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.

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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.

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Ptarmagin

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

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A mew gull.

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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!

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Snowy Lori taking pictures of the caribou lol.

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Ah Alaska, how I love thee!

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Eagle

Eagle

Moose

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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.

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So much easier to do hands.

henna

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!

Maari

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.

canoe

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.

water

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

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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.

soccer

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.

Georganne

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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.

Kavik River Camp

Kavik River Camp

Distance between Fairbanks and Kavik River Camp

I just returned from a visit with my friend Sue.  Aka Super Sue, aka, Tundra Babe, aka Susan Aikens.  Last winter when she was here in town recuperating we had talked about doing this for her upcoming 50th birthday but then I didn’t hear any more about it until the week before her birthday.  I didn’t bring it up again as I didn’t want to feel like I was inviting myself lol.  She chartered a plane and brought several of us up there to help her celebrate in style.

Super Sue's Pre Part

Those of us going met at 11:00 am on Sunday morning at Everts Air here in Fairbanks.  KT had driven up from Wasilla the night before and stayed at my cabin.  Suzette and her husband drove up from Anchorage and stayed in a hotel taking advantage of the jacuzzi tub after their long drive.  Lori, Mike, KT and I all went out to the Howling Dog Saloon for a Saturday night outing.  For Lori, Mike, and me, this is our regular Sat. night.  Oh, I also transported a retired sled dog up to her.  Ermine arrived at my house earlier in the week.

Ermine

One of the most unique views of the trip is flying over the Brooks Range.  Many of you know of it from watching Ice Road Truckers.  They cross at Atigan Pass on the only road that goes up there, the Dalton Highway, also known as the Haul Rd.  This is the mountain range that divides the main portion of Alaska from the northern coastal plains.  North of the Brooks range is called “the North Slope”.  The oil fields of Prudhoe Bay are on the North Slope.  This mountain range forms the northernmost drainage divide in North America, separating streams flowing into the Arctic Ocean and the North Pacific.  They top out at over 9,000 feet.  No real trees grow north of the Brooks and very little plant life grows on these mountains.  It makes for a very surreal landscape.  I think the moon would look similar.

Brooks Range

Our flight was only 2 hours.  At last Kavik River Camp comes into view.  It is very, very isolated.  There are no roads other then her trails, no other buildings, no people, nothing man made in view of the camp nor for a 100 miles (with the exception of her run way, but that’s part of the camp).  It’s 12 miles south of the Arctic Ocean.

Kavik River Camp, Extreme Lodging for Extreme People!

Kavik River Camp is a one of a kind camp located just a few miles from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 2010 marked the 50th Anniversary of the Refuge and what a time to see it! The Camp offers logistical support for all your Arctic needs. Camp, hunt, fish, bird viewing… just about anything you can think of, we are here to help see your Arctic Dreams realized!

Kavik River Camp

Me and Susan

The theme was tropical.  Suzette brought up an inflatable palm tree and a Hawaiian shirt.  I brought a sparkly, fur lined tiara and leis.  Suzette brought leis as well.

The first day we all went on a 4 wheeler ride.  Even picking the shallow river crossings, it got a bit “exciting”, especially when we started to float away with the current.  We all got wet but I got some good shots of flowers when ever we stopped.

Arctic Lupine

Tundra flower

I don’t know what these pink ones are but they were very pretty.

ATV ride

I’ll put a bit about the mosquitos here.  Yes they were very thick.  Deet is your friend when hanging on the tundra.

Yummy dinner prep

Sue’s brother in law Rick, her son and his girlfriend, as well as her grandson were all there to celebrate as well.  Rick did most of the cooking and cleaning as his gift to Susan.  Her son and grandson did a whole lot of chores as well.  What a great time we had just relaxing.  I went up and offered to help several times as I am a bit uncomfortable just sitting around and allowing others to wait on me but I was told “get out” hahaha.  Nothing as manly as men who cook and clean.  Really.

Dinner

Dinner the first night, chicken cordon bleu, baked mac and cheese, veggies.  Yum!

Lori

CHEERS!

Life Below Zero

After dinner we watched the show.  It was fun to watch there with Susan.  We had several great laughs.

Suzette

Helicoptor

This is one of the helicopters coming in for refueling.  You can see the dive bomber mosquitoes that were in competition for air space!  This couple was following the nearby caribou heard.  There was also a plane doing research on how many migratory water fowl nests were in the area.  Yes, they were counting nests.

This far above the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t actually set.  All these pictures were taken between about 11:30 pm and 12:30 am.

Fox Friend

Suzette feeds Foxy.

Happy birthday Sue!

Chocolate cake with coconut on a bed of cherries, covered in home made whipped cream, drizzled in chocolate sauce.  Yes we all attempted to put ourselves in a sugar coma!

I did henna on anyone that wanted some.  It’s always fun.

We serenaded Sue regardless of the mosquitoes.

Mike, Suzette, Sue, me.

Mike, Suzette, Sue, me.  Photo by Suzette.

I really enjoyed playing my fiddle this far north.  I consider my fiddle a traveler and love finding unique places to play it.  This is certainly the farthest north it’s been and probably ever will be.

Fireweed

I was invited on a little ATV expedition.  We were keeping our eyes open for the caribou heard that was about 12 miles away.  Sue offered to help me hunt one (hunting license can be bought online.)  But they ended up not coming through this direction as expected.  Taking in the mosquito population I decided to post-pone hunting until this fall.  Should be lots cooler then and fewer mosquitoes.

If you notice, even the 11 year old grandson goes armed.

Arctic tundra flowers

We had a lot of fun just hanging out and being silly.  Here is the Kavik River Mosquito Dance.  No matter how much Deet one applies, there are still mosquitoes that swarm around you as you take that long, long walk to the outhouse.  These are the movements such a walk necessitates in order to not breath in any of the little buggers.

Video by Lori!

Mosquitos want a ride.

When we got into the plane to leave, it was full of mosquitoes!  We were smashing those suckers for the first hour of our trip.  Thankfully we were all pretty much covered in Deet.

The lovely, magnificent Yukon River from above.

Yukon River

Thank you Sue for a wonderfully unique opportunity.  It was a lot of fun.