Thursday, February 20, 2014

2003 Summer in Dutch Harbor

A Russian Orthodox cross from the 1920's made of rebar

the restored Russian Orthodox church

Don't let the sunny photos fool you, most days looked like this

Hearing Ryan's stories from Dutch Harbor brings back the memories for me. It's hard to believe it was 11 years ago that I spent a whole summer there working on the Amaknak Bridge Site. Even harder to believe that I managed to entertain myself in my off-time (we only worked 40 hours/week) with such terrible weather, no vehicle, and NO INTERNET. Yes, it's difficult to remember that there was a time when internet was not widely available, let alone wifi. There was actually an "internet cafe" (do those even exist anymore??) right across the street from the Unisea motel (if you know the Unisea, you can feel my pain), but it was only open when we were at work. The library had internet and computers, but there was always a line and you could only use them for 30 min. It was super slow, but it's not like there was much to do on the internet back then anyway.

In hindsight I can't really remember much of what I did with my free time, so I guess I must have watched a lot of cable. There was a bar in the motel but I wasn't old enough, not even close. Surprisingly, (or not if you know how bad the alcohol problems are in a small town with such a large fishing port) they were very strict about checking ID's in Dutch Harbor (don't ask how I know this).

Being in college I was also on a strict budget. Our housing and food was covered but three months of eating at the Unisea fish processing plant galley got a little old (it wasn't just the food that got old - it was the lack of female company that made a few too many men a little too friendly). My big splurge was to walk to Safeway every Sunday morning, buy a bagel and chocolate milk (this was also before espresso stands were everywhere), and sit and read a magazine. It's funny to remember how frugal I was.

Despite the lack of entertainment, I had a fantastic summer in Dutch Harbor. The Aleutians are one of those places where those few blue bird days make you forget all the terrible weather; when it's clear there is nothing that compares to volcanoes rising straight out of the ocean. And the archaeology hardly has a comparison either. The Amaknak Bridge site was by far the coolest site I have ever worked on.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

King Street Station Restoration

main waiting area with restored plaster ceiling, new plaster on the walls, and LED light fixtures modeled after the originals

new tile work on the walls
The King Street Station in Seattle was under restoration almost the whole time I lived in Seattle. Now that I'm back for a few weeks, I got to finally see the finished product on my way to Portland last week. It's been restored to be similar to the way it looked when it originally opened in 1906. It looks fantastic. It's much more open and light than it used to be. And ornate.

In the 1960's the station was "updated" to include a dropped ceiling with fluorescent box lights that covered up the plaster ceiling and the upper windows. Last time Ryan and I were in King Street Station they had a display on the restoration. It included newspaper articles from the 60's hailing the dropped ceiling as "modernized."

The dropped ceiling was incredibly ugly. You can see before and after photos of the whole restoration here. It's funny to look back and, like a lot of things, see how funny fashions and styles are in hindsight. And now, over 100 years later, we prefer the original style!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hello from Dutch Harbor

I've been working in Dutch Harbor for almost two weeks now.  We have had both calm beautiful weather and tremendously awful weather with rain, snow and gusts up to 100mph registered on the nearby container crane.  Here are a few photos worth sharing.

The new boat harbor was fairly full right before the superbowl and then empty afterwards

Xtra Tuffs at the shipsuppy store

Out boat captains crab storage pot he keeps next to his boat
11 tanner crabs ready for dinner

I've been eating well

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Seattle Sun

I've been in Seattle for a couple of weeks getting some lab work done for my dissertation and I'll be here for a while longer. I just decided to extend my stay until March 1. It'll be a long time to be away from home, but there's no reason for me not stay here and get as much done as possible while I can.

We've had all kinds of weather since I got here, but mostly it's been sunny and clear. The last few days have been really cold, but up until tonight we had avoided the snow they're getting in Portland. Tonight when I left the lab at 7pm I found, to my surprise, that it was snowing heavily. I'm glad Natasha and I got out for a run along the waterfront this morning while it was nice!

Mostly being back in Seattle hasn't made me homesick [for Seattle], but I did get a little sad when I saw all my former house plants that Natasha adopted. We haven't had a single plant in our condo in Eagle River yet. It came with a flower basket on the porch, but we both went in the field a week after moving in (in the middle of Alaska record-breaking warm streak), and it died. I didn't think that was a good sign for our ability to keep indoor plants alive. Maybe someday, but with Ryan in the field right now, me probably going in the field this spring, a vacation on the horizon, and who knows what kind of fieldwork this summer, it hardly seems worth it to get plants. And people wonder why we don't have pets!