Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Guess which set of gams lives in Alaska...
Happy HNT!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My girls

People have asked me if I came home for anything special. The answer is yes. I came home to work Grandma's Marathon. I started working the finish line medical tent after a college friend died at the finish of the Chicago Marathon. This year was a bit rough because we had a death in our tent; not my patient but that of another volunteer I know well. The other reason I came to visit was for these two little pumpkins! I came at Christmas to "babysit" Miss Quincey because in spite of being born on my birthday I didn't get to see her until she was over a year old. Well, Miss Q has a brand new baby sister, Kenley Grace, who I had to come see as well. I have spent the last few days doting on these little ones.

Quincey has always loved books but now she "reads" them to herself. She found both Spot's for me when I asked her where Spot was. She is also in a front facing car seat since I was here at Christmas. Much easier to hand her french fries that way. We went over the pass today to drop her off at Grandma and Grandpa's camp site so her mom and I could go to lunch.

Quincey didn't take a morning nap so she was a bit indecisive about what to do come the time to leave her. She was appropriately distracted by her farm animals.

After lunch at the Windbag with a huge piece of mud pie, Heather and I went back to the house and this is how i spent the afternoon. Not a bad way to spend vacation at all. Kenley loves to be held and snuggles. She makes really cute little baby snores too.

She is just starting to be able to "smile" for us at 4 weeks old. There is a near identical picture of the above of Quincey when she was that age. She was a happy baby this afternoon and after a midafternoon bottle she feel fast asleep propped up in the corner with her hands daintily crossed. These girls will steal a few hearts! I love them like real nieces.

Monday, June 28, 2010


I am definitely relaxing on this trip. Made it to Duluth MN for Grandma's Marathon and went to Texas Roadhouse to celebrate my sister's birthday. I have followed some big rivers on this trip too. This is the headwaters of the Mississippi but I followed the Yellowstone River across Montana and yesterday crossed over the Missouri several times on my way to Great Falls.

It's not vacation without a few favorite foods. Harvest Moon Brewery now bottles their Beltian White. It goes great with a really greasy pizza from Howard's in Helena. The pictures don't do the puddles of grease justice. Sat watching movies with Os while eating and drinking last night. Awesome!

Monday, June 14, 2010

There's sheep in them there hills...

I always seem to get great hind view shots of mountain critters. These three lambs were intent on mowing through the spring green stuff. They are Dall Sheep. They remind me of the Rocky Mountain mountain goats in Montana but they aren't nearly as friendly as the goats that hang out at the top of Logan Pass in Glacier. I had to use some serious zoom to get these pictures.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Friday Night Slumber

After beginning a cleaning spurt I curled up on the couch Friday night to watch Snow Falling on Cedars. This is what ended up surrounding me. Three sleeping critters. Montana was up behind me asleep but I couldn't turn around without waking him if I wanted a picture. Aren't they just adorable!?

Toklat River

I shared the bears with you but there was a lot more to the trip in Denali over Memorial Day weekend then bears. No lions or tigers but a little river adventure was had. The bus service was only running from the park entrance to the Toklat River stop but I wanted to go. Rich, the OR nurse, who came with the group joined me. There is a ranger station and a bookstore at the stop, otherwise a lot of river. Rich and I ate lunch on the bank of the river and then took off down the river bed. But not before I put my thinking hat on. Caribou antlers are a lot easier to hold up then a full moose rack.
The river is very muddy because of all the glacier melt and the debris it pulls with it but fresh water streams feed into it all over. Makes for a "confluence" of pretty colors. Either way, both types of water are really cold at this time of year. Trust me, I tested it out.
As always, I had to spawl to take some rock bed pictures. We did out best to use them as a path but there were places it was just easier to step in the water.
I was good and avoided the edge that was being cut out from underneath by the more rapid moving river vs the fresh water streams. This time of year the bears hang along the river beds to dig up roots b/c the higher elevations are either still covered with snow or full of brown vegetation. Look at the shadow of that big bear just up the stream from me!

Once we got to the bridge we had to come up to the road to cross. No way I could walk across rapids like that. We debated continuing along the shore to get way back to cross but that might have taken a bit more than a day. There is a shot of the "way we came" but you can't see the bridge because it is around the hill at that point. We kept walking until the next return bus with available seats came by.

What made the weekend so much fun was the people I shared it with. Nurse Rich road with me while my friend Yvonne and her family carpooled behind us. Another family stayed at a resort in Denali Village and three families camped at Riley Creek. Every night we met at the camp ground to hang out and share our day's adventures. A final family joined us both nights. This momma moose and a very new calf roamed through extremely close. She went through one campsite the second night taking out chairs and such before bedding down with her baby right in front of the camp ground bathrooms. Those with RV's were lucky :)

On the final day the forest fire smoke moved in. This was at about 11 pm on the last night we were there. Lots of smoke accumulating in the sky. By morning it had spread through the whole valley making it dark and smelly. This past week's worth of rain has taken that out of the air but hasn't helped much with actually stopping the fires.
There were more creatures along the way. They will come next. Hope you are all having a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

HNT...Eating to go

Summer in Alaska has officially kicked off. Last Friday a group of us from the hospital trekked to Denali National Park and were blessed with clear skies, views of "THE" mountain, and plenty of animals. A trip into Denali National Park is easy courtesy of the shuttle buses which run the length of the park road. Private vehicles are only allowed in to mile marker 15. An OR nurse joined me and the two of us got up early on Saturday morning to take the bus to Toklat. Early and weekend means only one thing for me...COFFEE!

There is a small village of shops outside the park and the first stop was the 24 hour Subway for coffee and sandwiches to take with us. This is me quite happy in spite of it being 8 am on a Saturday morning (check out all the daylight) in line to board the bus.

Food is not available inside the park. If you plan on being hungry you pack it in and you pack it out. I was well prepared. In addition to the Subway sammies I had Mike & Ikes, licorice, bananas, Dots, and my homemade assorted "trail mix". Dried bananas, cranberries, sunflower seeds, nuts, mango pieces and more. Perfect midday snack.

Rich and I got to see lots of wildlife along the way. Here are pictures of all the grizzly bears. I think we saw a total of 9. I was excited because there were several blondes in the mix instead of the usual dark chocolate. Of course, it's spring and they are hungry. This was the first time I got to witness a newly turned over field of divots from bears digging up roots. They can cover some serious ground. Beautiful creatures.

No lions or tigers but bears galore feeding on spring greens and me happy with coffee and trail mix. Happy HNT!