Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hayrack Ride - December 23

We celebrated the Christmas season by riding on the hayrack ride with members of our parish. We toured the town of Palmer and sang carols along the way. Then we went back to church for a Christmas pageant and soup and cornbread!!

Glenn Highway and Matanuska Glacier - late September

We drove north from our valley on the Glenn Highway. As you can see, the fall colors were gorgeous!!!!. I could NOT stop taking pictures. We stopped to look at the river below and another couple who had stopped to enjoy the view took our picture for us.

We drove about an hour and got our first look at the Matanuska Glacier.

We spent about an hour and a half walking on the glacier. It was so peaceful, and not really that cold (since the sun was shining). But---glaciers melt from below - just like a pile of snow in a parking lot. Occasionally we would be headed in one direction and could hear the water either trickling or rushing underneath the ice near us. Needless to say, we turned and walked in a different direction.
Glaciers look white from afar, but when you get up close you can see the dirt and ground up rock in the snow and ice. The ground rock is called "glacier dust". When it is wet, it is about like wet talcum powder. When it is dry, it blows EVERYWHERE!

As you walk out to the glacier you must follow the path marked by the cones. IT looks like you are walking on dirt. It is actually snow and ice covered by the glacier dust. The ice is melting from beneath, so you don't want to be standing on a ledge that will collapse!

The ice looks blue because it is especially dense. You will often see this blue colored ice when a glacier calves into the ocean too. It is super cold ice.

Cabbages and Potatoes - Fall, 2007

These are pictures we took in a field along the highway. Potatoes are a huge crop here. The first machine dug the potatoes and rolled them into a row. The second machine came by and picked them up and dumped them into a bin. Workers on the second machine pulled out as much grass and greens as they could before it dropped into the bin with the potatoes.
After the machines were finished with the fields, locals were allowed to come into the field to glean any potatoes that were left. It was definitely a family affair. There were people of all ages picking up potatoes.

This is how our altar at church was decorated in the fall. Note the large cabbages and flowering kale. Things do grow much larger up here!

Not Always Paradise - January 15

I wanted to share with you the "other side of the coin". Most of my posts have shared the awesome views, the wonderful activities and the gorgeous weather. I just want you to know that it is not always like that. It was 0* on Saturday when we went cross-country skiing, but the sun was shining. The next two days the temps were about -15* and cloudy. We are expecting a "heat wave" this week (temps in the upper 20's). We may even see some snow melting if the sun shines. Today it is about 11* above zero. But it is snowing and the wind IS blowing. These are pictures I took from my house today.
(I'm too chicken to go out). :>)

Night Moon - Sept. 27

Views of the fall moon from our bedroom window in late September.

Quilt Projects

I took some quilt classes. Here are some of the projects I worked on. I am currently going to the quilt shop on Wednesdays and participating in "sew for service". Our local quilt guild is a service organization. Some of the members gather on Wednesdays and piece or cut quilt tops. When the projects are all finished, they are given away (by the guild) to needy families and folks. I am learning more quilting techniques and tips each week when I go.

This is a quilt I made for my granddaughter Audrey for Christmas.

My first quilt class. I made an Alaskan theme sampler.

My Alaskan table runner:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hatcher Pass - January 12, 2008

After we left the Mat-Su cross-country activity, we went further up Hatcher Pass. The Alaska State Parks was offering free parking in the normal fee areas and other activities were happening further up the Pass.  

One of the activities was sledding down a groomed sledding hill. Sledding Alaska-style works like this:
The driver drops you off at the top of the run and then goes and parks at the bottom of the run down the mountain (about a mile away). Then you snowboard or sled down the hill. When all members of the group arrive at the bottom, everyone loads up in the vehicle to be transported to the top for the next run. (Sorry – no pictures of this – the run was straight downhill, out of range of our cameras).

Folks who actually knew what they were doing were cross-country skiing around Independence Mine at the top of Hatcher Pass. (That might be us next year) :>) The parking lot was full of vehicles, so there were a lot of people taking advantage of all the activities.
You will see the buildings from the old mine in some of these pictures.

This excerpt about the Independence Mine is taken from the Alaska State Parks web page. If you wish to learn more about it, go to this link:

"GOLD! A magic word that time cannot tarnish; a soft metal with the strength to forge history. Gold was the magnet that drew thousands of adventurers to the last frontier. Though most Alaskans recognize that gold played an important part in Alaska's history, they normally think first of Nome, Fairbanks, or the Iditarod country. But even before a quarter-of-a-million gold seekers began their stampede into those famous areas, gold was discovered just southeast of Anchorage in 1886. From there prospectors spread into the Susitna and Matanuska river basins, testing the creeks in the nearby mountains."

On both the way up the mountain and on the way down, we had to stop to look at the awesome view of our valley where we live. When you come to visit us, be assured that this is one thing that we will show you whether it is summer or winter. I took these pictures of the valley and then turned around and took these pictures of the mountains. I cannot begin to describe how beautiful it was. Pictures do not do it the view justice.

Cross-Country Skiing - Jan. 12, 2008

Our Mat-Su Borough provided an activity called Winter Trail Days at Hatcher Pass in the Talkeetna Mountain Range. They had cross country skis and boots and snowshoes (provided by a local outfitter, REI) that you could use for free. They also had people there who were giving lessons on cross-country skiing. They had a mountain bike racecourse laid out and groomed trails for skiers. Fortunately for us “newbies”, the trails circled a small area, so we were never way back in the wilderness. We were always in sight of the instructors who could help us and encourage us. Doug even got his picture taken by the local newspaper. Thank goodness they didn’t take my picture at the same time they took his. I just happened to be on the ground when the photographer snapped a shot of Doug (who was upright). I guess it didn’t matter though. We checked the paper today and they chose to put in a picture of a couple of cute little girls who were sailing along on their first attempt at cross-country skiing.

As you can see, it was a gorgeous day. The temperature was 0* but there was no wind. There were burn barrels all fired up so you could warm up. But we didn't really need to take advantage of the fires.  Once Doug and I got the hang of it, we got warmed up really fast. After about an hour and half we took a break and ate the lunch we had packed. Then we went a couple rounds before we thought we should call it a day (since we could both still walk and didn’t hurt anywhere). We thought it best to quit while we were ahead. But we intend to try the cross-country skiing again. Our instructor told us about some other trails in the area. I think he only mentioned the ones where he thought we couldn’t get into too much trouble!!
When we were finished and turned in our equipment, we had hot chocolate and hot cider (compliments of the bourough).

As we waited for the activities to begin, we noticed the frozen waterfalls on the sides of nearby mountains.  In the summer, these are actually waterfalls tumbling down the hillsides.  If you look closely, you can see the frozen waterfalls in this picture.

Moose at Hatcher Pass - Jan. 12, 2008

Wow!!!! Did we have a great weekend! On Saturday we planned to go to Hatcher Pass (about 20 minutes from our house) for a Winter Trails activity. (More about that on the next post). We left home at 9:00 am. It was starting to get light and we could tell that the sun was going to shine on this day. That itself is a change, since it has been cloudy most of the time. We were driving up the road in the Talkeetna mountains when we saw three moose. It was a cow and her two calves. They were feeding RIGHT beside the road. We stopped to watch and the two calves crossed the road in front of us to feed on the other side. This time of year, moose eat trees and they were all content to just keep munching as we watched. Other cars went by too, but they didn’t react to the passing cars at all. Mother moose was not too amused as she crossed the road though. She had her ears laid back and they were still that way as she continued to eat on our side of the road with her calves. Once again, we got too excited to get really good pictures. The cameras aren’t too sure what to do when it is just beginning to get daylight. We sat about ten minutes and watched them.

P.S. Doug saw moose tracks at the bottom of our driveway again today. I am just SURE that one of these days I am going to walk out to put the trash in the bin and there she will be!!!!