Did you know at 33 years old, I have never once been skiing? For the last eight plus years I have lived less than fifteen minutes away from a ski area and still have never been. All of that changed recently for me.
My Nephew came up here to Juneau, and has been visiting me for the last few days. One of the things he really wanted to do while he is up here was go Skiing and he wanted me to go with him. My younger brother, who also lives in Juneau, was too on my case about going skiing during our nephew’s visit. They both told me I would have a lot of fun and that I just needed to give it a shot. Needless to day, I had my doubts.
A couple of days after my nephew arrived we headed out early to the Eaglecrest Ski Area where we met up with my brother who works there. The three of us got fitted for boots and skis and headed over to the beginner’s slope. As we were making our way up the snow covered hillside to the beginner’s ski lift my brother gave me some quick lessons. How to put the Skis on , how to “pizza” your skis so you can slow down and how to kick your heals how so you can turn. Once he felt like I got the gist of how it all worked, and I felt somewhat comfortable on my feet, the three of us slid over to the beginner’s ski lift and went up the hill.
Now, here is where I wish I could tell you I took to skiing like a born natural. That I was able to glide down that hill with the best of them. I can’t tell you that. I fell as soon as we tried to get off the ski lift. Then I fell a bunch more times just trying to get down the hill. But, the truth here is that I had a smile on my face the whole time. It was a whole lot of fun.
By the end, I was getting pretty decent at skiing. I was able to take the last three runs of the day without falling. I was pretty sore and stiff the next day, but it was totally worth it. I might just have to go skiing again sometime.
This has been one of the best summers I have ever experienced since moving to Juneau. It’s been filled with all kinds of out door activities like fishing and family visits doing the tourist thing.
Normally summers like this mean we can expect a hard, cold winter in Juneau. And as much as that kind of thing is looming over me, as summer turns to fall and then winter, I am trying to do everything possible to take advantage of these last few days of bliss we have here.
Hopefully there will be a few more bonfires, a few more BBQs and a few more cigars before it’s all over.
When the sun is shining, a light breeze is blowing and you couldn’t ask the weather to be any better, Juneau, Alaska is a pretty amazing place. It’s on day like this that my wife discovered a new hobby. She loves to fish. She, along with my brother Abe, who runs a fishing guide company called Hooked On Juneau, go fishing together.
Last Sunday, Hannah got up and went out fishing with Abe’s tour group, caught her second king and first three pink salmon ever. The thought of this is a little crazy to some who live here. Hannah and I have been a part of Juneau for the last seven years and neither of us have been very inclined to the nature side of things. Most people you run into around here enjoy going for hikes up the mountains, going hunting or fishing. Others enjoy boating around or rock climbing. So as my wife has gone telling her friends that she got her second ever king salmon and showing them her proud photos on her phone she gets a lot of strange looks and comments. Things like “You have lived here for ever. How are you only just now catching salmon?”
The short answer is just that she has not gone fishing before. This is starting to look like a new chapter in our lives. Well, her life. Becoming a fisherwomen.
My wife and her endless creativity has brought her back to Juneau’s Arts and Humanities Council and their annual ‘Wearable Art‘ event. Hannah spent months designing her entry. Starting with sketches on paper, she has designed her dress entry this year out of sterile instrument wraps and used laser printer film. The dress was worn by her model, Amber.
Last weekend was the two day event. It was a lot of fun and had some nice changes from last year’s event.
The Juneau summer this year was not the warmest or the sunniest I have ever experienced since moving to Alaska. They all can’t be winners when you live in the middle of a rain forest.
As fall hits us with a shock the weather has turned cold and the air has become very dry. At the start of October people have had to start waking up earlier than normal to make sure their cars are defrosted and warmed up for the morning drive into work. Before the month was out we got our first real snow fall that dusted the landscape like sugar.
With all the recent cold weather, and the daily continuing loss of sunlight that comes with living this far north, we have had some bright spots too. Most notably is that during the daylight hours we do have they have been bright and sunny. Hannah and I have managed to go for some walks after work all bundled up and trying to soak up some of that natural vitamin D from the sun. We are lucky enough to live really close to a park with a lake, so its easy for us to walk out our front door and down to the lake where we walk the length of it and back.
October is also the month I was born in and Hannah put together a nice little party with some good friends. Some of which flew all the way in from southern Washington State. It turned out to be a great weekend that I don’t think I am going to ever forget.
Halloween is also in October, so of course we carved out some pumpkins and turned them into some great looking Jack-o-lanterns. My brother Abe came over and the three of us took to work on four pumpkins. This is the second or third time since I have lived up here that I recall it snowing when we set our Jack-o-lanterns outside.
Ever since the Curiosity rover left our planet last November on it’s mission to Mars, I have been waiting with much anticipation for it’s landing on the red planet. Last Sunday the wait ended with the Curiosity rover’s landing on Mars. From what I have been reading and watching on the internet It appears the landing went off with out a hitch.
Hannah and I stayed up late on Sunday night to watch the NASA USTREAM of the landing. Here is a recap of the broadcast.
The landing on Mars was an amazing event to watch and I feel lucky that Hannah and I got to watch it together. After things calmed down, I could not help but noticed the abundance of Apple MacBook Pros everyone was using at NASA. Which lead me to post the following on Google+.
And then I created a meme from the post.
Since that Sunday we have had some more photos from Mars that are quite stunning. Its amazing what we can accomplished as a people when we work together for a common goal.
For as long as I have been apart of Fire On Mcginnis, they have talked about one day playing the Southeast Alaska State Fair in Haines. This year the band was invited over to play and everyone has been pretty excited about it. It has taken some hard work to get this all lined up and ready to go by some of the more active members of the band. They had to figure out how to transport not only our music equipment, but also our PA system on the Alaska state ferry as well as where and when we would be playing.
So, what I know of Haines is not much. It has a population of around 1,800 people and is home to the surviving set pieces from Walt Disney‘s White Fang picture, which was filmed there in 1990. From Haines you can drive up to Anchorage, but you do have to go through Canada to get there.
Armed with that little knowledge, I packed my bags, drum gear, some food because of my Slow Carb Diet, and waited for my bass player, Matt to show up with his wife to take me to the ferry Dock. At just before 7AM we arrived at the ferry dock and got our tickets and boarded the ship we would be on for the next four and half hours to Haines.
The ferry itself is filled with all kinds of nooks, crannies and corners that people can tuck themselves away in. My band and I found one such place with windows so we could see the scenery float by. During the trip we were able to review some of the songs. An acoustic guitar fiddle will pulled out at one point as music was rehearsed. The rest of the trip was filled with reading and napping.
When we docked in Haines and exited the vessel we drove straight to the Fogcutter Bar to unload and set up our gear.The Southeast Alaska State Fair was in full swing, so we would not start performing till after the fairgrounds closed for the night around 11PM. We took a couple of hours and staged all of our musical equipment and then decided to get some food.
After eating we all headed back up to the Fogcutter and finished our setup. A quick two song sound check later, the five of us piled into three vehicles and headed to our respective lodgings for this trip to take a nap. Around this time I realised that Haines only had the Edge network available to smartphone users. So updating Google+ was impossible and getting so much as a text message out most of the time was either hit or miss.
When 10:30 rolled around Mat (bass player), Mark (guitar player) and myself (drummer) packed ourselves into Mark’s car and headed back to the Fogcutter bar. It was still light out and it would have been sunny if not for the clouds in the sky. At least it was warm(ish).
In the bar, I asked the barkeeper (I have been wanting to say that this whole post) to fill up my aluminium canteen with ice water which I carried back to behind my drum set. A few minutes of checking cables and our sound and we were off playing music moving through our song list one by one.
The Haines crowd loved the music and was very enthusiastic for us to play our brand of Celtic rock music. Dancing and cheers went on all night long. The people of Haines could not have been more welcoming and wonderful to us.
For this bar gig I switched to using baseball gloves over my normal golfing gloves. This is mostly because I could not find a store in Juneau that sold left and right handed golfing gloves and I just should bite-the-bullet and order them online already. The thing I did not like about using the baseball gloves is that they were to padded. So my hands could not articulate themselves as well. I opted to keep them on my hands over having my hands all bloody and blistered by the end of the night.
I think it was close to 4AM when we wrapped up at the fogcutter. To celebrate we all went outside to smoke a cigar and talk about how the show went. The sun was coming back up already. While we talked people from the bar came out to compliment us and eventually Mike (guitar and bagpipes) and Marth (Guitar, Fiddle and Vocals) grabbed their bagpipes and fiddle and played a couple of songs outside for those of us enjoying the cool night air. It was a wonderful night.
The next morning I was sore and slow to move. My back just felt like one bit knotted up mess. I stretched out a little bit and drank a lot of water and started to feel better. I think it was close to 2pm before we left for the fair grounds. There we found food and entertainment with several food booths and two musical stages.
With food quickly filling the void in our guts we started to work out the plan of getting our musical gear onto the main stage for our 6PM performance. A lot of which was a blur for me. Maybe because I have slight stage fright and maybe because there was just so much to get done between getting on stage, playing music, and getting all our gear back off again. There was a lot to do in a short amount of time.
When it was time for us to get everything setup we all worked together and worked quickly to setup ourselves on the stage. We were introduced as “Fire On McGinnis from Juneau Alaska”. With that we started playing. Two songs in I broke a drum stuck and flung it out into the crowd.
Four songs into our set at the fair and I broke my throne. How does that even happen? But I did it. I was able to stay balanced through to the end of the song we were on. Luckily there was a spare throne at the back of the stage.
I remember the show going really well and getting lots of applause after each song we played. We ended out set with cheers from the crowd. Together as a group we got all of our gear off the stage so the next band could setup quickly. We got all our gear packed up in our vehicles and then spent the rest of the night enjoying all that the fair had to offer.
The part of the fair I enjoyed the most was that it was right next to the White Fang set. I spent a lot of time walking up and down the boarded sidewalks and smoking a cigar in the cool night air.
We got back to Juneau early Sunday afternoon, unloaded all our gear. What a weekend!