Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Dave!!

Today is Dave's 9th birthday!  Last year, both he and Duncan were gypped (I had to look up how to spell that) out of birthday celebrations (I was busy packing this time last year so Dave missed out and I was on a plane to CO this past December on Duncan's birthday).  In the past, they have each received a 'store' bought birthday cake from the local pet bakery, but that gets a little spendy and there are an abundance of recipes available on-line, so this year, I decided Dave would get a home-made cake!
 Happy Birthday Dave!!  :)
 They both exercised self-control for these photo ops (taken last night)...and were rewarded with cake 'samples' from the pieces carved out of the sides to make the bone shaped cake...
Peanut Butter Carrot Cake for Pooches:
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 tsp. of baking soda
1/4 cup of natural peanut butter
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/3 cup of honey
1 cup of shredded carrots
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Grease an 8x4" loaf pan.  Mix together the flour and baking soda.  Add remaining ingredients and mix until everything is well-combined.  Pour into pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  "Frost" cake with peanut butter if desired.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Colorado Visitors

When I told people I was moving to Alaska, many people expressed interest in coming up for a visit, but I know it's not the easiest (or inexpensive) place to get so I didn't expect to have many people follow through on their wishes.  However about 10 minutes after getting off the phone with my friend Denise, she called me back and said, "We're tentatively planning on June 2012."

And here they are...
Brad, Damion, Denise & Joleigh
We kept it low key the first day since they were short on sleep after a long, late night flight and early morning arrival - downtown Anchorage has an outdoor market on the weekends which is always fun to wander through.  And the following day we went for a hike to Thunderbird Falls (where I'd visited last fall) and then to a Reindeer Farm in Palmer, AK.
 The reindeer farm also had elk who liked to eat the tall grass around the farm
 they weren't exactly shy...
 many of the reindeer (caribou) had new babies...
The farm was in a beautiful valley, the mountains in the background reminded me of being in Austria or Switzerland...
 heavy sets of antlers
 more babies
 they also had a bison on the farm...
 as well as a moose...the bison and the moose are buddies
We contemplated doing another hike, but decided to just explore the area a little and see what we could see...there were a lot of 4 wheelers along the beach along the Knik River area...
 D&D came along for the hike and the ride, and enjoyed exploring the riverbeds as well...
 nothing like some good old fashioned rock throwing, right?
 Dave quickly plopped down and got comfortable, rocks and all...
 Duncan had a great time too
Joleigh & Damion
 we saw a lot of signs that were used for target practice and were amused by the signs prohibiting firearms riddled with holes...

They left Anchorage Monday morning to do some exploring on their own down to Seward and Homer and then we met back up at the week for part 2 of our adventure...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hope, Alaska

I'll be the first to admit that using 'outdoorsy' and my name in the same sentence do not exactly go together (unless it involves a pool or a deck of some kind)...but being up here makes it almost impossible not to mix the two together.  I definitely was a slug during the winter compared to those I saw riding their fat tire bikes or wearing their cross country skis (to be fair, I DID go downhill skiing but that doesn't really count).  But having been through the *snowiest* winter on record, I feel I have a deeper appreciation for the beautiful, sunny days we are getting and agreed to go on an 11 mile (gulp) hike last Saturday.  I was assured it was an 'easy' hike (translation - not a lot of elevation increase), so I decided to give it a shot.  Plus it was exploring a new area for me...Hope, Alaska.
See where it says "Potter Marsh" just below Anchorage on the map?  I live sort of near there - up in the hills a bit, so on the map, I'm kind of to the right of Potter Marsh.  You can see where it says "Hope" just across the water of the Turnagain Arm, across from Rainbow's 'only' 15 miles from one side of the water over to Hope, and you can SEE Hope across the water from the Anchorage side...but there are no bridges, so you have to DRIVE all the way around the Turnagain Arm on the Seward Hwy (the red solid line) until you reach the Hope Hwy turn even though it's close, it's far (approx. 80 miles)...make sense? :)
 the view from the OTHER side of Turnagain Arm
 it was a beautiful day!  We were armed with bear spray as they are in the area, but the only evidence we saw of bear was some black, tar looking poop
 we had to cross this 'avalanche' of snow...and in other areas, there were muddy, boggy messes to slog through.  I had one mishap with my left shoe - it was squishy and gross as my foot sunk into the mud and covered the entire shoe, but that's what trail shoes are for, right? :)
 Mountain reflection in the water
 Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to hike we go...
 the U.S. Forest Service comes through and clears fallen trees from the trails but this tree was tall enough for us to walk under
 we didn't let an old, rickety bridge slow us down...
 we all made it safely across
 These plants are called "Devils Club" and I would NOT recommend reaching out blindly to grab them to help you balance as you're slogging through mud...I'm still trying to get nettles out of my hand and wrist...
 the tide was out as we reached the end of our hike at Gull Rock
 This was the only wildlife we saw...a Stellar Blue Jay
 He was a little scavenger and we could tell he was used to being around campsites as he quickly swooped in to catch whatever crumbs he could find
We stopped for lunch at our end destination, Gull Rock
 The Alaska Range (above)
 The Chugach Mountains (below)
I was hurtin' by the end of the hike...sore feet, sore knees, sore back...and a word of advice...or warning...however you want to take it....if you find yourself at a fork in the trail and some of the group thinks you should go to the left because that's the way you came but the leader of the group cuts you off and says you should go to the right because he "knows where he's going" but after about 15 minutes of hiking UP and further away from the campsite that was IN VIEW at the trail fork, that same leader says, "huh, I'd have thought this trail would have met up to the beginning by now", I cannot promise that I will exercise the same restraint I did on Saturday and not cause bodily harm to the arrogant SOB.  All I can say is, it's a good thing I don't have a gun...yet... :)

We DID make it back eventually...although we definitely added more time and length to our return trip (I'm not bitter about that, REALLY, I'm not...), and stopped in the actual town of Hope (population - 192) for refreshments...

This is how they serve beer on tap in Hope, AK...
 Hope was a gold mining town, established in 1889
This is the Social Hall, built in 1902 and still used today for various events.  It's a quaint town, in a beautiful area ~ was definitely a great way to spend the day...hike and all! :)