2014 in review. I really haven’t felt much like writing since my last post in Sept. I still have my big Valdez trip report to post from last summer, my plans for this next summer, and of course, the upcoming Yukon Quest. So I guess I better get writing…

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 49,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 18 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


3 years ago today, Justin died at 11:55 pm with only myself in the room.  I had called his brother and sister back to the hospital as I knew it would be soon.  It was a 90 mile drive and they had planned to take a day off from coming up to the hospital.  But they had just went out for a break.  I think he was waiting for the privacy to leave in peace and to lesson the shock to as many people as he could.  I wasn’t going to go read what I posted on my blog during that time but I just did.

I’ve spent the evening playing my fiddle.  I had always wanted to play the fiddle.  That thought had become even stronger when I moved to Alaska.  After all, you can play a fiddle in a forest, on a mountain top, on the tundra.  You can play it in your house, at a party, or around a campfire.  You can enjoy it with friends or by yourself.  So when I got my one time only “Widow’s Benefit” from Social Security of a whopping $255, I took it down to my local music shop, bought a used fiddle and spent the rest on getting my lessons started.  It has been a salve for my soul when it was feeling broken.  It has helped me celebrate my achievements and happiness.  It was a good investment in living my life to the fullest.

Justin had a lot of things left that he wanted to do in his life.  So I figured I better stop waiting to do those things I wanted to do.  You can always find a reason to put things off.  You can tell yourself you should wait until you have more money, the kids are older, wait until you have more time.  But that’s a trap.  There is no more time.  I frequently revisit that thought.  There is no more time.  I question myself.  “Am I using the limited time I have left to the best of my ability?”  I think I am.  I am trying to at least.  I not only want to live a full and adventuresome life but I want to be a good role model for my kids.

Sorry this is rambling.  It’s 11:15 and I am acutely aware of the time.  As the minutes tick off, I am going to go look at and load some pictures.

Good night.

Some where along the Denali Highway



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Red Green Regatta



Well I just realized all my good pictures of him are on my old computer that Jordan now uses so this is it for tonight.  11:39 pm


Ah More Rain…

We had the wettest summer on record.  I guess it was better for lots of people then the smokey summers we often have due to wild land fires.  Even though it was wet, I still was able to keep busy enough to neglect my poor blog.  I just got back from a major trip but was working on this post before I left.  So guess I’ll finish this then work on that trip report.

Puppy/girl love!  Maari is growing so fast.  She’s about 5 months old and over 46 lbs.  She’s a stubborn pup, though very smart.

a girl and her dog

Ugh, I know, my house is a bit of a mess.  But hammers and cookbooks really CAN live together on the same shelf.  Right?

big puppy

The view of the Alaska Range from Fairbanks.

alaska range

Angry, Young, and Poor (concert, festival, funky, local lurve)angry young and poor2

Fairbanks actually has a lot of belly dancers.

angry young and poor

Worlds largest slip and slide?

giant slip and slide

Olivia got to skate in the Golden Days Parade with her roller derby group.  She was sooo excited when a couple of girls asked to take their picture with her!  What a confidence boost that was.  She said she felt famous.

me and olivia

ba olivia

Her coach, Bad Lady is a hoot.  Photobomb!

Olivia and Bad Lady

Fairbanks Cold’n Heart Junior Derby (playing on Fairbanks’ tag of “Golden Heart” of Alaska). Jr roller girls

skating in the parade

rust princess rides again

Finally got the canoe out on our maiden voyage.  It took Olivia and I a while to get it up on top of the old Rust Princess.  Sooo glad I kept that ol’ hoopdie.  I wouldn’t want to scratch up my new Pretty Princess and we are NOT graceful loading or unloading yet.

We tried out our new Tanana Lakes park.  Since our rivers were in flood stage almost all summer, I didn’t feel confident enough to go on the river.

canoing olivia

We got a bit wet but managed to get off the water by the time the rain started.

canoeing in the rain

Eating lots of caribou that my friend Susan sent us from Kavik River Camp. 

raw caribou

caribou dinner

It’s so tender and delicious.  I really hate commercial meat.


double rainbow

early morning sky

Some of the flooding we have been dealing with.




My friend Lulu came up to play.  It’s always so much fun getting together with her.

me and lulu

My son Jordan turned 16!  That was weird.  He doesn’t like his picture taken and doesn’t like me mentioning him online but come on, I have to brag a bit.  Yes at 16 he has a beard and is over 6’1″.


Yes, his hair is longer than mine.


But he let me braid it.  All he wanted to do for his birthday is go shooting and go to dinner with our family friends.


Does Olivia look concerned?  Heeheee.


Yes he needs a bigger gun.


They are both pretty good shots.

Olivia and target
I finally got the time to site in my new 30-06 and new scope.  Yay, bring on the hunt!



Aw my sweet, sweet baby boy.  Where did you go?

Born in Kalispell, Montana at 9 lbs. 2 oz.

Had to bring in my porch flowers occasionally so they didn’t drown!  There is not room in this cabin for porch flowers inside!

new plants

We tried hooking Maari up to Olivia.  She (both shes) loved it!  We are going to get her a harness and try skijoring this winter.



On a random note, the book editor I talked to a couple of months called me again.  I was too scared to answer.  How’s that for lame?

I just got back from Valdez and the Women’s Silver Salmon Derby.  On the way back I went over Hacher’s Pass to Talkeetna.  I did my first zipline and had sooo darn much fun.  But I’ll post about that soon (yea soon).

Take care dear friends and be awesome to one another.


A Fowl Adventure 2014

Yes I know, this is my 5th year going to Chickenstock and Eagle and using this same title, but hey, it’s the perfect title.  Why mess with perfection?  But really, I can only repeat these so many times, so if you would like to hear more of the story or see some of the other years with more pictures and/or story, check out these other years as basically I am dumping my pictures here and posting it.





We begin with Chickenstock Music Festival in the little town of Chicken, Alaska.


My friend Kate’s husband, Dave Parks of Grassroots Guitars.


Such a little cutie just dancing away.   Mostly it was just kids dancing during the daytime.




Spank Williams and friends.



Dry Cabin String Band



The Flock




The Cluck Off was a tie!  We were dying with laughter because these two finalists really brought it.  They were clucking and pecking, scratching the dirt and shaking their tail feathers.  Good times, good times.





1000 baggie clad Peeps were dropped by three different passes.




Kat Moore from the Super Saturated Sugar Strings.  She is really fun.  When not playing she is dancing, visiting, and hoola hooping with us all.


Here is a compilation of video clips I took during our trip.  Most of the one during Chickenstock were during the day when I had time to video.  During the evenings, I was too busy dancing to worry about taking video.

I really love visiting my dear friends Scarlett and Wayne with Bush Alaska Expeditions.    They really help me to refocus on what is important and even our rare, annual visit helps to keep me grounded in my goals.



They have a young handler staying with them and he used to play the violin.  “It had to do with a pretty girl, who taught violin.”  It was really fun to spend an evening just taking turns trying out different tunes, seeing what we each could remember.


They also had a new batch of puppies with eyes just opening.


The most sweet spot on Earth is right here.



The Mighty, Mighty Yukon River!  I’m going to canoe this river next year.



Well that’s it in a nutshell.  I love our busy, busy summers.  They really are the promise that Alaska makes us in the winter.  Until next time my friends.  Have a great summer, love your family and your friends, and be happy.

The Good Ol’ Summer Time; kind of.

We had a marvelous spring.  It really made up for last spring, which is known as the spring that never came.  We had winter, then all of a sudden we had a bit of summer.  But last spring was just an extension of winter.  This year it warmed right up.  The days got longer and the sunlight oh so welcome after the long dark of winter.  Green up happened in about 3 days which is always a wonder to see.  Now we begin summer in earnest.  Summers are always so busy.  By the end of summer I am looking forward to winter; to snuggling down with in my warm, little cabin with my kids, cooking, talking, reading, planning, dreaming.  But summers are for doing.  So here we go.

We started off early spring with the annual World Ice Art Championship.

Mike and a peacock.

DSC_2315 DSC_2329 DSC_2320 DSC_2322 DSC_2299 DSC_2303 DSC_2306 DSC_2295 DSC_2293 Ice Art Championship

DSC_2286 DSC_2290 Ice Art Championship

The road into Denali National Park is 90 miles long.  Personal vehicles are not allowed except for one week a year by lottery.  You can drive in to mile 15 during the summer and mile 30 in the shoulder seasons after they clear the roads and before tourist season starts.  Lori and I drove in to mile 30 on the last day before the closure, May 18.  We met with a snow storm.

Dahl Sheep

Dahl Sheep

Wolf and caribou tracks in the snow.

Wolf and Caribou Tracks

Ptarmigan are white in the winter and mottled brown in the winter.  These are in the process of changing into their summer feathers.




I love this outcropping and have taken pictures of it several times.


A mew gull.



I would take a picture, then walk a few steps closer, then take another picture, trying to get as close as possible.  I was tickled pink when he opened his beak right as I was about to take another one.

Mew Gull

Caribou and more caribou!



Snowy Lori taking pictures of the caribou lol.



Ah Alaska, how I love thee!










We also saw a bear but he was so far in the distance even my telephoto lens wasn’t able to pick him up well.


When I first started to do henna, my pregnant friend Sandy allowed me to do henna on her pregnant belly.  Hers was the very first belly I did.  That was over 7 years ago.  Now she also allowed me the honor of doing her head.  This was certainly a learning experience.  So many new angles and not many places to anchor my hand.  She was tickled with it but I think I need much more practice hennaing heads to be any good at all on them.


So much easier to do hands.


Did I tell you we got a new puppy?  Her name is Maari named after a Pyrenees Goddess.  She is part great pyrenees, part black lab and golden retriever.  I’ll post some better pictures of her soon.  She is 15 weeks now and is huge!


We also got a new to us canoe.  It’s a 17′ Grumen.  I want to learn canoeing well enough for a trip from Eagle to Circle on the Yukon River.  I really want to be ready to do this trip next summer but we will see how comfortable I am by the end of this summer.


Got a new 15 gallon barrel to haul water and use my small pump to pump it up into the house with.  Unfortunately, I had Olivia hold the hose in the barrel while I ran up to do something else and she pulled the hose out of the water and burned the pump out.  ARG!  Live and learn.  Now I am going to teach myself how to fix the pump.  My neighbor said something about bearings and seals so I’ll look into that.  But it will probably be set aside for a winter project.  I have found that I can learn just about anything on Youtube.


Olivia graduated from 6th grade.  I’m a proud mamma.

Olivia graduates2

She also finally had a growth spurt.  Look how tall she is.  My son was taller then me by the time he turned 11.  She is 12 and not quite as tall as I am.  Of course, he is over 6′ now and just 15.

Olivia graduates

Now that roller derby is over for the summer, we thought soccer would be a good thing to keep her going.  Yes, I am now officially a soccer mom.  What a strange place this is in my life.


My friend Sue came out of the bush for a few days to take care of some business in town.  Of course we had to stop in at the infamous Howling Dog Saloon for a bit of music by my friend Mike Stackhouse and a few libations.

Sue Aikens and Mike Stackhouse

We have so many exciting plans in the making that I was sad to see her go.  I wish we had more time to sit and scheme but of course, a trip to town means a LOT of stuff had to get done in a short amount of time.  She is one person who really gets me.  ie She didn’t blink an eye when I told her that I planned to do my Eagle to Circle Yukon River trip even though I have only been in a canoe twice in my life.  She understands if you want to do something, you can only accomplish that by getting out there and DOING it.  Because that is the way she lives her life as well.

Me and Sue

Today I start packing for our great Fowl Adventure 2014.  For those of you who have been reading for a while, you know that this is my annual pilgrimage to Chickenstock Music Festival in the tiny hamlet of Chicken, Alaska.  We leave from there and go visit our friends outside of Eagle, Alaska who live in the Yukon River, Bush Alaska Expeditions.  It will just be Olivia and I as my son does not enjoy that type of thing.  Luckily enough that works out well for him to stay home and take care of the animals.  Handy huh.

See you when I get back.  Thanks for reading.



Kiki Kapow, #101

Fairbanks Cold’n Heart Junior Derby








My daughter started roller derby last fall with the Fairbanks Cold’n Heart Junior Roller Girls.  She didn’t know how to skate really at all.  The coach assured us that lots of girls start from scratch.  I was hoping to get her into something that would give her more confidence and this is certainly it.  She loves to dance and so once I put her into a hip hop dance class.  The teacher didn’t talk to me once, not even to introduce herself.  The lady at the front desk only talked to me the one time I went in to sign her up and pay and to point me in the general direction of her “classroom”.  She obviously doesn’t have the body structure for a ballet dancer or gymnast but how to explain this to a young girl and then tell her that her body shape was ok?  Anyways, we never felt at home at the dance studio and it was a very strange feeling.  I mean, I can fit in ANYWHERE.  But a warehouse, next to some type of garage, with mattresses duct taped to the posts and awesome posters on the walls?  Oh yes, we feel so much more at home.




Thirsty work.





She let me chose her number, #101, in honor of Checkpoint Mile 101 of the Yukon Quest.  She gets to go with me next year and I’m sure she will love it as much as I do.

That’s all for now my friends.  Have a great week and take care of yourselves.


Is Spring Really Here?

Last year we had the spring that never sprung.  It was cold and wet and nasty until finally, summer was here…then gone.  Our warmth passes so quickly.  I love winter, obviously, or I wouldn’t be able to live here.  But when it starts to warm up, it’s such a time of excitement and expectation.  It’s almost heartbreaking when it doesn’t happen as it is supposed to such as last year.  This year, it seems like Mother Nature is apologizing for last year as we are already in breakup.  The snow is melting, the sun is out, life is good!

I know it’s been a long while since I posted anything.  Mostly I have been hibernating so there’s been little of interest to write about.  I’ll try to catch you up with a few pictures.

Christmas came and went fairly quietly except for the kids got their first guns.  They are just little .22s.

Of course, there was always nights of chasing the auroras.

One of my aurora photos was used on a Denver station news program.  I was pretty excited.

We did a bit of entertaining and a lot of cooking.

Olivia’s very first home made cinnamon, raisin, yeast bread.

I also taught her how to make home made chicken noodle soup, with home made noodles.

Worked at Checkpoint Mile 101 for the Yukon Quest again.  This was my 5th year working there.  Needless to say, I love it.  I ended up staying an extra night and day after everyone left, just putting wood in the stove and playing my fiddle.  I’m going to plan on doing this every year as it was so peaceful and restful after all the commotion and lack of sleep that working there during the Quest brings.  I didn’t write about it this year but you can look back over the years in this blog to see some stories if you care to.

I did take some video of the two passes I have to cross coming home from the checkpoint.  The roads were actually very good even though in the videos, you can see they were icy.  Last year three of our members got stuck or left the road while trying to get out to the checkpoint.

12 Mile Summit

Cleary Summit

Did a bit of henna here and there.

I love doing bellies the most!

Of course, winter is a time to go visit friends, hang out, have fun, drink some beer, etc.

Here’s my Solstice centerpiece, complete with Yule Log.

While Olivia was working on her roller derby skills.

I got to hang out with pretty mushers in tuxs for the Bunny Boots and Bids fundraiser and Wine Tasting.

And of course, practiced and played my fiddle.

I don’t think I posted this video yet.  It’s how I have to unfreeze the drain.  Living in a dry cabin, having to haul all our water, makes us really conserve.  Of course, if you are only using tiny bits of water here and there through out the day, and it’s -40 outside, the water freezes before it clears the drain.  We have a grey water system which means that the water just goes straight from the kitchen sink to the gravel pad that the cabin sits on.  I have had to do this a couple of times each winter.  It’s not really a big deal but yea, at that cold of temperatures, one’s lungs do not want to inhales so you end up breathing very noisily as you can hear in this video lol.

So, onto the upcoming summer!  I have a camping, float trip down the Delta Clearwater planned for the kids and I.  I have a trip up to visit my friend Susan in Kavik River Camp planned for later in the summer.  I have a zipline adventure trip down near Talkeetna planned with my friend Lori.  And I want to take my kids back packing in the back country for the first time.  I have taken them camping lots of times but never into the back country.  There be bears out there you know.  Backpacking has almost always been my special solo adventures.  I keep them for myself.  But maybe my kids would like them for themselves as well.  Of course, you can’t forget my annual Fowl Adventure.  Chickenstock Music Festival then a visit to my friends’ Wayne and Scarlett who live off the Yukon River.  Can’t wait to see them!

Until next time my dearies.  I’ll be here.