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Canada’s massive mining dam failure reinforces opposition to Pebble Mine in Alaska

FISHING — Just as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has opened another round of comments on the controversial proposal to authorized the Pebble Mine near the headwaters of Alaska's prized Bristol Bay salmon fisheries, a disaster in Canada has struck an emphatic case in point.

Monday’s devastating tailings dam failure at the Mount Polley copper mine in British Columbia sent an estimated 4.5 million cubic meters of mine waste solids and 2.6 billion gallons of mine waste liquids into streams, rivers, and lakes in the headwaters of the Fraser River watershed. 

  • See an aerial survey of the impacts in the video above.

The massive release of materials from a mine tailings pond near Quesnel is “virtually impossible to clean up,” according to a marine researcher — and may have already damaged salmon habitat beyond repair.

Dr. Peter Ross heads Vancouver Aquarium’s ocean pollution research program and said on Wednesday the spill likely spells death for the fish that use the affected waterways.

Missoula-based Bonnie Gestring makes a few sobering comparisons between the Mount Polley Mine in a post on Earth Island Journal:

  • Both mines are large, open pit, copper porphyry mines at the headwaters of important salmon streams.
  • The company behind the proposed Pebble Mine, the Pebble Limited Partnership, has repeatedly pointed to the Fraser River as an example of a watershed where mining and fish can coexist.
  • Knight Piesold, the firm that provided designs for the tailings pond lifts at Mount Polley, also provided the designs for the tailings pond for the proposed Pebble Mine.

Moreover, a consulting firm in 2011 warned the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment that a contingency plan was needed should the tailings pond holding mining waste at the Mount Polley Mine fail.  No contingencies were made.

“It is the toxic time bomb explosion that all of us who've fought the Pebble Mine have predicted could happen,” writes of the National Resource Defense Council in the Huffington Post.

The Environmental Protection Agency has already taken the first step to stop development of the Pebble Mine under the Clean Water Act, but the agency opened up the process for one more public comment period before making a final decision.

Care to comment?

  • Here's an update and another video from the Vancouver Sun.

Travel: Alaska cruise brings a tale of a whale

   I was standing in an alcove on an upper deck about to step out onto the deck of the Carnival cruise ship, the Miracle, when the doors opened and a family blew in. 

 

   A man and this three sons, each holding an ice-cream cone, lunged forward like the wind had reached out and given them each a shove. The youngest—maybe four years old, definitely no more than 5—was so full of big news he didn’t care that he didn’t know me. 

 

    He  ran up to me and said, “We saw the tail of a whale!”

 

    I was impressed. We’d left Seattle the afternoon before and it was just the first morning of our Alaska cruise. 

 

    “Is this true?” I asked his father. “Or is this just a whale of a tale?”

 

    The man laughed and said it was true. They’d been walking along the deck when the whale popped up and showed his fluke, his whale tail, before disappearing back into the sea.

 

    The little boy couldn’t contain himself.

 

     “The whale breathed up (his arms shot up in the air and the ice-cream wobbled on its cone) “and then he dived down like this” (he scooped his free hand up and then down) “and then his tail came up!”

    As an afterthought he added, “Daddy let us have ice cream for breakfast. 

 

    Wow. A wave from a whale and an ice cream cone for breakfast. The little boy had just described my perfect day.

 

    I asked the man if this was their first Alaska cruise and he said it was. He said they live in Texas and they’d come to see Alaska. And whales. They really wanted to see whales and here, just a day into the trip, they’d already had their own private show.

 

    Several years ago, after my first cruise up the Inside Passage, I decided I want to make the trip every summer. For the rest of my life, if I can swing it.  No two Alaska cruises are ever the same. People from around the world plan and save for years and travel a lot of miles to get there. But living in the Northwest, we’re already halfway there. It’s easy to get on a ship in Seattle or Vancouver, British Columbia, to spend a week looking at some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. 

 

    I’m working on my Alaska-every-summer plan. This year I was solo but in the company of people of all ages: men, women and children—(lots of children) and large family groups, all ready to go see the sights. And we were off to a good start.

 

    The boy’s happiness was contagious. I looked at my watch. It was still early, they’d be serving breakfast for another couple of hours… I filled a cone with vanilla ice cream and stepped out onto the deck. The wind whipped my hair as I licked the cone and swept my eyes across the horizon.

 

    I’d already decided it wasn’t going to take much to turn this into a perfect day. I had my ice cream cone. Now all I needed was a glimpse of the tail of a whale. 

    And like the little boy, I didn’t have to wait long at all.

 

 

Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the U.S. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Alaska road sign: yield to skeeters

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Forget the curve ahead.  Beware of the megafauna.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 21

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane have repeated their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in starting in February and finishing on March 21, 2014.

They endured bitter cold, treacherous ice, whiteout conditions and a hill so steep they needed a winch.

“It’s not a wildly popular thing to do,” said Jones, 74, noting that only one other snowmobiler did the entire route this year. “But it’s one of the greatest pleasures I’ve had in my life for two reasons: the land and the people.”

ALSO:

  • Click “continue reading” below to see Jones's last diary post from Day 21 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 20

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 20 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 19

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 19 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 18

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 18 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 17

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 17 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 16

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 16 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 15

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 15 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 14

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 14 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 13

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 13 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 12

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

Here's a tidbit Jones filed from the trail: 

We just got into Nulato after a very nice 100-mile run down the Yukon from Ruby. I had made arrangements for a couple of cots in the city building:  It's a back room they call “the apartment”.  Two giant bare Cabela's cots are the bunks.  But it's perfect.  The gal who lined me up is having Josh and I for a moose stew dinner tonight, so I didn't bring the stove in! 

One note:  There is a bathroom across the hall from our room.  A quick check shows that this is the
first once since Skwentna!  Not big deal, but we have stayed in cabins and tents with no toilets in them for 8 straight nights.

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 12 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 11

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 11 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 10

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 10 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 9

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 9 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 8

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 8 of their 22-day 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 7

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 7 of their 22-day, 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 6

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 6 of their 22-day, 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 5

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 5 of their 22-day, 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 4

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 4 of their 22-day, 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 3

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile in February and March 2014.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 3 of their 22-day, 1,400-mile adventure in 2014.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 2

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are “150 miles up the trail and all is well” as they repeat their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile.  “We're hearing constant horror stories about things ahead,” reports Jones by email. “All in all the trail has been very good. The cold nighttime temperatures of the last couple of nights have really saved our bacon. Wireless is weak here… no photos until McGrath….”

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones' diary from Day 2 of their 22-day, 1,400-mile adventure underway this winter.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Iditarod snowmobile Diary: Day 1

SNOWMOBILING — Bob Jones of Kettle Falls and Josh Rindal of Spokane are repeating their effort to follow Alaska's Iditarod Sled Dog Race by snowmobile.  

  • See the complete diary and photos from their 2012 trip — which marked Jones's 14th time on the Iditarod.
  • Click “continue reading” to see Jones's diary from Day 1 of their 22-day, 1,400-mile adventure underway this winter.

Below are links to each of the other diary posts and photos of their trip on the Iditarod Trail.

Alaska, Iditarod hurting for snow

SNOWMOBILING — Don't bother driving your snowmobile — or your sled dogs — to Alaska in search of good snow conditions.

Bob Jones of Kettle Falls drove up the Alaska-Canada Highway with his son in law, Josh Rindal, to make another 1,000-mile run on their sleds to follow the famous Iditarod sled dog race.  Jones chronicled his 14th Iditarod expedition in 2012 in this diary series.

At the end of last year's odyssey he said he'd sold his snowmobiles and was over his obsession with following the route.

Nevertheless, he's back.

“But all  you see is brown from Rohn to Nicolai. The race will start in Willow.  Here's a report he filed last night, with some interesting obervations about the changes to the Alcan.

About an hour ago I was sitting on the frozen Knik Lake, looking for a snow pile to unload our two machines onto in the morning.  There were NONE.  It didn't appear that any snow had been plowed on the ice on the lake all winter!  There might be 2-inches at most on the ice.  We'll just jerk them off the trailer onto the ice in the morning.  We almost decided to go the easy way from Deshka Landing to Skwentna tomorrow, but the Historic Iditarod.

Trail out of Knik is going to be our choice again this year:  After all, it IS the Iditarod Trail! The real kicker was the reading on the temperature gauge in my truck:  FIFTY DEGREES in Wasilla!!!  Holy S…!

The top of Rainy Pass was much warmer than Kettle Falls today.  So I can't imagine what's going to be in store for us up the trail:  Probably not much good! We came close to 'scratching' here in Wasilla, but decided to make a run for it.  There is NO snow around Nome, and they had a “freezing rain alert” in Golovin for today. 

Hopefully we will get some good old cold weather in a few days. We can always come back to Knik……well, maybe…..and we can quit at McGrath or Unalakleet and fly our shit back to Anchorage.

I had a great trip up the Alcan.  There were two major changes which have occurred in the 12 years since a drunk

like me was allowed into Canada:  First, oil exploration has made a major city out of little Fort St. John.  And, second, the area north of Whitehorse, to the Alaska Border, is now such a boring freeway that it isn't even fun to drive it anymore.  Perhaps the most over-built highway on the planet!  Good old Uncle Sam just gave the Canooks a big blank check and they made the most of it.  The most disgusting part of the whole thing is that the Canadians have NO sense of the great history of the Alcan. There are NO signs left along the road depicting any of that.  What a shame!  And I mean not a single sign for 300 miles telling anything of the highway:  Zero! 

Travel: Five ways to Go, See and Do this year

     Winter is the time to plan, especially for travelers. Right now airlines, cruise lines and travel agents have lined up new itineraries and there are deep discounts for those of us who are daydreaming of travel. It’s also a good time to set personal goals, to think as much about why we go as where we go. 

Here are five good ways to Go, See and Do this year: 

 

 

Go it alone: This is the year to be brave and have a solo adventure. The week I spent in Iceland, based in a hotel in Reykjavik but exploring the rest of the country by a different excursion each day, was one of the most rewarding solo trips I’ve ever taken. IcelandAir offers inexpensive and short flights direct from Seattle, the city is safe and perfect for women traveling alone and excursions are organized and inexpensive with coach pick-up and drop-off at your hotel.

 

See Alaska: The beautiful landscape of Alaska’s inside passage is always magnificent and worth seeing again and again. Even if you’ve taken an Alaskan cruise, it’s worth taking another. The new Holland America Land + Sea Journeys combine a cruise with overland trips to Denali National Park.

If a big ship is not your thing, UnCruise Adventures offers small-ship cruises which allow you to spend more time in the hard-to-reach areas teeming with wildlife. 

 

Delve into History: I confess to being a history buff. I love to see the places where people and events changed the world in big and small ways. This year marks the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and the battle of Normandy, when more than 150,000 Allied troops came ashore and the ensuing battles changed the course of World War ll. Standing at the American Cemetery in Normandy at Omaha Beach, or spending time any of the D-Day Museums that have been established at other beaches, the scope of the invasion and the cost to both military and civilian lives is inescapable. There are options for any traveler, from escorted “heritage” tours to all-inclusive river cruises making brief stops at the highlights.

 

Take a River Cruise: Thanks to glowing word-of-mouth recommendations by returning travelers and creative advertising campaigns like Viking’s extensive Downton Abbey commercials, cruising the rivers of Europe is the new Grand Tour. Elegant river boats move from one interesting port to another while passengers take in the scenery from the comfort of staterooms and lounges. At each stop English-speaking guides lead tours to the historical and cultural sites. The food is good, the wine flows freely and the pace is relaxing. It’s become the favorite way for Americans to move around Europe.

 

Pick a Theme: Instead of landing and hitting the cobblestones, guidebook in hand, pick a particular focus. If you love Paris, sign on for an Antiques Diva shopping tour that will take you to hidden shops and fabulous flea markets. Or, join Vancouver, British Columbia, pastry queen Jackie Kai Ellis on one of her upcoming tours of patisseries and bakeries. Take a cooking class at Le Cordon Bleu. Theme travel allows you to learn a new skill, enjoy a favorite hobby or simply enjoy a destination in the company of like-minded people.

 

 

 

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the U.S. She blogs about antiques and collectibles on her Spokesman.com Treasure Hunting blog and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com 

Happy Alaska statehood day

Do you know what (order of admission to the union) number it was?

http://bunow.com

I spent a few hours in Ketchikan about 10 years ago. That left me with two states still to visit. How about you?

Jimmy Carter to share Alaska parks history with students

PUBLIC LANDS — On Monday, students and teachers will get a huge opportunity to hear Jimmy Carter explain an historic federal public lands deal that was big, big, big in every way.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter doubled the size of the National Park System when he signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). Students throughout the country can celebrate the anniversary of this landmark bill by joining President Carter on a live webchat on Monday, Dec. 2, from 2-3 p.m. EST.

ANILCA, often called the most significant land conservation measure in the nation's history, protected more than 100 million acres of federal lands in Alaska. It doubled the size of the country’s national park and refuge system and tripled the amount of land designated as wilderness. ANILCA expanded the National Park System by more than 43 million acres. 

Ultra-brief history of Alaska Lands Act:

In 1971, Congess passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), granting 44 million acres of land to the Native groups. In addition, ANCSA designated 80 million acres to study for possible conservation. ANCSA was largely in response to the discovery of oil on the north slope, concern about rampant development as well as the conflict arising over how much claim the indigenous people had to that oil and the other resources around Alasak.

With the completion of the trans-Alaska pipeline in 1977, the debate continued and oil was a bigger issue than ever.

During President Carter's last days as president, he accepted a compromise that ensured Alaska's status as the last frontier. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 provided the following:

  • 10 National Parks and Reserves
  • 2 National Monuments
  • 9 National Wildlife Refuges (Including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR)
  • 2 National Conservation Areas
  • 25 Wild and Scenic rivers

ANILCA expanded three other parks already in existence, including Denali. When all was said and done, 104 million acres were designated for conservation and protection - an area larger than the state of California.​

 The theme for Monday's special event, sponsored by Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, Georgia, is Celebrating President and Mrs. Carter and Their Contributions to the National Park Service. President Carter will speak on ANILCA then participate in a question-and-answer period.

About 90,000 students are likely to view the event through Internet2, the U.S. national research and education network.

President Carter will answer questions via video from high school students from Plains High School (Plains, Ga.), Southwest High School (El Centro, Calif.), Sugar Salem High School (Sugar City, Idaho) and Woodrow Wilson Junior High (Dayton, Texas). Schools may view the event via a live web stream or at http://idahoptv.org/INSESSION provided by Idaho Public Television.

Click here for more information about the Presidential Primary Sources Project, a collaborative program sponsored by the U.S. Presidential Libraries and Museums, the National Park Service, the Internet2 K20 Initiative.

Alaska family adventures trekking into Aunties Bookstore

ADVENTURE — Alaskan author Erin McKittrick and her family, who are all traveling by camper van from from Alaska through California on a book tour will present a program Sunday, Nov. 3, at 1 p.m., at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane. 

Published this month, the book, Small Feet, Big Land: Adventure, Home, and Family on the Edge of Alaska (Mountaineers Books).  

That should help explain why the book, family and the program may be worth your attention.

Erin and her husband have two little kids who feature strongly in their stories and presentation, so their events are free and family-friendly (i.e., lots of cool gear for little kids to climb into and around).

Also of note, Erin and her family are also the featured subject of a Banff Mountain Film Festival film this year, a short piece called “Life on Ice” which follows them around as they lived for a few months on the Malaspina Glacier in Alaska. 

Erin and her family have been profiled by the New York Times.  Now you can see for yourself.

Record rockfish, 200 years old, caught in Alaska

FISHING — A Seattle man fishing in Alaska caught a 40-pound shortraker rockfish that experts believe could be 200 years old, which would easily predate the Alaska Purchase in 1867.

The Daily Sitka Sentinel reported that Henry Liebman was deep-sea fishing off the coast of Alaska on June 21 when he hooked the record-setting shortraker from a depth of approximately 900 feet.

Shortrakers, which have hues of orange, pink or red on top of their white bodies, are one of the most commonly sought fish in Alaska and can live at depths of more than 2,500 feet.

Troy Tidingco, Sitka area manager for the state Department of Fish and Game, said the fish is still being analyzed but he believes it is at least 200 years old. The current record is 175 years. Researchers are able to determine the age of a shortraker by the number of growth rings along its ear bone.