For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, today is Independence Day here in the US, and I’m experiencing it as an American citizen for the first time. Rather than go through the history of how I went from being a British citizen to an American, I’ve spent the last week trying to find quotes that typify how I see my new country.
I was lucky enough to come across this one from ‘Eddie’ Rickenbacker…
Here’s how Wikipedia describes ‘Eddie’ Rickenbacker…
Edward Vernon Rickenbacker (October 8, 1890 – July 23, 1973) was an Americanfighter ace in World War I and Medal of Honor recipient. With 26 aerial victories, he was America’s most successful fighter ace in the war. He was also considered to have won the most awards for valor by an American during the war according to the April 2017 VFW magazine in their special World War I edition.
First of all, sorry this post is late, but I’m sure you’ll appreciate the reason why, after reading the post itself.
Sandi and I just got back from a three day trip to the Kenai Peninsula, where we took a one-day cruise out of Seward. We’d booked this trip a couple of months ago, because we heard this time of year was a good time to see Humpback Whales. Now, we’d not seen these magnificent creatures on previous cruises, because of the time of year we’d traveled.
With this trip being a late wedding anniversary, and early birthday present to ourselves, we set off with high hopes of seeing at least some of the wildlife. We were particularly interested in seeing the Humpbacks, because people had told us that they’d seen them from the Sealife Center which lies on the shores of Resurrection Bay.
So, instead of my usual ramblings, here’s some highlights from our trip…
June 12th 2017
Alaska Wildlife Conversation Center
Sandi and I have been down to Seward previously, but this was the first time we’d heard about the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. It lies on the same stretch of highway as the turn off for Portage Glacier, and if it hadn’t been for a couple of people mentioning it, we’d probably not have even spotted the signs from the highway.
I have to say that this was a fantastic start to our wildlife viewing, with playful brown bears, porcupines, moose, reindeer, wood bison, sleepy wolves, a black bear cub, and a pair of resident raptors. Almost all of the animals housed at the center are orphaned or injured in the wild, and are being treated or rehabilitated.
Unfortunately, some of the animals are too injured to be released back into the wild, and have become permanent residents. One of the finest examples of this is Adonis, a Bald Eagle who has been at the center since he was shot and had to have one entire wing amputated.
This amazing hotel is listed as an historic building, and as you approach it on foot, you can see why. The exterior of the hotel, and the theater next door speak to the age of the buildings, and the hotel interior continues this theme.
As you walk into the office, to book in, there is a huge wooden counter space, with a mirror behind it. Old lamps light the room, and a well-loved piano sits in one corner between the windows. Danny greeted us at the check in desk, with a smile, and walked us through the process of checking in, and even gave us the option of upgrading from a room with a shared bathroom to a double room with an amazing view over the town and Resurrection Bay.
Of course, we decided to upgrade, and the room was more than worth what we paid. A comfortable bed, connecting door to the second bedroom, and a view that I can’t even begin to describe. The fact that we were in the heart of town, and a stones throw from the heritage center, sealife center, and a great restaurant that made great pizza was a huge bonus.
Sure we had a couple of small problems, but Danny was more than happy to take care of them, and even took care to do so while we were out. This consideration made us feel appreciated, and we’ll definitely be looking to check in with them again on our next trip, especially in light of Danny’s local knowledge.
Before we left, Danny had already established that we love history, and brought out pages from the old check-in ledgers to show us. As I was flipping through the pages, we talked a little about the town, and some of the hotel’s history. But what really blew me away was when he offered to let us keep one of the pages, and allowed us to take one that had Sandi’s birthday. It shows that Danny cares not only about his hotel, and the history, but it’s guests too.
The hotel could use an influx of cash, because there are aspects of the hotel that need attention. It would be a shame to see this hotel fall into disrepair, because it is an awesome place to stay, and almost everything in town is within walking distance.
Alaska Sealife Center – Seward Alaska (population about 2,500)
This is one of the gems of Seward, especially for anyone who loves to see animals up close. The staff were very friendly, and knowledgeable about the animals in their care, as well as passionate about their favorites.
While it was fun being able to see the fish, corals, and other sea creatures up close, the highlights were definitely the sea otters, sea lion, and aviary. There is nothing like seeing a massive sea lion just the other side of the glass, to give you an idea of how huge these creatures are.
Once we reached the aviary, I was expecting to be watching the birds from behind netting, or glass… But instead was greeted by a gull flying right over our heads. And this wasn’t even the closest we got… Sitting right up on the lip of the glass walls were a variety of birds that we were to see on the marine cruise the next day. Not one of them was more than seemed afraid to be close to us, or the other visitors, but we were in the presence of two staff members the birds were very familiar with.
This was our second visit to the center, and it never fails to deliver on it’s promise of being fun, interactive and educational.
Major Marine had a good selection of tour options, and this is one of the longest tours offered, leaving the docks at 10am, and arriving back around 5:30pm. But there isn’t a single moment of the trip that isn’t filled with amazing landscapes, or animal sightings.
During the course of the trip we pulled in close to three glaciers, and saw more wildlife than I could ever have expected. To do this day justice, here’s some numbers:
A Tally Of Our Sightings (not including sea birds)
10:00 – Departure
10:15 – Sea Otters (2)
10:45 – Mountain Goats (3)
10:55 – Humpback Whales (2 – not that I actually managed to see them on this occasion)
11:05 – Humpback Whales (2)
11:10 – Bald Eagles (2)
14:15 – Harbor Seals (38 – approximately, because I lost count)
15:25 – Bald Eagles (2)
15:30 – Humpback Whales (1)
15:45 – Stellar Sealions(2)
16:00 – Stellar Sealions (47 approximately, including some disagreement between bulls)
16:20 – Orcas (6)
17:30 – Returned to Port
A Summary Of The Tour
I can’t thank Captian Josh, the crew of the Glacier Express, or Ranger Deanna enough for an enjoyable cruise. Throughout the entire time they were very informative and attentive to the passengers. It was very obvious that these folks are passionate about what they do, and that they love doing it.
Sandi and I learned a lot about the area, the wildlife, and the history from the commentaries, and chats we had with the crew. At no time did the ship feel cramped, because the decks were open plan, with tables and assigned seating, and vast windows that provided spectacular 360 degree views.
For me, it’s this last factor that proved important, because there were times when I was able to spot something from inside, while taking a break from the chill of being out on outdoor decks. Of course that was enough to send me or Sandi back out into the cold, for photograph or video opportunities.
Even when we got back to port, the staff at the booking offices were exceptional, and it was very clear that they love passing on viewing tips, and their passion.
We had a lazy morning, and checked out of the Van Gilder with plans no more exciting than getting back home, doing some shopping, and doing a couple of loads of laundry. Then Thursday it’ll be time to return to work, with the adventure behind us.
I’m not normally one to jump on the news, and comment on it openly. Anyone who follows my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media accounts will see that they remain clear of such things, for the most part. However, this last week has seen the second terror attack on London, in recent months, and I can’t help reflecting on how it affects people.
My heart and prayers go out to the friends, families, and victims of those who have been affected by these blatant acts of terrorism. Even though many of those affected by the attacks grew up with IRA activities as a fact of life, these recent attacks will leave physical and emotional scars that are hard to hide.
For my part, I’m here in Alaska watching the news very closely, and checking in with friends and family back in England whenever I can. Having been born British, and leaving everyone behind when I came to Alaska to marry an American, I can’t help but be concerned by the things I see in the news. And, so far this year, we’ve seen three major attacks…
Attack #1 – March 22nd 2017
Location: Westminster, London
Casualties: 50 people were injured, and 6 killed
A lone driver mounts the curb on Westminster Bridge, and drove through the crowd, then continued on toward Parliament before abandoning the vehicle and attacking people with a knife. He was shot dead by police less than 90 seconds after the attack started.
Attack #2 – May 22nd 2017
Location: Manchester Arena, Manchester
Casualties: 116 people were injured, and 22 killed
Suicide bomber detonated a home-made bomb in the foyer as fans were leaving a concert.
Attack #3 – 3rd June 2017
Location: London Bridge & Borough Market, London
Casualties: 48 people were injured, and 7 killed
A white van drove into pedestrians on London Bridge before three attackers got out of the vehicle and ran into Borough Market, where they stabbed several people, before escaping back into the street where all three were shot dead by police.
Investigations Are Ongoing…
That’s three major attacks in four months, and police are still investigating each of the incidents thoroughly. To date several arrests have been made in connection with the attacks, and time will tell how things move forward from here.
But there’s one thing I know for a fact…
Despite these attacks, it’s just going to bring people closer together…
How Do I Know This?
London, and other parts of the UK are no strangers to terrorist attacks, and bombings
During World War 2, German bombs fell on London, and other parts of the country on a regular basis.
Bombers flew over the cities and dropped tons of bombs in lightning raids
the dreaded V-1 flying bombs (aka the buzz bomb or doodlebug) which dropped out of the sky when their noisy motors ran out of fuel
the V-2 missile was the first true long range guided ballistic missile
When I was growing up, attacks by the IRA (and assorted splinter groups) were a fact of. Bombs went off, people were attacked, and attempts were made to bring down Canary Wharf.
What Happened As A Result?
During the war, and the terror attacks that came later, people refused to let those responsible change their lives more than necessary. During the war, they banded together in bomb shelters, and told stories to keep each other company and pass the time.
When I was growing up, I didn’t let the possibility of an IRA attack deter me from going into the city of London. Even in my mid-teens I’d go into the city on my own to visit museums, stores or the libraries. Sure, I was aware of the possibility of an attack happening, but even then I believed that if we let terrorists dictate our choices, then they had achieved their goals. And I wasn’t going to let that happen, but I did watch out of suspicious packages and activities just in case.
And It’s Happening Again!
In all of the cases above, including the attacks that took place this year, it brought people together.
Now this is the important take-away from all of this, and does nothing to detract from the horrors that people went through. But, people came together to help each other.
They came together to help the police and emergency services deal with the situations.
Photos and video have been given up for evidence willingly.
Witnesses and victims alike have given statements
Investigations have been started, and further arrests made in connection with the events.
Common people have proved to be heroes
But most importantly, they have stepped up, and proved that no matter who claims responsibility for the attacks, Brits are nothing if not stubborn, resilient, and will not bow down to terrorists.
“Teacher reveals odd tactic to prevent bullying – and it leaves all her students in tears.”
That’s how this video was posted to me over on Facebook, and I’m not normally one to jump on my soap-box. But, there are some videos that I feel really need to be shared, and this is one of them. This video shows just how damaging bullying can be, in a way that those of us who have experienced it can appreciate.
Unfortunately, while this video shows the effects of bullying, it doesn’t educate people on how to deal with the being bullied, or how to handle the bullies themselves. There are so many types of bullying that educating people on how to deal with it will take a lot more than a two minute video.
My Personal Experience Of Bullying
I personally experienced several years of bullying during my schooling, and the schools seemed to consider me to be the problem. I was shy, quiet, and a bit of a book-worm (go figure). Because I ‘allowed’ the bullying to happen by not ‘fighting back’, I was sent to the school counselor for therapy.
Now I’ve never been a violent person, so I wasn’t happy with the idea that I should hit back, and they decided to try and help with my ‘anger management issues’. Apparently throwing a rag around the room was going to help me de-stress, and reduce my levels of anger. They made one mistake… Sure, I was stressed, but I wasn’t angry. Okay, they made TWO mistakes. They left the windows open, and the rag went out on almost as soon as I had it in my hand.
It took several years for me to really break out of the shell I built around myself, and I still have days when I find myself thinking about those years. But, love, care, friendships, and a lot of understanding have helped make things a lot easier to deal with.
Some Thoughts On Bullying
The whole bullying issue has really struck a nerve with me. It affects so many different types of people at a vital time in their lives.
– Kenny Wormwald
We focus so much on our differences, and that is creating, I think, a lot of chaos and negativity and bullying in the world. And I think if everybody focused on what we all have in common – which is – we all want to be happy.
– Ellen DeGeneres
Children should always be brave and do something about bullying. It’s not okay to stand by and let it happen. Bullies thrive off secrecy. Children should tell someone if they see someone being bullied.
– Imelda Staunton
Here’s My Biggest Hope In Sharing This…
I hope that sharing this video and my personal experiences keeps the conversations about bullying going, and helps at least one person.
Let’s help reduce the instances of bullying, wherever they occur. It’s a problem that extends outside the schools and has a huge affect on so many people. The scars from being bullied may fade, but they are never truly gone. And that’s for those of us who survive the experience. Every time I see reports of bullying, or suicides that have resulted from bullying it brings back those memories of what I experienced.
It saddens me that we have been unable to stamp out bullying yet… So please, LIKE, SHARE, COMMENT!
This is a question I’ve asked myself a number of times in the past, and I’ve never come up with a satisfactory answer.
It might well be, that even though I’m a writer, and I’m very active in the indie community, I’ve never really written to become famous. But then something happens, and you get a momentary feeling for what it could be like to be famous. And I’ll tell you, it feels good.
The Unlikeliest of Meetings…
Outside the odds of me having met my wife, this is probably one of the most outrageous set of circumstances in which I could be made to feel famous… I’m not going to give actual names, to protect the parties involved, but if they read this, I know they’ll recognize themselves…
I work in a local big-box grocery store, and have been with the company for the last five years. And I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I’m a published writer – in fact, my name badge even says as much. Just having those two words “Published Author” is enough to start whole conversations about books and writing. And just sometimes, I get to pass out one of my business cards because someone wants to find out more about my work.
Well, yesterday I met a customer who had shopped with us for a while, and had even followed us over the road when our store located to a new, bigger property. He’d seen me in passing, as I went around the business of managing the front-end of the store, and I knew his face, but we’d never really stopped to talk.
Yesterday, this customer stopped short a few feet from me, did a double-take, and asked “Are you Timothy Bateson?” I said I was. “THE Timothy Bateson”, “Well, I don’t know about THE Timothy Bateson, but I’m definitely one of them”, “The Timothy Bateson who wrote Under A Hunter’s Moon?”, “Yeah, that’s me”… And the conversation got weirder from there…
The customer is another local writer, who had somehow connected online with an author I’d worked with on the Brain to Books Scavenger Hunt, and they’d got talking… As you do. Well, the subject came up about the customer’s location, and the author mentioned she knew a author in the same state as the customer… In fact, in the same town…
Hearing how this meeting came about just set my head spinning for a moment, but then I realized why… For the length of that conversation with the customer, I felt famous… And it felt like being struck by lightning and walking away with a smile on your face…
Needless to say…
I’ve emailed the author who sparked the event to personally thank her, and let her know just how special that conversation was. Especially since I’d had a very rough few days at work, and this put everything into perspective once more.
I’ll also be staying in touch with the customer, because as fellow writers, I think it’d be great to know there is a local support network. Even if it’s just someone to bounce an idea off, or ask advise about something…
So… What would you give to feel famous for a even a moment? Comment below…
In conjunction with my recent announcement of the reboot of my newsletter, thought I’d offer as many ways to reach out to my potential audience as possible.
Until now, I’ve fed information, blog posts and more to my personal Facebook page, but it’s time to move beyond that, and do something a little more professional. Which means, I’ve put together a brand new author page.
I’m not sure, at his point, how much the page will get used, or updated, but I want to leave my options open. But here’s where you can find it, so you can keep an eye on it…
(Oh, and you can search for it, reference it, or message me there using @TimothyBatesonUrbanFantasy)