Sat. July 12
Woke up early with time to kill. Drove to Kingston and stopped along the way to get lunch. Then on to Donna's to meet my cab at 12:30. I was an hour early so I called and asked if they'd take me down to the train early but I just missed him and he was heading to Omega.
He picked me up at 12:35 and I shared a ride with a student yoga instructor from Long Island. She's a librarian as well and we rode the train down together. Her husband is a percussionist and a music teacher at queens college. Actual possibilities for visiting her school for a native program and next summer maybe performing in southern Italy!
Got to Penn station and a temporary panic as the E train was not running. I left 2 hours to get to JFK but wasn't planning on this. Thankfully I was helped by a nice woman who took me over to the local track where the E was running instead because of construction. Whew!
Of course due to the construction as well we had to stop at all the local stops. Took a long time but reached JFK in a little over an hour from Penn.
Huge line of course for checking in but a big surprise when I was somehow preselected for check-in. It meant I didn't have to take off my shoes, remove my laptop, take off my belt, etc. Omg, i was through in no time.
Finally walked down to my gate, collapsed in a chair, looked around and said, "Good God, I'm still in NY!"
Flight to Seattle was long but on time and arrived at 9:30 PDT. While eating dinner a man approaches me and asks me if I'm a famous poet. I said no. He seemed disappointed. I told him I was a musician though and he seemed happy with that. After he got his food he sat down next to me and told me he lived in China but was from NY. He said that the American consulate near where he lives has musicians from the States perform there and he is going to email me the contact person.
Slept pretty well on the gate seats. Yoga by the big windows. Time for breakfast and on to Juneau and then Sitka.
Sun. July 13th
Quick breakfast and waiting at the gate for the plane to Juneau and Sitka. Reuel shows up at about 5:45 and we are already boarding early. Very cool for Alaska Airlines which seem to be doing really well. They are now offering flights to Hawaii and in September starting direct flights from Seattle to New Orleans! Very cool.
Plane is not very full so lots of seats and I can move to a window. Looking out at the ocean and the coast of British Columbia is amazing! I can see the low lying fog coming in off the water and filling every tributary. The mountains along the coast still have some snow on them and we are only flying at 15,000 feet so they feel so close!
It's a 2 hour flight to Juneau but it goes very quickly because of the beautiful view. As we approach the capitol we drop back into the clouds and it is overcast and rainy here. All evergreens and bogs and it reminds me a lot of my landing in Finland. You said that Sweden is a lot like Alaska and I think so because this reminds me of Scandinavia.
Quick layover and we are off to Sitka, a 22 minute flight. Sitka is more overcast and rainy though so not much visibility. We come in low and I start to recognize the bridge from the town and the water that Christian took me out into last year.
Chilly here - only around 50 degrees!
Greeted at the airport by Christian and we meet this cool taxi driver from North Carolina, Hank, who has been living up here for 12 years and moved here just for something different! Breakfast at the airport restaurant (excellent) and we hang out there for a few hours watching the World Cup. Christian is very happy for Germany winning 1-0.
Ed comes to join us and we head to the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. We have a 7pm meet and greet with the new participants. I brought my little flute just in case they want me to perform something even though Christian said that I wouldn't have to. Sure enough it's a good thing because he asked me up. We played the Round Song and the band sounded great under the flute!
After that a little food at the nearby restaurant. A fish fry, not as good as I had hoped. Anyway, time to get ready for the first day of classes tomorrow.
Mon. July 14th
Woke up to take a shower but no hot water. Yikes! Hopefully tomorrow they will figure it out, they tell me. I hope so.
Great day in the classroom though. Really covered a lot of information and there are a few more advanced students so we can really help them out. Also, the quartet just sounds amazing. What a talented group of musicians. I am honored to work with them.
We covered lead sheets, transcriptions, circle of fifths, harmonies and worked on reharmonizing a Tlingit traditional song. Very very cool.
Dinner was okay but the food is down a step from last year in my opinion. I feel like I ate too much and I'm a little uncomfortable tonight.
Reuel and I had a great walk along the waterfront. I think we walked about 3 miles. The amazing thing was that one of the best views in town is in front of the McDonalds. Reuel said he will email me the picture and I will try to put it up here.
Time to get some rest and prepare for tomorrow. Wednesday is my big day to do the dancing singing and native sharing.
Tue. July 15th
Reuel checked it out and we did almost 4 miles last night. I was tired. Still a little bit on NY time believe it or not.
After lunch though I really crashed. Ed didn't look so great either. He said there's a bug going around the camp. I had to excuse myself and go back to the room and just lie down for half an hour.
Came back to all the camp participants working hard. Very impressed by how dedicated they are to working on their music.
Wed. July 16th
Well my class was in the morning right after Jason, so I went to bed early so my energy would be up, but woke up with a splitting headache. Did yoga but I must have slept wrong. We have great people in the class.
Mimi who is a little older and hurt her knee walking too much in Sitka, so she wears a brace and has to sit on the couch sideways. John Heinz from Fairbanks is a talented bass player, just graduated from college. Mike Mitchell is a forestry/environmental lawyer from Anchorage who plays bass. Mostly bluegrass and folk but is interested in learning more about jazz. He is coming to Big Indian in August for a roots revival workshop and we are going to try to get together. Laurel is a 16 year old high school student who plays piano and listens a lot to Count Basie. Her first little solo sounded like the Count! Then there's Connor. He was in the class last year playing trombone but likes playing the piano much more. Last but not least is Sass? He is another young bass player who likes mostly blues and contemporary music. I think he and Connor may be the same age.
So after Jason gave them the lowdown on his latest recording I was on. I did the usual program explaining as much as possible about the circle, but I put in more dances. We did the round dance, snake dance, alligator dance and rabbit dance. Really a great time and I think everyone enjoyed it.
Thu. July 17th
Today, I'm up first with my Native American music appreciation presentation. I organized it this time by region, so I started with the Plains, then Cherokee, then Iroquois. It worked out really well and then I slowly added in the contemporary musicians including my new cd. Christian said it was a great presentation so I felt good about that.
Fri. July 18th
Well I'm glad I got my presentations over with and I can relax some. But now we have our student concert tonight. I brought a lot of music with me but everyone seems to really like Siga/One Day that I wrote a long time ago. I added a new intro and the Chief Joseph song to it so it sounds pretty cool with the band. I recorded it so just let me know if you'd like to hear it and I can email it to you.
They have me opening the concert. Christian wrote a piece for four basses that he will be playing. Mimi's piece is ethereal and new-agey. I am playing the piano with her on the vibes. John Heinz's piece is a little more complicated and I get to play the piano on that one. It has this crazy chromatic run in the beginning that I have to practice to get it right. John gave me a great compliment because he saw how I took over and rehearsed the band when we rehearsed my tune and it gave him the confidence to rehearse his piece. A great feeling!
Sat. July 19th
Today I'll be moving off campus to stay at Terry and Jan's house. They have a beautiful house up on a hill in Sitka. Reuel and I are staying downstairs. I'm in their daughters room. She must run a lot because there are runners numbers hanging on the wall all over the place.
Sun. July 20th
Mon. July 21
A spectacular day! Woke up early after a good sleep. Starting to settle into Sitka time zone.
Rode into town with Ed and Reuel. Decided to ride Christians bike and see where it takes me. Well no sooner do I get on it than Terry shows up right there at Rasmussen! I ask him if he's up for a ride to the place where they keep the bears and he says sure. We take a shortcut between two of the camp buildings and we are soon on the other side onto the Indian River trail. This is the same place the couple from St. Louis said they saw the momma bear with 2 cubs a few days earlier. We ride up to the end of the pavement and make a nice loop onto a bike trail that takes us along the river.
Next trip is back to the highway and out to the bear pens. The map said it was 5 miles but everyone says something different. We start out in a pretty busy industrial looking area with some traffic and the bike path is the sidewalk going up and down wherever there is a driveway. I ride on the road. Finally things start to thin out and as we get closer to the water a bald eagle flies right over our heads with its talons out and it's wings back in attack mode. He hits the water and pulls a fish out but the drops it. He starts to fly back toward us but decides otherwise and takes off down the road and line of trees. Pretty exciting.
Next is a hill that Terry told me is the biggest hill on the ride. I don't find it to be much at all. Houses are becoming more sparse and when we reach the top of the hill we are at a park named Whale Park. It's a point that sticks out and obviously sometimes you can see whales from here.
Onward we go past the last house and now the scenery turns spectacular as we head to Silver Bay. Brand new road with a bike path. The State of a Alaska is building new roads and bike trails throughout Sitka.
At the bottom of the hill is a fish processing plant that used to be a pulp mill. Across from that on the left is a huge round concrete structure that is called ???bears. They charge $10 to see them but there is a dirt road that goes above them. We went up that road and it allowed us to see the bears from a distance. I got some pictures with the zoom. Saw 2 grizzlies and a small black bear. Feel sorry for them but I guess they would not be able to survive in the wild.
Time to head back. More pictures of beautiful Silver Bay and very fortunate that it is such a beautiful day.
Tue. July 22
Time for a little quieter day. Yesterday was so beautiful. First thing was a great 40 minute hike with both Jan and Terry into bear country. We did find some bear scat but mostly we found berries. Huckleberries, salmon berries and blue berries. Only the salmon berries are ripe, the rest are kind of tart. The walk took us to a beautiful bridge with a gorgeous stream below. The salmon don't make it this far up but there are some trout in the stream. After the walk I little rest and then into town on the bicycle.
The vocal group is working and they sound better each day. Mimi is hanging out and is excited that her knee is feeling better and she can get around. We decide to go to the high liner for a coffee. Another lady takes us there in her pickup truck. I get my usual and Mimi is excited that she can walk back the rest of the way.
Wed. July 23
Flying home today. 10 days seems to be a good amount of time to be away. Not too short and not too long. We'll see how it goes. My layover is over 12 hours so they want to charge me my baggage fee again!
Beautiful flight out of Sitka and along the coast of British Columbia. Went by Ketchikan and saw many many lakes and little towns. Saw quite a few mountains with bowls in the top that I would guess to be volcanic! I think the are called cirques.
Arrived in Seattle safely but what a haul having to retrieve my checked bag and keep it with me the whole night long. Can't go through the X-ray with it so I'm stuck taking cat naps in the uncomfortable chairs in the ticketing area. Oh well, I'll try to catch up on my sleep on the 5 hour plane ride.
Thu. July 24
Slept on and off throughout the night. Nowhere near as comfortable as on the way out.