Sunday, September 28, 2008

Eklutna Lake

We finally got a chance to head out to Eklutna Lake today. They only let you ride 4-wheelers there on certain days of the week, and on other days, it is limited to bicycles and walkers/runners. The path runs along the bank of Eklutna Lake and goes about 14 miles. It was a blast. Today was absolutely beautiful, and the parking lot was full of people ready to have a great time outside. Eklutna Lake is a large, deep blue lake nestled between the Chugach Mountains. The lake was carved by the retreat of Eklutna Glacier, and is approximately 7 miles long. At the end of the trail, you can get off and walk to the glacier, but we didn't have enough time to check it out today. The park ranger told us that there were a couple of teams of sled dogs training on the trails ahead of us, but we never saw them. They train in the summer months by pulling 4-wheelers instead of sleds. It's pretty impressive to see.

There was a good amount of snow on the mountains. Winter is getting closer. It won't be long now. There is a lot of wildlife in the area, but it was a very active day on the trails, so the only wildlife we saw were a few mountain goats high up on the hill side.

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Russ and I headed out yesterday and took a nice walk along part of the Coastal Trail. It runs from near the Railroad Station in downtown Anchorage, 11 miles along the coastline headed south, and ends at Kincaid park. We'd been to several points along the trial, but had never been to Elderberry Park. This part of the Coastal Trail passes through Hannah's Cove. At the cove, there is not only a great view of the inlet, but also a very sweet statute of a little girl sniffing the flowers. You can see Mt. Susitna from here (also know as "The Sleeping Lady"). The mountain looks like a lady sleeping on her back. There is a legend that says the lady is a giant who has vowed to sleep until world peace is achieved. A friend of our daughter said that if she ever woke up, that would be the end of world peace and the start of total chaos. You can also see other mountains and volcanoes across the water. One of those volcanoes is Mt. Spurr.
The Coastal Trail is a very peaceful, winding path. It is wooded on both sides, with an occasional breathtaking view of the Inlet. This is the perfect time of the year to check it out. The leaves were beautiful. We met a Magpie along the way. To me, these are more the state bird than the Willow Ptarmigan. I have only seen a couple of those, but I see these Magpies practically every day.


Friday, September 26, 2008

It Moose Be Dinner Time

It's that time of the year again. The moose are coming down from the mountains in search of an easier meal. This lovely lady came to visit tonight and enjoy a dinner of Mountain Ash leaves from my tree in the back yard. She was very patient and put up with half a dozen neighbors running around and taking her picture. I just stood on the back porch and enjoyed the show. I find it fascinating that they are never interested in the potted plants. A neighbor told me once that they seem to love her rose bushes, and they delicately pluck off the rose buds and eat them.
Although they are very calm creatures, moose can run up to 35 miles an hour in spurts, so we try to give them their space and not tick them off. Dinner and a show. What more can you ask for? Have a great night.

Iditarod on the Discovery Channel

Here is a chance to check out more of Alaska on the Discovery Channel. On October 14, they will start a new series called "Iditarod: Toughest Race On Earth." Last year, during the race, they attached little cameras on some of the sleds. One camera was facing the musher, and the other was facing the dogs. Check it out. The real race takes place in early March. I plan on being down there again and taking lots of pictures. :0)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

AUGHHHHHH!!!!!!!

OK, I made a mistake this morning. I had my camera bag by my purse, because I carry it everywhere. I even took it to work yesterday, just in case. I looked out the window this morning before heading to work, and the clouds were so thick that you couldn't even see any mountains. I figured there wasn't anything to take a picture of, so I left it sitting there near the door. BIG MISTAKE! Of course, there isn't anything eventful as I drop Brandon off at school (right near the house), and then head toward work. I drove through through the base and out the front gate. I am so close to work that I can practically see the office from here, when I notice a movement from the right. A huge bull moose walks out of the woods and is aiming right at me. I stop. He slowly looks over at me as he walks right in front of my van, and then saunters across the other lane to the grass on the left side of the road. Is it my imagination, or is he taunting me? There is a fence running parallel to the road there, so he can't go any farther. He is now standing by the sign for Elmendorf AFB. My gosh, IS HE POSING??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME????? AUGHHHHH! I am mentally figuring how long it would take me to go all the way home and return with the camera. Not enough time. In my head, I can hear my parents telling me, "Always take your camera, you never know what you will see!" With one last look, I take my foot off of the brake and drive slowly to work. I am disgusted.

Denali National Park

Just because I'm sitting in a cubicle all day doesn't mean you can't enjoy the sites that Alaska has to offer. I'd like to share some pics of a summer trip to Denali National Park. We stayed at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, and it was fantastic. This was the view of Denali from the deck. The Lodge is close to Talkeetna, and nestled deep in a forest. If you want to feel like you've escaped into the wilderness (and yet want to live in comlete luxury), than this is the place for you. The employees were very friendly and helpful, the landscaping was beautiful, and the food was great. I would definately stay here again. The only down side was that you are still around an hour or so drive from the gate to Denali National Park. The Denali Princess Lodge is right near the gate, so if you want something closer, then that is something to consider. We woke up early and headed to explore the park. You can only drive into the park in your private vehicle once a year, and those people are chosen by the lottery system. We booked the Tundra Wilderness Tour bus package, and it was definately worth the extra expense. They take you on a fantastic tour through the park, while the bus driver shares interesting information about the area and answers all of your questions. He stopped each time there was an animal anywhere near, and let us take as many pictures as we wanted. Above and below are pictures of Kodachrome Basin and Kodachrome Pass. Pictures can't reproduce the amazing colors in this area.
Here is the star of the park...Mt. McKinley (Denali). We were very lucky, because tons of people travel here and never get a glimpse of the mountain. It is so tall that it creates it's own weather, and is often hidden in cloud cover.

We were also lucky in that we got to see what they refer to as the "Big Five" of the park. They are the most popular 5 animals in the park: moose, caribou, dall sheep, wolf, grizzley bear. We saw all of them and so much more. We saw several grizzley at the park. They are "blond" in this area, and look so much different from our darker brown bear near Anchorage. This one was digging and foraging near a little stream.
This little fox just sat there on the side of the road and patiently let us take his picture.
This wolf was creeping through the underbrush near the road. He only came out in the open for a minute and then he disappeared again. His eyes were were the most stunning shade of gold.
These two babies were with their Mom near where we got off of the bus. They were so cute, but Mom was there keeping a close eye on us.



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Be The First On Your Block To Own One!!!!

OK, guys, it was just a matter of time before these really started popping up everywhere. I had heard rumors of some Sarah Palin shirts being printed in local stores in Wasilla, but this is the first picture I've seen of one. Our local Harley dealership came up with this one. I'm sure it will be a collectors item. Of course, I am going to get one. :0) I would have preferred a different slogan. (I'm not so keen on "Attila the Mom", because it makes her sound mean, but oh, well.) I'm back at work again, so I haven't had a lot of time for adventures the last couple of days. That's OK. I'm so used to volunteering at the school that it's a nice change to actually get a paycheck again. It will help support my camera/die cut habits. Happy adventuring. Don't order all of the Harley shirts---leave one for me!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Brandon 4-wheeling

video

Brandon 4-wheeling

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Here is a video of Brandon doing what he loves best at Eureka!

Manventure at Eureka

The guys made it back safely last night from their 4-wheeling and camping adventure. They went about 128 miles Northeast of Anchorage to a huge gravel parking near the Eureka Lodge. It was sleeting and snowing, so they skipped the tents this trip and slept in campers. As soon as they woke up, the guys hit the trails. Brandon loved it! They rode all over the place: over mountains, through rivers, and in lots and lots of mud. Nothing but wilderness all around you. The views are awesome. Termination dust on the mountains was not only fun to ride through, but the boys also got to take a break from riding and have a snow ball fight. Can it get any better?
For Brandon, "better" means water and mud to drive through. Russ said the 4-wheeler never got a break. As soon as the group stopped for a stretch, Brandon climbed into the driver's seat and took off on his own.





Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chickventure

The guys have left us all alone this weekend. The call of the wild was too much for them, so they went off on another Manventure. In case you missed the earlier post in reference to this, a Manventure means males going camping together in the middle of nowhere (no girls allowed), riding 4-wheelers in the mountains, no bathing, playing in the mud, eating everything cooked over an open fire, and not much sleep. Jess and I were happy to be excluded on this and have decided to have a Chickventure instead. A Chickventure consists of sleeping late in our soft beds, having a leisurely breakfast, taking a nice warm shower, and hitting some of the local stores. I don't recall even seeing any mud in Old Navy. After a quick trip through a drive through for dinner, we are vegging out at the house. In a few minutes, we will be sitting on the comfy couch, curled up in a blanket, eating popcorn and watching "The Devil Wears Prada". Did I mention that it's raining outside? You tell me, which is the smarter sex?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Termination Dust

The clouds parted yesterday, and there it was. Termination dust! Whoohoo! The end of the summer, and the promise of winter coming soon. I admit, it's only on the higher peaks, but it is getting closer. If you watch the mountains over the next few weeks, you'll see a white line slowly working it's way down from the top. Not everyone in the family is thrilled with the coming winter. Jess (the typical teenager in denial) calls it the "4-letter word". "Did you see the mountain this morning?" I ask her when she gets home from school. Her fingers jump immediately into her ears and she starts yelling "LALALALALALALALALALALA... I can't hear you! Don't use that word!" I, of course, am the mature one, and wait until she removes her fingers before I yell...."SNOW!" This is our fall routine in Alaska. Once the ground is white and she accepts defeat, she loves it and enjoys tubing and Snowboarding. Brandon is all about the snow. He is already planning his snowball fights with the neighbors, and can't wait to hit the slopes. Plus, there is the added bonus of running around the house and yelling "SNOW" until his sister stomps her feet, screams "Ugh! You people are impossible!" and heads up the stairs to the safety of her room. (Cue door slamming.) Kids are fun.
Happy Fall!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Swans at Potter Marsh

Today, the clouds broke and this strange light came from above. Could it be...yes, I think it is...THE SUN! Wow, what a glorious sight! Time to celebrate and enjoy some more of our fabulous fall colors. On the south end of Anchorage, you will find Potter Marsh. They have a nice, new and improved boardwalk, and you can stroll along it and check out the marsh and the wildlife that live there. If you drive past the boardwalk, there is a small pull off on the southern end of the marsh just off the Seward Highway, and that is the best place to view the swans.

It's very peaceful there at the marsh. You can see anything from ducks to loons to bald eagles.
It is especially pretty this time of year, when the hills are covered in their fall finery.
I love to watch the birds taking off. I find it fascinating when they run along the top of the water as they gain speed, leaving "footprints" behind them.



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Field Trip is a Bust!

Oh, well. It's raining again, and the field trip was postponed. Brandon is more than a little bummed about it. He wouldn't have been so excited to get to school this morning if he had known he was going to do actual work. The class was going to Ft. Rich to take part in "The Skies The Limit". It's a confidence course where the kids in the class have to work together as a team and figure out how to solve problems without any adult help. The problems include things like: the whole class lines up on a log, no one can speak, everyone must remain in contact with the log at all times, and they must arrange themselves in order on the log by birth date (including month and day). They are timed for each event. The course is on top of a wooded hill on Ft. Richardson, and it feels like you are in the middle of no where. It's a great break for the kids from regular school work. Jess did it with her class 3 years ago, and they loved it. Hopefully we can reschedule it soon. For now, I am hanging out at the house and trying to get an unsightly clog out of the bathroom drain.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fall Colors

This is a beautiful time of the year in Alaska. After living in Florida for 9 1/2 years, I am still amazed at the changes each season brings in the north. I love to drive around the back side of the base and enjoy the fall colors. The road winds back and forth, and the speed limit is slow, so it's a great place to just enjoy the scenery. My favorite stop along the road is Six Mile Lake. It's also a float plane airport, so if you are lucky, you can watch the planes take off and land.
Today it was quiet. Just me and the occasional fish splashing around in the water.
This morning, there was a little termination dust on the mountains. Not much, though, and the lower peaks had melted clean by 9:30 or so this morning. There is still snow on the higher peaks, a little further back. It won't be long now. In another week or two, the trees will be bare. By the end of October, snow will be on the ground.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back to Business

I am happy to say that we seem to have recovered. Other than a slight cough that just won't let go, the kids are fine and dandy, and will be back at school tomorrow. Whoopee! (Sorry, was that out loud?) I will try to take advantage of the lull in my schedule and head out to photograph some of the beautiful fall colors. The leaves are all changing and it's gorgeous here! Brandon has a field trip on Tuesday that promises to be a lot of fun. More on that later!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Under the Weather

After running around between school, dentist appointments, orthodontist appointments, swimming practice, School Open Houses, etc., the kids are now home with colds. Poor babies. I'll try to post something soon.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ship Creek

The best thing about Alaska is the wildlife all around you. The Elmendorf Fish Hatchery on Ship Creek is just outside the Post Road gate. There is a very pretty waterfall there, and it's a great place to watch the salmon. We also came across this little bird catching fish. She caught it in her beak, and beat it against this rock over and over again. Then she took the fish over to Junior and tried to feed it to him. (Never mind that Junior was bigger than Momma. ) Apparently the fish was still too big, so Momma went back to her rock and started beating it again, trying to break it into small pieces.
Poor Junior. He just had to hang out near the bank and wait for dinner.
Back to the salmon. This is the final resting place for these fish. They can't jump up the waterfall because it's too high, so they spawn at the base of it and then die.
It doesn't keep them from trying, though. They will jump and jump until they are just too tired. Then they will drift to the side and another salmon will take their place and start jumping all over again.

They turn this deep red color right before they die. I guess this is what they mean when they say "Going out in a blaze of glory."