Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Camera Based Tollway Rant-Caution!

Last summer my friend was flying into the Denver Airport. As is my custom, I googled driving directions. A tiny portion involved taking a toll road as you neared the busy airport. Fine, I thought, and put some extra ones in the passenger's seat. I put some quarters, dimes and nickels in a change jar, just in case.
Well, I got on the tollroad, never saw a booth. I wondered where the pay station was as I took an exit to get a burger and fries. I asked the clerk. She said, "there are no booths. they take a photo of your licence plates and send you the bill."
"You're kidding me, right?" I asked, stunned. "I'm from Idaho."
"Oh, they'll send you one all right," she assured me. "No one uses that road."
"How else do you get to the airport?" I asked.
She told me which frontage road to take and said it was easy. I followed her suggestion and never got back on the tollway.
Months passed. I didn't get anything from Colorado. I figured it was so little, maybe they just didn't persue out of staters. Wrong. I forgot all about it until a week ago.
I got a bill plus a $5 fine for not paying. I tried calling them. As you know, I'm living in Alaska now. They are closed when I get off work.
I thought about ignoring the whole thing.
What right do they have to assess me a fine when this was the first bill I ever saw. I know its been 3 months.....!
All sorts of fines mounting up to 65 additional bucks and criminal penalties were threatened on this same bill, eventually cumulating in not being able to renew my license. I ranted and raved to my patient housemate. She said, 'you're going to have to pay it." I knew she was right.

Check out this friendly website promoting that little stretch of toll way. I write this to warn you.....don't DO IT....take an alternate route, of which there are several.

I paid my fine via credit card and vowed to do a public service by warning you all. Its not the toll. I was prepared to pay it. Its all the added fines and threats, the head ache and hassel because these people decided to install cameras and send bills rather than install little machines we could pay as we went, like other tollbooths.

I know, I know, times are changing. Big brother wants us all tied to virtual banking. Makes me sick.

There, rant done, thanks for listening.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Video of Intersting Houses in Alaska

Just thought these creative housing variations would make a good video. Hope you like it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Blue Skies Call For a Serious Hike in Alaska

With periods of blue skies on a day off, I just had to get some real hiking done.
Not that I planned on it. I had to mail a letter at the Post Office in Girdwood. Didn't take a pack or bear spray, just headed out on the bike trail.
It was so pretty, I soon found myself heading up Crow Creek Road. I knew three miles down, it intersected with several possibilities. There's very little foot traffic now. We're between Bike season and Ski season. The color is petering out, but there's still brilliant red berries all along the paths.

This bridge crosses Glacier Creek. You can access Crow Creek road from a block past the post office via the bridge instead of going down to the Highway. Much nicer.

The snow is coming....easing its way down our mountains. The skiing is paramount here and a huge ski swap is planned for this Saturday from noon to five at the day lodge.  Good way to get quality gear and recycle too.

I'm enthralled with the various living quarters here in Girdwood. Two busses provide housing as well. Notice the stove pipes coming from the roofs. These were busses were parked along the road I hiked.
Norm's Falls, right off the Iditarod Historic Trail. Various side trails beckoned. I started down a few, turned back when they got sketchy. There's a lot of moss and few footprint. I decided to come back another day because today I wasn't equipped for getting lost or meeting any wild creatures. In fact, I hadn't even brought my hiking poles!

I'm layered up: base tights, North Face pants with plenty of pockets. On top is a pull over turtle neck, a North face hoodie with pocket and a Campmoor jacket. I wore gloves and thermo socks, with high-top Gortex boots.

I've learned, spend money on good gear. It won't let you down and over the course of several years, you save money in the long run.
Still, I do like  my stuff to "match". Most of my stuff is basic black with bright colors as accents. This helps me look reasonable, no matter if I'm in town or on the trail, cause sometimes I just do both spontaneously without preplanning.

I saw two moose as I was hiking. The photo is sort of obscure. But, they gave me the evil eye, so the best I could get was this shot:

I know. I can't see him either!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Never Die Alone

I've finally finished editing and uploading my current group of non-fiction backpacking books.
Everything Except Corn Pasta  is now available in print through
Its been an eye opening experience, this rereading and rewriting the work I did two years ago.
I think I've grown as a writer. The sentences are clearer. There are fewer typos. I feel more relaxed and open. I hope you enjoy the second edition, too. 
The cookbook has many pen and ink sketches added to it. I created them years ago while living in Georgia. They deal with food, backpacking, bears, and hikers.
Seems a natural combination to me!

The cover and new content is still available at Barnes and Nobel and for digital readers. I think the paperback edition will be very useful. You can even make notes in the margins as you try stuff out.

Here at Alyeska in Alaska we are experiencing the last of our color and still, tons of rain. The locals are used to the rain forest. I'm still not really used to it.
It doesn't get light until 8 a.m. and gets dark about 6 p.m. Not bad. I've been warned the darkness wears on a person.
According to the map I have of Alaska, we'll have 6.25 hours of daylight in January.

The views are gorgeous, still. I meet women hiking with dogs on the bike paths. Everyone is bundled for the weather. Next week I'm heading up to Fairbanks. We'll write a report on that adventure.
If you like, you can check out my other blog:
for the video of a hike with Alaskan guide, Sourdough.

Monday, October 14, 2013

CB Sports-High Tech Jacket and Gear Review

I'm working at one of the most beautiful places in Alaska. I've got my free season pass all lined up to hit the slopes. End of this month there's a gear swap. Then in November, employees are given a deep discount on new gear for the winter season.
Its been raining nearly two months now. My CB Sport's jacket is really proving worth the money. According to the attached card, it said it was breathable, waterproof and all weather.

The one thing I did regret was buying white. I haven't washed it yet, but it will be needing it soon. I've worn this jacket over my chef's coat, on hikes in the back country, and to town.

Its comfortable and in spite of all the rain, I've never been soaked through and it has not become clammy inside, like many rain jackets.

The two side zippered pockets have decent closures, not flimsy and destined for breakage. The inside breast pocket has a Velcro closure, which I love. It safeguards the wallet or glasses.

This jacket was made in China, often the case in America. The entire thing is made with 100% polyester. Machine wash gentle cycle, in cold water. I'll be trying that soon.

The hood is fitted and has snap closures. Its a good fit, neither too snug or too loose. There are no draw cords to cinch it tight. Sometimes I wear a long wool scarf if its really windy and blowing rain.

According to the card attached to the jacket when I bought it, it is an "advance performance system, high tech clothing for the ultimate challenge."
So far, I love it. The white is visible which should prove useful during the long dark winter here in Alaska. Plus, it should look awesome on the slopes!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Now in Paperback , Beyond the Journey

Now you can get
Ultralighters-True-Trail-Stories-Beyond the Journey  in paperback.
It has been edited and reformatted both for the Kindle or Nook digital editions while making the paperback available.

I hope you like it. Please share your thoughts or a review on this book. You can write one here in the comment section, or leave your review at I would really appreciate it.

Thanks for all the kind words and support I've received from the hiking-backpacking and nature loving community over the years. It means a lot to me.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Colorado Fatalities-Rock Slides

While working on my second book, an Ultralighter's True Trail Stories, Beyond the Journey, I started proofing the section about the Colorado Trail. All this is in preparation for Create Space, a print on demand publication service. I took a break, went to make coffee and checked my e-mail. Someone had sent me the link for this story about hikers being killed just south west of Denver while hiking in the Pike and San Isabel National Forest.

Colorado is famous for mountains and rugged trails. Seems everyone loves to get out and enjoy those gorgeous views near 14,000 feet, whether by bike, by horseback, in a car or motor cycle, or on foot.

I love that state. If you ever get a chance to hike in Colorado, do it.
Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the deceased. Without warning, the rock slide occurred right before noon, launching 100 tons of boulders down the mountain.
There's really no way to predict or avoid such a rare momentous natural disaster. Thankfully, there was ready help for the injured.

May all your trails be safe.