Friday, July 25, 2008


I just want to say that the berries are beginning to ripen. After hanging out at M's house and seeing that several of her wild raspberry bushes had some ripe berries, I did a better inspection of my own berry patch and discovered a handful of ripe ones, with several more looking like they will ripen this week.
SO much tastier than the things you can buy at the store, by the way!

Earlier this week, I also bought a plant identification guide as well as a pocket guide to edible plants in Alaska. I wandered through the property and discovered we actually have several useful things growing in the mess that we call our "yard". High bush Cranberries, for one. Also lots of rose hips, and some other berry that I am going to take to the co-op to have someone identify for me. From what I understand, there is only ONE poisonous/non edible berry in Alaska, and I'm pretty sure this thing is not a bane berry.


Speaking of "earlier this week", I have been BUSY BUSY BUSY, which is why we are short on blog entries.
J came home on Monday and after speaking to several other "locals", we heard the same advice, "Never ever ever ever go walking in the places you went walking without being armed again." We heard several stories of a few "local" grizzlies that wander through North Pole late at night and plenty of black and brown bear stories to cause slight concern. And most of these stories were from fairly reputable sources. Only one was from someone I would consider to be missing a few screws.
So, we spent Monday in town, doing a little gun shopping. We didn't buy anything yet, but we are looking into a good rifle or shotgun for J, and a sidearm for me. (Something tells me I am in more danger with a rifle slung over my shoulder and Beans in the backpack than I am with bears wandering around!). I'm ALMOST decided on a 357, J is convinced he needs a 12 gauge, to blow any bear to pieces.

Tuesday was a day for playing catch-up, and Wednesday, after stopping by M's to play for a bit, was a trip back into town- to take J to the Farmer's Market. We found LOTS of goodies there (mostly overpriced, but we were caught up in the tourist trap of all our things being "worth the cost"), and spent plenty of money. We came home and made salads chock-full of organic veggies with weird names like "kohlrabi" and "swiss chard"... most of them were pretty good, and we followed it up with a delicious piece of strawberry-rhubarb cake made by a little Russian lady from Delta Junction. Oh, YUM.

Playing with M and the kids was fun, too. We melted down a bunch of old crayons and made those neat multi-colored ones, and M and I got to catch up on our chatting while the kids all behaved pretty well. We picked fresh strawberries from her yard, a couple of the ripe raspberries, and meandered through the yard, identifying useful and pretty plants. My little Alaskan friends had asked me to bring a jar of shark's teeth I had collected from my years of living near beaches, and I had a really good time showing them off and teaching them about them.

Thursday J and I both had some form of Summer Cabin Fever. Neither of us were in the mood to work on home projects so we loaded up the van, put Beans in the car seat, and headed south on Parks Hwy. (For those back home, Parks Hwy goes from Anchorage to Fairbanks.)
It's a beautiful drive through the mountains, and in some places, we were actually looking down through the clouds! The scenery is amazing, and we stopped to snap some pictures along the way.
About an hour down the road, you come up on the small town of Nenana. Originally a Native Village, missionaries built a foster home/boarding school and set up shop there. The church and grounds are still there, but mainly just for tourists now. (The school is no longer active.) There is a small railroad depot (with a museum) and a small cultural center, where we found lots of interesting facts about the Native tribes in the area and what the area was used for over the years. (Fishing, dog sledding, and hunting mostly, until the railroad came through.)

We had a good time poking around and then stopped in for lunch at Brandi's Diner, which was definitely worth the time and money. We had fried cod (and "chips", of course!), and good company. The town is friendly, and since there are only around 500 people living in the town, they are curious about passer-throughs like us.
Beans (of course) impressed everyone, and while she was busy flirting with waitresses and other patrons, we got to chat with an older couple that have been road-tripping for the last 2 months in a conversion van.

The drive home was just as beautiful as the drive there. We got home later than we planned, but it was well worth it.

J and I finished off our week together with watching the movie "Into the Wild", which I think all my friends in the lower 48 should see.

This weekend I am hoping to just play catch-up on all the things I neglected to do this week.
We'll see what happens.
Next week, a trip to Delta Junction is in store, and who knows where our other adventures will take us.


Shhhh...... the squirrel score- Squirrels:2, Humans 1.
I just want to say that we thought our neighbors would be supportive of our efforts to rid the house of squirrels. Apparently, they are avid squirrel lovers themselves, and protested when we pulled out the pellet gun. (A nifty little thing, too! Looks like a pistol and you can buy pointed pellets so they work like miniature bullets.)
The only thing worse in my book than a bunny-hugger is a squirrel-hugger.
Seriously. Our whole neighborhood is squirrel crazy!
One squirrel met his maker this week, while the rest of our neighbors were at work. I am patiently waiting for a clear shot at the rest of them, but I will say this. The squirrels DO seem to be a little more cautious about coming into our yard these days.

OK. Landlords are installing a new furnace today. Maybe the new one will be a bit more efficient.

Meanwhile, Beans needs a nap and I need a shower. Until next time,

Happy Moose Trails!

1 comment:

Susan Stevenson said...

Did you go into the railroad museum in Nenana. It's pretty interesting. Also, the church is open for exploring too. I love little log churches.

I thought for sure you'd stop at Monderosa for burgers... it's a MUST and they really do have great burgers. We stop there anytime we go to Denali.

If you plan a trip to Denali, you can drive into mile 15 in your car, and you can hike the Savage River (easy hike and possibility of dall sheep viewings). Also, the sled dog presentation is well worth the time and also FREE. You can catch a shuttle to the kennels from the Visitor Center (free).

And if ever you're feeling REALLY adventurous, the Denali Hwy loop is a MUST. Fairbanks to Paxson, across the highway (mostly gravel and slow going in some areas) to Cantwell, home to Fairbanks. It's a whole day's drive so you'll need food/water and some other 'emergency type' stuff (warm clothes) in case you get stuck somewhere. Absolutely stunning, and you can stop to fish, picnic, hike, or just enjoy the view.

The last time I did that loop with my friend Rachael, it took about 11 hours - but it was soooo worth it. Read about it here (halfway down the page):