Posted in Anchorage, Food, Quilts, Travel, Yes

Alaska State Fair

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We have seen the news reports over the years about the giant food they grow and display in Alaska.  Well it’s true, here is a small sample.

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The pumpkin named Wally that weighed over 477 pounds and stood about 3 feet high.  One of the giant breeds and with this collection of ribbons I would suspect they will save some seeds for next years entry.

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An amazing cucumber over 20 pounds.  We have seen zucchini this size before  and they had an assortment of those as well.

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How many stuffed cabbage rolls do you think this would make?

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Tomato soup anyone.

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Might want to add 1 green bean or 1/2 of  these giant carrots  to that soup.  There were so many more, but I don’t want to bore you all.  Giant potatoes and onions and beets and rutabaga all had their spot on the display.

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I simply had to include this food themed quilt with this food.  This is only a small portion of the fair, more to follow.

 

 

 

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Posted in Aging, Anchorage, Quilts, Travel, Yes

Puffins and More.

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The Alaska Sealife Center in Seward is a great place to spend a day or two if you are really interested in birds and seals and sea lions native Alaska fish.  They have it all beautifully on exhibit for us to see and in some cases interact, as in feed the animals.  It is a special fee to have the ability to do that, but how exciting is that.

SAM_5404.JPG This second photo shows a duck on the surface of the water and a puffin below the water. They are amazing divers along with cormorant who also live here.  I went to the Sealife Center before I went on the cruise just to get a close up look at these birds, and Alaska is a birders paradise with the huge range of migratory birds that stop here.

While on the ocean we saw all these birds and more.  Another was a red faced cormorant that moved into a cave and the only other place he is found is Russia.  The variety of ducks that inhabit the waters of Alaska in mind boggling.  While I am not a birder per se, it was truly wonderful to see where they live and the variety of species that live in harmony with one another.

I was not aware that birders often have a count of the varieties of birds they have seen.  That day I easily ticked off more than 9 different varieties.  The puffins are fun to watch either in flight or on the water.  In flight those tiny little wings flapping away are rather comical looking, kind of like me when I attempt to run on my short stubby legs.

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Another fun thing that lives in the sea life center is this octopus.  To see up close and in person is amazing. But the birds truly captivated me that day. Then to go on the next day and see them sitting out on the ocean was so beautiful.  On that day we also saw 3 separate eagles as an added bonus.

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The same sea lions at the Sealife Center were just sitting on this rock beach and looked beautiful.  At least 50 of them on the rocks, in and out of the water. You really feel like just a tiny speck in the whole life cycle you see play out in front of your eyes here.

 

 

Posted in Aging, Anchorage, Moose, Travel, Yes

Sea Lions & Bears, Oh My

My recent voyage off the coast of Alaska brought me up close and personal with many wonders of the universe.  It was an all day outing and before we even got out onto the ocean there was a sea otter just lounging in the frigid water as if were his backyard pool.

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From there it only got better.  We had a very special day that I will be forever grateful for.  During the travels we had 5 separate sighting of whales.  These were humpback whales which are enormous.  First we would see one or two blows, that spray of water straight up out of the ocean, then the body of the whale would surface.  As they dove back down the tail was the last thing visible.  I never took one picture, they were too fast for me.

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Much in life reminds me of quilts.

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The other most unique thing was in 2 separate areas, miles apart from one another, we saw black bears swimming in the ocean.  The captain of our ship explained that it is not unusual for bears to swim but to see 2 in one day was a unique experience.  I did take a picture, but when I looked at it afterwards, it was only a black ball like thing on the surface of the water.

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The ship stayed with the first bear to make sure we did not scare him and he got to the island, shook off the water and wandered off. We also saw about 50 sea lions on the rocks of a small island just sunning themselves and resting.  Three separate sighting of eagles and lots of seals lots and lots of birds I will save for another post.

Truly a most magical day in the waters off the coast of Alaska.  All this came about because a co-worker found some information about a cruise and passed it on to me and I said Yes.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Aging, Anchorage, Moose, Quilts, Sewing, Travel

Seward Alaska

This is a small town on the Kenai Peninsula which is where the Kenai Fjords National Park is.  It was the historic home of the Iditarod Trail and has a marker for  the 0 mile start of the race. It sits beautifully on Resurrection Bay a deep water port in Alaska and is backed up by mountains.

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This wall on a building in downtown has pretty much the history of Seward on it’s wall.  The town is named after the Secretary of State who fought for the purchase of Alaska. It was completely changed  with the Good Friday Earthquake in 1964 by the tsunami which devastated the area and killed a number of people here.

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What a treat to have the ocean as your front porch and the mountains as your back porch. It is quite an active town due to the ocean liners that arrive and drop off and pick up passengers.  The design of the buildings gives it that frontier town look, but don’t be deceived.  It is certainly a modern town as well.

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You will find a large variety of art and artists here.  Great restaurants sometimes give off the air of being your neighborhood hang out, and then the first class food arrives at your table and you know this must be a fine dining establishment.

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Posted in Aging, Airplane, Anchorage, Food, Quilts, Travel, Uncategorized, Yes

Gathering of Glaciers

The state of Alaska has more than 1,000 glaciers in various stages of growing and retreating and moving as glaciers do.  I recently visited Kenai Fjords National Park and saw a number of them.  They are truly impressive.

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I learned quite a bit, but only say this is intense to be so close.

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This is 2 different named glaciers side by side and both behaving differently.

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Posted in Aging, Anchorage, Travel, Yes

Summer Help

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Lots of places around the world are looking for extra help in the summer.  I chose Alaska for a couple of different reasons, I fell in love with his place the first time I visited, it is beautiful beyond belief.  I hoped the summer here would not be as humid and hot as it is back home and that has proved to be absolutely true.   I said many years ago that I wanted to live in Alaska, so this is an item crossed off my bucket list.

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Some of the people I work with are life long or long time Alaska residents.  Some take on a second job in the summer as many would around Christmas, to make a little extra money. This season lasts a little longer the holiday season .

The kinds of jobs available are amazing and varied.  From temporary office help to bus drivers to tour guides to taxi drivers to retail shop help to wait-staff to laundry help to chef or cook and pilots as well.  What might strike you as a fun occupation, there is probably a coordinated job for that.

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People also come from all over to work here. We have a number of University students from Bulgaria and Serbia.  They are recruited in their country and fly here for the summer.  Many of them pay a lot for the air fare to get here.  Then there is housing.  As with many college students they are good with dormitory style living and that gives them an affordable rent.

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You will see them all over town on bicycles, again an affordable type of transportation and gets them place to place faster than the city bus.  Also a number of them are comfortable with walking that 1 mile or so to get to work.

Quite a few take on second or third jobs to save money.  The main point of their being here is to pay for next years university costs.  If they live frugally over the summer that is very possible.  They are not only the international students who do this.  I also work with students from Washington, Utah,  Florida and more. Not all are students, quite a few are retirees like me who are able to lead a tour or drive a bus or whatever.

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In the Midwest, farm country many of my family and friends had all those summer jobs as corn de-tasseling, lawn mowing and life guards.  The fun things that you only get to do in summer.

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This has been an extremely educational summer so far for me.  Not only am I discovering all those amazing places in Alaska I had not seen before, but I am learning about life in other countries and as always learning more about myself.

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Posted in Airplane, Anchorage, Travel

Earthquake Park

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I knew that there was a huge earthquake in Alaska in 1964, called the Good Friday  Earthquake because of the day.  It was a 9.2 magnitude and lasted over 4 minutes. This was the second largest earthquake EVER. If you have ever experienced an earthquake, 4 minutes is a very long time and over 9 on the scale is massive. Much of Alaska was affected by this and the world felt the impact.

Earthquake Park in Anchorage is on the site where 75 homes were destroyed and the ground is forever changed.  This area cannot be built on ever again and over 50 years later you can see the evidence in the ground itself.

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In some areas of Alaska the ground raised up 30 feet, in others it dropped 10 to 15 feet and landslides were everywhere because of what it did to the soil. The tsunamis caused damage in Hawaii and Japan.

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Earthquake Park has a peaceful feel to it.  It is relatively small and is intersected by the Tony  which was Coastal Trail.  Also, near the airport already there at the time of the earthquake.

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There is a monument in the center of the park and it is as tall as what the earth shift was in that area, 15 feet.  It is quite impressive.

I was not sure what to expect from a place called Earthquake Park, was this an amusement ride or the tombstones of those who died there.  It is really quite a calming and educational site.

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Posted in Anchorage, Travel, Yes

Sled Dogs

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I can’t believe I have been writing this blog for over 3 months about living in Alaska and I have not mentioned dog sledding.  What? Let’s start out by saying it is controversial at best.  Lots of people on both sides of that fence and I am not here to pass judgement on anyone or to try and change any minds.

When I was looking into the history of dog sledding, I read that the first they have evidence of it over 4,000 years ago.  It was practiced in many parts of the world, not just snow covered landscape.

Here in Anchorage we have dog sledding in the summer time for those visitors who don’t want to brave the cold.  In those cases they have rollers on the sled to travel over the trails.  You can even do that in downtown Anchorage.

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The big race is the Iditarod held here in March and the headquarters are in Wasilla, just outside of Anchorage. But sledding takes place all over the world, with all kinds of dogs.

For the most part if you are involved you have a lot of dogs who live outside all year.  The first time I saw this it just looked like wooden boxes in front of a house, then the man who was doing the dog sled mushing walked out and they came to life.

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The dogs were on top of the houses, tails wagging, barking to beat the band, saying pick me, pick me.  Just like that happy sound your own dog makes when you come in after being gone for 8 hours at work, with the tail wagging the whole body frenzy.  Then when a dog was picked and attached to the harness, he became a quiet yet alert dog waiting for his turn to go.

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Yes, I have been lucky enough to go on a dog sled ride. It is very exciting and I was amazed at how fast those guys can pull over the frozen ground. The downside was all the chips of ice flying in my face as I sat in the sled.  No, I was not interested in being a musher.

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When you have an opportunity to visit Alaska, this might just have to be one of the stops on your trip.

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Posted in Anchorage, Food, Quilts, Sewing, Travel

Rain and Shopping

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In some ways life in Anchorage is just like  my life before.  I spend too much at the grocery store and at the Farmers Market.  I quilt at every opportunity and I love to watch movies.  It just that things happen in a slightly different manner.

I have no car here, so I try to organize a bit more my stops.  I did previously, but really plan my route before I ever leave the house now.  The weather in the summer here does not slow me down.  In East Tennessee, the summer weather stopped me dead in my tracks and influenced every aspect of my life.  What I wore, what I ate and where I went was determined by how hot and humid it was outside.  I like that those are not factors now.  The rain really does not faze me either.

It rains more here than at home and my only regret is that I did not bring a solid raincoat.  I brought one with a zip out lining that works for rain and cold and has a hood, but not just rain.  Kind of like the New England fisherman wears in the commercials, that bright yellow slicker is what I should have brought along.  Something more like that would have been good. And rain boots.

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Even the clouds are different here.  In the Smokey Mountains, the clouds drift into long thins wisps that look like smoke coming out of the mountains. Here, the clouds will stay large and fluffy and just sit for days on the mountains.  Sometimes they cover the tops of mountains and sometimes they cover the bottom or somewhere in-between.  Many days we don’t see all of the mountains because they are covered with clouds.

Shopping is restricted to where I can walk for the most part.  No running over to another town in my car because I want the soup that is only sold there.  Not a very difficult thing to get used to.  Much like moving into a new neighborhood in the same town. A new grocery store, a new bakery, a new gas station, a new dry cleaners all are thing you look at differently.  Are they convenient, are they on my route and what is the quality.

Rain does not seem the same because mostly it is a slow steady light rain that will last for hours.  Nothing like the thunderstorm in the Midwest that build  for a few hours, then unleash a downpour with a lot of noise.  Then those rains turn into sunny days to dry everything out.

With three months of living in Alaska, I am still loving the differences here, especially the cooler summer temperatures.

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Posted in Anchorage, Travel, Uncategorized

Blue Angels, Not Blue Skies

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I am a huge fan of the Blue Angels flying team.  They put a smile on my face when they are performing and bring out a patriotic streak a mile wide.  I can’t even tell you how many times I have seen them perform at various air shows, but I will continue to watch them every possible opportunity.

This weekend they were participating in an airshow in Anchorage.  Skies were not as blue as they have been and we had some cloud cover, but they still thrill.  This may be self-indulgent, but I did get a few pictures to share.

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Most of the precision team flying was done in groups of 4 aircraft, but they did some with the 5 aircraft together.  The fifth plane was in the sky with them the entire time I can only imagine what a thrill it must be for those pilots to be able to maneuver in the most beautiful setting of Alaska.

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Thank you a most awesome performance.