Steve Delaney, Nathan Waterstreet, and Hamster Threads, Too!

Ran into a couple of way amazing artists yesterday on my walk along Bellingham Bay.

Met a wood-carver extraordinaire named Steve Delaney in Boulevard Park. Steve grew up in Homer, Alaska, where he told me there was no TV and and not a whole lot to do – so he took up carving. I was blown away by his work, and ended up walking away with one of his sailboats for a price so reasonable, I’m embarrassed to name it.

At the other end of the walk Nathan Waterstreet had hung his colorful, magical paintings from a chain-link fence and was working on several of them simultaneously – one color at a time…

And big news from Suzanne, jewelry-designer and Wailing Goat espresso shop owner and all-around cool person – about the Hamster Threads extravaganza: On Saturday, August 4th at 7:00 pm at The Hub (903 N. State Street in Bellingham), there will be a fashion show (featuring recycled duds), a dance off, live music, and a DJ dance party with proceeds to benefit the Brigid Collins Family Support Center. Suggested donation are $5.

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Sam the Wonder Dog’s Excellent Day

Two years ago my husband called from the local Humane Society to tell me that he and our son had found a pup they wanted to bring home with them. “She’s a lab mix,” he told me, and “very friendly.”  When they brought the pup home, I took one look at her paws, and said, “Honey, I think we’ve got something else entirely here.”  Two years later, it is now clear that Samantha  is at least part Great Dane.  Or maybe thoroughbred  race horse.

The day after my husband brought Sam home, I took her for her first outing in Bellingham. We went for a walk on the Bellingham  boardwalk (and within the first few feet, she’d introduced me to the fine art of picking doggy poop up in a plastic bag), followed the trail around Lake Padden, and played a game of fetch in Padden’s doggy park.  I learned that Sam is a natural “fetcher,” has a gift for running at great speeds, is intelligent and inquisitive, and has an unsurpassed exuberance for life. I also learned that, even in pup size, she was very strong, and difficult to control. When she wanted to meet a new doggy or human friend, there was no stopping her – she was all over her poor victim… I mean… new friend… in moments.  Her new “friends” never knew what hit them. After the first week or two, out of concern for the safety of any young children Sam might get it into her head to “befriend,” I stopped taking her to Bellingham for walks.

About six months ago, at the suggestion of Heidi (a friend I’d first met on the boardwalk), we acquired a new leash for Sam. It’s called a “Gentle Leader” and it fits around Sam’s muzzle and straps over the back of her head. When one pulls on the leash, Sam’s head has to turn – just like a horse’s head turns when you pull on its reins – and, like a horse, when Sam’s head turns, she has to stop.  This new leash has been a huge blessing for both Sam and me. It has meant I can take her for walks again, without fear that she’ll knock over toddlers, or pull me off my feet.

Sam and I went back to the boardwalk a couple days ago, and we had a most excellent day.  I got to experience the world through her doggy mind: Ooh – ripe smells! Clam shells are fun to crunch! Humans are nice! Lick the face! More dogs! Bunny!

We listened to Hollis play his guitar, watched Devin balance nonchalantly on the pinnacle of a boulder, watched another wonder dog catching a frisbee in mid-air (okay, so Sam DID pull me off my feet and onto my kiester when she saw the other wonder dog – she really wanted to chat with a fellow superdog – but I figure that when she pulls me onto my kiester only once on a walk, we’re having a good day), made the acquaintance of a dog with the most spectacular ears,  ran into the newly-engaged Rachel and her friend, the lovely Juliet – who both gave Sam the kind of petting that has made them her friends for life – and met some other really cool humans and canines, too.

As we were walking back up the trail to the car, this nice lady offered Sam the last of her gelato. As the lady held it out to her, Sam licked the bottom of the paper cup, and then – vwomp! – the whole cup went in her mouth.  The generous gelato-sharing lady and I both started cracking up.

Gelato and a paper cup, too! Sam had a most excellent day.

North to Alaska

According to http://www.distance-calculator.co.uk/usa-distance-bellingham-to-anchorage.htm it is 1369 miles in a straight line from Bellingham to Anchorage.

And what an incredible 1369 miles it is.

Our journey to Alaska and back started at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, and took us to Anchorage, Denali National Park, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Vancouver, BC.  –  a blurr of mountains, glaciers, wildlife, totem poles, human life, history, color, sweets,  music, dancing, laughter, and breath-taking beauty.

In Anchorage, we bought reindeer hot dogs from a lovely young woman from South America who travels to Alaska every summer to work the reindeer hot dog stand, and we were captivated by the profusion and brilliant color of the flower beds scattered throughout the city – Anchorage maybe doesn’t get a whole lot of sunshine and light for much of the year, but when summer comes the gardeners of Anchorage don’t waste a minute of it – the city runs ariot with the color of bogonias, lupines, and foxglove planted in every available inch of city space.

From Anchorage we headed by bus to the Grizzly Bear Lodge – a clean, woodsy little motel that sits on the edge of a happily babbling creek and lies close to the entrance of Denali National Park.  The next day, Don, our tour bus driver, chauffered us 62 miles into the park and up to a viewpoint of Mount McKinley – highest mountain in North America. We’d been cautioned by everyone we met that the odds of actually seeing the mountain are 3 in 10. But I just knew we’d see the mountain, and we did! As I scanned its vast expanse, I felt connected to my dad, Dee Molenaar, who had traveled to McKinley to help rescue his friends, the Whittaker twins, from its slopes when I was a young girl. Driving through the park we were blest to sight grizzly bears, a couple moose, and some caribou amongst the bushes and snowfields, and some doll sheep moving around on the mountain ridges. It was a spectacular day.

photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

The next day we traveled to a wildlife rehabilitation center, and the starting point for the Iditarod dogsled race. Then, faces licked and fingers gnawed by lively blue-eyed puppies who would one day race in the Iditarod, and cameras full of the images of rehabilitated moose, bears, and caribou, we boarded the Millennium cruise ship to embark on the nautical part of our Alaska adventure.

Our first stop was Juneau, third largest city in Alaska, and unreachable by car. After traveling on our charter bus through Juneau’s suburb, and past schools, we suddenly found ourselves at the end of the Mendenhall Glacier.  This was very cool, and very weird. I mean – can you imagine having this massive glacier at the end of your surburb – just a mile or two past your neighborhood school?

I did a quick walk to a humongous waterfall at the end of the glacier, and stood in the spray of it, arms wide, and just let my body soak in the magnificence of the glacier. When I returned to the bus I found that my husband had found one of my dad’s maps at the Visitor’s Center and bought it. The thought that my dad’s map had found its way to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor’s Center put a grin on my face. I love those kinds of connections.

Then it was back on the cruise ship – next stop: the historical old mining town of Skagway. Skagway really appealed to the history-lover in me, and I loved the people I met there. At Skagway’s National Historical Park, I met a National Park Guide named Ruth Kerr who also works in the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Seattle, at the other end of the trek to find gold in the Klondike. As Ruth said, “It takes 1500 miles to tell the story.”

Skagway was scrappy. We had a snack at the old saloon, met Jonathan Hays, a trained opera singer and thespian who is co-owner of the town’s theater company, wandered past a building with sticks for siding, and another building that showed the Russian influence in Alaska with a really cool gold-colored dome. There were also a lot of diamond stores there – something we found to be true for every port we landed in, actually. (I never understood why there was such a profusion of diamond stores in the port cities of Alaska – diamonds do not come from Alaska – but there must be a lot of tourists who go to Alaska to purchase diamonds (?) for there to be so many stores that sell them.)

We also met Michelle, a young woman with a beautiful smile, who was setting up scaffolding so she could work on the upkeep of historical Skagway. Michelle had grown up in Skagway, and had been excited to get a job working for the Park Service that brought her back to her hometown.

After our tour of the town we took a bus up to the White Pass summit, where we saw a couple of snowboarders who’d spent a happy day climbing to the top of snow patches and boarding down them. I went up to talk to them and discovered that they had friends who lived, like, three miles from our home, back in Bow, Washington! What are the odds of meeting people in the hinterlands of Alaska with connections to Bow?! Connections, baby. I love these connections.

After a day in Skagway, we boarded back onto the ship – our next stop, the old Tlingit fishing village of Hoonah, in IcyCove, to embark on a whale-watching tour. There is no guarantee, of course, that one will see whales on a whale-watching tour – but we did see several whales rising out of the water, and a couple of orcas, too. My husband captured some beautiful images of whale tails and plumes and whales’ backs curving out of the water. I, alas, was not quick enough with my little camera to capture a nice, clear image of a whale. I did take a rather nice picture of the cannery in Hoonah, though:

Next stop: Ketchikan. I absolutely loved Ketchikan! While we were there we took a tour bus to Saxman Village, a town established by natives from the Tlingit tribe at the turn of the last century. Members of the tribe performed a couple of traditional Tlingit dances for us…

… and then welcomed those of us from the “outside” to come up and join them in a final dance. A nice lady from the Raven clan wrapped a Tlingit shawl around my shoulders and told me to bend my knees and bob to the left and bob to the right to the beat of the drums – and I was good to go! (Ahem. You will not be seeing a picture of this.)

After the dancing, we had the great privilege of visiting the totem-carving workroom, filled with the scent of fresh cedar, and being introduced to Nathan Jackson, a member of the Tlingit tribe and a world-renowned artist/totem carver.

If you ever find yourself in Ketchikan, I highly recommend you take the walk along the Creek Street boardwalk – the former Red Light district of the old mining and fishing town. The boardwalk is lined with historical old stores featuring art by local artists, and follows a creek that, at this time of the year, is filled with salmon making their way to their spawning waters.

While we were there, we watched a harbor seal circling around in the creek, looking for lunch – and when he finally was ready to catch a fish, that seal moved like a missile through the water – he was unbelievably fast and dexterous – turning abruptly, racing one direction and then the other. The salmon did not have much of a chance against his speedy attack.

As I was meandering along the boardwalk, a young man named Shawn stopped me and asked me if I’d like to meet an actual fifth-generation Ketchikan native. I told him I would absolutely love to meet a fifth-generation native, and he introduced me to Lloyd, a Tlingit and proud member of the Raven clan.

At the end of the day we boarded our ship one final time. The next day would be spent traveling through the Inside Passage to Vancouver, BC.

The Inside Passage is very cool – dotted with small forested islands, and rocky coves and with craggly, snow-capped mountains seeming to rise right out of the sea. The day was sunny and the waters sparkled and it was a perfect day to be on a cruise ship.

When we docked in Vancouver, I felt like I was home. Bellingham is just a short hop across the border from Vancouver, and it has the same feel to it – both cities are teeming with active, outdoorsy folks – paddle-boarders, kayakers, bicyclers – and both cities feature artists and street performers, and they both have great public markets for buying fresh produce and local art.

While I was wandering through Vancouver’s Public Market, I saw these two chaps sitting on stools at a bar facing out into the crowd, munching chocolatey baked goods, and people-watching. I could tell they were enjoying the people who passed by, as much as the pastries in their hands. These were my kind of folks. I went up and introduced myself to them and chatted with them for a bit. Although Sean was originally from Vancouver, he currently lives in Brazil and had returned to Vancouver for a vacation to visit his friend, Kevin. (Sean highly recommended the chocolate mousse from Stuart’s Baked Goods.)

***

We’d been told by our trip’s Go-Ahead tour guide, Bob (a more calm and patient soul I have never meet – he is a former FBI agent, and a whole book could probably be written just on his life) that a limo would take us to the airport the next day. Having experienced a “limo” ride from an airport before, what I was expecting was more of a van.  But an actual stretch limousine showed up at our hotel door to take us to the airport! And so, joined by three of our fellow tourists, Barb, Frances, and Kelly, my husband and I ended our epic adventure to Alaska and back with a luxury limo ride!

***

There are more stories I’d like to share – I want to talk about the generosity of my sister-in-law, Bev, and her husband, Matt, who made this trip possible for us; I want to talk about The Cold that I feared might keep me from this trip, and the Great Ulu Knife Adventure;  I want to talk about the many serendipitous blessings that were showered upon us throughout our journey, and about how precious it was to be able to spend time with my husband and his mom and sister and brother-in-law and nephew; I want to talk about the dance I had with Scott on the cruiseship and the rabbit ears photo – but perhaps I shall write about these things on my other blog: madcapchristianscientist.wordpress.com.

(All photos below were taken by Karen Molenaar Terrell – well, except for the one of the Iditarod pup and me – that one was taken by Scott Terrell, photographer extraordinaire.)

Strangely the Musician

No, that’s his name. Really. I am not making this up. His name is Strangely, and I had the good fortune to hear him playing his accordion and ukelele at the Bellingham Farmer’s Market last weekend.  His music made me grin, and his name cracked me up. I’m hoping he’ll be a regular on the Farmer’s Market circuit…