rest of the Journey. Low because we’ve adopted Juneau in our hearts. So many nice people! » read more


Ike and the 49th Star

Sam’s Photo

Linda Burton posting from Juneau, Alaska – In Juneau, it was 9:02 AM. Back east in Washington, DC, it was just past the noon hour as President Dwight D Eisenhower inscribed his name to the document of proclamation that made Alaska the 49th state. Then he signed an Executive order setting a new design of 49 stars for the official flag of the United States. The date was January 3, 1959. The new design had seven staggered rows of stars, with seven stars in each row, and the traditional thirteen stripes. It had been chosen by a four-man selection commission and formally approved by the President but didn’t become official until July 4, 1959. The New York Times reported: President Eisenhower told one of the guests at the ceremony today that it was not the design he had preferred, “but I was overruled by all my advisers.” His choice was nine rows of stars, alternating five and six stars to a row. » read more


Ends of the Road

Linda Burton posting from Juneau, Alaska – Road construction is everywhere. Even when you only have 40 miles of paved roads. “This is my summer job,” Marisa told us after apologizing for what might be a long delay. Grandson Sam got out of the car to look around. Marisa admired the Scion; confirmed she was native-born to Juneau; added she was now a student at Colorado State, a business major. I asked if all the road work was due to a slide from bad winter weather. “No, the road was just worn out,” she answered. “The weather here is awfully hard on our paved roads.” A call came in; Marisa shook her head. “I’m afraid your wait is going to be even longer,” she told us. “We just had a turn-around and the pilot car will have to chase him down.” No cars allowed loose in the middle of all that earth-moving equipment! We were appropriately well-behaved on our ride behind the pilot car when it finally came to guide us past all the hazard zones; the piles of rocks and dirt; giant earth moving trucks; the perilously perched shovels and digging equipment. Sam jumped from side to side in the car, trying to see it all. There’s nothing a boy enjoys more than the sight of giant trucks. Except, maybe, chunking rocks and making waves. He got to do that too. » read more


Big Gulp

Linda Burton posting from Juneau, Alaska – Captain Larry dropped a slender acoustic device into the water as our boat sat quietly rocking. “We’ll listen for a while,” he nodded, “I want to know if they are coming this way.” Grandson Sam’s eyes got big as “whale talk” filled the boat, the device clearly picking up the underwater sounds. We didn’t know what it meant, but it verified that whales were near. Katie, our on-board naturalist, had already gone up top with her binoculars, watching for the sight of birds, and blow. That’s where the whales would be, we’d learned on the way out from Auke Bay, the “blow” being the burst of air expelled from the whale’s blowholes, or nostrils, as they surfaced, causing a visible spray. Just off in the distance, we’d spotted both, a frenzy of circling birds and geyserlike sprays. That meant whales, whales enjoying lunch. “Just like the sight of a parking lot full of cars outside a restaurant,” I thought to myself, smiling, “the sign that it’s a good place to eat.” Then Katie yelled, “It’s Sue! I see Sue!” Captain Larry yanked the device from the water and swung around to start the engine. “I know where they are going now!” he said, and suddenly we were moving again, straight toward the whales. All of us raced to the outside deck as Captain Larry positioned the boat for a perfect view. » read more


Dog Day Afternoon

Linda Burton posting from Juneau, Alaska – “Excuse me, but what exactly is a musher?” I tentatively asked after our instructor wanted to know if there were any questions. Grandson Sam and I were sitting on wooden benches in the “Pre-lim” tent, getting our instructions on how to behave around the dogs. It was Sled Dog Summer Camp for us; a chance to meet the puppies and the grown-up dogs that spend their summer training to pull a racing sled. “I’m a musher,” smiled our instructor; “a musher is the person who drives the dog sled.” A musher, ah. Austin Barr was talking; he’s spending his summer in Sheep Creek Dog Camp, high in the Alaska mountains above Gastineau Channel; living in a tent with a fake wooden front designed to look like an old mining camp; working with other mushers training the 120 high-energy Alaskan huskies we see outside the tent So how did this former Californian wind up here? » read more


To The Max

Linda Burton and grandson Samuel Shumate, age 9, posting from Juneau, Alaska – “Reporting live from Juneau, Alaska,” is the sound I hear coming from just outside the door. It’s grandson Sam, now a Steven Spielberg wannabe. Yesterday I showed him the Nikon’s video capabilities; today he’s into Point of View, recording everything in sight “as he sees it.” Right now he’s filming Mt Juneau, the front of our building, and every raven flying overhead. I decide we’ll use this force for good today. “Hey Sam,” I call enthusiastically, “let’s go downtown and find the capitol. You can make a video.” And so, enthusiastically, we start walking. Seven blocks or so, along the waterfront and up the hill; thumbs up at last; we made it to the door. The Tour Sign at the front invites us in; an arrow points us to the information spot; a young man greets us with a friendly smile. “The next tour in 10 minutes,” he said. Enough time for some post-hillclimb rest; then here is Max, his bright red vest sporting the Tour Guide badge. “We’ll begin in the lobby,” he said. “I’ll start with the basics.” The crowd gathered; Sam’s finger was poised on the video button. » read more