and a rushing river.
Water sustains all species on Earth.
It belongs to all life forms.
It’s to be shared by all.
Water is our lifeblood on Earth.
Frank Jansen at Dutch Goes the Photo has a Tuesday Photo Challenge. This week the topic is wind. Depending on how it’s pronounced it’s either a noun or a verb. Here are a few of each.
Glacier winding down a mountain at Glacier Bay National Park, AlaskaAt Glacier Bay National Park, a steward came around with split pea soup on a tray and handed it out to grateful passengers. It was so windy on the deck that the steward’s tray almost got blown away and he had to hold it with two hands!Here you can see that it’s windy by my blowing hair.
Fast forward to this year: On our recent road trip, we went to Rocky Mountain National Park near Denver, Colorado. We went up a very winding road, with a lot of switchbacks.
Note the road sign on the far left.
We saw winding mountain streams…
…and a rushing waterfall that winds its way through descending cliffs.
At Hotel Donaldson in Fargo, North Dakota, they provide free wine and appetizers every evening in the lobby. We stayed two nights there last year, so you could say we were wined and dined at the hotel, to use a homophone! 🙂
Saturday. Feb. 3. 2018
Today, our first full day in Tanzania, I awoke to a loud, animal sound, “Brau, brau, brau, brau, brau, brau, brau!” I didn’t know what it was but found out it was one of the colobus monkeys that hangs around our lodgings, Rivertrees Country Inn.
I got lost looking for the dining room this morning, because we’d arrived late last night. However, I was soon set on the right track and found our table, a long table next to an open area where we could appreciate the wildlife. It reminded me so much of Costa Rica!
Since it was our first morning, our group had an introductory session so we could learn everyone’s names, their passions, and why they came on this trip.
Breakfast was buffet style: there was freshly squeezed juice (including passion fruit!), fresh tropical fruits, breads, jams, cheeses, and an omelet making station where a staff member stood ready to take our orders. Dale had an omelet, I did not. There was enough other food to fill my plate!
Our guide, David, told us the plan for today. We were going to Arusha National Park, along the way perhaps seeing some animals. We would stop at a nice rest area with good bathrooms and a small shop, and displays to read. From there, we would take a hike with an armed guide and have a picnic lunch next to a waterfall. Then we would go for a drive through the park to see animals! We met our drivers, Livingstone and Elias, in the reception gazebo, where we had been greeted last night.
They had jars of cookies – one called “Digestives” and the other was ginger snaps – that were kept in the trucks. These cookies were good for the digestion, we were told, to help us with all the bumping around. There was also a supply of water bottles in each of the vehicles, Toyota Land Cruisers.
The hike was an opportunity to see some animals, but especially the small things, like bugs and flowers. The guide showed us things along the way. Overall, I found it quite taxing and hot – some areas were hilly and I huffed and puffed. A year ago, I thought, I wouldn’t have been so tired from a hike like this. Also, I’d neglected to put on sunscreen and was wearing a blouse with ¾ length sleeves, so my hands and wrists got quite sunburned.
The guide pointed out a bush with small round yellow fruits growing on it. This is a type of apple. In the background, we could see Mt. Kilimanjaro, often shrouded in clouds; like Denali in Alaska, we were told we were lucky to see the mountain so clearly – it was a cloudless, blue sky day!
Before we saw any animals, we came across what the guide told us were giraffe turds! There is actually a way to tell if the turds were from a male or female giraffe – the male turds are slightly pointed on one end; while the female turds are flat on both ends. He picked up a male turd to show us.We soon came to an open field with some acacia trees where we saw our first big animals: giraffes, of course! One was lying down in the field; another was grazing nearby.
We came to a stream that meandered through the landscape. It was a beautiful view!
Near the giraffes was a herd of grazing zebras. A warthog family passed by, their tails held up as they ran! We saw monkeys in trees and a giraffe completely camouflaged by the forest. Skulls of giraffes, monkeys or baboons, antelope and buffalo were displayed on some rocks, which the guide identified for us.
Buffalo and antelope skulls
The sun was hot and I felt the heat. The hike seemed very long, but I didn’t complain, just kept going. The guide stopped to show us a young acacia tree, which was covered with sharp, white, intimidating thorns! He told us that these thorns were to protect the leaves and branches of the growing tree from being eaten by giraffes! Giraffes can only nibble on the very tips, where the thorns are not developed and are soft enough for animals to consume.
The stream became a river and we crossed on a hanging bridge. We saw monkeys camouflaged in the trees.
Finally we reached the waterfall. As we approached, we could hear the gushing of the water and felt a cooling mist. We had to cross the stream to get to the place where we would rest and have lunch.
Sitting on the rocks, feeling the cool mist, was a great relief. I somewhat regretted not having my lunch box, but not too much – it would have been a drag to have to carry it. My cousin, Holly, was sitting near me and offered me some of her lunch – including her hard-boiled egg, which I readily accepted. I could use some protein for the return trip! I peeled the egg and wondered whether it was okay to leave the egg shells – the chicken who laid this egg wasn’t native to this ecosystem. I had decided it was probably okay, but Holly picked up the pieces and put them in her box.
The hike back was quite a bit shorter and cooler, because the path led through some woods. We saw some fragrant jasmine flowers. I never realized they were so small!
Those of us who had lunches waiting for us at the vehicles took them over to the picnic tables to eat. I looked up and saw a couple of baboons who had appeared nearby. There was a young one and a larger one, which I thought was the daddy, but may have been its mama. Suddenly there were more, including a female with a baby clinging to her back.
They must have been attracted by our food – in fact, they may be used to associating human presence with food. Hopefully, people don’t give them anything, although the most daring might come over and try to snatch something! They didn’t do that to us, however.
After lunch, we got back into the Land Cruisers and headed into Arusha National Park, with bumpy dirt roads. This was our first day out, and everything we saw was exciting.
A young waterbuck stopped and stared at us from the trees; its parents – the male with long slightly curved horns, the female without horns – grazed in the open grass nearby.
We saw buffalo, more waterbucks, giraffe and warthog families, baboons in trees, a bushbuck, guinea fowl, and various other bird species.
I never got tired of looking at giraffes. In spite of their ungainly shape, they move gracefully and peacefully.
We returned to Rivertrees in the evening in time for dinner.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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!
Mitch continued entertaining us with funny stories when we again boarded the bus to go to Mendenhall Glacier. He also told us some information about the land and weather in Juneau.
Juneau can get tides as high as 16-18 feet. In 20 years, the land Juneau sits on will be higher than the water, eliminating the channel and Douglas Island will no longer be an island. This is because it was glaciers that pushed the land down and the land is now rising as glaciers recede. 20,000 people (of Juneau’s total population of 33,000) live in what is known as “the Valley.” (This is the Juneau that most tourists don’t go to.) The Valley gets less rain, sometimes only ½ as much.
When we were about to arrive at the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, Mitch told us we would have one hour. He made suggestions as to what to do there – the Visitors Center had some interesting exhibits and a 15-minute film and there were two trails: one short one where you could see salmon swimming upstream to spawn, and maybe a bear (if you were lucky) who had come to catch some of them, and a longer trail that went to Nugget Falls, near the glacier. That trail would take a minimum of 45 minutes round trip, and in Mitch’s opinion, it was better to take the shorter trail – also interesting – so that you’d have time to see other things as well.
I’m glad we opted to take the shorter trail, in spite of always looking for opportunities to take long walks, because it was interesting to watch the salmon, now beginning to turn white and emaciated because they’ve stopped eating and put all their energy to get to their spawning spot.
We saw some dead ones too, all white.
I took a video of the salmon swimming upstream. Most of them seemed lethargic, if determined: they would swim forward, then drift backward a bit, thus making slow progress. There was one salmon, though, who still had some spunk, splashing and jumping to fight the current. We saw no bears.
Then we climbed the stairs to the Visitors Center, where we looked at the exhibits and saw short videos while waiting for the 15-min. film. Eventually I calculated that we wouldn’t have time to see it: it was 5:48 and the film was due to start in 11 minutes. We should have gone in at that point, but instead I waited and walked in just as he film was ending. Although I took several pictures, I did not take a picture of the taxidermied black wolf, although I saw it. I later wished I had, because a couple of days later, I read the part in the book A Wolf Called Romeo where the author mentions the black wolf in the Visitor Center and what relation she might have had to Romeo (perhaps a sister or a mate…his mother? Probably not.).
Mendenhall Lake was created by Mendenhall Glacier only a few hundred years ago! The glacier has been receding for more than 200 years. A glacier’s ice mass is unstable, always changing its shape by melting and calving, always moving its position by advancing and receding.
Why does the glacier look blue? Compacted ice crystals over time form a solid mass of ice. When light strikes these crystals, it is bent (refracted) inside the solid ice and only the blue spectrum is transmitted back to our eyes.
With about 15 minutes to spare, we walked down a paved path below the Visitors Center toward the glacier and Nugget Falls. I could see small figures silhouetted against the rushing white falls – people who had opted to take the long trail. I realized we didn’t need it – we could see the falls just fine from here and this way we got to see most everything else.
*The photos of the plaque and of the book cover were downloaded from Google Images, from the web site http://www.rd.com/true-stories/love/romeo-wolf-who-loved-too-much/ . This web site summarizes the story of this beloved black wolf of Juneau and includes some wonderful pictures of Romeo and his dog friends.
WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge this week is on the subject of H2O (water). Here’s my take on it:
Reflection in water: The native peoples of the Pacific Northwest carve beautiful images in wood and on totem poles. Many of their designs are symmetrical. Perhaps they were representing what the water looks like on a day like this.
For more pictures of this beautiful national monument, see my post Misty Fjords National Monument.
Nugget Falls is a river created by glacial runoff in the mountains. Nearby is Mendenhall Glacier.
Glaciers can appear blue due to the blue light on the spectrum which reflects back to us. But glaciers take on other colors as well – they may carry with them chunks of mountainsides, rendering the ice brown or black, as is the case with Margerie Glacier.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts on all these beautiful things!