Category Archives: travel

Alaska Time

A landslide across Lowell Point Road, outside Seward, Alaska

A landslide blocked Lowell Point Road in Seward over the weekend. Workers began to cautiously clear the road on Monday. Lowell Point is outside Seward, and the narrow gravel road follows the shoreline of Resurrection Bay out to the point, where there are several campgrounds, lodges, resorts and B&B’s. It’s a pretty area, dominated by the beauty of Resurrection Bay. As of Tuesday, there were at least 40 cars trapped on the “wrong” side of the landslide. No word on how many travelers, who were trying to get out to Lowell Point, and now can not get to their destination.

The landslide view from the air

This post is less about the landslide, and more about giving yourself extra time when visiting Alaska, and accepting the unexpected.

This is Alaska, after all.

I’ve seen a lot of complaints online about the slide from tourists, and I know several housing accommodations have taken some flack for the road closure. No matter where you are in Alaska, and this includes Los Anchorage, you are never very far from wilderness. That is the main draw of the place.

Our infrastructure is minimal when compared with the Lower 48. Many communities have one way in and one way out. In my time in Alaska, I’ve probably seen it all: Roads closed from landslides, wash outs, beaver dams, ornery moose and/or grizzly, avalanche and wildfires. Flights delayed or rushed because of blizzards, volcanic eruptions, and pilot strikes. Sometimes, all you can do is take a deep breath, open a cold refreshment, and chill out for a day… or two…

We all have deadlines, but sometimes we find ourselves dealing with forces that have no interest in flight departures. So, if you visit Alaska, by all means, get out and explore the state, but leave the time planner at home. Enjoy both the view and the ride.


Chatham Lighthouse

Chatham Lighthouse, Cape Cod

The site had been used as a light station since 1808, but this lighthouse, along with a sister light, was originally built in 1877. Both were built of brick, lined with cast iron and had a cottage for the light keeper. It was known as Twin Lights until 1923, when the sister light was moved and became Nauset Lighthouse.

CG 44301

Chatham Lighthouse remains in service, and the site is now an active United States Coast Guard Small Boat Station. The vessel displayed outside the station is CG 44301, which was the first 44′ motor lifeboat purchased by USCG commissioned in Chatham in 1963. It was also the last to go out of service in 2009.


Battleship Cove

Fall River, Mass

The Big Ships: USS Joseph P. Kennedy JR; USS Lionfish; USS Massachusetts

We spent some time out at Battleship Cove on our off-hockey day. There are eight surviving U.S. battleships that had served in WWII. One member of the Frozen Foursome had been to seven of them. We set out to find the last one on the list: the USS Massachusetts.

On the deck of the USS Massachusetts

There is a lot to see out at the Maritime Museum at Battleship Cove: Cobra and Iroquois helicopters, a pair of PT Boats, a WWII landing craft and a DUKW Boat, just to name a few things. The main draw though is the big ships: the destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy JR, the submarine USS Lionfish, and the “Big Mamie”, the battleship USS Massachusetts.

The bell of “Big Mamie”

The USS Massachusetts was commissioned in May of 1942, and quickly headed out to take part in Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. Afterwards, she was transferred to the Pacific Fleet, taking part in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands Campaign, the Philippines Campaign, and the Battle of Okinawa. After WWII, the ship was transferred to the reserve fleet in 1947, and finally stricken from Naval Records in June of 1962.

The USS Massachusetts has been a museum ship at Battleship Cove since August of 1965. She was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and became a National Historic Landmark in January 1986.


ProNyne Motorsports Museum

Pawtucket, RI

On our off day between hockey days, we drove out to Rhode Island to check out the ProNyne Motorsports Museum. We had a Pawtucket guide along for the ride as well, a newly minted Puckhead from Australia.

Dan Meservey’s “Coke Machine”

ProNyne is dedicated to New England’s racing history, and the museum is an absolute treasure trove of New England racing memorabilia.

The Bugs Stevens section

Curator Ric Mariscal was kind enough to open the doors and give us a tour on a Friday, and he even turned on a heater, although I’m not sure any of us would have minded if that had skipped that part.

The museum is packed, but well organized, although we definitely imagined what an adventure it would be to get one of the cars out for a special event.

Ole Blue

Every corner comes loaded with stories, even the barber chair. When you stop in, you should ask about the barber chair. The walls are covered with photos, and the books and articles are readily available to peruse. The place is a researcher’s dream; trust me, we had one with us.

Bill Slater’s Studebaker

New England is not my “neck of the woods” by any stretch of the imagination, and I found myself absolutely fascinated by one car in particular: Bill Slater’s 1954 Studebaker. The car was found in a field, and now rests peacefully against an interior wall of the museum. For me, it did not take a lot of imagination to picture the Studebaker speeding around Daytona at 100mph with Slater behind the wheel.

The #23 Studebaker in better days
Bill Slater driving the 23 Studebaker in 1963; Lee Roy Yarbrough is in the 70 car
The ’54 Studebaker in the “Wild” Bill Slater corner

For anyone remotely interested in racing, the ProNyne Motorsports Museum is well worth the visit. It was an unexpected gem of a destination on this trip.


Hockey in Beantown

What is a group of Puckheads to do while visiting the city of Boston for the D-1 Hockey National Championship? Prior to the games on Thursday, we visited the rinks for all the teams that play in the annual Beanpot Tournament.

Boston University:

Agganis Arena; Boston University Campus

First stop was Agganis Arena on Commonwealth Avenue. The home of the Boston University Terriers. The rink seats 7200, with plush theater seats. I hate to get in the middle of Boston rivalries, but it was arguably the nicest arena we visited. It was also the newest, having been built in 2005.

Hobey, Hardware and Beanpot

I believe it was an assistant coach who gave us directions to get into the rink, after we tracked him down. Nice guy.


Boston College:

Conte Forum; Boston College Campus

A quick trip down Commonwealth brought us to Conte Forum on the campus of Boston College. The home of the BC Eagles. The Forum seats 8606, and opened in 1988.

Just a few of the banners at Conte Forum

Quite a bit larger than the BU rink, as well as older. Major construction was going on around the complex, but we had no trouble finding an open door. A pick up basketball game was taking place on the floor, and someone was even popping popcorn in the concourse.

Showing off the Hardware

One thing we all agreed on was that BC has a beautiful campus.

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Harvard University:

Bright-Landry Hockey Center; Harvard University Campus

Harvard University was our next stop, but the doors were locked to the Bright-Landry Hockey Center at Harvard Stadium. Luckily, a student with a key card approved of our Quest, and opened a door for us. Harvard had the only rink with the ice still in.

The home of the Crimson

The Hockey Center seats 3095 for hockey and opened in 1956.

We did not tour the campus, but did poke around Harvard Stadium a bit, where the football team plays. The Stadium is an early example of building with reenforced concrete. Harvard Stadium opened in November of 1903.

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Northeastern University:

Matthews Arena, Northeastern University Campus

Our final stop on the Quest was Northeastern University and Matthews Arena. We saved the oldest for last. Matthews Arena, which opened in April 1910, is the oldest ice arena still used for hockey, and the oldest multi-use athletic building still in use in the world. Sadly, this is all we saw of it. There was no sympathetic coach or approving student to allow us past the locked doors. In theory, the arena seats 6000 for hockey. We all agreed that the arena does have a nice arch.


White Pass Railroad to remain closed to Canada in 2022

The White Pass & Yukon Route locomotives in Skagway

In spite of relaxed border crossing restrictions between Alaska and Canada, the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad announced last week that they would not cross the border. Since the White Pass is the largest tour operator in Skagway, the news was a blow to many.

The train will run to the top of White Pass, and then return to Skagway for 2022, unless restrictions are reduced further.

I have ridden the White Pass and Yukon Route twice: Once, after hiking the Chilkoot Trail, I returned to Skagway on the old steam locomotive #73 from Bennett Lake. One really has to plan the trip to get on board the 73, since at that time, it ran only once a month. The second time was a last minute decision to ride the route on their diesel locomotive round-trip out of Skagway to Carcross. The route runs through some beautiful country, and I know several tour operators that rely on The White Pass for their services. Whether it be B&B’s or bike tours along the Klondike Highway, all are disappointed in the decision.


Chihuly Garden & Glass

Tucked between the Armory and the Space Needle in Seattle Center is Chihuly Garden & Glass. Dale Chihuly started to experiment with glassblowing in 1965, and is largely credited with expanding blown glass into the “realm of large scale sculpture”.

In spite of the tourists, I found the Garden to be a peaceful oasis surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Seattle Center, and the glass work is phenomenal.

Sea Life Tower in the Garden’s Sea Life Room
An octopus in the Sea Life Room


Seattle Center

The Mediterranean Inn, Seattle

I had a quick trip down to the Lower 48 before the chaos of summer hits. It was the first personal, leisure trip I’ve taken since the pandemic began.

I have been to Seattle many times, but this was the first time I stayed in Seattle Center. The Mediterranean Inn was my crash pad of choice. A very laid back, no rush, quiet sort of place within walking distance of pretty much anything one needed to do. My layover was hockey related: a Kraken game at the new Climate Pledge Arena. My walk to the rink took five minutes. The monorail is close by, as are a huge selection of restaurants. There was no shortage of pubs to choose from either.

The view from the Mediterranean’s roof top deck

The Inn has a small deck on the roof, with a great view of Seattle. I guess it is early in the year, and I was more than a little amused by the quantity of outdoor propane heaters, but even with those, I rarely found anyone else up there when I ventured top side.

Climate Pledge and the Space Needle from the roof

The flight to Seattle from Fairbanks was full to the overhead bins, but otherwise uneventful. My next leg was a bit more challenging. Alaska Airlines has suddenly had some issues. Growing too quick; a sudden influx of air travelers; a shortage of pilots? All of those things have led to a recent cancellation of flights. I was caught up in that mess, although compared to others, my situation was just an inconvenience.

I have traveled from Alaska long enough to know, if at all possible, give yourself extra time. By extra time, I mean days. Luckily, when I received the “Dear Passenger” letter from Alaska Airlines, I had the time to adjust my flight. I have been stuck in worse cities than Seattle.


Space Needle

Of all the times I’ve visited Seattle, I had never gone up into the Space Needle. With some unexpected time on my hands, I figured 2022 was as good a time as any to change that.

Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle stands 605 feet, and the saucer of a viewing deck is 520 feet above the ground. Tickets to ride the elevator to the observation deck run $35 for non-local adults. The ride takes 41 seconds.

Seattle from the Space Needle

The 360 degree view from the saucer is quite impressive. The rotating floor was moving when I was there, but the rotating restaurant was not open.

Climate Pledge Arena, and the bay from the Space Needle

Climate Pledge Arena

The Lair of the Seattle Kraken

With travel loosening up somewhat, and hockey once again allowing fans, I made a quick break for the Lower 48 last weekend. Since I had to travel through Seattle, I figured I would overnight, and take in a Kraken game. Climate Pledge Arena is located in Seattle Center, which is the home of the Space Needle, and was the home of the 1962 World’s Fair. Renovated to be the home of the fledgling Kraken NHL team, the arena maintains the original roof and exterior support from the Washington State Pavilion, which was built in 1962.

Inside Climate Pledge pregame

The arena is said to have hit its goal of being carbon neutral in 2022. There are over 12,500 trees and plants on site, including the Climate Pledge Living Wall. Rain water is collected in a cistern, and that water is used to resurface the ice. With the extensive mass transit system in Seattle, people are actively discouraged from driving to the rink. Personally, I just walked over for the game.

Releasing the Kraken

The pregame festivities are true to the history and personality of Seattle. There were two themes, one was nautical, and the other was musical. Water, Seattle and the Kraken go tentacle in tentacle. Water, in all its forms, including ice, are celebrated here.

Local youth bands played for the audience pregame, in a platform called School of Rock. The talent was impressive. A 12 year old played a Jimi Hendricks inspired “Star Spangled Banner” on his electric guitar. The crowd roared with approval.

The lead up to puck drop; Note the Seattle Metropolitans Stanley Cup banner in the rafters
Warm ups; The Seattle Kraken vs. The Dallas Stars

Being an expansion team, Seattle isn’t knocking on the door to the playoffs, but they have a rabid following, which is true of all Seattle sports teams. The Dallas Stars happened to be in town, and the Kraken played quite well. The arena was packed, and the crowd was raucous. Dallas never seemed to get their footing, and lost decidedly 4-1.

Just a fun night at a new arena, after being cooped up for two years. Great atmosphere at Climate Pledge, and any time I can watch the Dallas Stars lose is a “cherry on top” kind of day.