Monday, July 12, 2010
Always backup your data. I can't tell you how many times a friend, relative or coworker has asked me to look at their crashed hard drive only to find it kaput. After I give them the bad news I always ask how old their backup was. "Backup?" they ask stunned. You gotta practice what you preach so I spent part of the morning backing up digital photos, video and trip journal from the trip to my laptop. [By the way, when was the last time you, the reader, backed up your data?]
Curt Rudd, ARRC employee, stopped by the condo to let me know a mile long freight train was leaving Anchorage bound to Whittier. I quickly got on the phone to Jim Somerville and asked if we could move our sightseeing flight schedule up. Yes!
I met Jim in the parking lot of Peggy's Restaurant and then followed him across the street to Merrill Field. This airport is a public-use general aviation field that averages 524 aircraft operations per day. When it opened in 1930 it was the first official airport in Anchorage.
As we approached the flight line I heard "Bad to the Bone" playing on my car radio. "I'm here to tell you honey that I'm bad to the bone." After we parked Jim started preparing his Super Decathlon "Missy" for flight. Jim helped me get into the back seat and I must admit the fit was as tight as a rubber glove. The first item I hunted down was the air sick bag. I had never thrown up on any of Jim's flights. but I came incredibly close every time. So as I tried to convince my already queasy gizzard to chill out. I reminded myself the opportunity far outweighed the risk of losing my breakfast.
Jim's takeoff was as smooth as glass (click here for the 17MB movie) The flight out to Turnagain Arm was fairly smooth as well and gave us some great views. However, along the arm itself, the winds were rough and a tad bit unpredictable.
|F-22s at Elmendorf AFB||Potter Marsh||MoW train on the Arm|
|Just another day in paradise||Bird Creek parking lot||The "Y" at Portage|
|Twentymile River and bridge|
We caught the freight train just before it reached Bear Valley and were able to get a few dramatic photos before it disappeared into the mountains.
Jim then turned inland and gave me some seldom seen views: Twentymile and Eagle River glaciers as well the Chugach Mountains.
I breathed a sigh of relief as we touched down on the runway knowing that victory was mine and that I would not have to help clean out the interior of the aircraft. After Jim secured the plane to the tarmac, I thanked him for another fabulous experience and headed out in search of Wi-Fi. I found it at a nearby Wendy's Restaurant. I used the opportunity to check my email and settle my stomach with a combo meal.
Over the past three years, I have become obsessed with geocaching, an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which you use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver to hide and seek containers (called 'geocaches' or 'caches'). A typical cache is a small waterproof container holding a logbook and 'treasure,' usually toys or trinkets of little value. Current cache locations are listed at geocaching.com and there are over 1,200,000 in 222 countries around the world. Since I had a wee bit of free time I decided to retrieve a few of them. You'll see more on this later in my journal.
I had killed enough time that I could now drive to the Anton Anderson Tunnel at Whittier and chase the Glacier Discovery back to Anchorage. I must admit it was a very interesting perspective driving the route I had just flown several hours before.
As I pulled up to the the toll booth at the Anton Anderson Tunnel, I spied an excellent location ahead where I could photograph the train as it emerged from the portal. I informed the attendant that I didn't want to travel through the tunnel (as well as pay the fee), but instead park 100-feet ahead by the restrooms. I explained I could photograph the train as it emerged and then chase it back to Anchorage. "Why are you chasing the train?" he asked. I could tell by the sound of his voice and the look on his face that he was wondering if I was up to no good. Therefore, I gave him a brief explanation of railfanning and photography. Now he looked at me as if I had crabs coming out of my ears and waved me on, probably hoping that whatever I had wasn't contagious.
Bear Valley is known for its wild weather. Although this was a mid summer day, the temperature hovered around 50 degrees. Adding to the chill was a light drizzle and 30 mile per hour wind gusts. As I stood outside my car in three layers of clothing plus a rain jacket, the attendant eyed me like I had gone mad.
Right on schedule, the Glacier Discovery emerged from the tunnel. I must admit I got an adrenaline rush as I saw that familiar blue and yellow locomotive shudder slightly as it began to pick up speed. I spent the next several hours chasing it all the way back to Anchorage. I even captured a little video as well (click here for the 3.3MB movie).
|Emerging from the tunnel||N 60 47.400, W 148 48.840||A somber looking day in Bear Valley|
|At Portage N 60 50.377, W148 58.885||Chugach explorer DMU at Portage||N 60 51.850, W149 01.647|
|N 60 58.382, W149 28.065|
Feeling very satisfied with the day's events, I returned to
Anchorage, picked up a few more geocaches and again "borrowed" Wendy's
Wi-Fi signal. It was midnight by the time I returned to the condo.
Day 2 | Index | Day 4