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Onward to Halibut Cove

Michele Hymel

Michele Hymel

My friend, Michele, who accompanied me on this trip, was sure excited about the boat trip that would take us to Halibut Cove!   In the end, we took the skiff, not the ferry because the smaller boat could get closer to the famed Gull Island!  It is a protected island where human entry is not allowed, a place for birds.

Gull Rock

Gull Island

We were not disappointed either.  There were birds everywhere nesting in incredibly tight quarters.   A few skirmishes were bound to occur and we witnessed some too.  Most memorable were the two kittiwakes that seemed intent on drowning one another and oblivious to our presence.

Common Murres

Common Murres

Most numerous were the Common Murres, packed together and surrounded by Black-legged Kittiwakes.  We had heard tales of Puffins, but only got a few glimpses of them on the very top of the rock.

Tufted Puffin

Tufted Puffin

Finally, two Tufted Puffins floated nearby and, with the smaller boat, we were able to get this one image!  Cute little devils, aren’t they!

Coming in to Halibut  Cove

Coming in to Halibut Cove

It wasn’t but about 45 minutes and we were already pulling into Halibut Cove.  We were told that this used to be a ‘perfect’ arch, but part of it collapsed recently.  I wonder how long it will be until the land bridge disappears altogether.  It was so beautiful, and exciting to think that we would spend the next several days in an area with no cars and no roads.

Halibut Cove

Halibut Cove

Idyllic might be an apt description of this lovely community that has about 40 permanent residents.  The tides in Katchemak Bay and Halibut Cove can range up to 20 feet, hence the excessively long boat ramps.  We dined at the Saltry, the only cafe in the community, accessible only via the local ferry, the Danny J.  There, we were entertained by the antics of a cheeky Northwestern Crow who had clearly figured out how to get many free meals!  Halibut Cove hosts several art galleries, all connected by a raised boardwalk.   One cannot help but relax in this pastoral environment.  Later, we stopped at the coffee shop, where even the local beagle found a relaxing spot on the sofa.

Chubby Beagle

Chubby Beagle

She did seem to have claimed this as her very own.  We did not challenge her!

Float Plane Lands at Halibut Cove

Float Plane Lands at Halibut Cove

After coffee and art, we adjourned to the boat dock to wait for the skiff.   The only other way to get to Halibut Cove is by float plane, like the one we watched landing on the waters of Heavenly Halibut Cove.

 

 

 

 

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Having Fun in Homer

Finally, the tiny port of Homer appeared as we crested a small hill.  Spread before us was the magificent expanse of Katchemak Bay @ Cook Inlet.  Even with the gray, gloomy skies, it was impressive.

Katchemak Bay Overlook

Katchemak Bay Overlook

But by now, it was getting on toward dinner time and we had been driving and sightseeing for a long time.  So, we adjourned to the local drinkery, the Salty Dawg Saloon a longtime fixture in Homer.

Maret and Michele at the Salty Dawg Saloon

Maret and Michele at the Salty Dawg Saloon

The Salty Dawg is a “must” when you are in Homer, not only for it’s eclectic decor, but also for the local culture.  (can you tell in the above image who is a native Alaksan and who is the tourist?)

Bumper Stickers at the Salty Dawg

Bumper Stickers at the Salty Dawg

The back of the bar is festooned with bumper stickers.  My favorite was the one on the top that proclaimed, “Grow your own Dope — Plant a Man!”.  Down in the lower left corner, another asks, “Where is the Hell is PIE TOWN, NM?”  Well, I can tell you the answer to that question, but that is for another blog post.

Ceiling Decor

Ceiling Decor

Every square centimeter is adorned with some memento from afar, from dollar bills to bras.  The Salty Dawg is definitely unique.  The rooms are filled with large tables and benches so bar patrons can mingle, and mingle we did!

Gail and Michele share an Alaskan Amber

Gail and Michele share an Alaskan Amber

Can you see the other folks at our table?  Well, turns out that they are the local fisherman ( and woman)! We learned a lot about the conditions of the seas, how the catch is declining, how the hooks are set so that it reduces accidental catch of seabirds. I was really happy to hear that!!!! The brew was pretty tasty too!  In fact,  brought some home in my suitcase — successfully too.  Sadly, it is already all gone!

Homer Harbor

Homer Harbor

The next morning was cool and cloudy.  We had some time to kill while waiting for the boat to take us over to Halibut Cove, so we opted for a little beach walk.

Black-legged Kittiwake Nest

Black-legged Kittiwake Nest

Black-legged Kittiwakes are the most common gull in the bay, overwhelmingly so!  There are thousands!  And, it seemed as if all of them had decided to build their nests, condo-style beneath the large pier that extended out into the bay.  It was the perfect nesting  place from a gull’s point of view, a nice roof overhead and protected from unexpected attack by the hordes of Bald Eagles that also reside there.

Driftwood and rocks

Driftwood and Beach Rocks

As we lazily walked the stony shores of Katchemak Bay, my mind wandered to photographic opportunities.  So it was that I was looking down at a natural arrangement of driftwood and beach rocks, when Maret and Michele exclaimed in unison, “OMG!  That eagle just plucked that gull out of the water!”  And, I missed it entirely!  That will teach me to be looking in the wrong direction!

Breakfast for an Eagle

Breakfast for an Eagle

I looked up in time to watch the Bald Eagle carrying the already dead gull to it’s favorite dining platform!  I am pretty sure the kittiwake never knew what hit him/her.  And, after all, eagles have to eat too.  Although the lighting is not good, if you look carefull, you may see the feathers wafting down from the eagle’s bill.

Next up — onward to roadless, Alaska!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coming to Alaska

Potter's Marsh

Potter’s Marsh

When Maret Anderson of Seams Like Home Quilt Shop in Anchorage first contacted me about teaching for her retreat, I was beyond excited!  We would be staying in a roadless area across the bay from Homer, called Halibut Cove.  Of course, I had never before heard of that place.   My second surprise occurred when I called Maret to confirm my flight arrangements.  I was planning to fly to Anchorage on June 5, the day before I began teaching.  Much to my surprise, Maret said, “Oh no!  You need to fly to Anchorage on June 2!” Then, she went on to explain all the birdly treats she had in store for the trip down to Halibut Cove as you will see in this series of posts.  My friend and colleague, Michele Hymel, had never been to Alaska before, so she decided to come along too.

Girls at Potters Marsh

Girl’s at Potter’s Marsh, Maret, Gail and Michele

So I packed my trusty spotting scope and tripod.  Arriving in Anchorage laaaaate evening, we went straight to bed.  Maret picked us up at 9 a.m. sharp and off we went, driving for a whole — 10 minutes!  That’s how far Potter’s Marsh is from Anchorage, one of the premier birding stops in southern Alaska.  We saw some amazing birds, like . . .

Red-necked Grebe

A nesting Red-necked Grebe, and

several nesting Mew Gulls

several nesting Mew Gulls

We probably spent a couple of hours only 10 minutes down the road.  But then, with our destination in mind – Homer – we set off down the road with plenty of leisure time for stopping, to look at birds, of course, but also Alaska specialty artists.

The Antler Shed at the Gem and Mineral shop

The Antler Shed at the Gem and Mineral shop

This particular shop took a fair amount of time as the rocks (not photographed here) were impressive as were some of the native carvings and the baleen woven baskets.  We did not dally too long and soon were back on the road.

Harlequin Duck

Harlequin Duck

Only to have me shout, “STOP!”, as we passed over a bridge.  There, right before my eyes, was the second and third Harlequin Ducks I had ever seen.  Found only in the far north, this pair was a rare discovery and a real treat.

Handed carved Wooden Urn

Handed carved Wooden Urn

Our next stop was a wood carving shop that held some unbelievable carved bowls and urns, the likes of which I had never before seen.  The shop owners quite friendly and gave us a tour of the carving workshop out back.  They even give classes in how to make these bowls.  If only the commute weren’t so long.

Moose near Ninilchik

Moose near Ninilchik

Finally, we turned south at Soldotna, meandering our way along the coastal highway and keeping a sharp eye out for wildlife.  Shortly after Maret showed us a stretch of beach, off the beaten path, that held probably 30 Bald Eagles, we were returning to the main road, when we all shouted in unison, “MOOSE!”  It was a female moose and her gangly legged baby who seemed to just be learning to use those long legs.  I couldn’t get a good photo though as Mama Moose was adept at blending  in with the shrubbery and also keeping her baby behind her.

Bald Eagle on nest

Bald Eagle on nest

In addition to the spectacular scenery, there was one final wildlife treasure to be seen.  As we rounded a corner on the highway, I looked over to see a large mass of sticks in a tree.   I hollered, “STOP” and we pulled over.  I knew it had to be the nest of a Bald Eagle, whether occupied or not.  So, I dragged out the scope, walked back along the shoulder of the highway, and set it up.  And, there she was, a huge female sitting on this year’s progeny!  This image gives you an idea of the massive structure that eagles can build, adding new sticks each year.  Some nests can be as much as 10-12 feet across and 10 feet deep.  What a wonderful way to end our first day in Alaska.

I think it only took 10 hours for us to complete the drive that normally take five!

Stay tuned for our Day 2 adventure — Homer and Surroundings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fine Dining – Paducah Style

Caribbean Style

Caribbean Style

Better late than never – ‘Tis my motto! I got sidetracked these last two weeks and am WAY behind on blogposts.  Nevertheless, I wanted to be sure to mention one terrific restaurant, Flamingo Row, where we girls dined on our last night in Paducah.   A couple of blocks south of the main drag, Hinkleville Road, it is definitely worth the effort!  In this small midwestern town, Flamingo Row embodies all things Caribbean, from the menu to the drinks!

Cynthia enjoys a fruity concoction

Cynthia enjoys a fruity concoction

Cynthia said it was delicious.   But, not being of the sort to partake of these kinds of sweetened drinks, I passed and opted for a glass of wine. – a dry white to pair with my dinner of shrimp, grits and green beans, a.k.a. “Haricot Verts”.  The first time I saw these on a menu, I had NO idea what the heck they were.  Turns out that they are French green beans, slimmer and supposedly better tasting!  Now, lest you think this sounds like a not-so-great entree, just take a look below!

Shrimp, Grits, and Haricot Verts

Shrimp, Grits, and Haricot Verts

The shrimp were grilled to perfection, the grits full of chile and cheese (YUM!) and the verts, crispy and crunchy!  Try it next time you are in Paducah!  You will love this place.

Girls at Flamingo Row:  (l-r)Michele, Yours Truly, Cynthia, and Mary

Girls at Flamingo Row: (l-r)Michele, Yours Truly, Cynthia, and Mary

Oh, what fun we had!  We were sad to say good-bye to Paducah and look forward to our next trip there.  On our way out of town, we got one last image of the magnificent dogwood flowers.

Dogwood Flowers

Dogwood Flowers

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Art in Paducah

Museum Statues

Museum Statues

Paducah is an art-centric community.  Statues are sprinkled throughout the town, in front of restaurants, shops, and other establishments, supplemented by an abundance of flowering plants.  We were there right at the peak of the dogwood blooming season, although I didn’t manage to capture a good image of them.  Azaleas also were prominent along residential areas.

In 1999,Robert Dafford completed the “1873 Bird’s Eye View” of Paducah from the Ohio river.

The Floodwall that protects historic downtown Paducah from the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers overflowing their banks includes three city blocks of painted murals that capture important moments in Paducah’s history.  The murals were designed & painted by Robert Dafford and the Dafford Muralists of Lafayette, Louisiana. The project began in 1996; the last panel was completed in 2007. Each mural panel has an interpretative plaque with a short history lesson on the scene depicted in the panel. Each panel also has its own spotlight making the mural walk an enjoyable evening stroll and tourist attraction.  In addition to enjoying 45 attractive works of art, taking the mural wall tour serves as a multi-media history lesson on Paducah and NW Kentucky.

Something

Somethign

In 1938 the Ohio River froze solid completely across bringing barge traffic to a halt but providing a winter playground for Paducah residents and school children freed from school by the freezing weather.

Below are images of a few of the murals.    All mural images were taken by Mary Chappelle.

Untitled

Untitle

The thriving community

Untitled

Paducah, the hub of river activity in the inland waterways, has been the center of the river industry for decades. As the 2000 painting season ended, the river section of the murals which span an entire city block, began to tell the story of life on the rivers. Several of the new murals are located directly in front of the River Center which includes the River Heritage Museum, the Center for Maritime Education, and Seamen’s Church Institute and include the Standing Watch View From the Pilot House, the Christening of the Eleanor, and the Visit of the Three “Queens” to Paducah. (The American Queen, the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen.)

Paducah is a city rich in its cultural heritage.  Although we saw only a portion of the art it has to offer, there was one final surprise in store for us.

Angel of Market Street

Angel of Market Street

We saw the ‘angel’ as we were parking in the downtown area.  Following a wonderful lunch, we returned to the rental car to find her still in place, posing in various positions.   This image was taken through the windshield of the car.

Next time you are within a six-hour drive of Paducah, it is definitely worth a detour through history.  Personally, I think it is wonderful at any time of year.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hancock’s of Paducah

Hancock's of Paducah

Hancock’s of Paducah

Or, perhaps it should be called Mecca for Quilters!  Although I had been to Paducah many times, I had never before crossed the threshold of one of the largest quilt shops anywhere, Hancock’s of Paducah.  Seems that on every othervisit, either there were so many quilters already inside that I couldn’t get in the door, OR, I forgot that they close at 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays!

Hancock's Main Showroom

Hancock’s Main Showroom

Hancock’s certainly lived up to my expectations and more!  In fact, it was completely overwhelming.  All the fabrics are arranged by manufacturers in LOOOOOONNNNNNG rows.  Everything you could possibly want is here.  The trick is finding, and deciding on the ones that speak to you.

The Back Room

The Back Room

And, if the main showroom isn’t enough to keep one entertained, the back warehouse holds bin after bin of kits, fabric packs and everything else your heart might desire.  It was a very hard place to leave but we had an appointment at the museum.  Yes, we did all leave some $$$ there with the fine folks at Hancock’s!

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Girlfriends’ Weekend in Paducah – Part One

Last weekend, three of my good quilting girlfriends and I set off to Paducah.   It all happened when two of my quilts were accepted into the National Quilt Museum in early March and I learned they would be hanging in the main gallery.  Michele immediately announced, “I want to go!”   Mary and Cynthia also thought it would be fun as neither of them had ever before been to Paducah and the Museum!  So, we set about planning a girlfriends’ weekend.  It was most economical to fly to St. Louis, so that became our first stop!

Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch

Our first stop after leaving the airport that afternoon, was the great park down along the Mississippi River.  None of the other girls had seen the impressive Gateway Arch that stands as the iconic monument symbolizing the westward expansion of the United States.  This architectural wonder that rises 630 ft. in the air commemorates the great journey of Lewis and Clark, begun 200 years ago.

Looking up at Gateway Arch

Interestingly, Cynthia just happens to be an architect, so we looked at the Arch and all of the surrounding buildings with new clarity and understanding!  It’s amazing what a ‘personal-pocket-architect-guide’ can do to increase one’s appreciation for structure and composition.  We had intended to stay downtown that first night and seek out the best restaurants.  So . . .

Girls at Bogarts

Girls at Bogarts Barbecue, the best in St. Louis! ( L-R, Mary Chappelle, Michele Hymel, Cynthia Figueroa-McInteer)

St. Louis is best known for its barbecue!  And, according to Trip Advisor, the Best of the Best in the downtown area is Bogarts Smokehouse !  In a little hole in the wall building just south of downtown, they only cook a certain amount each day and when it’s gone, it’s gone.  They stay open until they run out of food each night, which could be anywhere between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m.  We arrived at 6:00 p.m.

Ribs from Bogarts

I inquired about our best meal choice and they said RIBS!   So a half slab of ribs it was for most of us.  Melt-in-your-mouth juiciness and falling apart moist, they were simply delicious!
By the way, we got the final order of ribs for that night!

Stay Tuned for Chapter Two – On to Paducah!

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A Proud Tradition!

There we were at the end of January – off to our 20th Annual Quilt Retreat weekend to stitch up the 2013 raffle quilt, our main fundraiser for Hawks Aloft, the other passion in my life.  Fourteen worker types with various degrees of sewing prowess, 24 hours, my cabin in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, and with unparalleled  beautiful scenery outside the windows to distract.  Think we can get it done? Every year it’s our challenge.

The sweatshop, 2013 style.

The Sweatshop

 

The Hawks Aloft quilt raffle is an annual tradition.  Each year, yours truly creates an original design for the Hawks Aloft quilt. Once the design is completed, it is cut and stitched by an all volunteer team at our annual winter retreat. The quilt is unveiled each year at the Monte Vista Crane Festival in March. The Hawks Aloft community works together and produces both an heirloom quality quilt and a successful fundraiser. The proceeds from the raffle benefit the Hawks Aloft educational birds by helping to defray food costs. The winning raffle quilt ticket will be drawn at the annual Hawks Aloft Holiday Party on December 13, 2013.

 

 

Ed Chappelle is our Master Cutter!

 

Chellye Stitches the Outer Border

 

Chellye Porter removes paper foundations from the outer border.

 

Laney was the champion lounging dog!

 

Debby Caffrey

Debbie Prescott Caffrey works on the quilt center.

 

Laurie Marnell

Laurie Marnell was a first timer at the retreat. We were thrilled to have her expert help.

 

Carolyn Sanborn, a.k.a. Sami, works on the quilt center.

 

Quilt middle almost done.

 

Sharing a laugh or two over afternoon snacks! — with Sami Sanborn, Mary Chappelle, Cynthia Figueroa-McInteer, Anita Marsh McSorley, Steve Elkins, Laurie Marnell, and Chellye Porter at the cabin in the Jemez Mountains.

 

Rhianna and Olivia and Sami

Rhianna and Olivia were the youngest participants. Sami works hard in the background.

 

Ed and Steve, the champion paper rippers!

 

Gabby held down the furniture while we worked.

 

Finished at 7 pm

 

Did I say that we finished at 7 p.m. on Saturday!  Here’s the proof! — with Sami Sanborn, Chellye Porter, Anita Marsh McSorley, Cynthia Figueroa-McInteer, Mary Chappelle and Lauri Marnell.  I’m pretty sure the clock in the background tells accurate time . . .

 

And, here’s the official photo of the top, taken by Steve Elkins! Thanks to all who participated in the 2013 Quilt Retreat. It’s our 20th raffle quilt! I was hoping to show the beautiful quilting by Kris Vierra,  of Lincoln, NE, but it is TOO windy out there today to take a photo!  Dang!  Stay tuned for the final photo and information on how to buy tickets!!

Many thanks to all who helped before, during and after the retreat:  Donna Barnitz for pre-sewing and testing the pattern pieces, and Michele Hymel for binding the quilt and attaching the sleeve, Kris Vierra for machine quilting, and Ann Silva’s Bernina Sewing Center for loaning sewing machines for the retreat.   Retreat Participants were Ruth Burstrom, Debbie Caffrey, Ed Chappelle, Mary Chappelle, Steve Elkins, Laurie Marnell, Cynthia Figueroa-McInteer, Anita McSorley, Liz Roberts, Chellye Porter, Rhianna Roberts, Sam Sanborn,and Olivia Velasquez,

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