Monday, June 29, 2009

Where is Summer?

All winter long we've been hearing tales of how horrible last summer was. It rained all summer long, so the tale goes, and there was no sun to be seen. Hmmm. Sounds familiar. The past couple weeks have been less than summery, and I'm really hoping we start seeing some higher temps and more of that midnight sun. For now, I'm just happy that today we have seen less rain than days past, and we actually had some sun this afternoon. Much to my despair, there wasn't enough of that warm, yellow sun to ease the paste from my skin. Darn it.

Friday night I was back to my old rhythms. Staying up until the wee hours. I stepped outside to check the rain situation and I was greeted with this gorgeous sunset. I had to capture it, and I'm thinking this one is worthy of a frame on my wall. Beautiful. And pretty close to what it actually looked like. Only on a much grander scale, of course.

Brent has been working a lot lately, and worked Saturday as well. Sunday we were ITCHING to get out of Dodge, and decided to hit the road despite the rain. I like to think I'm made of sugar, and that I'll melt if I get wet, but even I was throwing caution the wind and the thought of a soaking rain was semi-appealing. Anything to get out of those four walls. Seriously.

As we were driving East towards the Gerstle River we experienced a downpour. Things were not looking good. I started to get a little nervous, but was confident that the break in the clouds ahead was real, and a good sign. Much to my sweet relief, the rain stopped and we trudged up and down the river bank.

Marching North down the river bed we stumbled on the carcass of a wolf. It was barely recognizeable, though the paws and head were intact. The wolf body was trapped under a tree, and we were left to speculate what might have happened to land him there. Brent suspects he may have fallen in to the icy water, only to be trapped beneath the heavy limb....I guess we'll never truly know. In total that makes two dead wolves we've stumbled upon, we have yet to see a live one.

One good thing about the rain is that it keeps the wildflowers in constant bloom. There are so many varieties, that the ditches, river banks, forest edges are a riot of blooms. Pinks, purples, blues and yellows are the primary colors, and there always seems to be something new to see.

The mountains are visibly growing darker as the snow melts and floods the rivers and streams. I was a little concerned that we wouldn't be able to walk far on the Gerstle, but I guess the rainfall and snow melt hadn't reached it yet. The banks were fairly dry, and we had to wander quite a ways in to find the murky, rushing water. It certainly isn't a river that I'd want to swim in!
In addition to wandering we were caring for the neighbors animals. Pigs, horses, cows, ducks, and chickens galore. Much to our dismay, the ravens swooped in and carried off about 80 little rock hens. But much to my relief, it wasn't my fault. The owners left them in an uncovered enclosure. Poor little chickens didn't stand a chance! We did enjoy playing with the little pigs, ranging from about 30-50 pounds. Cute little boogers. They LOVED Ches!
Ches was so curious and wanted to come in with us, so we opened the gate to see what she would do. She thoroughly enjoyed herself until the little ones discovered her. They followed her around like a bunch of little ducklings and Brent and I about laughed ourselves silly. She wasn't quite as fond of them as they were of her. When she would stop they would root at her, nibble at her, and she wasn't NOT happy with that behavior. So we'd let her out for a little break.
I think the best part of the deal was that we got to keep all the eggs we collected. I think we collected about 3 dozen eggs, so we have lots of fresh farm eggs. Yum! Our duties are over now, and I'm just okay with that.
Hoping you are warm and dry in your neck of the woods! Have a happy day!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Working, Playing, Living

Now that I’m adjusting to working, I promise to get better at blogging. I have been slacking a lot. Of course, it doesn’t help that Brent has been working a lot, and we just don’t have time to get out and see things. So, I promise bigger and better things from here.

This week has been great. I am enjoying my schedule, I enjoy my work, and I especially enjoy the work environment that I’m in. It’s less like work, and more like hanging out with friends, with work mixed in. Okay, even I know that doesn’t make sense, but the bottom line. It’s fun.

In addition to work we’ve just been having fun on the farm. It’s always entertaining here. This week we’ve had quite a bit of rain which of course means wet and mud. In addition to that our satellite works, or doesn’t work, depending on the amount of moisture in the air, or the cables, we have 1-100 channels. It’s just great! (insert sarcasm here). We are really hoping to find a new place to live this weekend, and hopefully we’ll be moving in August. Yet another perk of working for a real estate company. LoL.

We are growing increasingly impatient. There are so many little things adding up to our move towards moving. The best is the toilet. It seems that somewhere along the way someone decided it would be best to take the bolts out that hold the porcelain god to the slowly rotting floor boards. In addition to the cold sweats it has in 50 degree weather it also wobbles, bobbles and pivots as you sit, or stand. It’s GREAT! Sometimes in the middle of the night when a person is particularly wobbly and hits the seat too hard it will even growl at you! Last week I was convinced that something was living in the bathroom because I swore I heard something growl. Well, I did. It was the toilet. You might be a redneck if… I’ll let you fill in the blank.

As of tonight we’re playing farm. The neighbors are out of town so we are doing chores for them. I lack the equipment it takes to be a farmer, that equipment being the snazzy rubber boots of my youth, but I substituted my snow boots instead. I hauled feed, cleaned out water dishes, watered the horses, scratched the pigs heads, made wallowing holes, and got covered in mud, and whatever else there was in it.

It was fun except for the mud (poop) portion. When I looked in the mirror to see speckles of said mud on my face I had to remind myself that some snooty chick in NYC would pay gobs of money for that kind of spa treatment!

After I cleaned the mud (poop) out from under my newly growing nails (aren’t you proud Mom?) we scrubbed up a dozen freshly gathered eggs and headed to a friends house for fresh baked carrot cake. Oh, it was heavenly! We enjoyed a fresh made organic carrot cake made with spelt and cane sugar. They served raw milk on the side, and I don’t think I’ve had that wonderful of a treat in a long time!

I haven’t had raw milk since I was a youngster romping around in Grandpa’s barn, trying not to get hit by flying poop from the Holsteins. Of course all that flew out the window when I landed in a gutter full of poo in my poo brown snowsuit. OH WHAT FUN!

Brent is working tomorrow so I plan to do a little cleaning, a little cooking and a little baking. Then hopefully we’ll get out and SEE something to take pictures of! Have a happy day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Update for the Week

Hello! I've been slacking this week. Hmmm. What could it be? Perhaps because I have a JOB! A great job. A job that I love. Yep, all of the above. I had no idea how much I was missing interaction and feeling productive. I still have a lot to learn, because every office is different, every agent is different, but the ladies (and gents) that I work with are great, and busy.

For those of you that don't know I took a job with a local real estate company. For some reason, I have a tendency to follow my father in many things. Perhaps this is why I used to frequently get an exasperated "you are your father's daughter" from my mom when she was frustrated with me!

Dad sells real estate, I love working in real estate. Though, to be clear, I am not selling it. Just helping others sell it. Dad was an educator, is an educator, and I worked in education for a fun, albeit brief, period of time. I look like him, I act like him (but please don't tell him that), and sometimes I like to give myself "advice" in his absence. lol.

Anyway, I'm working in real estate again. And I feel at home. Of course it helps that the office has a great homey feel, complete with two roaming dogs, and two busy boys. They are great, and I rarely hear a peep out of any of them. They are careful to tow the professional line that is expected of them, and well, I like the happy medium. It's kind of like a mullet. Business in the front, party in the back!

If you'd like to check out the ladies I'm working with, and the real estate they sell you can visit them here. Enjoy!

In addition to working we've just been enjoying summer. We've had much-needed rain this week, so we have little puddles sitting around, but I wouldn't dare complain about the moisture.

Ches and I have managed to avoid moose this week during our walks. Brent went with me on the first one out, as I was completely freaked out. I am such a chicken! I shudder to think of how I would react if I actually came in contact with an aggressive moose, or heaven forbid, a bear. I have a feeling it wouldn't be pretty! I am, however, semi-disappointed that my parents have seen more bear in Minnesota than I have in Alaska. Something seems slightly unfair about that.

Since it's Friday and Brent will be working the weekend, we took a drive to enjoy the cool, and pretty night. We didn't see much wildlife, but we did watch a big owl on his telephone pole perch for a while. Beautiful. It's been a long, long time since I've seen an owl that close up.

Tomorrow I plan to make a trip to Fairbanks. I need shoes. For some reason I didn't feel that I'd need cute shoes in Alaska. Pffft. I have totes of shoes in storage, in Minnesota. A fat lot of good that does me. So, I have brown dress pants up the wazoo, but no heels to wear them with. Stellar thinking Karla. Of course, if that's the extent of my issues, I guess I'll survive. I should have left more purses, and packed more shoes. Now I'll know for next time.

Hopefully we'll have time to get out and capture some photos this weekend. I am dying to try out some more manual settings on my camera. If the weather cooperates on Sunday I might convince Brent to do a little fishing out at the lakes near Donnelly. I just love that area, and we always manage to see something when we're out that way.

The wildflowers are rampant with the moisture, and I'm noticing a few more of the mini vampires, aka mosquitoes, around as well. At least these seem to be smaller than the songbird sized variety we had this spring.

Have a happy weekend! I'll be back soon!

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad! Wishing you all of God's Blessings for many more years of wedded bliss! Hope you had a wonderful day!!! Mom, I hope you got some good shopping in, and Dad I hope you didn't have to work too hard, in retirement! Love ya!

**Also, I wanted to wish my Grandma Adeline get well wishes. She is recovering at home, and we hope that she continues to heal quickly. We are thinking of you! We love you!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Happy Anniversary Darryl and Audrae!

Wishing many happy wishes and all of God's Blessings to Brent's parents, Darryl and Audrae, as they celebrate their anniversary today! Wish we could be there!! Have a happy, blessed day!

Duck, Duck, Moose!

Friday morning Ches and I took a walk on the road just outside our home. We got a little too close, for my comfort, to a bull moose. He crossed the road about 1/4 mile in front of us, and despite talking loud, letting him know that I was there, he managed to scare the bejesus out of of both Ches and I as we passed. He wasn't aggressive in any way, but being that close to something that large, on foot, is not a situation I enjoy. I can no longer complain about the lack of moose!

We ended last week with some cloudy, rainy weather. We definitely needed the moisture, so I dare say that no one was complaining. Friday evening I stepped out onto the porch about midnight and captured the beautiful sky. It was a great end to a rainy, gray day.

Saturday we decided to go out and try a little canoeing. As you can see, Brent ended up in the canoe alone. We attempted the first time with the three of us, but Ches nearly dumped us about 10 feet from shore. After returning her to the car we got in and tried again, but I didn't like it at all. Eventually Brent went out on his own. He enjoyed it, but I think we'll try a different canoe next time. This is not the style for us.

While Brent was out in the canoe and Ches was swimming and fishing along the shoreline, I took the opportunity to capture the vivid colors of the terrain. It's pretty spectacular, and it's beautiful nearly every where we go.
After aborting our canoe plans we headed out near Donnelly Dome to drop a line, or two in the water. Apparently the rain brings out ducks, water fowl and MOOSE. I think we saw 8 total on our drive. They were everywhere. Munching on whatever the could find.

Here we stumbled upon 4 moose. Unfortunately we only managed to get 3 on film. We followed the farthest one back for about a mile as s/he dodged through the underbrush and finally darted across the road in front of us. I think s/he was camera shy. :)

This guy was just as curious of us as we were of him. They are losing their winter coats so they look a little rough right now.

As we pulled into J Lake we caught a glimpse of this guys rear end. Brent decided it would be a great idea to follow him down onto the bank of the lake and around the corner. Luckily he was calm and agreed to pose for his picture. After Friday's incident, I'm steering clear.

This nice bull crossed the road in front of us right outside of Delta. He was happy to stop and pose, despite nearly causing an accident! He just went on his merry way, munching on the fresh green grass and trees.

In closing, I just had to post a pic of my new car. I'm ready to start work this morning, Wednesday, and I'm looking forward to it. I will let you know how my first day goes! Have a happy, happy day!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fishing Update

We packed up and headed out of town about 5:00 on Saturday morning. It was a nice, albeit overcast morning as we headed South towards Anchorage. We got just South of Delta Junction and came upon this bull moose. You can see the start of his rack coming back. He just went about his munching. As we cruised along we saw hundreds of hares, a porcupine and 2 more moose. A pretty good time of day for wildlife viewing I guess.

Bull Moose

This is a picture of the Alaska Range on Saturday morning. The mountains were looking particularly majestic and I just couldn't help sneaking a shot. I just never tire of this view.
Summit Lake
Misty Mountains just outside of Glen Allen
Winding Mountain Road- a little scary but the scenery was worth it!
The drive from Delta Junction to Ninilchik was long, but beautiful. I am most definitely looking forward to doing it again. Everyone should see the Kenai Peninsula at least once. It's breathtaking! We hope to plan another get away, most likely next summer, just to explore the peninsula. Hopefully we can do some clam digging in Clam Gulch, visit the Salty Dawg in Homer, and take some pictures of the scenic highways, byways, and out-of-ways on the peninsula.

Sunday morning we got up bright and early to get to the charter office by 5:30 a.m. Once we got situated with paperwork, license info, etc we were on our way. We piled in a van, towing a very large boat, to Cook Inlet waters. As we stood watching the tractors drop other boats in the water a bald eagle swooped low over the inlet hoping to catch a leaping sockeye.
They have a pretty handy system. The above tractor hooks up to each trailer. It backs you in and simultaneously shoves the boat off the trailer. Passengers barely feel the movement at all, and suddenly you are off.

We started the morning trolling for King Salmon. We soon found out, via our captain, that there were very few Kings to be caught. It was disappointing, but at the end of the troll Brent caught the Sockeye below. The captain speculates that it took a chomp of the bare hook as Sockeyes aren't meat eaters, and we were using frosty herring for bait.

Sockeye Salmon
Once we left the trolling behind we headed into deeper waters in search of halibut. They are strictly bottom feeders so we had to put on 4 lb. lead weights in order to get our line to the bottom, 220 ft. down. There was a riptide on Sunday, so we had to time it just right, but once they started to bite, we managed to reel in a few.
The largest halibut caught that day was hooked by me, and reeled in by Brent. A real team effort! The captain said that he was about 45 pounds, I don't know if that's accurate or not, it's just a guessing game out there.
We were slightly disappointed in our captain. Okay, more than slightly. He rushed us, was rude, and just all around made the trip miserable. We didn't get to take our fish back to shore in one piece as he had the deckhand fillet them on deck.
The trip was well worth it, but I can safely say we'll be using a different charter next time.
The trip home was sunny and beautiful, but long. We were hoping to see some more sights, but we had no idea how exhausted we would be from the sun, wind and sheer exhileration of the fishing trip. Unfortunately we didn't get to see much of Ninilchik, not that there's much to see, but we also didn't make it Homer, which I was really hoping to do. Next time. I guess.

Along the way we saw many beautiful sights, but the only wildlife we managed to sneak a peek at were much closer to home. As we came into the Donnelly flats area we saw this caribou and the moose below out for their evening meals.

It was a really great trip, despite the disappointments. The drive is one that I couldn't do everyday but it is well worth it. I am looking forward to seeing more of Alaska in the days, months and years (?) to come!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Celebrations and Milestones

There are many celebrations and milestones happening within our families this weekend. Before we head out fishing, I wanted to make note of those wonderful accomplishments. We wish we could be there with you, celebrating you, and sharing in your happiness and delight!

To our dear niece Korri. We wish you so much happiness and all of God's blessings as you begin this next chapter of your life. We are incredibly proud of you and know that you have a very bright future ahead of you! We love you! Congratulations!!

To my little cousin Kelsey, and her fiance' Ben, we wish many congratulations and much happiness as they celebrate their upcoming nuptials with a bridal shower! I remember your mom telling me one time when we were doing dishes that she wished to have a daughter. A few years later you came along, and you've been such a blessing to them! Congratulations! You will be a beautiful bride!

To my Grandma and Grandpa as they celebrate 61 years of marriage! What a wonderful example you are to your family. Wishing you many, many more years of happiness in eachother. We love you! Happy Anniversary!

To my Godmother Sandy. Wishing you a very Happy Birthday! Hoping that in this busy weekend you find a little time to celebrate you! Mother of the bride is a very important job! Hoping you have a great day, great weekend with your loved ones around you. Happy Birthday!
And now, we're off! We head out tomorrow morning for Ninilchik. I'm looking forward to a beautiful journey, and just praying that I don't get sea sick. Hopefully we'll bring home loads and loads of fresh halibut and King Salmon. Have a happy weekend! We'll be back when it's over!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Our First Trip on the Tanana

There's nothing like waking up, grabbing a nice cup of green tea, sitting down at the computer and getting an email from home. Usually they come from my mom. Warm, loving updates of what she has planned for today, what they did yesterday, and so on. Today my note said "It's been RAINY and GLOOMY for days wake up and update". Gee thanks Dad. Love you too! lol.

This weekend we took our very first trip on the Tanana River. What a treat! I am addicted, and I love it. I don't know how to explain it, other than the scenery is breathtaking, and the water looks like chocolate milk. It's murky, silt-filled water, rolling and bucking, but it's majestic as well. We had a great time. The temps were cool, and though we dressed warm, it wasn't quite warm enough.

We took off about 6 p.m. and floated out on the Clearwater Lake to the Tanana River. Once we were on the river we headed over to the Clearwater River. Photo #3 is where the Clearwater and Tanana rivers meet. Can you tell a difference? It's unbelievable. This distinct line that you can see as you come down the river.

Once we were finished there we headed upriver to fish for burbot. The waters were a little choppy and bucky, but we sat, talked and fished. We went with friends from Brent's work, and their little dog Willie. We left Ches at home because of her love of water. I really didn't want to have to chase her downstream. Better safe than sorry.

The sun at midnight on Saturday over the Tanana

Willie the boat dog.

Tanana/Clearwater rivers meet

Bluebells on an island in the Tanana River

Low bush cranberries
View from the island where we were fishing.

The guys fished for quite a while and we had a great time just visiting. When we were sitting still the air was warm and lovely. After a while we stopped at an island and jumped out to explore. What a treat! We saw wildflowers all over the island. The guys continued to fish with no luck, Willie played, I played with the camera and took some shots, we watched some geese mating and playing on a sandbar across the way, lit a fire, roasted some hot dogs and just relaxed. What a blast! I really cannot wait to do it again.
On our way home we stopped off on a sandbar where co-workers of Brent's were camping. It's the float that we were invited on, what a great set up! Plunked down on a sandbar, complete with screen house for a mess tent, and a genious idea for a duck blind repurposed as a porta-potty. Awesome! I cannot wait to get settled so we can go...someday. The bummer of starting over is that we have NOTHING. But we will. In time.
We got off the water about 12:15 a.m. on Sunday morning. I really think I could have stayed out there all night. I have been searching and searching for boats all weekend, but Brent is telling me that I can't have one until I have a job. Well, darn him for being such a buzz kill! Ha! I know that a boat most likely won't come until next summer, but man, I wish it would be this year.
When we got home we were frozen like little popsicles and fell into bed. I slept in on Sunday morning, then packed my stuff up and headed to Fairbanks. I went in search of a freezer for our upcoming fishing trip. Since Brent hadn't slept well, he decided to stay home. It was a great day for a drive. I will say that the Richardson in spring/summer rivals the North Shore Drive in autumn. It is beautiful! The fresh, lush leaves pop in shades of lime, with the Sitka Spruce filling in with bluer shades of green. It's really beautiful, and everyone should see it!
Yesterday we laid low. I had been wanting to try out a new recipe for scallop pizza. So I whipped up some crusts, arugula/walnut pesto, red sauce and scallops. Grilled up the crusts, and tried them out. Pretty darn good. I think I vote for the pesto, but Brent likes the red sauce, with some tweeking. Since we had plenty we loaded up crusts and all the fixings and took over to Brad & Rose's as a thank you for taking us on our little excursion on the Tanana.
Brent cleaned up the trailer, and groaned over it's bruises from the trip across Canada in January. But in all good news, it held up so well, even the tires, and though we'll have to replace them before long, the tires are still good for now.
This week we hope to find out if we will indeed be moving. If not, we'll adjust, but a little more privacy would be nice. Really nice. I am still waiting for the phone to ring, and I fluctuate between all thoughts positive and thinking that it may be decades before that darn phone rings! So, I keep reciting words of patience, we'll see if it works.

Have a very happy day!