Saturday, November 7, 2015

Hot Dust

It's a very sensory memory.

Steering in Beagle Channel.
He's not much good at it.
But he is five.
Used to be, not so long ago, that if you went out and had a bit of an adventure, afterwards you'd entertain your friends back home with a slide show.

There was that smell of the dust burning on the hot lamp of the projector in the dark room.  Other motes of dust swimming through the cone of light reaching out to the screen.  The storytelling.  The license that the audience felt to offer wry commentary in the dark.

I realize that it's painfully unrealistic to be sentimental about things analog.  We must not even mourn books.  The only way is forward, and now that everything we have is files, there is nothing we have lost in the translation.

But, those slide shows were a big part of life in Alaska, way back in the 90's.  I was thinking about them when we were going through our pics from the jaunt around the Beagle Channel that we've just finished.

Beagle Channel
Larrikin.  Caleta Victor Jarra.

Midden, Caleta Victor Jarra.
Ashy-headed geese.

Caleta Ferrari, Bahía Yendegaia.  Friends of ours had stories of riding horses and butchering cattle here, but the place is now deserted.  
We were blessed on this trip by an unreasonable number of blue-sky days.  The westerly winds that could have made the trip westward along the canal trying were restrained.


Rufous-chested dotterel
Ventisquero Holanda, Caleta Olla
Brazo Noroeste, Beagle Channel
Ventisquero Holanda, Caleta Olla 

The western end of the Beagle Channel splits into two arms around Isla Gordon - the Brazo Noroeste and Brazo Sudoeste.  It is the most spectacular region in all of the Chilean canales.  Last time through, on the tail end of our trip south from Valdivia, we hurried along a bit to catch a flight out of Puerto Williams to visit family in the U.S.  And some of the caletas we wanted to visit were iced over.  This was our chance to see the place more thoroughly, at our leisure.

Manuel the fisherman
 In Caleta Olla we had a Polynesian-style session of reciprocal gift-giving with a centolla (king crab) fisherman named Manuel.  Smokes and wine went in one direction, and centolla in the other.  Manuel had the great gift of being able to dumb down his Spanish enough for us to converse.  We learned from him that the centolla fishermen stay out for five months at a stretch.  The owners of the boats keep about 60% of the catch, and the fishermen themselves make pitifully little for their pains.

After two visits from Manuel we had a complete surfeit of centolla.  Alisa came up with a range of new crab dishes.

Later, when we were fishing for centolla ourselves and I explained to Elias that we wouldn't keep any females we caught, he asked why we had accepted females (which are prohibited to catch) from Manuel.

Nothing like a kid to keep you honest.

Eggs and crab
Cleaning session
Crab soup
Crab cakes

Seno Pia was iced up when we tried to visit in July.  When we returned the conditions made up for that earlier disappointment.

Seno Pia (left) is where we began our glacier tourism.

We could have gotten pictures like this a hundred miles from our home in Kodiak.

But I'm glad we went to the trouble to come all the way down here to get these.
Glacier tour

Caleta Beaulieu, Seno Pia.  Fresh ice on the water but plenty of sun ahead.

How ' bout if we picnic here?  We got two spectacular condor fly-bys at this spot - maybe 15m and 10m(!) away from us.
I call this the concerned mom frown, and we get endless laughs about how it turns up again and again in our photos, even in idyllic-looking moments like this.  Someone has to keep our crew in order.  As often as not it's Alisa. 
Caleta Beaulieu

Seno Pia

Elias is good company in these places.

More soon.  But for just now, the weather has turned beatific and we have a fresh zarpe in hand, giving us permission to sally forth from Puerto Williams one more time...


  1. here you on the slide show thing. tell you what, put one together sometime, and I'll buy a ticket to come see it. a potluck, and I'll bring some good food!

    1. 'hear', not 'here'. (english not my strong suit.)

  2. You guys are making good progress in learning how to live! Seriously enviable photos. Can't begin to imagine how you keep a boat and small boys secure in that environment, but please do... Alisa's frown is self-explanatory. Love to you all, from Whangarei.

  3. What a family! The nursing home residents simply won't believe all this stuff in between bingo rounds, cupcakes and milky about 40 years time. Fantastic pics Mike esp that photo of Alisa....the one with the frown. Now there's a woman you would pay muchos dinerios to have as a a wife. Love to you both and big hugs to the two young swabbies. Alex on Kawau.

  4. You've elevated the art of capturing the "moment" on film, well, electrons. Specularly awesome images showing primaveral beauty emerging. We are enjoying every instalment!