Friday, May 23, 2008

Lance Mackey - May, 2008

In 2007, Lance Mackey accomplished a feat that most thought could not be done. He won both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod sled dog races. They are both grueling multi-day races. Then in 2008, he and his team repeated this amazing feat when they won both races again. The name of Lance's Kennel is the "Comeback Kennel". Less than 10 years ago, he was not racing; he was battling throat cancer. So he has, indeed, "come back."

Colleen and Lance Mackey

Thinking Spring - May, 2008

We are trying to "think spring". Doug planted about 100 flowers in our berm. He also planted several patio pots and we bought a couple of hanging baskets for our porch. Hopefully, I can send you pictures soon of them all bursting with blooms! Flowers here seem to be so vibrant and colorful. It does not get so horridly hot and of, course, all that daylight doesn't hurt either.

(NOTE: As I write this, it is 10:50 PM. I am gazing out the window of my computer room at a beautiful sunset. The horizon is a beautiful yellow and pink sunset and the clouds are a pink and lavender color. It gets light here at about 5:00 in the morning. Our bed faces the sunrise, so we have to make sure to shut the blinds before we go to bed if we do not want to wake up at 5:00 AM with the sun in our faces.)

I took these pictures at 11:15 PM with no flash. Each day will have even
more sunlight. Our longest day is June 21.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


The day after I got home from Nebraska, I saw a moose at the bottom of our hill in our neighborhood. I did not have my camera, so I called Doug and he came and got some good pictures. I ALWAYS carry my camera, except when a wonderful opportunity like this happens!

We went for a drive on Lazy Mountain which is across the Matanuska River from Palmer. We went to several greenhouses to see what they had to offer. They had some gorgeous plants, but it is still a little early to put them out. It had been 28* at one green house on the night before we got there. We saw several moose. Two of them were right beside the road.

As we came on the Old Glenn Highway to go home, we saw a porcupine right beside the road. He was not cooperative enough to turn around so I could get a picture of his "good side". And I wasn't brave (or dumb) enough to go around to the front to get his pictures.

He tired of the attention soon enough and toddled off toward the trees. He stopped along the way and sat up and pulled down a small tree and munched on it before heading into the trees.

Porcupine Movie

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Animal Sightings - May, 2008

Doug took these pictures of the mountain goats along the Seward Highway when
he was on his way to Homer the last week of April.

There were a lot of eagles outside Doug's hotel in Homer. He was able to get a video on one of them. He said that the previous night they were putting on a real air show. He felt like he could almost reach out and touch them from the balcony of his room. We saw several eagles on our cruise, but did not get good pictures of them. (We also saw one otter, but did not get a good picture of it either).


We saw these goats along the Seward Highway when we were coming home
from our wildlife watching cruise at Seward.

We saw these orcas on our wildlife-watching cruise at Seward.


We saw LOTS of seagulls!

We saw 4-5 black bears and some mountain goats while on our cruise. You have to look carefully. The black bear is the the small black dot in the center of the photo. At one time we saw a goat grazing on the mountainside and on a nearby ledge was a black bear who was asleep. Had he known the goat was so near to him, he probably wouldn't have taken a nap!

Sea Lions

You can see how calm the waters were in the bay where we viewed the sea lions.

Avalanches- May, 2008

We took these pictures on the Seward Highway. We also saw several avalanches on our wildlife watching cruise. The avalanches just fell into the ocean at the bottom of the mountains.

Avalanches down the side of the mountain (view from afar)

Avalanches up close

These had receded a lot from when they first occurred. They had, in some cases, covered the highway or railroad tracks before they melted or were cleared.

This is an example of an avalanche box which has been built around the power pole. The is hopefully keep the snow from snapping off the pole and sweeping it down the mountain side when an avalanche occurs.

The state capitol, Juneau, was hard hit when an avalanche took out many of the power poles from the hydroelectric plant. They have been operating on very expensive back-up generators for their power. It is expected to take months before the poles are replaced. Juneau can only be accessed by air and by sea. There are no highways on which you can drive to Juneau becasue it backs up to an ice field and mountains. They are no able to truck new poles and supplies in to the city. Residents are expecting a five-fold increase to their already "higher than the national average" electric bills.

Scenery on the Seward Highway - May, 2008

Mountains & clouds across the Cook Inlet. This highway goes from
Anchorage to Seward and is aptly named "The Seward Highway".

We saw dozens of waterfalls coming out of the rocks along the highway. It is like that all summer long.

The lakes have a definite green color. It is due the the glacial silt that is in the water.

Notice the cracks in the ice where "break up" is starting on this lake.

Seward is about 4 hours south of where we live. We had no snow on the ground and had have not had snow in our valley since the mid-April. At that time, we had 10-12". It was gone in two days. The temperature was 60* two days after the snowfall. Before the April snowfall, we had had no snow since the first part of February. Our valley has a relatively temperate climate compared to the rest of the state. The lakes in our area had already pretty much thawed by the time we took this trip to Seward.

Seward Alaska - May 3, 2008

We drove to Seward to celebrate Doug's birthday by going on a wildlife-watching cruise. These first pictures are the views from our motel. It was the first weekend of May, but it was still chilly and there was plenty of snow on the mountains.

In the bottom left of this picture of the scene across from our motel,
you can see the Benny Benson Memorial.

The following is taken from information from the Anchorage Daily News (newspaper).
Benny Benson - Alaska's Flag

This is the Alaska Flag Benny designed. John Ben "Benny" Benson was 13 when he created the flag for the Territory of Alaska in 1927.

Benson looked to the sky, choosing the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) and the North Star for his symbols. He described his choices: "The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaska Flower. The North Star is for the future state of Alaska, the most northerly of the union. The dipper is for the Great Bear symbolizing strength." His sentiments are echoed in the state song.

His design was favored over about 700 entries from schoolchildren around the state. Many of the other entries had variations on polar bears, gold pans, the state seal, the midnight sun, or northern lights. Until his flag was chosen, Alaskans had flown only the U.S. flag since the territory was purchased from Russia in 1867. The Territory of Alaska became a state in 1959.

For his feat, Benson won an engraved watch and $1,000. The original flag, made of blue silk and appliqu├ęd gold stars, was first flown July 9, 1927.

Benson was part Russian-Aleut and part Swedish. He was born at Chignik, grew up at the Jesse Lee Home in Unalaska and later in Seward, and spent most of his adult life in Kodiak, where he worked for Kodiak Airways. He had two daughters and several stepchildren and grandchildren. He died on July 2, 1972.

If you visit Seward, you can find the Benny Benson Memorial at Mile 1.4 of the Seward Highway.

Information source, Anchorage Daily News.

Lots of ships in the Seward harbor.

Lot of people were preparing their boats for the upcoming tourist and fishing season. This guy was working in the crow's nest of his boat.

Doug & Colleen in front of the catamaran that took us on our wildlife watching cruise. It rained and snowed on us on our 4 hour drive to Seward and it rained after our cruise, but the precipitation stopped long enough for us to have a great cruise. It was chilly and windy, but we we were able to stand out on deck to see lots of animals. See them in the next blog post!
They served hot chocolate and a light lunch on the boat. The sea was relatively calm.
After our cruise, we went to Mass and then to a place that our captain had recommended for supper. The food and the atmosphere lived up to our expectations!