Friday, October 31, 2008

Sunrise at Six Mile Lake

The sun is rising a little later every day. I went out to Six Mile Lake on the back side of base yesterday morning a little after 9 am. I was planning on taking pictures of the sunrise on the lake, but I got a little distracted. Not far after I went around the flight line, I happened upon a bull moose. It was dark, so the pictures are grainy, but he is a handsome gentleman, just the same.
He had already crossed the road when I got near him, and didn't stick around for very long. He entered the trees and quickly faded away. I continued on my quest for sunrise pictures, but as I approached the lake, this majestic creature was also enjoying the scenery. He was perched high in a tree beside the lake, looking for breakfast. He didn't have any luck while I was there, but maybe things worked out for him later on. The lake was frozen over, so fish were not one of his options. By the time I actually started taking pictures of the lake, the sun had risen. That's OK. It was still beautiful. This is one of my favorite places on base.

Maybe some day soon, I'll start out a little earlier and see if I can get the actual sunrise. It really is beautiful, with it's pinks and purples reflecting off of the mountains.
Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sue Henry

If you are interested in reading some great murder mystery novels about Alaska, pick up a book by Sue Henry. She lives here in Anchorage, and has written a great series of books based on the adventures of a local Iditarod musher named Jessie Arnold from Wasilla, AK. The stories all take place here in Alaska, and Ms. Henry is a very descriptive writer. The first in the series is Murder on the Iditarod Trail. I've read the whole series, and they are all definitely a good read. This author also has another series about RV enthusiast Maxie McNabb. She is a feisty older lady who lives in Homer, AK, during the summer, but spends the rest of the year traveling around the lower 48 in her RV with a Dachshund named Stretch. She seems to attract trouble, because she (like her friend Jessie Arnold) is always involved in some murder mystery. I am currently reading The Refuge.

I'm Still Here...Just Hibernating!

Lately, it's been work, work, work, school, work, work, work, school, etc........ I did have a lovely phone chat with Dajana on Friday :0) and that made my week much better. I spent Friday running around trying to catch up on errands (and of course, back to the school again). Friday night, I curled up on the couch with a cup of hot green tea and my fleece moose blanket that Mindy made me, and went on strike. Nothing but watching mind numbing television until I went to bed. Everyone needs that once and a while. The rest of the weekend was filled with trying to clean this much neglected house, and wash a mountain of laundry.
Russ and I took a nice walk through the woods near our house yesterday. Most of the leaves are gone and there is a light dusting of snow on the ground. Just enough to crunch under your feet. It was a great break from the regular hustle and bustle of the week.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

26 Glacier Cruise

Since my schedule of late doesn't allow a lot of time to take pictures, I thought I'd share these from a few summers ago. If you ever get the chance, take a boat ride in Alaska. We went on the 26 Glacier Cruise out of Whittier, and it was fantastic. Alaska is one of the few remaining wilderness areas in the United States. The majority of the state can only be seen from a boat or a plane. We were lucky to see quite a lot of wildlife on the cruise. The harbor seals were chilling out on the ice. There were also tons of sea otters swimming around and playing. They were a little more cautious than the seals, and didn't let the boat get too close to them.

Pictures just can't capture the massive size of the glaciers. They made our big boat look like a little toy. Occasionally, part of the glacier calves off and falls into the water. There were big chunks of ice floating all around that had already fallen off.

Between the train and the cruise, it's hard to decide which mode of transportation is my favorite here. They are both fantastic. I will offer this bit of advise, though. As part of the cruise, they haul in a piece of glacial ice out of the water and chop it up. Then they let the passengers each get a little chip and taste it. The passengers loved this, because they could now tell the people back home "I ate part of a glacier in Alaska!" Very impressive... until I got home and checked out my pictures. When I blew up some of the pictures, I noticed that one of the harbor seals was "relieving herself" on the ice. This was not the chunk that people were eating, but who is to say some other seal didn't flavor that one at some point. Just something to think about if someone every offers you a glacier chip in Alaska. Just say no!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Snow & Ice

I was driving home from work Friday afternoon, and hit a patch of ice while turning a corner. I lost traction and started sliding to the left instead of turning to the right. I did my part: I stomped the brake to the floor and went "UGHHHHHHHH!" Apparently I didn't pronounce it right, because I kept sliding and ended up on the curb. Nothing major, no damage done, and I backed up and went on around the corner. In my defence, I was doing a whopping 5 mph at the time. Clearly not my fault. Then I did what every good wife should do. I went home and said, "Can you put my snow tires on the van? I slid into a curb." Big mistake. Now I am the recipient of an instructional speech on how to drive on icy surfaces. It involved percentages, physics and braking vs. turning. I didn't get it all, but nodded when I felt I should of. Apparently I passed the test, and the snow tires went on. Now I am raring to go.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wind Gusts

We have a "wind advisory" today, warning us that the winds are blowing around 30 miles per hour, with wind gusts at around 85-95 mph. Our instructions are to use caution and care when driving around. In Florida, they would yell "Hurricane!" and tell us to secure our belongings and get out of town! Wimps! :0) In Alaska, it's just a little wind, no biggie. Maybe we should get out the kites.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Mother Ship Has Landed!

It's unofficially open! The soft opening for our Target here was on Tuesday, but they don't officially open until Sunday. It didn't matter, because the word really got out. It was insane yesterday! Imagine standing in the middle of a college campus and yelling "FREE BEER!" That was the turn out that they had yesterday. Target is the only store completed in the shopping center, so there is construction everywhere. Workers are madly trying to get the outside of the other buildings completed before the snow really hits and shuts them down. They had people directing the steady stream of traffic around the construction areas and to the back of the shopping center where the Target is. They handled it really well, though, and things went smoothly. It's nice to have a Target again, because I've been without one since we left Florida, over THREE years ago! Time if flying by! I showed great restraint, though, and only picked up a shopping basket instead of grabbing the cart (like I wanted to!) My checkbook will thank me later.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Still Snowing (Sort Of)

We got a few more inches of snow last night, but it isn't sticking to the roads, so that is always nice. It's hovering right around the freezing mark, so the snow isn't accumulating much. Bummer for the kids, yippee for the drivers. This is a picture I took a couple of years ago, right after Halloween. You are only allowed to display real pumpkins during the month of October on base. The day after Halloween, you have to "dispose" of them properly (meaning: toss them into the dumpsters). Moose love to eat pumpkins, so any seen out after that date are considered "feeding the wildlife", which packs a hefty fine. Someone loved their pumpkin too much to toss it, and placed it on a stump deep in the woods. Of course, it could have been the Headless Horseman's spare head. One will never know.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

First Snow Of The Year!

It hit a few weeks earlier this year. It will probably all be melted tomorrow, but here it is, the first snow of the year to stick! Brandon got all of his gear on and is out playing with the neighbors. Winter is finally here!

Tundra Snake

One of my very favorite things about Alaska is that there aren't any snakes here. Well, there is one exception. Here is the rarely seen and highly dangerous Tundra Snake. It's OK, though. It only comes out of hibernation every 150 years or so, so I think I'm probably safe. (I'll have to do some research, though, and find out when it was last seen roaming the tundra!)
The ghost hunt this weekend didn't work out as planned, for those keeping track. I haven't given up, though. I will try another night.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Do you believe in ghosts?

This is the perfect time of the year to ask this question. I don't know if I really believe in ghosts, but I am definitely curious about them. I'd like to see one, if they do exist. Recently, I have heard about a location here locally where some interesting things have been occurring. These things include ropes and chains swinging by themselves, slamming sounds coming from empty rooms, etc. Several reliable people have witnessed these occurrences. The question is, is someone playing a trick on them, or is the place "haunted"? I am going to be very brave and try to investigate this location this weekend. OK, not so brave, I am taking Russ with me. (I'm not a complete idiot, ya know!) My question to you, though, is what you think about ghosts. Check out the poll on the side bar and give your opinion. If you are interested in checking out some local "haunts" in your area, then look them up on this site.

It Moose Be The Pajamas!

I think that my new moose pajamas that Russ got me are bringing me lots of luck! I've seen tons of moose in the last week or so. This lovely visitor came to the front yard at around 5:30 this morning. It also answers the age old question, "Are moose afraid of giant spiders?" I know this problem has been keeping you up at night, so I will tell you the answer now, obviously not.
This lady was also not alone. She had an admirer following her around. He was patiently waiting in the yard across the street while she enjoyed her breakfast. Apparently their relationship is in the early stages, because she didn't have a lot of patience for him.
Did you know that moose are the largest member of the deer family? It's true! You can see the resemblance when you check out their hooves. You can also see that moose have great taste. She was very impressed with my Halloween decorations. Or maybe she was just wondering if the giant spider was edible.
To give you an idea of just how big moose are, the hump of her shoulders was even with the top of my van. The bull moose was bigger than that. They don't have deer this big in the south, even Texas! In case you are wondering if we got snow this morning, the answer is no. It rained instead. That will teach me to count my flakes before they flurry! Oh, well, it won't be long.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tennis Anyone?

When I went to pick up Jess from swim practice this afternoon, I found this little guy hanging out on the tennis court. The kids on the tennis team were patiently waiting for their court back. They said that he wondered in the gate on the other side of the courts, and had been hanging out there for a little while. No one had seen his Mom.
He didn't look very happy to be stuck inside the court, but he wasn't panicked either. He just walked around a little bit and checked the place out.
The weeds weren't too appetizing, so he finally decided to head out the other gate. The kids ran over and shut the gate behind him so he wouldn't accidentally end up inside again.
He decided to have a snack on the grass beside the pool house and relax. By the time we came outside again, he was gone. Hopefully his Mom came to claim him. He was a Spring baby, and it's unusual for a moose that young to be without his mom, but he was healthy and well fed, so I'm sure she was close by.

South End of a North Bound Moose

OK, it's not his most flattering side, but he just wouldn't turn around and smile. This big fella was hanging out (with a female friend) just inside the woods down the street from our house yesterday evening. This isn't a good time to get too close to bull moose anyway. It's rutting season, so they are a bit cranky. Did you know that bull moose challenge other bull moose to fights to show off for the lady moose? They have to show the ladies that they are the best pick. If there isn't another bull moose around, they will challenge whatever is available, including people and vehicles. I took this picture from inside Russ truck. I told him if the moose rammed into the side, we couldn't get the dent fixed. What a cool souvenir of Alaska that would be! We would be telling people at our next base, "Yep, that's where the bull moose rammed into the truck when we lived in Alaska!" Russ didn't seem to agree. Men! Did you happen to notice the forecast for tomorrow? What is that I see? Snow? Whoohoo! I can't wait. We will be putting the bikes away this weekend, making room for the van in the garage, and dusting off the sleds. Nothing like a little anticipation to get you through the week!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy October

Happy October! Time to dust off the Halloween decorations! Halloween in Alaska is a little different from the lower 48. Up here, you have to choose your costumes based on size. If you want someone to actually see the outfit, it has to be worn over your jacket and snow pants. We didn't know that our first year. Brandon would go up to someones door to trick or treat and they would ask what he was. He would open his coat so that they could see his costume, and then they would tell him he looked cool. Then he'd get the candy. Last year, both the kids opted for Halloween parties instead. They figured it was just easier. We still have a great turnout from the trick or treaters at the door, though. Most kids are willing to brave the elements to get that sugar rush.