I know, I am not from the south. I have lived in the south a couple of times and have traveled a fair amount in the Southern States, and have eaten southern cooking, but am still considered a Yankee. I liked fried green tomatoes before most of this travel ever happened.
Living in the south my tomato plants would have been completely burned up by now with the blazing heat. In the north, thanks to mild temperatures now, I just went out and picked off the best looking green tomatoes. My daughter tells me her plants have been producing all summer and they are not yet ready to stop. Just waiting for that frost to kill them.
I love the movie and book as well, and thank you Fannie Flagg for all your contributions to the world. I knew her first as a comedienne and have been thrilled with her books over the years.
I am a bit simplistic in my preference for the fried tomato recipe and this past week introduced a couple more people to my bandwagon. I am hanging out waiting for the World Series games to end before I get back to travel. I cooked them one evening for my daughter and son-in law.
My favorite recipe uses flour only as the coating, not cornmeal or crackers as some do, and I fry them in butter, not oil. Mine is not the healthiest recipe, but over the years I have served these to many friends who like them. Yes, I have tasted the others, and keep going back to my favorite. Let me know if you want my recipe. I guess I am trying to make them a national dish, one plate at a time.
I have been a Cubs fan since I was born!
I have no words to express how over the moon excited I am that they have made it to the World Series in my lifetime. Two things off my bucket list in one year is an unbelievable alignment of stars and planets and karma.
The Chicago Cubs had a thing many years ago called Ladies Day. As a very young child my mother left my brothers and father behind and we took the bus to Wrigley Field. I grew up able to watch major league baseball. This was not like the kids in the playground at the school behind my house. This was big time. Before we had a television in our home I was going to baseball games.
I loved the whole idea of it. Riding the bus to get there and spending an afternoon keeping the stats of players was one of the sweetest childhood memories I have. I realize as a child I did not have much say in who I cheered for in baseball, as an adult I do.
I have been blessed to cross a number of things off my bucket list, even while I was young enough to really enjoy them. I watched the Rose Bowl parade in person and even worked on a float putting flowers on. I went with friends to the Macy’s Parade in New York. But the years these things happened they were the highlights for several years.
This year I had the chance to live in Alaska and will cheer on my Cubs in the World Series, EPIC. Now, I can’t afford the ticket to get in, but being on the same street will make me extremely happy.
For not being a bread eater, I have 3 loaves of various sourdough bread in the freezer. A local bakery makes cornbread sourdough and I have regular sourdough as well as rye sourdough. There is something truly delicious about each version named and I can’t wait to try others. I first discovered sourdough when I lived in San Francisco and developed an addiction for it.
Sourdough was used by Egyptians in 1500 BC, has been widely used throughout Europe. A bakery in San Francisco discovered a unique culture which created a flavor that the miners loved. Sourdough bread is made from a starter that needs to be replenished. The gold rush in Alaska brought sourdough starter here.
A sourdough is also a nickname given to someone who spent an entire winter above the Arctic Circle and it refers to their keeping the starter warm by keeping it close to their body. Some of that sourdough starter is said to still be in use today. The older the starter it generates a tang which is what makes it much more of a prized possession.
There are numerous recipes available for starter, or put the word out and certainly someone has starter that needs to be shared. I have never been successful at keeping and using the starter to make my own, it requires more attention than I can give. I do agree with the premise that sourdough is a magical food.
Denali means “the high one” and is the highest mountain peak in North America. Denali, the park, is 6 million acres of land. Yes, things are big in Alaska. The mountain has had it’s name restored recently and is visible from many parts of the state. This is not a political blog so I really have no desire to discuss the right or wrong about the name. This is what it is today.
It is truly magnificent to see this mountain towering over all the others and covered in snow. I have been lucky enough to see it from different places and feel the same sense of awe each time. I earlier spoke about meeting a man who was climbing the mountain and salute all those who are able to do that. It is very difficult and I am sure very rewarding at the same time. Any time you set a goal for yourself and achieve it, is a time to celebrate. I am now ready to celebrate.
Certainly I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go to the park and explore to do so. Much of the park is not accessible to some people. It, like the rest of this state, is beautiful and extremely difficult at the same time. This land has certainly built and destroyed many people.
I have so much more to share about Alaska and how it changed me, but only want to encourage anyone who is thinking about visiting or working here to do it. Do your homework, this place is not for everyone. I will be quite now and just share some pictures.
This is a trail for walking or running or biking that is 11 miles long in Anchorage and follows the coast line in the city. It seems to be in use all the time by people out for a dose of beautiful Alaska scenery as well as exercise. On any given day you are likely to see people walking dogs or walking with their children as well as on bicycles or skateboards or roller skates. There are a number of locations to get on and off so the full 11 miles is not necessary to travel on any given day.
It is also nice to travel knowing you are not competing with traffic for the space. No motorized vehicles are allowed.
There are a ton of scenic spots to stop to rest or take photos. As well as many places to view the wildlife. It is very common to hear of moose on the trail.
This also connects to earthquake park.
For those not from the area, this is a great way to see quite a bit of Anchorage, find out some of the history while getting in a nice long walk or ride. Downtown has several locations for bicycle rental if you don’t have one.
The Alaska railroad plays a huge part in the history of this state. Due to the rugged terrain and the vast amount of distance between one end of the state to another, a way had to be found for people to get around. Along comes the train. In the very early days several companies tried to tame this space.
With the early prospectors building mines and shelter of some sort, they needed some kind of transportation to bring supplies and them to locations. So several companies tried to fill the gaps and created small regional type train service. Today the rail line goes from Seward at the south to Fairbanks at the north.
In some countries rail lines are used differently than it is in Alaska. This same route is used for passengers and freight with rail spurs to allow multi use without problems.
Some of the most dramatic places on the rail line are those bridges over the many rivers in Alaska and provide beautiful places for that photo opportunity. Some of the original bridges are still in use and are inspected on a daily basis in the summer and a little less frequently in winter. The rail line has mile markers to assist in a variety of ways. There is a book that tells the history of the railroad based on mileposts.
Some of the trains have dome cars to provide a full view of the wonderful views along the train route. In the summer the passenger trains also have a snack bar as well as full service dining, which is a wonderful treat as you are traveling. If you have the time this should be a consideration to travel, it really is wonderful.
Alaska enjoys many aspect of fall. The nights becoming dark enough to see the Northern Lights again, the trees turning a beautiful shade of gold, the tourists leaving after a busy summer, the really cool weather returning, the first frost of the new season and the check that will arrive from the state. This all happens very quickly.
It seems like only a few days that we get to enjoy the beautiful colors of fall and then the trees are bare. The Northern Lights happen a lot, but it has to be dark enough to see them. A friend recently said when she first moved to Alaska and saw the lights in the sky, she thought it was like angels dancing for God. I can’t think of a better analogy to describe it. Since my mind turns all things into quilts, I have been looking at using the fall colors and the Northern Lights in quilts.
The tourists leaving causes other things to happen. The people traveling around town consist more of families now that the children are back in school, someone needs to get them to school and/or sitters. The traffic slows just a little. All the busses taking tourists from one spot to another don’t dominate the roads anymore. Most of the RV’s have vanished from the parking lots. And, some restaurants actually have seating available as soon as you walk in.
We already talked about termination dust, but that is not like going out to your car and seeing it covered with frost. The dust is in the mountain tops and this frost is much closer. That means all the hanging baskets around town are down and the flowers in the yard and now going dormant. Or they are put into the small greenhouses that dot the city for winter storage. The military monument in the park is the one exception, fresh flowers are there every day of the year.
And, oh yes, that check. Due to the oil economy of this state, most residents receive a check each year from the “oil money”. The amount varies yearly and there are certain residency requirements, but everyone can benefit. Stores and airlines and individuals companies have PDF sales going on. (PDF here means Permanent Fund Dividend.) This is an effort to keep the money in state and help boost the local economy. All these sales and special deals offered certainly can be used by those who don’t get a check.
This all happens with astonishing speed. While I came here to spend the summer, I am also very happy that I get to participate in more than one season.
Still not sure when I will leave, but the end is in sight. On to my next adventure. I am not yet sure what that will be.
For a little while I will be hanging out with daughters and son-in-laws and grandchildren. This will give me the opportunity to unwind and take time to make my next big decision. I can easily see a few short trips just to flex my travel muscles again.
At one point in the not so distant past, I flew to a new city at least once a month. I did some research on each city to see what things I might enjoy. I wanted to minimize cost so there had to be some form of public transportation from the airport to the city. In most cases this was successful. My time in Alaska and airports has reminded me how much I like that. I get it that not everyone has a pleasant time at an airport, but I seem to walk through the airport with a smile on my face.
When some of my European colleagues left they stopped in various cities across the country before going back home. I will do some of that too. I can see myself going to my daughters, repacking into a backpack and taking a couple of short trips. Most will be just a day, so I can smell another city and taste the air in different parts of the US. I hope not to put too many requirements on any one place to visit.
I have learned much about Alaska and myself during this time. I am still very much in love with the entire state of Alaska and will be back for many more visits I hope. I have discovered that I will not be moving here any time soon as a permanent resident. But, two of the people who visited me are both talking about getting a place in Alaska. That would make me very happy so I know I would have a place to visit.
I hope I have encouraged at least one person to take a chance on what the next adventure will be for them. Taking 6 months and living in another place is HUGE and I have been lucky enough to do this several times. It is worth the things you give up to do this and maybe it makes you appreciate what you give up even more.
I wish my photography would give you the full depth of this picture. It tells us that we are almost at 4,000 foot elevation, but it does not tell you how many miles off into the distance you are able to see. This is near the towns of Wasilla and Palmer. As the name indicates, it is a pass through the mountains, but also the site of large scale gold mining.
The mining is still going on today. It was quite a revelation as we went through the area to see the signs up indicating active mining was going on While we did not see anything on my recent visit, there were a lot of vehicles that indicated some people other than tourists were in the area.
Between winding road and winding creek and beautiful mountain views all around you this is truly a beautiful place to take in nature. Watch the seasons change and just totally unwind from the everyday world of life.
The state park here shows a part of the hard life of miners during the gold rush days.
The area is also great for hiking, sledding, skiing, camping, hunting and almost any outdoor activity popular in Alaska. Some of the roads would not be passible during the winter and heavy snow, so just be prepared as with any winter travel in rugged territory. But, boy it sure is a treat for the eyes to be in this area. If you are in Alaska add this place to your bucket list.