AK Eagles and Bears

Greetings lower 48er’s

       After only 6 months of paperwork and enough application fees to send board members to a nice conference in the Bahamas, I was granted a dental license for Alaska. Then I got to repeat most of it again to get credentialed for the Eastern Aleutian Tribes so I could join Lynn working in a clinic in a remote part of Alaska where the grizzlies roam free. It all worked out in time for me to get a 2 week contract in June, and the final sea skimming 10 minute flight aboard a 5 seat airplane deposited me in King Cove to experience life in a commercial fishing town of 800.

We had a lovely apartment 100 yards from the modern medical and dental clinic, and were fortunate enough to have folks give us some fresh halibut and king crab to enjoy the local flavors for home cooked meals. I oriented and worked with Mike the dentist and his wife Gaby, who cover the seven dental clinics spread along the length of the Aleutian Islands, sometimes with the help of newly trained dental health aids. He flew off after a few days to another island to take care of a root canal and left me to take care of the dental needs of the locals, and with Gaby’s help it all worked out.

Lynn stayed busy with the medical side of things, and after work and on the weekends we ventured out on a number of hikes in the surrounding hills and mountains. The locals recommended guns for the bears, but bear spray was easy enough to carry and the bears we saw were always running away. The rest of the wildlife, including eagles, fox and otters were less of a concern, and the scenery of snow capped peaks and windswept waves on the ocean were always an inspiration to enjoy the outdoors.

We finished up with a few vacation days in Sitka, where I got humbled on the pickleball court one afternoon and we hiked a calf searing trail with friends the next morning. All in all a great experience in the far north, and I’ll probably return to work there again sometime.

Hope your summer is going well and the bears keep running away.

Cheers,

Bear spray toting Bob

Balancing the weight by loading the nose of the 5 seat airplane to King Cove

Hiking above the town of King Cove

Lynn models the bear spray for the hikes

2 of the 3 cubs that were hustled away by a mama grizzly

The mountain scenery around the town

Gaby and Molly in the dental clinic

Alaskan condoms try to get the message across with humor

A brave puffin on the pier

Sitka trail works builds neat stairways though the forests

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oz and Tassie fun

Ready to board the C-17 to leave the Ice

Ready to board the C-17 to leave the Ice

G’day Northerners,

Following a most enjoyable time on the ice with the best roommate I’ve ever had, Lynn and I jetted off to New Zealand for a few days of re-entry into the world of greenery, kids, dogs and fresh vegetables. It was an easy adjustment, and after a few days of warmth we were ready for the beaches and reefs of Australia. Port Douglas is a pleasant town that is close to the Great Barrier Reef, so we did some scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking and beach time there. The local newspaper carried an interesting story of how tourism seems to be down ever since they posted the signs on the beach about crocodiles, even after they assured folks that any crocs over 2.2 meters (7 feet) would be relocated, since a 6 footer could only maim but probably not kill you. They are still working on the details of making that sound plausible.

        Next up was Tasmania, a beautiful island off the southern coast of Australia that has beautiful beaches, over a dozen national parks, and plenty of interesting wildlife. We had some fabulous Airbnb experiences as we drove all over the island for 2 weeks and biked and hiked everyday, rain or shine. We had the best animal viewing one night driving back from a late dinner when the nocturnal creatures pranced around the roads in our headlights, and realized we should have done more night safaris. We ended our tour with a 2 night stay in Sydney, and enjoyed the sights and cuisine of the big city from an apartment overlooking the famed Opera House and Harbor bridge. Cockatoos and parrots squawked above the balcony, and biking over the bridge and back in intermittent rain had us laughing and drying out in the southern sun before a final meal of fresh seafood overlooking the harbor.

    I’m back in the office and Lynn is scoping out work possibilities in town, so we’re staying put for at least a few weeks before the next adventure. Spring snow had me shoveling the driveway yesterday, but I’m hopeful the pickleball courts are dried out by tomorrow for some exercise. Hope your spring is warming up.

Tas tourist Bob

Diving on the Great Barrier Reef- all I'm missing is a gold chain!

Diving on the Great Barrier Reef- all I’m missing is a gold chain!

Sea turtle munching on a delicious jellyfish

Sea turtle munching on a delicious jellyfish

Beautifully colored giant clams adorn the reef

Beautifully colored giant clams adorn the reef

Locals can't figure out why the croc sign has concerned the tourists

Locals can’t figure out why the croc sign has concerned the tourists

Another beautiful sweeping beach on Tasmania

Another beautiful sweeping beach on Tasmania

A large kangaroo rockets across the bike trail on Maria Island

A large kangaroo rockets across the bike trail on Maria Island

A weary looking wombat peeks out of his burrow

A weary looking wombat peeks out of his burrow

The painted cliffs on Maria Island were fantastic

The painted cliffs on Maria Island were fantastic

The painted cliffs on Maria Island were fantastic

The painted cliffs on Maria Island were fantastic

A shy, egg laying mammal called an echidna rustles through the leaves

A shy, egg laying mammal called an echidna rustles through the leaves

One of the 3 poisonous Tasmanian snakes makes a run for it

One of the 3 poisonous Tasmanian snakes makes a run for it

A true one lane suspension bridge on a scenic hike

A true one lane suspension bridge on a scenic hike

We walked through the Sydney Botanical Gardens to reach the Opera House

We walked through the Sydney Botanical Gardens to reach the Opera House

 

Next stop, Australia

Hike to Castle Rock, overlooking the volcano

Hike to Castle Rock, overlooking the volcano

Greetings Valentiners,

       We’re on our last day here before jetting off the Ice to New Zealand tomorrow. I worked on my final dental patients yesterday for a total of 167 and packed up my gear to send home so we can travel light for the next few weeks in Australia and Tasmania. Just heard it is 117 degrees in Sydney so probably don’t need the long underwear that I wear all day here. We did manage to get up early enough this morning to hike 6 miles and climb Castle Rock in sunny, clear weather to help justify gorging ourselves on the brunch spread back in town. It was a little rough after last night’s party of food and booze accented with 10,000 year old glacial ice that was chipped into chunks with one of my dental tools.

      It was another great season of seeing old friends and good times in a unique setting, and to be able to share it with Lynn made it a whole different experience. Once we return the special gear we have acquired here, like the jacket known as Big Red and the Pee bottles we hike with it’s time to integrate with the rest of the world, which can be a bit of a challenge compared to inmates trying to fit in to society after serving their time. But we’ll manage and hope to see many of you before too long. Until then, happy trails and save a hug for us.

Cheers,

      Glacial sipping Bob

Lynn with her Big Red

Lynn with her Big Red

Party with glacial ice in Coke and Jameson

Party with glacial ice in Coke and Jameson

Medical crew strutting their stuff

Medical crew strutting their stuff

Finishing up ping pong with friends

Finishing up ping pong with friends

Polishing crystals from Erebus, the local volcano

Polishing crystals from Erebus, the local volcano

Antarctica spider chart

Antarctica spider chart