Tuesday, June 30, 2009

parting shots...

seeing lions head is always a sign that the drive is almost over and you are nearly home. not really sure i get the lion part of it so much...guess it depends on the angle of approach.
above is part of the log cabin from one of the hikes we took. this one was out of the campground. orv trails everywhere so you could have walked for miles no doubt. i think this was probably a homesteader shack. there is no way i could have survived those days in that mosquito infested land without any deet. i wonder if many people went crazy back then.

the dogs were the real entertainment. this is a rare moment of rio sleeping. they would all curl up together, heads on backs...then rio would move again and disrupt everyone. at one point rio stepped on poor mandee's head. another time mandee had laid down on blossoms head. not sure how she was breathing. you gotta love dogs to share a car with them on a roadtrip. luckily, my friend kelly is very dog friendly. rio is wonderful, but she can be a handful. i could tell the hot stinky breath was a bit much for kelly at times. i think kelly woke up scared one night thinking there was a bear outside her tent til she realized it was just rio snoring in the element. i am a very sound sleeper apparently.
not sure why this picture loaded sideways. hmmm....anyway. i thought they looked all calm and happy in the sunshine. rio wouldn't settle til i got a blanket for her to lay on. such a princess.

this is a picture of blossom trying to get to bed. she was done for the night after probably about 8 miles of hiking. hmmm 4+ am, a few at lunch and then another 2-3 on the summit. such a sweet pup she is. rio turned in soon after. i think it was nearly 10 pm in this picture.

another sign of being nearly home...the mighty matanuska glacier. this puppy is huge and you can see it for miles. i really need to do a day trip out there again and take a hike on the glacier.
now i'm off to bed. i went to the dog park and then out to byron glacier today as it's warm and sunny. i really should plan on doing yardwork and chill tomorrow. more poppies are blooming. i love the colour. so pretty and blue!!

did i mention getting pee in my eye....

some more scenery from the road trip. the pee in my eye thing. well that occured in the wee hours of the night. not sure why it is that i always have to pee at 4 am when i'm camping. i never have to do this normally. anyway...there was splatter, i feared some horrid eye infection, but i am well. pretty gross though, i know. i'm sure that is one of those things one usually just takes to the grave, but i'm not afraid to share my embarrassing moments of life.. okay...well there are several embarrassing moments that i will not be sharing and will take to the grave....or crematoriom as hopefully will be the case for me. though that doesn't sound lovely either. once your dead there really are no good options for these bodies.
i love these puffy white wild flowers. so pretty.

above is one of two porcupines we saw. not the best pictures, but who wants to get too close to these prickly guys. loved to watch him move though. so cute in a funny sort of way.

we did most of the road on day 2. the first day we drove to the first official camp which is called brushkana. that was 29 miles in or really 29.2 according to the milepost. it was pretty full and had an old guy as the host. he loved to chat. poor guy...lonely...and difficult to understand. did get that he and his wife had been married for like 41 years before she died, they never had any kids, but she left him with a cat and a promise to take care of it. it was in his rv there at the camp.

the road went up past the bridge i posted yesterday and up to this hike we took on maclaren summit at 4,086 ft. there is a beautiful hike there along the summit. you could see forever. there was a huge storm coming in to the one side, the other side was blue skies with puffy clouds.

we saw 2 major rivers along the road. first the nenana which eventually drains into the bering sea and the susitna river that eventually drains to the cook inlet. both start from glaciers. they all start to look the same to me so i'm sure there are pictures of them. so many glaciers...who can keep them straight. i'm sure there are some scientists that could easily though. okay i'm looking at the alaska atlas(another favorite book)...glaciers seen... from cantwell
nenana glacier, westfork glacier, susitna glacier, maclaren glacier, eureka glacier...and lots of un-named arms of other more huge glaciers. mostly we followed the alaska range of mountains .

the maclaren trail was nice. most of the trails were wide and a bit muddy from all the orv (off road vehicle) use. much of the land there is very fragile, muskeg. it's spongy and once an orv rides over it, it's destroyed.

the second night we stayed at another official campground, tangle lakes. the first night had cost us $8...so we were excited that tangle lakes was free. how many things are free in this world. we saved $8 so we spent it on firewood. the wind was swirling around so the fire wasn't much more than a smoke out. blossom was already in bed and rio got freaked about the smoke.

esker....a winding, narrow ridge of sand or gravel, probably deposited by a stream flowing in or under glacial ice.

this word could be found often in our milepost and neither kelly nor i had any idea what the word meant. just had to look it up. now i'll have to go back to the highway. i'd really love to...maybe in the fall. i love fall colours in alaska. there was alot of snow on top of the mountains out there, and around anchorage as well. we've had a beautiful, mostly sunny summer. many are whispering that winter will come early.
so i believe that is an esker above...

the old denali highway...

had a great weekend trek with my friend kelly. i have always wanted to drive the old denali highway. it's a dirt road, built in the 50's i believe. it was the only road that took you to denali national park at the time. the road is 134 miles long, not much services available. it's known to take out tires on the potholes as it's not one of the most well maintained roads in alaska.
i hope i don't lose all of this. i saved pictures while i slept and have all these error messages on the page. computers can be so annoying to me, but i do enjoy the convience. the blog is a great way to share pictures. kelly and i were able to stop along the way and take advantage of many of the trails along the road. if you've never traveled by road in alaska you must and do take a copy of "the milepost" with you. it's the alaskan road bible. the guide will tell you mile by mile what you will be seeing. it was originally made as a guide for driving the alaskan highway from the lower 48 up, it now includes all the major roads of alaska.
the above picture is me, rio and blossom on a hike we took after stopping on the side of the road to eat lunch....it was probably 3-4 pm when we stopped. days are long and you lose track of time.
the scenery is spectacular. i don't think my pictures do it justice at all. the scenery is grand and goes on forever seemingly. there are huge glaciers carving out the mountain valleys seen in the distance. i have my new camera and i need to learn more of how to alter the settings to get better contrast on my landscape pictures. i'm learning. lots more to learn though. it's not as simple as click and shoot on my new slr...well it is, but it has many more options and i want to improve my ability to share what is up here in this beautiful place.

had to get a picture of one of the few mile markers left over from the 50's when the highway was created. the markers note the mileage from paxson headed into cantwell and the national park. the book tells you what mile you are on going either direction and what you will find there. gps would probably be helpful as the markers are few.

our actual animal sightings were few. there were many swans seen and a few porcupines. i figured all the animals have so much land to wander, why would they chill near the road. really it's just a matter of luck seeing wildlife anywhere. you are always hoping and one time my friend got all animated screaming for me to stop...i was sure she's spotted a bear with cubs and just stopped in the middle of the road. (there is very little traffic so i pull over whereever most of the time). anyway...she'd seen a porcupine. for as slow as porcupines are this guy was pretty fast escaping our cameras. i think i have a few pictures though. we also saw a fox on a hike, but that guy was really quick so no picture of him.
the mosquito's were thick, especially on the eastern side of the road. i'm wearing my ski hat above, not because i still felt that chilly, it was protecting me from the mosquito's. at times we'd rush to get in the car and then spent a few minutes swatting all the mosquito's that had entered with us. my car has blood splatters and mosquito bits all over. it will need a good wash. it felt great to get home and wash all the deet off of me. a friend said they did the road in the fall, which would be beautiful. i love fall colours, and the bugs would be much less densely populated.

below is kelly eating lunch with the dogs all in a rare state of calm.

below is the hoofprints of a caribou. there is supposedly a small herd of 30-40, but this was as close as we got. hoof prints and poop. we discussed the possibility of making a "poop of alaska" book. you get so you can recognize all the various poops you run across and guess as to freshness. this is especially important with bear poop. steaming, you best move and keep your eyes pealed, old poop is yesterdays news though.
not much as far as services along the road, so we brought food and gear. i had a spare tire,but we had no vehicle issues. we did see one person on the side of the road changing a tire and our first night we assisted a cute austrailian who had fallen asleep in his car and ran down his battery. i towed him out and then we ended up giving his car a jump start. that is my second time using my jumper cables in a week. we figured it was good to build up positive kharma in case we needed assistance along the way.

we both brought our ipods so we had plenty of good music to entertain. those things are great on a road trip. my element has the little plug in so you can hook it right into your stereo. radio coverage...well we didn't bother trying. doubt you'll get much out there.

rio, the brindle dog is quite neurotic. she is obsessed with me, gets anxious in the car and panics whenever i leave the car. so everytime you stop to get out and take a photo she can freak. she tends to jump into your seat and before you can return to the car you have to open the back window and trick her out of the front seat. we then run to the front before she can get there and jump in. we got pretty good at it by the end. she just looks so pathetic here.

this bridge goes over the susitna river. the river comes down from the susitna glacier in the alaska range . the alaska range was seen through much of this journey. the river flows over 250 miles to the cook inlet, down near anchorage.

there is the river with the range in the back ground.

these lovely wildflowers were found all along the side of the road. the wildflowers are starting to bloom which really adds to the beauty and colour of the landscape. i'm sure mid to late july the pinnacle of bloomes will be reached.

below is one of several glaciers moving through the mountains.

the beginings of the sunset on night one. since the sun doesn't totally set and it's late at night, i went to bed. i'd worked the night before and slept very little. on night two the dogs were beat and they had crawled into the car by 9 or 10 pm to crash. it was tough to find a spot in the back of the element where the dogs weren't sacked out. kelly and her dog mandee settled into thier tent outside the car.

more later...i really hope this works. i'd hate to have loaded all these and wrote and then have it all disappear. when i got back my friend maria had just returned from dutch harbor ferry trek so she was giving me pointers. i'm getting excited for next alaskan adventure. i do have a few days off this week now before i head back to work since we thought this trip would take longer. will have to decide what to do. garden, hikes or take off to kenai. hmm....should spent some time planning dutch though so i'm not just wandering around without any plan.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

pictures and ramblings...

these are just some pictures from yesterdays ramblings around the old independence mine site.

loads to do before i leave saturday. i always put everything off til the last minute. now i'm madly making lists to check off. it will all work out. of course, busy for me is a normal day for most people i know...so i'm not really complaining.

apparently, this jon and kate with the multiple kids have announced they are divorcing. not that i watch the show..i never have. i have caught clips of it when channel surfing. sad that people use thier kids for thier own gain. i guess my opinion is that if you have that many kids you have even more responsibility to give them a stable upbringing. they probably started with good intentions. pay the bills, have enough care/supplies for the number of kids that came thier way. as they say,"the road is paved with good intentions". these people got greedy. "money is the root of all evil" and there is much truth in this. ulitmately, these people used thier kids to become wealthy beyond what was reasonable and now these kids will pay for it. one wonders what they will think one day when they figure out that thier lives were put on public display for the benefit of thier parents.

it's just annoying to me. having kids is a huge responsibility. maybe i tend to judge others a bit as i have no kids. when i was young i thought that when i got to a certain age and i wasn't married, i'd just have kids. when i got to those ages though i was mature enough to realize that being a parent wasn't really something i wanted to do alone. people do it,but being single has great benefits,being a single parent though is tough. why would i give up my single life to be totally stressed and ultimately probably not do as well by kids as i would otherwise. if i was independantly wealthy...maybe i would have made a different choice.

i think we all have our own life path to follow and i have just taken my path and accepted it for what it is. accepting your life the way it comes to you will bring you more joy than if you fight it. doors open and you walk through them. if you force a door open you may be very unhappy with what comes to you. another common saying, "be careful what you ask for you may get it".

there are alot of unwanted kids in the world, are some born without ability to have kids so that these kids have a chance? am i single so that if something were to happen to one of my siblings there would have been an aunt that could have taken over at some point? (not that they would have selected me since i left the church) so many moral/ethical issues today. i love to ponder all of it, it's fascinating to me. these people brought 8 kids into the world because they wanted to have thier genes carry on. as i got older i figured i'd wait for the right guy and if i still wanted kids and was too old, i could always try to adopt.

of course, knowing hollywood, this is probably all a publicity stunt and they will be re-united by the end of next season.
other sad news in alaska. now 7 homeless guys have been found dead in the past like 3 months. they so far don't think they are related and feel it may just be lifestyle and exposure. i find that hard to believe. even in the deep, cold winter we've never had that many homeless turn up dead in this short of time. on another sad story a 47 year old woman was just murdered and the suspect is a guy who was on parole for a previous murder where the victim was stabbed 40 times. he was wanted for parole violations again. just seems so senseless.

okay...i really must get to this list of stuff to do. you know i'm just avoiding it by blabbing away on the blog.
so i just returned from a walk and lunch with a friend, tonya, whom i worked with in ketchikan and now she just moved up to anchorage from oklahoma. she's happy to be back in alaska. of course, i walked the bog by my house and the mosquito's attached themselves to rio, when i got the dogs in the car the mosquito's detached and i went about nuts trying to dodge and kill mosquito's while i drove. got rio's pain meds and added another errand to the list. the car needs oil change.
michael jackson died today. pretty sad really. i think his life was pretty sad in the end. farrah fawcet passed as well.that is the news. off to start on the list again...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

one bug eaten today...

bluebells and i think columbine. those are really pretty. i love all the wildflowers that show up each spring.

blossom and i take a break before heading back to the car and loaning my jumper cables to some poor family who wore down thier battery listening to music while waiting for the rest of the family to come back from their hike.
below blossom shows cooper how to swim. this is coopers first swim. he's 11 months old...just a puppy still. i doubt we wore him out. blossom tried hard though.

below is sharon. she was cracking up. i always think laughing pictures like this look like those tampon commercials where they try to convince women that having your period can be a joy! yeah, yeah, yeah! sharon is laughing all the time....fun to chill with. have known her for years. we met in ketchikan. always back to ketchikan. just a great little town and there was a wonderful group of people while i was there.
so i met up with my friend sharon at gold mint trailhead in hatchers pass and went for a little hike...well 8 miles. first i walked the two dogs 2 miles, settled rio in for the day and then drove out. in the process of walking some sort of flying insect made a beeline for my throat. this caused a gag and spit episode and eventually i had to admit that bug was stuck there in my throat and the only practical solution was to take a swig of water and just accept the protein. a mile or so later...my friend was in the same boat. those bugs. i'm just not a fan...the thing they are successful at each year is making me wish for winter.

of course, sometimes winter drops in year round up in these parts. these past few days there has been some dusting on the mountain tops of snow and today when we finished hiking and headed to independence mine it was snowing on us. as i traveled home, the sun turned to rain then hail and back to sun...so the weather can get crazy at times. did get a lovely rainbow outside tonight though. i love those rainbows.

poppy watch...no bloom yet. i've looked twice at least today. i'm just hoping it doesn't wait til i am gone to bloom. that would be cruel.

anyway...the dogs had a blast chasing each other so obviously they went many more miles than we did and rio survived being left behind, though i felt the usual guilt. it was a beautiful day and surprisingly we only got a few raindrops on our walk. haven't been up to independence mine for a bit. they've tried to preserve what they can of the old mine...there is lots that time has taken though. the trails of the park were closed so that was a bummer. made some homemade turkey noodle soup when i got home. put a few bowls up to freeze so that i can munch on them while on my camp out. should be tasty out there in the wild. i'll try to post some scenery shots tomorrow. i'm tired for some reason...could be the 10 miles of walking i did today. hehe. good night.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

himalayan poppies...

my poppy is just about to bloom. it's so exciting!! okay, so i'm easily thrilled. i planted them last year and this year they are growing in well. i just noticed today that the blue babies were about to be born. they are so pretty!! the rest of the garden is growing. especially the weeds. i know, weeds are just beautiful plants that happen to grow in the wrong place. they are very good at growing in my yard though. i hacked out about 300 dandelions today...only one came out with a 10 inch root attached so they'll be back. but no matter...my himalayan poppy is blooming!!
above is my fair city of anchorage...lots of green out there. i was out walking on the prospect heights trail system. rio is a bit sleepy today. guilt, guilt. tomorrow i'll have to leave her to guard the house and just take blossom out to hatchers pass.

blossom makes the most of the mud on the trail. that was as exciting as my day was. no moose sightings or bear. i did see some bear scat on the trail, but it's yesterdays poop so i wasn't too concerned. this evening was spent at work re-learning how to do basic life support. we made the most of our time there and had fun while learning.

Monday, June 22, 2009

earthquakes and rainbows....

thought i'd toss in a few rainbow pictures. southeast alaska is the land of the rainbows. we get several here as well. above was seen in juneau. i've seen only 3-4 of these double rainbows in my lifetime. this one went all the way across the sky. i saw another like that one night here en route to work...no camera. below is a rainbow in ketchikan. so you can see there is no pot of gold at the end of either rainbow.
today i woke to some shaking going on. well i woke earlier, fed the dogs and returned to bed. the bed did some serious shaking about 11:30 am. no damage, but i looked on the fairbanks university earthquake site and within 15 min it was on there. initially it said it was a 5.7, the last i checked they'd said it was a 5.4. so still a good size. a pleasant quake i must say. friends i spoke to up further north felt it more strongly. it was in the cook inlet region.

must have shaken something up in my brain as i decided since it was cloudy here in anchorage to head to the rain forested city of girdwood. so it was really coming down when i arrived. i took the girls on a 5 mile walk. there are boardwalks and so it took some work with rio. i'm her guide dog. she does great with the steps up, but those steps down can be brutal. not sure how to help her with that. i always struggle with taking her or leaving her home. she just wants to be with me...it's crazy.
below is the broad leaves of devils club. the stems are totally covered with prickly spines. you totally don't want to walk thru this stuff.

the winner creek gets a bit rough at the bridge crossing. there is also a hand tram, but it's a bit further after the bridge. haven't been there for a bit and my concern of heights has prevented a crossing using it. i was nervous crossing the incredible stable bridge over this rapid moving water. the trail got really muddy at this point anyway so a good turn around point for me and the two soaked dogs. i hadn't brought my good rain gear stuff so i was drenched as well.
the greens are so pretty in the rain though, so i really enjoy a walk in the rain. it's great...as long as you can get home and dry out. camping in the rain is much less fun.
the evergreens are getting new growth..always looks cool to me.

below is from last nights walk at 10 pm. it was pretty out so i decided to take advantage of the long day and head to blueberry hill and flat top. you can see both behind blossom. i just did the smaller hill. you have great views of anchorage from this location.
earlier yesterday i took the dogs to university lake dog park and got a few pictures of the moose that have taken up residence. the babies are growing. couldn't get too close as they were on the edge of the soccer fields so no trees for me to hide behind.

above is hemlock. always looks cool all twisted up. below is the beautiful clouds from last night.

the island below has been in the news this week. a few kids attemptted to cross over to it at low tide. the tide rushes in though and people get stuck out there. the paper said you could be in 20 feet of water within 1 hour time. a group of "adventures" from around here that plan little treks are planning to do this very same risky trip this week i guess. seems nuts to me. it's one thing to do something crazy yourself, a whole different thing planning an event like this with a hiking group. there are too many things that can go wrong and the group doesnt' seem to have thought this through. i mean what if someone has a heart attack during the crossing. there is no safe place to put someone...who stays with them risking death? the mud is filled with silt and in many places it acts like quicksand, rapidly trapping people in to await death. the teens were at shoulder level in the water by the time they were pulled out.
i don't want my tax dollars and fire and rescue teams being wasted saving people who have done something that we've all been told not to do. it's a 3.5 mile trip. even though this guy has successfully done the crossing, i think it just sets up other people to try this as well.

off to finish baking some chocolate chip cookies. tasty. i love the dough. gotta take the cookies out right before they are totally cooked to finish cooking outside the oven.
it's the old toll house recipe from when i was a kid. the recipe has changed over the years. i first noticed them making an alteration when i was a teen so i wrote them. they sent the original recipe which is actually nothing like the current recipe. i use the recipe my mom made. gotta have those perfect soft cookies.