"Poetry Spoken Here" 

We received a copy of an interview which we did last fall on Poetry Spoken Here .

We met Charlie Rossitier, the host of this program @ Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont last fall where he heard us perform in the Carriage House with PoetryMusic.   

We'd like to thank Charlie for his interest and his thoughtful interview.
Charlie is also a poet, so this made the interview even more interesting.
There are 3 PoetryMusic pieces played during the interview.

Check it out below:


https://soundcloud.com/poetry-spoken-here/episode-042-poetrymusic-and-celebrating-poetry-month

September 2017 Tour 

We traveled through Washington State, Idaho and into Montana in September through the smoky West to perform our PoetryMusic in several libraries and a few other venues including a benefit concert for the Community Hall in Basin Montana. 

We had planned to take some time seeing Glacier NP, but we were only able to skirt the Southern edge of the Park due to Forest Fires.

Instead, we traveled up into BC for a few days of R & R before heading back to the Pacific NW through the San Juans for a few more performances on the Islands.

All in all, it was a great trip, despite the smoke during the first 1/2 of the trip.

So, going backwards, ie the end of our trip is the start of this blog - 

On Orcas Island, the library had an art piece displayed with a description of why libraries are so important.

"The library is a living legacy, an endowment of grace, given by the hearts and minds who wrote, painted, designed & recorded their passions, their insights, their journey and encounters with the phenomenon of life...on this perplexing, beautiful, terrible strange planet.

And it is a legacy given to us all freely as the air is given, as shadow and light are given: to inspire and provoke:  to encourage and explain; but most importantly to connect us,

the seekers of knowledge, truth and beauty to the phoenix of the human soul.

Wherever there is a library, there is hope."

                                                                     

Looking out from the top of Mt. Constitution, Orcas Island

                                                                                                         

Autumn has come!     

Friday Harbor, San Juan Island                                                                                               

 

2 more pictures from Orcas Island

 

Random Howse, Eastsound, Orcas Island                                                                                              

 

Chris has written a new composition to a poem by Robert Creeley called Loop.  This piece would pop into our heads spontaneously while walking "up the hill", "along the path", "into the house", "out of the woods".... :)

Read from top and around clockwise.

 

We were invited to join MJ Williams and Ann Tappan in Basin, Montana to do a fund raiser for the Basin Community Center.  We stayed almost a week in Basin.   This was one of the highlights of our tour.  

"BASIN — There are places where creativity blossoms. You can breathe in their heady energy as soon as you step into the space.

For 18 years, the Montana Artists Refuge in Basin has been such a place — welcoming some 300 artists to this tiny historic mining town. 

Into the refuge’s high-ceiling, airy studios came actors, dancers, composers, musicians, opera singers, painters, sculptors, writers of fiction and nonfiction, poets, screenwriters, filmmakers, multi-media artists, costume designers and more. They journeyed from as far as China and Poland or as near as Missoula and Great Falls. 

Many looked shell-shocked when they first drove into the tiny town of 212 — a place so sleepy dogs nap in the middle of Basin Street, the main thoroughfare. 

But as sun and mountain air and starry skies poured in their studio windows, a door in the mind swung open — spilling out plays, poems, music." *

Quoted from an article by the Billings Gazette.

The Montana Artists Refuge officially closed in October of 2011, but to us, the spirit of the refuge lives on and we heartily agree with the description given above.

We would especially like to thank MJ Williams and Nancy Owens for welcoming us with open arms.  We had great time hanging out, eating home cooked meals, sipping on Margaritas before the sun went down on their deck, and the chance to play music with MJ and Ann was a real treat for us!

                                                                                          

                                                                                                   MJ Williams & Ann Tappan

                                                                                               

The reason we love Basin is exemplified in this sign as you come into town.

So, with this sign, it is time to sign off.  

We would like to thank all the people and organizations who supported this tour, Jill & Griff Enabnit - Stokes, Dian Koefod, Spokane Downtown Library, East Helena Library, Havre Library, Friday Harbor Library, MJ Williams and Nancy Owen, Random Howes and Rosario Resort.  

Also, a very special thanks to Mark Miller, dear friend, musician and composer who continues to share his wonderful compositions he has set to poems with us!

PoetryMusic in California - February, 2017 

Wild horses could not stop us from our PoetryMusic tour through California in February!
We made it around and through the weather, mudslides, floods & all potential obstacles in California. 

THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

We are so grateful for the chance to travel and play PoetryMusic in libraries.   
We have now been presenting this program for over 2 1/2 years with over 45,000 miles of travel around the US and we look forward to continuing this journey which seems to be taking us forward.  

Libraries & librarians are the best of what our society has to offer us.  

In a time of budget cuts and divisive politics, people still love their libraries and support them. 
Librarians continue to find so many creative ways to serve their communities.  
Maybe libraries will even help us through the political upheavals as they are developing resource bases for verifiable information and critical thinking skills in the age of "fake news" including our mainstream media. 
We'd like to thank all of them for the great work they do.  
We wish we could feature all the librarians we have met. 
Circumstances did not allow for pictures of everyone, but we were able to get a few pics. 

Round Valley Library in Covelo, California was our first stop, we were not yet in picture taking mode, but your library gets the prize for most enthusiastic listeners!  

And we'd like to thank our Covelo hosts Michael & Sharon Mills for the overnight stay in their beautiful home.  We really enjoyed meeting you and sharing travel & camping stories across the SW.  Meet you in the desert someday soon!

Ukiah - Mendocino County Library Rocks! 
Poet Librarian Melissa Eleftherian Carr was responsible for bringing us to Mendocino County. 
We enjoyed playing @ all three libraries in Mendocino County. ( Covelo, Fort Bragg & Ukiah )  
Melissa was willing to pose for us next to James Madison & the Bill of Rights. 
Check out her poems @ https://apoetlibrarian.wordpress.com/published-poetry-2/.

We move on to the Bay Area as the winter storms continue to hit the coast.

Fortunately we were invited for home stays during the worst parts of the rainstorm in the Bay Area. 

The first performances in this area were in Belmont, Moraga & Menlo Park.

A couple weeks before leaving on this tour, we received a call from Dave Karlin who teaches a music appreciation class in Belmont California.  He had seen that we were playing at the Belmont Library and asked if we would consider playing for his class during the time we were in the area.  We were able to add this performance to the calendar & Dave graciously asked us if we would like to stay with him at his home in Half Moon Bay for a couple nights before the performance.

We accepted this generous offer as the weather at this point was cold & rainy, and originally we were going to camp along the coast near Half Moon Bay.  

Wow, what can we say, but having a warm, comfortable and beautiful place to stay with close access to the beach.
And best of all....the most fabulous hosts!

A walk on the beach -

We cannot thank Dave & Barb Karlin enough for hosting us.
It was a real pleasure to spend some time with you and we appreciated all the delicious food and wine you served us & thankful we did not need to camp in the rain:)

On the morning we left for Dave's class in Belmont, the worst part of the storm was hitting the Bay Area.
We headed out following Dave and we immediately are in stop and go traffic on Hwy 1.  - We needed to take a detour as the road to Belmont had been partially closed with a mud slide. ..we followed Dave north...are we going t make it????  
We did make it, but It was our shortest set up time ever for PoetryMusic! 

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Then over the next few days on to more libraries in Morago, Atherton &  Menlo Park . 

Atherton Library

Menlo Park is one of the larger libraries we played in. 
They have a significant number of ongoing programs and excellent staff support for their programs!
The library is filled with people everywhere we look. 
The best part of this performance was that Colleen's cousin Karen & her husband Robin came to see us play. 

We were invited to stay with Karen & Robin after the performance at a time we needed another warm, dry indoor setting.  

We had developed a leak in the back door of the van which soaked our bed. ( human error:)

Robin helped us to dry out all our bedding by building a nice hot fire and we spread out our mattress, pillows & bedding taking up the whole front room living area.  Everything dried out and we were thankful that the bedding prevented the instruments & equipment from getting wet underneath the bed. 

Karen & Robin were so gracious, then served us food and wine - wow, what great hospitality. 

Thanks Dear Cousins - it was so great to catch up!

Karen & Robin 

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At this point we are headed South to LA & San Diego County area libraries. 

The weather is still cold & rainy, and we planned to camp enroute, so of course we needed to find a camp site with hot springs to warm up in.   

We are always on the look-out for new hot springs en-route, sure enough, Mercey Hot Springs pops up on the radar. 
Ahhhh - beautiful spot & great water.  

We hiked up into the hills above the Mercey Hot Springs - the hills are GREEN!
2 years ago when we last came to California,  Californians were in the midst of a multiple year drought. The reservoirs were almost empty, rivers and streams with minimal flows or dry and trees very dry and stressed. 
This time, the reservoirs and streams are full.  Some rivers were flooding. 

Sometimes the green hills of California reminded us of Ireland. 

Picture taken from atop the hill overlooking Mercey Hot Spring cabins. 

We make our way down to Southern California where it is a little drier and warmer and are happy to go back to play in Menifee CA @ the Sun City Library.

Shirley Wible is the program Librarian and has a keen interest in Poetry.  
She offers a Poetry class for her community and her class and this program are well attended.
It was great to see Shirley again and have a chance to catch up with her community and library news. 

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One of the most beautiful modern libraries we have played at is in the hills of San Diego County in Fallbrook, CA,
The history of this library includes an arson fire which completely destroyed the building and all of its contents in 1985.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the fire caused about $1 million in damage and destroyed 30,000 books.
Irreplaceable historical records and original artwork were also destroyed.

Look what eventually came out of that - wow, a beautiful state of the art building,( eco-conscious)  a room with a grand piano for performances and programs with great acoustics, a roof made up of succulent plants & beautiful artwork around the library.  

The weather was still quite chilly in southern California at this point and yet aother storm was moving in.  
We decided forgo camping this night and instead stay in an Air B & B.  We found the best one we have ever found for the best price ever!  Andee & Drew were great hosts, plus they had a beautiful backyard spa paradise.

We'd like to thank them as they truly offer kindness, hospitality & affordability which was beyond any B & B we've stayed at.
( If anyone would like to stay with them in Fallbrook, go to Airbnb and look under Andree & Andrew, a Primal Mates pick:)

On to Laguna Beach, we love this coastline in the Laguna Beach area and enjoy this town.
We played here 2 years ago and we were so happy to be invited back by librarian Jon Giliam.  
This community seems to especially love poetry & on top of that,  it's Valentine's Day!
Jon recommended a place to eat  dinner after our performance- and it was so delicious with great ambience and service!  
We think it's called Nick's, but not certain - it definitely is a Primal Mate Pick! 
We did not eat out like this usually, but we celebrate this occasion with great appreciation for the excellent food and wine!

The weather is starting to improve and warm up a little. We found a great place to camp just north of Laguna Beach.We camped here 2 different times as the access to several performances around this area were so convenient and this spot is particularly beautiful.

We have time to walk to Crystal Cove Beach.

Surfers waiting to catch a wave - 
In the visitor center, we saw this poem by a 4th grader - 

We were transfixed by the sea, beach and beauty of this area - and especially enjoying this warm day in particular. 

But .....too soon, another storm is moving into southern California as we head south of LA to play our next performance at Fountain Valley Library.  We find a motel just before the heavens let loose of incredible amounts of water and some flooding which we fortunately avoided. 

The rain does let up the next day and we leave early to have lunch with Chris' nephew Sam at a delicious small Turkish restaurant, Mr. Kebap, a Primal Mates pick for sure!
We are so happy to see Sam again as it has been many years since we've seen each other, we had a lot to catch up on.

After lunch we head over to Fountain Valley Library.
Emi Wong is the Librarian and the turnout is mostly young people around high school age.
On this tour especially, we have seen many young people attend the program - we love their interest, enthusiasm and questions. 

Emi Wong The best part of this day's performance is that our musician friend & composer / trombonist Michael Vlatkovich joined us to play on a few pieces.  

We always look forward to seeing Michael! 

He is a wonderful player and a has a great sense of humor and wit & we had a good time hanging out with him after the performance over dinner.   Yes we ate well on this particular day!

OK, at this point we have a little time off before our next performance, so we head to a place where we think we will be out of the rain, and it just may be warmer, a place in the Anza Borrego.  This part of the desert a remote section in Southern San Diego County,  not very far from the Mexican Border. 

Along the way, the landscape changes as we head inland and south, we leave the traffic behind.
And yes it IS getting warmer and we are looking for our turn-off....
Ahhh, Agua Caliente, a lovely place to camp in the desert with few people and a nice county park with Hot Springs ( yay )  & trails.  
We can have a camp fire here, listen to cowboy music, gaze at the starts & howl at the moon and Chris can play his Melodica:)


This landscape & desert "inhabitants" are like no other, some mystical electric world of it's own, as if we are on another planet.
After R & R in the Anza Borrego Desert, we are officially heading north for the rest of our tour.
Our next library performance is not too far away from  Agua Caliente, maybe 2 1/2 hours North. 
One of the most beautiful & oldest library ( circa 1894 ) we have played in on the West Coast is the A.K. Smiley Library in Redlands, CA.
This is probably our most favorite library we have played in. 

Exploring the inside of this library reveals nooks and crannies, tower, outdoor garden courtyard, artwork throughout, beautiful woodwork and architecture and across a grassy park- like area behind the library is one of the oldest Lincoln Memorials West of the Mississippi. 

Daniel Slota, Librarian, ( below ) next to the Smiley Brothers. ( puppets )  

Daniel told us that a little while ago he was concerned that libraries would not survive the current direction of funding cuts for libraries. Presently, he is encouraged to see the outpouring of support and he specifically knew of a community which saw it's library close down, but now re-opened after the community came together to find ways to fund their library.  

Redlands is fortunate because they have always been well funded from the start. 

For anyone traveling through Redlands, CA, it is more than worth the time to visit this library and learn about it's history.
For more info: http://www.akspl.org/about-akspl/.


We made it back to the Bay Area for 3 more performances @ the San Carlos, Walnut Creek & Foster City libraries. 

Bitian Zhang was our contact person @ San Carlos Library & she was very interested in our program and helped us set up. 

We enjoyed talking with Bitian about Amherst Massachusetts as she had gone to college there.  

She was very interested in the Emily Dickinson poems in the program and very happy we had been able to present this program at the Amherst MA library last fall. 

Chris & Bitian

We enjoyed our time in Walnut Creek and their beautiful library there.  
They have a nice room for performances and programs. 
The artwork is modern, unique and interesting.

Our last performance in the Bay Area was @ Foster City Library.  
We really enjoyed performing here 2 years ago and impressed with the turn-outs they have for their performances.  
Could it partly be the wine and cheese they serve before the show??  
We'd like to think PoetryMusic was the main draw:)

After we packed up and ready to load our equipment out of the library, one of the librarians offered Colleen a spin around the library on their Library Bicycle Cart - 

We'd like to thank our friends Jim & Linda Hudak for inviting us to stay with them during this part of our tour.  
Great hospitality folks and always great to see you, thanks for being a part of our PoetryMusic support team!!

We were fortunate to spend a few days in Bolinas California with our good friend Jim Bohman and to present a home concert for Jim's friends. What a great night that was!  
Bolinas is a rare, unique & beautiful place on the planet.  We took many pictures a couple years ago when we were able to spend even more time in Bolinas.
If interested check out our blog 2014-2015 for more pics of Bolinas and everywhere else:)
But, here's one more.......... because the flowers are so gorgeous in Bolinas!

2 more libraries to play before heading back home in Healdsburg & Sonoma. 

On of our all time favorite musicians Paul Mc Candless lives in Healdsburg, CA.  We also consider Paul one of our musical mentors.  Many years ago, we recorded a CD Album called "Something Forgotten Remembered" in San Francisco with Paul on woodwinds, Art Lande - piano & Bill Douglas on bass - it was a great experience to play with musicians at such a high level of artistic / musical caliber.
To listen to this recording, go to http://www.nimbitmusic.com/chrisleecolleenobrien

We played @ Healdsburg and Sonoma on the last day of our tour - a busy last day, but how wonderful to have Paul join us in Healdsburg to play several PoetryMusic pieces with us.  
We'd like to thank Paul & Joan for the great hang, dinner and conversation the night before this performance. 

So, at this point we are headed back to Port Angeles, WA, we drive up 101 and spend a night at Vichy Hot Springs in Ukiah, this was a bit of a splurge, but we thought a deserved one since we worked so hard on our last day. 

Then on to Gold Beach, OR where our long-time friends Tim & Laura Gratehead take us in for another night.  
We consider Tim & Laura honorary PoetryMusic ( & Primal Mates )  members as they have taken us in many times on our travels up and down the coast during our many tours over the years.  
We do not have a picture of them for this post, but here is  a picture one of Tim's wonderful paintings. 
So ends another PoetryMusic tour:)





 

- Late Summer - Fall PoetryMusic Tour, 2016 - On The Road to the East Coast! 

 
Getting our music together for another tour with PoetryMusic.  

All systems go!

We left on August 24th for a 7 week tour.
This time, we travel to the east coast with performances on the way in Utah, Colorado &  Wisconsin.

A beautiful day for traveling through Washington State.
We take Hwy 101 down Hoods Canal to avoid the Seattle area traffic and cross White Pass on "The Road Less Traveled"  the southern most pass across the Cascades Mountains in Washington.
Views of Mt. Rainier were spectacular from both the West and East side of the mountain!

As we wind our way down the pass and travel through eastern Washington, the sudden change of the landscape from the west side to the east side of the Cascades is striking as the west is so green and the east is warm brown & golden. 

Sunset in Eastern Washington
We travel along "The Oregon Trail"  ( sounds better than 1-84) through Oregon and through Idaho before turning off the trail to camp near Lava Hot Springs just east of Pocatello Washington.  
This is a great stop and the public hot springs are some of the best in the West.  
There are several pools, some very hot.
​Of course we take advantage of the hot springs after a long day of driving - ahhh!
The one below is set in a beautiful grotto type setting and looks like a Roman bath.




On to Mystic Hot Springs in Utah before our schedule of performances begin in Salt Lake City!  
Yes, we do work too:)  ( If you can call playing music "work" - this is the most joyful "work" we've done!

Salt Lake City - Beautiful Old Buildings in downtown Salt Lake.  This picture below is about 1/5th of the whole building - City Hall is Huge!
Each side of the building has an entrance like this.  
Our 2 performances in Salt Lake City were well attended and folks were exceptionally enthusiastic about the program.
We played @ the Anderson - Foothills and Sprague Branch Libraries in Salt Lake City, both are beautiful libraries.   Foothills was a very new library built into the hillside.
The Sprague Branch's high-gabled English Tudor style building and was selected by the American Library Association in 1935 as the "Most Beautiful Branch Library in America." The two-level facility was opened in 1928 and has been renovated several times as use continues to increase.  
Fortunately for us, both community rooms where we performed had superb acoustics!

Sprague Branch Library - 
Cherie Koefod is the librarian who booked us in the Sprague Branch Library.  Koefod is the family name of first cousins to Colleen.  Cherie is fairly certain she is related to Colleen's cousins as the Koefod's settled into Idaho over 100 years ago.  The Koefods are descendants of Arnie Inger Koefod from Bornholm Island.
Colleen is looking forward to talking to her Idaho cousin Dian about this connection!  

We'd like to thank Cherie for all her efforts in presenting our program and for the great turn-out!


We head on to Moab for our next performance.  We love Moab and the outdoor playground surrounding Moab.  We are able to camp a few miles east of town in Sandflat Recreation area and seemed to have the Juniper Campground to ourselves the first night.  
Wow, what a great spot on the planet this was!
Incredible views in every direction including of the Lasal Mountains to the east, canyons and table top mesas and a myriad of rock formations. 

And what a sunset!
The next day, we start to make preparations for the evening performance, but first we find the community rec center in Moab - what a great place!
Indoor and outdoor pools in a setting that made us think we were staying at a fancy resort in the most awesome  setting.

Megan Flynn is the librarian for Grand County Library in Moab. We played here one year ago and we were so happy to be invited back.  
Thanks to Meg for making this happen and for all her great assistance and support!
We hope to make Moab a yearly stop on our travels!


This is a plaque at the front entrance to the library, and we could not agree more with this quote. 
On to Colorado!
Highway 90 is a little ways south of Moab and for those who want the road mostly to yourself, this is a great way to get to SW Colorado taking you through Paradox Valley.
Paradox Valley is a basin located in Montrose County in the U.S. state of Colorado. The dry, sparsely populated valley is named after the apparently paradoxical course of the Dolores River—instead of flowing down the length of the valley, the river cuts across the middle.

The little towns are remote and of course interesting.

We initially drove past the General Store in Bedrock but stopped and turned around to go back because this store beckoned us back to take a look. 

As Colleen was taking a picture of the store, the store's owner, Anthony Pisano came out on the top floor terrace was waving at us. Bedrock store is the oldest and longest running General Store in Colorado.
It was built in 1881 and filled with history of the area including the fact that the town is called Bedrock because that is exactly what it is built on. 
Anthony invited us in and showed his work inside to restore this beautiful old store. 

We heard about Anthony's plan for the store and told him we would pass the information on to other travelers.
This is a great stop on the road in this most beautiful remote valley.
Anthony offered to take our picture before we leave.


We definitely plan to come back through Bedrock in the future!

We head on down the road to spend the night near Ouray, Colorado and to soak our road weary bones in their beautiful public hot springs. Ouray sits at the base of the San Juan Mountains on the north side of the mountains.  We've always loved coming here and driving into Ouray is spectacular!
We find a great camp spot along a creek outside of town and plan our next day's journey to Gunnison, CO where we will begin our Colorado Library performances.  

We travel on to Gunnison and have time to explore the neighborhoods. Our walk reveals some very beautiful old stone residences and buildings built in the late 1800's by a master stone mason, Frederick Zugelder.  
We head over to the library & take in the colorful Hollyhock in front of the library. Tonight, we play "in the stacks".  Since we use the i-phone for our program, we generally take pictures before the performance. 
We 'd like to thank the library & all the folks who came out, it was a great turn-out and enthusiastic response in Gunnison.
We appreciated all the great comments and questions. We leave Gunnison the next day and drive through Saguache on the way to Valley View, Hot Springs.  

Yes, we do love hot springs in beautiful natural places and know this may be our last hot spring stop before hitting the front range and then heading across the plains to the midwest and east coast. 

We have watched Saguache change over a decade.  
Some of the old buildings are donning new coats of paint and a few buildings are being renovated.
More people are moving in and opening a few businesses.

We are drawn to one of the older businesses.
The Crescent News has been in existence since 1867.


We look inside this old building and see the most amazing old print machines.  
Initially it does not look like anyone is in, but the sign in the window says "open".
We walk in  and standing inside is Dean Coombs who is the paper's entire staff. 
The Saguache Crescent was purchased by the Coombs family in 1917, and it has been in the family for three generations.
It still uses a 1921 linotype machine to set the print, and a 1921 printing press.
It features a decorative masthead, no photos, and publishes "all the good news fit to print".
Coombs refuses to print bad news. He says that his mother set that policy and it is non-negotiable.

Dean started working with his dad on the Crescent news as a kid.  He took over the paper in his early 20's after his dad's death and says he will continue with this work because what else would he do?  He is the only one who can repair these machines.  He says the 1921 Linotype machine is the oldest working Linotype in the USA.
( see below) 

                                                                                                               

Time to go to our favorite hot springs in the West - Valley View Hot Springs aka Orient Land Trust.
We cross open range on the way and have a little chat with the local cows.
There are several natural hot spring pools dotting the hillside, a beautiful swimming pool with flow through water, no chlorine.
While the varied natural hot spring pools is wonderful, the camping is also great.
There are a few cabins and bunk rooms to choose from if one would like to sleep indoors on a bed. 

We choose a camp site that we have returned to several times, at the end of the road, overlooking the San Luis Valley.
This for us the the best reason to go to Valley View just for the reason of the name of this hot springs - a spectacular "Valley View". 
We spend a whole day watching the showers come and go, lightening and beams of light from the heavens.

We still are watching as the sun goes down.
The next day, we head out for LaVeta for our next performance.  
But first, we stop at Orient Land Trust sustainable farm which is about 4 miles to the west and a little south of the hot springs on the valley floor.  
Here, they have a beautiful organic garden and raise happy animals.  
All electricity is powered by their hydroelectric system which comes from the water flowing from the hot springs down to the valley floor. 

This farm has been around a few years before the cooperative "bought the farm":)
Ah La Veta, one of our favorite small towns in Colorado.  We are so happy to play at the Parkside Gallery hosted by Brent and Babz Seawell. 
The Parkside is one of La Veta's most beautiful buildings. 

Brent & Babz are great hosts and we always look forward to seeing them.  They have played music together for years.  
Backstage we saw one of their art pieces which captures the spirit of their duo.  
We'd like to thanks Brent & Babz for making it possible for us to go on our yearly pilgrimage to La Veta to play @ the Parkside Gallery.On to Eldorado Springs, the home we left just over 2 years ago to "hit the road".  We spend the night on "the flats" above Eldorado Springs, camped in our trusty Sprinter Van.  ( many thanks to Kathy! )  At this point ( picture below ) we are hiking over to our Eldo friend's house nearby as we are invited to celebrate Labor Day on Davey Jones deck.  Davey has the best spot in Eldorado Springs.  Thanks for the great hang Davey!

Our good friend and former neighbor Kathy shows us the diligent work she did on the old Eldorado Springs sign!  


Eldorado Springs is certainly one of the most unique and beautiful places to live near a large metropolitan area.  It is surrounded by open space and backed by Eldorado Canyon State Park. There are trails in every direction to hike.  It seems like one could be 200 miles from the nearest big city.  It was great to spend a little time here before moving on to Boulder, our home base for several days while we perform for 3 very fine libraries in Fort Collins, Loveland, Colorado Springs and one home gallery concert with musician & friend Mark Miller.  

In Loveland, our librarian arranged to have us play at the Rialto Theater.  We were surprised to see a large sandwich board on the sidewalk in front of the Rialto. 




We'd like to thank Chuck Ceraso for hosting a home gallery concert in Lafayette, CO.  What a great turn-out and chance to see old friends and "mates"! 
We were surrounded by Chuck's beautiful paintings which helped to inspire the PoetryMusic even further.  
Here is one of our favorite paintings of Chuck's below - 


And a special thanks to Mark Miller and Dana Walker for "home base" in Boulder.  These good friends have been "instrumental" in supporting PoetryMusic. 
Our week in Colorado reminded us of why we lived there for so many years & how much we enjoyed living there.  And we know we have more than one home!

We leave Colorado behind as we set out across the prairie crossing eastern Colorado into Nebraska before our next performance in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. 

It's too far to reach Wisconsin in a reasonable days drive, so we stop in a Nebraska State Park off the Highway just in time to catch the sunset. 

We made it to Fond du Lac WI and have a wonderful stay with our friends Paula & Michael Sergi.  Paula Sergi is a fabulous poet and she is part of the PoetryMusic story in that she would send us poems back in the 80's / 90s  and Chris wrote compositions to several of her poems. We were able to play 2 of her pieces in Fond du Lac.  We played @ the Thelma Sadoff Center for the arts over 9 years ago.  
This time, we play in a beautifully renovated building.  
After this event, we had a great hang with Paula & Michael.And Emily Dickinson?

It turns out that Paula loves Emily Dickinson and in fact will read her poems in costume at poetry events.  Needless to say, we had many laughs this night. 

Over the next couple of days, we play 2 libraries in Madison, WI.  And at night we return to Fond du Lac for more fun with the Sergi's. 
Madison is a very nice town.  We caught this picture on our way in to Madison near the Capitol - the clouds are looking a bit ominous!
 (A sign of our times perhaps?  There was no light or color tweeking for this picture.)

We'd like to thank the Sergi's for a great stay and support for our program.  And thank you Paula for your always awesome poetry!

We drive on to Massachusetts for our next performances through Chicago, IL, Ohio, upstate NY before reaching Lowell MA. 
The toll roads take us a bit by surprise, especially thru Chicago and Ohio These roads are in poor repair and seem to cost way too much for such poor quality roads. The toll roads further east are less expensive and in better condition.  The state roads were in generally much better condition.  Hmmm, makes one wonder a bit.
We also did not like how cars are "herded" into "comfort stations" on the toll roads, for all rest stops, food and gas needs.  The food choices are awful as they have only bad fast food "joints" .  This was truly the only down side of our travels.  We made a decision to avoid driving back this way and vowed to not pay a toll on the way back. 

We are happy to make it to upstate NY as it is very beautiful and on to Massachusetts with the quaint small towns and  beautiful old architecture.

Our first performance in Massachusetts is at the main branch of the Lowell Public Library - and WOW, were we taken by the beauty of this very old library!
This is one of the oldest libraries in the country.  Boston may have the oldest library by a couple years, but Lowell had the first Public Library system in the country. 

Sean Thibideau is the librarian who invited us to play at the Pollard Memorial Library in Lowell and we have to say, he is an excellent local historian and resource for the community. 
Sean told us that the library was funded by the mill owners in hopes of being able to recruit young women from area family farms to work in the cotton mills.     
The industrialists offered to look after these young women and provide culture in an attempt to convince the families that they would be taken care of properly. 

Sean took us on a tour of the library before our performance.  The paintings, sculptures and dedications to soldiers lost in the wars as far back as the civil war were sadly impressive. Being in this library gave us a perspective of the times this library was built in. ( 1844 )

The most fun piece of information we learned from Sean is that Jack Kerouac who grew up in Lowell MA skipped school to hang out at the Lowell Library.
Sean showed us Jack's corner where he used to read.

We have a PoetryMusic piece based on the last paragraph of "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac, composition by Colorado musician / composer, Peter Sommer.  
The folks attending our performance at Pollard Memorial Library especially enjoyed this piece.  It felt great to play in Jack's library!
"On The Road" seems like our theme song. 

We'd like to thank Sean for inviting us to Pollard Memorial Library and for sharing his wealth of knowledge of Lowell, MA history !

Over the next few days we go on to play in Middleboro, Amherst and Dennisport MA.  
We enjoyed all these towns and their libraries and thank these libraries and librarians for inviting us.

We would like to include all the libraries we played in with pictures & commentary, but time and circumstances made it difficult for us to do this.
But, we can say unanimously, all the libraries we played for and their librarians are really the best our society offers us!

We have a fondness for Amherst, MA because the librarian @ Jones Library in Amherst asked if we did any Emily Dickinson poems.  
Chris said, "not yet" and proceeded to write 4 compositions set to Emily Dickinson poems.  
Performing these poems in Amherst was such a fulfilling experience.  
The people attending this performance showed their appreciation of these pieces in particular. 
We were given a private tour of the Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost collection of poems, pictures and historical archives on the 2nd floor of the library.  
Emily lived most of her life in Amherst, MA and often signed her letters "Amherst".
The following picture is one of Emily's hand written poems.
Within our set list of poem pieces, we have a beautiful poem by Robert Frost The Road Not Taken - another theme song for us. This poem was set to music by the young, brilliant musician & composer Jacob Collier.

We saw this picture of him in the archive room, so....  in honor of Robert Frost.... ( another handsome devil:)
At this point, we earned a few days off.  It is the last weekend in September and we are happy the weather is still beautiful, warm & sunny.
Our last Massachusetts performance was in Dennis Port towards the bottom middle part of Cape Cod, so we decided to go to the tip of Cape Cod to explore Provincetown and the surrounding area.  But before going up there, Colleen check's out the beach in Dennis Port and lo and behold....
Even folks on the beach who have lived in the area for decades said that they had not seen swans swimming in the ocean before. 


Moving on to Provincetown the one landmark that stands out from wherever one is in Provincetown is the Pilgrim's Tower. 

Colleen took many pictures of this tower from many angles up close and at a distance because it was so prominent and oddly overpowering, even Midieval looking.
This tower is the tallest all granite building in the US, built in 1906.
The tower's purpose is to commemorate the Mayflower Pilgrims’ first landing in the New World in Provincetown, in November 1620.
Here the Pilgrims spent 5 weeks exploring the tip of Cape Cod, before they sailed on to Plymouth.
They also drew up and signed the Mayflower Compact, which established the rule of law for the new land.  

They surely must of had a flag to plant to show this was their land:)

 ( If you want to see a very funny skit by Eddie Izzard about the Brits planting flags Watch:"Do you have a flag?"  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-PlQitfriE )

It is great to walk around Provincetown as many of the oldest buildings are still intact.  Beautiful design & architecture, colorful houses, awesome gardens and outdoor art pieces, many good restaurants and lots to do.  

On the day we came, we were approached on bicycle by "LipSchtick" who was promoting his one-person show to be performed that night.  FUN!

We also walked on the breakwater jetty out to the beach and light houses - the tide was coming in the first time we attempted going all the way across. 

We decided to avoid getting wet and came back when the tide was out the next morning.  What a great walk this is!
We loved the beaches across the jetty, uncrowded, beautiful sand, and water temperatures comfortable for swimming:)
There were 3 lighthouses along these beaches - here's one....
We wished we could have played in the Provincetown library....
....but they had something that took up much of the library - 
It was impossible to get the whole of the sailing vessel contained in the picture, given the space.

The Rose Dorothea was one of the famous “Indian Head” schooners designed by Thomas McManus and built at the Tarr & James Shipyard in Essex, MA in 1905.  This is a 1/2 scale model of the Rose Dorothea.  ( Could have fooled us! )
How could PoetryMusic ​compete with the Rose Dorothea?  We'll need to get our sea chanties and drunken sailor songs together to play at this library:)   
Colleen started to make some headway when she met up with one of the local pirates...aaaaaaarghhhhh!
There are so many more great pictures that we took but this blog is getting a bit long. 

So, at this point, it's time to go back to NY state to play in Kingston NY for one performance @  the Kingston Library and then on to Poughkeepsie NY to play at the new Boardman Branch Library.  

Poughkeepsie has a beautiful walking bridge over the Hudson River a "Rails to Trails" Bridge.

The Poughkeepsie-Highland  Railroad Bridge was built in the late 19th century to link New York and New England to an extensive, nationwide railway network.  For decades, it was a major rail corridor for both freight and passengers.  

We are thankful for the "rails to trails movement" across the US as we have one of these trails where we live in Port Angeles, WA.  
A world without cars is possible!

This was our view looking out over the Hudson River towards the vehicle bridge down river from the Bridge Walkway.
This was our first day of rain on our travels since leaving Port Angeles over 5 weeks ago.  And no, this is not a black & white picture - but this particular day did look like we were living in a black and white world. 

In Poughkeepsie we had a wonderful surprise!  Our longtime & good friend Duane Grant drove up from NYC to see us and to see what we were up to these days:)We were able to hang out after our gig with Duane and catch up on our respective lives since we last saw each other 9 years ago!  
We hope to see each other sooner next time!  

Next we head back through Eastern MA to Springfield for a performance at their beautiful old library. 

We came early ( to get out of the rain:) Behind the library is the Quadrangle,a cluster of museums and cultural institutions.  
It's a beautiful old plaza which contains the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden which is in the center of the Quadrangle and surrounded by a park, the city library, five museums and a Cathedral.

We love Dr. Seuss books and have fond memories of reading these books to our son when he was a child.
Seeing this Sculpture Garden was a real treat!


The Springfield City Library has fantastic acoustics for our instrumentation and for voice.  A very good turnout, enthusiastic listeners and great questions after the program.  There was someone videotaping this performance, so we hope to share a video recording soon!
After this concert we drive the Mohawk Trail to Bennington, VT.  
This drive had to be one of the most beautiful drives we took in the Northeast and very few cars to boot!
The leaves are just beginning to turn.
We hope at this point we can run into Bernie Saunders in Vermont and talk him into running independently in the upcoming presidential election:)

Bennington College has a very rural look and feel and is just on the outskirts of town and closest to North Bennington.  
We loved this train station below. We go to the campus to find Bruce Williamson, our friend and wonderful musician who teaches in the jazz music program. 
The music school is in Jennings Hall which is in the background below across the pond.
We thought we were in the English countryside on the Bennington campus. 
We play in the Carriage House for the students. 
The turn-out is great as is the response to the music. 
And the best part is that Bruce joined us on 3 pieces, one of which is freely improvised.
What great fun it was to play music with Bruce and hang out a couple of evenings at Pompanuck!

We would like to thank Bruce for all his efforts for helping to bring us to Bennington College! 

At this point in our journey, we cannot believe we only have 2 performances left.  Both on the same day.
The first one during the day in Rochester NY and the last one in Irondequoit NY, just a few miles north of Rochester.

We especially like Rochester.  
We follow the Erie Canal on the way to Rochester.
This is a big day for us playing 2 libraries, but it all worked out great including having a nice relaxed & delicious lunch in Rochester.

While walking back to the library from our lunch the @ the Owl House in Rochester ( owlhouserochester.com/) a PoetryMusic pick!:) we hear and see these pedalers having a great time going from brew pub to brew pub sampling the local beers.   
They were cheering for us to hop on the back to join them.
If we had not had another performance this day, we just may have gone with them!
Ah well!

We also walked by the National Museum of Play!


We had time to drive past  the Eastman School of Music before heading on to Irondequoit where we found a nice park on Lake Ontario.
Chris takes a nap in the van while Colleen goes off to the beautiful beach to check out this mega lake. 
The folks who came to the libraries in Rochester and Irondequoit told us what great a music town Rochester is and they asked us to come back and stay awhile:)

A good place to end the official music part of the tour.

On the way back, we kept our promises about avoiding going through Chicago and not paying any more tolls.

We drive to Niagara Falls and west through Canada to Michigan and then turned north to the northern most tip of the lower Michigan Peninsula.



 It may seem like a long ways to avoid tolls and Chicago, but wow, was it worth it.

This picture above was taken at the northern most tip of Michigan's lower peninsula in Mackinaw City - ahhhh, it was just beautiful all the way around here!  

The next day we drove the Mackinac Bridge to Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Then across the upper Michigan Peninsula as the sun was rising! No traffic, in fact, more often than not, we had the road to ourselves!
On and on we went, our longest days drive during this whole trip..... on into northern Wisconsin and into Minnesota - land of 10,000 lakes, this route was just beautiful all the way through Minnesota!   "The Road Not Taken" :) ( by most anyway ) 

One of the 10,000 lakes in Minnesota!

Crossing the Mississippi River In MinnesotaOn we go into North Dakota where we had hoped to join up with native americans and all those supporting native americans in their stand to protect their lands @ Standing Rock ND.  

They are also standing up for all of us in trying to bring attention to our most crucial problems in this world regarding the exploitation of the earth through the quest for every more oil & gas, and industrial agriculture all of which destroys our soil, water, air and whole  eco - systems.

At the beginning of our road travels in 2014 - 2015 we met a native american elder in Covelo, CA who told us that indigenous peoples across the world are now uniting for the first time ever in an attempt to reach out to everyone on the planet to join them in helping to stop this environmental destruction and slow down global warming.

He told us that his people & all native people see these changes in ways most of us do not as they have lived off the land for many hundreds if not thousands of years and have passed information on through their stories down thru the ages.  He said they have not forgotten this connection.
The quick changes they see are unlike anything they have seen in their collective histories. 
 
He told us that we, as traveling musicians were in a good position to pass on this message through music and through people we meet on our travels. 

We were in a time crunch to get back to our home town as we passed the turn-off of 1-94 to Standing Rock just last week, so we nodded our heads in respect, acknowledgement & support for our native brothers and sisters and all those who are becoming protectors of the earth. 

Just like most Americans - we are too busy to stop for the most important struggle of our time if not the most important struggle ever in the history of human history.
But, we are passing on his message to those we meet during our travels and also through our music and blog and vow to do more. 

So, further west we see this sign and realize we are home.
The Big West is our real home, not just one place, but the vast western home from Montana, Wyoming, Colorado & New Mexico to the most western states.

Until we meet again, Music Speaks Volumes, Poetry Sings!
 

End Of The Road! ( for now :) 

Another rainbow leads us out of Alaska on "Top Of The World Road"!


What a year this has been!
We were out traveling & playing music for just over 14 months.
We drove over 30,000 miles.
We camped much of this time en route to our performances.
We found some awesome places, hikes, hot springs and beautiful campsites along the way.
We have met great folks everywhere.
We still think librarians are the best people on earth!
We did not miss one performance. ( over 100 )
We still cannot believe this tour went so well, without a "hitch"!

As we were leaving Alaska in late July, we still did not know where we would ultimately land.
We planned to take some time off the road @ Ghost Ranch in New Mexico in October to help us figure this out.

The Caribou seem to be heading in the same direction as us, another good sign perhaps?

We head into the Yukon and cross the Yukon River by Ferry as there are no bridges in this area.


The Yukon River is a beauty & flows fast.
The river originates in BC, flows through the Yukon and Alaska and empties into the Bering Sea.
It's area of drainage is 25% larger than the Province of Alberta and the State of Texas.

We follow the Yukon River heading south along her eastern shore.
We found  a lovely hot springs just north of Whitehorse, Yukon called Takhini Hot Springs.
After driving over 1000 miles in 2 days, we decided to camp here for a couple of days and soak in the hot springs.
They have a very nice quaint restaurant serving excellent local organic food.
From here, we decided to take the Cassiar Highway back through Northern BC because it is spectacularly beautiful,  more adventurous, sparsely populated ( except for the bears )  and less traveled....of course!

The Cassiar Highway starts just east of Whitehorse and is an alternative and more primitive route going south through NW BC.
It is also the shorter route traveling back to the states versus taking the Alcan Highway.
We camped at one of the most beautiful lakes we have seen on our travels, Boya Lake.
This is the view from our camp.

Boya Lake is situated on the Liard Plain, an area carved out by glaciers 20,000 years ago.
It is one of the few lakes in the north that is warm enough for swimming.
The park rents out canoes and kayaks to explore the seemingly limitless bays and islands.
The lake is noted for its colour and clarity.
The bottom is composed of marl, a mixture of silt and shell fragments.
The crystal clear waters and aqua-marine lake color are a result of the light reflecting from the marl bottom.
This is truly an awesome lake!

Towards the southern end of the Cassiar Hwy, we decided to explore the only area in SE Alaska which is accessible by road, Hyder Alaska.
We head west on a most awesome road with over 50 Avalanche Shoots.
We are thankful that our travels are at this time of year (August) but one of area local's told us it was no problem for them to drive out in the winter as long as they called the Avalanche Crew ahead of time!!

Hyder is on the eastern fringe of Misty Fjords National Monument, at the head of Portland Canal, a town that may be in Alaska but identifies more closely with its Canadian neighbors just across the border in Stewart, British Columbia.

Estuary @ end of  70 mile long Portland Canal -
Even though Hyder has mainland road access, the town is so isolated from the rest of Alaska its 72 residents are almost totally dependent on larger Stewart (pop. 700), just across the Canadian border.

Hyder's residents use Canadian money, set their watches to Pacific Standard Time (not Alaska Standard Time), use Stewart’s area code and send their children to Canadian schools.

When there’s trouble, the famed Canadian Mounties step in.

All this can make a side trip here something of an international affair.

Along the road to Salmon Glacier-North of Hyder -Almost to the top of the pass, wow!
Top of the pass looking over the Glacier!
At this  pass we met Keith "Bear Man" Scott.
Keith has been coming to this area from Newfoundland every summer for decades to study the bears and to take  photos of the bears, glaciers, ice caves and other places he has explored in the area.
He camps out here from May through September in a tent.
This day was chilly, with intermittent rain and fog which initially obscured our view of the glacier.
He told us to "wait a little while, 20 minutes max, and the fog would lift and we could get a good picture" and just like he said, the fog lifted within 20 minutes.

Keith with Colleen below -


Keith loves nature and bears in particular.
During the winter, he shares his knowledge with kids in school programs with the intent of creating more awareness about the interconnection of all things with nature and the importance of protecting nature for the bears and for all of us.

He has had very close contact with bears including grizzlies, black bear and has also photographed and studied the lesser known "Spirit Bears" or Kermode Bear.
This is one of Keith's pictures of the Spirit Bear below.
Keith says the following about these bears.
They are basically black "white" bears and they are less aggressive than their cousins.
He confirmed that these bears are not white because of living around the glaciers, but because of a genetic difference from the black bear.
The Kermode bears can show a range of color, from white, to blue white ( Glacier Bear )  to "rainbow" ie from white, blue to brown. ( Rainbow Bear )

Keith convinced us to stay one more day and go back to the platform in the early morning or just around sunset to view the bears.
He was right when he said waiting one more day would be well worth our time.
In fact, it was one of the highlights of all our travels!!

"Goin Fishin"


We headed back to the Cassiar Highway then south, back to "civilization" on the Trans-Canada Yellowhead Highway 16.

We take the Icefield Parkway Road off the Yellowhead Hwy which heads south from Jasper Alberta down the spine of the Rockies to Banff.
This is one of the most spectacular drives in the world with abundant wildlife!

Ah, there is nothing like the Canadian Rockies and her turquoise & green rivers & streams!

 Time to head back into USA.

Our first performance in Montana is in Kalispell.
We love the rivers in Montana and we lucked out finding a great camp site right on the Flathead River near town.
Look who wants to come for dinner?

This night, The Blue Moon rises over the Flathead River!

Kalispell Library -
It was a very hot the day we played @ the Kalispell Library.
Our librarian went above and beyond the usual great treatment we get from librarians and made us a couple lemonades before our performance.

On to Helena!

Helena Montana is one of our favorite small cities in the west!
Helena has a look of a European city with her grand cathedral close to downtown.

We have 2 library performances in this area & one performance @ the Chaucer Street Quarry.
The Quarry is one of our favorite venues.
We had camped here last year at the beginning of the tour and we were invited to play in the Quarry if we came back through the area.

What a beautiful evening it was.
MJ Williams  joined us for a few pieces.
MJ is a wonderful jazz vocalist, trombonist & composer.
We love her music and we love playing music with her!
The acoustics are fantastic in the quarry!
We all had a great time!

At this point, we have come full circle in this tour as we had gone through Helena at the beginning of our tour and towards the end of our tour, one year later.

We played about 6 more performances in Colorado and Utah in September before we made it to Ghost Ranch towards the end of September.

Ghost Ranch is an awesome place and staying there for even a short while gave us a chance to consider what was next for us.

The great magnet moves in mysterious ways and we are pulled back to Portland for now.

We look forward to reconnecting with family, old friends and all the wonderful musicians in this area.

We'd like to thank all who supported us on our tour & thank all the librarians who invited us into their libraries and communities!

We are at the end of the road.....for now!

"Stay Tuned!"






 

"Big Alaska" 

From Juneau we set sail for Skagway and begin the journey NW to the mainland of Alaska.

Alaska is such a huge area, it is still difficult to comprehend this immense land that encompasses the state of Alaska, even after driving to the mainland and back out again.

You could fit Texas into Alaska 2 times!
One-fifth the size of the Lower 48, Alaska is bigger than Texas, California, and Montana combined!
Alaska is also far-flung: 3.1 times wider (east to west) and 1.9 times taller (north to south) than Texas.

From north to south, Alaska measures 1420 miles, the distance from Denver to Mexico City, and east to west 2500 miles, the distance from Savannah, GA to Santa Barbara, CA.

Alaska also has the most northern point (Point Barrow) and the most western point (Cape Wrangell, Alaska -- further west than Hawaii) in the U.S.

Wow!

What can we say, except we still cannot fathom the distance. 
Especially since most of the driving can only be done in a small area of the mainland, you need a boat or plane to get to most areas of Alaska.

So Skagway is a northern point of the inside passage in SE Alaska, the most northern, though you could also get off the ferry in Haines, but we chose Skagway because we have a library performance there!!  At this point, we are headed to Anchorage and then to Homer Alaska.
To give another idea of the distances and how far west Alaska goes, Homer, Alaska on the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula is north of Hawaii.
The drive from Skagway to Homer is about 1000 miles.

The skies become smokier the further north we go from the fires in Canada & Alaska.
This picture is taken after entering the Yukon.
There are several massive sized lakes in the Yukon, a vast, beautiful and unpopulated land.
We make our way to Anchorage over 3-4 days of driving to play in 2 uniquely different libraries in the area, the Loussac and Girdwood libraries
The picture below is taken with The Girdwood Librarian, Helen Wood -
We had a great time playing & meeting folks at both libraries!

We were very excited to head down the Kenai Peninsula to Homer Alaska, a place we called home for one of the most incredible years of our lives  when our son Eric was 3 years old in 1985 & 1986.

30 years ago, we traveled around the bend in the road and saw this:
(disclamier, not our picture, our camera cannot capture the totality of this:)

We turned on the local community radio station and listened to great music coming over the airwaves from KBBI Homer.
All range of styles, but great quality and selection of material.
We saw posters on bulletin boards of all the community happenings, and for a town this size, we were impressed and thought this is the place for us!

Chris had a jazz show on KBBI Homer broadcasting his show in town & out over the water with fishermen picking up the airwaves and calling in to comment on the program.

This is the year we started to develop our duo of voice, vibes and cello.
Prior to this time, we had played in bands, ie quartets, quintets with Chris on drums and Colleen singing.

This journey to Homer has brought us full circle to the place our duo began.
Our family life was the best this year as we had lots of time to spend with our son Eric in our beautiful cozy cabin.
We loved Homer and our life there, and this was the beginning of a new life for us in so many ways.

Now it is 30 years later and we are able to meet up with our dear friends from that time who graciously invited us to stay with them and to host a home concert for us.
Peter & Wendy asked us to play in their home 30 years ago for one of our first gigs as a duo - Life is Good!!

The other part of our meeting up this time with Wendy & Peter is that they both love and write thoughtful & beautiful poetry!
We were and still are amazed at how they live and lived their lives.
They built their own home which is one of the most warm and beautiful homes we have ever been in.
Homer has a reputation for supporting the arts, and both Wendy & Peter have contributed greatly to a range of art happenings & projects, from comedy improv to dance and writing and much more.  They are also world travelers and continue to do good works for those in need.



As we sat around the table catching up on 30 years of life, we all realized then & now, we are kindred spirits in this world!

Thank you Wendy & Peter for the most wonderful, gracious stay in Homer!

North to Denali.

We have met up with our good friend and neighbor Kathy from Eldorado Springs, Colorado on this portion of our journey.
Initially meeting up in Anchorage we parted to meet again in Homer and at this point, we  meet up in one of the most amazing places on earth, Denali NP!


We are more than lucky, because much of our time in Denali NP is with mostly clear skies and warm weather.

"The Great One" is out in full glory for us to gaze upon her immense beauty!!
Denali is the mountain with the highest base-to-summit vertical rise above sea level in the world (just over 18,000 feet, or 5,486 meters),  (20,320 ft; 6,193 m.).
Many folks think this would be Mt. Everest, but Everest starts at a much higher altitude from base to top.

We hiked across the tundra and made noises and kept our eyes on the surrounding area to watch-out for Grizzly Bears!
Knowing that we are visitors in bear country makes us hyper alert & aware of our surroundings.

Kathy brought along bear spray, but it is a little breezy the day we take this hike, so it makes us think twice about the unlikely possibility of needing to use it.

Of course we all know & agree that our most pressing risks or dangers are not bears, but somehow bears remain in our Psyche as something more dangerous than anything else.

It makes our hike & stay in Denali all the more exciting.
Disclaimer, our friend Kathy was able to get pictures of Denali bears like the above with her keen eye and great camera - this is not our photo - as we observed the 300 yard rule in Denali, picking out a Grizz with our i-phone looks more like the following picture. 

Later in our journey we came much closer to black & grizzly bears like the previous picture of the "big grizz" - on our next post - near Hyder Alaska.
"Stay Tuned"!

So, now we make our way back to Base Camp.
Our bus driver deftly takes us over this pass and tells us that they are required to have many hours of training driving on this road.
In fact, at this spot, they need to be able to back up and turn around when confronted with an oncoming bus.
( The road is narrow and just to the left of this cliff, this picture is taken from inside the bus looking out and down! )

We were happy to get over the pass safely, and on the way back to base camp our friendly bus driver stopped for us to take pictures of this Caribou close to the road.
We found out the trees in Denali NP are displacing the tundra due to global warming, so the Caribou are being displaced from their former range and now need to go higher or further north to forage. The moose are moving in to Caribou's former territory in the park.


Back at base camp, we enjoy a delicious King Crab dinner!  Guess we are not thinking too much of the bears at this point

It's time to head North through Fairbanks and west to make way to our next performance in Delta Junction.

Just north of Denali the skies become very smoky. 

There are fires in many areas but the smoke seems to be coming from the west.
It gets thicker and starts to become alarming as it begins to cause throat, eye and lung irritation.
By the time we get to Nenana, we stop at the visitor center to see if we should turn around, but we hear the smoke has come in behind us too.
The radio station from Fairbanks said that the air quality was extreme and hazardous and told folks to stay indoors.
We decided to keep going and hoped that if we headed east from Fairbanks, the air quality would improve, and thankfully it did improve a little!

It made us think of how people and animals are impacted by all these fires, and this year in particular is a bad fire year for all of the west, from California, thru Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and even in the SE Alaska  rain forests, they are seeing fires for the first time.
But the interior of Alaska seems to be experiencing the worst of the fires in Alaska.

We made it to Delta Junction to play @ Delta Community Library. 
We have been in touch with librarian Joyce McCombs over many months and we're looking forward to meeting her as she has given us great information and support for our program.

Joyce with Chris below.
There was a good turnout & enthusiasm for our concert was wonderful!

Now our journey to McCarthy Alaska and Kenicott Mine begins!

We take the Richardson Highway south for our 276 mile journey to McCarthy.
The last 60 miles takes us about 5 hours over a gravel road with many washboards.
We do not want to discourage anyone from taking this road, because it is more than worth the time & effort and it's basically a good road, with washboards.
And for most, it would take about 2.5 to 3 hours, but we needed to go slower to protect all our "gear" instruments, PA etc.

The Richardson Highway is a beautiful drive south from Delta Junction and follows the Alaska pipeline much of the way.


Fireweed was out in full bloom - wow!


McCarthy and Kennicott Mine

 
We turned off the Richardson Highway and headed east to the road to McCarthy.
We follow the Copper River much of the way.
We cross other rivers too and drive past many beautiful lakes.
This river crosses a gorge and the bridge is single lane, so we stop for a moment to make sure no one is coming from the other side.

The Kuskulana River looks like a milky light chocolate color. Rock flour, or glacial flour, consists of fine-grained, silt-sized particles of rock, generated by mechanical grinding of bedrock by glacial erosion or by artificial grinding to a similar size. Because the material is very small, it becomes suspended in melt water making the water appear cloudy, which is sometimes known as glacial milk.
Hmmm, do we want to drink this water? We figure we could get lots of minerals from this water, maybe some we don't want!

We pass over a few more rivers, the road starts to narrow a bit.
This picture shows the road in good condition, but the small washboards cause our van to bump and shake more unless we reduce our speed to about 10 mph or even less in some places.

We finally come to the end of the McCarthy Road, just across the river from McCarthy. 
We are able to cross the river in the van, but there is a foot bridge over the river we can walk across.
Many years ago, Colleen crossed this river in a basket pulling herself over using a pully system.

We find our camp site before venturing across the river - we still have another day before our performance to explore this area & walk into town.
The next picture is looking up river from our campsite towards Kennicott Glacier.  ( Folks dispute whether Kennicott is spelled with an i or an e )

You can't see it in the picture, but we spot a bear above the banks of the river within the trees, close to the other end of this camping area.
We are happy to be down-river from this bear, though folks up there are on higher ground.

We learned after we set up camp that the glacier has a river running under it which turns into the Copper River.
Ice damns build up and occasionally the ice dams break releasing huge quantities of water downstream. 
We did hear the river roar a bit louder the night we camped here and several times looked out the window to see if the water was rising.
It did a bit, but not enough to sweep us downstream.
Not a great nights sleep!

We were happy that we had a room in town the day of our performance ON THE 2nd FLOOR!
Another picture of this view about midnight!

The next day, we break camp and get ready to go cross the river and make our way to Kennicott Mine.

Chris unloading our instruments and gear onto our carts for the river crossing!Colleen heads across the river -On the other side, our loaner Toyota pick-up truck will take us up to Kenicott Mine.  ( Check out the left front tire....will we make it? )On the road to Kennicott Mine!Kennicott Mine is a fascinating place and the location in a remote setting.
Kennicott Mine sits just inside of one of the largest protected places on earth, the Wrangell - St. Elias NP which is a shared NP with Canada.

Wrangell St. Elias contains the tallest mountains in North America ( besides Denali )  both in number ie several over 15,000 feet and a few 18.000 to 20,000 plus feet setting.

There are ice-fields above Kennicott and glaciers spill out from the ice fields.

Those who have traveled to the interior of this park say there are a few "Yosemite" like valleys with granite walls higher than those found in Yosemite.
For one to travel any distance into this park, it would take expedition type planning due to the size and remoteness of this area.
It is possible to hike easily from Kennicott for shorter hikes, and even walk onto one of the glaciers.

The Kennicott mine is being "stabilized" as the park service calls it.

The new paint on the buildings are the original color of the buildings.

The original members of this community were a tight knit group who mainly worked for the mine or to support the families of the miners.
They had a school, gardens, and a recreation hall with all sorts of activities including performances and dances.

Some pics of the mine, buildings & surrounding landscape from different perspectives.



Refurbished buildings
Boiler Room - making electricity for Kennicott and the mine.
This boiler room contained 8 huge Babcock and Wilcox Boilers which provided electricity to power the mine and the town of Kennicott.
Those working in the boiler "room" were happy to work there in the winter!


This mine is so fascinating. 
The mine was abandoned virtually overnight in  1938 when the price of copper dropped too low.
When Colleen visited here over 25 years ago, there were still place settings on the tables in family cottages and canned foods in the cupboards.

For more on the history of Kennicott, here is a link.

http://www.17silkstockingrow.com/history.htm

Back to preparations for our concert - we arrive at the Rec Hall to unpack our gear, and yes we made it, even with an almost flat tire!

We are finally set up for the evenings performance. We decided to take a stroll before the performance to see more of the incredible landscape and sights around here!
We walk over to the Kennicott Glacier Lodge.
We get closer and look up to the deck level from the bottom of the stairs and see someone waving at us!It is our friend Kathy!  We have not seen her since leaving Denali.
Kathy took some great pics and video's of the concert - we hope to post these in the future.
The evenings performance was wonderful, we were impressed at the number of people who made the effort to come, especially Kathy.

After the performance, there is still plenty of light to make our way down to McCarthy, about 4 miles.
Our left front tire a little flatter than before, makes our ride a little smoother actually and we make it back easily.

McCarthy is a town with a population of about 50 people year round.
"In the day" it was called  Shushana Junction but eventually changed its name to McCarthy, and became the site of a turnaround station for the railroad.
"McCarthy was quite a miners’ and railroaders’ town, with all the – ahem – “entertainment” a young man on the frontier might require.
Restaurants, pool halls, hotels, saloons, a dress shop, shoe shop, garage, hardware store, and thriving red light district all popped up to provide services to more than 800 people in the area. The two towns coexisted for the 27 years that Kennicott was in operation. Traditions from those days, such as the 4th of July baseball game, are still carried out today."

For more history, go to http://www.largestnationalpark.com/history.html.

Present day McCarthy is rustically charming.
The locals preserve the history and buildings in a way that makes this town feel like it was 100 years ago.

Our hotel with our room on the 2nd floor, right side of building.
The Golden Saloon on the left and McCarthy Lodge Bistro on the right of this building served up great food, drinks and ambiance!
We went over to the Saloon for a drink and look who we saw.
"How much is that doggy in the window...arf ...arf"!
The Wrangell Mountains Center used to be the general store in McCarthy.
Wrangell Mountains Center fosters appreciation, understanding, and stewardship of wildlands and mountain culture in Alaska through scientific and artistic inquiry in the Wrangell Mountains. Meeting the needs of students, writers, artists, scientists, travelers and local citizens, we offer opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to explore, express, and be transformed through direct experience with this extraordinary place.

The Wrangell Mountain Center and Ma Johnson's were the 2 groups to bring us to McCarthy and hosted our stay and concert @ Kennicott Mines.
For more info on the Wrangell Mountain Center - go to Wrangells.org.
We really appreciated the chance to come here - it was one of the highlights of our travels!

Here is a picture of the center in the old general store!

Metal Sculpture Raven outside the Wrangell Mountain Center -
Our journey to McCarthy and Kennicott has drawn to a close and we now head back on the gravel road to Kenny Lake, which is on the Edgerton Highway just beyond the where the McCarthy road starts. 

Our friends Gay and David Wellman have a B & B which they graciously offered as our lodging for our time with them.
Gay & Colleen worked together as RN's on the night shift @ Alaska Hospital and Medical Center in the late 70's.
Working nights helped to create a comradery & friendship that has lasted over all these years, truly a kindred spirit!

Gay made it possible for us to play in Kenny Lake Community Center & to do a workshop with the young people of Kenny Lake in their library.
She also helped to connect us with the folks in McCarthy which resulted in our travels & performance @ Kennicott Mine Recreation Hall.
Every year in late summer, they host the "One World Camp", " One World Camp offers an opportunity to look at significant issues of life on Planet Earth in a venue that is made available by the Planet itself. Participants experience a sense of uplift, hope, and renewal of purpose in the beautiful natural setting of Wellwood Nature Preserve. Those who attend One World Camp share ideas, meet other good people, and contribute to the revitalization of the planet while enjoying and exploring the wildland trails and views of the Nature Preserve, in the heart of Alaska’s Copper River Country. Participants will explore practical solutions to troubling problems of the world, make lasting friendships, and find a unique opportunity to reset the personal compass during this weekend of outdoor activity, thoughtful conversation, and direct service.

For more info on their great & much needed work, go to http://www.wconserve.org/.

We performed our Poetry in Music concert @ the Kenny Lake Community Hall. 
We had a great turn-out and enthusiasm for our program and found Kenny Lake Folks to be especially "down-home" friendly and willing to experience something new.
The acoustics were really great in this hall!  A wonderful evening for all of us!The next morning we had about the most fun we've had with a presentation & workshop for kids at the Kenny Lake Library.
Several of these young folks volunteered to improvise singing poems by Shel Silverstein - they were more than willing to participate and they were awesome!

At this time, it seems we are starting to head back to the "lower 48", but we have 2 more performances before leaving Alaska on our way out.
We take the Tok Cutoff Rd. north to Tok for our last performance in Alaska, but on the way, we "picked up" a gig at Red Eagle Lodge where we presented our program to guests and friends of the folks who own this beautiful, historic lodge and grounds.

A short description from Red Eagle Lodge website:  "Red Eagle Lodge is known for the richness of its history and spectacular setting in the Copper Valley, adjacent to Wrangel-St. Elias National Park. Located on the original site of the historic Chistochina Roadhouse, Red Eagle Lodge is the place for adventure. Whether you choose to wander the trail to the Beaver Dam or fish in the Copper River, you'll be surrounded by awesome scenery and the peace of unpopulated space."

Owners Richard & Judy Dennis are "true Alaskans" in their love of Alaska and the lifestyle embraced by living in these beautiful and more remote places.
They are generous, friendly and warm-hearted. 



These are some of the reasons we love Alaska! 
The people living rustic lives in one of the most incredible places on earth, unpopulated, wild and grand. 
Folks buiding their own homes & structures, making it through the winter, capable and able to deal with the elements and life on the edge of the wilderness.
Folks here also help their neighbors and folks they don't know in ways not seen as often in the "lower 48".
 "The Last Frontier" still applies here.

We have met so many in Alaskans who say they came & stay here for all of these reasons and they were and are able to be themselves and do all that they dreamed of doing.

One young man told us that it doesn't matter if someone is an old homesteader of many years or someone who arrived in Alaska 2 weeks ago, all are accepted as Alaskans from the get-go.

Of course Alaskans would also say that Anchorage & the suburbs are NOT Alaska!

Our sweet cabin for the night we stayed at Red Eagle Lodge.On to Tok Alaska where we have one last performance -
We were initially going to play in the Mushers Hall in Tok, but a saavy local teacher thought a more intimate setting would be more appropriate for the concert.
Lucia hosted us in her home and her daughter opened the show for us with her boyfriend.
It is always a treat for us to hear local talent!

This really was a nice evening and "hang" with Lucia especially as she loves poetry.
We had our first moose, ie burgers after our concert.

Many Alaskans provide food for themselves and their families through sustainable hunting and fishing.
It seemed most of the folks we talked to would hunt for one moose, and fish for salmon & halibut either in the ocean or rivers, sometimes using a "water wheel" to catch salmon in rivers such as the Copper River.
They freeze the moose meat & fish and place in the freezer and they provide their families with food for the rest of the year.
What a difference from going to the grocery store to pick up packaged pieces of fish & meat.
Most have a respect for wildlife  & nature and do not want more than a sustainable lifestyle in relation to the balance of the nature and wildlife that surrounds them.

Lucia suggests we take the "Top of the World" road out of Alaska into the Yukon - and we are so glad we did!
Another rainbow appears &  leads us out of Alaska!



Next:  "Back to the Future"








 

Juneau in June, Gustavus & Glacier National Bay 

Ah, Juneau.  We have both been to Juneau previously, Colleen even lived here part of the year in 1977.

It is so beautiful around here!

It's great to be able to spend time with good friends who live here!

View of Auke Bay & Mendenhall Glacier ( Ferry Terminal north of Juneau ) from the ferry.



Our ferry drops us off and heads south.



This picture is taken about 1130 pm, as the days grow longer - and dusk lasts for hours it seems!
Colleen's new boat!  ( "Where to next Chris"? )

We performed at McPhetres Hall in Juneau which is on the same campus as Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Juneau.
The acoustics were wonderful in this hall - and we'd like to thank Paula Rohrbacher for suggesting this venue and doing the work to make this event happen.
We stayed with Paula and her husband Charles at the beginning of our stay and had great conversations around the dining room table about life and poetry.
Charles introduced us to several Polish poets, we were deeply impressed with the poetry he shared with us.
What a great stay with Paula & Charles!  Thanks folks!!

Juneau was home base for us for almost 2 weeks as we set off from Juneau to go to Gustavus and Glacier Bay National Park.
We arrived in Gustavus one day prior to our excursion into Glacier Bay and our performance was after this excursion in the evening.

What a day it was!!

Tidewater Glaciers
Glacier Bay in Southeast Alaska was completely covered by ice just 200 years ago according to information provided by the National Park Service.
By the time John Muir visited the bay first in 1879, he found that the ice had retreated 48 miles up the bay.
By 1916 the Grand Pacific Glacier headed Tarr inlet 65 miles from Glacier Bay's mouth.
Such rapid retreat is known nowhere else on earth!
Scientists have documented it, hoping to learn how glacial activity relates to climate changes.
Glacier Bay National Park includes 16 tidewater glaciers:12 actively calve icebergs into the bay.

The show can be spectacular. As water undermines the ice fronts, great blocks of ice up to 200 feet high break loose and crash into the water."

We actually saw huge chunks of ice calve off Margie Glacier, but did not have our i-phone camera close enough at hand, but here's a fairly impressive picture just before this happened.




The wildlife on this tour was incredible - we saw 4 Grizzly Bears, one a sow with 2 cubs, Dall Sheep, Killer Whales, Humpback Whales, dozens of Sea Otters, many birds including Puffins, Bald Eagles, Cormorants, Blue Heron to name a few of the more than 240 species of birds coming to this area & of course many fish jumping all around!

This next picture is not as clear as we saw our mama grizzly with her 2 cubs, but, not bad for the i-phone eh?


Can you see the 2 Sea Otters below?

A spectacular day we had on the water.

Then back to Gustavus where we had a performance at "The Outpost", - Camalou Studio.

Our host is Lou Cacioppo, a most gracious, generous person and an incredible artist.
His art includes mask making, paintings & sculpture.
He's also a musician, has a great voice and accompanies himself on guitar.
He is a master carpenter and built his own house, outbuildings and studio as well as helping other people build their homes.
He's unbelievably talented.

Lou hosts local & regional musicians & artists in his studio.

Lou made us a delicious meal before our performance, so he is obviously also a great cook in addition to all of the above.

Here are 2 of Lou's art pieces.




Lou's quote:  “Through portrait sculpture, in masks, I create visual links that portray the underlying feelings and emotions of every day life. My art addresses changes in the modern world, changes so vast and rapid that man can scarcely adjust. The nature of one’s whole context changing from week to week is a kind of stress not previously known to man and not acknowledged due to the masks we wear. We suffer for the need of instantaneous gratification, and we are losing our compassion and therefore our desire to physically socialize. We are moving towards individual isolation. Through my art I am striving to slow if not stop that direction.”

http://www.camaloustudio.com/bio

Thank you Lou!

------------------------------

Back on the ferry for the 3.5 hour journey back to Juneau for a few more days before heading north to the main body of Alaska.

We were so very fortunate to stay with a very dear friend of Colleen's, Tom Nave and his wife Susan.

We had great times on their deck overlooking the water in their lovely home north of Juneau on Auke Bay.

Tom & Susan took us on a cocktail tour of the bay.
We picked up Tom & Susan's son and girlfriend from Douglas Island to join us on the tour.
A beautiful evening on the bay!
Colleen tried to get Susan's picture several times, but.....

Our captain agreed to posing for a picture.
We were able to catch up on decades of life since Colleen last saw Tom in the late 70's.

In fact Tom was the person who inspired Colleen to visit Alaska in the first place and introduced her to sea kayaking with Humpback Whales -- a story to tell if anyone would like to ask.

Thanks Tom & Susan for a great stay!



Next up...Skagway and points north!
 

Sitka 

We again boarded the ferry in Ketchikan with our van for the 24 hour trip to Sitka.




This time, we book a cabin on the ferry for a good nights rest since we are performing a few hours after arriving in Sitka.
We even have a bathroom with a shower.


"All hands on deck!"The weather on the way is a little cool and rainy & walking on deck sure wakes you up if feeling a little sleepy.


We both agree that Sitka is our favorite town in SE Alaska.

We love all the communities we visited in SE, but the combination of life in Sitka, it's beautiful setting, maybe the fact that it was never a gold rush town gives it a different vibe.

There are fewer ocean liners coming to Sitka than other parts of SE Alaska, the community prefers this and when the ocean liners do come, they need to anchor away from the downtown area leaving the beautiful views of Sitka intact.


As all areas of SE Alaska, there is an active local arts and music scene, but Sitka has a fine arts campus at the historic Sheldon Jackson Campus.

On the day we arrived, we had a few hours to look around before our set-up time at the library which just happened to be on the same campus.

We lucked out because we were invited to attend the grand opening of the new performance center on campus in which much of the community had volunteered many thousands of hours to refurbish. 



We are sure glad we went!

This building is beautiful, inside and out.
The dedication and turn-out from the community gave us a great opportunity to see a good portion of the community as several hundred people attended.



The presentations and community response revealed a very cohesive group of people who are very committed to a full and rich life in Sitka and a great appreciation for, participation in and all around support for the arts.

After the initial dedication, everyone was invited to help themselves to excellent appetizers including local smoked salmon on polenta as one of many delicious choices.

We took our food upstairs to listen to the local young violin duo. ( brothers )


As we were leaving to get ready for our performance across the grounds, we were encouraged to take 2 plates of food with us to eat later.
How could we refuse?

The Kettleson Memorial Library for the city of Sitka is temporarily at the Sheldon Jackson Library.  We really liked this library.
Soon, they will move down to the waterfront to move into their new library overlooking their beautiful waterways, islands and volcano, Mt. Edgecombe. ( now extinct )

Robb Farmer is the new librarian in Sitka, at least fairly new.  He and his wife love Sitka.  They came up from Kentucky.
They told us they thought they had come to a very magical, beautiful  place & that Sitka was a very well educated community.
Robb also told us that the circulation of books in this library is higher than anywhere else in Alaska.

Robb took a few pictures for us during our performance.


Mt. Edgecombe

We had a total of 5 days on Sitka, mostly because we had to wait that long for the ferry.
Of all the places to wait, we were glad it was in this town.

We found a great camp spot just across The O'Connel Suspension Bridge on Japonski Island.

We were within walking distance of town, overlooking the harbor and fishing boats.

Sitka's location was originally settled by the Tlingit people over 10,000 years ago.
The Russians settled Old Sitka in 1799, calling it Redoubt Saint Michael.

The original Russian Orthodox Church burned, but later replaced by the new church.
Sitka has a beautiful National Historic Park set at the site of an historic battle. 

 The site, located near the mouth of the Indian River, served in 1804 as the location of an armed conflict between the native Tlingit people and Russian fur hunters (accompanied by their Aleut allies), known today as the Battle of Sitka.  This is fascinating history and a place that preserves the battle ground and the totems.
Battle ground
Sannaheit House Post
The grounds of the Sitka Historic Park included trails which linked up with other trails in Sitka which can take you across town on the outskirts, through the woods, bogs and meadows or up into the mountains.  Hiking from town seems to be a past-time for many Sitkans and certainly inspired us to check out the trails.
And look who we come across in the woods playing Shakahachie!
We talked about living in Sitka.
Sitka appeals to us for so many reasons, we continue on our journey for now, but who knows....

Next Stop, Juneau!



 

Ketchikan, Alaska 

We boarded the ferry at Hollis on Prince of Wales Island to make the 3 hour journey back to Ketchikan and find ourselves a room @ Eagle View Hostel before our our following day's performance at the Ketchikan Library.

Ketchikan is at the most southern point of the Alaska Marine Highways System in Alaska.
Ketchikan rains more than most SE Alaskan communities, about 162 inches of rain per year, but in some years, even topping 200 inches of rain.
We noticed that locals do not use umbrellas, and this seems to be true for all of SE Alaska.

Ketchikan is humming with tourists off the cruise ships.
When we were there, there were 5 ocean liners in town, and some say there are as many as 10,000 visitors daily from the Ocean Liners.
They pull up right downtown and totally block the views looking across the Tongass Narrows.
Most folks in town are happy for the business.

The largest collection of Native American totem poles in the world is in Ketchikan!



Ketchikan is also busy with many fishing & commercial boats, & float planes coming into and out of  the waterway.

In fact, Ketchikan seemed about the busiest place we've seen so far in the inside passage.

We walked and climbed stairs up from the downtown area as there is only one way to go if heading east, and that is UP!
Creek Street is built along the shores of Ketchikan Creek.
It was built over the water because it was simply too difficult to blast away the rocky hills surrounding the creek.
This is a common theme with Ketchikan as a large percentage of the town was built ‘over the water’.

The History of Creek Street can be summed up by fishermen, bootleggers, & prostitutes.
Creek Street is known as Ketchikan’s old red-light district. In the mid 1920’s there were over 20 bawdy houses on Creek Street alone!

Read more: http://www.experienceketchikan.com/creek-street-ketchikan.html#ixzz3fiOOjbjm

Ocean Liner dwarfs the Alaskan Gypsy
Hardy young people of Ketchikan.
It's not particularly warm out this day and the temperature of the water is about 50 degrees - brrrr!
We went to the library early to set up, and wow, what a beautiful library Ketchikan has. 

The new library is up the hill away from the hustle and bustle of downtown and has beautiful views of the mountains out the windows looking east.  The windows seem to cover the whole eastern wall of the library, from floor to ceiling.

An impressive, colorful & whimsical fabric covered tree sculpture fills a good portion of the children's library.

According to our librarian Lisa and written info fabric sculpture took hundreds of hours to make with commonly available materials.
The chicken wire base was covered with scraps of every imaginable fabric custom sewn in strips to fit tree shapes, embroidered and embellished.
Once installed, the artists used huge circular needles to “sew” the fabric to the wire base to give it shape.

The words on the tree are sayings about books, reading and libraries in many languages. The leaves are pressed newsprint shaped with wire and hand painted by artists and local school children. The branches to which the leaves are attached are covered with yarn. 

At the end of the branches are soft sculptures, dolls and paper mache figures of characters from popular books such as Charlotte’s Web, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and My Father’s Dragon.

It feels great to hug this tree because it is so soft and comfortable and our librarian assured us that this is encouraged and the children love their library tree. We also noticed a poem by Shel Sliverstein on the Poet Tree.

The community room we played in also had fabulous views and floor to ceiling windows on the east side.
Our librarian Lisa Pierson.We had a really nice time performing at the Ketchikan Library and meeting Lisa & the folks who came out!

After the performance, we were ready to relax with dinner and local music at a place recommended to us by Lisa, The New York Cafe.
The ambiance, food, beer and wine choices were very good and the local musicians were great!
In fact, we went back 2 other times as their coffee &  breakfasts are excellent!
The New York Cafe is a Primal Mates Pick for best place for coffee, food, ambiance & music.

Besides, the locals hang out here and a good way to tell they are locals is by the number of people who wear Rubber Boots.  (also known as "Sitka Sneakers" )

Next Stop, Sitka!
 

Inside Passage - SE Alaska, Prince of Wales Island 

We set off from Prince Rupert BC to Alaska's Inside Passage on the MSV Matanuska!

The weather was warm and sunny after the early morning clouds burned off and the experience of being on the water traveling through these waterways with over a thousand islands is about the most awesome way to travel!

This is Colleen's 5th trip through SE Alaska's inside passage and Chris' 2nd trip.

For both of us, this is our most favorite way to travel of all.
It has been almost 30 years since we traveled this way, so it felt both new but also beautifully familiar.

This group of islands through SE Alaska is called the Alexander Archipelago and spans hundreds of miles.

The Alaska Marine Highway takes us all the way to the northern portion of SE Alaska where we disembarked at Skagway  for our last performance in SE Alaska and then to drive through the Yukon to the main body of Alaska.

This marine highway actually continues on to south central Alaska and then to the Aleutian Islands.

Ferries on this system serve communities that have no road access, and the vessels can transport people, freight, and vehicles.

The Alaska Marine Highway spans a whopping 3,500 miles from Bellingham Washington to Dutch Harbor, Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands.

This marine highway system is a rare example (in the USA) of a shipping line offering regularly scheduled service for the primary purpose of transportation rather than of leisure or entertainment.

Voyages can last many days, but, in contrast to the luxury of a typical cruise line, cabins cost extra, and most food is served cafeteria-style.
The cost of ferry travel is more affordable, though taking a vehicle does add the largest amount to the price of ferry travel.

What we notice about traveling by ferry is that folks are more likely to be outside on deck then the Ocean Liner travelers.
We also noticed many more children on the ferries.

We did book a roomy outside cabin from Ketchikan to Sitka since this was the longest leg of traveling by ferry, ie 24 hours.

Ahh, quite nice to be able to be lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking motion of the ferry and quiet 'thrumming' of the engines.

The picture below is taken on the inter-island ferry headed towards Prince of Wales Island which is the 5th largest Island in the US.
The Island is behind the smaller islands in the front, the mountains in the distance are on Prince of Wales Island.


PRINCE OF WALES ISLAND

We were so happy to be invited to come to Prince of Wales Island by the director of the library in Craig on Prince of Wales.
Craig library just won a medal from the National Library & Museum Services.

According to their website: "The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community.
For 21 years, the award has celebrated institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service to make a difference for individuals, families, and communities.

The 2015 National Medal finalists have made real and lasting contributions to their local communities through programs that engage and inspire the public.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums.
Their mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement."

Craig Library was one of 30 finalists and just before our arrival on Prince of Wales Island, they were one of 5 winners.

Amy Marshall, director of the Craig Library was awarded the medal for her library by Michelle Obama.

Amy was instrumental in making it possible for us to come to Alaska through SE Alaska to present our Music in Poetry Program.

We played 2 concerts, one in Craig and one in Thorne Bay, and we presented an informal workshop for locals at Craig library which included a group discussion about integrating poetry and music.  We created a song with melody and chords based on a poem.

Below is a picture of Amy with us on Craig's High School Auditorium stage.
This is a beautiful school and the auditorium has great acoustics.
We went to Kasaan Village on the way to our Thorne Bay performance.
The road was gravel and quite bumpy in places, but totally worth the time and bumps.
Kasaan is one of the main historical communities of the Kaigani Haida.
Residents moved from their former village on Skowl Arm, now called Old Kasaan, starting in 1893 and mostly in the period 1902-1904.
This migration was prompted by the promise of jobs and a school occasioned by development of copper mining and a cannery near the present location. Kasaan was established as a city in 1976.

We initially visited the carving shed before hiking to the Old Village of Kasaan.
We met Eric and Harley who were involved in many projects.
Both told us they are 1st Nation members of the Kaigani Haidi Community.
They have been working on a canoe, masks and working to restore the Whale House in Old Kasaan.

They say they are apprentices of a master carver and that they are learning both traditional forms and finding new methods to build.

Eric agreed to model the war helmet as Harley threw a rock at his head to show how effective the war helmet is.
These 2 were quite engaging, funny and very dedicated to their work!.
We took the 1 mile hike through the rain forest to the Old Village of Kasaan - there was no-one else visiting while we were there, it was as if we stumbled into an ancient, mysterious, beautiful place.

Dozens of totems are scattered throughout this old village. 
One of our favorites was the Whale Totem.
The Whale House Is being restored.


One of the many totems in the Old Village of Kasaan.  Eric tells us these totems were made in the mid 1800's.
We were surprised how well they have held up given that they are in a rain forest.
We head back to the van to make our journey back to the main road to Thorne Bay.

The person opening for us is Sophia Martin, "The Girl From the North Country".
Sophia is 10 years old, and wow, what a voice!
She also plays the ukulele well and writes great songs!
Our Vista Volunteer  Jamie did a great job getting the word out for the performance which took place at the High School.

We had a little time to check out other places in Prince of Wales, this is in Klawock.
Looking North from Old Town Craig.




We were so fortunate to be staying in a beautiful B & B right on the water in Craig with water views in all directions and near walks through the woods to the beach.



We'd like to thank Amy Marshall for inviting us to Prince of Wales Island! We had a great time!

Next stop, Ketchikan!