August 2007 Archives

Whittier, AK

It's really hot right now in Southern California, 108 degrees F at my house today.  It hasn't rained here for a long time either, this is the driest year on record.  I found myself thinking about nice cool, rainy places and started looking through some old photos.  I was reminded of Whittier Alaska.

This small town is called the weirdest city in Alaska for a number of reasons.  It's located on the Prince William Sound and has an ice free, deep water port.  It rains substantially here and because of the cloud cover it was hidden from satellites most of the time.  Because of the port, the rain and it's strategic location the the military established a base here and built some large structures during the cold war.  Access to the town was restricted until recently and only trains could use the tunnel connecting Whittier to the rest of Alaska.

Now you can drive through the tunnel to Whittier and visit this unique location.  We did in 2003.  The tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in North America, 2.5 miles.  It's also the longest shared train and highway tunnel.  Here are a few photos that are helping me remember what cool rain feels like...

AK2003-1.jpgThe entrance portal to the Whittier Tunnel

AK2003-4.jpgDriving the tunnel

AK2003-2.jpgThe Begich Tower was originally built by the military as the Hodge Building. It looks out of place in this small coastal town and is now home to most of the people in town.

AK2003-3.jpgThe Buckner Building was once the largest in Alaska. It was a city under one roof and meant to house thousands of military personnel. Now abandoned and full of asbestos this relic stands as a memorial to the cold war.

There's more to the story of Whittier than these photos show. It's home to the 26 Glacier Cruise, great fishing, beautiful scenery and nice people. The fast ferry from Valdez visits here as well as cruise ships. I'd like to return one day.

Steam at Fullerton

I've just upgraded the blog to MovableType 4.0 and need to test it. What better way than to show a few images of steam from the Fullerton Rail Days. The first image is the piston section of an antique fire engine. This horse drawn engine is in beautiful condition and glows from every angle.

Here's a photo of the Santa Fe #3751. This 4-8-4 locomotive was manufactured by Baldwin in 1927. It weighs in at 847,346 lbs including the tender. Still operational, it had steam up for the show and travels under its own power.


Bristlecone Pines

This weekend we went north to the White Mountains to see The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. This is home to the oldest living tree on earth. Methusela was determined to be approximately 4,700 years old. It was alive when the pyramids were being built, the bible was taking shape and Moses didn't come along for years in the future.
Methusela is still alive, the trees that aren't are also providing clues to the past, together scientists have been able to piece together over 10,000 years of history by reading their rings.

These trees grow at very high elevation, approximately 10,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level. They're very dense and have a lot of resin enabling them to withstand the climate and resist insects and disease.

The air here is thin and cool even in the summer. The roads windy and sometimes rough. It's great!

This photo was taken at the Patriarch Grove, elevation 11,300 feet.

I've added a gallery of images to the main web site, please make sure to take a look.

The trees have incredible texture caused by erosion. As the tree ages it can only support a finite amount of live growth, a portion of the tree dies so the rest can keep on growing. The dead portion is subject to blowing ice and snow that erodes the surface into the condition seen here. The shapes and patterns are different on every tree, an incredible study of natural form.

The environment is harsh and changing through the millennia, some trees don't survive.

The sunset this evening took us along the White Mountain Road above Bishop, CA. The sunset was enhanced by smoke from wildfires. Smoke from the Zaca fire near Santa Barbara is blowing all over the state. This fire has been burning for over a month and isn't expected to be contained until mid September. It's several hundred miles from here and you can see how dense it is over the Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance. A Bristlecone Pine is silhouetted by the smoky sunset.

Updated Galleries

A couple of days ago I updated the galleries section of the Alpert Design web site.  There are new galleries by both Elizabeth and I.

Elizabeth's galleries include some "urban exploration" into an abandoned train station and grain elevator.  These places are still of great historical interest and it's very interesting to imagine them working in their heyday.  She also has a gallery of night shots from Pasadena that capture the feel of the area.

My new gallery is a collection of images taken on Vancouver Island, Canada in 2005.  I started thinking of this trip the other day when I realized that it would be my friend Dave's second anniversary today (my how time flies).  We went to Victoria for his wedding and spent two weeks sightseeing, photographing and thoroughly enjoying the area.

I will try to include past images as well as present ones on the web site as I get the time to organize, scan and edit them.  There are many years worth of them I'd like to share.  Here are a few from Canada different from the ones in the gallery...




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This page is an archive of entries from August 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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