It’s Official!

We survived the Yukon River.

This was my third canoe trip on the Yukon and Tim’s first.  The water level was very low. I’ve never seen it this low.  Dried up channels, shallow water, rocks, all made for an “interesting” trip.

Day 1

It was a real bugger this time getting the canoe to Eagle.  It took two days and the help of my friends Christine and Bill.  Lots of rain, fog and oh my gosh the mud!

Christine and Bill

The next few photos and video are by Christine Burr.

Packing the canoe in Eagle.

We finally get on the river and paddle the several miles down to overnight at my friends’ Wayne and Scarlet’s of Bush Alaska Expedition. 

It was raining and the wind was blowing.  It wasn’t blowing enough to scare me but the rain would stick with us unfortunately.

Wayne and Scarlet’s fishwheel.

As Wayne says, thousands of pictures have been taken from this spot at their place over looking the Yukon River.  I believe it too.  It’s hard to describe the feelings of peace and well being one gets from this view alone.  Even on a clouded, rain soaked day, this is a view I’d choose any time!

We started off the next day and I immediately noticed how low the river was.  This would be the theme throughout our trip.  Dried up channels and slow moving water, exposed rocks which are scary.

We did see several bald eagles though.  That is always a really nice bonus.

Calico Bluff is an important geological site.  

It rained pretty much all day.  It wasn’t too bad though.  We had good rain gear and it wasn’t cold.  Dreary and mesmerizing at the same time.

Yay, a break from the rain in order to pull over for a break from the canoe!

Aaaannnd back to the dreary rain.  I do say dreary but it was also entrancing.  We paddled and floated for hours with barely a word spoken between us.  I don’t think either of us wanted to break the absolute silence that engulfed us.  It reminded me a lot of coming home to my nice warm cabin after the first heavy snowfall of winter.  Being snugly tucked inside somewhere comfortable  with the magnitude of the immense wilderness blocked from view.

Second full day on the river.   We had a few dryish moments.

We came upon exposed rocks that we couldn’t paddle around as the current was too strong.  These were only the first ones we had to cross.  We got stuck on the rocks a few times.  Since the rocks were so jagged and sharp, we “lined” the canoe over them.  It was actually pretty scary.  I DID help him after I took video.  Water moving that fast, even if shallow, can knock you off your feet.  I used my paddle to stabilize myself when getting in to lift the boat off the rocks.

View from our tent on second night.

It was still raining so we decided to cook in the tent.  Yes, it worked really well.

I believe this was the third day.


This is the song that kept going through my head.  I thought this is THE picture for that song.

We found one of the public use cabins to stay the night in.  It was great as we were able to dry out ourselves and our gear.  These cabins are maintained by the National Park Service and some of them are more rustic then others.  Some have propane cook stoves even and most have some wood ready to burn.  This one only had a few pieces of wood chopped but we made do.

Glenn Creek Cabin. 


We even had desert that night.  Experiment with a cheap box of Jiffy cranberry muffin mix.  The bottom layer was a bit inedible but the rest was yummy.

Really, how many selfies can one girl take?

Apparently a lot.


Hard to take a pano when you are in motion.

Drying out my first pair of gloves.

One thing about rainy weather, it made for some fabulous skies.


See the heart?

Yes I’m still buying gum in bulk, not cigarettes.

5 gallon jug of water.

We saw a lot of fires and fire damage.  There are several active fires still burning.  It was weird because at the first sniff of wood smoke I thought we were coming up to others camping on the river as we were.

But it made for some great sunsets.

It doesn’t get all the way dark yet but the overcast made it seem “almost night”.

We finally make it to Slaven’s Cabin, a historical roadhouse frequented by river travelers, hunters, and Yukon Quest mushers in the winter.  Along with the big, main cabin, is a smaller, more private, public us cabin.  We lucked out and got it all to ourselves.

Slaven’s overlooks the river from a small bluff.  It really put our large, 17′ freighter canoe into perspective.  It’s hard to show just how large the Yukon River is.  This gives you a bit of an idea.

They use rain barrels to collect water which is then filtered a bit for drinking.  After reading the signs to please not bath in the rain barrels, we thought of this fun photo to try.  Worked out pretty well huh?

Main cabin.

“Our” cabin.

Our day bag exploded onto the table.

We decided to stay an extra day at Slaven’s.  Of course, these are the only days it didn’t rain or the wind blow!

We hiked up to the dredge and then followed the creek back looking for gold.

Wedding Waters.  The meeting of the clear, tannin stained waters of the creek entering the silt laden waters of the Yukon.

Our cabin was farther up the hill and in the woods.  We still had a great view of the river even through the trees.

Several river travelers have been on the river for a month by the time they arrive at Slaven’s.  This means they have been living mostly on dehydrated meals.  The National Park Service Ranger that is stationed there planted several varieties of lettuce for any one to pick and enjoy some fresh greens.  We picked a bowl full and poured the olive oil from our kalamata olives over it.  The fresh food, even after only a matter of days, was very appreciated.

And guess what?  We got engaged!  These were his mother’s rings so they were soldered together.  We have since had them separated, for a short while, so I could wear the engagement ring alone.  They will be rejoined sometime next August!

I never thought I would get married again, and really, for the most part, was ok with that.  Next month it will be seven years since Justin died.  I learned how to be my own person, raised my children, bought my own house, etc. all by myself.  But Tim and I have been dating for almost a year and I know that we are meant to be together.  He accepts me and my kids as we are.  The Universe has shown me multiple times now that this is the man I am supposed to spend the rest of my life with.  Like how I hid this in here?  Hahha.  Guess we’ll see who reads it all.  No really, we just wanted to tell our families first before publishing it to the public.

We stopped at one more public use cabin (it’s fun trying to find them) for a break on the 5th day.   We were actually running a bit low on food since we stayed an extra day at Slaven’s so partook of a bit of the stock left there for that purpose.  The day had a strong headwind and strong paddling was required.

We paddled 15 miles in the first 3 hours of our second to the last day, day 5.  It was beautiful.  Then the wind picked up and it was on!  Normally the river runs between 8-11 mph.  We went 40 miles that day making it a super long day.  We were paddling our asses off for several hours only averaging 1.5 mph.  We finally just stopped.  It’s not worth paddling in that kind of head wind.

That night the cold set in!  I don’t know how cold it was only that we were fully dressed, our two sleeping bags zipped together, another warm, fuzzy blanket in there with us, and it was still shivering cold.  I think the only way we were able to sleep at all that night was because we were just so exhausted from the previous windy day.  Still, we wanted to get an early start the next morning, our last day on the river.  Tim got up, started the fire, and made me coffee all before I woke up.  It was a beautiful morning with the fog coming off the comparably warm waters.

Then the skies cleared and the sun came out.  This would be our shortest day of course, paddling only about 4 hours into Circle and the weather was beautiful.

Someone’s fish camp with the fish wheel in operation.

We got to Circle about 11:30.  The store opens at noon.  We were sitting there waiting for it to open (and for our ride out) when a plan pulled up to the gas pump for fueling.  I love small towns lol.

Yes it’s hard to get him with a straight face.  And really, I don’t want to.

So that’s it.  6 days on the mighty Yukon and a new life in our future.  Have a great day and please feel free to leave us a comment.


Well where did my will to write go? Probably to a similar place as my spare time. But I wanted to give a quick update in order to just get this dry spell broken and get back to writing. So, high and low lights of the year.

Most importantly, I bought a house. It’s a fantabulously, unique, Alaskan chalet. Perfect for the three of us. More on that later.

Broke up with the boyfriend in June. It was a lovely year with great fun. Unfortunately, I knew from very early on that it was not going to be a long term thing.

My youngest, my baby girl, turned 16! Wow.

My oldest, OMG HE WILL BE 20 NEXT YEAR! I am feeling old now!

Here are some pictures.



Yukon River 2016


When I first started this blog, I was posting about twice a month.  Then my writing spaced out util I took a total break from it all together for about two years.  I only just got last year’s Yukon River trip posted two months ago and now here it is, time to post the new one.  Fortunately, I have adventures to write about and now, inspiration to write.  Once again I am excited about writing and sharing the beauty and wonder that is Alaska.  Once again, I have beauty and wonder in my life.  It’s good to be back.

After last year’s trip with my sister from Ft. Worth,  Yukon River Paddle 2015, I knew I wanted to do it again.  I knew I wanted to conquer the fear and nervousness that it caused me.  The only way to conquer that fear was to do it again.  Unfortunately, we have had a record breaking rainy year so the river was super high.   Gone were the oh so handy gravel bars for camping with perimeters wide enough to make sure there was no wild life lurking.  Gone were the myriad wide banks with open views and plenty of drift wood.  Fortunately, my new love Daniel, had plenty of experience driving a canoe.  Yes, I said new love.  After the first few miles from Eagle to Wayne and Scarlett’s house, we agreed that it would be better for him to steer.  I learned so much about how to handle a canoe from him.  Thankfully he is a patient man and allowed me my nervousness the few times I got a bit scared.

We started off again this year at my dear friends’ Wayne and Scarlett’s place, Bush Alaska Expeditions, outside of Eagle.  Unfortunately, Scarlett had to unexpectedly fly out of Fairbanks to go see her mother in the lower 48.  I sure did miss getting to sit and visit with her.  Here is a picture of Ben, their handler, and Daniel.


We had a beautiful sunset that night.


After one night there, we got on the river.  It was then that I realized the sd card from my camera was sitting next to my laptop at home.  So all of these are photos from my iPhone.  I got this phone specifically for the camera and it did not let me down.  Although the storage is pretty lacking, the camera itself is very good.

Lazy Day video.




These two moose swam by our camp while we were sitting there watching the river.  Once they got on the other side of us, they climbed up the bank and out of the water.  It was pretty interesting to see them just swimming down the big, powerful river.  Reminded me how big and powerful they are as well.


We also saw 4 pairs of Trumpeter Swans and two Bald Eagles.  No bears this year though we did see a lynx track.

Mmm dinner.


We got rained on a few times.  We spent most of two whole days running in between storms.  There were storms in front of us and storms behind us but we only caught a bit of rain here and there.

unnamed (1)


The river was mostly calm and big, of course powerful.  We didn’t paddle as much as Char and I did last year because there was no need.  We got to just float a lot.  The first big tributary, the Tatonduk River, caused the scariest water.  It created waves and wakes and we were still running pretty heavily.  By the second big river, the Nation, we knew to expect it and it was not as bad.  IMG_0863IMG_0877IMG_0874IMG_0870IMG_0868IMG_0864



Daniel putting out a burbet set to see if we can get some fish for breakfast.


We stopped at a small creek for a short break.  It was interesting to see the clear, though tannin stained waters of the creek entering the cloudy silt filled Yukon.   IMG_0895


On the third day, we arrived at Slaven’s Roadhouse.  I didn’t take many photos there as I knew I had plenty from last year and was worried about filling up the storage on my phone.  We had a wonderful time there with the current park ranger, his family, and 3 park service maintenance guys.  We sat around their campfire and brought out our instruments.  One of the fellows played a banjolelle, I had my fiddle, and Daniel brought a guitar.  Though I still get quite nervous playing in front of people, apparently sitting around a campfire, drinking a few beers, and being in the middle of nowhere is a pretty good remedy for that case of nerves.  Good times, good times.


We found a really nice creek entering the river so we paddled up it a bit and found a good camp site.  It wasn’t silty like the main river so we took a little swim.  It was a bit cold but we had a good fire going by then.


The next morning Daniel went fishing before we headed out for the day.  He caught two pike.  Too bad that we had already had breakfast!


Back on the river with my sweetie pie.  Such a great trip.  Daniel said, “How do you know if you really love someone?  You spend 5 days on the Yukon River with them.”  Hahaha like I said, he’s a very patient man.  IMG_0912

IMG_0911We saw something on shore that we couldn’t identify so we just had to pull over and investigate.  It was a part of someone’s old fish wheel.  Maybe it got swept away from a broken line.  Or maybe it was taken out with an ice jam.


On the final day we had pulled over to send Jim a message that we were four hours out of Circle and that he could go ahead and start the drive to come pick us up.  Anyways, as we were getting back on the river, I tripped over a rock in the water, got bumped by the boat, and fell full on straight backwards into the river.  I had on raingear but all that did was scoop the water down my back.  After a second or two of stunned silence, I was able to laugh at my clumsiness.  Just call me Grace.  Daniel asked if I wanted to get back on shore and change into dry clothes or if we should start a fire.  I didn’t want to stop.  After all, we were only about 4 hours out and it wasn’t that cold.  I did end up paddling a bit more to stay warm the few times I got chilly.

This was a great trip and I am sure, the first of many we will enjoy with each other.  You’ll never guess what I am doing for my up coming 50th birthday this year.  You’re supposed to do something big for that birthday right?  I’m going to do the biggest thing I can think of.  Stay tuned.

Yukon River Paddle, 2015

Sorry, this story has sat in my drafts folder for a while.  I got so busy with life I forgot that I need to take time for writing as well.  It’s good for me and I enjoy it.  So, I’m back to finish the story, post it, and start planning more adventures.

I seriously thought about naming this blog post “Taking Life by the Throat and Showing It Who’s Boss” but decided for the much more mild and descriptive “Yukon River Paddle, 2015”.  What do you think?

I had been keeping an eye on Craigslist for a canoe for the previous two years.  They are pretty expensive up here and I didn’t want to spend as much as most of them cost.  It just so happened that I found one for a good deal a year ago this last spring.  The owner had died and all his family were in the lower 48.  His landlord told his family to not worry about his stuff until they could make it up.  The canoe is one of the things they gave him when they were able to make it up the following summer.  So, he was selling it cheap.  The moment it was unloaded and sitting in front of my cabin, I started thinking of taking it on a grand adventure on the Yukon River!

The previous summer was a record breaking wet one.  Our rivers remained in flood stage for most of the summer so I didn’t get as much practice in as I wanted.  I’ve only been in a canoe a few times in my life and while I have been in a boat on the Yukon, they all have had motors and I wasn’t driving them!  This spring however, I was determined to go, by myself if necessary.  None of my friends wanted to or could go so I called one of my sisters in Ft. Worth to see if she wanted to and she jumped at the chance.  She was just as excited about this trip as I was so that helped make it really fun.

This quote came to mind once I started planning this adventure.  I don’t remember where I know it from or where I got it.  “Adversity can actually pay big dividends that wouldn’t have been paid under any other circumstances.”  So while this trip was the scariest adventure I have been on in a long time, it also had the biggest payouts in the satisfaction department!

This is food that will go in the bear resistant food container (the blue barrel to the right.)  I was told by my friend Peter Kamper of Alaska Expedition Service that I could really bring as much food as I wanted (or beer lol) as the extra weight is helpful in stabilization.  I really brought too much though.  I thought we would be more hungry then we were.  We ate well though! (Note to self, next time bring less food, more beer.)

Getting ready

I brought my gun and bought a new can of bear spray for Char to wear.  We had fun trying to figure out the shoulder holster configuration.  We were successful though it took us some funny moments.  She can shoot too of course since we were both brought up around guns but I wanted one of each type of protection.


My friend Scarlett of Bush Alaska Expeditions was kind enough to coordinate one of her shopping trips to town and give us a ride back to Eagle.


We got stuck in the parade going through Delta Junction.  That was kind of fun.   parade

We were dropped off in Eagle and packed our canoe while Wayne, Scarlet, and one of their guides Ben, went down the river on their own boat (with a motor).  They had their own load of supplies to get home.  We took a while because we had to pack the canoe and also, we were a bit nervous. Hey, it’s a big river, we didn’t have a lot of experience, it was scary.  It was windy and the river looked so big now that we were right there.  We finally got into the boat and started to paddle.  As this was our first time on a river this big, we felt the need to stay near the bank.  The wind was picking up and the rain started to fall.  We didn’t want to try to pull over to unpack and get at our rain gear because we knew the crew was waiting on us down the river to take us up to their cabin on the ATVs.  Matter of fact, we took so long that they got to their “parking” spot, unloaded all their supplies and came back for us.  We were still several miles up river.  We were sure glad to see them.  Ben threw Char a rope up front, told her to hang on as I grabbed the side of their boat from my place in the back.  We were handily “motored” down the river the rest of the way.

We spent the night and as always, had a great time visiting with Wayne and Scarlett.  The next morning the weather was much, much better.  It only took a couple of hours to feel much more comfortable on the river.

I really can’t explain the original fear.  I mean, it’s not rocket science.  It’s not a technical river.  There are no rapids.  But it is big.  It is overwhelming.  It is empty of people.  It is an adventure worth having!

We passed the Windfall Mountain coal seam fire.  Continuously burning since 2012.

About 4:00 pm we took our first break.  We saw a couple in a canoe pass us.  We waved.  They waved.  The magnitude of our aloneness increased.  We had a snack and got back on the river.  Every thing we did, including pulling up to a bank and getting out of the boat, were learning experiences for us.

About 8:00 we found a good spot to camp.  I started gathering drift wood to cook dinner and Char started setting up the tent.  That was the routine we would stick to.  I’ll do the cooking and cleaning and she would set up the tent.  One thing I love about Alaskan summer nights, the sunsets.  It doesn’t get totally dark but we get extremely long sunsets and sunrises.





Moon rise.

We camped on gravel bars when possible.  We quickly learned not to try and pull up on a beach that looked smooth and sandy.  That stuff is quicksand and I almost lost a sandal. 



It really is a huge, lonely country.



We originally thought this was a caribou crossing the river.  It was so weird.













I took my lighter sleeping bag and gave Char the heavier one so brought an extra blanket with just in case.  It got a bit wet so I draped it over a bush to dry.



Most meals were cooked over the fire.  I love campfire cooking.



Caribou tracks.



Bear tracks.







Black bear crossing a small channel as he heard us talking and wanted off our gravel bar.


Snacking with bear spray.


Wolf tracks.



Moving the canoe closer to good camp spot.





Some things did better with the finesse of the burner.






Somewhere along the way we passed the couple who passed us the first day.  We met up and hung out at Slaven’s Roadhouse for a few hours.


Frank Slaven and the Roadhouses of the Yukon River

While many historic roadhouses have burned or have rotted away, Slaven’s Roadhouse has been restored and now serves as a public use cabin and landmark along the river between Eagle and Circle.

From 1990 through 1996, the National Park Service restored Slaven’s Roadhouse to its original 1938-42 condition.

Slaven’s Roadhouse continues to serve the public as a landmark along the Yukon River. It is open to public access and frequently has people spending the night while traveling up and down the river.

Each February, it serves as a dog drop point during the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. At times, the roadhouse also serves as quarters for volunteers working for the National Park Service.



I also finally got to meet Kae.  Wayne and Scarlet told me to make sure and look her up.  We continue to be friends.


One of the best things about playing the fiddle.





We had to sit out one storm for 3-4 hours.  We snacked and napped and played Farkle.



The last morning we were woken with a pretty bad storm at about 4 am.  We decided to sit and try to wait it out.  We were so close but really didn’t want to break camp only to have to get off the river again soon.  We waited until about 3 pm.  The whitecaps had died down so we decided to paddle like hell and try to make Circle.

I was really worried about getting the right slough that exits to Circle City.  The river is all channel upon channel upon channel.  Instructions by various people in the know:

Just hang to the left bank.

The mountains on the right will peter out, then you know to exit.

You’ll see an old fish camp with a blue tarp on it.

We were getting frustrated and nervous and wondering if we missed it when all of a sudden, there it was.  Big and beautiful as anything we had seen on the whole trip; the slough!

Celebratory cocktails we had been saving for the end of our journey!


It was cold.  Char is from Texas.  I wrapped her in a sleeping bag and started a fire in the cooker to dry our socks and shoes while we waited for Moe and Jim to pick us up.  I had bought a SPOT for our trip so our friends and family could follow us online and so our pick up could see when they should be in Circle.  Eh, technology sucks sometimes.


It was 29 degrees that night.  They got there at 3:30 am.


I could write a lot of things about this journey.  It was not simply moving from point A to point B.  It was one more thing I felt I needed to accomplish in order to be the person I wanted to be.  And the rest I just feel very private about so wont share it here.  Maybe it is the break from writing.  Maybe it is that I am just not feeling the philosophical thoughts that I was thinking at that time now, so much later.  But it was a good trip, meaningful to my life.  I want to do it again!

I was so happy that my sister could come with me.  I hadn’t seen her since Justin’s funeral in 2011 and that is too long.  I have 4 sister and miss them all.

Here are the videos from the trip.  We have some adventures on camera as well as the bear and “log jam” that I did not write about.

5 days, 4 nights.

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.

10 Years in Alaska

On Christmas Eve 2003, I arrived here with my then 2 year old daughter and my 5 year old son.  I had the help of my parents and one of my aunts was our landing spot upon arrival.  I was in a rear wheel drive Cutlass Supreme.  It’s large trunk and all floor boards were filled with my most precious worldly possessions and the minimum requirements of setting up a bare house hold.  The drive was days and days of slippery, sliding, white knuckle driving.  But I knew the moment I crossed the state line that I had found my home.  I took this picture right near the boarder.  It is the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.  “At 13.2 million acres which is bigger than the country of Switzerland, Wrangell-St. Elias stretches from one of the tallest peaks in North America, Mount St. Elias (18,008) to the ocean. ”

I have hung this photo in every place I have lived in for the last 10 years.  It will always remind me of the first time I FELT Alaska.  It was powerful.  I stopped in the middle of the road to take this picture.  There were no cars coming, no rush, no kids fussing in the back seat.  It filled me with both peace and longing.


This was also taken on our way up, Haines Junction I believe.  I loved the look of the sky; mysterious, mystical, meaningful.  It was just the barest of hints of the mystery and magic yet to come.  The magic of the promise that IS Alaska.

IMG00237 (1)

People tell me I am so lucky to live in Alaska.  I say to them that luck has very little to do with it.  Priorities, a tight budget, and working my ass off has got me here to where I want to be.  Of course, a little luck, or as I call it, My Alaska Karma, has helped here and there.

2013 in review

Wow, this is exciting.  Thank you friends for reading.  Think I’ll write a book now.

Have a wonderful new year!



The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 69,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.