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Music in Poetry, "Where Words & Music Meet"

Kenny Lake, Alaska


Music in Poetry, "Where Words & Music Meet"

McCarthy, Alaska


"Big Alaska" 

From Juneau we set sail for Skagway and begin the journey NW to the mainland of Alaska.

Alaska is such a huge area, it is still difficult to comprehend this immense land that encompasses the state of Alaska, even after driving to the mainland and back out again.

You could fit Texas into Alaska 2 times!
One-fifth the size of the Lower 48, Alaska is bigger than Texas, California, and Montana combined!
Alaska is also far-flung: 3.1 times wider (east to west) and 1.9 times taller (north to south) than Texas.

From north to south, Alaska measures 1420 miles, the distance from Denver to Mexico City, and east to west 2500 miles, the distance from Savannah, GA to Santa Barbara, CA.

Alaska also has the most northern point (Point Barrow) and the most western point (Cape Wrangell, Alaska -- further west than Hawaii) in the U.S.


What can we say, except we still cannot fathom the distance. 
Especially since most of the driving can only be done in a small area of the mainland, you need a boat or plane to get to most areas of Alaska.

So Skagway is a northern point of the inside passage in SE Alaska, the most northern, though you could also get off the ferry in Haines, but we chose Skagway because we have a library performance there!!  At this point, we are headed to Anchorage and then to Homer Alaska.
To give another idea of the distances and how far west Alaska goes, Homer, Alaska on the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula is north of Hawaii.
The drive from Skagway to Homer is about 1000 miles.

The skies become smokier the further north we go from the fires in Canada & Alaska.
This picture is taken after entering the Yukon.
There are several massive sized lakes in the Yukon, a vast, beautiful and unpopulated land.
We make our way to Anchorage over 3-4 days of driving to play in 2 uniquely different libraries in the area, the Loussac and Girdwood libraries
The picture below is taken with The Girdwood Librarian, Helen Wood -
We had a great time playing & meeting folks at both libraries!

We were very excited to head down the Kenai Peninsula to Homer Alaska, a place we called home for one of the most incredible years of our lives  when our son Eric was 3 years old in 1985 & 1986.

30 years ago, we traveled around the bend in the road and saw this:
(disclamier, not our picture, our camera cannot capture the totality of this:)

We turned on the local community radio station and listened to great music coming over the airwaves from KBBI Homer.
All range of styles, but great quality and selection of material.
We saw posters on bulletin boards of all the community happenings, and for a town this size, we were impressed and thought this is the place for us!

Chris had a jazz show on KBBI Homer broadcasting his show in town & out over the water with fishermen picking up the airwaves and calling in to comment on the program.

This is the year we started to develop our duo of voice, vibes and cello.
Prior to this time, we had played in bands, ie quartets, quintets with Chris on drums and Colleen singing.

This journey to Homer has brought us full circle to the place our duo began.
Our family life was the best this year as we had lots of time to spend with our son Eric in our beautiful cozy cabin.
We loved Homer and our life there, and this was the beginning of a new life for us in so many ways.

Now it is 30 years later and we are able to meet up with our dear friends from that time who graciously invited us to stay with them and to host a home concert for us.
Peter & Wendy asked us to play in their home 30 years ago for one of our first gigs as a duo - Life is Good!!

The other part of our meeting up this time with Wendy & Peter is that they both love and write thoughtful & beautiful poetry!
We were and still are amazed at how they live and lived their lives.
They built their own home which is one of the most warm and beautiful homes we have ever been in.
Homer has a reputation for supporting the arts, and both Wendy & Peter have contributed greatly to a range of art happenings & projects, from comedy improv to dance and writing and much more.  They are also world travelers and continue to do good works for those in need.

As we sat around the table catching up on 30 years of life, we all realized then & now, we are kindred spirits in this world!

Thank you Wendy & Peter for the most wonderful, gracious stay in Homer!

North to Denali.

We have met up with our good friend and neighbor Kathy from Eldorado Springs, Colorado on this portion of our journey.
Initially meeting up in Anchorage we parted to meet again in Homer and at this point, we  meet up in one of the most amazing places on earth, Denali NP!

We are more than lucky, because much of our time in Denali NP is with mostly clear skies and warm weather.

"The Great One" is out in full glory for us to gaze upon her immense beauty!!
Denali is the mountain with the highest base-to-summit vertical rise above sea level in the world (just over 18,000 feet, or 5,486 meters),  (20,320 ft; 6,193 m.).
Many folks think this would be Mt. Everest, but Everest starts at a much higher altitude from base to top.

We hiked across the tundra and made noises and kept our eyes on the surrounding area to watch-out for Grizzly Bears!
Knowing that we are visitors in bear country makes us hyper alert & aware of our surroundings.

Kathy brought along bear spray, but it is a little breezy the day we take this hike, so it makes us think twice about the unlikely possibility of needing to use it.

Of course we all know & agree that our most pressing risks or dangers are not bears, but somehow bears remain in our Psyche as something more dangerous than anything else.

It makes our hike & stay in Denali all the more exciting.
Disclaimer, our friend Kathy was able to get pictures of Denali bears like the above with her keen eye and great camera - this is not our photo - as we observed the 300 yard rule in Denali, picking out a Grizz with our i-phone looks more like the following picture. 

Later in our journey we came much closer to black & grizzly bears like the previous picture of the "big grizz" - on our next post - near Hyder Alaska.
"Stay Tuned"!

So, now we make our way back to Base Camp.
Our bus driver deftly takes us over this pass and tells us that they are required to have many hours of training driving on this road.
In fact, at this spot, they need to be able to back up and turn around when confronted with an oncoming bus.
( The road is narrow and just to the left of this cliff, this picture is taken from inside the bus looking out and down! )

We were happy to get over the pass safely, and on the way back to base camp our friendly bus driver stopped for us to take pictures of this Caribou close to the road.
We found out the trees in Denali NP are displacing the tundra due to global warming, so the Caribou are being displaced from their former range and now need to go higher or further north to forage. The moose are moving in to Caribou's former territory in the park.

Back at base camp, we enjoy a delicious King Crab dinner!  Guess we are not thinking too much of the bears at this point

It's time to head North through Fairbanks and west to make way to our next performance in Delta Junction.

Just north of Denali the skies become very smoky. 

There are fires in many areas but the smoke seems to be coming from the west.
It gets thicker and starts to become alarming as it begins to cause throat, eye and lung irritation.
By the time we get to Nenana, we stop at the visitor center to see if we should turn around, but we hear the smoke has come in behind us too.
The radio station from Fairbanks said that the air quality was extreme and hazardous and told folks to stay indoors.
We decided to keep going and hoped that if we headed east from Fairbanks, the air quality would improve, and thankfully it did improve a little!

It made us think of how people and animals are impacted by all these fires, and this year in particular is a bad fire year for all of the west, from California, thru Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and even in the SE Alaska  rain forests, they are seeing fires for the first time.
But the interior of Alaska seems to be experiencing the worst of the fires in Alaska.

We made it to Delta Junction to play @ Delta Community Library. 
We have been in touch with librarian Joyce McCombs over many months and we're looking forward to meeting her as she has given us great information and support for our program.

Joyce with Chris below.
There was a good turnout & enthusiasm for our concert was wonderful!

Now our journey to McCarthy Alaska and Kenicott Mine begins!

We take the Richardson Highway south for our 276 mile journey to McCarthy.
The last 60 miles takes us about 5 hours over a gravel road with many washboards.
We do not want to discourage anyone from taking this road, because it is more than worth the time & effort and it's basically a good road, with washboards.
And for most, it would take about 2.5 to 3 hours, but we needed to go slower to protect all our "gear" instruments, PA etc.

The Richardson Highway is a beautiful drive south from Delta Junction and follows the Alaska pipeline much of the way.

Fireweed was out in full bloom - wow!

McCarthy and Kennicott Mine

We turned off the Richardson Highway and headed east to the road to McCarthy.
We follow the Copper River much of the way.
We cross other rivers too and drive past many beautiful lakes.
This river crosses a gorge and the bridge is single lane, so we stop for a moment to make sure no one is coming from the other side.

The Kuskulana River looks like a milky light chocolate color. Rock flour, or glacial flour, consists of fine-grained, silt-sized particles of rock, generated by mechanical grinding of bedrock by glacial erosion or by artificial grinding to a similar size. Because the material is very small, it becomes suspended in melt water making the water appear cloudy, which is sometimes known as glacial milk.
Hmmm, do we want to drink this water? We figure we could get lots of minerals from this water, maybe some we don't want!

We pass over a few more rivers, the road starts to narrow a bit.
This picture shows the road in good condition, but the small washboards cause our van to bump and shake more unless we reduce our speed to about 10 mph or even less in some places.

We finally come to the end of the McCarthy Road, just across the river from McCarthy. 
We are able to cross the river in the van, but there is a foot bridge over the river we can walk across.
Many years ago, Colleen crossed this river in a basket pulling herself over using a pully system.

We find our camp site before venturing across the river - we still have another day before our performance to explore this area & walk into town.
The next picture is looking up river from our campsite towards Kennicott Glacier.  ( Folks dispute whether Kennicott is spelled with an i or an e )

You can't see it in the picture, but we spot a bear above the banks of the river within the trees, close to the other end of this camping area.
We are happy to be down-river from this bear, though folks up there are on higher ground.

We learned after we set up camp that the glacier has a river running under it which turns into the Copper River.
Ice damns build up and occasionally the ice dams break releasing huge quantities of water downstream. 
We did hear the river roar a bit louder the night we camped here and several times looked out the window to see if the water was rising.
It did a bit, but not enough to sweep us downstream.
Not a great nights sleep!

We were happy that we had a room in town the day of our performance ON THE 2nd FLOOR!
Another picture of this view about midnight!

The next day, we break camp and get ready to go cross the river and make our way to Kennicott Mine.

Chris unloading our instruments and gear onto our carts for the river crossing!Colleen heads across the river -On the other side, our loaner Toyota pick-up truck will take us up to Kenicott Mine.  ( Check out the left front tire....will we make it? )On the road to Kennicott Mine!Kennicott Mine is a fascinating place and the location in a remote setting.
Kennicott Mine sits just inside of one of the largest protected places on earth, the Wrangell - St. Elias NP which is a shared NP with Canada.

Wrangell St. Elias contains the tallest mountains in North America ( besides Denali )  both in number ie several over 15,000 feet and a few 18.000 to 20,000 plus feet setting.

There are ice-fields above Kennicott and glaciers spill out from the ice fields.

Those who have traveled to the interior of this park say there are a few "Yosemite" like valleys with granite walls higher than those found in Yosemite.
For one to travel any distance into this park, it would take expedition type planning due to the size and remoteness of this area.
It is possible to hike easily from Kennicott for shorter hikes, and even walk onto one of the glaciers.

The Kennicott mine is being "stabilized" as the park service calls it.

The new paint on the buildings are the original color of the buildings.

The original members of this community were a tight knit group who mainly worked for the mine or to support the families of the miners.
They had a school, gardens, and a recreation hall with all sorts of activities including performances and dances.

Some pics of the mine, buildings & surrounding landscape from different perspectives.

Refurbished buildings
Boiler Room - making electricity for Kennicott and the mine.
This boiler room contained 8 huge Babcock and Wilcox Boilers which provided electricity to power the mine and the town of Kennicott.
Those working in the boiler "room" were happy to work there in the winter!

This mine is so fascinating. 
The mine was abandoned virtually overnight in  1938 when the price of copper dropped too low.
When Colleen visited here over 25 years ago, there were still place settings on the tables in family cottages and canned foods in the cupboards.

For more on the history of Kennicott, here is a link.

Back to preparations for our concert - we arrive at the Rec Hall to unpack our gear, and yes we made it, even with an almost flat tire!

We are finally set up for the evenings performance. We decided to take a stroll before the performance to see more of the incredible landscape and sights around here!
We walk over to the Kennicott Glacier Lodge.
We get closer and look up to the deck level from the bottom of the stairs and see someone waving at us!It is our friend Kathy!  We have not seen her since leaving Denali.
Kathy took some great pics and video's of the concert - we hope to post these in the future.
The evenings performance was wonderful, we were impressed at the number of people who made the effort to come, especially Kathy.

After the performance, there is still plenty of light to make our way down to McCarthy, about 4 miles.
Our left front tire a little flatter than before, makes our ride a little smoother actually and we make it back easily.

McCarthy is a town with a population of about 50 people year round.
"In the day" it was called  Shushana Junction but eventually changed its name to McCarthy, and became the site of a turnaround station for the railroad.
"McCarthy was quite a miners’ and railroaders’ town, with all the – ahem – “entertainment” a young man on the frontier might require.
Restaurants, pool halls, hotels, saloons, a dress shop, shoe shop, garage, hardware store, and thriving red light district all popped up to provide services to more than 800 people in the area. The two towns coexisted for the 27 years that Kennicott was in operation. Traditions from those days, such as the 4th of July baseball game, are still carried out today."

For more history, go to

Present day McCarthy is rustically charming.
The locals preserve the history and buildings in a way that makes this town feel like it was 100 years ago.

Our hotel with our room on the 2nd floor, right side of building.
The Golden Saloon on the left and McCarthy Lodge Bistro on the right of this building served up great food, drinks and ambiance!
We went over to the Saloon for a drink and look who we saw.
"How much is that doggy in the window...arf ...arf"!
The Wrangell Mountains Center used to be the general store in McCarthy.
Wrangell Mountains Center fosters appreciation, understanding, and stewardship of wildlands and mountain culture in Alaska through scientific and artistic inquiry in the Wrangell Mountains. Meeting the needs of students, writers, artists, scientists, travelers and local citizens, we offer opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to explore, express, and be transformed through direct experience with this extraordinary place.

The Wrangell Mountain Center and Ma Johnson's were the 2 groups to bring us to McCarthy and hosted our stay and concert @ Kennicott Mines.
For more info on the Wrangell Mountain Center - go to
We really appreciated the chance to come here - it was one of the highlights of our travels!

Here is a picture of the center in the old general store!

Metal Sculpture Raven outside the Wrangell Mountain Center -
Our journey to McCarthy and Kennicott has drawn to a close and we now head back on the gravel road to Kenny Lake, which is on the Edgerton Highway just beyond the where the McCarthy road starts. 

Our friends Gay and David Wellman have a B & B which they graciously offered as our lodging for our time with them.
Gay & Colleen worked together as RN's on the night shift @ Alaska Hospital and Medical Center in the late 70's.
Working nights helped to create a comradery & friendship that has lasted over all these years, truly a kindred spirit!

Gay made it possible for us to play in Kenny Lake Community Center & to do a workshop with the young people of Kenny Lake in their library.
She also helped to connect us with the folks in McCarthy which resulted in our travels & performance @ Kennicott Mine Recreation Hall.
Every year in late summer, they host the "One World Camp", " One World Camp offers an opportunity to look at significant issues of life on Planet Earth in a venue that is made available by the Planet itself. Participants experience a sense of uplift, hope, and renewal of purpose in the beautiful natural setting of Wellwood Nature Preserve. Those who attend One World Camp share ideas, meet other good people, and contribute to the revitalization of the planet while enjoying and exploring the wildland trails and views of the Nature Preserve, in the heart of Alaska’s Copper River Country. Participants will explore practical solutions to troubling problems of the world, make lasting friendships, and find a unique opportunity to reset the personal compass during this weekend of outdoor activity, thoughtful conversation, and direct service.

For more info on their great & much needed work, go to

We performed our Poetry in Music concert @ the Kenny Lake Community Hall. 
We had a great turn-out and enthusiasm for our program and found Kenny Lake Folks to be especially "down-home" friendly and willing to experience something new.
The acoustics were really great in this hall!  A wonderful evening for all of us!The next morning we had about the most fun we've had with a presentation & workshop for kids at the Kenny Lake Library.
Several of these young folks volunteered to improvise singing poems by Shel Silverstein - they were more than willing to participate and they were awesome!

At this time, it seems we are starting to head back to the "lower 48", but we have 2 more performances before leaving Alaska on our way out.
We take the Tok Cutoff Rd. north to Tok for our last performance in Alaska, but on the way, we "picked up" a gig at Red Eagle Lodge where we presented our program to guests and friends of the folks who own this beautiful, historic lodge and grounds.

A short description from Red Eagle Lodge website:  "Red Eagle Lodge is known for the richness of its history and spectacular setting in the Copper Valley, adjacent to Wrangel-St. Elias National Park. Located on the original site of the historic Chistochina Roadhouse, Red Eagle Lodge is the place for adventure. Whether you choose to wander the trail to the Beaver Dam or fish in the Copper River, you'll be surrounded by awesome scenery and the peace of unpopulated space."

Owners Richard & Judy Dennis are "true Alaskans" in their love of Alaska and the lifestyle embraced by living in these beautiful and more remote places.
They are generous, friendly and warm-hearted. 

These are some of the reasons we love Alaska! 
The people living rustic lives in one of the most incredible places on earth, unpopulated, wild and grand. 
Folks buiding their own homes & structures, making it through the winter, capable and able to deal with the elements and life on the edge of the wilderness.
Folks here also help their neighbors and folks they don't know in ways not seen as often in the "lower 48".
 "The Last Frontier" still applies here.

We have met so many in Alaskans who say they came & stay here for all of these reasons and they were and are able to be themselves and do all that they dreamed of doing.

One young man told us that it doesn't matter if someone is an old homesteader of many years or someone who arrived in Alaska 2 weeks ago, all are accepted as Alaskans from the get-go.

Of course Alaskans would also say that Anchorage & the suburbs are NOT Alaska!

Our sweet cabin for the night we stayed at Red Eagle Lodge.On to Tok Alaska where we have one last performance -
We were initially going to play in the Mushers Hall in Tok, but a saavy local teacher thought a more intimate setting would be more appropriate for the concert.
Lucia hosted us in her home and her daughter opened the show for us with her boyfriend.
It is always a treat for us to hear local talent!

This really was a nice evening and "hang" with Lucia especially as she loves poetry.
We had our first moose, ie burgers after our concert.

Many Alaskans provide food for themselves and their families through sustainable hunting and fishing.
It seemed most of the folks we talked to would hunt for one moose, and fish for salmon & halibut either in the ocean or rivers, sometimes using a "water wheel" to catch salmon in rivers such as the Copper River.
They freeze the moose meat & fish and place in the freezer and they provide their families with food for the rest of the year.
What a difference from going to the grocery store to pick up packaged pieces of fish & meat.
Most have a respect for wildlife  & nature and do not want more than a sustainable lifestyle in relation to the balance of the nature and wildlife that surrounds them.

Lucia suggests we take the "Top of the World" road out of Alaska into the Yukon - and we are so glad we did!
Another rainbow appears &  leads us out of Alaska!

Next:  "Back to the Future"


Juneau in June, Gustavus & Glacier National Bay 

Ah, Juneau.  We have both been to Juneau previously, Colleen even lived here part of the year in 1977.

It is so beautiful around here!

It's great to be able to spend time with good friends who live here!

View of Auke Bay & Mendenhall Glacier ( Ferry Terminal north of Juneau ) from the ferry.

Our ferry drops us off and heads south.

This picture is taken about 1130 pm, as the days grow longer - and dusk lasts for hours it seems!
Colleen's new boat!  ( "Where to next Chris"? )

We performed at McPhetres Hall in Juneau which is on the same campus as Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Juneau.
The acoustics were wonderful in this hall - and we'd like to thank Paula Rohrbacher for suggesting this venue and doing the work to make this event happen.
We stayed with Paula and her husband Charles at the beginning of our stay and had great conversations around the dining room table about life and poetry.
Charles introduced us to several Polish poets, we were deeply impressed with the poetry he shared with us.
What a great stay with Paula & Charles!  Thanks folks!!

Juneau was home base for us for almost 2 weeks as we set off from Juneau to go to Gustavus and Glacier Bay National Park.
We arrived in Gustavus one day prior to our excursion into Glacier Bay and our performance was after this excursion in the evening.

What a day it was!!

Tidewater Glaciers
Glacier Bay in Southeast Alaska was completely covered by ice just 200 years ago according to information provided by the National Park Service.
By the time John Muir visited the bay first in 1879, he found that the ice had retreated 48 miles up the bay.
By 1916 the Grand Pacific Glacier headed Tarr inlet 65 miles from Glacier Bay's mouth.
Such rapid retreat is known nowhere else on earth!
Scientists have documented it, hoping to learn how glacial activity relates to climate changes.
Glacier Bay National Park includes 16 tidewater glaciers:12 actively calve icebergs into the bay.

The show can be spectacular. As water undermines the ice fronts, great blocks of ice up to 200 feet high break loose and crash into the water."

We actually saw huge chunks of ice calve off Margie Glacier, but did not have our i-phone camera close enough at hand, but here's a fairly impressive picture just before this happened.

The wildlife on this tour was incredible - we saw 4 Grizzly Bears, one a sow with 2 cubs, Dall Sheep, Killer Whales, Humpback Whales, dozens of Sea Otters, many birds including Puffins, Bald Eagles, Cormorants, Blue Heron to name a few of the more than 240 species of birds coming to this area & of course many fish jumping all around!

This next picture is not as clear as we saw our mama grizzly with her 2 cubs, but, not bad for the i-phone eh?

Can you see the 2 Sea Otters below?

A spectacular day we had on the water.

Then back to Gustavus where we had a performance at "The Outpost", - Camalou Studio.

Our host is Lou Cacioppo, a most gracious, generous person and an incredible artist.
His art includes mask making, paintings & sculpture.
He's also a musician, has a great voice and accompanies himself on guitar.
He is a master carpenter and built his own house, outbuildings and studio as well as helping other people build their homes.
He's unbelievably talented.

Lou hosts local & regional musicians & artists in his studio.

Lou made us a delicious meal before our performance, so he is obviously also a great cook in addition to all of the above.

Here are 2 of Lou's art pieces.

Lou's quote:  “Through portrait sculpture, in masks, I create visual links that portray the underlying feelings and emotions of every day life. My art addresses changes in the modern world, changes so vast and rapid that man can scarcely adjust. The nature of one’s whole context changing from week to week is a kind of stress not previously known to man and not acknowledged due to the masks we wear. We suffer for the need of instantaneous gratification, and we are losing our compassion and therefore our desire to physically socialize. We are moving towards individual isolation. Through my art I am striving to slow if not stop that direction.”

Thank you Lou!


Back on the ferry for the 3.5 hour journey back to Juneau for a few more days before heading north to the main body of Alaska.

We were so very fortunate to stay with a very dear friend of Colleen's, Tom Nave and his wife Susan.

We had great times on their deck overlooking the water in their lovely home north of Juneau on Auke Bay.

Tom & Susan took us on a cocktail tour of the bay.
We picked up Tom & Susan's son and girlfriend from Douglas Island to join us on the tour.
A beautiful evening on the bay!
Colleen tried to get Susan's picture several times, but.....

Our captain agreed to posing for a picture.
We were able to catch up on decades of life since Colleen last saw Tom in the late 70's.

In fact Tom was the person who inspired Colleen to visit Alaska in the first place and introduced her to sea kayaking with Humpback Whales -- a story to tell if anyone would like to ask.

Thanks Tom & Susan for a great stay!

Next up...Skagway and points north!


We again boarded the ferry in Ketchikan with our van for the 24 hour trip to Sitka.

This time, we book a cabin on the ferry for a good nights rest since we are performing a few hours after arriving in Sitka.
We even have a bathroom with a shower.

"All hands on deck!"The weather on the way is a little cool and rainy & walking on deck sure wakes you up if feeling a little sleepy.

We both agree that Sitka is our favorite town in SE Alaska.

We love all the communities we visited in SE, but the combination of life in Sitka, it's beautiful setting, maybe the fact that it was never a gold rush town gives it a different vibe.

There are fewer ocean liners coming to Sitka than other parts of SE Alaska, the community prefers this and when the ocean liners do come, they need to anchor away from the downtown area leaving the beautiful views of Sitka intact.

As all areas of SE Alaska, there is an active local arts and music scene, but Sitka has a fine arts campus at the historic Sheldon Jackson Campus.

On the day we arrived, we had a few hours to look around before our set-up time at the library which just happened to be on the same campus.

We lucked out because we were invited to attend the grand opening of the new performance center on campus in which much of the community had volunteered many thousands of hours to refurbish. 

We are sure glad we went!

This building is beautiful, inside and out.
The dedication and turn-out from the community gave us a great opportunity to see a good portion of the community as several hundred people attended.

The presentations and community response revealed a very cohesive group of people who are very committed to a full and rich life in Sitka and a great appreciation for, participation in and all around support for the arts.

After the initial dedication, everyone was invited to help themselves to excellent appetizers including local smoked salmon on polenta as one of many delicious choices.

We took our food upstairs to listen to the local young violin duo. ( brothers )

As we were leaving to get ready for our performance across the grounds, we were encouraged to take 2 plates of food with us to eat later.
How could we refuse?

The Kettleson Memorial Library for the city of Sitka is temporarily at the Sheldon Jackson Library.  We really liked this library.
Soon, they will move down to the waterfront to move into their new library overlooking their beautiful waterways, islands and volcano, Mt. Edgecombe. ( now extinct )

Robb Farmer is the new librarian in Sitka, at least fairly new.  He and his wife love Sitka.  They came up from Kentucky.
They told us they thought they had come to a very magical, beautiful  place & that Sitka was a very well educated community.
Robb also told us that the circulation of books in this library is higher than anywhere else in Alaska.

Robb took a few pictures for us during our performance.

Mt. Edgecombe

We had a total of 5 days on Sitka, mostly because we had to wait that long for the ferry.
Of all the places to wait, we were glad it was in this town.

We found a great camp spot just across The O'Connel Suspension Bridge on Japonski Island.

We were within walking distance of town, overlooking the harbor and fishing boats.

Sitka's location was originally settled by the Tlingit people over 10,000 years ago.
The Russians settled Old Sitka in 1799, calling it Redoubt Saint Michael.

The original Russian Orthodox Church burned, but later replaced by the new church.
Sitka has a beautiful National Historic Park set at the site of an historic battle. 

 The site, located near the mouth of the Indian River, served in 1804 as the location of an armed conflict between the native Tlingit people and Russian fur hunters (accompanied by their Aleut allies), known today as the Battle of Sitka.  This is fascinating history and a place that preserves the battle ground and the totems.
Battle ground
Sannaheit House Post
The grounds of the Sitka Historic Park included trails which linked up with other trails in Sitka which can take you across town on the outskirts, through the woods, bogs and meadows or up into the mountains.  Hiking from town seems to be a past-time for many Sitkans and certainly inspired us to check out the trails.
And look who we come across in the woods playing Shakahachie!
We talked about living in Sitka.
Sitka appeals to us for so many reasons, we continue on our journey for now, but who knows....

Next Stop, Juneau!


Ketchikan, Alaska 

We boarded the ferry at Hollis on Prince of Wales Island to make the 3 hour journey back to Ketchikan and find ourselves a room @ Eagle View Hostel before our our following day's performance at the Ketchikan Library.

Ketchikan is at the most southern point of the Alaska Marine Highways System in Alaska.
Ketchikan rains more than most SE Alaskan communities, about 162 inches of rain per year, but in some years, even topping 200 inches of rain.
We noticed that locals do not use umbrellas, and this seems to be true for all of SE Alaska.

Ketchikan is humming with tourists off the cruise ships.
When we were there, there were 5 ocean liners in town, and some say there are as many as 10,000 visitors daily from the Ocean Liners.
They pull up right downtown and totally block the views looking across the Tongass Narrows.
Most folks in town are happy for the business.

The largest collection of Native American totem poles in the world is in Ketchikan!

Ketchikan is also busy with many fishing & commercial boats, & float planes coming into and out of  the waterway.

In fact, Ketchikan seemed about the busiest place we've seen so far in the inside passage.

We walked and climbed stairs up from the downtown area as there is only one way to go if heading east, and that is UP!
Creek Street is built along the shores of Ketchikan Creek.
It was built over the water because it was simply too difficult to blast away the rocky hills surrounding the creek.
This is a common theme with Ketchikan as a large percentage of the town was built ‘over the water’.

The History of Creek Street can be summed up by fishermen, bootleggers, & prostitutes.
Creek Street is known as Ketchikan’s old red-light district. In the mid 1920’s there were over 20 bawdy houses on Creek Street alone!

Read more:

Ocean Liner dwarfs the Alaskan Gypsy
Hardy young people of Ketchikan.
It's not particularly warm out this day and the temperature of the water is about 50 degrees - brrrr!
We went to the library early to set up, and wow, what a beautiful library Ketchikan has. 

The new library is up the hill away from the hustle and bustle of downtown and has beautiful views of the mountains out the windows looking east.  The windows seem to cover the whole eastern wall of the library, from floor to ceiling.

An impressive, colorful & whimsical fabric covered tree sculpture fills a good portion of the children's library.

According to our librarian Lisa and written info fabric sculpture took hundreds of hours to make with commonly available materials.
The chicken wire base was covered with scraps of every imaginable fabric custom sewn in strips to fit tree shapes, embroidered and embellished.
Once installed, the artists used huge circular needles to “sew” the fabric to the wire base to give it shape.

The words on the tree are sayings about books, reading and libraries in many languages. The leaves are pressed newsprint shaped with wire and hand painted by artists and local school children. The branches to which the leaves are attached are covered with yarn. 

At the end of the branches are soft sculptures, dolls and paper mache figures of characters from popular books such as Charlotte’s Web, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and My Father’s Dragon.

It feels great to hug this tree because it is so soft and comfortable and our librarian assured us that this is encouraged and the children love their library tree. We also noticed a poem by Shel Sliverstein on the Poet Tree.

The community room we played in also had fabulous views and floor to ceiling windows on the east side.
Our librarian Lisa Pierson.We had a really nice time performing at the Ketchikan Library and meeting Lisa & the folks who came out!

After the performance, we were ready to relax with dinner and local music at a place recommended to us by Lisa, The New York Cafe.
The ambiance, food, beer and wine choices were very good and the local musicians were great!
In fact, we went back 2 other times as their coffee &  breakfasts are excellent!
The New York Cafe is a Primal Mates Pick for best place for coffee, food, ambiance & music.

Besides, the locals hang out here and a good way to tell they are locals is by the number of people who wear Rubber Boots.  (also known as "Sitka Sneakers" )

Next Stop, Sitka!

Inside Passage - SE Alaska, Prince of Wales Island 

We set off from Prince Rupert BC to Alaska's Inside Passage on the MSV Matanuska!

The weather was warm and sunny after the early morning clouds burned off and the experience of being on the water traveling through these waterways with over a thousand islands is about the most awesome way to travel!

This is Colleen's 5th trip through SE Alaska's inside passage and Chris' 2nd trip.

For both of us, this is our most favorite way to travel of all.
It has been almost 30 years since we traveled this way, so it felt both new but also beautifully familiar.

This group of islands through SE Alaska is called the Alexander Archipelago and spans hundreds of miles.

The Alaska Marine Highway takes us all the way to the northern portion of SE Alaska where we disembarked at Skagway  for our last performance in SE Alaska and then to drive through the Yukon to the main body of Alaska.

This marine highway actually continues on to south central Alaska and then to the Aleutian Islands.

Ferries on this system serve communities that have no road access, and the vessels can transport people, freight, and vehicles.

The Alaska Marine Highway spans a whopping 3,500 miles from Bellingham Washington to Dutch Harbor, Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands.

This marine highway system is a rare example (in the USA) of a shipping line offering regularly scheduled service for the primary purpose of transportation rather than of leisure or entertainment.

Voyages can last many days, but, in contrast to the luxury of a typical cruise line, cabins cost extra, and most food is served cafeteria-style.
The cost of ferry travel is more affordable, though taking a vehicle does add the largest amount to the price of ferry travel.

What we notice about traveling by ferry is that folks are more likely to be outside on deck then the Ocean Liner travelers.
We also noticed many more children on the ferries.

We did book a roomy outside cabin from Ketchikan to Sitka since this was the longest leg of traveling by ferry, ie 24 hours.

Ahh, quite nice to be able to be lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking motion of the ferry and quiet 'thrumming' of the engines.

The picture below is taken on the inter-island ferry headed towards Prince of Wales Island which is the 5th largest Island in the US.
The Island is behind the smaller islands in the front, the mountains in the distance are on Prince of Wales Island.


We were so happy to be invited to come to Prince of Wales Island by the director of the library in Craig on Prince of Wales.
Craig library just won a medal from the National Library & Museum Services.

According to their website: "The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community.
For 21 years, the award has celebrated institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service to make a difference for individuals, families, and communities.

The 2015 National Medal finalists have made real and lasting contributions to their local communities through programs that engage and inspire the public.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums.
Their mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement."

Craig Library was one of 30 finalists and just before our arrival on Prince of Wales Island, they were one of 5 winners.

Amy Marshall, director of the Craig Library was awarded the medal for her library by Michelle Obama.

Amy was instrumental in making it possible for us to come to Alaska through SE Alaska to present our Music in Poetry Program.

We played 2 concerts, one in Craig and one in Thorne Bay, and we presented an informal workshop for locals at Craig library which included a group discussion about integrating poetry and music.  We created a song with melody and chords based on a poem.

Below is a picture of Amy with us on Craig's High School Auditorium stage.
This is a beautiful school and the auditorium has great acoustics.
We went to Kasaan Village on the way to our Thorne Bay performance.
The road was gravel and quite bumpy in places, but totally worth the time and bumps.
Kasaan is one of the main historical communities of the Kaigani Haida.
Residents moved from their former village on Skowl Arm, now called Old Kasaan, starting in 1893 and mostly in the period 1902-1904.
This migration was prompted by the promise of jobs and a school occasioned by development of copper mining and a cannery near the present location. Kasaan was established as a city in 1976.

We initially visited the carving shed before hiking to the Old Village of Kasaan.
We met Eric and Harley who were involved in many projects.
Both told us they are 1st Nation members of the Kaigani Haidi Community.
They have been working on a canoe, masks and working to restore the Whale House in Old Kasaan.

They say they are apprentices of a master carver and that they are learning both traditional forms and finding new methods to build.

Eric agreed to model the war helmet as Harley threw a rock at his head to show how effective the war helmet is.
These 2 were quite engaging, funny and very dedicated to their work!.
We took the 1 mile hike through the rain forest to the Old Village of Kasaan - there was no-one else visiting while we were there, it was as if we stumbled into an ancient, mysterious, beautiful place.

Dozens of totems are scattered throughout this old village. 
One of our favorites was the Whale Totem.
The Whale House Is being restored.

One of the many totems in the Old Village of Kasaan.  Eric tells us these totems were made in the mid 1800's.
We were surprised how well they have held up given that they are in a rain forest.
We head back to the van to make our journey back to the main road to Thorne Bay.

The person opening for us is Sophia Martin, "The Girl From the North Country".
Sophia is 10 years old, and wow, what a voice!
She also plays the ukulele well and writes great songs!
Our Vista Volunteer  Jamie did a great job getting the word out for the performance which took place at the High School.

We had a little time to check out other places in Prince of Wales, this is in Klawock.
Looking North from Old Town Craig.

We were so fortunate to be staying in a beautiful B & B right on the water in Craig with water views in all directions and near walks through the woods to the beach.

We'd like to thank Amy Marshall for inviting us to Prince of Wales Island! We had a great time!

Next stop, Ketchikan!


North to Alaska 

We headed into British Columbia, Canada for the long trek north to Prince Rupert where we planned to catch our ferry to SE Alaska.

Just like our first day on the road leaving our home in Eldorado Springs, Colorado last August, we saw several rainbows in the Okanagan Valley area of BC.
We took this as another good omen for our travels!

The most awesome part of the travels through BC so far was the Yellowknife Highway from Prince George to Prince Rupert. ( 446 miles )
We saw several large rivers on the way, at least a dozen.  The Skeena is a wild river and wider than the Columbia River in parts.

Besides more rivers in one area than we have ever seen, there were incredible mountains, valleys and meadows along this route. 

Just as we thought we saw a group of mountains more beautiful than any seen before, there would be more mountains at least as or more beautiful than the others.
It didn't take long to figure out we could not drive 100 mph:)

We found a nice campsite along the Bulkley River.

Chris builds a nice hot fire!

This fire helps to keep the giant, numerous mosquitoes at bay and keeps us warm after sunset. 

We have also placed another order for a natural mosquito repellent to our friend Jill who has created a potion which works very well indeed!
She has assured us she will send our much needed repellent ahead to Juneau where we have a friend's address for forwarded mail & packages.
We may just have enough potion left for this leg of our journey.

For great natural skin care & aroma therapy products - a primal mates pick - check out:
Essential Life Aromatherapy
The long light of summer in the north country is becoming more prominent as sunset at this point is about 10 pm.
The light continues to linger until after 11 pm and starts coming back around 2:30 am. 

We drove about 3 days and over 1,000 miles to get to Prince Rupert from Ellensburg, Washington.

We finally arrive in Prince Rupert, along the northern BC Coast and just south of SE Alaska.
Disclaimer - this pic is not our photo, but just want to give a perspective regarding Prince Rupert's location and surrounding environs.
Canadians consider Prince Rupert in Northern BC but it is still just a little over mid-way up if you look at a map.  BC is a huge province!

We love Prince Rupert, it's a bustling port town with future plans for becoming a major trade route hub.

The Port of Prince Rupert enjoys significant competitive advantages over other west coast ports.

A few of these advantages include:

-Shortest Trade Route Between North America and Asia's fast growing economies.
-This port is North America's closest port to key Asian markets by up to three days - it's 36 hours closer to Shanghai than Vancouver and over 68 hours closer than Los Angeles.
-The Port of Prince Rupert has one of the deepest natural harbors in the world and the deepest & safest ice free inner harbour entrance of any port.
-The Port is a terminus station of CN Rail, a major Class 1 North American carrier. CN is the only railway to serve ports on the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf Coasts which means greater efficiencies for shippers, importers and exporters.

OK, enough of shipping and the port advantages, not actually trying to plug commerce for Prince Rupert - Just fascinated that it is the shortest trade route to Asia.
(We are actually against the TPP as it stands now!)

This town is in a beautiful setting, offers many great eateries, seafood, walks and more.

Our lodgings for 3 days in Prince Rupert is the Pioneer  Guesthouse.
This is more of a hostel with access to a nice, fully furnished & functional kitchen with all utilities provided.
This is close in to downtown and in the Cow Bay District of Prince Rupert.
We did not need to move our van once as we were able to walk to everything we needed or wanted in PR.
We were able to bring in our instruments and rehearse for our upcoming performances in SE Alaska.

The Pioneer Guesthouse is a Primal Mates Pic for best Inn.

Scenes on the water and around town -

Chris' favorite pier house B & B!

At this point, we are excited to get on the ferry which will take us into SE Alaska, even though we have to get up at 3 am and wait in line for check-in and customs. 

We are told to get rid of our eggs, fruit and some vegetables - but are reassured that the food will go to a food kitchen and be served to those in need.
We wonder why the food we bought in the US will be taken as we head back into the US from Canada - go figure!

North to Alaska!

Back to the Great Pacific Northwest! 

In mid-April we headed back to the Pacific NW where we had 16 performances scheduled in libraries and a few other venues.
It helped that April was Poetry Month!

At this point we have been out 8 months on the road and feel a renewed energy as we start heading north on our way to Alaska.
Thanks to our friends and family in the area, we have been treated to great home stays with the best hospitality & food anyone can ask for!

The libraries and venues were all unique & diverse.

We were very happy to meet the many librarians, and all who came to our performances and gave us such focused attention to the program and offered up great questions.

We were particularly impressed with Medford Library and librarian Laura Kimberly who shows great enthusiasm for presenting programs for her community.
She has great ideas for enticing people to come to the Medford Library.
For poetry month, she had a "Pie for Poetry" event in which people could get a piece of pie for reading a poem.
Through the month of April, she gave out raffle tickets with a prize of books of poems.
Our friends Kathy & Kon happened to win this raffle - congrats K & K!

One of our performance highlights include the Kala performance space in Astoria.
This space has great acoustics and a warm, intimate ambiance.
KALA is the ground floor presentation space and upper loft production office of HIPFiSHmonthly, the Columbia Pacific Region's free alternative monthly newspaper. KALA features monthly exhibits in conjunction with Astoria's Second Saturday Art Walk, and live performance; including music, theater, authors and more. For events at KALA, visit our website.

- See more at:
We'd like to thank Dinah Urell for presenting our concert for her community & for turning us on the the best pizza we have ever had at the Voodoo Room!
We had the smoked Salmon Pizza - wow, delicious, not at all what we expected.  The secret they say is baking the pizza at a higher temperature.
The crust was the best - this place is a Primal Mates pick for best pizza!

Astoria has become a hip little town.
We enjoyed  all the changes happening along the river & piers including the new restaurants, tasting rooms and local residents hanging out in great numbers!Then onto Manzanita to play at the Hoffman Center for the Performing Arts.
Manzanita is one of our favorite beach towns and beaches along the Oregon Coast.
We especially appreciate how long the beach is here and how far we can walk!
And we really appreciate our friends Martha & Bill who took us in for a 2nd time on this journey.
It was great to catch up and share all that has gone on since we last saw them in September.
In McMinnville, the librarians decided to present our concert in a local tasting room - the sound was fantastic in this old building which used to be the old power house.

What a great  blend, ie Oregon Pinot Noir , music & poetry.....ahhhh!!

Our friends Jack and Bobbi surprised as they came in the door because we thought they were out of town - so we spent a great night with them at their house with delicious food and wine and we were finally able to get a picture of one of our favorite posters which we used to see @ Noah's Wine Bar. 

Another highlight was playing at the beautiful main Salem Library Auditorium - the best acoustics so far of all auditoriums we have been in.
It's design and intimate size makes for a very comfortable space & sound.

On our way back from Salem, we took "The Road Less Traveled" through some of western Oregon's beautiful countryside.

We stopped at Champoeg State Park to take a walk along the Willamette River.

Downtown Vancouver Washington has a beautiful fairly new library and a great room for music and events just off the main entrance to the library.

Just after our program, the League of Women Voters meeting was to take place to develop strategies for upcoming elections and "Get Out the Vote Campaigns".

We were happy to see a gentlemen gathering signatures outside the library to amend the constitution to firmly establish that money is NOT speech, and that human beings, NOT corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights. 

This is in regard to the ruling by the Supreme Court on January 21, 2010, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government.

We agreed with this gentleman that Human beings are people & corporations are legal fictions.

And that the Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule.

We are thankful the library community rooms offers a democratic space for folks to come together for the common good!


In Portland, near the end of our stay, we were able to play at our favorite Portland Venue, O'Connor's in Multnomah Village.
Steve Arel, longtime owner, has a strong love of music and offers musicians a chance to play in the Vault, next to the restaurant.
We had a fantastic night - lots of friends, family and musician friends we played with years ago came to this event, plus several folks we had not met yet.
A wonderful last evening / gig in Portland before heading back up to the Seattle area.

Colleen with her niece Maggie!

During our time in the NW, we visited Seattle area 2 different times for performances in 4 area libraries and one home concert.
The weather was warm and sunny for both visits.
The last visit took us to Bainbridge and Vashon Islands and Sylvan Way Library near Bremerton Washington.

Sylvan Way has a beautiful library and a community room where we did our performance.
We were so happy to see one of our youngest fans, Max with his mom Sherie at the performance.
Max and Sherie knew us from Boulder when they started to come hear us play at The Rock & Soul.
Max was 6 months old at that time, and from the first time he heard us, he was super attentive and interested in the music.
In fact, he would sit through much of our 2 hours of playing, watching, listening, smiling!
Max, Sherie and Max's dad Richard moved to Bainbridge Island when Max was about 2 1/2 years old.
We had not seen them since then until now.

Sherie graciously invited us to stay with them the night before our Sylvan Way Library performance.
Max was so happy to see us, now 8 years old, he ran up and gave us big hugs and lots of attention as if we were long lost friends - which we were!

Here's Max and his mom Sherie with us at Sylvan Way Library.
Thanks to Sherie, Richard & Max for the great stay on Bainbridge Island!

Then onto Vashon Island where our good friend Paula Hendricks lives.
Paula is a friend from our Bolinas days back in mid- 80's.
She hosted a home concert for us in her sweet home.
We met her friends and a long ago friend of ours, Susan Kernes came over from Seattle WA.
We had met Susan in Homer Alaska in 1985 when she was the KBBI Homer radio program director. ( The best radio station ever! )
2 past lives converge on Vashon as Susan and Paula meet each other.

It was wonderful to catch up with Susan after the concert, it had been about 30 years ago since we were all together.
What a great day it was, also sunny & warm.....of course!! 

Thanks Paula!!
And thanks to Bill for all the help in preparing for this cozy event!

Now, on to our very last library concert in the "lower 48" in Richland Washington.
Richland has a very beautiful library with a great community room for performance and presentations!

Chris is telling the story of Ophelia.

We were having some technical difficulties with interfacing the main computer with Colleen's remote control by i-pad, so we asked for volunteers.
Al Ankrum immediately raised his hand and offered to be our "remote" and he barely blinked an eye when he learned the cord was so short, he needed to be on-stage with us.  Thanks Al!

Richland also had a great turn-out including many children who came to this event thanks to Lisa Adams, librarian.
One little boy raised his hand at the end of our performance and asked "are you done yet so we can play the instruments?"

Al & Claire Ankrum are O'Brien family friends and they kindly offered us a place to stay during our time in Richland.
Great food, wine and conversations abound during our home stay.
Thanks Al & Claire for your gracioiusness & superb hospitality!

One last stop before we head North to Alaska.
We travel north to Ellensburg Washington to visit with Jon & Paula.  Jon is Colleen's nephew.
Jon & Paula live in paradise with a beautiful home, acreage, fruit trees and a river running through it. 
Jon & Paula had welcomed us previously back in September at the start of our journey so we'd like to doubly thank them for another great hang in paradise.

So, does it look like we avoided camping on this part of our journey?

For those who do not know us personally, you may have gathered that we are from Portland and most our family and many old friends still reside in the area.

We'd like to share our gratitude for family and friends who have helped to support us on this part of our journey -
Those not in the blog are no less appreciated, we just didn't have the camera at hand, probably having too much fun!.

Many thanks to Chris' folks, Bob & Donna Lee, my brother Pat & Jocelyn, Teedy Lee for bringing the Lee family together on Mother's Day and made it one of the most memorable Mothers day ever! 

Thanks also to  Jerry & Judy Hahn, JoJo Linden, Kathy and Kon Damas, Al and Alexis Lee, Sue & Walt Gordinier, Jack Thornton & Bobbi Paris and many more for just being good friends & family.  We are truly fortunate & love you!

Next up- "North to Alaska"


Blue in Green 

We left the desert behind in late March & headed back to California for several performances around the Bay Area, Central Coast and in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

What a contrast of colors from the desert, as our world turned primarily to blue & green as seen below in this picture of the hills NE of Morro Bay.

We feature 4 of Mark Miller's compositions in our spring program and two of them seem to ring out to us as we explore these environments.

A phrase in Shirley Graham's poem Blue Ophelia sings "I think it was the flowers that sent her over the edge".
And Robert Bly's Poem "Indigo Bunting"  with the phrase ...."the granite holding up walls"
Yosemite Park is a phenomenal place with many granite walls .
This picture is a mirror image of one of the many granite walls from "Mirror Lake".
Half Dome - Yosemite National Park

At this point we are not only integrating music in poetry, but also poetry in life and life in poetry and the music is our soundtrack. It's quite wonderful!

This spring green seems to belie the state of California's predicament with their severe drought.
We have spent almost 5 months in California and have crossed the state from west to east, east to west, north to south and now southeast to north.
We have seen her deserts, mountains, foothills, valleys and coastal areas and been through the wine country.
We have seen dozens of low and almost empty reservoirs & lakes across the state - it is alarming, but it seems California is taking this drought seriously.
What a delicate balance it is between nature and human beings.
On the one hand, nature can drastically impact human beings.
And on the other hand, especially now, with so many people and so many demands on our precious resources, human beings are having a drastic impact on nature.
Then back to the ocean and bays where boating & sailing seems more normal as compared to the picture above.
And we certainly enjoyed sitting on the dock looking over this bay while eating excellent seafood and sampling local beer @ Rose's Grill On The Water.We loved Morro Bay and enjoyed playing at their newly remodeled library.

After leaving Morro Bay, We traveled up to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains for a few performances. 
One of our favorite little towns we've seen so far is Forest Hills, California.

They had a small library, so our librarian had arranged to have us play in a very beautiful community building made with logs named the Veterans Memorial Hall. The acoustics here were wonderful.

Everyone loves it when Chris plays the Melodica!

Before movin on down the road, we were close enough to go visit our friend & one of our favorite bass players, Bill Douglas and his wife Nora near Grass Valley.
A great night of reminiscing, sharing and laughing.  Plus we loved sleeping in their yurt!  Thanks Bill & Nora!

Then, on to Napa Valley. 
If anyone would like an inexpensive way to stay close to the vines in Napa Valley, and you like to camp, check out Bothe-Napa Valley State Park.
This is a beautiful area and the campsites are spacious and private. 
The temperatures at night were quite chilly, into the low 30's the night we stayed here.
Chris is quite good at building a campfire, so we stayed toasty warm before bedtime!

We finally made our way down to Napa to get ready to play at the Napa County Library.
We arrived early enough to go downtown and walk around the area.
We remembered that there had been a significant earthquake in this area not long ago ( September 2014, 7 months ago )  as evidenced by many buildings cordoned off with tape and fencing to keep people out of the unsafe areas.
The earthquake was magnitude-6.0 temblor.
Napa identified 294 sites in its street and sidewalk network needing post-quake repairs with costs for repairs estimated at about $300,000,000.

We were impressed by how beautiful the downtown and surrounding area are in Napa, with many old buildings still intact.

The Napa County Library performance turned out several local writers and poets with great questions & responses regarding integrating music in poetry.

Next stop, Foster City just south of San Francisco. 
The librarians at Foster City really know how to get people to their events.
Our night was a part of a series of music in the Foster City Library & they served wine and cheese.
We were happy to see the great turnout, the age range from children, young adults to elders and the diversity of the people.
And these folks loved the music in poetry program and were especially attentive!
Well, ok, this is one child who dozed off during our concert.
Our friend Jim Hudak made the long drive during the worst of traffic to come to our concert and he also took the pictures for this event, so for that Jim, you get a picture in our blog!

Colleen played and sang in several incarnations of Jim Hudak's bands in the early 70's.

"The Midnight Ridge" was Colleen's favorite named band of this era.
Colleen & Jim were also in a musical together "The Mikado" during their high school days.
Lots of reminiscing going on about the olden days, about life and about music.

We'd like to thank Jim & Linda for another great stop - over at their home in Clayton, CA.

On our way to our next performance in Carson City Nevada - we were able to visit our son Eric living near Tahoe City.
Eric even gave up his bed and slept on a couch for his "aging" parents, and what a comfortable bed it was!
We had a nice 2 days to enjoy hiking in the woods, eating together and we were able to watch a couple of movies.

Charlie is about the sweetest of dogs in the whole world, he makes friends easily and people know him far and wide as he makes his way around the Tahoe area, Bay area and the NW.  

Eric, your really sweet too!!

Here's Charlie aka "Chuck" with his coveted stick.
And our sweet family!

On to Carson City Library on a Sunday afternoon.  Colleen's cousin Patty came to this event and had invited us to stay with her and her husband John in their beautiful home in Minden, NV.  Thanks Patty and John for a memorable evening of stories, laughter and catching up while good food and the wine flowed into the night.

At this point, we are heading back to Oregon for our next performance in Medford.
We follow a road ( Highway 89 ) that takes us through some beautiful country between California and Oregon and past the southern flank of Mt. Shasta - what a gorgeous mountain!
OK, we didn't take the above picture, but gives you an idea of what it looks like from McCleod.

We stop in McCloud California and find this to be our most favorite little town in California - how can anyone beat McCloud, in fact we thought this could be a town for us to move to.  The forests are beautiful around here with drop dead views of Mt. Shasta.
The locals say that a few minutes from town, one can hike and not see a soul on many of the trails around this area.

McCloud has some great old buildings from it's heyday as a timber and railroad town.

Here is a picture we did take of the old Inn which has been refurbished.

Next stop - Ashland, Oregon!

The Ides of March 

March 15th marks 6 months since we left Colorado on our current tour.
We have performances booked in Colorado in late summer, 2015 which will be 1 year "on the road" if all goes as planned.

What can we say?

The libraries & librarians have been wonderful!
The weather has mostly been great!
The music & poetry continue to inspire us!
We are still having fun!
We still like each other!
We are thankful our friend Mark Miller continues to write compositions for poems and sends them to us.

So, in March we headed to Las Vegas from Phoenix, AZ.
Las Vegas is a city that we usually pass through quickly.... without stopping.
This time we finally stopped and played in 2 beautiful libraries, both with state of the art auditoriums.
We figure the taxes from all the gambling help the libraries.
We also had a great tech team and would like to thank Mike and Jody for their assistance!

Summerlin Library Concert

We also crossed paths with our son Eric who was coming back from a big mountain ski competition near Taos, NM.
We met for breakfast near a replica of the Eiffel Tower.   Eric's passion for skiing reminds us of our passion for music. ( without the risks:)

Las Vegas has a metro area population of close to 2 million people, but the surrounding landscape is vast, mountainous and unpopulated.
Just to the west of Las Vegas is an awesome area called Red Rock Canyon which we saw for the 1st time.
We took a day between our performances to hike & explore this area.

Our 3rd performance in Nevada was in Boulder City.  We loved this little town, it's in a beautiful setting near Hoover Dam and overlooks Lake Meade.
There is no gambling in Boulder City, which also added to it's character and quaintness compared to other Nevada towns.
They have a lovely library and Lynn the librarian has a keen interest in music & poetry & theater.

We camped nearLake Meade in a beautiful park within the Lake Meade National Recreation Area.After Boulder City, we visited Nevada's oldest & largest state park, "Valley of Fire" about 55 miles NE of Las Vegas.
This area reminded us of southern Utah - Incredibly beautiful!

The multiple colors within the rocks varies from beige to red.
Rock Sculpture abounds out here!

We enjoy hiking the slot canyons!

Hole in the Rock!
Living the Good Life!
Next up, Back to California!

Phoenix in February 

We headed out to Arizona from southern California in mid February. 
We had a few days before our busy schedule in Phoenix to see some beautiful desert / mountain country in a remote part of southern Arizona near the Mexican border. 

Organ Pipe National Monument encompasses a vast area of some of the most beautiful desert country we have seen so far on our tour. 
The Saguaro Cactus are huge, up to 60 feet tall.
The Organ Pipe Cactus grows in a small area of the Sonoran Desert from southwestern Arizona to western Sonora, Mexico.
The hikes & camping were great here, as was the weather. 
The benefits of being in this part of the country during the winter gradually began to sink in. 

Then on to Phoenix where we had one of our busiest weeks so far, playing 6 libraries in Phoenix and 1 library in Prescott before heading out to Nevada.
The libraries in this area continue to be a great venue, both large and small.
Each library having their own unique characteristics, offerings and architecture.
The librarians here are all tuned in to their communities.

We were fortunate to have good friends in the Phoenix area, Dwight & Sandy who generously offered us a place to stay during our time in Phoenix.
Dwight is also a fantastic bass player / musician, and both of us had played with Dwight back in Colorado in the 90's.
He has played music in this area for about 15 years and he & Sandy have watched and experienced the incredible growth in the Phoenix area.
Dwight told us that the diameter of the metro area has grown to around 150 miles across at this point.

We began to understand the nature of commuting in this huge megapolis. 

Despite the increasing population here, Phoenix still has a unique environment with rugged, spiny mountains rising up from the valley floor which separate neighborhoods and areas of Phoenix.  The sky is very predominant here as most buildings are low.

There are many pockets of undeveloped land within this huge metropolis with some irrigation, & man - made lakes providing a more hospitable habitat & shelter for birds, animals, fish, plants, grasses and trees.

We ended our time in Arizona going to Pleasant Lake, one of Dwight and Sandy's favorite places to camp and to take their boat out.
And sure enough, this lake and surrounding environs was very pleasant indeed!

We camped in a nice private spot near the lake, built camp fires, roasted marshmallows and ate "S'mores" using the best dark chocolate.
Soooo good, Hershey's no more with S'mores!  We listened to cowboy music and jazz, howled at the moon and saw wild burros.

Thank you Dwight & Sandy for your great hospitality and fun weekend on Lake Pleasant!