Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Good Friday Earthquake

64 Quake Map

It was 50 years ago today, at 5:36pm AST, when the megathrust earthquake hit southern Alaska. The ground shook for over 4 minutes, causing tsunamis that wiped out coastal villages before the shaking stopped. The magnitude 9.2 quake remains the largest to be recorded in North America. In the five decades since, no earthquake has matched the power of the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake.

Kodiak, AK after Good Friday Quake
Kodiak after the 1964 Alaska Quake. Note the green Willys Wagon!

139 lives were lost (tsunami 124, earthquake 15), which, considering the magnitude of the quake, is amazingly low. The maximum tsunami wave height recorded was 67 meters (220 feet) at Shoup Bay in the Valdez Inlet. The community of Valdez was wiped out. Kodiak, Seward, Portage, Anchorage, Chitina, Glenallen, Hope, Homer, Moose Pass, among others, all saw severe damage.

4th Ave Anchorage B&W
4Th Avenue, Anchorage after the ’64 Quake

In the day following the earthquake, there were 11 major aftershocks that reached a magnitude of 6.2 or higher. There were thousands of aftershocks in the three weeks after the main shock, and it was a year later when the aftershocks were no longer noticed.

Seward Hwy 64 Quake
The Seward Highway, March 28, 1964

Color graphic courtesy of Live Science, photos courtesy of the University of Alaska Archives.

Breaking News:

Zombie Apocalypse

A new scientific study has been published, rating the preparedness of each state and the nation’s capital to survive a Zombie Apocalypse.

Alaska came in first, which should come as no surprise. Weather did not enter the study, now that Alaska is sharing the Polar Express with the northern Lower 48.
New Jersey was dead last, with Mississippi and Washington DC just ahead on the food chain.

Alaska’s Zombie Survival Profile:


In a state where residents run from bears and moose, they will not be scared of slow-moving corpses. Alaska is packed with military personnel and veterans, and they’re only a fraction of the well-armed Alaskans prepared to shoot zombies from a moving snowmobile.


Breaking News Update:
27 March 2014

Here is the scorecard for each state and their rankings in Zombie Survival. The scientific report was done by Estately.


20 Copies?

“One taxpayer decided to write off the entire cost of his $50,000, multi-year globetrotting extravaganza, which included trips to Italy, France and Greece. And it worked, all because he wrote a book about his travels.

His tax preparer Jerry Lewin, managing director of accounting firm CBIZ MHM, said that because the book was actually published — even if it was by an obscure, low-budget publishing house — and because he made a small profit from it — only 20 books were sold — it counted as a business expense.”

From Yahoo! Finance

La Carrera Panamericana


This 1956 VW Bug, is said to have ran La Carrera Panamerican in 1996. It is now for sale in Mansfield, OH for $5600.

The original Carrera Panamericana, introduced when the Pan-American Highway in Mexico was completed in 1950, was a border-to-border, open road race, that ran between 1950 and 1954. It was considered at the time, to be the most dangerous race of any kind in the world. The first winner of the race was Hershel McGriff who drove an Oldsmobile 88. The car cost McGriff $1900, and the race prize was $17,000.
The race was revived in 1988, allowing 100 cars to line up in Southern Mexico to race the 2000 miles north. La Carrera Panamericana lasts a week, with both experienced and novice racers running on public highways at top speeds, with the Mexican Highway Patrol clearing the roads ahead.

A video of a VW Beetle racing in Mexico in 1996. There’s a great moment at about 1:20 where the Bug is passed by an old Studebaker

The 27th Annual Pan-Am Race will run October 17-23, 2014.

The End of the Bear

the end of the Bear
The old USRC Bear just before she sank, with the tug “Irving Birch” in background.

The ship, that the U.S.C.G. calls “probably the most famous ship in the history of the Coast Guard”, sank on this day in 1963. The United States Revenue Cutter “Bear” served in Alaska waters for decades and had been the oldest US Navy ship to serve outside of the continental U.S. during WWII, had been lying derelict in various Nova Scotia harbors. In 1962, The Bear was purchased to become a floating restaurant in Philadelphia.

The Bear was being towed by a tug to Philadelphia in 1963, when a gale struck and the tow line was severed. The Bear’s mast collapsed, piercing the hull, and the great ship sank on March 19, 1963. Eighty-nine years after she was originally launched.

Today’s Observation


People pushing shopping carts while on their cell phone are just as annoying as those driving while talking on their phones.

Happy Pi Day


Leave it to Mr Simon

The post of Ted Simon’s quote carried the blog over 10K hits. Thanks for stopping by.

Getting the itch again…

ted-simon-book & triumph
Ted Simon and his Triumph Tiger 100

“Regardless of the wonders of technology and communication, our world is the same size as it ever was, and somewhere on its surface colorful, fascinating and unpredictable things are happening, just as they always have. The internet – and I’m on it too – is a wonderful way for some of us to communicate certain kinds of information, but even at its best it can never substitute for physical interaction, and at worst it is an escape from reality that can come periously close to paranoia. Modern technology is a culture that cuts us off from the bigger world surrounding it. As human animals, we need to get out into that world, to feel it, smell it, think like it, to learn how good it is, and to feel free.”
—- Ted Simon
Covelo, 1996

Snowless Iditarod

An odd year here for the “Last Great Race”.

The Iditarod started this past weekend, as mushers and dog teams left Willow, AK on Sunday. Due to the lack of snow, there had been talk of changing the start of the race to Fairbanks, which is actually closer to the historical serum run that the race commemorates, but race officials decided to stick with the southern Willow Run.

Maybe, they should have come north:

2014 Iditarod Farewell Burn

With treacherous, snowless trail conditions, eleven of the sixty-nine mushers who started the race have already scratched. Another, has been withdrawn by race officials after an injury.

Scott Janssen, a 52 year old musher/undertaker from Anchorage , broke his ankle on a section of trail between Rohn and Nikolai. Known as the Mushing Mortician, Janssen said, “There’s a lot of heaven to be seen along the Iditarod route, but that part of the trail was all hell.”

2014 Iditarod Farewell Burn

Photos courtesy of AP/Anchorage Daily News