Getting Our Kicks in the Painted Desert of Arizona (Route 66 Day 4, Pt. 2)

June 10, 2018

The Painted Desert is part of Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona, bisected by I-40 and Historic Route 66 (which run parallel to each other in this area).  My husband and I first visited this national park in 2006 when we were in Arizona for another of my high school reunions in Sedona. Even though we took oodles of pictures at that time, he claims he doesn’t remember having gone there. Oh well!
20180610_151837d.jpgPetrified Forest National Park is the only national park that a portion of Route 66 goes through.
DSC05852.JPGThe northern part of the park contains parts of the Painted Desert, some of the most beautiful and stark desert scenery found anywhere.
The bands of colors are a result of layers of different sediments of soil which built up over thousands of years. SONY DSC
The national park itself is named for the fossilized ancient forests, now chunks of colorful quartz rock.DSC05847.JPGOne of the attractions listed on our AAA Route 66 map was the Painted Desert Inn (25 miles east of Holbrook, I-40 Exit 311; north on Park Rd. to visitor center). This adobe structure was built in the early 1920s and provided lodging to travelers on Route 66 until 1963. 20180610_152431
The restored inn is a now a park museum, with Hopi Indian murals, skylights and large viewing windows. 20180610_15131620180610_161023


20180610_161220From here, you can take a trail that winds down into a section of the Painted Desert.SONY DSC
At one of the stops on the road through the park, one can view petroglyphs from above.

There are many large black ravens in this area. They’ve learned that humans will give them a treat sometimes! We didn’t. This beggar was in the parking lot of the Inn.

We continued on toward New Mexico and our destination for the night, Gallup. On the way, we passed through a couple of small eastern Arizona towns which also have connections to Route 66, such as Chambers (click on link here for information related to 66) and Houck, home of F Troop and Fort Courage.

We checked into the Best Western in Gallup, NM, which is right across the street from the famous El Rancho Hotel, which I will write about in my next Route 66 post.

Getting Our Kicks Standing on a Corner and a Giant Jack Rabbit (Route 66 Day 4, Part 1)

June 10, 2018                           Sedona to Gallup via Winslow & Holbrook, AZ

We left Sedona this morning, heading north toward Flagstaff and back onto Route 66.


The iconic Bell Rock, near the southern end of Sedona, rises up in its orange sandstone beauty.


I don’t know the name of this rock formation, but it is at the northern end of Sedona.

We passed the exit for Meteor Crater (I-40 Exit 233) because we had been there before (If you have never been to Meteor Crater, it is well worth a visit – quite a spectacular round depression in the middle of the desert. I have included the link above.)

Meteor Crater

(Photo downloaded from the Meteor Crater website).

…and continued on to Winslow, Arizona.


Entering Winslow on Route 66, this sculpture is one of the first things you see. Falling Meteor #2 was created by Jerry Peart and donated to the people of Winslow.

…made famous by the Eagles’ song Take It Easy: “I’m standin’ on the corner in Winslow, Arizona…”  Of course, Winslow has capitalized on this fame, with an entire area surrounding the corner of 2nd St. (Route 66) and Kinsley Ave. dedicated to tourist traps, eateries and photo opps!20180610_132659.jpg
DSC_0549DSC_0550DSC_0552On the now-famous corner, there is a life-sized statue of a young man with his guitar standing in front of a life-sized mural showing the “girl in a flatbed Ford” in a window’s reflection. 20180610_132218.jpg
In 2016, a bronze statue of Glen Frey (Eagles co-founder) was added after his untimely death earlier that year.DSC_0551


The corner property at 2nd & Kinsley was donated for use as a park by the Kaufman family, who have lived in Winslow for 5 generations.

Bricks have been donated to raise funds for the restoration of the mural.
Down the street, there is a walkway lined with commercial businesses where the “world’s smallest church” is located.


15 miles east of Winslow (if on I-40, it is exit 269 at 3386 Old Hwy 66) is the Jack Rabbit Trading Post. It was opened in 1949, and the owners, in order to make their shop stand out from hundreds of others, placed “Jack Rabbit” signs up to 1,000 miles away which told how many miles it was to the shop. When you get there, there’s a huge sign that says “Here It Is!”20180610_140652d
Inside this store one can find almost anything related to Route 66 as well as fine Indian jewelry and crafts and other unusual souvenirs.

I ended up buying four small kachinas to add to my (growing) collection!  Outside the shop stands a huge fiberglass rabbit with a saddle – kids, get up and ride on him! It makes a fun photo opp!20180610_140427d
The façade of the shop has weathered murals featuring Southwestern Native American designs…

…and this jack rabbit mosaic, on the ground in front of the main entrance.

Leaving the Jack Rabbit Trading Post, it is only a short distance to Holbrook, with another of only 3 remaining Wigwam Motels. Of course, we didn’t stay there because we had stayed at the one in San Bernardino and it was still mid-afternoon. However, weary travelers can find the Wigwam Motel of Holbrook, Arizona (I-40 Exit 285 & 286) at 811 W. Hopi Dr. (Junction of Hwy 180 and Historic Route 66). The price is right and it is a unique experience to stay in one of the last of this dying chain!

In the Petrified Forest National Park, 25 miles east of Holbrook, is the Painted Desert Inn. Because of the beauty of this inn and the national park, I took many photos, so I will publish it in a separate post.


Getting Our Kicks in Kingman, Arizona (Route 66 Day 3, Pt. 1)

June 8, 2018

We stayed overnight on the 7th at a Best Western in Kingman, Arizona. There are actually two Best Westerns in Kingman, only a short distance apart.

In Kingman is the Kingman Powerhouse Visitor Center, at 120 W. Andy Devine Ave. (which is also Route 66).  The building, built between 1907 and 1911, was operated by the Desert Power & Light Company and besides powering local mining operations, also supplied power for the construction of Hoover Dam, until the Dam began producing cheaper hydroelectric power in the late 1930’s. It was restored 60 years later when it was opened as a Visitor Center in 1997. 20180608_094732This is, in my opinion, the best of the Route 66 museums scattered along the route. It has stories, dioramas, maps, photos, old equipment and comprehensive information about Route 66 over the years. You really get the sense of what the Mother Road was to migrants, businesses, and individuals over the decades. It is worth spending an hour here.



Here you can read the story of The Great Bunion Derby. In 1928, there was a foot race on from L.A. to New York, following Route 66 as far as Chicago. Andy Payne, a 19-year-old part-Cherokee farm boy, desperately wanted to be in the race and finally persuaded his dad to get a $100 loan for the entrance fee. His 200 competitors were experienced runners from all over the world. The race started on March 4, 1928 and on May 26, 3400 miles later, Andy Payne ran to victory in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Only 55 runners finished the race! With his $25,000 prize money, Andy bought a car, drove back to Oklahoma, paid off his father’s farm mortgage, and married his high school teacher.

This diorama shows a typical migrant family traveling with all of their possessions in tow.



Follow the chapter numbers to read the history of Route 66.



Burma Shave ads became famous along the Mother Road. These ads used a series of signs alongside the road spaced at regular intervals. The messages were quirky and clever.





In the basement is a display of electric cars – and I thought they were a new phenomenon!20180608_101446



The Detroit Electric Model 60 began production in 1907.


Also in Kingman is Mr. D’s Route 66 Diner at 105 E. Andy Devine Ave., which we took photos of, but didn’t stop to have lunch there. In spite of its good reputation for burgers, it wasn’t yet 11:00 a.m. so we were not hungry and decided to drive on.20180608_103504.jpgHackberry General Store, which we also did not stop at, is 24 miles north of Kingman on Route 66. You can check out the web site linked above.

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Downloaded image from Flickr

We finally did stop for lunch at the Hualapai Lodge and Tourism Center, on the Hualapai Reservation, in Peach Springs, Arizona. (There is also a Hualapai Reservation inside the Grand Canyon, but we were told their dialect and customs were somewhat different.) We ordered buffalo stew and fry bread. I also bought some beaded jewelry and socks in their gift shop.





Getting Our Kicks in a Wigwam and a Bottle Forest (Route 66 Day 2, Pt. 1)

June 7, 2018 (San Bernardino, CA – Kingman, AZ)

On Day 1, we explored Santa Monica Pier but bypassed several L.A. area sites. That night, we drove to San Bernardino, where we spent the night at the Wigwam Motel! There were original seven in this chain, but only three survive, two of which are on Historic Route 66. Since I first saw one of the others in the chain, in Holbrook, Arizona, in 2006, I have wanted to see what it was like to stay in one of these “Wigwam Villages!”




In case you can’t find your way to the office, this wooden statue will point the way!



Display in front of the motel office

Inside the office (coffee is available at any time):

This motel is well-maintained and the rooms are all in wood & concrete “wigwams” (or teepees), 30 ft. tall, built in the late 1930s.  Being the last built in the chain, the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino is designated Wigwam Village #7. I recommend this motel for a unique lodging experience and plenty of kitsch!  (Other than the wooden statue, I did not find anything offensive to Native Americans.)


Our wigwam, #14, with the door open while we loaded up our car in the morning.

The inside of the room had some funky touches, such as these lavish curtains and cactus bedside lamp; also notice that the room is not square, and there is a triangular mirror.

The bathroom had old fashioned fixtures, but everything worked just fine!
Although there was help-yourself coffee in the office, they didn’t serve breakfast, but the motel manager recommended Chris’s, which was right down the street and also had plenty of Route 66 memorabilia.


Weird tree at the intersection across from the motel

Chris’s Burgers has an extensive breakfast menu, and the food is decent.

The front of the restaurant makes it very clear that it is on Historic Route 66 or at least capitalizing on the route’s popularity!
The décor inside Chris’s is a 50s style diner.

We continued on I-15 (which parallels Route 66) until we got to Victorville. To get to our next destination, we took Exit 153. Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is about 12 1/2 miles north of Victorville on Route 66 (SR 66). Its official address (for those using GPS) is:
24266 National Trails Hwy, Oro Grande, CA 92368.  To watch a video of the creator, Elmer Long, tell  the history of the bottle ranch, click on the blog California Through My Lens. The blogger describes this place as literally a forest of bottle trees (large metal pipes with bottles hanging from them), located along the Mother Road, Route 66, right in the heart of the California desert. 20180607_113654.jpgI found this place fascinating and took many pictures. Dale, however, got bored with it after awhile.  Personally, I love public folk art and this is the perfect example of a folk art creation. I will let the photographs describe our visit and hopefully inspire others to visit as well!20180607_113653d
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Circles on Route 66

A little preview of our road trip on Route 66!  Travel With Intent has a weekly challenge on Sundays, and this week the theme is circle. What better place to find circles than on Route 66, “America’s Road,” which celebrates our car culture??  Here are some random “rounds” from our trip.


One of several painted mini-cars in downtown Pontiac, Illinois



This plaque honors World War II veterans depicted in a mural in Cuba, Missouri.



New Mexico’s state symbol is the “Zia” sun sign from the Pueblo tribe. This “Great Seal” of the state of New Mexico appears on the floor of the rotunda of the state capitol, in Santa Fe.



The ceiling of that same rotunda. Unlike other state capitols, Santa Fe’s does not have a dome and the building itself is round.



Stained glass window in Cathedral Basilica San Francisco in Santa Fe, NM



Bumper sticker on a car in Arizona



An abandoned gas station somewhere in New Mexico was adorned with brightly painted bicycles.



Motel parking lot, San Bernardino, California



Woven basket over fireplace at El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, NM



Ancient petroglyphs on volcanic rock at Petroglyphs National Monument, NM



Round barrel platforms at sunset over the Mississippi River, western Illinois
















Alaska 2016: Our last days – Fairbanks (Part 1)

September 1, 2016

We were on our way to our last destination in Alaska – the city of Fairbanks. We took a bus and had a young, attractive guide named Aubrey. I wasn’t able to take pictures because I didn’t get a window seat. Here’s the one good shot I got:


My husband was next to the window, however, and took these pictures of the scenery:



We made a stop in the town of Nenana, which is on the Nenana River. It is distinguished by two events:  It is the first stop along the route of the Iditarod,


and the “Ice Classic”, which is a contest held annually since 1917.


In the Ice Classic, a tripod made of wood is placed in the middle of the frozen river in late winter.  Townspeople bet money – usually consisting of only a few dollars – on when the tripod will fall into the river; in other words, when the river will thaw. In spite of the relatively small amount of cash that the winner will receive, people in Nenana get very competitive during the Ice Classic, and with the access to the Internet, some people do scientific research to find out what are the meteorological forecasts for the arrival of spring in that region.


Nenana has a small sled dog kennel, where they raise dogs to compete in races like the Iditarod as well as for personal use to get around in the winter. The training the dogs receive is basically the same as we saw in Denali, and visitors are encouraged to hold puppies that are as young as three weeks old!


I held a warm, furry black puppy that trembled the whole time that I, or anyone else, held him. I asked one of the trainers if he was cold or just scared. She replied that the young pups are very new to the socialization process, so they become nervous when held.



Upon arrival in Fairbanks, we were taken immediately to a steamboat dock on the river. First, we had lunch at long dining tables in a room filled with tourists from cruise and land tours like ourselves. Except for our group, the majority of the tourists had been on a Princess cruise.


Line to board the steamboat (taken by Dale Berman)

After lunch, we had a few minutes to shop, where we bought a couple of t-shirts, before we were to board the steamboat. Someone had told me to go directly up to the third level and sit in the front to get the best views.  Rows of chairs were set out all along the open deck. We got good seats next to the railing in the front of the boat.

The steamboat took us on a leisurely cruise up the Chena River.

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float plane landing

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The boat stopped in front of a dog kennel. The trainers told us about their dogs and the training they do with them. Ten dogs had been selected and were harnessed for a short run.

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All the dogs get very excited.

And they’re off!

They run by the back of the kennel, a “caboose” behind them!

When they get back, the dogs are hot and tired and ready….

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…for a frolic in the river!

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Our steamboat ride continued.

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We  saw captive caribou.

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We arrived at Chena Village, where Athabascan youths show tourists different aspects of their ways of life. This village resembles the original Athabascan village of the early 1900s and is located near the original site.

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First, while we were still aboard, we saw how the salmon are caught, cut and dried.

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Fish drying shed

The steamboat docked and we got off. We were divided into several groups, each with a guide who took us around to different areas where we learned about the activities that would have taken place in the village.

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This young man was our guide. He showed us each of the pelts – what animal they were from and how they were used.


Transportation: canoe, snow shoes

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Clothing – a young woman models a warm fur coat.

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Examples of clothing for men (left of door), women (right)

Animals: Moose were a good catch for trappers, but the people relied on domesticated reindeer for various purposes. (A reindeer is actually a domesticated form of the caribou.)


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Housing: Summer and winter camps

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An outhouse was a convenience in a settled village!

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Winter trapper’s cabin: Most trapping was done in the winter because that is when the animals’ fur would be thickest and warmest. The trappers had to set and maintain their trap lines in the worst winter conditions. “Line cabins” would be built about a day’s journey apart from one another along their winter trapping routes. Simple and rugged, they provided the trappers with adequate shelter during Alaska’s harsh winters, and were meant only to rest, dry out, heat up, and sleep.  Although built for their own use, anyone needing shelter would be welcome to use the cabins.20160901_160514

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Permanent house in the village

All too soon, it was time to board the steamboat once more.

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Alaska 2016: Alaska’s largest city and an outdoor museum (Part 1)

August 28, 2016  Seward to Anchorage


Seward Depot (photo by Dale Berman)

Holland America Line is very organized for departures and moving people around.  Those of us scheduled to take the Cruise Train from the port of Seward to Anchorage were to meet in the Vista Lounge at 6:05 am.  Lido was open early so we had breakfast at 5:15 and talked to a couple from Belgium, the first people we’d met on the cruise from continental Europe. Dale asked them what they thought of our candidates for president this year.  The wife said she doesn’t like Clinton because she doesn’t like “dynasties.” Both were horrified at the thought of Trump being elected, however!

notrump-religious-symbolsWe had received a packet of information and materials for departure, which Toni had explained the day before.  We had our luggage outside our stateroom before we went to bed, with the appropriate luggage tags attached.  There were a few things I had forgotten to put in, so we had to carry these things as an additional carry-on, in reusable bags, including my cosmetic kit, bag of pills, toothpaste, etc., and my flipflops.  I stuffed my jacket on top of all that stuff in the larger of the two bags.  We had a specific bus to get on when we exited the ship, and a specific rail car to be on.  We had assigned seats on the train and found ourselves at a table sitting across from Karen S. (the woman on the Misty Fjords tour who had asked about totem poles) and her husband.  All carry ons had to be stored under the table, so there wasn’t much room to move our legs.

I took the following pictures on route, from the moving train.

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On this curve, we were able to see the front of our train.

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Our guide pointed out this little gnome that sits on a rock in the middle of a river.

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A glacier winds its way down between two mountains.

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Even before we got to Anchorage, we already got a view of Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) in the distance. This is a rare treat! Only 30% of visitors to Alaska ever see Denali because it is usually shrouded in clouds.


Our first view of Denali! (The white mountain on the right).

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The river between these mountains is barely visible due to light fog.

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A layer of fog hovers just above the ground.

The following two pictures show a dead forest of Sitka spruce trees. A forest fire? No, their demise was caused by a large tsunami that followed the huge earthquake in 1964, even though it was at least 40 miles inland.  The earthquake measured 9.2 on the Richter Scale, larger than the earthquake in Japan in 2011.

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Many of the rivers in Alaska contain large amounts of silt. At low tide, the water level recedes, revealing a muddy layer that is tricky to walk on, because you can get stuck – like quicksand!

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The sun shining on this river gives the impression of a sandy ocean beach.

Denali shares the distant view with two other snowy mountains.  On the left is mt. Foraker, at 17,400 ft.  In the middle is Mt. Hunter, the smallest of the trio at 14,573 ft. On the right is, of course, Denali, the highest mountain in North America, at a majestic 20,320 ft.!


Our second view of Denali!

Our guide on the train told us about Anchorage: started as a tent city for railroad workers, it has grown to a metropolis of 300,000 – about 40% of Alaska’s total population of 700,000!

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Anchorage’s “skyline” – our first view of the city from the train.

The train ride was about 4 hours. Upon arrival in Anchorage, we had a tour booked immediately.  As we neared our destination, our train guide called off the table numbers, or couples’ names and told us what bus we were to get on upon arrival.  In our car, only one other couple was assigned to the same bus as we were. In all, about 17 people boarded the bus that would take us on our tour.

Before we went on our tour to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, our bus driver/guide, Tom, drove us around on a tour of Anchorage.  He took us to a park where you could get a view of Denali.  However, we’d already seen it from the cruise train!


Anchorage from lookout point (photo by Dale Berman)

Another thing he showed us was the airport and another, smaller airport.

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There was a FedEx cargo plane there. The story behind it was that it originally had landed at the wrong airport by mistake.  However, it could not take off from there because that airport didn’t have a long enough runway!  So now it continues to sit there and is used for pilot training.

Several private citizens have small planes or float planes, which they “park” in their backyards!  A law was passed to prevent this, but either these airplane owners were grandfathered in or they simply disobey the law, which clearly is not strictly enforced.  Tom told us the three things Alaskan don’t like:  rules, regulations, and taxes.


We found out about a local coffee roaster – they have their own shop, called Kaladi. It’s right behind our hotel, the Westmark.

At the ANHC, there is a visitors’ center and a museum, and an outdoor path where each of the five cultural groups is represented with some kind of structure and artifacts.  Our guide, Tom, gave us 1 ½ hours to spend there.  I was at first happy that we were going to have plenty of time to see the place, but Dale was hungry and wanted lunch immediately.

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“Raven the Creator” by John Hoover (1998) – Raven is the Creator in many Alaska Native belief systems. In this sculpture are incorporated many different elements, including Raven stealing the sun, stars and moon. The human figures in the claws represent icons used by the Russian Orthodox faith. The face in the belly of Raven symbolizes Mother Earth. On the back of Raven’s head is another face, which represents the different forms Raven could take.

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Inside the ANHC: Young people learn about their native culture through song and dance.

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Totem Pole: The top figure represents Haida watchmen, who alert the pole’s owner of the approach of an enemy or any other danger. The two bottom figures are the Raven and the Dog Salmon representing the artist’s clan. At the bottom is a box to safeguard clan valuables. This pole is a combination of Haida and Tlingit cultures.

It was 1:00 and we had until 2:30 here, when Tom would return to pick us up.  I looked at the menu less than enthusiastically.  Dale ordered caribou stew so I ordered the same.  It took a long time to get our food, and although it was interesting that they served the stew in a bread bowl, my entire helping of stew had only two pieces of meat in it!

KODAK Digital Still CameraBy the time we finished eating, it was 1:45 and we only had 45 minutes to see everything!  I hurried toward the outside exhibits.  There are five native cultural groups in Alaska, classified by region and language groups.  The first one was the southeastern peoples – Haida, Tlingit, Eyak and Tsimshian.  They were the totem pole makers and the model house looked much like the one we had seen in Haines, where they had performed songs and dances for us, with a central recessed area in which there is a fire pit in the middle.

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The Clan House/Long House, built with cedar posts and spruce beams, were found with variations throughout the region.

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All four cultures have the Raven and Eagle Moities. There are additional clans under each Moiety.  This house post shows the Tsimshian respect for their environment:  The singer holds a drum and drumstick and sings praises of the world.  On top are the Eagle and the Raven on the eyebrows of the singer. The Wolf (on the drum) represents the Earth and the Killer Whale represents the Sea.  The Killer Whale is also the canoe that the singer is traveling in.

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Children inherit all rights through their mother, including names, the use of clan land for hunting, fishing and gathering, and the right to use specific crests as designs on totem poles, houses, clothing and ceremonial items.

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This house post represents “Respect for Self.” The human figure, wearing a clan hat and bound by Salmon, represents the Self. Self is supported by the spiritual presence of Raven in a Chilkat robe. Eagle, Frog and Bear represent the strength of the Tlingit culture. The spirit faces throughout the design represent the ancestors that are the foundation of the strength of the Tlingit Self.

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This Eyak house post represents “Respect for Culture.” It reflects the role of the Copper River Salmon (depicted on the bentwood box) in Eyak culture. The Eagle and the Bear are other important clans in the Eyak culture and are central elements of the cycle of life supported by the Copper River salmon. Eyak culture is sustained by the reverence of this life cycle.

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These four cultures live between the forest and the sea and for ages found in both what they needed to sustain them.

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The cultures from southern Alaska, including the Aleutian Islands, were the Unangax and Alutiiq (Sugpiaq) people. They were maritime societies, making their living from the sea. Men hunted large marine animals, including whales, using sophisticated kayaks and poison-tipped harpoons. Women made waterproof clothing and gathered beach grass to make baskets. They were also knowledgeable about human anatomy: practitioners successfully performed brain surgery and amputations. The Unangax and Alutiiq (Sugpiaq) were the only Alaskan natives to practice human mummification. Their climate was temperate compared to the rest of Alaska, but it was always windy.


Skeleton of a grey whale

Skeleton of a grey whale, which was hunted by these maritime peoples.


Continued in next post…

Alaska 2016: Skagway and Haines

When we woke up this morning, the ship didn’t appear to be moving. I went out on the verandah to see where we were. In front of me, instead of a dock with some sort of city visible around it, there was a sheer rock face! On the rock face were advertisements for cruise ships which looked as though they were actual notices that had been plastered onto the rock. Perhaps they were painted on, but in that case they were extraordinarily realistic. Below was a long train and a long line of people waiting to board. I guess that excursion had an early departure!

Shipping notices on the side of a cliff

This excursion was leaving early.


Skull among the notices

The excursion we had signed up for today wasn’t leaving until 1:30 so we had plenty of time to go into Skagway where we did some shopping and went to the library to get free Wi-Fi.  Like yesterday, I checked and responded to some email, updated our trip on Facebook and read other Facebook posts, and synced my FitBit.  Two days in a row of over 10,000 steps!


I was surprised to find a piano at the public library! One of the sign tells all about this piano, a Chickering Victorian Parlor Grand Piano, which is on loan to the Skagway Public Library. Another announces Piano Sundays at the Public Library, where people can come and listen or play from 3-5 pm.





Colorful downtown Skagway

Laden with shopping bags, we returned to the ship to drop them off and Dale went to have something to eat at Lido.  Since the excursion was supposed to include lunch, I didn’t go with him.  I wrote in my journal and forgot to charge my phone.

At around 1:45 we boarded a ferry from Skagway to Haines, a 45-minute ride, although the two towns are only 14 miles apart.  To drive between them would require entering and leaving Canada and would take four hours!  Needless to say, most people go between them by ferry.

Tucker was our guide on the ferry and talked about the geography and geology of the area, pointing out photo opps of waterfalls, and there were several.  All of them are created by glacier melt and the water is so cold that it takes awhile for it to mix into the sea salt water.  He promised to talk about history on the way back.

Morning fog drifts through the mountains near Skagway/Haines

Fog continues to drift over the mountains.


A glacier-fed stream high in the mountains produces waterfalls like this.

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When we got to Haines, a vivacious young woman named Meredith took over as our guide on the bus to Klukwan, a Tlingit traditional knowledge camp.  Meredith would love to live in Alaska year round, but once the summer tourist season is over, she’ll go back to Park City, Utah, where her husband runs a restaurant.  Besides tours like this, she also takes tourists on rafting trips on the Chilkat River, her favorite part of her job.

Welcome to Haines


Photo by Dale Berman

The Chilkat River ran along much of our route, a silty, gray, glacier-fed river that looked shallow. Meredith said that the river changes every day – today there is a sandbar island, tomorrow it’ll be gone.  This constant change is why she likes it – there’s always a challenge.  The salmon run up this river to return to their birthplace to spawn.  The route is many miles long.  Fishermen commonly net salmon at the beginning of this route, where the river meets the sea, just before the salmon begin their tireless journey.


People around here live simple lives, Meredith said.  They are too isolated to be able to depend on the availability of the Internet, for example.  Stores close at 8 pm and are closed on Sundays.  So if you don’t have your own vegetable garden and you want a fresh salad on Sunday or after a work shift that ends in the evening, you’re out of luck.

Haines is spread out over several miles, in spite of its small population, so as you’re driving through it, it doesn’t look like much.  Yet they have four hardware stores, several restaurants, a hotel, several B&Bs, and of course plenty of bars!  Meredith pointed out these establishments as we passed and told us her favorite restaurants.  Her enthusiasm for this place was quite admirable.  I could definitely see her settling down here permanently.  She is probably a better advocate for Haines than some of its full-time residents.

In Klukwan we met Elsie (her English name) of the Raven clan.


Elsie holds up a jar of pickled salmon.

There are two main clans here, the Raven and the Eagle and descent is matrilineal.  It is prohibited to marry into the same clan – an Eagle must marry a Raven and vice versa.  Under each of the main clans are about six subclans, including Wolf, Turtle, Bear and others – 3 for each of the two main clans.  The symbols for these clans are depicted on the side of their community center, with Raven and Eagle on top, and the 6 subclans under their respective main clan.


New buildings are being constructed here, expanding their community outreach.  We saw the smoke house and the drying shed, where salmon are smoked and then dried into a sort of jerky, and a lumber workshop, where we met Elsie’s brother Jack.  He showed us how he uses an adze to prepare wood for carving.  He has several adzes of different sizes, all hand tools – nothing mechanized!

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The smoke house

Elsie's brother Jack works in this wood shop.

Jack shows how he uses his adzes to carve the wood.

Here's the beginning of a salmon carving.

Someone has begun a carving of a salmon.

In this work shed, there is a large canoe which would be powered by 15 paddlers.  He told us how it was made and painted and what the designs on the side meant.  The most interesting part of the process of constructing the canoe (as well as boxes made all of one piece of wood) was the procedure called “steaming.”  The woods used include birch and cedar, soft woods that are malleable so they can be manipulated when heated.  To steam the wood, hot water is put into the canoe and hot rocks added to keep it hot, until it boils, thus softening the wood allowing it to be pulled apart.  When cooled, the wood hardens in its new shape.  The canoe was carved from a large log and the steaming allowed the sides to be pulled further apart to allow slats to be inserted where the rowers would be seated. This made the canoe more comfortable to sit in but also made it more stable.


Elaborate artwork on the front of the canoe

Totems, house posts, weavings and paintings tell stories to people about the people who live there and have made the objects.  Since the Tlingit didn’t have a written langue until recently – and it was the Russians who first assigned an alphabet for their language, although they now use our alphabet, not the Cyrillic alphabet – these images were their way of communicating non-verbally and leaving a legacy.

Furthermore, they have a rich oral tradition through stories, songs and dances.  The group of Tlingit, including Elsie and Jack, performed dances and songs for us.  We were allowed to take pictures but not videos, because these are considered tangible property, subject to a sort of copyright.  The stories, also, can be quite elaborate and must be told very precisely, using the correct wording to avoid changing or reinterpreting the original story.


Jack put on his dance regalia and was joined by three women, including his sister (Elsie), his granddaughter and another member of his clan, in the dances performed in the long house.  In the back of the house is a screen covered with painted symbols which would be their version of a mural.  The dancers emerged from behind this screen.  We, the audience, sat on benches on three sides of the space in the front (near the door).


We were allowed to take pictures*, but not videos, because their songs and dances belong to the tribe, like a copyright.  However, we were allowed to take a video of the last song:

House posts told the stories of their family.


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From there we were taken to an exhibit hall – a small museum – in which no photography was allowed.  On one wall was a map of the area, with all the Klukwan Tlingits’ historical villages marked and named. Their subsistence lifestyle in the modern world was displayed with photographs and informational placards.  There was a large totem pole.  Elsie took us into another room where there were two poles, or posts, and told us elaborate stories that these posts depicted.

We were allowed to take pictures in the gift shop, however, which had several beautiful carvings.

Tlingit masks

I'm not sure how these would be used - snowshoes perhaps?

In the shop are many handmade carvings.

Meredith believes the Klukwan Tlingit have been successful here because their lifestyle is not so different from the subsistence lifestyle of Haines in general, and they have been readily accepted.

After we ate, we got back on the bus and went to visit the Bald Eagle Sanctuary.  There are bald eagles, of course, but also owls and a red-tailed hawk that had belonged to a falconer who retired and the hawk, having been raised with humans, could not be sent into the wild.  Two female bald eagles, Bella and Vera (I’m not sure if Vera is the eagle’s name) can’t fly due to damage to their right wings.  One was hit by a truck and the other electrocuted by an electric power line.  They have a large enclosure and a series of perches, like steps, that they can ascend to reach their favorite lookout spot where they can observe the world outside.  The workers there called it “bird TV!”



The bald eagle "sisters" at their favorite lookout!

The bald eagle “sisters” at their favorite lookout!

We got back to Skagway and our ship around 8 pm and once again we went to the dining room for open seating.  After dinner we were tired and retired to our stateroom, as there was no show that night that interested us.

Each night, our steward would leave a folded towel animal, complete with “googly eyes!” This is what we found on our bed after dinner:



*Photos of the dances, with the exception of the video, were taken by Dale Berman. The photos of the hawk and owl were taken by Dale Berman. All others taken by yours truly!

Doors of Skagway & Haines

Skagway and Haines are two towns located in the Inside Passage of Alaska. Although they are only fourteen miles from each other, the only way to go between them quickly is by ferry. This takes 45 minutes.  To drive, it would take four hours and the motorist would have to pass through part of Canada, which causes further delays because of Customs checkpoints.


Entrance to a shop in Skagway


Entrance to a Skagway home


Drying shed door at Klukwan Knowledge Camp – here they dry the salmon that has already been smoked.


Smokehouse door at Klukwan Knowledge Camp


This entryway is surrounded by Klukwan clan symbols. At the top are the two main clans, the Eagle and the Raven.

Thursday Doors

Catch it if you can in Ketchikan

August 23, 2016

Catch it if you can!

Catch what? Why, salmon, of course! Ketchikan, Alaska proclaims itself to be the world capital of salmon.

Dale and I both signed up for a shore excursion. His was salmon fishing! At the end of the day, I was delighted to find out that he had actually caught one, the type known as “pink!” Pinks are the smallest type of salmon and have a milder flavor than the popular “coho.”  On the fishing boat were five people, including him.  Although 15 salmon took the bait, only three were actually caught.  All the others managed to get off the hook before they could be reeled in!


My husband with the fish he caught!

Another man on the boat caught a coho, and since he didn’t want to pay the processing and shipping costs, the boat captain gave it to Dale, since he had elected to have his shipped. So both fish were deboned, filleted, fresh-frozen, and packaged and sent to us, a total of about 15 lbs.! Here is one of the delicious meals we’ve made from it so far:


Salmon (both coho and pink) with sliced vegetables and green beans. My stepdaughter made a wonderful balsamic-based sauce with spices! She used a recipe, but ad-libbed substitutions according to our own preferences.

Catch it if you can! Downtown Ketchikan

Meanwhile, I was on my own quest in Ketchikan.  My excursion (to Misty Fjords National Monument – see separate post) got back in early afternoon, so I decided to look around the town. The tour guide on the excursion had given us all maps as we stepped onto the pier.

Looking at the map, I saw that there were two historical walking tours, one of downtown and the other the western part of town.  Our tour guide had suggested visiting the former red light district, but I sort of forgot about that in my quest for totem poles.

I looked at the map and started the downtown walking tour.  I decided to just see what I wanted and not worry about following the numbers.  First was a sculpture with statues of various figures that represented the people who settled this area.  A Tlingit woman tells the story of these settlers, which include explorers, gold seekers, native tribes, missionaries, etc.

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“The Rock”: A Tlingit woman sits with her drum, singing a song of Ketchikan and its inhabitants – Tlingit, loggers, miners, fishermen, pilots, pioneers.

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Then I walked up the street with a sign arched over it that read, “Welcome to Alaska’s 1st City, Ketchikan, the Salmon Capital of the World.”


Downtown Ketchikan – the neon welcome sign can be seen over a main street.

I came to the historical Episcopalian church, a simple white structure with nice, but not elaborate stained glass windows.  Built in 1904, it was the first church established here.  Since I had no $1 bills, I emptied out all my change as a donation to the church.

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St. John Episcopal Church

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Interior of the church looking toward altar

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Drum used in some services

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I followed that street up to a small park with a totem pole at one end and a historical clock at the other.


Chief Kyan Totem Pole. This is a replica of the original which belonged to Tongass Tlingit Chief George Kyan, whose brown bear crest is the figure at the bottom of the pole. Above Brown Bear are Thunderbird (middle) and Crane (top).

Whale bench!

Bench in the park

There were other totem poles, each with a sign telling its meaning.  The native peoples did not have a written language and used these carved poles to tell the stories of a person or family.

Chief Johnson totem pole

Chief Johnson totem pole (No, I don’t know the woman standing in front of it!)

Top of Chief Johnson totem pole

Top of Chief Johnson totem pole

I then headed up Steadman, where there were a couple more totem poles, then headed up Deermount to find the Totem Heritage Center.


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St. Elizabeth Catholic Church

St. Elizabeth Catholic Church – at the side is an entrance to the Ketchikan mortuary!

Catch it if you can: Totem Heritage Center

For anyone interested in totem poles planning a trip to Alaska,  make time to visit the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan. You can spend half an hour up to two hours there. It’s not very big – only three rooms.

Admission was $5.00, which got me a guide to the exhibits, but I found it more useful simply to read the placards next to the displays.

Totem Heritage Center

Totem Heritage Center

At Totem Heritage Center


This totem pole commemorates those who gave of their time and funds to establish the Totem Heritage Center.

A group of people has been collecting old totem poles, many of them in pieces, partially destroyed and all lacking their original paint.  A docent there, Margaret, told me that the native peoples used three basic colors derived from materials used to make the colors.  These poles told the story of a family, she said, or an individual, because they had no written language.  Each carved figure represented something: raven, bear, wolf, fish, whale; and many had human faces carved on them also.



Heraldic Pole, Haida. This stood in front of a community house where many related families lived.

Dinosaur at the top of a totem pole??


This mortuary pole is kept inside a glass case. This pole shows a figure of a man holding a large club and a sculpin.

Once the poles were erected, they were left to deteriorate gradually and naturally. Western red cedar weathers the moist climate fairly well. The poles on display were carved in the mid-19th century. They provide examples of traditional carving for inspiration and teaching.


Raven mortuary pole, Tlingit (see next pic)

Raven mortuary pole, Tlingit

In an adjoining room were displays of masks and rattles.


Masks of the Northwest coast, created by instructors of carving classes at the Totem Heritage Center.

Halait (shaman) - Tlingit style mask, 1979; artist: Duane Pasco

Halait (shaman) – Tlingit style mask, 1979; artist: Duane Pasco





Eagle Transformation dance rattle, 2003, by Norman Jackson, Tlingit; Carved from yellow cedar and decorated with acrylic paint. Inside are pebbles and spruce root.

I had limited time – less than an hour – to see the entire exhibit before I had to return to the ship.  I would have liked to spend more time talking to the docent. The other people in the museum were a couple of young people who were there to learn about carving traditions, and they had many questions.