Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Busy Week

I can't believe school has started again! Wednesday was the first day for my students. Needless to say, I'm tired! We did get out and about this weekend. Saturday night I cooked my first batch of beer-battered halibut for us. It was delicious! We both enjoyed it, but I'm sure any health benefits are negated by the fact that it is fried. This is from that enormous fish Greg caught this summer. There is still plenty in the freezer for other meals!

The weather has been beautiful. The high was in the low 60s today. We decided to take our weekly 3 mile round-trip hike to the Wal-Mart. Along the way we pass these metal sculptures outside the bookstore. One has the beginning line from a fairy tale written near the top and the other has music notes on it. Of course, both towers demonstrate the regional importance of that great fish- salmon. At night, these sculptures are illuminated and the salmon actually seem to glow. Interesting.

We just walked at a leisurely pace and enjoyed the gorgeous afternoon. On the way home we noticed these beautiful trees near our apartment. Greg is going to have to research and find out what kind they are. The berries are light red and seem to be ripe. However, we didn't notice any birds feasting on them. Might not be too tasty. Oh well, they sure are beautiful.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sunday, August 17th

We had quite the busy weekend. Saturday we spent most of the day working in my classroom trying to get ready for the students' first day. Today we spent a delightful day with one of our dear friend's mom and aunt . George has been Greg's best friend since the eighth grade. His mom, Alita, and Aunt Eleanor were in town on the last day of a tour of Alaska. We met them at their hotel and walked across the street to the weekend market. They picked up a few souvenirs and browsed the many booths. Birch syrup was sampled by all of us. This syrup is made in a way similar to maple syrup. They tap the trees and boil the sap until it is sweet and thick. Aunt Eleanor bought a birch burl bowl. It was called the Knotty Puffin as it resembled the puffin bird. There are lots of interesting and unusual things at this crafty market. We left this and walked to the Manhattan Deli for lunch. The lunch was really nice. We each got a different dish and sampled from each other's plates. Yummy. Thanks Alita for lunch! We visited the Public Information Center to view all the wonderful exhibits and look at the many animals on display. We then rode the trolley down to Ship Creek and watched the many anglers in the water. Several fishermen caught salmon while we were there. From the pier, we could see quite a few salmon swimming in the stream. We then took a bus tour of the Port of Anchorage. Greg was keen on this when he heard they offered free hot dogs! This is a neat tour they have on Sundays to show how the port operates and the various projects in the works. We watched some container ships being loaded. These are some gigantic ships. One interesting fact we learned was that about 80% of the containers being shipped back to the lower states were empty. We basically have no industry here and the oil is shipped from Valdez. As it was getting close to departure for the ladies, we went back to their hotel for coffee and conversation. Thanks Aunt Eleanor for the coffee! We left as they were to catch their bus for the airport and headed home after a great day.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Our latest events

Well, it has been kinda quiet around here since Anne headed home. We both really enjoyed her being here and being able to experience all these beautiful things with us. Last weekend we did get out and about with SBFs Mindy and Paul. We went to the Arctic Thunder 2010 Air Show at Elmendorf/Richardson Military Base. This show brings in about 200,000 people on the weekend. It featured the Canadian Snowbirds Demonstration Squad and the Navy Blue Angels. They put on an awesome performance that made you wonder how many years of training must have gone into such mastery of the air. There was a very solemn moment when the Missing Man Formation was flown in honor of the 4 men who died in a cargo plane crash while preparing for this show. There was also a demonstration by a F-22 Raptor. This plane is a stealth fighter and it truly is death from above for any enemy. You never would know what hit you. Besides all the cool planes, they had many booths featuring anything from wildlife to T-shirts. There were plenty of food stands but we waited until the show was over to grab a bite to eat. We enjoyed dinner at Ernesto and Ricardo's Mexican Grill. Mindy and Paul ordered fajitas that could have fed all four of us! Huge! We had a really enjoyable day and would like to thank Mindy and Paul for inviting us along.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Heading Home

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We stayed at the Sheep Mountain Lodge last night. It is on the Glenn Highway as we headed home. There is a main lodge with a restaurant and small bar area. All guests stay in charming log cabins on the property. The cabins have a nice front porch with rocking chairs. We all really enjoyed this place. After a yummy breakfast in the lodge restaurant, we headed on. We stopped along the highway to enjoy a peek at another glacier. Near Palmer, we rode through some less traveled roads to check out several farms of the Mat-Su Valley. These farms are known for producing much of the fresh produce we enjoy in Anchorage. The soil looked dark and rich, good stuff for growing those huge vegetables. I'm sure some of those 100 pound cabbages that have won ribbons in the state fair came from this area. Another farm we visited was the musk ox farm. These animals were relocated to this area from an island. The hair from the musk oxen is harvested and woven into beautiful apparel. Native knitters weave intricate patterns into the scarves and hats. This hair, known as qiviut, is seven times warmer than wool. The pieces are gorgeous but expensive. After leaving the farm we continued on toward Hatcher's Pass. We literally climbed up into the clouds. You can still recreationally pan for gold in this former mining camp. You can tour Independence Mine which was once a booming gold producer. We didn't tour as it was still rainy and foggy. This area will also go on our list of places to return and explore when we have more time. After stopping for ice cream, we made our way home to Anchorage. We rested for awhile and headed out to Sicily's Pizza for dinner. They feature a buffet and Anne put on an outstanding eating display. Greg and I both dozed off by the time she finished. A stack of plates in front of her was proof of the bounty she had just enjoyed. I relay this story based upon Greg's recollection of the events. We returned to the apartment to talk about the trip and look at the hundred or so pictures we had taken. The trip had been a blast and we were all exhausted.

Monday, August 2, 2010


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Woke up refreshed after getting a somewhat good night's sleep for the first time in days. It was a dreary, foggy, and rainy morning in Valdez. We drove right down the street to the Totem Inn Restaurant. There we enjoyed a really delightful breakfast. We stopped in at the ferry terminal to check on times for the ferry to Whittier. Unfortunately, we had missed the boat by a few minutes. We drove onto the docks and looked across the misty bay. I'm sure this is a beautiful scene on some days, but today visibility was restricted and we could only see a few boats in the water. Before we headed out of town we drove to Allison Point and watched the fishermen in the bay. There were many salmon anglers standing side by side on the rocks leading down to the water. We did see several people catch salmon before their freshwater push to spawn. There was a taped off area for bears and many bear warning signs. This area had been roped off due to daily bear sightings. We looked at the stream leading from the ocean and it was black with fish. It was quite an impressive thing to see so many salmon spawning in one area. The area around us featured scores of bald eagles sitting high in the spruce trees. They are truly magnificent birds. We also saw many sea otters but they were uncooperative photo subjects. It would have been easy to hang there all day, but we had no rain gear and thought it was best to leave before we got chilled. On the way out of town I spotted a grizzly bear in a marsh area but he was gone by the time we turned around. We then drove through the rain and stopped to take pictures of 2 beautiful waterfalls, Bridal Veil and Horsetail Falls. This lush area was green with summer's growth. We also visited Worthington Glacier. This glacier is easily accessed by a quick walk from the parking lot. It is a magnificent sight. We stopped for a burger and tots and then headed on to our destination for the night.