Archive for the ‘Alaska’ Category

Ranger Doug goes to Washington–Trip 5

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted so it’s time to fill you in on my wanderings (I’ll fill in the hiatus over the next few months).  Here goes:

It’s another trip to Washington for Ranger Doug–my fifth and the mission is the same–to make positive changes to our country.  As a former NPS Seasonal Ranger (7 years), and six in the US Navy Reserves, I’ve devoted 13 years in public service and if you throw in another 15 years  working for public health (Native Corporations here in Alaska), that totals 28 years.  I’ve a vested interested in fixing what’s wrong with our country–and there is plenty.  This trip was two fold:  to make a donation of my private collection of WPA artwork and secondly, to meet with the NPS and the Department of the Interior.  I did both.

Acting Director of the NPS is Dan Smith who attended my talk–in fact he sat in the front row.  A newly restored WPA triptych (stage behind me) greeted me also.

…..and later signed the paperwork to receive my collection.   Tracy Baetz, DOI Museum Curator is to my left.   Here’s the math:  During my 25 years of searching for WPA prints, I’ve located a total of 42 survivors out of about 1400 initially printed (100 copies  x 14 designs).  I have purchased six of these and also secured two more through legal action that were taken from the artist’s estate by an impersonator of me–you can read more about this chase here.  The last auction of a poster was in 2005 for $9000!  Today, with these prints on the front page, they are worth many more times that figure.  Some are only copies–and they belong back in the public domain.

In the first slide, you can see 11 of the 14 that were printed–all in one room–behind us here!  Two still missing are Wind Cave and Great Smoky Mountains (I have black & white photos of them which I used for the reconstruction).  It gets more confusing.  My original Teton print I donated to that park, but they chose to keep another Teton print that I later purchased, and pass the one I found in the park burn pile on to the Library of Congress–it’s here in this room.  Also on display here are Glacier (one of two known), Mt. Rainier (one of six), Yellowstone Geyser (3) and Falls (only known copy).   Fort Marion, Lassen and Grand Canyon were loaned to this ceremony by the Library of Congress which came out of a discovery in LA.  The LOC bought five of nine at public auction, (I bought two–Glacier and the second Grand Teton).  Petrified Forest came from that park and is also the only known copy;  (thanks PeFo and Matt Smith!).  Bandelier turned up in my art files when I forgot to return it, so I arranged to keep it for the 2014 exhibition and then donate it on to the NPS archives.  Pictured above are representatives from the NPS/DOI, Library of Congress and Smithsonian (who have had two on exhibit over the past two years)–thank you all for your help.  Finally–nearly all are in one room!

As I was checking through security I got a call from the Secretary’s office.  When Museum Registrar Jason Jurgena (here, on the right) was freshening up the artwork in his office, SOI Zinke elected to keep my posters in the entrance hallway.  Jason explained that I was coming to town and giving a talk on the history of these so he called me up for a fireside chat (without the fire).  Secretary Zinke should be in the movies (and not at Interior, but that’s to be discussed over a beer in a Montana bar).  As a former Navy Seal, he definitely has that military bearing so we chatted about our military careers among other things.

I found him to be somewhat defensive about issues that the news has focused upon:  the $130,000 door replacement, raising park entrance fees, etc.  I reminded him that the people already own these parks and raising the entrance fees won’t wash.  I also reminded him that the recently launched Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier cost the American taxpayers $13.5B (the amount our NPS is in financial arrears) and GRF and his daughter, Susan, were park rangers!   Priorities–to which he agreed….   Number two in command, Mike Argo, attends this discussion with us and gives me his Navy Seal pin as a gift (thanks Mike–I’ll buy the first round of beer!).  Zinke hands me a challenge medal:

We pledged to meet in a Montana bar over a Snake River Lager (see label here) which I aided in designing.

The wall of fame–and the Glacier WPA poster art.   Military, and public lands crusader buddies….to be continued………

Westward Bound–Acadia to Teddy Roosevelt National Park

Sunday, June 12th, 2016


After a circumnavigation of New Brunswick, I re-enter Maine at Calais (pronounced callous) and wander down the Maine Coast photo-oping in front of all the cute buildings.  Here’s one that I can’t resist–not sure of the architecture style–perhaps a cross between French and Stave-church Norwegian?


An interesting NPS park unit is St. Croix International Historical Site.    This was the second permanent settlement in North America (after Castillo de San Marcos/Fort Marion in Florida) settled by the French, half of which died after the first year so they moved out to St. Croix Island.  One of 411 NPS park units.


I give three talks in Bar Harbor, SW Harbor and Acadia Park Headquarters–a very beautiful National Park.  John D. Rockefeller, and others, captured Mt. Desert Island (pronounced both ways–Dessert and Desert) and built wagon roads and fancy homes there, eventually donating much of the island to the NPS.


This is the Northeast Harbor marina with clear blue waters and an active fishing fleet.




On the summit of Mt. Desert Island you can see for miles as you walk around a 1/4 mile loop.  Worth the effort.


The new tourists are from…….. Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).  I recognized their language and greet them in Vietnamese–which surprised them.  They insisted on a photograph and so did I.  Three-quarters of the Vietnamese have no recollection of the “American War.”  I learned a bit of their language in 1965 and 66 which came in handy when I visited Hanoi with an NGO in 1989.  The Vietnamese are very industrious, clever people who I predict will become a strong ally of the US sometime in the future.  Obama did right by visiting there last month.


This is one of the longest ships in the world–or so it was told to me by my next door camping neighbor at the Duluth Marine & RV Park.  It is about 1100 feet long and carries iron ore from Duluth up the St. Lawrence Seaway.  Iron ore is a major export for Minnesota–a fact I didn’t know (or perhaps was asleep in high school geography class).  Duluth lies at the far west of the Great Lakes system and is chuck full of old brick buildings, quaint pubs & restaurants, a unique bridge, and very bumpy streets.


Driving about 350 miles a day I visit Voyageur National Park and this huge trout. Voyageur is a huge lake system bordering Canada and a first visit for me.  This was the “highway system” for the French Canadian fur trade.   I have been asked by many ‘fans’ to make a poster for this park and I think I will.  I witnessed not one, but two wolves cross in front of my car on the 10 mile drive into the visitors center at Ash River.   Park headquarters is located at Kabetogama.


Had to visit the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, Ohio even though it was 150 miles out of my way.  This is a modern trailer; mine is a 1948 Trailwind, the logo for this blog (serial #3) which didn’t seem to be of much interest to them; and they have absolutely no parts for the old ones.  There was also an Airstream rally there, Alumapalooza, for $500!–but packed with Airstream techs, demonstrations, etc.  I didn’t have the luxury of time or money.  And after my rally experience in Florida, I’m a bit weary of macaroni & cheese banquets.


Here is the geographic center of the North America in Rugby North Dakota. I’m headed west….


….to Teddy Roosevelt National Park, North Unit.  This CCC overlook is perhaps the most photographed building in the country.  I’m doing a poster of this very place–stand by fans!!!!


Here’s another CCC campground building with typical massive cornerstones.  The CCC trained about 3 million 18-23 year old men practical skills and was run by the US Army with NPS (and State Park) input. It lasted 9 years and their works are nearing a century old.   They were paid $1/day and had to send $25 of it home to mom and dad (back when they had moms and dads).


This modern park building was built in 1991 and is condemned due to massive structural failure.  My guess it was built on poor soils–a centuries old bison wallow which is very unconsolidated.


Within a few years, the sidewalks began oozing sideways as the building settled and the foundation cracked.  Where are those CCC boys when we need them!   Stay tuned!

New York, New England, New Brunswick, New Places

Monday, May 23rd, 2016


Two years ago I published a screen print of the Statue of Liberty at the request of Eastern National Bookstores so thought it about time to visit the Statue and the bookstore below.  It’s quite a monument.  I trained down from Connecticut in about 45 minutes, then stood in two lines–half hour to purchase tickets and another hour to get on the ferry.  The poster has a silhouette of my 1899 tug as the border for the statue with additional silhouettes of actual immigrants taken from an historic immigration photo.  The actual Statue of Liberty was not accessible–that takes a 6 month advanced reservation….so I contented myself with a walk around Liberty Island.   And the poster was still not up on the walls of the bookstore, but it’s only been two years……


This is the footprint of tower #1 of the WTC which today is another monument.  The new WTC towers above a full 1776′


Truly impressive.


Ranger Kevin Oldenburg of the Roosevelt Vanderbilt National Historic Sites in Hyde Park NY invites me to give my talk at the FDR Library/ Visitors Center–I am absolutely flattered.  First there is a tour of the Vanderbilt Mansion.


This was the age of “conspicuous spending” and Frederick (grandson of Cornelius) was certainly conspicuous.  Pardon the blue tarps–they’re rebuilding the porches, columns and all.  Kevin gave me a private tour and we delved into many nooks and crannies……


In this nook, we found an orrery or clock of our solar system with only the Sun, Mercury, Venus and the Earth and Moon–which was pretty much all that was known when these were figured out.  The ecliptic rises at 23 degrees.  Kevin had answers to all my questions.


And then a piano hidden in this cranny.  Now I’m a sucker for pianos–even broke my leg walking to one a few years back–but this is quite fancy;  an 1883 Steinway which is tuned and occasionally played.


The NPS manages dozens of units in  the Hudson River Valley, and in Hyde Park I visit three:  The Roosevelt Home, Val-Kill Residence (Eleanor Roosevelt’s retreat) and The Vanderbilt Mansion.  The Visitor Center at the Vanderbilt hosts nine posters which introduce an exhibit about FDR and his National Park and WPA–CCC involvement.  It will run a year or more so try to attend.


This is FDRs desk at his home.  He was born in this house and was an only child–which nearly killed his mother at childbirth.  Eleanor moved into this home with FDR’s parents, so never had her own to raise their 6 children–five of whom survived.  I met Elliot Roosevelt in Puget Sound in about 1983.   FDR hosted world dignitaries here in 1939 including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and Winston Churchill.


FDR’s wheelchair can be seen center left–it was a simple oak kitchen chair with wheels added.  That way, he could sit with a blanket over his knees and not draw attention to his polio stricken legs.  He contracted polio when he was 39; it was misdiagnosed which may have allowed this disease to progress further.


Posted at the FDR Library is this “Message to Congress” that everyone over 80 remembers hearing FDR read on the radio.  Besides plunging the US into a two-front war, it also ended the WPA and the poster project with only 14 parks having participated.


Also posted in the FDR Library is this letter from Albert Einstein.  Einstein said this was probably the biggest mistake of his lifetime.


Who wouldn’t love this 1936 Ford Phaeton.  It was equipped with hand controls so FDR could operate the vehicle, which he often did.


I get back from my talk at 8pm and offer my condolences to my next door campers–a tree crashed down nailing two cars–this was the worst.  Now, I had the pick of this site a few hours earlier and almost camped here, but chose the next one.  My trailer, seen just beyond, was spared……  whew!


After that scare, and with a week of free time before my Baa Haaba (Bar Harbor & Acadia) talks, I decide to explore the Bay of Fundy.  I live in Alaska where 26′ of tidal variations are the norm.  However, the Bay of Fundy boasts full 46′ tidal fluctuations on average shared at various points around the bay.  The ‘mother of all extremes’ occurred in 1869 when the Saxby Storm piled 71′ of water at the head of the Bay of Fundy.


The beautiful New Brunswick town of Shediac–Home of the Worlds Largest Lobster–visit if you can and stay tuned……..