Neptune at Opposition

Today the planet Neptune will pass through opposition, directly opposite the Sun in our sky. The planet will be well placed for observation all night long, rising at sunset, transiting at midnight, and setting at sunrise. If you are looking to observe Neptune, it is currently shining at magnitude 7.8 in
in southern Pisces just south of the circlet.

Neptune from Voyager 2
Neptune from Voyager 2, Credit: NASA /JPL

As the outer planets Uranus and Neptune move so slowly across the sky, the timing of oppositions is driven by the Earth’s orbit and occur each year at nearly the same time. Neptune’s orbital period is 164.8 years, taking over a century and a half to circle the celestial globe once. As Neptune was discovered in 1846, it has completed a little over one orbit since discovery.

Remnants of War

Yakutat, like several other towns and cities along the Alaskan Coast was fortified during World War II to prevent occupation by the Japanese. Many remains of this military station are still there to be found by those willing to poke about a bit.

A six inch gun emplacement
A six inch gun emplacement from World War II at Cannon Beach, Yakutat

Some of the remnants are well known about town. The long ocean beach in front of the town is called Cannon Beach for an obvious reason, two six inch gun emplacements are still present in the trees behind the beach, guns included.

The barrels have been torched off to deactivate these military weapons, but they are still there. There were additional gun emplacements on the point protecting the settlement and harbor, but these guns were removed with only the emplacements remaining.

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Home-Made Caviar

The king salmon I had caught proved to be a female. This serendipitous occurance allowed my father to execute the plan.

King Salmon Caviar
Hand made king salmon caviar on cream cheese and crackers

Execution? A trip to the local hardware store to buy a cheap plastic collinder, an hour washing salmon eggs in the sink of our fishing lodge kitchenette, another trip to a local grocery for a box of salt, more fiddling in the kitchen sink, then waiting overnight to see if the result of all this effort is edible.

To my surprise the result was not only edible, but pretty good. Caviar!

An intense salmon taste different but reminiscent to smoked salmon. Served on crackers with cream cheese the bright golden orange caviar was a nice treat after a day out fishing.

To the End of The Road

There is only so much road to explore and we explored most of it.

Dangerous River
The Dangerous River bridge at the end of the road.

Yakutat, like so many Alaskan communities is accessed only by sea or by air. Not to say there are no roads, they just do not go anywhere else, much less connect to the road network that crosses the continent.

In the case of Yakutat the furthest you can get from town is about 26 miles as the crow flies taking the road to Dangerous River and Harlequin Lake. This road is a well maintianed gravel road heavily used to access popular fly fishing rivers and hunting areas, as well as by loggers harvesting the local hemlock and sitka spruce.

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Fishing Yakutat

It has been three years since the last voyage of the Nordic Quest. In the meantime the Quest has been sold and a pandemic raged. Three years is long enough, time for a return to the mainland and another fishing trip. My first visit to the mainland since the pandemic started.

King Salmon
A nice king salmon from Yakutat Bay

My father and brother had not taken much of a pause, with the sale of the boat they have instead headed to a fishing lodge for their annual fishing. After some research my father decided on Yakutat for the abundance of halibut and more generous fishing regulations than found in SE Alaska.

For the last couple years they have used Yakutat Lodge, a choice I have to agree with. We had a great time with five days of fishing on Yakutat Bay.

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Another Hop

As I sit here gazing at the stars through the window I realize it has been three years since I last set foot on the mainland. As usual I have booked a window seat, for much of this overnight flight there is little to see, this time the first sight of land seems particularly significant to me.

Redeye
Boarding a redeye flight to the mainland

There is just enough moonlight to see the clouds sliding below, it is only imagination and memory of past views that allow seeing the expanse of waves I know are under those clouds. As I look into the darkness I am a little confused by the pattern of stars until I realize the bright, out of place star is not a star, rather Saturn high in the southern sky.

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