Saturday, December 21, 2019

My Plain Jane by Hand, Ashton, and Meadows

Want a fun supernatural literary mash-up?  Then try My Plain Jane.

It's sort of the story of Jane Eyre...but mostly not.  Charlotte Bronte herself is a character (my favorite one, I think).  It's fun to watch her weave reality into fiction and vice versa.  


I enjoyed most of the twists on the well-known characters, both literary and real.  

Sadly...I wasn't a huge fan of Jane's character revision.  I've read the real Jane Eyre two or three times and seen most of the movie versions more than once.  I feel almost like Jane's my friend.  I like her and respect her.  But in My Plain Jane she seemed rather passive and boy-crazy and sometimes almost stupid.  But...that's just my view of it.  

These same authors (its three of them, and how they managed such a cohesive novel is really quite impressive) also wrote My Lady Jane about Lady Jane Grey.  That book sparkled with humor.  I was really impressed by how it never started taking itself too seriously, which is what most humorous fantasy/paranormal/historical fantasy books end up doing.  My Plain Jane didn't quite match this standard, but it was still funny and a pleasant, light read.  

I recommend them both.

And the actual Jane Eyre:


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Gavan Hill Trail, Sitka

This summer in Sitka, Alaska, I'd planned to take the Indian River trail, but the info people told me there were too many bears at the moment to make it prudent to hike alone...without bear spray.  So I disappointedly decided to take the Gavan Hill Trail instead.  What a happy turn of events!  I LOVED it. 

Getting to the beginning of the actual trail was flattish and pretty (and rainy):

Then started the stairs, so humbly:

Then a little less humbly:

Then a few not-stairs:

Then some boardwalk stairs: 

And some ropes to help you:

And finally, the reward (well, in addition to the rewards of the climb itself and the beautiful greenery): 

It would have been even more stunning on a blue-sky day, but I liked the misty effect too, and my pictures don't really do it justice. 

I was going to be late meeting my party back in town, so I unfortunately couldn't go further, but next time I would love to. 

On the way back down, I tried counting stairs (and stair-like things, and stone steps).  I think I got to about 1800.  Fantastic day! 

Highly recommended trail. But...if you don't like stairs, you might not like it. 

If you go:

-Stairs.  Lots and lots of stairs.
-If you want good views, you don't really get them until you climb above the trees.  So, commit. 
-I recommend more than three hours. 
-You can access the trail via the Sitka Cross Trail and I walked with no problem right from downtown.  It's sometimes called the Harbor Mountain Trail, though if you go that far, you'll need even more time. 

For tips on having your own budget adventures in Alaska, read my travel guides:

Monday, December 9, 2019

Gastineau Peak Hike, Juneau, Alaska

As many times as I've been to Juneau, Alaska, I've never taken the Mt Roberts tram.  It seems rather expensive for what you get ($33 in 2019).  This year in August, however, my mom and I decided we'd splurge.

We took the tram up to the nature center and explored around there a bit.  Here's something to help you visualize the size of a brown bear:

Then we took the Alpine Loop (which, according to my mom, wasn't as easy as I'd promised).  She made it all the way to the cross, however.  Look at those views!

Then we parted ways and I headed uphill toward Gastineau Peak (which comes before the summit of Mt. Roberts).

More nice views:

Salmonberry snack:

Blueberry snack:

Mountain goat:

Beautiful grouse:

Black bear!!! 
He poked around for a long time in those patches of snow.  He even rolled around like a cat.  So cute (from a distance). 

Beautiful valley:

(one of several, and this one came so close I hardly even had to zoom for this picture)

What a fantastic hike!  I'm not sure if I've ever seen more varied and spectacular wildlife on a single hike.  Plus great views, wild berries...and very few people. What a great day.

For tips on having your own budget adventures in Alaska, read my travel guides: