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A New Birthmark? A Fishy House; North to Alaska; Wrangell Cousins; Stairclimbing in a Rain Forest

I forgot to mention this incident the other day, but wanted to get out the word out as a “lesson learned” before a similar disaster occurs to one of our dedicated readers… The day prior to departing Fort Lewis for British Columbia, My Lovely Bride decided she needed the back of her hair trimmed.  Just the back. The good news was that there was a lady stylist at the Army exchange barber shop; the bad news was that there was a lady stylist at the Army exchange barber shop. I thought about warning her of several past stylist disasters, but she was “on a mission” to get spruced up before her next presentation in Vancouver, and what do I know??? She returned from her stylist appointment weighing a pound or so less than when she had departed, and looking like a teenager. I commented on how wonderful her new haircut was (I am not completely dumb) and she asked me to look at the back of her neck. “Ty, did I ever tell you about my birthmark?” “No, Sweetheart, I don’t recall your having mentioned that in our 18 years of marital bliss. Why do you ask?” “Take a peek.” Well, whaddayaknow? It’s rather cute, really, and happily for Suzanne, it still has length on the top, bangs and sides and she didn’t get “whitewalls” around the ears. As for me, I will now always be able to identify her from the back in a police lineup.

While driving around White Rock, BC, I noted this little house with pretty flower baskets. I took a photo of it, but didn’t notice that my camera had changed its lens setting to “fisheye”. When I looked at the image later, I thought, “Oh, no… it looks really weird.” But then I realized that it was actually a pretty cool, if not totally accurate, rendering. It reminded me of a house that’s been flooded with water and is about to burst…

On Sunday morning, Suzanne delivered the message at Unity of Vancouver and then in the afternoon gave her Heart Gifts presentation. A large and enthusiastic audience was present and loved her talk about the visits and messages she has received from Wolf Passakarnis.

Tuesday found us awaking at 0400 (that’s called oh-dark-hundred in the Navy) to catch an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Wrangell, Alaska, via Ketchikan. “You’re in Alaska?!” you ask?  Yes, the adventure continues!  We were flying to visit my second cousin, Jim Abbott, and His Lovely Bride Betty; I had not seen Jim in over 50 years. Jim served in the US Navy as a hospital corpsman with the Marines in Viet Nam, and in hospitals on Guam and in Adak, Alaska, and is a retired medical lab supervisor; Betty is a retired elementary school teacher. Today they are celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary!

Jim and Betty have lived in Wrangell for 41 years, and built themselves a beautiful home on the west side of Wrangell Island. This is the view from their deck…truly spectacular and inspirational!

During our tour of Wrangell, Jim showed us this totem pole carved by one of his friends. As we drove around, many people waved at us. Jim and Betty seemed to know almost everyone in town; it was a real change from our recent drive through the big cities of Seattle and Vancouver, where day-to-day life seems much less personal.

One of the really funny incidents during our visit came when Jim offered us a glass of wine. To say that Jim and Betty are not drinkers sort of understates the situation. They brought out several bottles of wine for us to choose from, all gifts from friends; vintages from 1985, 1994, 1996 and 2001 were all represented, but unfortunately, all of the wine had “turned”, and had to be discarded. Betty laughed that the garbage man would think that they had hosted a really wild party, with seven empty wine bottles in the trash can…

Southeast Alaska, or the Alaska Panhandle as it is better known here, is very wet, getting about 90 inches of rain per year. Orlando, Florida, as a comparison, gets about 52 inches annually. The rain forest here is very green and much more dense than any I have hiked in other than the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Fortunately, today was sunny and warm (65F) so we went on a 2 1/2 hour local hike today up to Rainbow Falls and beyond.

We did a “stairclimber” workout here, going up steep trails that are not set on dirt or rock, but on miles of fixed 2×12 boardwalks laid on 8×8 inch supports. We estimated than we climbed about 3,000 steps up and down, which is very hard on the knees and quads. The muskeg and rain forest floor is simply too wet and soft to hike on; you would be up to your ankles (at the very least) every step of the way.

Rainbow Falls was beautiful, and the trail above the falls even more challenging. We didn’t see any bears, and although we were carrying an air horn for protection, we were happy not to have to use it. (An air horn???) The infamous Alaskan mosquitoes also gave us a break; we sprayed repellant on our arms and legs, and hardly noticed more than a couple of the little pests.

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