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Give a Moose a Muffin...

Updated: 2018-03-06T00:17:20.668-09:00




I judge days in Alaska by several criteria. One is whether or not Mt McKinley is visible when I head in for the day. The other is whether or not I see a moose during the day. One of the two makes it a good day. Both on the same day makes it a great day. Yesterday, I experienced a PERFECT day in Alaska. As I sat in a dog sled riding through the woods I reflected a bit on my time in Alaska. This year is starting out differently and it looks to be moving in a much more positive direction than the last few years of my life. The last year was a bit rough financially. I had some unexpected bumps and continued difficulty finding a renter/buyer for the house in Minnesota. To say things were tight might be an underestimation. I look from pay check to pay check and plan what I can and can't do/pay based on that. I now will be getting a bit extra each month due to an error in how I was paid over the last two years; I have not been getting pay for carrying the pager like I am contracted to. I only have been paid for the time I was called in. So in addition to a bit more on each pay periods check, I will be getting two years of back pay for time on call!I have been talking with a new realtor/friend and she found someone that might be interested in renting the house in Rochester. There is also a pediatrician from here in Fairbanks who was accepted into the pediatric cardiology fellowship at Mayo. The Human Resources person at her clinic and I are good friends. The friend is going to put a bug in the doc's ear about a place to live in Rochester. Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel and the home I love so much back in Minnesota will again be alive with activity.Relationships over the last year have been interesting. Letting go of the relationships in the past has never been easy for me. On the other hand, I am sometimes too eager with new relationships. A few came and went over the last year. The year started with a very scary relationship and I am grateful to be out of it. I was never hit or struck but words and threats can leave deep marks. I was courageous enough this summer to do many outdoor activities alone but I have always wanted to have someone to share those adventures with. It's early but there is someone new in my life that is making those adventures more enjoyable with his company. Yesterday I took a friend with to go mushing with another friend from church. It was -15 out, the sun was shining brightly, the mountain was visible all day, and I saw 5 moose throughout the day. I ended the evening with a group of girl friends I cherish to the core. As the new year starts I find there to be a bit more peace. As we neared the house yesterday with the sled, my friend let me take control of the dogs. Maybe it's a reflection on the year to come...I'm at the "reins" and if I need to put the breaks on I have the ability to do so but I think this might be the year to let the puppies run![...]



This blog was initially created as a form of communication between myself and my friends spread miles across the country. For a while it became a venting tool. Then it became a log of new adventures in new parts of the country. Eventually, it became nearly abandoned other than my occasional HNT and my updated book list. Facebook, work, and travel all seemed to replace the outlet I had developed. I miss it. I miss writing. I miss the friends I communicate with mostly via an online media. I miss putting my thoughts to text. It's time to make a resolution and get back on track.

I do not know which track I will take. My motto for many years as been "I chose the one less traveled and that has made all the difference" along with "not all who wander are lost". With those words in mind, I'm sure it will end up a bit of this and some of that. Work is a bit off limits now that I'm a "federal" employee for the DoD. Alaska is becoming more of a lifestyle than just an adventure. I am still reading as much as I can get my hands on. There are some cobwebs to be dusted away and things that need aired out. I'll get to those too.

For now, I'm going to gradually work my way back into regular posts. I doubt I'll ever be a daily blogger but I going months without anything to share has not been enjoyable. I feel like something has been missing. Time to fill the void and find my voice again.

What I Read...


This year was a bit slow in terms of my usual reading list. However, I am blaming it on being out and about too much. While I was grateful for all the time I got to spend playing in Alaska I was a bit overwhelmed with too many other commitments at time this year and a bit too much traveling and not being at home. This year's goal is to hit 50 but also to write my own again. I haven't journaled in forever and my blog has been horribly neglected. I opened the year with a book I found on my sister's book shelf and ended it with the most long, drug-out book I have ever read/listened too. A few comments for those that might want to turn a page or too...The Keeper's Son by Homer HickamPurgatory Ridge by William Kent Krueger...This is a series I discovered near the end of last year that is written by a Minnesota author and all the books are set in Northern Minnesota. Just the setting makes them a good read for me.Rowing to Latitude: Journeys Along the Arctic's Edge by Jill Fredston...Up there as a second place in my favorite Alaska book so far.One Shot by Lee ChildsProof Positve by Philip MargolinNo. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall SmithThe Chopin Manuscript by Jeffery Deavers and others...first "serial" manuscript I read. First and last chapter by the same author but after that each chapter is handed to a new author with no previous knowledge and no clue of where it's going.Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarrsonShutter Island by Dennis Lahane...Disappointed by the book AND the movie!G is for Gumshoe by Sue GraftonThe 19th Wife by David EbershoffThe Face of Deception by Iris JohansenBlood Hollow by William Kent KruegerThe Bone Thief by Jefferson BassShadows of the Koyukuk by Sidney Huntington as told to Jim Reardon...If you only have time to read one book about AK in a short time, read this one!Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters by Peter Vronsky...Did you know that a female serial killer will go nearly 3 times as long as a male serial killer before they are caught? The 9th Judgment by James Patterson and Maxine PaetroH is for Homicide by Sue GraftonPublic Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 by Brian Burrough...Follow this book up with a trip to the Crime and Punishment Museum in DC, worth it.The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig LarrsonThe Copper Bracelet by Jeffery Deavers and othersGirl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig LarrsonWinterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary PaulsenWhere Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer...Did nothing but make my blood boil and I WORK for the Army!Skeletons at the Feast by Chris BohjalianI is for Innocent by Sue GraftonUndress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane GilmanCharlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood...Second worst book of the year but at least it was short!Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo...May be a new favorite author. Main character is a former Amish woman who is now the chief of police in her home town. Lots of moral conflict.Mercy Falls by William Kent KruegerSpider Bones by Kathy ReichsThe Killing Game by Iris JohansenPort Mortuary by Patrica Cornwell...Iwas so distracted the last two months of this year I nearly missed my all-time favorite author's newest book. Thank God it was Christmas vacation.61 Hours by Lee ChildsCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky...Ok, I can say I read it. Do I have to remember the "suffering" of reading it?A VERY short list for me this year What happened?[...]

New Year's Resolution...


START WRITING AGAIN...both my blog and journaling. I need an outlet!

HNT...The prep begins


Friends invited...Check
Groceries bought...Check
House cleaned...Check
Macaroni Salad...Check
Topping for brie...Check
Champagne, wine, brandy, scotch, OJ...Check
Sweet potatoes baked...Check
Two brandy pumpkin pies...Almost

(image) It's my favorite night/day of the year! I'm cooking for my Thanksgiving orphan dinner.

Back in college I lived too far from home to go home for holidays like Thanksgiving and Easter because they were only four day weekends. I was never left alone in the dorm though. Multiple people had me at their houses for the holidays. I remember watching the Macy's parade wrapped up in huge down comforters at Coree's house only to discover the turkey hadn't been thawed. I remember Easter at Rhonda's house with the best home made strawberry shortcake ever with real half and half poured over the top. I remember breakfast of deer sausage and eggs at cousin Russell's house before a late Thanksgiving dinner. I remember after church dressed up dinner with Heather's family in the "old" neighborhood.

Now I'm older. Ever since I was married during graduate school I have returned the favor. I host an "orphan dinner" on Thanksgiving and Easter. I remember the first one in our apartment in Phoenix with yeast rolls that tasted like mom's but didn't rise. I remember Easter in the apartment in Helena with tables running from one side of the house to the other. I remember my first Thanksgiving in Alaska with the house still full of boxes and 23 people crammed into my little log cabin.

This year is a group of friends from work and outside of work, old and new. I'm glad they can share this day with me in my home. I truly feel honored to invite people into my home to partake in a day of thanks. I'm grateful for them all and I revel in the preparing their meal.

To you and yours...Thank you for your friendships, your memories, and may God bless you with a day to be grateful for! Happy HNT!

HNT...All Jacked Up


(image) Halloween isn't complete without a pumpkin carving. Note to self though, if doing something with tiny pieces DON'T get a pumpkin that is three inches thick! The little carving tools aren't deep enough on the first pass. Oh well. My witch didn't turn out to bad and I have enough pumpkin to chop up, boil down, and can to be used for pies and more throughout the year. It's a process but we'll see how it turns out. The 25 lbs of Honeycrisp Apples I boiled down made some crazy good applesauce.


Happy HNT!

Midnight Munchies


Alaska finally has a sunset again. This was last week one night around 10:30 pm taken off my back deck. About 1 hour and 45 minutes later it was dark, completely dark. Finally, darkness at night and cooler temps. Both of these returning make for a much happier Moosekahl. I have been tending my garden somewhat tenderly throughout the summer. I admit to neglecting it at times and I lost some spinach b/c of that. If you don't pick it while leaves are ready it will bolt. My bolted while I was in MT. I had a few things that aren't doing as I thought they would...cucumbers and red peppers. I can handle those things. Ruby likes to eat at the grass but she leaves the garden beds alone. Remember the pretty Romanesco? Any form of cauliflower is a absolute favorite moose food. The temps at night have been getting cooler, which means moose are moving down from higher altitudes. My moose is back. Haven't seen it yet but it's been here. Can you tell how I know?The moose likes the leaves of kohlrobi but doesn't like the veggie. Those are teeth marks!This moose LOVED the Romanesco but didn't even nimble that pumpkin plant.This moose really likes Kale. So much for kale in my Zuppa Toscana.This moose left evidence behind.Definitely not dog prints![...]

Becoming an Outdoor Woman....2010


I was encouraged by several friends who have participated in the past to attend the Becoming an Outdoor Woman weekend sponsored by the Department of Game and Fish. I thought about it and decided it was a great way to spend a weekend. The weekend includes four workshop times with a very long list of class options. I was given a very nice backpack for a going away gift and while I have used it to travel I haven't actually tried packing everything I need in it to hike somewhere and spend a night. The first class I signed up for was Backpacking which included a lecture to cover gear and how to pack it as well as a hike and then a night in the woods, not at a campsite with "amenities".Our instructors covered gear, food, training and more for us before we hit the trail. This was our trail buddy, Tessa. She was super excited she got to come along. Can you tell?The original plan was to hike to a place called Inspiration Point. However, our instructors summed up the class and decided it might take be better to go to a place called Mitchell Point which was not quite as steep as the other hike. It was still a stunning view of the Tanana River Valley! I had to take a couple pictures looking over the edge just for Dad. He always worries about me in the high places I like to go to.My pack was somewhere between 40 and 50 lbs full but I made it and actually felt pretty good. I also enjoyed it so I think I can get into this with a little more practice and a lot of training.We hiked back off of Mitchell Point and then went even further down the hillside and into a clearing to make camp for the night. No maintained campsite, no platform. Just find a spot, smoosh the vegetation down a bit and make it home. It was actually really comfortable to have a bit of insulation and brush underneath the floor of the tent. I ended up sleeping like a log. I don't think I woke up once in the night.The biggest challenge backpacking is cooking and eating. I had no idea where to start with that. We got to use various portable cooking devices like the JetBoil, PocketRocket, and Whisper light to heat water to add to Mountain House backpacking meals. The meals are good but they have some drawbacks. Each package is 2 servings so you either eat it all or have to pack out your garbage. Also some of them had really high sodium content. Overall, they tasted good though. I had Chicken and Rice and then we also made a raspberry crumble to share. Our instructors had actually left some supplies at our campsite prior to us getting there so we were able to try out a few other things which might not be practical when backpacking but are definitely doable when car camping. Banana boats are a Girl Scout treat....Slice one unpeeled banana to make a slit. Stuff the slit with marshmellows and chocolate chips. Wrap in foil and throw in the fire. Very yummy. A few others tried coconut macaroons. Stuff a piece of chocolate inside a piece of french bread. Dip it in sweetened condensed milk and roll in coconut. Again, roast over fire and enjoy!I had chosen to have a campsite for the weekend b/c it was $25 cheaper and then that money covered the $10 rental for my next class, Rappelling. Because of this, I was up at 6:00 am , broke camp, repacked the backpack and hiked out of camp to go back to the main area and set up my tent again at my designated camp site for the rest of the weekend. This was my road out at about 6:20 in the morning. I was hiked out, reset up, and to breakfast at the mess hall by 7:10 am! Not a bad start. How come it's never that easy to get up and moving on a Monday morning when it's work you are headed to?I had three more classes ahead of me and the stories will follow. We were at Lost Lake Boy Scout Camp which was a phenomenal site with wild flowers, berries, peaks, rivers, and a lake to enjoy. I truly love where I live.[...]

HNT...Home away from home


I have had a wonderful home away from home on my camping adventures. And it won't be an adventure if I didn't take pictures to share!

I have absolutely no idea how this picture happened but I didn't delete it b/c after looking at it I liked the "creepy" factor to it. This was night two at the Becoming an Outdoor Woman weekend. I was in my tent and asleep by 9 pm! I was beat! You can see the bags under my eyes even in this crazy shot!
(image) I am loving my Eureka two person tent. I just need to figure out a few more weekends to use it yet this summer!
(image) I'm tucked in for the night without the dog on this trip. Makes for a lot more room plus I only had a #50 backpack so not a lot of space to haul extras. I slept like a log this night though. And yes, you can still tell how chewed up my ankles are from the prior weekend plus all the new ones.
(image) Happy HNT!

Taylor Mountain Caribou


The evening on top of Taylor Mountain is up there with the Iditarod on my Alaska experiences. The view was amazing and it was the first time I have seen more than one or two wild caribou at a time. Well worth the drive up the trail road to get there. Taylor Mountain is off of the Taylor Highway just south of Chicken, AK.This was just one example of the enormous bull caribou walking next to the truck.There they go.Just beautiful!I could have sat all night watching this group.[...]

WOW! BOW is amazing


I had a phenomenal weekend at the Department of Game and Fish Becoming an Outdoor Woman course. There will be plenty more to follow in terms of pictures and I have more from last weekend's Chicken trip too. However, I'm beat and am going to head to bed very soon. This was a shot from my Rappelling course. I think I have a new hobby!


Chicken, AK


Last weekend was time for another Alaska adventure. I had been on call for two weeks in a row and in one week saw nearly 100 patients. R&R was much needed. This summer's to do list included Chicken, AK and Valdez, AK. Chicken was the most inexpensive of these options so Chicken it was. Ruby and I left Fairbanks at 2:00 Friday afternoon.Chicken, AK is 276 miles down the road from Fairbanks, north of the AlCan Highway. It is a former mining town home to around 400 people at it's peak. It was made famous in the book "Tisha" about a school teacher who went to work doing her best with the miner's children. Her school house still stands. The rest of the area is now a tourist attraction on the Taylor Highway as one heads north to Dawson Creek, Yukon Territory, Canada, home of the Klondike Gold Rush and tales by Jack London.If one lives in a town called Chicken, one must have a sense of humor. The community was named as such after locals wished to name the community after the main food source, "Ptarmigan". Ptarmigan are a small grouse like bird which cooks up similar to grouse or pheasant. However, the locals could not come to agreement on how to spell Ptarmigan and settled for "Chicken". Chicken it has remained. I have a new backcountry tent and a friend helped me find the perfect riverbank camp site.The river noise drowned out anything else and I was below the main bank so no one could see me. The morning view out the door was gorgeous.On Saturday morning I began a side trip to Boundary, AK which continued on to the Canadian border. It was only an additional 45 miles. The landscape was awe inspiring. I had no clue this mountain range existed. The area is home to the Yukon-Charley River National Preserve. The entire area around Chicken is crisscrossed by rivers feeding into the Yukon. In fact, for the last several weeks most of this gravel highway has been closed to travel secondary to severe flooding and washed out roads.The area doesn't have a lot of trees once you get high up but the wild plants are still abundant. This is the gas station at Boundary. Sometimes there is gas and sometimes there isn't. George, a "local" originally from New Jersey operates a catch me all store that includes a cafe, a few spare parts, gas, and coffee.This is one of the old original cabins of the area.George directed me to Davis Dome. In former years thousands of caribou called this area home. It is miles and miles of rolling hills covered in tundra brush, cranberries, blueberries, and forget-me-nots. Ruby and I called it a good spot for lunch. The absolute quiet is mind boggling. It reaches a spot in your soul that doesn't get touched very often.After a day of exploring along the road, Ruby and I tried our hand at gold panning. I sat along the river swishing and draining for an hour and a half without much luck. It was nice to sit and do a mostly mindless task while sitting in the sun along a bubbling stream though.This is downtown Chicken. Local Sue runs the Emporium, Liquor Store, Saloon, and Cafe. If you are looking for a wide selection of Alaska books, this is where to stop. She has a wonderful collection and she is featured on her own post card too! Signs of the gold rush remain. An old gold dredge sits along one of the rivers. Many come in the summer to pan and there are even a few fully operational dredges elsewhere along the river.Mosquito Fork was home for the weekend but camping elsewhere would have done nothing to decrease the level of bugs. I think the locals should have named the community "Fly" when they failed to spell "Mosquito".Before a nice lunch Ruby and I went to the Post Office to mail a few postcards. Robyn is the local post mistress and while I heard a lot about here I didn't get to [...]

HNT...Biten in Chicken


(image) This weekend I went on a solo camping trip to Chicken, AK. It's a former mining town of up to 400 people at one time in history. The permanent summer population is around 17 and in the winter 6. I pitched my tent along one of the many river banks. It didn't matter that it was Mosquito Fork...the entire area was infested with mosquitoes after over 6 inches of rain. To say I got bitten in an understatement...







Look what I grew!


I saw this vegetable at the Farmer's Market last summer and this summer I just had to try to grow it :) It's called Romanesco. It is sort of a cauliflower and it is sort of a broccoli. I planted six of them and two never grew but the other four have been getting bigger and bigger leaves on them since the very first week. Today I went outside to check on the things (got stung by two different bees in the process) and discovered they are growing. Are they not just the strangest looking plant ever but at the same time just crazy cool?!?!


Adventure Planning


I don't recall many things about my marriage anymore that were good. As they say "hindsight is 20/20". However, there was one thing my ex-husband introduced me to that I will forever be grateful for. In October 1998 he drove me to the top of Going To The Sun Highway in Glacier National Park. A life long love affair began. That spring he took me to Yellowstone National Park on my very first camping trip. The love affair only deepened. In the five years we were together we spent many a night under dark star filled skies. I had never camped growing up. Once I was introduced to it, it was infectious. The marriage grew into something I didn't recognize but the love affair with the great outdoors continues. As a wedding gift to ourselves we bought each other new sports sunglasses and a Kelty 2 person backcountry tent. We spent five nights of our honeymoon in this tent. We camped at Many Glacier campground in Glacier National Park and did day hikes every single day. I saw my first grizzly bears on that trip. I didn't shower for five days on the trip. The Kelty Crestone 2 person tent is truly a tent for two ONLY if you truly know the person you are sleeping in it with. Two years later when the cheating bastard walked out on me, I could have cared less that he took the TV and DVR with him. The idiot took my Kelty tent and left me with no means to go camping.Eight weeks later I graduated from PA school and needed to study for my board exam. My house was filled with pictures of the two of us on our wedding day. It was not a very conducive environment for studying. I was also scared to death to go camping by myself. I HAD to pass the boards though and I COULDN'T let him take all of "me" away. Dear friends loaned me a tent and I packed a cooler of food along with a backpack of study materials to head to Glacier. Half way there the park closed due to forest fires and still I wouldn't turn around. I found a state park near Big Fork, MT and I spent three days in my borrowed tent outlining the blueprint for my exams. I ate cold food and went to bed when the sun set and got up when it came up. Two weeks after my first solo adventure of camping I took my boards and became a certified PA.After passing my boards, I spent money I didn't have and bought this cheap tent from Target. I then made my first solo trip to Glacier National Park. I didn't sleep a single wink the first night and I was convinced every sound I heard was a bear about to eat me alive out of my tent. The next day I hiked myself into exhaustion and then set at Lake McDonald Lodge journaling until I could barely keep my eyes open before returning to my tent and sleeping like a baby. Since then, I have solo camped several times in Glacier and my friend Rachel has kept me company on many more trips. Now Rachel is working at Sperry Chalet at the peak of Heaven in Glacier and I'm living in Alaska. Who would have guessed?Last summer I did day trips about Alaska solo and entertained my aunt and a friend for two weeks but stayed in hotels. Alaska is big and wild. The animals are big and wild. The people are unique and sometimes wild. I wasn't sure enough of myself to take to my tent and camp. This summer, I know more. I know more people. I have a bigger to do list and less funds. Camping is what I can afford this summer. I'm home from a trip to see friends and family with summer time to enjoy yet in Alaska. I'm ready for the next adventure. Friends talked me into taking a course sponsored by the Department of Game and Fish called "Becoming an Outdoor Woman", fondly referred to as BOW. It is a three day, woman's only weekend of workshops ranging from various fishing[...]

Saturday night crafting


Summer Saturday's have been rainy for the last month. Monday morning rolls around and it's gorgeous outside minus the forest fire smoke. Today was no exception. Around 200 am this morning it started raining. It kept raining. I got up at 9:30 and it was still raining. I poured a cup of coffee and crawled back into bed to read. Somewhere around 11:00 I fell back to sleep and got up again at 1:00. Ruby and I went into town to get groceries and then get her nails trimmed. The sun was shining and it was nice out.

4:00 rolled around and it got really dark outside. The rain started with a burst of thunder and the heavens opened. I gave up on the TV because it was so loud on the tin roof I couldn't turn the volume up loud enough to hear it. The lightening got really close and there as one crack of simultaneous lightening and thunder which literally shock the house. I shut the windows, turned on the lights, and started working on some cards. The storm only last for about a half hour but with it and the intermittent cloud bursts over the last 24 hours my garden water holding tank is now half full.

July 1st was the start of the new catalog for Stampin' Up with new colors and new stamps. I used the new set Apple Blossom to make these two cards. They were fun! Now I have a few notes to write to all those that I got to spend a little time with while I was home. Tomorrow going to try to grill out with some friends, maybe the sun will stay out. If not, I can always work on a few more indoor projects.




I'm taking the time to stay home this weekend. My original plans at the beginning of the week were to head to Denali National Park this weekend to camp at Riley Creek Camp ground. By Friday my suitcases from vacation were still on the bedroom floor fully packed. I decided maybe I should stay home and catch up. I have my suitcases completely unpacked, all the bedding washed and put back on the beds, and now I'm sitting with my feet up enjoying the things my senses are taking the time to feel.

The last three days have been extremely hot for Alaska summers. When I was in SD it was 100 degrees with 20 mph winds. I was looking forward to being back in the North country. Well Friday it hit 90 degrees at my house. So much for that theory. This morning has made that all better. I'm in my bathrobe enjoying a fresh brewed cup of coffee. I can hear the rustle of the leaves outside with a light breeze. I can smell the wet grass from last night's light rain which brought a break in the temps. I can feel the breeze on my bare legs. The sun is out and the day is bright. My animals are lounging around with me. Spread out and enjoying the breeze as it rolls through the house.

I think I'm going to leave today to my senses. Days like this confirm why I love living here.



(image) Guess which set of gams lives in Alaska...
Happy HNT!

My girls


People have asked me if I came home for anything special. The answer is yes. I came home to work Grandma's Marathon. I started working the finish line medical tent after a college friend died at the finish of the Chicago Marathon. This year was a bit rough because we had a death in our tent; not my patient but that of another volunteer I know well. The other reason I came to visit was for these two little pumpkins! I came at Christmas to "babysit" Miss Quincey because in spite of being born on my birthday I didn't get to see her until she was over a year old. Well, Miss Q has a brand new baby sister, Kenley Grace, who I had to come see as well. I have spent the last few days doting on these little ones.Quincey has always loved books but now she "reads" them to herself. She found both Spot's for me when I asked her where Spot was. She is also in a front facing car seat since I was here at Christmas. Much easier to hand her french fries that way. We went over the pass today to drop her off at Grandma and Grandpa's camp site so her mom and I could go to lunch. Quincey didn't take a morning nap so she was a bit indecisive about what to do come the time to leave her. She was appropriately distracted by her farm animals. After lunch at the Windbag with a huge piece of mud pie, Heather and I went back to the house and this is how i spent the afternoon. Not a bad way to spend vacation at all. Kenley loves to be held and snuggles. She makes really cute little baby snores too.She is just starting to be able to "smile" for us at 4 weeks old. There is a near identical picture of the above of Quincey when she was that age. She was a happy baby this afternoon and after a midafternoon bottle she feel fast asleep propped up in the corner with her hands daintily crossed. These girls will steal a few hearts! I love them like real nieces. [...]



(image) I am definitely relaxing on this trip. Made it to Duluth MN for Grandma's Marathon and went to Texas Roadhouse to celebrate my sister's birthday. I have followed some big rivers on this trip too. This is the headwaters of the Mississippi but I followed the Yellowstone River across Montana and yesterday crossed over the Missouri several times on my way to Great Falls.

(image) It's not vacation without a few favorite foods. Harvest Moon Brewery now bottles their Beltian White. It goes great with a really greasy pizza from Howard's in Helena. The pictures don't do the puddles of grease justice. Sat watching movies with Os while eating and drinking last night. Awesome!




There's sheep in them there hills...


(image) I always seem to get great hind view shots of mountain critters. These three lambs were intent on mowing through the spring green stuff. They are Dall Sheep. They remind me of the Rocky Mountain mountain goats in Montana but they aren't nearly as friendly as the goats that hang out at the top of Logan Pass in Glacier. I had to use some serious zoom to get these pictures.





Friday Night Slumber


(image) After beginning a cleaning spurt I curled up on the couch Friday night to watch Snow Falling on Cedars. This is what ended up surrounding me. Three sleeping critters. Montana was up behind me asleep but I couldn't turn around without waking him if I wanted a picture. Aren't they just adorable!?

Toklat River


I shared the bears with you but there was a lot more to the trip in Denali over Memorial Day weekend then bears. No lions or tigers but a little river adventure was had. The bus service was only running from the park entrance to the Toklat River stop but I wanted to go. Rich, the OR nurse, who came with the group joined me. There is a ranger station and a bookstore at the stop, otherwise a lot of river. Rich and I ate lunch on the bank of the river and then took off down the river bed. But not before I put my thinking hat on. Caribou antlers are a lot easier to hold up then a full moose rack. The river is very muddy because of all the glacier melt and the debris it pulls with it but fresh water streams feed into it all over. Makes for a "confluence" of pretty colors. Either way, both types of water are really cold at this time of year. Trust me, I tested it out.As always, I had to spawl to take some rock bed pictures. We did out best to use them as a path but there were places it was just easier to step in the water.I was good and avoided the edge that was being cut out from underneath by the more rapid moving river vs the fresh water streams. This time of year the bears hang along the river beds to dig up roots b/c the higher elevations are either still covered with snow or full of brown vegetation. Look at the shadow of that big bear just up the stream from me!Once we got to the bridge we had to come up to the road to cross. No way I could walk across rapids like that. We debated continuing along the shore to get way back to cross but that might have taken a bit more than a day. There is a shot of the "way we came" but you can't see the bridge because it is around the hill at that point. We kept walking until the next return bus with available seats came by. What made the weekend so much fun was the people I shared it with. Nurse Rich road with me while my friend Yvonne and her family carpooled behind us. Another family stayed at a resort in Denali Village and three families camped at Riley Creek. Every night we met at the camp ground to hang out and share our day's adventures. A final family joined us both nights. This momma moose and a very new calf roamed through extremely close. She went through one campsite the second night taking out chairs and such before bedding down with her baby right in front of the camp ground bathrooms. Those with RV's were lucky :)On the final day the forest fire smoke moved in. This was at about 11 pm on the last night we were there. Lots of smoke accumulating in the sky. By morning it had spread through the whole valley making it dark and smelly. This past week's worth of rain has taken that out of the air but hasn't helped much with actually stopping the fires.There were more creatures along the way. They will come next. Hope you are all having a great weekend.[...]

HNT...Eating to go


Summer in Alaska has officially kicked off. Last Friday a group of us from the hospital trekked to Denali National Park and were blessed with clear skies, views of "THE" mountain, and plenty of animals. A trip into Denali National Park is easy courtesy of the shuttle buses which run the length of the park road. Private vehicles are only allowed in to mile marker 15. An OR nurse joined me and the two of us got up early on Saturday morning to take the bus to Toklat. Early and weekend means only one thing for me...COFFEE!There is a small village of shops outside the park and the first stop was the 24 hour Subway for coffee and sandwiches to take with us. This is me quite happy in spite of it being 8 am on a Saturday morning (check out all the daylight) in line to board the bus.Food is not available inside the park. If you plan on being hungry you pack it in and you pack it out. I was well prepared. In addition to the Subway sammies I had Mike & Ikes, licorice, bananas, Dots, and my homemade assorted "trail mix". Dried bananas, cranberries, sunflower seeds, nuts, mango pieces and more. Perfect midday snack.Rich and I got to see lots of wildlife along the way. Here are pictures of all the grizzly bears. I think we saw a total of 9. I was excited because there were several blondes in the mix instead of the usual dark chocolate. Of course, it's spring and they are hungry. This was the first time I got to witness a newly turned over field of divots from bears digging up roots. They can cover some serious ground. Beautiful creatures.No lions or tigers but bears galore feeding on spring greens and me happy with coffee and trail mix. Happy HNT![...]

HNT...Getting a little dirty



I have had so much fun outside in the last week. The weather has turned to spring nearly overnight. One day last week it was 40 degrees and gray. The next day it rained. On the third day all the buds and grasses and all things in Alaska turned green. I received a rose plant and a gift card to a local nursery as thank you gifts for teaching confirmation class at my church. I went to the nursery and used every last penny of it to buy flowers and garden veggies. Then I set to work getting dirty. These were some of the first pots I put together. It felt good to play in the dirt. Really good. Happy HNT!