Posting vignettes based on great postcards found in my mail box and elsewhere.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Music of Madonna and Child

I have always had a fondness for Madonna and Child images. This antique greeting postcard with an embossed image shows mother Mary, a rather mature infant Jesus and a couple of ministering angels. A heavenly host of infant voices adds a choral dimension. On closer look it seems the child is singing, perhaps symbolizing the music of the spheres or the Word of God. The entire group is perched on a cloud. This could represent the scene is a fulfillment of God's will -- "on earth as it is in heaven."

This card was post dated December 22, 1908. It was sent to a "Mrs. M T Arnold" in Mount Clemens, Michigan, from "Eletha."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Misspelled postcards

A couple of images today from Alaska's past to show the majesty of nature and the frailty of humanity. The images above have beautiful scenes adorned with misspelled words. The titles of these two photo postcards should read, "Alaska" not "Alsaska" and "Nanook" not "Nonook." It proves, if nothing else, that people occasionally misspell words. We all know that and tend to look the other way. We know by the context what was meant.
On the other hand, a local candidate is suing the state of Alaska because he believes that every voter should also be perfect spellers. In the Alaskan U.S. senate race, Joe Miller is trailing Lisa Murkowski by a large margin. Miller disputes more than 2,000 write-in ballots. He has questioned ballots that read, "Murkowski, Lisa" and "Murkowsky" and "Merkowski." He has also rejected a ballot in which the first letter of Lisa's name was written in cursive. The down side of all this on Miller's part is that by interpreting the law so strictly he risks disenfranchising voters, especially people who don't always cross every "t" and dot every "i" -- like so many Alaskan voters for whom English is their second language or for whom like me never won a spelling bee.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Hometown, Wayne, Michigan, circa 1940's

This is a photo postcard view of Wayne, Michigan, my childhood hometown. The view looks northwest along Michigan Avenue, U.S. 12. The scene is not so different than the main streets in many small towns of the era between Detroit, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois, before the advent of the interstate highway system and urban renewal.
This glossy photo postcard was sent to me by a high school buddy, Rick B. who still lives in the area. I think the time on the clock at the top of the building is close to the time of day this picture was taken. The shadows are right for 10:46 AM. The photo was most likely taken in the 40's, owing to the cars on the street.
During my boyhood, Wayne was a small town with a thriving downtown. You could park on any street and walk to several stores to shop and take care of business. Today, these buildings still exist. They escaped the bulldozers that razed most of the buildings in Wayne's Michigan Avenue corridor in the 70's -- sacrificed for the sake of urban renewal. The actual renewal took decades to achieve and for many years left the core of Wayne a ghost town. The tightly packed storefronts were eventually replaced with isolated structures surrounded by parking lots. The city is still replacing buildings that were once there.
Fortunately other areas of Wayne were not mowed down and to this day retain some of the look and feel they had during the World War II era. What I liked about these buildings were the second stories that often housed an apartment that a store owner lived in or rented out. This feature ensured that people occupied the downtown area at all hours of the day and night instead of a place deserted at the close of the business day.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Kauai flowers from friends

This image of bright flowers were sent by my good friends Kim (a Postcrosser) and Dennis while on vacation on Kauai, one of the Hawaiian Islands. The postcard is made of wood on the island of Kauai by The cards are laser cut and come in all custom shapes, such as surf boards. They also make custom cards to your specifications. The cards can be mailed anywhere in the U.S. for 60 cents.
Kim and Dennis wrote on the back of the card they were dinning at the the Postcard Cafe, home of fine seafood and gourmet vegetarian cuisine. Who would have thought there was a Postcard Cafe.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chainsaw Artists

Though you won't probably find these works of art at the next art show in your town, unless you live in a rural town of less than 500, you can be sure that where there is a crew cutting pulp wood there is an artist among them. I found this card when I took my chainsaw into the local shop for service. My saw wouldn't start and they discovered diesel fuel in the thing. To save total embarrassment, I mumbled something about the kids. Anyway, the saw is running well again and maybe I'll try and carve an icon to gasoline to remind me what kind of fuel to use next time. Then again, maybe I'll just stick to cutting the wood I have into two foot lengths. If I need any special carvings I'll call the Stearns Family.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Guitar Dreams

My son left this homemade postcard on my bedroom dresser. It is a three dimensional card made of foam cut outs he made at school. I came up with the title.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Squeeze Me! Beg Your Pardon

Tracy from the United Kingdom sent this unusual and fun postcard, her first as a Postcrosser. I think this postcard will be a big hit with my middle school-age kids. If you can not read upside down, the label says "Rich Thick Obscene Noises." The card captures a common joke in many households when the over seriousness of the dinner table is interrupted by the near-empty ketchup bottle squeezed into flatulence by a giggling teenager.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Grass On Your Roof

Diane over at Artstanding Stranger sent these great photo postcards. "Trapper's Cabin" is an "alaska joe" original postcard. The other shows the Continental Divide in Yellowstone National Park. Thanks Diane, I didn't have either card but do remember crossing the great divide as a kid on a family vacation and seeing that same sign. Sod roofs are traditional structures with many native peoples who populate the Alaskan region and with modern day trappers and National Park Service restrooms in remote locations.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Speaking of Fish: or what one fish said to another

This somewhat macabre image comes from Vickie in Taiwan, a Postcrosser. She translates a Chinese proverb but a lot got lost in the translation. It is something about the two fish talking to each other on the line. One asks why the other is still laughing and the other replies because I'm lucky to still see the sky and not hang in the market. I searched the Internet but couldn't come up with any matches, so if any of you have a clue how this works please let me know.
The image is reminiscent of many fish caches in Alaska this time of year. Fish are hung and dried and smoked in the open air and the odor of smoked fish is everywhere, especially along the coastlines and river villages. Its a strong scent but after you've lived here a few years you come to expect and enjoy its pungent odor which signifies fall has arrived.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Alaska, the big one

A question for your elementary school-age kids. Which U.S. state has the largest land area? This postcard answers the question.

Alaska is so big you can put Texas, California, Montana within its borders and still have plenty of room for Idaho. Now that's big.

Compared to the world's countries, Alaska ranks 15th in size, just a little smaller than Lybia and nearly 27,000 square miles larger than Iran.

A few other facts, Alaska has the most coastline of any state and half the world's glaciers.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Patrolling the Line: Alaska's Brave Smoke Jumpers

This year's wild fire season was unusually active and close to home. In May, a wild fire came a quarter mile from my work camp trailer north of Healy. This summer there were several fires in Denali National Park, one in the front country where I work. A plane crashed close to our work camp, killing three, and starting a wild fire. A few weeks ago a wind-stoked fire raged through a Healy subdivision. Fortunately, late August has been wet, cool and calm, so the fires here have died down.

I bought this postcard (along with several others I'll post in the coming months) at the air base of the Alaska Smoke jumpers Headquarters on Fort Wainwright, Alaska, literally, my next door neighbor in Fairbanks. The title of this postcard is Patrolling the Line. My friend, an Alaskan smoke jumper in the late sixties, made his yearly pilgrimage here to spend two weeks hiking in Denali National Park and while in Fairbanks we paid a visit to the smoke jumpers headquarters. Surprisingly, the base has a small but wonderful collection of smoke jumper postcards. I think this card shows the environment in which the smoke jumper works. Surrounded by fire and smoke he carries a Pulaski axe/adze or hoe putting out hot spots around edges of fires to keep them from spreading. During the fire near my work camp residence, smoke jumpers camped out in pup tents for two weeks on fire watch. Each day they could be seen walking the perimeter of the fire with their Pulaski and water packs, faces black with soot yet always smiling. People in areas prone to wildfires are grateful for smoke jumpers who protect homes and cabins at great risk to themselves.
This postcard's photo was taken in 1999 by Mike McMillan. More photos of smoke jumpers can be found here.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Eskimo Whale Feast

This postcard was free. My favorite kind. It is an advertisement for Alaskan artist Claire Fejes' book, People of the Noatak, published by Volcano Press. The cover illustration shown here is called "Eskimo Whale Feast."
Just remember whale meat is very good the first time cooked but never eat whale meat twice cooked -- yuck.

Monday, June 28, 2010

God Walks The Central Path

Luhuiwen, a Postcrossing member from China, sent this beautiful scenic postcard of the Heavenly Thoroughfare. The walkway runs from the Temple of Heaven to the Temple of Agriculture. The view is toward the Temple of Heaven to the south.
The description on the card notes that the central path, known as the Heavenly Thoroughfare, was "reserved exclusively for God and nobody, including the Emperor, was allowed to set foot onto it." The Emperor used the path to the left and the ministers and princes used the path to the right.
Don't look now but it looks like God is walking the central path in the distance.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kicking Up Some Dust

This scenic card came from Helga, a Postcrosser, from Germany . I liked it a lot. Just thinking of driving a VW on a desert road and kicking up some dust has a lot of appeal to an ex-Legends car racer.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Reminds Us Everyday is a Memorial Day

Here is a postcard that reminds us Americans that there are Memorial Days of all kinds that exist with no less significance than our own civil observance to honor the war dead past and present. My experience of Memorial Day means much more, namely that everyday is a Memorial Day -- a day in which I give honor to all the dead whose lives made my life and the life of my country possible.

This card is an entrance to a traditional home in Taiwan. It was sent by postcrosser Ya-Cin of Taiwan. The black characters on a red painted background to the left of the door is a couplet which declares "Jesus is Lord of my family." It is sobering to recall that in most of the world's countries such a sign would be an invitation to ridicule, persecution or death.

Every Christian knows that everyday is a Memorial Day because of Christ's sacrificial death for the atonement of the world's sin and for the untold number of unheralded Christian martyrs world wide throughout history and today.

As a small boy I remember my family would take time each Memorial Day (not yet a legal holiday) and visit the graves of the family's dead. I was so small I didn't yet understand the significance of these visits but did understand the reverence of my aunts and uncles and parents for the memory of their ancestor's life of sacrifice.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tugging The Heart Strings

A service station that changed my thermostat in November sent this card to remind me that it was time for my next service. My car's windshield would not defog at 30 below Fahrenheit so I resorted to driving dressed in full winter gear and the window down to keep my breath from condensing on the windows. The station didn't ask but I usually change my own oil and do my own lube job. Still, I appreciate the lovely picture and recall that I was secure in my parents car and slept many miles in a similar position even before the era of seatbelts, let alone car seats for children.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Eye of the Frog

I love this postcard. I saw it at my eye doctor when I went for my annual exam last year. I asked if she had any extras and made a point of asking again when I went to pick up my glasses. I asked again a few months later when I needed my glasses adjusted. Apparently she got the idea as this card came in the mail this week.
Too bad the post office mutilated the green guy's face. They seem to consistantly smear and smudge the best images.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Summer Hockey Time

When you live in a hockey town there seems no end to the season. Here is an ad postcard for summer hockey camp in Fairbanks. That's one angry moose. He may represent the parents feelings about ice time extending not only into spring but summer as well.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Oh Canada, where pines and fireweeds grow...

Terry a member of Postcrossing from Canada sent this beautiful mountain from the Valley of the Ten Peaks in Banff National Park. I like the contrast of the majestic and rugged mountains with the delicate fireweeds. This beautiful magenta petalled wild plant is common not only to both Canada and Alaska but in the temperate Northern Hemisphere. The plant gets its name for its ability to reestablish on burnt over lands. It often covers fields left fallow or abandon construction sites. I guess nature abhors an ugly vacuum.
Some say they are forecasters of coming of winter but I've found this to be a dubious claim in the absolute sense. I've heard all sorts of predictions. When three rows of blooms are left there are three weeks before the first snow. Or when the plant is in full bloom it means six weeks to winter. One problem with all these prophecies is the lack of defining what constitutes winter. Some people mean the first snow. Others the fall equinox. Some vacillate between both to fit the prediction. I think all plant legends are generally accurate on a local basis with occasional aberrations accepted when they are given by a local who has observed the seasons for a life time or is heir to many generations accumulated observations. From my observations in the interior of Alaska for just shy of two decades, I can say with general certainty: when I see the blossoms fall from the top my snow gear is ready to go.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kraken; Mega-coaster

My daughter and I took on Kraken while at Sea World in Florida earlier this winter. The super (or mega) coaster is made of 1.2 million pounds of steel. It has seven inversions, including an corkscrew and an zero-G, and reaches 65 mile per hour. Because your feet dangle in the air, the sensation of vulnerability is accentuated. The G-forces, similar to those experienced on high-banked race tracks, and the 144-foot near vertical drop, were enough to cure my daughter of wanting to ride any more mega coasters -- at least for the time being. As a confirmed adrenaline junkie, I couldn't get enough. Even after Kraken, I can still say, 'I have yet to meet a coaster I didn't like.'

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bolivia's Salar De Uyuni

My friend Dave has returned to the states but his postcards are still coming in. This one shows Bolivia's Salar De Uyuni, an extensive salt and mineral deposit located at an elevation of over 11,000 feet in the Andes. Bolivia holds about half of the world's lithium reserves, the majority of which are found at the Salar de Uyuni.
Dave relates that getting to Salar De Uyuni took 'two buses, a kid puking, a flat tire and his passport being held hostage overnight' which, considering some of his exploits, went rather smoothly. He also said the area is beautiful. Apparently, the flats were covered with a few inches of water that reflected the surrounding mountains and clouds and for a while it was difficult to tell up from down.
You can find a nice account of a visit to the flats by a couple a few years ago, here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Royal Box Of Bones

This beautiful postcard came from Postcrosser Henneke in the Netherlands. She tells me this is the famous "box" that contains the bones of Charles the Great, King of the Franks. She noted the bones were placed in this elaborate box 15 years after his death in 814. This had to be one whale of a box. By some accounts, successive emperors opened and reopened his coffin. Otto III found his remains some 200 years later uncorrupted still seated on a thrown still holding his scepter. Obviously, it was a tight seal.
During his life, Charles expanded the Frankish kingdom to into an empire that incorporated much of what is now western and central Europe. Charles reign saw the flowering of western culture and art.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tom Foolery, Spoofing Around

Another great postcard from Steve of Montana. This is an art/advertising postcard. It was sent to Steve recently as an advertisement for the Tom Foolery art exhibition at the Missoula (Montana) Art Museum of Art. Foolery's satiric and sometimes surreal dioramas poke fun at life, art and commerce, among other things. Many of dioramas are small and some are very small. Foolery created his first miniature diorama 33 years ago in the dashboard of his Nash Rambler before moving to the cavities of Kodak Brownie Cameras, theatre flood light frames and more recently vending machines. The postcard image here is titled, Bone Cowboy, 2006. You can find out more about Foolery's art and the exhibit at the Missoula Art Museum here. The exhibit runs until May 9, 2010. A short review of Foolery's work is here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Enjoy The Park

This sign sent by Steve from Montana represents the nightmare of government over-regulation. There are rumors that the current Tea Party movement is debating convening here for its next annual convention. They want to add "No Taxation" to the list.

I especially like rule number five, "No Parking." I guess the municipality was attempting to kill two birds with one stone: reduce our collective carbon footprint and prevent unwanted pregnancies. The small lettering at the bottom is especially telling. It reads, "Trespassers will be Ventilated."

This postcard brought to mind a song, Signs, from the 1970's.

"Sign, sign everywhere as sign

Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind

Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?"

This anthem of the hippie era was written by Canadian Les Emmerson. The song was first recorded by the Five Man Electrical Band. You can read about the band and read the complete lyrics here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dirty Politics

I don't know about the training part but this bucolic scene suggests what every citizen must do before understanding any political party's spin doctors.

This is a Duckboy Card, number 423 in their often excellent contemporary 'quacked up' series. You can find their web site here. I posted another Duckboy card here, just scroll down until you see a couple of fellas in a pickup truck.
I bought this card at the local Sportsman's Warehouse store, then a couple of days later, Steve from Montana sends me another one, along with some other great cards I'll be posting as I get a chance. Serendipity happens.

Monday, March 1, 2010

You Can Run But You Can't Hide

My friend and colleague, Dave, sends this postcard testament of his travels in South America. He left Santiago, Chile, earlier in February and travelled 55 hours by bus and another 22 hours by ferry to reach Ushuaia, Argentina. The city of 53,000 people is the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina's most southern province, also known as the End of the World. He's picked up a lot of local color by riding the mass transportation system in the southern hemisphere but was a little dismayed that he awoke the next morning to find a Princess Tours Cruise Ship was in port and the grey-haired tourists were everywhere flashing their credit cards. So much for getting away from it all. ¿Qué manera al depósito de autobús?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Never Too Young For Postcards

I guess you are never too young to enjoy the wide world of postcards. Today's mail brought two wonderful postcards from members of the Postcrossing Project. The one above (Moi) is from 14-year-old Piia of Finland. If you think she is too young to collect international postcards take a look at the beautiful postcard, below, of Taroko National Park. It comes from Postcrosser Jerry of Taiwan, age two. The message on the reverse side said his mom helps him collect cards. You can see an adorable picture of Jerry here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Postmark in Georgia

Chris sends this homemade photo postcard of the Dawsonville Hwy (Georgia #53) Bridge over Lake Lanier. The photo, I assume Chris took, shows the bridge a little fuzzy around the edges. The image would make a good book cover for a mystery novel set in the deep south or the CD reissue of Bobby Gentry's Ode to Billie Joe -- it looks like the Tallahatchie Bridge to me.

I make a joke but its a great shot and what's more the postcard is a first day use postmark of Chris's own Mailer's Postmark Permit from Gainesville, Georgia. Chris went to great pains to get the right to postmark his own postcards and mail. (See his first class blog and story here.)We all know how the postal service mutilates our postcards by smudging the postmarks and inking and marring the face of our postcards. The back of this one survived the journey through the postal machines but the face was smudged in the very center.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Indian Blanket

One of the wonderful things about postcards is that you open up the mailbox on a cold winter day and in an instant you are transported to another world. This is precisely what happened to me the other day when I received this colorful postcard from Amelia, via Postcrossing, the postcard crossing project. The Indian Blanket is the state wild flower of Oklahoma. I remember seeing them growing wild all over that state years ago on a summer cross country trip. This postcard also reminded me that in a few months the fields of Alaska will be blanketed with the bright purple blossoms of the fireweed. It forms a colorfully rich contrast to the snow capped mountains all over the state (as in this picture). And when the fireweed is up it is usually hot and dry and the daylight is 20-plus hours long.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pike's Peak's Cog Rail

Two examples of cog rail systems: The top postcard (thanks again Jan and Rick) was postmarked 1912. It pictures the Pike's Peak cog road steam engine with a tilted chassis. The lower postcard, from my grandmother years ago, is more recent (vintage 1940-50's) of the same track with an electric diesel engine similar to the one still used today (click here). In the bygone age of steam-powered locomotives the boilers needed to remain nearly level else the boiler would overheat and explode. This is why the engine is tilted in the top postcard. (See more on cog and rack rail systems and tilted boiler steam engines here.)
Cog rail trains are able to ascend and descend grades of 25 and more. This fact makes them especially suited for mountain terrains. Conventional rails for trains are commonly moved along grades of less than 1%. Though higher gradients exist on some rail lines, the pulling power is greatly reduced between 0.5% and 1%. This is why railroad tracks often make long cuts in hillsides or make long circuitous approaches complete with tunnels through mountain passes. (See my previous post on the Canadian Pacific Railway (here).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Spiral Tunnels of the Canadian Pacific Railroad

The postcard above was sent some time ago by Glenn from Canada. He has Gem's World Postcards (here). Glenn recently sent me several rail themed postcards. I send him airplane cards when I find them. Glenn has done more than anyone to improve my stock of Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) postcards. This particular modern color postcard shows the lower spiral tunnel (one of two) at Kicking Horse Pass, on the border of British Columbia and Alberta. The tunnels were built to lower the grade of the rail that passes over the great divide of the Rocky Mountains.

My friends Rick and Jan recently returned from Florida and the American Southeast with these two black and white postcards with two views of the same lower spiral tunnel. The spiral tunnels are the highest point on the Canadian Pacific Railroad's (CPR) transcontinental rail route. Prior to the tunnels construction, the grade was 4.5 %, nearly ten times the normal grade specified by rail engineers. Consequently, the grade was the scene of many fatal accidents for railroad engineers, workers and passengers.

In 1907, John E. Schwitzer proposed lessing the grade with the construction of two spiral tunnels that crossed in a figure-eight shape. The tunnels were completed in 1909 and cut the grade down to 2.2%. The construction took two years, 1,000 workers at a cost of $1.5 million. Workers removed 54,000 cubic meters of rock from the tunnels.

Notice the similarity of the concrete tunnel entrance, vegetation and rock slide on the hillside in both the old and new cards. Also, note that both trains' engines have crossed under their tails or cabooses.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tolagoa Bay Wharf, New Zealand

Joe from New Zealand is collecting postcards from each U.S. state. You can find him and send him a message at the Postcrossing project here. I sent him an Alaskan card and he returned this beautiful card showing the East Coast north of Gisborne where the Tolagoa Bay Wharf, the longest wharf in the Southern Hemisphere, stretches into the sea. The wharf was opened December 1929. Today it being restored in phases yet remains in need of further restoration. See this web site if you are interested in helping with the renovations of the wharf.

Australia and New Zealand are on my wish list of places to travel before the big curtain descends or as people of faith believe before the big curtain lifts. Joe says it is hot there this time of year (summer in the southern hemisphere) and he is making many fun trips to the beach. Ah, the beach, the waves, the sun. Maybe that is why I like this card so much. It reminds me that summer exists somewhere in the world and will return here (Fairbanks, Alaska) in May.

The Last Log Cabin in Detroit

Friends Rick and Jan brought me these two gems. The lower one sports what was once gold glitter to highlight the roof line and tree branches. They found these cards while on a trip to the American Southeast. They know I collect railroad postcards and anything from Michigan, especially Southeastern Michigan, and brought back a generous pack of very fine cards.

Both of these cards show the same point of view of Detroit, Michigan's, Palmer Park log cabin built in 1885 as a summer home for Senator Thomas W. Palmer and his wife Lizzie. It is reputed to be the last remaining log cabin in Detroit. It was once open to the public daily but is now closed, except on Michigan's Cabin Day, in which tours and historic presentations are made at 100 cabins around the state. This year's Cabin Day is June 27. A quick Internet search uncovered other postcard views of the cabin and a more recent photo on Flickr.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pioneers of the Trans-Continential Rail Road

Glen of Calgary sent these two railroad themed postcards recently. Glen's has the Gem's World Postcards blog here. He has added several quality railroad postcards to my collection, especially Canadian Pacific postcards. The Sleeper Only trans-Canada trains began in 1907 on a limited basis (a three runs a week) and became more popular and frequent during the 1920s, following the prosperity after World War I. Americans seeking a way around U.S. alcohol prohibition were frequent passengers. They also sought out the train for its luxurious interiors and high quality wines and liquors.

The painting reproduction poster postcard at the top by an unknown artist appears to be a commemoration of the driving of the last spike at Craigellachie, British Columbia on November 7, 1885. It is almost a duplicate copy of the photo of that event, see below.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Geronimo and Nachez, Chiracahua Apache Chiefs

Friends Jan and Rick sent this photo reproduction postcard while on their travels in the American Southeast. The photo was taken by Camilius S. Fly in the Sierra Madre Mountains on March 27, 1886, during a truce in the fighting between U.S. soldiers and the Apache Nation. The reverse side identifies the subjects: left to right, Son of Geronimo, White Horse, holding Nahi's baby girl: Geronimo mounted; Natches (Naiche), son of Cochise, and hereditary chief, mounted & wearing hat; Fun, considered the bravest fighter in Geronimo's band." The description also says, "The Apache Wars lasted from 1872-1886, with (U.S. Army) General Crook in constant pursuit of Geronimo and his warriors." Though the card makes no note of it, Geronimo nicknamed Crook, Nanton Lupan, which means Grey Fox, and each man respected the other and gained each others trust. Crook often defended Geronimo and the native people from unscrupulous Indian Agents and from unfounded rumors printed in newspapers of the time. Crook was repremanded for his tolerant attitude toward the Chiracahua bands and replaced by brigadier general Nelson Miles. Crook spent his last years speaking out against the unjust treatment of native peoples. See the book, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, for an account of the Apache Wars and Crooks role.
This is an AZUSA Publishing Post Card. Their web site is worth the visit. See their amazing collection of historical postcards here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Costa Rica, Hummingbird Capital

My friend David sends this card while traveling in Costa Rica. He sent the card from San Jose Airport and noted that "...if I didn't know better I would think I'm in the states. Its has to be 90% Americans in here." David travels each winter taking in the sites and sounds of Central and South America. He has this terrible itch to climb mountains too. Dave just recently descended Aconcagua Mt, the highest mountain in the Americas at 22,841 feet located in Argentina near the Chilean border. Dave was unable to summit but returned with all his fingers and toes, so Dave will live to climb another day.

This postcard shows the Violet Sabrewing Hummingbird. He said there are over 50 different species of hummingbirds in Costa Rica and while there he was fortunate to see 10 of those. Costa Rica is a destination of many birders who can travel a very small geographical area and view numerous species of birds.

The postcard photo credit goes to Jane Moore. Click on her name to see here web site portfolio. Jane has some great photos of wildlife from Africa and does weddings and portraits too. Thanks, Dave.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Warm Tent Is Better Than No Tent

Though it might not look like much this 16X32 foot tent was home to the Bernhardt family for 13 months in 1977-78 while they built their cabin in Alaska's Interior. Dick and Donna Bernhardt shared a love of the land and a desire to find a home away from the big city, so they left Anchorage and moved to Tok, Alaska. Like many Alaskans, they literally carved a life out a wilderness where temperatures can reach 60 below zero (Fahrenheit). See their story here. Today you can still see tent dwellers in Fairbanks and other parts of Interior Alaska making a life for themselves in this time honored fashion.

I came by this postcard when I moved to Alaska in 1990. I had already lived in a tepee and built my own home in Northern Michigan. The card probably was responsible for giving me the idea that I could do it all over again in Alaska. In 1994, my wife and I built our own cabin 15 mile north of Healy, Alaska. I can report that there is nothing romantic about hammering roof nails at 35 below zero.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chilkoot Pass Trail

After nearly three weeks of crisscrossing the country, I thought this old postcard of gold seekers trudging up the Chilkoot Pass was appropriate. I've lugged my laptop, books and papers across the country with the intention of posting here but alas family visits, a hectic schedule and lack of conductivity at airports and hotels put the brakes on my best intentions. Thanks to a seven hour layover at the Seattle Tacoma Airport and a strong Internet connection tonight I finally can post this piece of Alaskana.