Saturday, August 24, 2013

Biggest Rainbow Ever?

This morning, I woke up and saw that it had been raining overnight.  There is no more amazing smell on the planet than Utah after an August rainstorm.  It is one of my favorite things, so I headed out the door and was greeted by the sight above.  I immediately busted for the hills to do a quick hike, bush-wacking straight up the mountain side near my house. Look at what I found:

I think it may be the biggest rainbow I have ever seen, arching over my home town, with its end planted at Big West's North Salt Lake refinery, of all things. Given our past few weeks with my poor dad, it was a nice reminder that God sends comfort when needed.  Maybe feeling a little of what Noah felt. The rainbow soon faded to this:

But I continued hiking up the hillside, which was a workout and provided its own beauty:

and left me with this last view, of my little town Bountiful:

Not a bad way to start the day.  Still praying for Dad, who is always on my mind, but maybe with a little more faith today. Grateful.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

One a week part 1

For better or worse, I just committed to post at least once a week here, to at least get one picture in, and one thought. I don't want the Blog to get stale, and in the process, I hope to preserve some memories. Hold me to it people.

I love the photo above.  We were in Kauai when Kate was about 4, staying at the Stuart's home there (they are so generous).  Kate may be the only one in the family who actually reads as much as my Dad does, and I think she will love reading for as long as he has.  I am so grateful for that.

This photo also seems most appropriate today.  I have been thinking about my Dad a lot, as has Kate.  His eyes essentially stopped functioning 2 months ago, due to a condition we now know as Myesthenia Gravis.  Imagine suddenly going effectively blind (he can't open his eyelids, and when he does, his eyes go all over the place), after living 75 years and loving reading, driving to visit, and exercising as much as my Dad has. He has been in the hospital for about 5 days now, and we have hope that medication will return his sight, but have been told it may be a long battle. We pray for him all the time.  He is so special to us, and I think probably to almost everyone who has ever met him for more than a few minutes. We love you Dad.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Saturday Evening Sunset

Took the kids for a short walk last night, just up the hill behind our house, and this is what we saw.  One of the reasons I really love Bountiful.  The sunsets here are remarkable.

Hoping I can get my kids more interested in hiking to see the many wonders that actually exist around us, as opposed to on a computer screen.  Kate is up for it.  Keegan likes it some days.  Alden equates all hikes with the Bataan Death March.  Work in progress.  Gotta do it though, because it is what I love.  Any suggestions for improving his rather set attitude?

Alaska 2013

I am lucky enough to work for a company that owns a yacht.  Yes, it sounds extravagant, but it really is humble as far as yachts go, and the nice thing is, they make it available to employees from time to time at minimal cost, particularly if we can tie some business into a trip.

This year, I had the chance to travel on it from Juneau down to Sitka, with folks who are clients of the company but also a friend from our time in San Francisco -- Jerry Wagstaff, who was president of the San Francisco Mission when I served as a bishop there.  He brought along Mike, his son, and we also invited John Klippert, a former Flying J guy who now lives in Tennessee. Add in Rocky and Ed, two of my compatriots at Big West, and it made for a great trip.

We started at Juneau, which is a lot smaller than I imagined.  My first thought: where is the capital building, and could Sarah Palin see Russia from there? Turns out I couldn't really see the capital building, let alone Russia, but the scenery is nice. Here is an overview, and a few shots from the water:

I think the population may double and then halve on about a daily basis as the cruise ships come and go.  These things are huge -- not sure this photo gives you any real sense of perspective.

Rather than head north into Glacier Bay, we headed south out the Gastineau Channel towards the Stephens Passage and the Taku Inlet.

From left to right, my friend Jerry, his son Mike, Ed, and Rocky.

 Here is Rocky with John, in front of one of the hundreds of waterfalls we passed. Check out the color on the water -- true story man, that is what it looked like.

As we got nearer to the Tracy Arm Fjord, we started seeing icebergs from the Sawyer Glacier.  The blue in them was amazing, but only a taste of things to come.

The Fjord itself is just spectacular, and would be worth a visit even without a calving glacier at its head. Here are a few of the sights along the way.

Here is the Sawyer Glacier -- That blue is true to life. Never seen any color like it before in all of my travels.  Just amazing.

Harbor seals greeted us as we made our way slowly in. Apparently, they don't mind hanging near a calving glacier.

I think the whole trip would have been worth this moment, with the engines down, just floating and watching this incredible scene.  But there was more to come.

We stayed that night in No Name Cove, where the guys decided to try out the Kayaks before turning in for the night. Here are a few pics:

Rocky and Mike, with the necessary head nets, trying to figure out if they can actually work together to make that Kayak go straight.

They figured it out and headed straight for that unbelievably blue berg out in the bay.

I don't think Ed ever stopped grinning like a fool the whole trip. Like a kid at Christmas.

The next morning began with fishing somewhere along Admiralty Island in the Stephens passage, where we actually managed to catch a few salmon.

As we approached the Seymour Canal, our fishing was interrupted, for very good reason: Whales!

There were up to 20 humpback whales bubble feeding on krill at the entrance to Seymour Canal.  We coasted in among them, and sat watching for perhaps two hours.  The one other boat in the vicinity, Jay Call's old vessel, the Mardiosa (now called the Steadfast) left after a short time, and we turned our engines off, leaving us alone, the silence broken only by the sound of giant exhales all around us, spouting left and right and front and back, often close to the boat. On one occasion three whales headed straight for us, one stopping just off the starboard side to check us out, before diving under the boat. Here are some of the photos:

There were a lot more photos, trust me, but I will spare you.  It was such an amazing experience though, to see these gentle giants going about their lives, in such a peaceful place.

After leaving the whales we returned to fishing, with pretty good success:

Afterwards,  we sailed into Pybus Bay (Cannery Cove) for the evening, where we ran into, of all things, a fishing lodge owner from Alpine Utah.  We went and visited for a while, and it turns out he owned two service stations in Mapleton, and knew Jerry.  Small world indeed.  He let us know that in the native tongue (Tlingit, I think) the name for Admiralty Island was "Fortress of the Bear."  Sure enough, no sooner had dinner concluded, than out they came. We took the skiff out to get closer.  Here are a few photos.

The next morning we prevailed on John Klein, our captain, to alter his itinerary and head a little further south to Red Bluff Bay.  The excellent fishing that our Alpine friend had talked up did not materialize, but there was scenery to make up for it.

The next day or so was simply an exercise in getting through the Sergius Narrows, which made Captain Klein a tad nervous.  We did catch some fish and some crabs along the way, and saw this Orca for a fleeting moment:

We arrived in Sitka Harbor where we were greeted by calm waters and some amazing yachts.

We settled in for dinner to conclude the trip:  a "Crab Boil" with Dungeness Crab we had caught the night before.  All in all, I don't know what more you could ask out of an Alaska cruise.  Great excursion.