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

What Would I Do Differently?

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Now that I am away from Alaska and my summer job I have had some time to reflect on all of it.  Had I decided early enough in the year, my living arrangements would have been different. I would have rented a room from a private individual and saved myself  money and aggravation.  Or, I would have stayed in a hostel near where I was working. Some of the people who rent out rooms are trustworthy and some are not, the same as in any place in the world. In some cases you just need to take a giant leap of faith.

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I would have purchased a bicycle sooner and ridden it all over the place.  While riding the bus was very reasonably priced, free is certainly cheaper.  With those 2 changes, I would have been able to save a lot of money over the summer.  While that was not my primary goal, it would have been a great secondary achievement.

I would have taken more excursions early in the summer rather than try to settle into my living arrangements.  I should have looked at my apartment as a semester of college and just used whatever, rather than try to recreate my home.

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Don’t get me wrong I did a ton of stuff while I was there, but I may have had a few missed opportunities to see and do other things.  Or I might have done some things a second or third time over the summer.  I’m sure I would have still spent all my money in Alaska.

Would I do it again, in a heartbeat.  I would also strongly recommend it to any and every person who is able to try this. You will work very hard over the summer, but the rewards are worth it. If you are from another country, what a great way to have a working vacation and learn a different way of life.  I had a friend who spent her summer in New Zealand  and it changed her life forever in ways she did not expect.  So jump in, the water’s fine.

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

Denali

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Posted in Anchorage, Moose, Travel, Yes

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

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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.

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It is also nice to travel knowing you are not competing with traffic for the space.  No motorized vehicles are allowed.

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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.

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This also connects to earthquake park.

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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.

 

 

 

Posted in Anchorage, Moose, Travel, Yes

Hatcher Pass

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Posted in Anchorage, Moose, Travel, Yes

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

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This is a truly exciting place to visit. This wonderful bear was sitting like this watching all the people as if he knew he was pretty enough to be on the cover of a magazine. He is also only one of the 3 brown bears on display there and sitting down he is taller than I am standing up,  not hard to do with a short person as I am.

 

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Some of the giant vegetables that were left over from the state fair were donated to help feed the animals.  Look at the size of these snacks!

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A few of the Wood Bison left on the premises.  Last year a herd of over 100  were reintroduced into the wild in Alaska.  This is the type that was at one time native to the state.  A year later they are thriving and having new babies in the herd.  Just one of the wonderful things that is done here.

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Native Musk Ox is another animal on the property.  Truly a unique experience, they have elk, caribou, moose, fox, wolf, lynx and porcupine.  All animals you will find in Alaska, they have an internship program if this is something you might like to do over the summer.  The facility is open pretty much year round and close enough to Anchorage for a  day trip.

This is not a zoo and does not have easy paths for walking in all areas, it has dirt roads the become rutted with rain and snow and travel.  It is in a beautiful setting off the Seward Highway.  Also a small gift shop and snack area. Small fee for entrance. This should be added as a must see on your next trip here.

Posted in Anchorage, Moose, Travel, Yes

Choices, Chances, Change

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As I was preparing to leave my home and come to Alaska for 6 months I knew these ‘C’ words would be with me daily.  I  made some good and some bad choices deciding to do this. I somehow always knew Alaska was a part of my life, just not sure how or why.  In hindsight of course many things are now clear.

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Many, many years ago on a family vacation, we were at a national park and the gentleman guiding the tour told us he worked over the summer only as he was retired and loved his job.  Don’t know where that got filed, but it my brain it was filed somewhere.

Then about 15 years after that, I was in Alaska with a friend.  We had a slight car problem and were stopped along a highway by a small store and went inside. In talking to the man running the store, he suggested, out of the blue, working over the summer and said he was sure I would get hired.  This also got filed away somewhere.

Once I was retired, 20 or so years later,  none of this was uppermost in my mind.  I was kind of in survival mode. Due to some changes in my world, I was simply lucky to put one foot in front of the other and get through a day.  It took me several years to return to feeling in charge of many` portions of my life.

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I only wish I had someone like me in my life who had taken a big chance and made a big change.  I don’t know that I would have listened or followed, I needed my own drummer to follow.  This has been one of the most delightful and wonderful summers of my life.  At the age of 70, I have a few summers to compare and will always be grateful for the choice to come here.

I have learned so much about the great state of Alaska, it still holds many mysteries and I only hope I have more opportunity to keep discovering them. While I am not ready to move here on a permanent basis, I am sure I will visit again.

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I guess the fact that some of my co-workers are leaving next week and more the week after that has caused me to be reflective.  I am very aware that my time here is limited. I am pleased that I checked off some bucket list items. I am grateful that my health has allowed me to do this.  I only hope that I can inspire at least one person.  I know the two people who crossed my path for a very short time had no idea their words would bring me to Alaska all those years in the future.

My adventures for this year are not over, next it is the choice of where I want to spend this winter, a beach in Florida sounds really good right now.  All I can suggest is that choices, chances and change are often really  great. I  encourage everyone to step outside their comfort zone from time to time  and say yes to whatever the universe is offering.

 

 

 

 

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

AK State Fair

This fair has food and rides and animals and crafts and performances just like most fairs everywhere.  The location is beautiful, with mountains in the background and it has room for wide walkways and paths between everything.

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Many state fairs have all the smaller  fairs all over the state leading up to the BIG one, so the prize cattle or jams from everywhere compete against the best of the best the state has to offer.  This is not like that.  Maybe because of geography or simply distance this is the only chance to shine.  There are communities here that can only be reached by air or water and not very practical to fly the prize pony out.  Also many of the communities are  fairly small in numbers and would not be able to offer the same level of competition. All in all if you have an opportunity this is a very good fair to attend.

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In the huge variety of items entered in various categories, you know you are in Alaska.  The products used and the themes in the photos and drawings and paintings seem to represent this state beautifully.  The natural beauty of Alaska becomes apparent very quickly.  I feel very lucky to have had an opportunity to see first hand the giant vegetables that I have heard about for years.

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For the food, animals, entertainment and location, I for one am very glad I had a chance to attend.

 

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, Anchorage, Moose, Travel, Yes

Segway Tour

When did this become a thing?  I guess I was not paying attention to all the trends out there.  You can take Segway tours all over the world. Pictures in front of the Eifel Tower or the White House or the Golden Gate Bridge.  I guess because I came here as more of a visitor than a local I am looking at touristy things a little more. Well Anchorage has a Segway tour, it lasts about 90 minutes and that includes instructions on how to ride one.

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The tour starts in downtown Anchorage and covers a lot of territory and information about the city, plus it’s just a fun thing to do.  For those who are a little intimidated, they have ones that you can sit on and just cruise along with the rest of the group.

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As the map shows they are right in the midst of everything.  This is a tour for all ages and the day we were there, most of the people on the tour were locals.  I thought that was pretty interesting because it just gives people a different way to look at their own town.

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Look Ma, no hands moment in front of the old train downtown.  This is a spot several of the tours come to, because it really is an important part of Alaskan history and it is a very pretty spot to see.

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This is certainly a tour I would consider for everyone to try.  All the people on the tours I see around town seem to be having fun, even on rainy days.  They just put on a poncho and a smile and off they go.

So look into the next big city you are visiting and consider this type of tour.