Final day on St. George

Yesterday was my last day on the island.

Upon returning to the whirlwind of Anchorage life sometime in the early evening I was surprised at how autumn was much further along in Anchorage (termination dust on mt tops, leaves halfway there) than in St. George--although yesterday morning before my flight I did notice a bit of nip in the air. And as I swam my final swim with the seal pups (the most that I'd seen in Village Cove below town!) I could feel it as the cold nipped through my dry suit and past my Patagonia puffball. My extremities were screaming for thaw as I exited the water after over an hour of swimming with the seals.

I have to say that swimming with those pups yesterday morning was one of the highlights of my life. I would hover there with my camera, clumsy and human as a circus of pups--20 or more individuals at a time--played with my flippers, bumped their faces into mine, swam along my outstretched hand so I could pet them, and swam over the top of my partly submerged back. It was such a sweet experience. I wanted to be seal so bad and ride the waves, propel myself out of the water, and wind around rocks with ease. But I couldn't hang...just too sluggish.

Here are a few photo highlights, although I think I'll save the best for publication.


Sarah Palin protest in Anchorage photos--finally!

I've been meaning to get these Palin protest photos up for awhile--but I haven't quite had a chance to edit through them all until now. This protest took place the same day as the Palin rally in downtown Anchorage. In fact, by the time this protest was under way, Sarah herself was already on a plane to Nevada for another rally.

The turn-out for this event was impressive! About 1500 folks. It had been widely spread via word of mouth as well as denounced on a local conservative talk show host's station. This brought the protesters out in numbers after a few vulgar and controversial comments were made by the host of the radio show in the direction of the protest organizers. As you can see from the signs, which most interested me, there were some passionate opinions flying.

As you may notice, this was mostly a "women against Palin" protest. Although men were present as well. Notice in the next few images, some of the Palin supporters sprinkled throughout the protesters (although many of the small number of supporters stuck to the opposite side of the street).

All in all, however, the anti-Palin's were in the vast majority. I was grateful for the lack of violence and upset. In fact, many of the protesters wore smiles and seemed to be having a wonderful time!

Long live free speech!!


This cost me $30...

...at the Village Canteen (grocery store) on the island.

Wednesday on St. George

Today was another day in paradise.

I was particularly excited that one of two snowy owls on the island (possibly three) made an appearance by the road as we were headed back from south rookery.

This isn't a particularly great photo, but Ryan and I enjoyed watching Northern Fur Seals riding the waves.

I put this photo in here to show what impact we can have on others when we don't take care of our waste properly. It's important to always cut our packaging materials (and never dispose of bands that haven't been cut) since we never know where they might end up. In this case, the seal has become caught in a packing band and, unable to free itself, continues to grow as the band stays the same size--constricting tighter and tighter around its neck.

We alternated between beautiful, sunny day and moisture-bestowing squalls all day long.

I have never been somewhere where the saying "if you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes" applies more. I'd probably amend that saying to St. George conditions, however: "If you don't like the weather, wait 10 seconds."

St. George on Tuesday

At the end of most days on this island, I'm never sure where the day has gone.

Today was like that...over before it started. But we actually did a lot. Fingers crossed, we watched the PenAir flight touch down that would take my brother Forrest off the island (3 days after his plane had been scheduled to leave--a delay due to the common, dense island fog). We climbed up (a most rickety ladder) into the dome of the local Russian Orthodox church during a tour given by Rodney--who's been an alter boy there for almost 40 years and can incidentally play a mean bell. We watched as a blue-phase arctic fox (probably attracted by the aroma of reindeer meat in the cottage) left us a little present on the porch. And we 4-wheeled and hiked out to East rookery followed by Kiskasilof Beach to watch northern fur seals (then sea lions) for a bit. Ryan did his entrapment counts--looking for seals that had been caught in packaging from which they were unable to free themselves--while I worked on a multi-media piece.

Dinner was early tonight...we actually were eating leftover salmon by 10:15.

Whoops...more than a one-photo post. Oh well.

I kind of want to live here.


St. George Island in the Pribilofs

Okay, today is Monday. I've been on St. George Island--a tiny island in the Pribilof Islands--since last Tuesday. I'm now realizing I could have posted a short, one-photo blog every day on something new and beautiful I did/saw around the island. So I'm going to start that now.

Expect a photo post every day from St. George (until--and if--my plane leaves Thursday). It'll be short but I promise it will be interesting.

Today's photo:
Swimming with Northern Fur Seal pups this morning in Village Cove.


Photos from Sarah Palin republican rally in Anchorage

Last weekend, Sarah Palin returned to Anchorage for a brief appearance at a rally supporting her pick for the republican presidential ticket.

It was a scene.

I showed up at the new Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center an hour before the doors were to open, put my name on the press list and then hung near the press table snapping photos of folks in line (and one protester) for a bit. Eventually, 10 or so of us were led around to the side of the building where we were told to line our tens of thousands of dollars worth of photo and video equipment along the sidewalk so it could be sniffed thoroughly by a German Shepherd and picked through by human security. Then, one by one, we were frisked by security with a metal detector (cursing myself for carrying so many metallic-type items in my pants pockets) and let loose on the crowd.

The room was huge--apparently built to hold 5000. My guess is that there were 1500-2000 (max) present--including media. There was so much empty space. But they bunched everyone in under the stage lights and there we stood, fervent Alaskan pride steaming from our egos and excited for a celebrity appearance.

While we waited, I picked through the crowd, looking for interesting Palin supporters to photograph. I think I found one in this little girl.

And then she arrived...

With her husband, Todd and family:

Then, under the vigilant and many eyes of the Secret Service, and amidst screams--yes, *SCREAMS*--of "I love you Sarah!", and "Sarah, come back!", she spent a good 20 minutes signing and greeting those fortunate enough to cram themselves to within a 5 foot radius of the stage. I was included in this mess and left with ears ringing (the lady next to me REALLY loved Sarah) and forehead damp with perspiration.

But my free reign to move among the crowd during the event and the photos that the signing after her speech afforded made this one of the more exciting shoots of my year.

And, of course, a few of her youngest supporters stuck around well after the Palin entourage had left.