Katmai Bear Cam 2019


Popeye, also known as Bear #634, Photo credit: Katmai National Park

The Bear Cam is back up & running at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park. The National Park Service has teamed up once again with explore.org to offer bear viewing in your living room.

The sockeyes started to come in last week, and the brown bears arrived right after that. There were 15-20 bears in sight when I last looked at the cam.

Link to the Bear cam:

https://explore.org/livecams/brown-bears/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls


Happy Summer Solstice!


The Midnight Sun Game at Growden Memorial Park; photo credit: Explore Fairbanks

The Midnight Sun Baseball Game has been played on every summer solstice in Fairbanks since 1906. The game starts at 10:30pm, and has never been played under artificial lights.

On a separate weather note: Fairbanks saw it’s first 80F degree day of the year on Thursday, June 20. That’s 10 days later than the average for the first 80. We’ve been dry and quite sunny, with temps basically running in the 70’s up until the Big Eight-Zero finally arrived.

The warmest Summer Solstice on record in Fairbanks happened on 21 June 1991, when the official airport thermometer hit 94F.

Have a great Solstice!


Best of all possible worlds

State Theater
Ithaca, New York


Ithaca’s State Theater

I had one final side excursion before climbing aboard Amtrak for the rail trip to Saint Paul. The Curator and I joined Doug & Cindy in Ithaca for a Kris Kristofferson concert.


The stage from the balcony

Ithaca, which sits alongside Cayuga Lake, is the home of Cornell University. The State Theater is next to the Ithaca Commons. The theater building was built in 1915, as the Ithaca Security Company auto garage and dealership.

The building was bought, with the idea of renovating it into a theater. The State Theater opened with a vaudeville act on December 6, 1928. At its peak, Ithaca had seventeen grand theaters downtown. Today, the State Theater is the last remaining cinema and vaudeville palace in Ithaca. The theater is a beautiful venue for a concert. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.


Kris Kristofferson & The Strangers

Kristofferson is one of the most prolific song writers out there today. I must admit, I never expected to see him play live. He was backed by Merle Haggard’s old band The Strangers, which included two of Merle’s sons: Ben & Noel. The 1600 seat theater was the perfect setting for the laid back and intimate concert put on by the 82 year old Kristofferson.

It was a good show. Kristofferson was in fine form, and after a bit of a tentative start, he relaxed with an audience that obviously adored the man. It didn’t take long for him to mix some things up and joke with the audience, although he was pure business, hitting song after song, for a 29 song set. Kristofferson is a masterful storyteller, and every song is a compelling tale on life.

The Strangers were a great addition. I thought Ben Haggard on guitar and vocals was an incredible artist. He’s be worth seeing in his own right. A good concert, and an unexpected surprise to the trip.


St. Lawrence State Hospital

Ogdensburg, New York

Originally to be called the Ogdensburg State Asylum for the Insane, the name was officially changed to the St. Lawrence State Hospital before the first patient was admitted in 1890. The 950 acre parcel of land along the Saint Lawrence River was bought by the State of New York for $90,500 in 1887.

By the 1940’s, the hospital had become a “city within a city”. Food for the over 2000 residents came from poultry, dairy and vegetable farms within the grounds. The hospital had its own police & fire departments, post office and telephone system. There was also carpentry, plumbing and paint shops, a tailor shop, theater, community store, and the hospital had its own nursing school.

The St Lawrence Hospital closed in 1983.

When I was in Ogdensburg, my tour guide drove me through the hospital grounds. The massive stone buildings are all in various state of disrepair. I cringed at the sight of open roofs, knowing the damage that is being done internally to these wonderful buildings. As a contractor, I realize the effort and craftsmanship that went into their construction over 130 years ago. It’s just a shame that the city of Ogdensburg could not get the State of New York to do something constructive with the site.


1884 Carriage House


Frederic Remington Art Museum

Ogdensburg, New York


The Frederic Remington Art Museum

When I was in Ogdensburg this past spring, I was lucky enough to get a private, guided tour of the Frederic Remington Art Museum. The main building of the museum was built in 1810 by David Parish. Remington’s wife Eva, lived in the residence after the artist’s death. Eva died in 1918, and the museum was founded in 1923.


The Bronco Buster; 1895

Today, the FRAM houses a large and comprehensive collection of Remington’s work, which includes paintings, sculptures and sketches, as well as many personal belongings.


Frederic Remington

Born in 1861, Remington was 11 when his family moved to Ogdensburg. He briefly attended Yale University’s art school, but left to tend his ailing father, who died a year later. At 19, Remington made his first trip Out West, to Montana. It was from this trip that Harper’s Weekly published Remington’s first work: a sketch the he had made on wrapping paper and sent back East. A career was launched, ever so humbly.

Here is just a very small sampling of Remington’s art on display at the FRAM:


Lasso Cowpuncher

This work just jumps out at me, due to the expression of the horse. Amazing detail here.


The Stampede, 1909

The plaster model of The Stampede had been sent to the Roman Bronze Works just prior to Remington’s untimely death. One of Remington’s final works, he did not live to see it cast into bronze.


The Charge of the Rough Riders; oil on canvas, 1898

Remington became a war correspondent during the Spanish-American War, and was around for the assault on San Juan Hill. What Remington witnessed during that brief war greatly affected him upon his return. His painting The Scream of Shrapnel at San Juan Hill depicts the terror of the unseen during war. It’s quite the visual.

The writer Stephen Crane was also alongside Remington as a correspondent in Cuba. He would return to publish Wounds in the Rain on his war experience. Oddly enough, Crane’s celebrated work The Red Badge of Courage was published in 1895, before he had experienced war first hand.


The Rattlesnake; 1905


The Courrier du Bois and the Savage; oil on canvas, 1891


Coming Through the Rye; 1902


In a Stiff Current; oil on canvas, 1892


The Cheyenne; 1901

In all Remington created 22 bronze sculptures, and over 3000 paintings and drawings. Remington also authored eight books. Frederic Remington died on 26 December 1909 from peritonitis after an emergency appendectomy. He was 48.

The Frederic Remington Art Museum is well worth the time to visit if you are in upstate New York. In all honesty, the area is well worth visiting anyway, so take in a visit to the FRAM as you explore the Saint Lawrence River country.


Arctic Research aboard the RV Polarstern

UTQIAGVIK, Alaska


Recent paths of Arctic ice floes; Source credit: Thomas Krumpen, Alfred Wegener Institute; Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Bremen

Researchers from around the globe have congregated on Alaska’s Arctic coast. They are planning a once in a generation expedition into the heart of one of the harshest environments on Earth: The Arctic.

It’s a 12 month, 17 nation, 300 scientist effort aboard the German ice breaker Polarstern, to document climate change in the Arctic. This coming autumn, the Polarstern will be positioned in a remote part of the Siberian Arctic, and then wait to be frozen in the ice. The research vessel will then flow with the floe; traveling with the ice as it moves across the Arctic Ocean.

Only twice has a transpolar drift happened successfully in history. Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen did it first in 1893. Ten years ago, a small sailing ship named the Tara also completed a transpolar drift without the sea ice crushing its hull.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the National Science Foundation and universities from Alaska-Fairbanks to Oregon State to Dartmouth are involved. Most northern nations are playing a role, as well. Russia, China and Sweden have all committed ships and aircraft for resupply support. Japan and Switzerland have developed new research equipment especially for the expedition.

Unlike Antarctica, there is no land at the north pole to build a permanent research station. The RV Polarstern is the next best thing. At any one time, 60 people will be living and working on the ice breaker. Resupply will take place every 60 days, weather permitting. Researchers will also be swapped out during resupply runs.


Graph credit: National Snow & Ice Data Center

Time is running short for a expedition like this one. The key is to find old sea ice, 4-5 years old, and get locked into that. Since 1980, 95% of Arctic sea ice that is 4+ years old, has been lost. In the graph above, the lightest yellow is 1 year old ice, the dark purple 5+ years old.

It should be an interesting study, although researchers on board the ice breaker from December to February will not see the sun. They should see polar bears, however.

#MOSAiC