Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Bye Bye 2020

Looking back over 2020 ... 

Some good ...

Lots of beautiful skies.
I am a skywatcher! πŸ‘†

January 1, 2020, evening sky.

Enjoyed spotting lots of big ships.
Seattle is a busy port and major shipping point.

Summer sunset.

Discovered the joy of watching hummingbirds.
Big time fun for an old guy! 😊

And the not good ...

My view has been missing the big cruise ships all year.
Looking out over Cruise Terminal, Elliott Bay Marina, and to Olympic Mountains
in the distance.

Tough year for the city I love.
Seattle Time's 2020 in Review Video
(7 min 58 sec)

Closing thought ...

The end of the worst, bring on the better!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Alone in Alaska Wildnerness

Surviving in wildnerness a 2020 fascination.

→   No, not because I'm going to try it. πŸ‘¦   

The fascination was sparked by watching the History Channel's ALONE, Season 7, as I described in a previous post**  (**See Note at bottom of this page.)  I Googled to see who had existed, for years, all alone, in the wildnerness. My interesting find was Richard Proenneke. In 1968, at age 52, Richard went to a spot, in wildnerness, on the shores of Twin Lakes, Alaska, and single-handedly built a log cabin. He lived there for most of the next 30 years. He had a unique combination of skills:  he was an excellent carpenter/craftsman, an avid and accomplished photographer, and he kept detailed, almost daily, journals of his adventures.

Richard Proenneke built his cabin, without help, in 1968,
in a part of Alaskan Wildnerness.

Richard loved photography and recorded lots of his
adventure on a motion picture camera, which is kind of
amazing, given how challenging that was at the time.

Some of Richard's photography was used in the creation of a movie, "Alone in the Wildnerness." Here is a portion of that via YouTube, which includes how Richard started construction of his cabin all by himself ... (9 min 33 sec via YouTube ... over 12 million views!) ...

There were 4 one-hour movies produced on Proenneke's life at Twin Lakes. The first movie, produced by friend Bob Swerer, was the movie mentioned above, Alone in the Wilderness.  "Alaska Silence & Solitude" is a follow up and here is a preview ... (16 min 45 sec via YouTube)

Don't miss the Grizzly Bears at 8:40 

I purchased all 4 of the movies, on DVDs, from Bob Swerer Productions. They are great. Trying to put the DVDs on my iPad was a great challenge too. I got it done!

My grandmother kept a daily journal for most of her adult life. I have a suitcase full of them. I believe I inherited her passion for journaling and that may be another reason I found Proenneke fascinating ... he kept detailed journals. He was a prolific writer ... his journals fill up 5 large books. When I have a spare moment I like to pick up one of these books and take a look at what Richard was doing on the same day years ago.

All of these books are available through
The Richard Proenneke Museum

Closing Thought 
The greatest thing you can do, in this world, is not contribute to the collective unhappiness in the world.
     Eckhart Tolle

Thank you for stopping by John's Island.

**Note: I was a bit surprised that so many commenters on my ALONE post said they had never heard of it or didn't watch TV. The thing is, I don't watch that much TV myself. The serials that these TV networks come up with usually have little or no appeal to me. I guess I'm not your average viewer. 😊 Anyway, ALONE is not your ordinary TV. The video is all captured by the participants themselves and they have no crew helping them, camera or otherwise. In Season 7 they all had to survive for over 3 months using their own wits and skills. There may be moments that are a bit disgusting ... eating some nasty looking things, for example. But, overall, this is a great story of human endurance.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas to All

The image above is a scan of a card I received from my good friend, Richard, who lives in the United Kingdom. He has been following John's Island for years. The image is beautiful and I couldn't resist sharing it here for everyone to enjoy. It does a good job of capturing the essence of the season. Thank you Richard!

Now, something old ...

Below you will see the same post I published five years ago on December 25. I was looking back to see what I'd posted on Christmas in years past. This post features a favorite holiday card from my vintage postcard collection.

Merry Christmas [1908]

From our collection of old postcards ...

Copyrighted 1908 by Julius Bien & Co. N. Y.
Embossed and with a bit of glitter as well.

Back of the unused card.
One Cent domestic postage!

And something new ...

Two of my favorite things to photo ... hummingbirds and sunset rolled into one. Taken yesterday, Dec 23, when the skies were mostly clear and outdoor temp was about 40F (4.4C).

Regardless of what you celebrate this time of year, best wishes from John's Island. Thank you for stopping by.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Hummer Update

Here in mid-December Anna's Hummingbirds are still daily visitors to my feeders. Hummers feed on the nectar in blooming flowers, tiny insects, and the sugar-water humans put in feeders. This time of year, in Seattle, blooming flowers are rare. So, I think these little birds are especially dependent now on our feeders. 

Note bare tree limbs in lower left.

I am committed to keeping my feeders clean with fresh food for the hummers all winter this year. Honestly, I don't know if it is a good thing. Clearly, we humans are stretching the area nature intended for hummingbirds. However, since humans have created this "no need to migrate" situation, I will do my part to make it work for the hummers. And, it does bring joy to my day to watch them.

Between feedings the hummers can be found
relaxing in a tree about 10 meters away.

The "experts" say hummers spend about 60% of their day relaxing like the little bird in the photo above. Hummingbirds have a very high metabolism and must eat all day long just to survive. They consume daily about half their body weight in bugs and nectar.

At sunset it is tough to get more than a silhouette.
However, hummers are heavy feeders around this time
which makes it a good time to snap a photo.

I have found hummers feed the most right around sunrise and then again right before sunset. 
When they sleep, they go into a hibernation-like state called Torpor (pronounced TOR-per). This is a really deep sleep. Their metabolism will lower to one-fifteenth (1/15) of normal.

The little hummer seems to be looking in the direction of the
setting sun. Enjoying the sunset?

I wonder how hummers find a place they feel is safe for sleep, and which provides protection from wind and rain. We've had some stormy nights and I wondered if they would make it through. So far, they seem to be doing well.

In the photo below the cloud formations in the upper half of the picture are quite rare. We had a low pressure, stormy weather pass through the night before. I am wondering if this is similar to the area around the center of a hurricane, often called the "eye." Something unusual caused the clouds to be in that circular formation.

Interesting and unusual cloud formation.
December 17, 2020

NASA photo of Earth from space.
Reality = No sunrise, no sunset.
Just illuminated and not.

Sunrise and sunset exist only from our perspective here on the surface of the planet. The daily phenomena, often beautiful, is created by our view through the atmosphere, especially the clouds. I smile everytime I think about those people who still believe the earth is flat. Apparently, you can convince some humans of just about anything.

Closing Thoughtbrought to my attention by one of my favorite bloggers, Eileen, who happens to host Saturday's Critters, where I'm linking up today. 

The best things in life are the people we love, the places we've been and the memories we made along the way.

Thank you Eileen.

Friday, December 18, 2020

ALONE Season 7 (No Spoilers)

In these last few posts of 2020, I want to mention things, I haven't mentioned before, that fascinated me and kept life interesting throughout the year. Those of you who follow the blog know that I've taken some extended breaks and, yet, my goal with the blog is to have it be a sort of digital journal I can look back on someday. So, I'm rushing now to record a few things for 2020. 

One of the most enjoyable ways I spent time this year was watching The History Channel's ALONE, Season 7. The seventh season premiered on June 11, 2020, there were 11 episodes, and the last episode aired on August 20. Participants attempted to survive for 100 days in the Arctic with a goal of winning a $1 million prize. ($1,000,000)

A trailer is below. (30 seconds via YouTube)

ALONE is the most intense survival series on television. Season 7 participants faced the biggest twist in series history—a 100-day challenge for 1 million dollars. The rules are simple, survive 100 days and win 1 million dollars. Over 6 seasons, no one ever lasted so long. Winning would be a struggle, especially when the survivalists had to endure the intense conditions and aggressive predators of the Arctic. Participants are, as the title says, all ALONE and must record their efforts to survive on video cameras they are provided. I have watched all 7 Seasons and would not want to miss even 1 episode.

ALONE Season 7 History Channel Streaming

ALONE is also available on Prime Video, without commercial interruption, for a fee.

Kielyn, the only Canadian, among the 10 participants,
on a cold Arctic day.

Now, one last thing ...

If you watched ALONE, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Thank you for stopping by John's Island!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Most Unusual Ship - 2020

One way 2020 did not disappoint ... In July, HODOR Astilleros Armon was anchored out in Elliott Bay and I snapped a few pics of her ... 

HODOR in Elliott Bay
Be sure to note the chopper on board.
July 11, 2020
My "most unusual" spotting from home in 2020.

Wider view.
In the distance ... Bainbridge Island, WA

Spotting record from MarineTraffic ...

Pretty cool YouTube - Timelapse HODOR Construction ... (3 min 15 sec via YouTube)

Lots of Info on a cool website

Info from ...

Launched in 2019 by Spanish shipyard Astilleros ArmΓ³n, luxury support catamaran HODOR measures 66.2m/217ft and has plenty of onboard storage space for such additions as a submarine, decompression chamber, helideck and a range of tenders and motorised water toys. A pair of MTU engines of 2.832 kW provides a cruising speed of 13.2 knots, a maximum speed of 22.5 knots and a range of 5,500 nautical miles at an economical speed of 13.2 knots. The catamaran hull provides fuel savings of up to 40% and draws from 160,000 litres of diesel fuel.

Another YouTube featuring the HODOR ... (4 min 35 sec via YouTube)

Screenshots from Super Yacht Times website. ...

I would say the HODOR is the most unusual vessel I've spotted in 2020. Would you be interested in chartering the HODOR? If so, perhaps you would take me along.

Thankful Thursday fits in perfectly with my end-of-the-year posts because they are basically all about things I've been thankful for in 2020. Thank you, Michelle, for hosting.

Monday, December 14, 2020

The U.S. Approves a Vaccine

Lately I have been wondering how things are going to look on the other side. Of course I'm talking about the pandemic. So far, if you're curious like me, you've read the history on the previous major pandemic to hit America, the Spanish flu, in 1918 - 1919. The Spanish flu killed about 50 million people worldwide. Over time, those who contracted the virus developed an immunity to the novel strand of influenza, and life returned to "normal" by the early 1920s, according to historians and medical experts. So, 2, 3 or 4 years, way back then, HOWEVER they did not have a "warp speed" vaccine. We do and it is being distributed TODAY for the first time in the USA. So, we have a new element to consider in the resolution of our current chaos.

This morning I listened to The Daily Podcast. (about 33 minutes ... link below) I found the show so enlightening I thought I should share it here on the blog.

Listen to The Daily Podcast December 14 2020

If you just want to read more, here is one of the best articles I've found ...

The deadliest pandemic ever is still causing problems today

Stay safe!

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Hidden Treasure

Would you be interested in finding a hidden treasure valued at over $1,000,000?

Forrest Finn with his treasure.

Last summer, the pandemic found me here at home with plenty of time on my hands. Reading an article about a young man finding a treasure, valued at more than a million dollars, grabbed my attention. Turns out he had found Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure. I knew the hunt had been going on but had not paid much attention over the previous years. If you don’t know about Forrest Fenn, he was born in Temple, Texas, in 1930. He grew up as a son of a high school principal, joined the Air Force at age 18, became a fighter pilot, flew combat missions during the Vietnam War, and retired, after being awarded a Silver Star, in 1968. In 1972 he and a partner opened an art gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that drew in the wealthy and famous and eventually made him a multimillionaire. In 1988, he was diagnosed with cancer and given a prognosis that it was likely terminal. With death possibly on the doorstep, he was inspired, in 2010, at age 80, to place a box of treasure worth over $1M somewhere in the Rocky Mountains and write a book, The Thrill of the Chase, which included a poem. The poem, if one could decode it, would lead them to the treasure, and "solve" the mystery. Whoever found it could keep it. In June, 2020, a 32 year old man, Jack Stuef, found the treasure. Neither Fenn, nor Stuef, would reveal exactly where it was found beyond saying it was in Wyoming. Reading about the “find” peaked my interest in Fenn and trying to figure out my own “solve” for where he had placed the treasure. Why? Because I love Yellowstone National Park and I'm betting the treasure was there or near by. There were thousands of treasure hunters looking for the box of gold. There are many websites where they started sharing information and portions of their solve.

A July, 2015, article in California Sunday Magazine
provides a nice overview as of that year
including a map and the poem.
The Everlasting Forrest Fenn

Forrest Finn with treasure finder, Jack Stuef
Jack's Remembrance of Forrest Fenn
Forrest passed away at age 90 on September 8th
Jack published his article on on September 23rd

Forrest Fenn, himself, was fascinating. The video below is typical of many interviews with him sharing his outlook on life. This one is "The Deal." (3 min 3 sec via YouTube)

A website Forrest used to announce "The Chest Has Been Found" ...

Thrill of the Chase
Website with links to a multitude of information.

A book on the hunt is scheduled to be published in June, 2021, by Daniel Barbarisi ...

Daniel Barbarisi is writing a book on the hunt
scheduled for publication in June of next year.
Barbarisi's recent article in Outside Online

Friday, December 11, 2020

Polar Star Departs for Antarctica

Can you imagine departing for Antarctica for the next few months aboard the ship in the photo below? The Polar Star is America's only operating heavy icebreaker. Length = 399 ft (122 m). Beam = 83 ft 6 in (25.45 m).

My photo of USCG Polar Star
in Elliott Bay, Seattle, Washington

#10, The Polar Star, has departed Seattle for Antarctica. The story, as reported by local station KIRO, is below (2 min 10 seconds via YouTube)

And another interesting report by local station KING gives some additional details. (1 min 40 sec via YouTube)

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

As the pandemic rolls on it seems like a good time to go back and revisit some of last year's pleasures. One of my Top 10 from 2019 was the day I spent in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Come along with me as I take a look back.

Finally made it to Prince Edward Island.
I've been fascinated with Canada's three Maritime
Provinces for years.

Our ship, Holland America's Veendam, arrived
about 9AM on September 25th.

After stepping off the ship we entered this large
building which is sort of a welcome hall. Gifts,
tours, and information are available.

Neat opportunity to say hello to a
Canadian Mountie. No, that is not me, I'm
snapping the picture.  πŸ˜‰

I love maps.
Here is a gorgeous large map of PEI.

Just outside the terminal is an attractive park
with a neat sign showing how to get around
in Charlottetown.

Walking into town I admired this persons mailbox.
Could I get away with this on my mailbox in Seattle?
Probably not but I wish I could.

As I passed Water Street Fish & Chips I said to myself,
"Going back there for lunch!"
I love fish and chips!

I am impressed with churches and spiritual places.
This is St. Dunstan's Basilica, opened in 1919.
Interesting coincidence, 100 years ago.
Three earlier churches stood on this site 
opening in 1816, 1847, and 1907.

The interior is wonderful.

I loved the many stained glass windows.

Back in the "heart" of the city.
Hey, look at that familiar coffee shop on the left.
Guess where their home is!

Very cool memorial to Sir John A Macdonald
who became Canada's first Prime Minister.

In a shop window I spotted this.
Impressive to say the least.
I hope you can read it.

I had an excellent encounter with the owner of a shop
called Bayberry Lane. Entrance by signboard
on the sidewalk, "GIFTS"

This photo is from Bayberry Lane's Facebook page.
Inside the shop I found some interesting socks.
The shop owner happened to be at the register for
checkout and told me his story about the socks.
See next photo.

These are Thermohair socks, made in Canada.
The shop owner told me to take them home and put
them on. If they didn't make me smile, return them
and he would refund my purchase.

When I got home I ended up ordering more!

Time for lunch.
Back to Water St Fish & Chips
Ordered the house special.
This was some of the best fish and chips
I have ever eaten. Amazing!

Heading back to the ship now.
I have to admit this sign is a good way to
remember what the year was.

This is the kind of place you probably won't find
in a big city port. A neat place to sit and relax
and watch the ships. 

Now that I'm back home it is fun to take a
virtual journey back by looking over
Charlottetown's website.
Discover Charlottetown

More recently (in 2020) I discovered
an interesting thing called a Moose Fart.
The first time I heard of it was via one of my
favorite blogs, Island Musings, as a no-bake cookie.
On Charlottetown's website they offered this liquid version.

Happy Birthday USA

Happy Birthday USA Happy holiday to all in America. Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy your day. Comments will return on the next post. Credit to...