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Northwest Passages

June 30, 2011

My time in Alaska is certainly flying by. I can’t believe it’s been a week already since my last post! I started work my first day after arriving and I was not disappointed! The Alaska State Museum is a wonderful museum with a very impressive collection of indigenous and post-contact artifacts that tell the history of Alaska.

Alaska State Museum

I began working right away on my research project, which involves compiling information and images relating to different types of white efflorescence/bloom/accretions that are found on all kinds of objects throughout Alaska. My supervisor, Ellen Carrlee, often fields questions from concerned individuals around the state who have found something that looks white and powdery or fuzzy on an object(s) in their collection. Without knowing how to tell what it is (fatty bloom, mold, salts, etc.), the caretakers of these collections can’t know how to properly store or care for these objects. One of the main goals of this project is to present this information in a way that is easily accesible and useable by those who need it to help preserve Alaska’s cultural heritage.

Also last week, I worked with Ellen and another intern at ASM to process a large collection of taxidermy birds that recently came off display from the Juneau airport. I really enjoyed this because it allowed me to see dozens of birds native to Alaska. For each bird we collected samples for arsenic testing (which I’ll talk more about in another post), lightly vacuumed dust from their feathers, photographed them, wrote a short condition report and then sealed them in plastic bags so they could be easily monitored for pest activity and to protect them from dust.

ASM, Taxidermy Birds: Puffin & Friends

ASM, Taxidermy birds: Duck Nibbling on Wing

My first weekend in Juneau was great…the weather was sunny and I was itching to get out and explore. Friday evening I went for a long hike and found a beautiful path with gorgeous views…and slightly alarming signs.

Waterfall, Juneau

This time of year the sign on the left worried me more than the sign on the right

Luckily for me, Ellen and her husband Scott are in the know about local events here…and they took me to the annual Gold Rush Days festival held at Douglas Island. It was two days of watching miners and loggers and just plain athletic types strut their stuff and show what a real Alaskan is made of!Events included –

Running with Chainsaws:

Running up a Tree Trunk – with a Chainsaw


Sometimes falling…with chainsaws:

Contestant Loses by Falling...but Thankfully Lives to Tell About it


Scrambing quickly up really really tall poles:

Pole Climbing


Mucking (shoveling a lot of rocks and dirt – quickly):



His-n-Her Sawing (Mark and I are sooo training for this for next year):

Couples Sawing Competition


And…everybody’s favorite…LOG ROLLING!!

Classic Log Rolling

I’ve gots tons of pictures from all these competitions, so look for more exciting action shots on my flickr page soon!

By the way…if you hadn’t already guessed it…the titles for my blogs are coming from the episode titles of my favorite Alaskan-based television show. 10 points to whoever gets it right first! (not that there’s that many Alaskan tv shows to choose from!)

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2011 10:42 am

    The only Alaskan-based TV show I know of is Northern Exposure… my dad loves it and has all the episodes on DVD, haha. Looks like you’re having a great time, I love seeing all your photos!! 🙂

    • June 30, 2011 11:34 am

      Yes, that is it!! The only other one I could think of was “Men in Trees”…at least I think that’s what it was called (it had Anne Heche in it). I only saw one of episode of that and it was definitely not as good as Northern Exposure. I am SO jealous of your dad that he has all the episodes!!!

  2. Matthew J. Kinservik permalink
    June 30, 2011 9:30 pm

    What an adventure–Alaska seems otherworldly when viewed from the suburban comforts of Delaware. Good luck with your work

    • July 1, 2011 1:38 am

      Thanks, Matt! It still seems somewhat otherworldly from my viewpoint too! Hope you have a great summer!

  3. Joyce Hill Stoner permalink
    July 7, 2011 6:43 pm

    This is a great blog–the taxidermy shots are super. Congrats!

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