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09/15/17 - Our First Day at Ultima Thule - Part 4

Our flight back was as amazing as our flight out. We headed north towards the lodge passing over mountains of ice and following the course of wild rivers. As we descended, the mountains were full of fall color. It's hard to capture from an airplane, especially the crowded back seat, but the effect was overwhelming.

Autumn color by a river

More autumn color

Even more autumn color

Still a bit of green down here

Another glacial lake

Keywords: alaska

09/14/17 - Our First Day at Ultima Thule - Part 3

Our next stop was even less probable and even more magnificent. We flew into yet another fjord lined with glaciers and waterfalls. Our pilot took us about, exploring the nooks and crannies and amazing views. Then we circled in for a landing, a landing on a high grassy ledge part way up the wall of fjord.

By now we were used to landing on small patches of ground, but this was our first landing well above sea level.

We wandered about for better views of the great waterfall rushing from the glacier at the end of the fjord. There were ice caves and melt pools and strange rock formations. Getting here without an airplane would have required hiking, sailing and then mountaineering. This wilderness is not only roadless, but trackless.

Our landing strip; let's hope they have a gate available.

Melting glaciers

The ground - lichens

The view

One of the amazing waterfalls

The really big waterfall rushing from the glacier

Another view

A visitor

Another waterfall

More ice

An ice cave glowing blue

Keywords: alaska

09/13/17 - Our First Day at Ultima Thule - Part 2

Then we flew along the coast for a bit before turning into one of the bays. Here, spread out before us was a magnificent glacier. Our pilot flew us high for a view of the bay. Our pilot flew us low for a view along the melting wall of ice as it met salt water. Then our pilot landed us on an impossibly small patch of land at the edge of the water.

Here we ate lunch.

While we dined, the glacier entertained us as chunks of ice snapped and cracked and dropped into the sea leaving clouds of shattered ice in their wake. For a while, after a large piece of ice dropped, the sea where we were would stay calm, but after a while the sea would start to churn. The chunks of floating ice would rise and fall as the wave front moved past with an ominous rushing sound like an angry river.

It was a great lunch. Only with reluctance, we jimmied ourselves back into our little plane and headed on for the next part of our Alaska adventure.

The glacier from afar

Closer to the ice flow

A close up

Chunks of floating ice between us and the glacier

A chunk of ice breaks off and falls

We ate our lunch and watched

Dall sheep on the hillside above us

Another chunk of ice breaks off

Yet another chunk - almost caught with the telephoto lens

It was hypnotic; there should be a glacier channel.

Seals on the ice

Keywords: alaska

09/12/17 - Our First Day at Ultima Thule - Part 1

Everything at Ultima Thule is about flying. We spent most of our first day flying around in little Piper Super Cubs. These are a trick to get in and out of and quite cosy inside. The pilot sits on the front seat at the controls while the two passengers sit in tandem as in a roller coaster. Despite their small size and maneuverability, the planes fly smoothly, almost like a car on a smooth road except in three dimensions. They can take off and land on a strip less than a hundred feet long, so they are perfect for exploring Alaska. Roadless areas tend not to have a lot of long landing strips.

We flew south over the spectacular scenery of the Wrangell Mountains to the Pacific coast where we landed on a small sand beach to stretch our legs and explore. We had been far inland 45 minutes ago, now we were on an isolated beach. There were rocks, sand, barnacles and seals. We were truly in the middle of nowhere, and it was beautiful.

Big mountains, little airplanes

Mountains across the river


Glacial meltwater

A river - Yes, those are our hiking sticks lashed to the airplane.

The beach

Tidal pool


and more seals

Another view of the beach

The beach again

Keywords: alaska

09/11/17 - Coming Into The Country - Part 2

We kept flying east until we reached the little town of McCarthy. It wasn't much of a town compared to Anchorage, but it was the first sign of settlement we had seen in an hour and a half of flying.

We changed planes here. Our next plane was waiting for us, and we took a half hour hop south with yet more spectacular scenery before arriving at Ultima Thule Lodge, a bastion of civilization and luxury in the roadless wilderness of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. This was a lodge built on the banks of the Chitina using local wood and local stone. Everything else arrived by air.

We wandered the grounds a bit. The lodge wouldn't let us leave the close in region without an escort, so we had a guide take us down for a good look at the five mile wide river bed. We saw another rainbow. This would be our home and base for the next four days.

Our connecting flight

Keywords: alaska

09/10/17 - Coming Into The Country - Part1

We started our journey at the most peculiar airport. It was right next to the main Anchorage airport, but this airport was full of little planes. A lot of them had wheels and rolled down the highway where they had right of way. Others had floats and had little cut outs and docks so they could just push off like a boat and use the lake for a runway.

We took off, said goodbye to Anchorage, and were soon looking out the windows as the landscape rolled and folded dramatically. As the instruments on board showed, there was terrain ahead, lots of terrain. There was also ice, vast glaciers of ice, and rivers run wild between the mountains. We caught a bit of fall color and a rainbow, but we kept flying east.

Keywords: alaska

09/09/17 - Our Journey North

We've been out of town and, for much of the time, we have been on beyond internet access. We journeyed north and had an amazing trip. Now that we're back, it's time to update our web page.

That city we're flying towards is Anchorage, only a three and a half hour flight from Seattle. We stayed up late and managed to catch a sunset, then we explored the city a bit. On the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail we were rewarded with some sandhill cranes.

Then we checked out the botanical gardens, but cut our visit short. Some of the trails were closed due to recent bear activity.

Finally, we had dinner with our friend Clare who is now living in Anchorage. We met at the Marx Brothers Cafe which we cannot recommend highly enough. Alaska is an excellent place to order things like halibut cheeks and freshly caught scallops.

This was only the beginning. We have over a thousand pictures to go through, so we'll start winnowing and posting them over the next few days. Stay tuned to this blog.

Flying in to Anchorage

Catching the pink of the sunset on the mountains to the east

Along the waterfront

Sandhill cranes

Seen at the botanical garden

Also seen at the botanical garden

The Marx Brothers Cafe

Keywords: alaska

05/28/16 - Russian Easter

Real Russian Easter was some ago, but we Kalebergs finally got around to celebrating just a few days ago. We had stacks of buckwheat pancakes, an acre of home made pork sausage and bales of pelmeni. The melted butter flowed like water. We washed it all down with an ocean of champagne.

Our friends arrived in two waves. Those in Port Angeles arrived around six, but everyone to the east was delayed for two hours. Highway 101 was closed for a crime scene investigation after a shoot out of Old West proportions that morning. (No one was killed, but many shots were fired.) That meant our second wave arrived around eight. We have really patient, hungry friends.

It wasn’t until nine that the strains of the 1812 overture began to play, and we retold the story of the Monster Napoleon and his invasion of Mother Russia. Our baked Alaska Moscow loomed at the edge of our kitchen counter. As the monster and his minions approached, we realized that only scorched earth would stop him. Flaming French brandy flowed as the cannons roared. Moscow and Mother Russia were saved. We suspect Napoleon will try again next year.

The icy shores of our ocean of champagne

Moscow for the burning

Our Russian feast

Keywords: russian easter, alaska

05/31/15 - Russian Easter

We had such a great time at our Russian Easter party - yes, we know it's awfully late - that we forgot to take pictures. What with the blini, shashlik, pelmeni and home made sausage, we had a serious Russian feast. There was butter and more butter, and then came the Defense of Moscow from the Monster Napoleon. Moscow was played by a giant baked Alaska with brownie domes. Napoleon never made it to Moscow in our version. He was stopped in his tracks by the scorched earth policy, fueled - ironically enough - by the fumes of French brandy.

Moscow - The domes have gone 3D this year.

Champagne resting in a simulated Russian winter as played by our sink.

Blini, pelmeni and salmon roe

Keywords: russian easter, alaska

05/17/14 - Russian Easter

Yes, we know that real Russian Easter was back in April. Still, there are the Old Calendrists, who rejected the Gregorian calendar, the New Calendrists, who accepted the Gregorian calendar, and the Kaleberg Kalendrists who make up their own calendar.

What does this mean? It means we served buckwheat pancakes with too much butter and salmon roe. We served enemies of the czar, corned beef reubens made with real Russian dressing. We served Trotsky's Bane, tequila, tabikko and wasabi, in oversized cucumber cups. We served Russian dumplings, deadly pelmeni, capable of destroying two years of dieting in one brief sitting. We served home made sausage from an emigre recipe. Russian Easter food is most definitely NOT dietary food.

Then came the Defense of Moscow, our set piece dessert with an oversized Baked Alaska standing in for the premier city of czars and commissars, though not both at the same time. While the 1812 Overture played in the background, we retold the tale, the tale of the Monster Napoleon and his assault on the heart of Russia. Scorched earth, that is, brownies, coffee ice cream and meringe, was all he found after we symbolically burned Moscow to the ground, ironically lighting the flames with French brandy.

Baked Alaska for the Defense of Moscow

Our champagne forest

Home made sausage, pelmeni, blini and salmon - Note how the sheer mass of these dishes has warped the light used in taking this photo.

Enemies of the czar - destroyed!

Trotsky's Bane - Mexican exile and tequila did not agree with him. He probably didn't like vegetables very much either.

Keywords: russian easter, kale, alaska

05/25/13 - The Domes of St. Basil's

Every year we retell the story of Russian Easter, that is, the Kaleberg version. In our version Mother Russia is attacked by the monster Napoleon and his terrifying Grand Armee. The only defense against is the Russian winter and a scorched earth policy, a policy that requires the burning of Moscow. Ironically enough, this is accomplished using French brandy.

We perform this as a set piece. We serve a Baked Alaska made of brownies and coffee ice cream and topped with a meringue, though this year we had good luck using vanilla ice cream. Every year the domes signify the domes of the St. Basils in the heart of Moscow, and every year the flames of brandy adorn the city as part of its last ditch defense while the 1812 Overture plays in the background.

This year's domes, 2013

The making of Moscow

We like the look and taste of the vanilla ice cream topping better than meringue.

A dome in progress








Keywords: russian easter, kale, alaska

05/14/12 - Russian Easter

Well, it wasn't actually Russian Easter, at least not by the old calendar or the new calendar, but we go with the Kaleberg calendar. We rounded up all the usual Russian goodies:
  • our own home made pork, garlic & carroway seed sausage
  • buckwheat blini pancakes saturated with butter and more butter
  • Trotsky's Bane - tequila shooters w/tabikko
  • pelmeni dumplings stuffed with pork, beef & dill
  • Enemies of the Czar - Reuben sandwiches with corned beef, swiss cheese and Russian dressing
There was also lots of champagne, which is French, and a French assault on Mother Russia, represented by a baked Alaska, foiled by a scorched earth policy of flaming cognac.

If you want to try any of these dishes in your own home, see our Russian Easter recipes page.

Moscow - portrayed by a brownie and coffee ice cream based Baked Alaska - prepared for its defense against the Monster Napoleon

Champagne in the snow, an old Russian theme

You can see the weird glow of Trotsky's Bane.

Keywords: recipe, russian easter, kale, alaska

05/04/11 - Russian Easter 2011

We held our annual Russian Easter last Saturday, and we are still digesting all the wonderful food. The blini had the starring role. These are traditional yeast-risen buckwheat pancakes drenched in butter. Butter is supposed to symbolize the return of the sun in the spring. It also symbolizes lots of calories. We also had our home made pork sausage with the meat chopped, not ground. You can see some of the other co-stars in the photos, including
  • Enemies of the Czar - corned beef and swiss reuben paninis
  • Trotsky's Bane - wasabi tequila shooters with tabikko, served in cucumbers, a specialty from Trotsky's later years, exiled to Mexico
  • Our Token Nod to Good Health - asparagus and endive with walnut coriander sauce

Ironically enough, to celebrate the melting of the snows, we made snow, with our new ice shaving machine. It gave our Champagne Garden a whole new look, and it made the glasses a lot more stable.

So, once again, we told the tale of the Defense of Moscow, with Moscow played by a gigantic bake Alaska. Once again, we asked in desperation: "How could we defend mother Russia from the monster, Napoleon?" and once again we answered, "With scorched earth and flames of French brandy!" The burning was spectacular with the decorated brownie domes collapsing in flames and the satay sticks that held them in place igniting. We could almost imagine Napoleon desperating seeking a way out of the burning city as the walls collapsed around him. (That was in some version of War and Peace or another.)

So, until next year, Happy Russian Easter, and say Welcome to Spring.

For more on our traditional Russian Easter, including recipes, check out our Russian Easter page.

Enemies of the Czar, Trotsky's Bane and home made sausage

Our champagne garden

This years baked Alaska for our Defense of Moscow

Keywords: russian easter, spring, alaska

03/09/11 - Farmers' Market Update

This is just some Port Angeles Farmers' Market gossip:
  • Leela, of Lazy J, will now be working with Westwind Farms. She's sharing stall space with them for now and still has her baby potatoes, but this season she'll be farming with them, and we're looking forward to her new goodies.
  • Christy, of Johnston Farms, is on sabbatical for a few months, so we won't be seeing her for a while. She's hoping to be back some time in June, so if all goes well, she'll be back with the summer harvest.
  • Allan,of Dungeness Seaworks, was off to Sitka. He'll be fishing up in Alaska. That's where the fish are. He isn't sure when he'll be back at the market. Given the vagaries of fish and weather, the best we can do is wish him good luck.
  • Preston, of Wild West Seafood, says he is expecting black cod very soon, and halibut season is opening, so he's hoping to have halibut after that.

Keywords: farmers' market, johnston farm, port angeles, westwind farm, alaska

04/13/10 - Russian Easter

Yes, Russian Easter was Sunday, April 4th, but we just got around to holding our own celebration on the 11th. We gather there are some disputes about the exact date between the Old and New Calendrists. Well, we're the Kaleberg Calendrists, so we get to set our own date.

At least we hold true to tradition with our food. We have our blini, buckwheat pancakes, drowned in butter, our enemies of the Czar, grilled reuben sandwiches with Russian dressing, Trotsky's Bane, cucumber shots of salmon roe and tequila, and our usual set piece, the Defense of Moscow, in which we defend Moscow, represented by an oversized Baked Alaska decorated with brownie onion domes, from the Monster Napoleon by the traditional scorched earth method thanks to a good helping of flaming cognac.

Gorbachev and Breshnev preside by the samovar. That's Trotsky's Bane to the right.

Moscow, as envisoned by Kaleberg Arts, prior to its defense

Our Enemies of the Czar await their ritual consumption

Keywords: russian easter, salmon, kale, alaska

04/09/10 - Fort Worden

We had some business to handle in Port Townsend, so we decided to take a look at Fort Worden which is a bit north of town. (Our business was to pick up coffee ice cream at Elevated Ice Cream for our Russian Easter party's Baked Alaska.) Fort Worden is mainly a state park now, but at one time it was a military installation, and there is some lovely architecture there, especially along the officer's row. There is also some pretty scenery with great views of the water, but we are a bit spoiled by Olympic National Park so we only explored a little, then headed off to get our ice cream. If you are in Port Townsend, you might want to drop by, but if you have more time to explore, head west.

The main sward

The waterfront

A great old building

Keywords: port townsend, russian easter, alaska

10/23/09 - The Seattle Museum of Flight

We often fly Kenmore Air from Port Angeles to Boeing Field, but we rarely stick around the field for long. However on our latest trip our friends insisted that we head to the other side of the runway and see The Museum of Flight.

First, we stopped by the Fisherman's Terminal in Seattle and grabbed some lunch. We hadn't expected much. After all, this is supposed to be a tourist trap, so we were pleasantly surprised. The fish was fresh, as we had expected, but it and the side dishes were also well prepared. If nothing else, they used real butter, and that can make a lot of difference.

Then, we made our way the museum. It was much bigger than our friends had remembered with a veritable plethora of airplanes. We spent some time in the space exhibit. The full scale prototype module from the space station was larger than we had expected. Maybe there really is a space station orbiting up there, even if it doesn't have a cocktail lounge a la 2001.

A lot of our favorite planes were there including the Gossamer Albatross, the first man powered ultralight to cross the English Channel, the SR-71, always a crowd pleaser, an old Alaska Air DC-3, and, of course, the war planes from the first and second world wars. We didn't take too many pictures. If nothing else, the place was so chock full of aircraft it was hard to find a place to stand for a good shot.

We even crossed the road for a peek inside an old Concorde. Wow, it was cramped inside. Give us a full length, fold down bed seat, and we'll be happy even if it takes an extra hour or two to get there. We didn't get to see the old Boeing red barn and a whole lot of other things. All told, we were impressed, and we plan to come back.

The Museum of Flight

The Gossamer Albatross - one of the first successful man powered flying machines

From World War I

From World War II

High technology - The SR-71

Low technology

Keywords: seattle, art, science, kenmore, alaska

Click to enlarge the chart

09/01/08 - The Nenana Ice Classic

Every year since 1917 there has been a contest betting on the date the ice melts on the Tanana River in Nenana, Alaska. Since gambling is involved, and the stakes are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, this contest has provided an excellent record of warming in Alaska. People may debate global warming, but gamblers bet their money on it.

If you look at the chart, you can see which day of the year the ice melts. They time it to the nearest minute, and you can see a broad cluster of dates, but a general decline as the river melts earlier in the year than it used to. The equation near the upper left of the chart shows a trend with a slope of -0.0721 which means that the river melts about one hour and 44 minutes earlier each year. The river thaws, on the average six and a half days earlier than it did in 1917.

Needless to say, there is a lot of noise in the melting date. On the other hand, the smart money has been betting on earlier dates than in the past.

Keywords: science, alaska

05/13/07 - Russian Easter - Moscow Burns

It was another wild Russian Easter at Chez Kaleberg. This time we didn't even get the date right, but we did manage to defend Moscow from the Monster Napoleon. That's our authentic version of Baked Alaska made out of brownies, coffee ice cream, and meringue. What you can't see due to limits on our camera is the flaming brandy. That's right. As in 1812, it took scorched earth, in this case scorched by ironically flaming French brandy, to repel the invader.

Once the Frenchies were kicked out, Moscow was ours for the eating.

Keywords: russian easter, food, kale, alaska

King Crab Legs w/Angle Hair Pasta

11/14/05 - Fresh Alaskan King Crab Legs

This is one of those dishes that one reads about, but that one never sees served in restaurants. Most Alaska king crab is frozen when it is caught, or as soon as the ship arrives in port. The only people who get fresh king crab legs are people who catch them for themselves.

One of the advantages of living in Washington State is that Alaska is sort of the next state to the north, if you don't count British Columbia and the like. This means that the folks at Bella Italia were able to snarf a some fresh Alaskan king crab legs from their friends to the north. We were trying to figure out what to do for dinner when we got the call. Dave Senters was cooking, the crab was in, and we were ready.

The dish pictured above is a plate of fresh Alaskan king crab meat with fried bread crumbs, fried garlic, baby potatoes, and fresh scallions in brown butter sauce with balsamic vinegar on angel hair pasta. We were quite impressed. The crab meat was richer in flavor than our own local Dungeness crab meat, and had a meaty, almost chunky texture. It was as sweet as local crab, but the chunks were larger. If you've ever had Alaskan kind crab legs at an upmarket brunch, you probably remember them as a bit bland and watery, perhaps even a bit stringy. There was none of this here. This crab had legs, and it stood up to a powerfully flavored pasta dish quite nicely.

We aren't sure if your local restaurant provides this kind of service, but if you do get a call saying that the fresh Alaskan king crab legs are in, don't wait. Even at 3AM it is worth scrambling down for a taste of this king of the crabmeats.

Keywords: fish, food, dungeness, restaurants, washington state, alaska

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