Alaska: At home and beginning The Quest

Last time we saw photos of Eider, my Alaska duck cousin and my human cousin at Chatanika Lodge in Alaska.  Today we have photos of Eider at home in North Pole, Alaska.  I think there is a gas grill under there.

No cooking outside today

No cooking outside today

Eider, that is quite a snow hat on the tree behind you.

Snow hat on tree behind Eider

Snow hat on tree behind Eider

Eider’s dad shoveled snow so the people could deliver propane-heating oil to their house.

Clear a path so heating oil can be deliver

Clear a path so heating oil can be delivered

Eider is sitting on a snow bank.  Cold duck feathers!!

Snow, snow, snow

Snow, snow, snow

Somebody or something is looking in the window at Eider.

He is watching you!

He is watching you!

Wow!  Eider has a moose in the back yard.  Now the moose is enjoying a snack in Eider’s yard.

A moose has to eat

A moose has to eat

In Alaska there are many dog racing teams.  Many people have heard about the Iditarod dog sled race.   There is a second famous dog race.  Eider and dad went to the beginning of the Quest dog race.  They sent these pictures to me and I want to share them with you.

Starting the Quest

Starting the Quest

The dogs wear boots to protect their feet.  The orange boots are easy to see.

At the beginning of the Quest.

Ready to race

The Quest begins

Allen Moore.  This team won the Quest

Ready to run

Ready to run

This race began in Fairbanks, Alaska and ended in Whitehorse.  Whitehorse is in the Yukon Territory of Canada.  This is a 1,000 mile international sled dog race.  Next year the race will begin in Whitehorse and end in Fairbanks.

We love getting pictures from Eider.  Many of the activities in Eider’s life and in Alaska are very different from our life and interesting to us.

Can we have a moose?

Can we have a moose?

Chatanika Lodge, Alaska

Hi.  Zeb the Duck here and I am so surprised and embarrassed.  You all know my Alaska uncle and my Alaska cousin.  Today I got a letter and pictures from them and I learned my Alaska cousin has a name.  I never knew that.  The name is Eider and Eider is also a large sea duck that live and breeds in the Arctic.  Eiders can fly at speeds up to 70 mph.  I learned that from Wikipedia.  My cousin, Eider, is a true Alaskan!

Eider and family went to Chatanika Lodge, about 28 miles from Fairbanks.  These are some of the photos we received.   The entrance to the lodge has real moose antlers and much natural fur.

Entrance to Chatanika Lodge

Entrance to Chatanika Lodge

The eagles are carved from wood.   Here Eider is sitting on a rail made of spruce.

Eider on spruce rail with bumps

Eider on spruce rail with bumps

The bumps on the cedar are all natural.   These carved wooden bears are inviting on this winter day.

Eider on snowy bears

Eider on snowy bears

Eider is sitting on a snow bank and looks cold.

Eider on snow bank.  Brrr

Eider on snow bank. Brrr

Take him inside Alaska uncle!

Inside the lodge is a small restaurant.

Eider on lamp shade near bear skin

Eider on lamp shade near bear skin

There are a lot of old Alaskan art and artifacts.  Here is Eider on a doll.

Eider on antique roll

Eider on antique doll

Eider is sitting on old sewing machine by a Harley Davidson motorcycle lamp.

Eider on sewing machine

Eider on sewing machine by Harley lamp

They visited Chatanika Lodge during Christmas, so we can see some decorations.

Looking at snowy outdoors

Looking at snowy outdoors

This time Eider is sitting on a bear trap.

Eider.  You are on a bear trap!

Eider. You are on a bear trap!

Be careful cousin!  This is my cousin Cindy holding Eider by a dall sheep.

Cindy holding Eider near dall sheep

Cindy holding Eider near dall sheep

Dall sheep are known for their curled horns.  The horns grow in the spring and summer and then in fall and winter the growth slows and stops.  The growth pattern forms rings, called annuli, and the age of the dall sheep is determined from the horns.

In March Chatanika Lodge holds Chatanika Days festival.  One of the events is outhouse races.  Teams build outhouses, a person must be in outhouse and the teams race down a course.  This is the original outhouse entered by the lodge for the outhouse races.

Ready for outhouse races

Ready for outhouse races

Be careful Eider.

This looks like a great place.  To see more visit www.chatanikalodgeak.com  Thanks for sending pictures Eider.

Reflections of Cuba by Zeb the Duck

I, Zeb the Duck, am back at the airport in Havana, Cuba.

We are in Havana, Cuba

We are in Havana, Cuba

As I wait for my plane to Miami, I pause to reflect on my Cuban adventure.  I met many very nice people.  I liked my group of human travelers.  As expected they were all very experienced travelers eager to explore a new place and adaptable if the planned schedule was changed.  I also met very nice, friendly people living in Cuba.

I remember narrow streets with old buildings.

Narrow streets with wonderful old buildings

Narrow streets with wonderful old buildings

Many horse carts,

Horse cart

Horse with cart

many bicycles, many people walking, some classic American cars

Classic cars as taxis

Classic cars as taxis

and some new,

New smaller taxis

New smaller taxis

small taxis.

The school children were wearing uniforms.

Their uniforms look nice

Their uniforms look nice

We stopped at a ballet school and saw them practice.

Wow!

Wow!

While we brought gifts to the senior center, we enjoyed the dancing and music and the people gave us a gift also.

Zeb with new hat

Zeb with new hat

I think I look pretty good in my hat.

As a yellow rubber duck, people were curious about me and many became my friends.

Zeb's new best friend

Zeb’s new best friend

These decorated cakes are examples of art and attention to detail.

Look so yummy

Look so yummy

Bet they taste good too.

Cuba has many statues; some large and some smaller bronze statues.

Statue of friar near Havana's Plaza Vieja

Statue of friar near Havana’s Plaza Vieja

It appears that they remember and honor many people.

This man was so nice and I was fascinated as he made sugar cane juice.

Made fresh sugar cane juice

Made fresh sugar cane juice

I remember shopping in the market in Havana.

Indoor market in Havana

Indoor market in Havana

I remember music everywhere.

Musicians playing in Trinidad

Musicians playing in Trinidad

After dinner one evening, many in our human group learned some Cuban dance steps

After dinner dance lessons

After dinner dance lessons

and many danced after the lesson.

I remember and admire the art, the color, the talent and most of all, the smiles and

Our new friends

Our new friends

friendliness of the Cuban people.   Our governments may have differences, but the friendly people of Cuba and the United States get along well.

Such colorful dresses

Such colorful dresses

I am so glad that we visited Cuba.  If you want to see Cuba, check out http://www.friendlyplanet.com and see what they offer.  There are other tour companies that offer people to people tours.  We decided to travel with Friendly Planet and enjoyed it.  I hope you will visit Cuba soon.

Alejandro, our local guide, enjoying a Cuban cigar.

Alejandro, our local guide, enjoying a Cuban cigar.

Connie our Friendly Planet guide and Santos our driver with Zeb the Duck

Connie our Friendly Planet guide and Santos our driver with Zeb the Duck

It is time to board the plane and return to Miami.  I have more adventures planned with Soapy Smith Duck, my Alaska cousin will send Alaska updates and JB Duck is also traveling.  Please check here to see what we do and tell us about your adventures, away from home and in your home town.

Plaza of the Revolution in Havana, Cuba

In Havana, Cuba, I, Zeb the Duck visited the Plaza of the Revolution.  A huge plaza!

We came mainly to view three major monuments.  The first is to honor Jose Marti.  This monument at 138.5 meters is Havana’s tallest structure.  Jose Marti is a national hero in Cuba.

Monument to Jose Marti

Monument to Jose Marti

Jose Marti helped organize the Cuban Revolutionary Party, laying the groundwork for the Second Independence War with Spain.  Jose Marti was killed early in this war.  He was elevated to the status of martyr in 1895.  In front of Havana’s tallest structure, is a 17-meter statue of Jose Marti seated, in the Thinker position.  This monument has a museum and an elevator that takes you to the top for fantastic views of Havana.

The second monument is on the side of a telecommunications building.  A picture of Camilo Cienfuegos is on the outside of the building with the words, “Vas bien Fidel.”  These words are not always well known to non-Cubans, but were important during the revolution.  The story behind these words is that during a speech by Fidel in 1959, Fidel paused and turned to Camilo Cienfuegos who was standing behind him.  Fidel asked Camilo “Voy bien Camilo”  (Am I doing OK Camilo).  Camilo Cienfuegos replied, “Vas bien Fidel” (You’re doing OK Fidel).

Honoring Camilo Cienfuegos

Honoring Camilo Cienfuegos

About that time someone in the crowd released white doves and one landed on Fidel’s shoulder.  This reinforced the idea that Fidel had received a divine calling.  Soon, “Vas bien Fidel” became a rallying call for the revolution.  Camilo Cienfuegos was very popular with the Cuban people, second only to Fidel Castro.  Camilo Cienfuegos died in a plan crash October 1959, traveling from Camaguey to Havana.  He became one of the earliest martyrs of the revolution.

Monument number three, honoring Che Guevara is on the Ministerio del Interior building.  The huge mural of Che Guevara contains the words “Hasta la Victoria Siempre”  (Always toward Victory).

Honoring Che Guevara

Honoring Che Guevara

Che Guevara, a trained physician, from Argentina, met Raul Castro in Guatemala.  Raul later introduced Che to Fidel Castro in Mexico City in 1955.  The meeting of Che Guevara and Fidel and Raul Castro changed the course of history.  Che Guevara was a definite leader in the Cuban revolution and later helped with other revolutions until his death in October 1967 while he was in Bolivia.

You will notice that I, Zeb the Duck, am not in any of these photos.  The monuments are just too big for a duck.  However I was at the Plaza de la Revolution.

Zeb the Duck, bus driver

Zeb the Duck, bus driver

My job was very important—I drove the bus.