Sunday, March 18, 2018

Scouting Around

  Jan and I took a little trip down to the lower 48 last week. We were on the lookout for a new place to call home. The trip didn't start off all that great. After checking out the ferry schedule, and coordinating the with doctor's office to see that we could get appointments around the ferry, and making arrangements for a flight on Alaska airlines that would require the least amount of down time, I got a call from one of the attendants at the local Alaska Marine Highway office the day before we were to leave,  informing me that the ferry was broken down (again) and they weren't sure when it would be up and running again. Frankly, I wasn't shocked at the news, but I was really angry. I needed my car in Juneau when we returned from down south so we could run around to the doctors and shop at Costco and Fred Meyers and load up. The potential savings on groceries alone is enough to offset the almost $300.00 it cost to take the truck to Juneau round trip. However, it didn't appear that that was going to happen, so I had to beat feet out to the airport and hope we could get a flight the next day. There is never a guarantee that there will be any flights on any given day in Southeast Alaska. Especially in the winter months. As it was, the weather cooperated and we were able to get one way tickets for the rather hefty price of $170.00. That's with a twenty dollar discount for booking on line. It's about a twenty minute flight, so that's a little over $4.00 a minute each to go over. At least they were running as opposed to the ferry. The ship that broke down, the Leconte, is the same one we came to Hoonah on back in 1976. I hesitate to think of the hundreds of thousands of hours that its logged in its long career. It really should have been replaced at least ten years ago, but unfortunately it wasn't, so breakdowns are the normal now. The only two ways to reach Hoonah from Juneau are by airplane or boat, and since Juneau is landlocked the only way out is the same. I don't know how many trips we've made south in the forty two years we've lived here. A few, and they all involve lots of planning and money and more than a little good luck to carry out. It's things like the difficulty and expense of getting out of here that have kind of cemented the idea that we need to leave. The closest hospital is in Juneau, as is my doctor and dentist and bank and tax accountant. Because everything has to be barged in, the cost of every day items are high. The last time I got gas in town it was over $3.50 a gallon. Milk is over $6.00 a gallon. There are no plumbers or electricians or barbers in town, although there are folks who can perform those duties on a limited basis. For years I've tolerated these things because the fishing has been good and the scenery is hard to beat. Most of the folks I know are friendly, I've felt safe and it was a good place to raise the kids. Now my youngest is in his mid thirties, and the tourism industry has flooded the town every summer with folks gawking and crowding the streets. The harbor gets full of whale watch and charter boats and I have to work harder to find a spot to fish. I've been spoiled by what used to be a fairly isolated existence. All things change with time though, for better or worse- it seems like change is usually for the worse. Anyway, if I have to put up with a lot of people, I'd like to have the option of at least getting in the car and seeing something different. We flew in to Boise and took a trip west to Sequim and Port Angeles Washington. We have friends there. We covered a lot of beautiful country, most of which I couldn't get a picture of because I forgot to take the charger for the camera battery-go figure. Anyway it was a fun trip. We had a good time, ate some good food, saw some awesome scenery, talked to some great folks, slept in some so-so beds and spent a bundle of money. The bottom line is, we're on the lookout for our next home, one where we can drive to the hospital or take a car to see the grandkids or go on a week end road trip. It won't happen right away, but we have to start somewhere. I'll keep you posted as time goes on.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

What The Heck is That?

 I was poking around on the Internet one evening and started looking at space; in particular nebulae. I find them fascinating. I really wish I had paid more attention to my science classes in school, but I was too caught up in daydreams and fantasies to be a good student.My eighth grade science teacher was also a model, so it was hard to pay attention to the science stuff.  If only I could go back and do it again, but I can't. Anyway, I guess I must have signed up for something. I started getting pictures of nebula and other space shots; then telescopes and observatories and all kinds of other things that I wasn't all that interested in. Usually I just delete them and carry on, but today when I turned on the computer, there was this thing. I wasn't really sure if it was an Internet trick or what, but after doing a little research, I found out that it's quite real. This particular picture is compliments of Live Science. The above life form is a tardigrade or waterbear. Apparently a new species of tardigrade was found in a parking lot in Japan on some moss that was growing on a building there. From what I can gather, these things are very small, less than a millimeter in length, and they are quite tough. Much tougher than human beings. They have the ability to develop a cryptobiotic state, which as I understand means they can shed their skin and all of the liquid in their bodies and basically shut down until the conditions are more favorable to life. They have been found in hot springs and under layers of solid ice and can endure temperature extremes from minus 328 degrees F  to 303 degrees F. They aren't indestructible, according to one scientist. They could die if exposed to the water in your shower, but if they had time to get into a cryptobiotic state, they would be much harder to kill. They were even sent to outer space and endured the cold and radiation of that environment. They're quite a fascinating creature, and the one in the picture looks almost cuddly. I really don't know too much more about them. I'm not sure what purpose they serve, if they are good or bad for mankind, but no doubt they have been around for quite some time, and as tough as they sound, they'll be around long after we're gone. When I see things like this, I start to get the smallest glimpse of how fantastic this world is that we live in, and the wisdom of God to create it all is well beyond my comprehension. I hope you'll take a moment to reflect on all that is seen as well as unseen in this universe, and thank God for showing us the wonder of it all.