Archive for July 2010

Mushing And Glacier Cruising

Posted: Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 7:57 pm
By: Doug Lund
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My gosh..two weeks have flown by and WE’LL soon be flying back to South Dakota  where Noah has apparently been gathering up animals two by two.        Out here on the tundra, we’ve been hearing reports of the big rains around Sioux Falls and Linda has been fretting about our basement but friend and house watcher, Alona, reports this morning that  we’re high and dry.

Some of you have said you don’t mind seeing a few of these photos I’ve taken along the way through the Yukon and Alaska..so here are a few more.

Musher, Dave Monson talks to people aboard the riverboat about his sled racing dogs. Dave has been in the Iditarod several times but never won it..unlike his late wife, Susan Butscher who claimed the title four times. She died of cancer four years ago.

Musher, Dave Monson talks to people aboard the riverboat about his sled racing dogs. Dave has been in the Iditarod several times but never won it..unlike his late wife, Susan Butscher who claimed the title four times. She died of cancer four years ago.

Lance Mackey poses for pictures with his lead dog, Rev. (in the middle) Mackey, a cancer survivor has won the Iditarod for the last four years!

Lance Mackey poses for pictures with his lead dog, Rev. (in the middle) Mackey, a cancer survivor has won the Iditarod for the last four years!

The Iditarod Trail museum is near Wasilla. (Sarah Palin's home town)

The Iditarod Trail museum is near Wasilla. (Sarah Palin's home town)

There's a statue of Joe Pendleton at the museum. He founded the 11 hundred mile Iditarod in 1973.

There's a statue of Joe Redington at the museum. He founded the 11 hundred mile Iditarod in 1973.

Joe's son, Ramey, runs a sled dog on wheels for the tourists.

Joe's son, Ramey, runs a sled dog on wheels for the tourists.

Ramey and every other musher I talked to say the dogs really love yanking sleds great distances. The dogs seem enthused but then most dogs crave attention. I'm still not sold on the Iditarod.

Ramey and every other musher I talked to say the dogs really love yanking sleds great distances. The dogs seem enthused but then most dogs crave attention. I'm still not sold on the Iditarod.

The Klondike Express was our ride for the 26 glacier cruise.

The Klondike Express was our ride for the 26 glacier cruise.

We got pretty close to Surprise Glacier..but no huge chunks came crashing down.

We got pretty close to Surprise Glacier..but no huge chunks came crashing down.

Crew members scoop up some glacier ice then use it for chilling our Marguaritas. Linda and I had strawberry ones.

Crew members scoop up some glacier ice then use it for chilling our Marguaritas. Linda and I had strawberry ones.

The wheels on the bus go round and round. Lots of new friends and lots of laughs.

The wheels on the bus go round and round. Lots of new friends and lots of laughs.

So many photos..so little space. If you’re interested in seeing more, I’ve posted most of them on my Facebook page.

Northern Exposure

Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 10:29 am
By: Doug Lund
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Yes, the Alcan Highway is rough and bouncy.

Yes, the mosquitoes are the size of hungry hummingbirds.

Yes, the weather changes more often than Lori Line on tour.

But the Yukon Territory and Alaska also contain some of the most stunningly majestic mountains and wondrously remote wilderness areas on earth. We’ve managed to see a grizzly bear and three moose (meese?) along the road so far and we’re only half way across Alaska’s interior.

We’ve taken a three hour river cruise aboard a real sternwheeler..gobbled down fresh salmon and  halibut at the famous Fairbanks Salmon Bake and panned for gold at the El Dorado discovering for ourselves the excitement of seeing that “flash in the pan” of yellow gold: 24 dollars worth in our case.

We’ve gotten to know and enjoy the company of our fellow travelers and look forward to each days new experiences that are slipping by all too quickly.

I know there’s often nothing more  boring than looking at someone else’s vacation pictures but am posting a few anyway.

Down to Anchorage and the 27 glacier tour before it all comes to a conclusion with an overnight flight back to reality Saturday night.

alaska trip 055

 

alaska trip 095

 

Panning for gold at the El Durado..we got 24 dollars worth.

Panning for gold at the El Durado..we got 24 dollars worth.

 I’ve posted all our photos on Facebook.

Along The Klondike Trail

Posted: Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 9:59 am
By: Doug Lund
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“Ooga Ooga Mooska” from the Great White North!

Have arrived in Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon Territory CANADA!

It seems like we’ve spent more time in Canada so far on this journey than in Alaska..but we’re getting there. This is the first time since Seattle, we’ve had access to free internet..but civilization ends tonight when we stay in a remote little village called Beaver Creek YT  at a hotel that doesn’t have TV or phone service so we’ll really be out in the boonies until Fairbanks tomorrow night.

The 4 days and three nights aboard Holland America’s Volendam cruise ship were great fun as were the stopovers in Juneau and Skagway.  

Cruising one of the Fjords along the Inside Passage

Cruising one of the Fjords along the Inside Passage

I don’t know why Alaskan towns, known historically for attracting gold seekers have diamond jewelry shops every other building on main street. No, I didn’t buy Linda a diamond. I got her some neat under garments, though.

alaska linda underwear

Speaking of under garments, we enjoyed a brewed beverage in Skagway at a place called The Red Onion. It celebrates the tradition of it’s origins..which was a house where soiled doves entertained all the lonely gold seekers trudging  their way up the Klondike in the late 1800’s. You can take a guided tour of the rooms for the same price the miners paid for pleasure in them 110 years ago; five dollars.

I asked our waitress if I could take her picture. She pointed and said, "you're not turned on." She must have been talking about the camera.

I asked our waitress if I could take her picture. She pointed and said, "you're not turned on." She must have been talking about the camera.

We’ve had so many terrific experiences on this tour already and the best is yet to come. I’ll share a few more adventures and photos once we get settled in Fairbanks…but for now, we have just a few minutes to board the coach and head off into the awe inspiring wilderness.

 

The only wild animal Linda has seen so far is me.

McGovern Takes A Dive

Posted: Monday, July 19, 2010 at 7:49 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Central Florida 13 photo

Central Florida 13 photo

 I’ve always been a George McGovern fan.  Even though we sometimes differ politically,  I think he’s one of the smartest and most accommodating people I’ve ever met.  He’s my version of a 20th century Thomas Jefferson.

From the time when he piloted 35 missions in a B-24 during World War II, to his many years in congress until his current mission to end world hunger, his life has been dedicated to public service.

Senator McGovern turned 88 today and to demonstrate there’s still a lot of life left in this Avon, South Dakota native, he bailed out of a perfectly good airplane  in Florida and, like always,  landed on his feet.

Well done sir and Happy Birthday!

 

You Tube already has a video of McGovern’s skydive here’s the link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g22GhSZ0pqk

On My High Horse

Posted: Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 11:43 am
By: Doug Lund
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“Hey, we could go through Louisville if we want to. Anybody interested in visiting Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum?” I said from behind the wheel of Big Red as we motored east.

“Sure,” came the reply from Linda and Joanie in the back seat. “Absolutely,” Denny said as he reached for the GPS to lay-in a course. Denny was the navigator on our recent trip; a thankless job..especially if he programmed-in the shortest..instead of the fastest..route and we’d wind up on barren two lane oil roads with just enough traffic on them to prevent safe passing.  

“Is it pronounced Louis-ville or Louie-ville?” someone asked. “I think they prefer Lew-ah-ville,”  That led to a whole discussion on the correct way to pronounce Missouri..with an E on the end or an “ah.”  There’s no consensus on that one..even the locals disagree. I have a son-in-law who comes from Norfolk, Nebraska. He and his family insist you pronounce it Nor-FORK. Others, though..including radio and TV announcers say Nor-FOLK.  I won’t even get into the controversy of how to pronounce the city of the same name in Virginia.

Anyway, back to Louisville. We all began to have doubts about where the GPS was leading us as the neighborhood certainly didn’t look like it was home to the place we see on TV where all the high falootin’, big hat wearin’ mint julep slurpin’ bajillionares hang out on the first Saturday in May. But then we look off to our right and spot the famous twin spires of Churchill Downs..which have been shamefully obscured since major renovations were made to the grandstand a few years ago to accommodate the demands of uber rich snobs for luxury suites.

derby spires

Our timing was perfect as a tour of the famous track was just about to begin.

 

You're greeted at the main entrance by a statue of the great "Barbaro" a thoroughbred that won the derby in 2006. Many believed him to be the greatest hope for a triple crown since Secretariet. Tragically, Barbaro shattered his leg at the Preakness and in spite of several surgeries and the prayers of horse lovers everywhere, he had to be put down the following January. That's not just a statue..it's a headstone. Barbaro is buried right there.

You're greeted at the main entrance by a statue of the great "Barbaro" a thoroughbred that won the derby in 2006. Many believed him to be the greatest hope for a triple crown since Secretariet. Tragically, Barbaro shattered his leg at the Preakness and in spite of several surgeries and the prayers of horse lovers everywhere, he had to be put down the following January. That's not just a statue..it's a headstone. Barbaro is buried right there.

Four Kentucky Derby winners are buried at the track..but this guy is very much alive. He's Perfect Drift (named after the end of my driveway when the snowplow goes by in February) who finished 3rd in the 2002 Kentucky Derby and earned nearly five million dollars during his career. Perfect Drift has a nice stable which he shares with a little white pony for the benefit of tourists who want to see a real race horse.

Four Kentucky Derby winners are buried at the track..but this guy is very much alive. He's Perfect Drift (named after the end of my driveway when the snowplow goes by in February) who finished 3rd in the 2002 Kentucky Derby and earned nearly five million dollars during his career. Perfect Drift has a nice stable which he shares with a little white pony for the benefit of tourists who want to see a real race horse.

This is the tunnel that all the horse are led through on their way to glory or defeat on the famous mile and a quarter track.

This is the tunnel that all the horse are led through on their way to glory or defeat on the famous mile and a quarter track.

No races were scheduled this day but horses were around and many left their calling card on the cushioned walkway for tourists to dodge. I include this photo for the benefit of Hemmingsen who was noted for going to the circus and only noticing the elephant poop.

No races were scheduled this day but horses were around and many left their calling card on the cushioned walkway for tourists to dodge. I include this photo for the benefit of Hemmingsen who was noted for going to the circus and only noticing the elephant poop.

I like this photo of Joanie and Linda looking down the home stretch imagining snorting thoroughbreds charging down the home stretch in the annual Run For The Roses.

I like this photo of Joanie and Linda looking down the track imagining snorting thoroughbreds charging toward the home stretch in the annual Run For The Roses.

In a future blog, I’ll take you from Louisville, where the featured racing attractions have just one horsepower.. to Charlotte and the new NASCAR Hall of Fame that has lots of  machines with 800 horsepower!   For now, though, Linda and I are off on another adventure; hosting the Keloland/Holiday Vacations tour of Alaska. I’ll have the old laptop along and look forward to sharing some of the sights and observations with you.

The Dog Days Of Summer

Posted: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 7:58 am
By: Doug Lund
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Linda and I had a big dose of Brandy over the weekend.

Now, before you reach for the phone book and, for our own good, look up the number to Alcoholics Anonymous (It’s towards the front) let me explain.

This is Brandy.

 Brandy the dog 003

It’s our daughter and son-in-law’s doggie and since they were going to be out of town for a few days, they asked if we’d be interested in hosting the little bugger at our place. “Sure, glad to help out.”

Well, it’s amazing how that pint sized Shih Tzu managed to transform a couple of reasonably reserved retirees into a pair of blithering idiots..talking in pigeon English an octave higher than normal.. asking questions as if we fully expected this little creature to respond with something more than a cocked head and a tail wag.

“Is Brandy ready to go outside? Is she? Yes, you are aren’t you? Shall we go outside? Okay, sweetie. Where’s your chain? Where’s your chain Brandy? Okay, here we go..yes here we go. Whadda ya see out there huh? Alright Brandy go potty now. There, good girl. You really had to go didn’t you? Alright honey..shall we go inside? Are you hungry? I’ll bet you are. Where’s your ball?

Of course one of the reasons we fawn over this animal is because even with a fresh buzz haircut from the barber, she’s so darned cute.

The only issue I have with Brandy is her breed; Shitzu..or Shih Tzu. It’s kind of embarrassing to say out loud in mixed company..at least the way I was saying it.

I finally did look the name up in the on-line dictionary and see that the preferred pronunciation is now “Sheet-zoo.”  I suspect that was changed somewhere along the line by the good taste police who have also managed to upgrade the pronunciation of the seventh planet from the sun, Uranus, to “YOUR-ah-nus.”

It wasn’t long after our son in law came to take Brandy home that I began to miss the clicking of her toenails on the kitchen floor; dropping her toy rubber hot dog at my feet for a fast game of fetch; doing three circles on the couch before lying down next to me for a nap or with a ferocious growl, challenging the squirrels and rabbits that passed by the window to a fight.

Brandy the dog 002

Anyway, the whole Brandy experience has rekindled that flame inside me which really wants a dog of our own. By the way Linda was acting, I figured she was ready too..but I’m afraid it’s going to take more convincing. If we ever do get a dog, though, it probably won’t be a Shih Tzu.

I’ve always wanted a cocker.

No, wait.

Honest Abe

Posted: Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 10:27 am
By: Doug Lund
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Does anybody else find it astounding how much money companies like Progressive, and Geico spend on advertising?

I looked it up and it’s close to a BILLION dollars a year each.

In fact, I’ve seen three insurance spots for Progressive in the last half hour. They’re everywhere on every channel; running so often that I hear Flo’s voice more often than Linda’s.

As for Geico’s various campaigns to win your insurance dollar I’ve never understood the talking stack of money bit but found the cavemen and the gecko mildly amusing. But the latest one featuring Honest Abe Lincoln being asked by Mary Todd if the dress she’s wearing makes her backside look big is just hilarious.  Haven’t seen it yet? CLICK HERE.

Like millions of Americans, I believe that Abe Lincoln was our greatest president. There is much to be admired about him; not the least of which is his ability to summon up the strength to function, make critical decisions and maintain a sense of humor despite the personal tragedies he endured during his lifetime; especially the deaths of two sons; Eddy at age four and 12 year old Willie. (Son, Thomas “Tad” Lincoln died too but several year’s after the assassination.)

This Lincoln family portrait was made shortly after they moved into the White House

This Lincoln family portrait was made shortly after they moved into the White House

I was delighted that one of the routes we’d chosen for our trip down South last month passed right through Springfield, Illinois where the Lincolns lived and their four sons were born. I’ve seen many documentaries on the house that they called home from 1843 to 1861..but there’s nothing like experiencing the place in person.

The Lincolns moved into this house in 1843 and left after the presidential election of 1860 never to return..at least not alive.

The Lincolns moved into this house in 1843 and left after the presidential election of 1860 never to return..at least not alive.

One of the conditions Robert Lincoln insisted upon after donating the house to the city was that it be well maintained and the public would never be charged to see it. There have been several restorations over the years and it's still free to see.

One of the conditions Robert Lincoln insisted upon after donating the house to the city was that it be well maintained and the public would never be charged to see it. There have been several restorations over the years and it's still free to see.

Many of the furnishings are original. Lincoln's bed, however, is a period repleca. How could anybody sleep with all that loud wallpaper? But it was high fashion in the mid 19th century and this is exactly what they had in the house.

Many of the furnishings are original. Lincoln's bed, however, is a period repleca. How could anybody sleep with all that loud wallpaper? But it was high fashion in the mid 19th century and this is exactly what they had in the house.

According to our tour guide, that's one of Abe's stovepipe hats hanging in the hallway.

According to our tour guide, that's one of Abe's stovepipe hats hanging in the hallway.

This is Mr. Lincoln's original writing desk and chair. Think about all the hours he spent right there.

This is Mr. Lincoln's original writing desk and chair. Think about all the hours he spent right there.

Willie and Tad shared a room. Those marbles along with a few other toys were found during an excavation of the back yard. It's believed they belonged to the Lincoln boys.

Willie and Tad shared a room. Those marbles along with a few other toys were found during an excavation of the back yard. It's believed they belonged to the Lincoln boys.

Abe and Mary obviously got together on occasion but maintained seperate bedrooms. Of course I had to take a picture of Mary's bedside toilet. We were told that the live-in maid emptied the chamber pot each morning and that Abe used the biffy outside..which, by the way, is a three holer.

Abe and Mary obviously got together on occasion but maintained seperate bedrooms. Of course I had to take a picture of Mary's bedside toilet. We were told that the live-in maid emptied the chamber pot each morning and that Abe used the biffy outside..which, by the way, is a three holer.

Just a short drive from the Lincoln home is Oak Ridge Cemetery, the final resting place of the President, Mary Todd, Eddie, Willie and Tad. Robert, the only son who lived to a ripe old age, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery at the insistence of his mother, Mary. But that’s another story.

The tomb is most impressive and includes a large bronze of Lincoln created by Mount Rushmore sculptor, Gutzon Borglum.

The tomb is most impressive and includes a large bronze of Lincoln created by Mount Rushmore sculptor, Gutzon Borglum.

It is a place of reverance but obviously, from the shine on Lincoln's nose, visitors like Joanie and Linda are not discouraged from giving it a rub.

It is a place of reverance but obviously, from the shine on Lincoln's nose, visitors like Joanie and Linda are not discouraged from giving it a rub.

I have to confess that upon arriving into the inner sanctum of the tomb to where Lincoln's remains are buried under tons of concrete, I choked up a little.

I have to confess that upon arriving into the inner sanctum of the tomb to where Lincoln's remains are buried under tons of concrete, I choked up a little.

If you’re ever in the Neighborhood of Springfield, Illinois, don’t miss the opportunity to visit these historical sites.

Speaking of opportunities, an old tradition continues this Sunday at our little country church, Springdale Lutheran. The annual ice cream social, which includes a plethora of home made pies, begins at 4:30 pm and runs until everybody has ice cream headaches..or around 7pm. Springdale is located about a mile North of Spring Creek Golf Course. Linda and I will be pouring the beverages.

Things That Really Bug Linda And Me

Posted: Saturday, July 3, 2010 at 10:56 am
By: Doug Lund
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Aside from me backing out of the shower, nothing strikes terror into the heart of my dear wife, Linda, more than the sight of a spider. She is president of the arachnophobia club. So, of course, she’s always the first one to spot a spider crawling out from behind a counter or flower pot or perched on a basement wall.

It’s kind of cute how she gets all feminine when, after a sighting,  she shakes her clenched fists next to her face and in a high voice pleads for me to come to the place of discovery and dispatch the huge black hairy insect that dared to defile our home.

“It was just a daddy long legs,” I said. 

“Giving it a cute name doesn’t make them any less scary,” she replied..while heading out the door for ACE hardware to purchase the most lethal brand of spider killer allowed for domestic use; then directing the spray in all potential points of entry until the can is empty and the inside of the house is a blue haze and smells like a cross between fuel oil and Evening In Paris perfume.

When we got home from vacation last week, I was reaching to unlock the door when a rather sizeable black spider scampered by my hand along the garage wall and behind a cabinet. Luckily, Linda didn’t see it or she’d have been off to ACE before going inside.

But that was only the beginning of our bug issues.

She just now left for Menards to pick up some sort of chemical designed to destroy an infestation of  insects (Is a half dozen an infestation?) that we’ve come to find out are “earwigs.”

earwig

EARWIGS, I thought, Isn’t that the same creature that Kahn inserted into Chekov’s ear to drive him nuts in Star Trek II ?

Ewwww. Khaaaaaaan!

Ewwww. Khaaaaaaan!

It’s true, earwigs, who look positively disgusting with a set of menacing forceps on the belly and long antennae protruding from their horrid little heads,  thrive in dark wet places and eat plants, other insects and human brains. Okay, I looked it up and apparently that last one isn’t true.

I also learned that they go through six moltings in their year of life and actually have wings that allow them to fly but they rarely do.

Oh, Linda’s back already. I’ve gotta go out and see what I can do to help.

Well, that was interesting. We have a brick patio which, as it turns out, is like Disneyland for earwigs. They were congregating under a plank we used to keep a wooden trunk off the ground; also under the grill and plant pots.

You can barely see them trying to scurry to safety

You can barely see them trying to scurry to safety

We initially went for a mass extermination by blasting them at point blank range with a spray bottle filled with a strong toxin designed to kill any creepy crawly things on contact..except earwigs, apparently, as this baptism of death only seemed to make them mad.  Time to bring out the heavy artillery.

A determined Linda ready to do battle

A determined Linda ready to do battle

Although it looks rather benign, this powder called Sevin 5 appears to be doing the trick; causing the little buggers to curl up and croak.

Linda doing the dusting.

Linda doing the dusting.

The can label says not to use on a windy day, but the site of so many earwigs had us throwing caution to the wind..literally.  Besides, those health warnings are usually overly cautious. I didn’t inhale that much and I’m pretty sure it hasn’t amented me fectally.