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.

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A Fowl Adventure 2013

Once again I embarked on my annual foray into the deep interior of Alaska.  Chickenstock is a small, funky music festival held in Chicken, Alaska.  The village of Eagle is 100 miles further, but takes 3 hours to drive that 100 miles.

You can right click these pictures and open in new tabs to see them better.

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The hill starts to fill with tents.

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Took a little walk about.

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Dredge buckets which would scoop up the dirt/gravel and bring it to the gold dredge to be seperated and run through to collect the gold.

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The stage.

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It was hot and dusty.  I found some shade and spent some time with Fairbanks area firefighters.

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Was invited to jam.  That was the most fun I had at Chickenstock.  We ended up with 4 guitars, 2 fiddle players, a banjo, a dobro, and a tambourine.

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In the camp next to us, I noticed people were naked.  Funny that those pictures I tried to take, didn’t turn out.

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Moon rising over chicken butt?

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The Taylor Highway between Chicken and Eagle.  Got one flat on the way up, and one flat on the way back.  It was hilarious because at first a car load of tourists stopped to see if I needed help, then shortly thereafter, while we were standing there visiting, a pick up pulled up with a young couple.  We were all visiting and the girl asked me if my name was Georganne.  I said yes, are you XYZ?  I know her sister.  The amazed tourist said “Here we are in the very middle of no where, and you two KNOW EACH OTHER?”  Yes, Alaska is a very, very large state, with a very, very small population.

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The road is brutal but worth it.

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My favorite river, the 40 Mile!

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Get to Eagle, park at the Yukon River.  Take the boat X amount of miles up the river, park the boat.  Take the ATV up the trail to the little cabin in the woods.

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Scarlett and her sassy feather that she just got in South Africa!

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Dinner the first night, moose steak and sprouts salad.  It was delicious!

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There is no better dining facility in the wold.  That’s the Yukon River in the background.

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Yay puppies!

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This is the life!

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Soft, feathery horse tail ferns cover the forest floor.

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The sauna.

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Dried salmon to feed the dogs through the year.

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Wayne, working on a dog sled.

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Scarlett watering the tomatoes in the greenhouse.

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Training a lead dog to “line out”.  This is the command given to the lead dog to hold the team tight and straight while stopped.  It’s the most difficult thing for them to learn.  Normally takes about 2 years.

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A little afternoon snack.  Dried salmon.

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A bear got into one of their salmon storages last winter so they removed what was left and stored it in 55 gallon barrel/s.

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Wayne and Scarlet are some of the most fun and interesting people to sit around and visit with.  My dad is one of those types of people, imparting knowledge, entertainment, and comraderie all at the same time.

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Finally it was time for me to go home.

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I love the Taylor Highway.  It is closed in the winter so residents up the road either fly in and out or just sit tight for our long, cold winters.

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Arctic Lupine line the road side.

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We do have sand dunes in Alaska.

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Tetlin Junction, Milepost 0 of the Taylor Highway where it begins from off the ALCAN.  The buildings on the northwest corner of the intersection are what remain of the old Fortymile Roadhouse.

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Have you ever seen a mile post with this many miles on it?  This is towards the end of the ALCAN (Alaska Canadian Highway).

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Alaska Pipeline crosses one of the many rivers on it’s journey from the Arctic Slope in Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, our only port that doesn’t freeze up in the winter.

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Sorry this one is short and sweet but I am about to embark on an 11 day backpacking, camping, fishing, communing with nature, just kicking around the Kenai Peninsula trip.

You can read my previous “Fowl Adventures” by clicking here:

A Fowl Adventure 2010

A Fowl Adventure 2011

A Fowl Adventure 2012

These all have many more pictures and a lot more information.

A Fowl Adventure 2012

Why come up with a new name every year when this one fits so well.

Yes, once again we are home from another amazing adventure to Chickenstock (a bluegrass festival held in Chicken, AK) and visiting our bush living friends outside of Eagle, AK.  Wayne and Scarlet Hall of Bush Alaska Expeditions are so much fun and I am glad they are my friends.

Tanana River

It’s a 6-7 hour drive to Chicken, but when the view is as beautiful as this, I don’t mind.

Chickenstock

When we got there we saw that the “Big Ass Chicken” had been moved to the top of the hill.  Cool.  It made a really interesting silhouette in the evening sky.

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Of course, the stage is always interesting.

Hurricane DaveHurricane Dave is always a favorite.

Dry Cabin String Band

Dry Cabin String Band with an awesome fiddler, Rachel DeTemple.

camp cooking

Since we were camping on the grassy hilltop we had to do our cooking around the Rust Princess.  That’s ok though, it’s very handy.

I was so glad that my friend Laurie came for Friday’s festivities.  I had to slap some henna on her.

Cloud 9 Henna Body ArtWhile I was at it, another table mate got a simple little flower.

And here is the infamous Chicken Dance.  They did it several times so we all got a chance to film it as well as dance it.

Gold dredgeThe Pedro Gold Dredge.

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Deviled eggDeviled Egg!

Chicken legsChicken Leg Contest (yes it was hilarious)!

And this wasn’t even the winner!

ChickenstockI love all the colors of tents up on the hill with the Big Ass Chicken.

ChickenstockChickenstockYes I had a lit Christmas tree at our tent.  Don’t ask me why.  In Chicken you can be as funky as you want to be.

The days were sunny bright and hot.  We had a torrential downpour about 20 miles before getting to Chicken.  It was coming down so hard I had to pull over.  But it only lasted about 15 minutes and from then on it was sun.  Needless to say we got a bit lobsterized.  Walking around “town” we finally found some sunscreen.  We don’t normally have any because we normally don’t need any.  But I was proud to pay the $20 for one of the last three 16 oz bottles in town.

American Summit

We stopped on top of American Summit and I just played everything I could remember.  It was an awesome feeling.

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I found it is a bit more difficult to play when it’s windy.

Yukon River

After 100 mile drive between Chicken and Eagle that takes 3 hours, Wayne and Scarlett pick us up on the river.  Another friend also came to visit.

Catherine takes a little rest on some lumber for a new cabin being brought home.

Jordan stayed with friends this year.  There’s a lot to be said about quality family time but I dare say, if I had forced him to come, there would have been little quality to our time.  Eh, 13 year old boys…  Olivia and I had a lot of good quality time though..

Wayne

Yukon River

Yukon River

Fish wheel

Fish wheels used to catch salmon.

Boat parking

Boat parking spot.

Sweet Spot

Sweet spot view of the Yukon River from Wayne and Scarlett’s house.  This is the most peaceful, gorgeous view.

And here’s a video of it.  The sounds of the breeze shushing through the trees and the creek burbling below help but yet simply can not fully convey the peace I feel in this spot.

Ahhh, good friends, good food, even good wine.

Yukon River

Another trip to town to drop off Catherine and pick up more lumber for the cabin.

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Eagle Bluff

Eagle Bluff.  There is an American flag flying from the top as well as a cross.  I asked if there was someone specific who put those up there and was told it was mostly teenagers who go up there.  Cool.

Eagle Bluff

Bald Eagle

They showed us the bald eagle’s nest that has little ones in it.  Scarlett had told me about the eagle pair they used to watch but when the big flood of the area occurred in 2009, the nesting tree was wiped out along with all trees along the river in the area.  They have kept their eyes open for the eagles to come back and this year they found the new nest.  That makes me happy.

Here’s a short video of the Taylor Highway.  Most of it is not marked with handy orange cones!

On our way home we had to stop by the 40 Mile River which is where I want to retire to when the time comes.

40 Mile River

40 Mile River

Taylor Highway

Top of the World Highway

Crossroads.  These are certainly some of the “Roads less Traveled”.

Mt. Fairplay

Home again, home again, jiggity jog.  Now on to Summer Solstice!

A Fowl Adventure 2011

This is our trip to Chicken, Alaska for the annual music festival of Chickenstock.  After Chickenstock we drive 3 more hours up the Taylor Highway to Eagle, Ak to visit friends who live close by.

It seems this is going to be an annual trip. If you would care to read about last year’s Fowl Adventure, and see all the pictures, you can do so here.

https://cloud9doula.wordpress.com/2010/06/16/a-fowl-adventure/

 Trip to Chicken, Alaska.

Birch Lake

Birch Lake
Trumpeter Swans
Trumpeter Swans

I wish I could have gotten better pictures of the swans but they were in a pond right next to the highway and I didn’t want to get out of the car and cross the road right there.

The ice on this river was so blue and beautiful.

It’s a long road through vast landscapes.

 My kids normally, and sometimes unfortunately, stay awake during road trips.  But it was cool and rainy and she was snuggled down in all the bedding.  We had brought every comforter we own for sleeping in the tent.  She had a good nap in her little nest.

Chickenstock

Chicken was settled by gold miners in the late 1800s and in 1902 the local post office was established requiring a community name. Due to the prevalence of ptarmigan in the area that name was suggested as the official name for the new community. However, the spelling could not be agreed on and Chicken was used to avoid embarrassment. A portion of Chicken, with buildings from the early 1900s and the F.E. Company Dredge No. 4 (Pedro Dredge) are listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Chicken is the outpost for the 40 Mile mining district. There are still active gold mines in this area. Enough gold was mined here to make it worthwhile to haul huge gold dredges to this remote location. There are still several inactive gold dredges in the Chicken area.

Chicken has one important former inhabitant: The teacher Anne Hobbs Purdy, co-author of the book “Tisha” (together with Robert Specht, Bantam Books), lived here for 1 year in the late 20s teaching the local children. Her famous and captivating book tells her story in the Alaskan wilderness and how she faces the difficulties of a close-set community, prejudices against natives, and the hard winter.

Year round population of 7 according to the 2010 census.

From Wikipedia.

We arrived Friday afternoon after a 6 hour drive.  It was cloudy with occasional sprinkles.  There were more people this year then last year so the camping grounds were more crowded.  We got our camp set up with a bit of a delay.  After finally being able to get into our storage unit to get the camping gear, we didn’t have time to really check it over as well as we should have I guess.  Some how, a part of one of the tent poles did not make it into the tent with the other ones last year so we were short one.  I started to ask around.  A spare pole was quickly found thankfully.  It wasn’t quite the right size so our tent had a bit of a canter to it.  I thought that was quite fitting in my life which also has a bit of a canter to it.  We had borrowed an older Coleman stove from a friend.  I had also brought my propane burner and half a bag of charcoal.  When hooking up the canister of propane to the stove, we discover a huge WHOOSH of escaping fuel.  I unhooked it and put it back in the truck thinking that it would be no problem.  I still had my single burner.  I got out the single burner and hooked it up only to find that it was getting ho fuel at all.  I changed out the bottle and still was getting no fuel.  This is a practically new burner and I was pissed that it was just not working.  I normally just cook over an open fire but since I had two other sources, I only brought the left over half bag of charcoal and nothing to use as fire starter.  I hate using lighter fluid so never buy any.  At last we found some wood and got a fire going to cook dinner on.  We are pretty good at just rolling with the flow of what life hands us.

Saturday was such a bright, sunny day that I got a sunburn.  It’s the first one I’ve gotten in years.

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Bawk bawk!

Mike CrowIt was fun to see my friend Mike there.  He was on an Alaskan vacation with Chickenstock as one of his many stops.

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The Flock
Shamonic chicken
Seymour the Shamanic Chicken

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Olivia and Mark Sass trying the hula hoops.

Chickenstock, Chicken, AK, 2011

Luckily there was someone else to play with.

Chickenstock, Chicken, AK, 2011

Of course, one doesn't always need others to have a good time. This precious little beauty was having so much fun just playing with the gravel.

Chickenstock, Chicken, AK, 2011

Chickenstock, Chicken, AK, 2011

Hot! One can not have a fire while camping out and not have smores. Unfortunately our sticks were a bit short and the fire was very hot.

gold dredge, Chicken Alaska

Chickenstock, Chicken, AK, 2011

Next year I want to camp under the dredge!

Chickenstock, Chicken, AK, 2011Tents on the hill.

Chickenstock, Chicken, AK, 2011

This was quite the nice set up on the hill. It was lovely with the moon rising in the back ground and the slight smell of camp fire smoke in the air.

Chickenstock, Chicken, AK, 2011

Alaskans take their dogs with them. They are an integral part of life.

Chickenstock, Chicken, AK, 2011

Chickenstock, Chicken, AK, 2011

Chickenstock, Chicken, AK, 2011

Here’s a short video clip of what Chickenstock is.

Taylor HighwayHere is what our vehicle looked like after our drive to Chicken.

  After it was over, we packed up camp and headed 3 more hours up the road to the town of Eagle, AK.  My friends Wayne and Scarlett live up the river from there and this is our main chance to visit for the year.    To get to their cabin, one must drive to the village of Eagle, park on the river bank, go up the river in their boat, park the boat, go up the trail on the ATVs.

Here is some video clips from that trip. 

On the Yukon River The Green Thing 
The Green Thing.  Both kids really love riding up on this and I have to make them take turns.

Bush cabin Built with their own hands, it’s the perfect bush cabin and homesite.

canoe garden  Raised gardens are in order since the soil in them can warm up much faster than the soil in the ground.

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For gardens planted directly in the ground, black material is laid down to help warm the soil.   Scarlett has beautiful gardens.


drying salmon

Salmon drying

The kids liked helping to feed the dogs.   The dogs are fed salmon and kibble depending on the day.  Most of their dogs are up on the glacier for the summer, giving rides to tourists.  This is a good exchange system.  The dogs get fed and continued conditioning and the tour company gets well-trained dogs.  They keep a core group of dogs though.  Some are not able to do that job and the group of them are an early warning system for bears.
Shower

The shower.  Fill up the container with warm water and pump up the pressure.  It was very refreshing.
sauna

This is the sauna for winter cleansing.

front doorThe front door.

kitchen The kitchen.

bush bunk bed, pantryThis is the pantry/bunk room.  It has two bunks in it, very handy!

Yukon River They have a little, wooden, homemade bench in their yard the provides this view.  I could sit here for days gazing out onto the Yukon River and the vast wilderness.  It’s one of the most comforting sweet spots I have ever been to, a place to commune with nature.

On the second day we went to visit some friends up the river.  They live near this rock formation called Calico Bluff.  It is a famous geological site.

Calico Bluff Calico Bluff

fish wheel

Salmon wheel.  This is placed in the river to catch salmon with.


Drying salmon Salmon drying on the racks.

salmon

arctic garden Green house.

Beer in the bush She got us each a beer from the cold storage set in the floor.

 

outhouse Outhouse with a view.  This could be handy to make sure no bears or moose are out there before leaving the relative safety of the structure.  I know I have a whistle hanging on the wall of our outhouse in case one of the kids gets trapped in there by an animal.

 

On the way back home, we stopped to cut up a tree to add to the stockpile of firewood.  Winter is never far from our minds.

I can’t really explain the call that this type of life has for me.  It feels right to my soul.  Right now I just have to focus on raising my children and learning more.  But someday, I will have my own little sweet spot in the wilderness.

After spending a few days, we head home.

Alaska Highway


It is good.