4-29-14

April 30, 2014 at 5:41 am | Posted in alaska, anchorage, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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spring buds

On the Turnagain Arm Trail this afternoon.

4-28-14 [from the archives, Summer 2003]

April 29, 2014 at 4:40 am | Posted in anchorage, photo du jour | 1 Comment
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pagoda restaurant sign

My 2003 photo of sign at the former Pagoda Restaurant, 5th Ave. and A St., downtown Anchorage.
The building it was in [originally a small house — municipal tax records list that it was built in 1950, but I suspect it’s older than that] is [amazingly] still there, though it has been unoccupied since its brief reincarnation as a coffee shop.  The former restaurant owner apparently continued to live in the house for a few years after the restaurant closed.

4-24-14

April 27, 2014 at 5:05 am | Posted in alaska, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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Hope Hwy. rest stop

10 or 12 miles in, the Hope Highway dips down to close to the high water mark of Turnagain Arm.  I stopped at this little pull-off on the way in to take this photo before the Gull Rock hike.  [And on the way back, stopped at the same place to eat two hard-boiled eggs!]

4-23-14

April 27, 2014 at 4:58 am | Posted in anchorage, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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Ingra St. cabin

Vintage 1950 log home on Ingra St. in Fairview.

Gull Rock Trail kicks off the hiking season

April 26, 2014 at 8:24 am | Posted in alaska | Leave a comment
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It’s a good idea to pick an easy hike for the first one — something fairly leisurely without too much elevation gain.  I was struggling a bit at the end of this one, a 10 mile RT.  If I keep this up, by August I can be scaling 2,000 ft peaks with relative ease — it just doesn’t seem like it right now.

I only made the popular Gull Rock trek one other time, in 1996.  That time I had three boys with me, ages 11, 11 and 7 [my two and one of their friends].  This time it was just me.  I found a picture from that day, and took a photo at the same place this time.  [These kids are now 29, 29 and 25!]

Gull Rock 1996 and 2014

The little town of Hope, AK is still kind of a gem — relatively pristine, undeveloped but enough there to remind you of a rollicking past dating back 120 years.  The Seaview Cafe was built in 1896 and is a former General Store and Grocery.

Seaview Cafe, Hope, AK

Hope Social Hall corner log detail

And about a block away, a couple of cabins from the same era [one in better condition].

Cabin, Hope, AK

Cabin ruins, Hope, AK

It was a great time to be there, for a few reasons: 1. We had a relatively warm and dry Spring, which means the trail is less muddy than typical for this time of year; 2. The views are better before there are leaves on the trees; and 3. It was eerily quiet in Hope and on the trail because it’s still a month before tourist season.

Beginning at the new trailhead

Quite a few changes since 1996 — the campground is much larger and nicer, and the trailhead has been separated from the campground, with its own parking area connected by a new segment of trail.  Starting off, the groundcover vegetation is out and it’s looking more like June than April.

Devil’s Club.

Blue jay pair

A pair of blue jays.  There were many of them all along the trail.

dead large spruce

Saw many spruce stumps and some whole and partial non-living examples that were amazingly huge compared to the ones around today.  I guess logging took them out in round one, and any that remained were killed by bark beetles?

Interesting cut

On parts of the trail there are many stacked, sectioned downed trees.  The trail maintenance is very good.  Somebody had already been through there and removed all but one of the trees blocking the trail.  The artistic split/tear of this log caught my eye.

pushki

Pushki left over from last year.  This year’s crop wasn’t quite out of the ground yet.

wind sculpted

Wind sculpted branches of a spruce that sprouted from a shoreline rock bluff.

gull rock trail vegetation

Turnagain Arm view

Hope is reached via a 16-mile spur off the Seward Highway.  From Hope and the Gull Rock Trail one looks back across Turnagain Arm and the main part of the road.  Can make out glimpses of the towns of Indian, Rainbow, Girdwood, etc. and see the cars and trucks on the highway.  But they’re really small, and mostly too far away to be audible, and [it was described this way in a book] they look comical, like ants crawling along at the base of an anthill.

Turnagain Arm from Gull Rock Trail

Shady part of trail

The trail is great because it passes through so many different types of terrain and vegetation — from dense sections that are dark and foreboding even at noon, to grassy fields, windswept sandy portions, rugged rocky outcroppings, across steep faces.  There’s a rock flume crossing, and two or three places where the trail dips into [and back out of] small creek valleys.

mossy

boardwalk section

Will have to not let 18 years pass before going back!

Gull Rock Trail

Reinventing Edith Macefield

April 22, 2014 at 5:21 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Recently somebody randomly contacted me through Flickr about my 2008 photos of Edith Macefield’s house.  [I happened to be visiting Seattle the week after Macefield’s death and I went by there and had a look at some notes people had placed outside her house.]  They were looking for info about Macefield for an article in the Architecture section of a Czech web site.

This is what I wrote to them [hastily, including every grammar and sentence construction mistake in the book]:

I didn’t know who Edith Macefield was but I noticed her house for the first time in 1988 while working at an architectural firm a couple blocks away. The Seattle neighborhood was really a mixed bag — charming but gritty mix of industrial waste, marine infrastructure and support businesses, auto shops, vacant lots overgrown with blackberry vines and cars rumbling over the 1912 vintage Ballard bridge. Her tiny, square house with pyramid-shaped roof and little dormers was modest and well kept. There was a blue Chevy compact parked on the street in front of the house. A small yard, a tree and a clothes line; and rose bushes behind a low wire fence.

In 2008 I learned a lot more about Macefield when her story was publicized in the news media. She put up with a lot of changes in the decades in the house — a warehouse next door became a refuse transfer facility, then an abandoned, graffiti covered eyesore. Homeless people roamed the streets and camped out in old RVs under the bridge. Still, I can totally see why she stayed. The house was well sited on a low traffic side street, just far enough from the bridge so the noise wasn’t too annoying. Great south facing sunny lot.

She became a local and then national folk hero by refusing to sell out to the mall developer. As much as $750,000 was offered, as I recall, but Macefield said the place was priceless to her.

One of the aspects of Seattle I really appreciate, and part of what makes it a great place on Earth [despite all the changes] is that by and large they have allowed the old and new parts of the city to mingle and co-exist. At least this has been the case lately and for a while now. Perhaps this partly resulted from a rather overzealous approach to redevelopment that prevailed from the late 19th century at a furious pace through the 1930s, and to a lesser extent until the mid-1960s. The tidelands between downtown and West Seattle were filled in, the forests of Ballard and the North End knocked down, creeks undergrounded/ducted, the Duwamish River was channeled, and a series of street regrade projects ensued including the destruction of Denny Hill [chronicled in the novel ‘Madison House’]. Later the demo of lots of downtown buildings along the route of Interstate 5 fomented another round of growth shock — the Pike Place Market [the most famous and loved Seattle landmark] narrowly escaped the wrecker’s ball in this period. 

I don’t really know but assume all this contributed to people being in less of a hurry to mow down everything that’s old and in the way. 

And that was why, in a few days following her death, scores of people who didn’t know Macefield stopped by her house to leave anonymous notes on her fence expressing admiration for her steadfastness and lack of greed and crass calculation; and for having the good sense to know when she had a good place and sticking with it through good times and bad.

And recently I received a follow-on message with a link to the resulting article.  It loses something in translation but is still compelling and, um, sort of hilarious!

Admiration from a stranger. [Click on image for larger version.]

Reflecting on it more, I am starting to think we are all getting Macefield wrong.  It’s been difficult to find out anything about her via casual reading around on the web.  She was 83 when she became a story.  And by most accounts, she didn’t care for the attention.  Perhaps she felt like she was living in a ‘Twilight Zone-ish, end up in hell’ scenario where she was surrounded by people who had lost their minds?  She was doing fine with her books and her opera records and probably just wished everyone would leave her alone.  Certainly wouldn’t care about hipster tattoo tributes to her tenacity and principles.

So I am considering trying to dig a little deeper, and write a story about her house and property with less emphasis on what happened after 2006, and more about the 106 years the house was there before 2006.

4-21-14

April 22, 2014 at 3:34 am | Posted in anchorage, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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Big cottonwood, Ship Creek Trail.

4-14-14

April 22, 2014 at 3:31 am | Posted in anchorage, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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This 25 ft wide little place on 6th Ave. near ‘A’ St. used to be a Japanese restaurant called Yakitori.  Recently Tito’s Gyros struggled along here for awhile, and now it is vacant.

4-5-14

April 6, 2014 at 5:39 am | Posted in anchorage, art, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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Photo class session, learning about shooting portraits in natural light.

4-3-14

April 4, 2014 at 6:04 am | Posted in anchorage, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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Ready for Winter to end!

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