Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I need to blog more...

Its true. I need to blog more.
Maybe I got lazy, maybe I was just too busy, maybe my computer was making it irritating. Mostly I'm lazy though.

Anyway, blogging more is on the list of New Years resolutions.

Enjoy the beautiful outcome of Ice Fog in Anchorage.

Just across the parking lot for the office.

20th Street on my way back to work after lunch one day.

Have those mountains been there the whole time?

Sunday, November 1, 2009



For lots of reasons, some more grandiose than others, I have started walking after work. Since today was such a beautiful day I decided to get out and enjoy the sunshine while I could.

Due to the time change sunset is fairly early, around 5:00pm.

The picture below is from almost the top of a slope off Spenard Ave. near where I access the Chester Creek Trail system. Its facing east looking at the Chugach Mountains with Valley of the Moon Park at the bottom.

Even though temperatures have been below freezing for several days I was surprised to find Westchester Lagoon frozen, probably 1.5 to 2 inches. I stomped on it a couple times and got one good crack to form but couldn't break through.

Westchester Lagoon, in past years, has had a large trail plowed in the snow snaking around the lake. I've read that its the longest maintained trail in the US. Hopefully they will plow and maintain the trail again this year. I'd like to give skating another try.

Below is Westchester Lagoon looking west-ish. (Guess I should start bringing my compass on my walks)

I walked around the lagoon, through a pretty nice neighbourhood (I bet they wondered what I was doing there) and since it was still relatively light I decided to investigate what I suspected was a trail on the east end. After making my way down a steep hill and finding a trail made of wood chips I decided to find out what was at its end. Trudging through the woods, making tons of racket as I went, I looked up and saw a man standing about 75 yards from me. He had a bicycle, not the mountain bike you'd think he should have on the trail, was smoking a cigarette, and looking right back at me. It didn't take long for me to decide that it would be better to just turn around and leave the way I had come. I found the first hill up to the road and continued on.

Sadly, there are a lot of homeless people in Anchorage. There has been a so called crack down on homeless camps the last couple weeks and I kind of wonder if this guy was homeless looking for a place to spend the night. Maybe he was a creepy guy lurking in the woods. Or maybe he sneaked out for a smoke and ducked into the woods so his wife and neighbours couldn't see. Who knows. I decided it was better for me not to find out.

Another strange thing happend closer to home. A young man, at least 16, stumbled down a hill and out of the woods onto the trail. As his pants fell down he dropped his cell phone. After picking it up he had a really hard time with his pants. His belt had gone missing and his rear was well exposed. He was either high or drunk. Again, who knows what was going on. He got in a truck with some people who had been disk golfing and that was the last I saw of him.

I also saw a lot of people running, skate skiing on those fancy pavement ski deals, and people walking there dogs. I even witnessed some kids trying to break through the ice by pounding it with large rocks. All pretty normal if you ask me.

Anchorage is a nice place but its still the largest city in the state. All cities have their problems but I guess Anchorage isn't too bad. Where else, with such a large population, can you be stepped on by a moose or mauled by a bear?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Moose Scouting

Sunday 10/18/09

Some friends from work, and some not from work, drew tags for a moose hunt close to town and decided to take advantage of the nice weekend to get the lay of the land. Even though I'm slow and out of shape they invited me along. After a lot of back and forth in my head I decided to go with them. I'm glad I did.

There are no easy ways into this area. You have climb across a pass unless you want to fight miles of Alders from the bottom of the bottom of the valley. My friends picked the shortest way in that involved 1100 feet of vertical in 1.1 miles (if I remember correctly)

Above is everyone glassing for moose in the valley below. We didn't get a super early start, but it was still very crisp in the shade. We worked our way around until we found a nice spot to sit in the sun and spy on our prey.

After the top of the pass the trail follows a drainage down to the valley floor making it impossible to see much of the valley floor. We decided cut across the side of the mountain to keep our elevation the same but make it to a spot where we could see well. This part reminded me of monkeying around on the bluffs of Mackinac Island on Free day. I think the bluffs are a little steeper than this picture though.

Looking back towards town enjoying the day.

We also saw an ultralight and a Blackhawk Helicopter poking around the valley. The Blackhawk could have very well been doing training, but I think they were also looking for moose. I wonder if I could file a FOIA request to discover how many moose they saw.

It was a great way to start the day. I slipped going down on our way back, didn't hurt anything except my pride. As soon as I picked myself up a guy following us down the hill Bounded past me going about 15 feet for each leap.

Hopefully these guys get their moose on Sunday.

Please take a look at the rest of the pictures here.
My Smug Mug :D

Sunday, October 11, 2009

PowerLine Trail 10/11/09

PowerLine Trail

I'm going to warn you at the top here that I'm tired and there are probably many run-on sentences, misspellings, and incoherent thoughts written below. It was a really good afternoon though!

All of the pictures in their original size may be found here My Smug Mug :D
Take the chance to zoom in if you can and get a closer, yet possibly blurry, view of these magnificent creatures.

Since I knew I wasn't going to have to work this weekend I had decided to go for a hike on the nicer of the two days. Saturday I was lazy and it rained so this afternoon I got my stuff together and headed up to the Glenn Alps parking lot to hike the PowerLine Trail. Glenn Alps is the same trail head to Flat Top, the subject of my last post.

I chose PowerLine because its relatively flat and because I about killed myself on Flat Top being so out of shape. As I got to the main trail I looked up the valley and remembered why I like mountains so much. They are big and when I get close enough and look up I get a little dizzy, like looking up at sky scrapers in big cities. These valleys go what seems like forever and are just so big compared to anything most people encounter in everyday life.

About a half hour in I met a couple from work. They told me about a huge moose up in a bowl farther down the trail. A guy on a bicycle who had also stopped decided he was going to go see how close he could get and headed off. When I got to the trail leading to the moose I thought "Why should that guy hog the moose, I should go up there too!" So I did.

As I crested the last rise I saw there was not one but two nice bulls bedded down across a small stream. Decideing to circle around the back of them and spy on them from the knobs above walked past and crossed the stream where I met a photographer who told me he had taken 400 pictures of the pair. We parted ways and I headed up where I got a few pictures and just relaxed on the tundra leaning against a rock.

It didn't take long for me to notice a cow moose heading towards the two bulls. I stayed very still to make sure I didn't interupt anything that might happen. The moose are in the rut right now and with two bulls I figured they might actually fight a little. No fighting but I did get to see how much of a tease cow moose are. The big one really had to work at it and in the end they went into the bushes. I hope the big guy got lucky.

On the way out I saw the photographer again. He was snapping pictures of the big moose who had crossed the river and was very close to the trail. I greeted him and we stood there for a while taking pictures and watching. The moose crossed the stream with his ears back, raking the bushes with his antlers. Again we thought that this was it, Moose battle at 100 feet!

It took a while but they eventually clashed antlers and the smaller of the two decided the big one could be boss until next time.

I decided to take off as it was getting dark and the photographer followed soon after. We walked back to the parking lot together talking about Alaska, business ideas, etc... He had some really good "Alaska" stories and is planning to write a book. We saw about 15 moose in the valley on our way out. Too bad moose season is over and you can't hunt them up there.

On one of the power poles an owl Who'd at us and screeched while it ruffled its feathers. We probably were messing up his hunting, oh well.

Overall it was a great afternoon. I felt very comfortable hanging out on the rocks and can't wait to do it again.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Flattop Mountain 9/26/09
(yes that's snow, it has been there for at least a week)

Saturday afternoon turned out to be pretty nice. After working a couple hours, eating lunch, and watching "The Matrix Revolutions" (it was a Matrix weekend) I decided to take advantage of what might be my last chance to hike Flattop Mountain.

Flattop is probably the most popular hiking trail in the Chugach State Park. I've also heard its the most popular in Alaska. The popularity is probably due to the fact its right in Anchorge, and gives the best view of the city. At least the best I've found.

The reason its called Flattop is because it has a flat top. Crazy, I know.

I got a late start and had to turn around half way there because I remembered that I left the stove on but I eventually made it. Besides being way out of shape I was able to hike through the Aplenglow to the second saddle at the base of the most difficult portion.

After a good rest and some pictures I decided it would be in my best interest to take a cue from the sun and head down.

Looping around the back side of the knobs previously ascended, I made my way down a steep slope covered in about 6 inches of snow. It wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done, but it wasn't the stupidest either.

At the bottom, walking through the trees to the parking lot I heard the grunting of a HUGE moose (at least the adrenaline rush told me it was HUGE). I did not want my day to end by being stomped on by a moose. The only tune I could think of was "she'll be coming round the mountain" but I sang it anyway in the hope that I wouldn't startle 1600 pounds of hormone crazed craziness.

Several tense minutes later the parking lot came into view with no moose in sight.

Sunday I found myself up a valley near Hope. If I would have had more time I would have tried climbing to the top to see what there is to see. I forgot how much I like to hike. There will be a lot of snow shoeing this winter and more hiking in the out of the way places next summer.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Some Glacier in Canada

If you click on the above picture to look at the larger image you'll see a little two track on the left side of this glacier in Banff Nat'l Park. They have buses with HUGE tires on them that take tourists for a ride up and down the glacier. In Alaska we do this with airplanes but I suppose the end result is the same.

Here is one of the buses with the GS next to it for scale.

Thats about all I've got in me tonight. This weekend I rode up to Talkeetna to spend some time with friends that I haven't seen in a while. We had a good time, looked for moose, had good food, and caught up with great stories from the summer.

Before I headed home today I rode down Petersville Road for a good while. The GS did a pretty good job but the KLR is really a better tool for that job towards the end before I turned around. Next time the KLR and I will see what there is to see at the end and report back. This week I'll post some pictures from the weekend.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Calgary, Alberta
The loudest Wendy's I've ever been in

So there I was. Thinking I was a day behind because of my front tire worries, tired as all get out, and upset with Calgary traffic. I pulled off into a mall where there was a Wendy's with the thought that a little food would calm me down and pick up my spirits.

Tired and hungry I levered the GS onto the center stand and moseyed on into the restaurant, ordered my lunch, and sat down.

Maybe it was because I was dehydrated. Maybe it was because this was my 4th day on the road with nothing but my thoughts and my poor singing to keep me company inside my helmet mile after mile. No matter what the reason I found myself in a melting pot of very loud people. People of all nationalities, religions, and degrees of passion. One group of older middle eastern men vigorously debated politics while behind me college students discussed religion, and to my right teenagers, being the way teenagers will be, acting very obnoxious. One thing all these different people had in common was that they were loud.

It was too overwhelming. I finished my meal and escaped to the parking lot where I discovered the motorcycles key had been misplaced. Back into the restaurant, looking around my table and in the bathroom, I finally found it sitting on the counter by the register.

I thought about Anchorage, by far the biggest city I have ever lived in. Was Anchorage loud and overwhelming like Calgary? I didn't think so but maybe its because I was used to it. Anchorage was overwhelming at first. I had a permanent "Surprise Face" the first two weeks in town terrified I would not be able to find my way to work in the morning.

Maybe its all the same. Maybe its all different. I just know I'll be driving AROUND Calgary in the future. The traffic was horrible.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Rest Area outside of Billings Montana

I had planned to take US-2 as far as I could on my way back to Alaska. However a fast wearing front tire required I dip down to the Super Slab (I-94) and make a B-line to Billings where a new tire awaited.

Believe it or not, I've stopped at this rest area before and admired the stalls made from 1/4" angle iron and diamond plate steel. They know how to make rest rooms in Montana!

No rattlesnakes were observed on this day. We don't have any snakes in Alaska, which is good. We do have bears, but you don't need as many of them to make a nice rug.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Alaskan Connection

Bruce Crossing
on my way back to Alaska

Bruce Crossing has a bar called "The Alaskan Connection". I thought it was a nice coincidence given my destination.

I wonder if Alaskans get their first beer free.

(click on the pic for a larger version to see the sign more clearly)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hooked on Fishing

It didn't hurt I swear!

In early June I learned that if you go to Providence Hospital in Seward to have a hook removed from your arm they give you a neat T-shirt. The person on the other end of the line shall remain nameless. Although in Tanya's defense it wasn't her fault the fish threw the hook and it ended up in my arm.

This is a picture of the shirt pinned to the wall in my office as a reminder not to try and net Tanya's fish even if you are on a rock in the middle of the river.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Angoon, Part 2

On day 2 our path took us to a lake about 100 feet above sea level. We hung a left and walked along a drainage past two more lakes where we found the angry goose.

The fisheries guys were finished with their work and decided to go fishing for the day. Before they drown any worms they dropped us off on the other side of the bay.

Our first full day in Angoon took us to a site near the road, although you wouldn't have guessed that if you were off the road. This is Panda. He followed us the whole day, through the woods and back to the lodge where he made himself at home, ran inside, and found the bowl of dog food. We later learned Panda had been a village dog and would probably be dead if the owners of the store hadn't taken him in, gotten him de-wormed, and given him a place to stay. He was very friendly and we were happy to have him along with us.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Angoon, AK

Angoon is a small village on Admiralty Island in Southeast Alaska. Currently it is accessible by boat or float plane. There is no airport or gravel strip. Some people like it that way some people don't. I honestly think most people that live there don't care one way or another.

In early June one of our Geologists and I traveled to Angoon to scout possible locations for a future airport. There were 4 possibilities, three WAY off the road on the other side of the bay.

Our second full day was spent bushwhacking through the rain forest. It took us about 14hrs to go 7.5 miles on an island with the most dense population of Brown Bears in North America. Armed with only my .40, two cans of bear spray, and our voices the only angry animal we encountered was an upset Canadian Goose. While we didn't see a single bear I'm sure more than I would like to imagine saw us.

The owner of the lodge where we were staying told us he always figured that a mile hiked on Admiralty Island equaled between 4 to 7 miles of hiking in Wyoming, and that there were bets between him and the fisheries people that were there whether or not we'd cover all the ground we expected to. We did, they were impressed, and they never told us who won the bet.

Below are a couple pictures from our treks through the forest.

There was a lot of dead fall to crawl over. Some of the logs were easily larger than 4 feet in diameter.
There were times that the brush was so thick Callie (the geologist) couldn't push through. Lucky for us my mass is about twice hers and was able to clear a path. The picture below was taking standing on a log about 4 feet off the ground. You can get an idea of how thick it was.

Thursday, August 13, 2009



I promise that I'm going to post pictures again soon but tonight SmugMug is down for maintenence or something.

Don't forget to check tomorrow!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Back in the Great White North, but its kinda green this time of year.

I'm Back!

I made it from Watson Lake, YT to the Alaskan border Sunday night around 8:30pm Sunday night. It was approximately 587 or so miles I think. A long day on the bike but when I stopped at the Border Lodge the sun was still high in the sky and I still felt good. I thought about trying to pound out the last 400 miles to Anchorage but decided against it. Mostly because I knew I would get tired down the road and need to find a place to stay.

I had a great trip with great weather and I met a ton of great people and took a lot of pictures. There will be good blog material for a while so check back in a day or so.

Thanks to everyone who didn't think I was crazy and encouraged me on this adventure. Thanks even if you thought I was crazy too!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oh Canada!

Brian is in Canmore, near Banff, AB. He's headed towards Grande Prairie to take the ALCAN back to Anchorage. He's been meeting cool people along the way-- today a 60-year-old man on his way to Chicken to do some gold mining. The weather's been good so far, hope it holds all the way to Anchorage!

Good night from the Canadian Rockies!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Brian is in Sidney, Montana tonight.

He's having a hard time finding internet on the road.

Sunday, he almost ran over a beaver in Duluth!

He's having a good trip and is making good time.

(as dictated to Aimee)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Beginning

Detroit to St. Ignace

Today I made it from Detroit, MI to my home town St. Ignace, MI where we had a little family reunion. My sister and her husband moved back today after Candace graduated with her masters in Social Work this weekend.

I'm very happy with the GS. The previous owner did a great job with it and even installed a new rear tire for my trip. I can cruise @ 80mph with ease and little pain in my rear.

Micheal, my brother-in-law and I went for a little ride around St. Ignace just to see what there was to see. We had a good ride, looked at the bridge, and went down a few of the twistier roads in the area.

Tomorrow I'm leaving early, going to stop by some friends house for breakfast, and head West.

Monday, May 11, 2009


When is enough enough?

The big trip is quickly approaching. I leave Friday night for Michigan to pick up the GS and ride back to Alaska.

On the table is what I've decided to bring so far, minus clothes and riding gear. My tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag are in the back. You can also see the license plate, several pair of gloves, assorted tools, some toiletries, and other random stuff. I think I could fit most of it in my tank bag which is good. But, and I know I shouldn't start a sentence with "but", I don't want too much stuff.

Mostly because any extra weight will lower fuel millage and shorten tire life. But also because I have to get all of it on an airplane. Extra baggage fees are expensive!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fork Seal

Fork Seals
Who knew?

Thursday AKSpies and I ran down to Girdwood to see who was hanging around. On the way back I noticed that the left fork seal was leaking a little.

Friday I went to The Motorcycle Shop and picked up the seals. Figureing I would mess up at least one I got two of each, just in case.

Today, while the weather is good, I changed the seal out and got er back together for the next adventure. It was a pretty easy job, Someone could probably do it in an hour if they were so inclined. I just kinda farted around getting it done.

It was one of those days where there's no reason to hurry.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Fly Tying
Its Whats Fun to do on an Exciting Saturday Night in Anchorage, Alaska

A few of my friends from work are big fisherman, they aren't big, just big into fishing. One of them had a few of us over for a fly tying lesson a couple weeks ago and got me hooked. Har har har...

It is a lot of fun though. We had another get together last week. Aimee came along and got hooked too.

These are some flies that we put together at my place. Salmon season is right around the corner so we've got to stock up.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Last Weekend

Last Weekend
Denali Nat'l Park

Ryan and Heidi were kind enough to bring some tools and my bicycle to Alaska with them when the recently drove back from Michigan. Last weekend I went up to visit and pick up my stuff. Its always a lot of fun going to Talkeetna. You never know what you're going to end up doing.

Saturday, after the plow truck parade into town, we went for a flight over Denali National Park. That first picture is Mt Denali (mt mckinley) the tallest peak in North America. You follow the glaciers up and into the mountains.

The second two pictures are near the Mountain House above the Ruth Glacier. Yep, the peaks are above us. Its pretty cool when you realize how big everything is.

Thanks for the ride, I had a great time!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February Sunrise
Looking Out My Office Window

Theres nothing quite like the realization that its getting light before you go to work in the morning.

A week or two ago I noticed a sliver of light over the mountains on my way to work. This picture was taken from my office window at 8:00 am this morning.

Spring is on its way :D

Sunday, February 22, 2009

When Bears Get Hungry
Dinner on the Buskin River, Kodiak

The Buskin River was on my way back from the lab in Kodiak making it a very convenient place for me to go fishing after work. I would always go down to Bridge No. 1 , a spot near the mouth where a bridge used to be. Several times either fellow fisherman down stream or upstream would holler that the bear was coming and everyone would climb up onto the old bridge approach until he passed by. The bear was happy, we here happy, life was good.

Then, one day, while I was jealous of three guys down stream and their nice Silver the bear warning was shouted from someone up stream. We all climbed to the top of the approach again but the three guys were too far down stream so they walked away from the river a ways and expected the bear to pass by.

When that bear came around the bend in the river and saw them with their nice fish he decided it was going to be his fish and started walking towards the men. We couldn't see them but as the bear started walking their way we heard splashing, almost like they were running through the water. About then the bear started trotting and just about went out of sight. I could hear them yelling at the bear. He stopped for a minute but kept going with caution. Then we heard two gun shots. The bear stopped, kind of looked around, and decided the fish wasn't worth the trouble.

The three fisherman climbed up on the approach with us, understandably shaken, and started telling us their story. One of them asked if I could get the beer from the back pocket of his vest for him, which I did.

The bear had learned that if he intimidated people they would give up their fish. These guys didn't give up their fish and they didn't shoot at the bear. They shot towards it, trying to scare it away, which they did.

The whole situation really helped me realize how real it was. It was very humbling and made me think about the chance of running into bears while they are looking for dinner. Usually all you have to do is get out of their way and they will leave you alone. But you have to be prepared for the time that they don't.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Fishing Before Work

Fishing Before Work
Two Silvers out of Ship creek

I caught these two beauties out of Ship Creek in Downtown Anchorage before work one morning. A few of my co-workers and I checked the tide tables earlier in the week and decided that it would be a good day to hit river in the morning and try our luck.

Getting up early is a lot easier when you've got something fun to do. So I woke up, stashed my gear in the backpack, hopped on the KLR and headed down. I met Rich, Tanya and Eric down there and quickly reeled in the first one. Then on my last cast before it was time to head for the office I caught the second one.

You may wonder how one would transport two good sized fish like that on a motorcycle. The answer is to just strap em to the back rack!

I folded my waders on the rack, layed the fish on them, and used my bungee net to keep everything in place. Some Japanese tourists took a picture before I headed home, and a I got a few looks from people down town. But what do they expect?

Motorcylists need to eat too!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rain, The Kodiak Expeience

My first Saturday in Kodiak

So there I was.
My first Saturday in Kodiak watching one of the two main roads in town get dug up so they could install a new water main.

It was raining hard! If you enlarge the picture you can see the stream running down the ruts, caused by studded tires, in the road. There is even a diversion to keep the water from running down into the trench.

I propped the camera up on the hood of the work truck, hit the timer, and took this picture to capture the enthusiasm I was having for the day.

My rain pants didn't make it in my bag before I left. Soaked to the bone I went and picked up some Guy Cotton bibs for the next rainy day.

Also I'm not really that big around. There are two flannel shirts and a fleece under my rain coat.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pasagshak River
and the only fish I caught in Kodiak

Looking though a XD card from my camera that I hadn't seen in a while and found a bunch of pictures from Kodiak.

These two pictures are of the only fish I caught, that was worth keeping, the whole six and a half weeks on Kodiak Island.

Pasagshak River is all the way out at the end of the road. It takes about 40 minutes to make the drive and even if you don't catch anything the view is worth it. The silver salmon that run up it are bigger than you find in most of the other rivers. Plus I was told there are no bears out there.

This day walked down to the mouth at low tide and walked across the fast moving river. I went up stream aways and tried floating some eggs but my left hip boot got a hole in it and soaked my foot.

Since I had a wet foot I walked upstream to a hole I'd been eying up for a while. After tossing a spinner out there a few time you could see a couple nice fish following it in taking a look. Finally this one took a bite and saved me from being skunked for the whole trip.

It was pretty good size. I didn't weigh it but by the time walked back across the river my hand was tired from carrying it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

How much seed would a wood pecker eat...

I do not know how much the big guy ate but he was a welcome sight Christmas afternoon.

I'm back in Michigan visiting the family for Christmas. After we opened presents this woodpecker stopped by for a bite to eat.