Thursday, April 17, 2014

Opportunity

Count-down:  30 days until departure for Alaskan Adventure

When my husband came home one day and asked if I wanted to drive to Alaska in an RV with the kids, my first thought was, “Of course!”  Then the more I thought about it, I wondered how we could make it happen.  Questions and doubts swirled around my head.  Could we really do it, having never even ridden in an RV before?  What about the kids schooling? They attend an online school from home, but they still have deadlines they have to meet and there won’t be much connectivity on the road to Alaska.  Maybe it wasn’t the right time. Maybe we should wait until next year.

Then it hit me.  We had a chance, an opportunity, to go to Alaska at this moment.  Not next year, or five years from now.  If we didn’t do it now maybe we would never go. The opportunity may never be there again.  

That’s when I decided, “Okay let’s go.”  We’ll figure out all the other stuff along the way.  We will make it work.  And it will be the trip of a lifetime for all of us.



Kathy :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Native Peoples

Count-down:  31 days until departure for Alaskan Adventure!


Tlingit totem from Wikipedia Commons


I found out recently that my grandpa’s grandmother was a Native American.  I always thought Gramps was kidding when he said he was Native American.  He was the kind of guy who said everything with a straight face and you never knew if he was telling a tall tale or the truth.  About fifty percent of the time it was the truth.  My Native American heritage happened to be a truth.  I wish I had talked to him about it before it was too late.  Now he’s gone, and I don’t have any information about her other than the fact that she really was Native American and probably from the New York area.  I hope to have the time eventually to research and discover more about my Native heritage.  In the meantime, it has sparked the desire to learn more about all Native Peoples, their histories and cultures.  


In Alaska, the Native Peoples are divided into eleven different cultures speaking eleven different languages.  I’m hoping that when we are in Anchorage, one of our stops can be the Alaska Native Heritage Center Museum where I can begin my journey to the world of Raven and Whale spirits and learn the meanings behind their totems.  

Here's a list of Native Alaskan Peoples according to the Native Heritage Center Museum:
Raven pole, One Legged Fisherman Pole,
and Killer Whale Pole
From Wikipedia Commons


Athabascan
Unangax
Alutiiq (Sugpiaq)
Yup'ik
Cup'ik
Iupiaq
St. Lawrence Island Yupik
Eyak
Tlingit
Haida
Tsimshian

I'm excited to learn more about each of them and come home with a better appreciation of their cultures and languages.

To learn more about Alaskan Natives check out:


Kathy :)




Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Moose



Count-down:  32 days until departure for Alaskan Adventure

Alaskan Bull moose, Wikipedia Commons

When I think of Alaska, I think of a land of mystery.  A frozen world with hidden dangers, savage predators, and savage weather.  Of close encounters with bears and icy precipices.  I don’t often think about moose.  

I actually love moose, I’ve always wanted to see one, they’re just not on my “Think of First” list.  A couple of years ago we were out in Yellowstone and I kept searching for moose but we never saw one and I was a little disappointed.  I guess in Wyoming the moose is elusive.

In Alaska, moose are a common sight.  In fact according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, more people in Alaska are injured by moose each year than bears.  (Yay! I’d much rather meet a moose than a bear.)  In order to stay safe they advise that you recognize when a moose is agitated.  

Here are some things which make a moose agitated:

Being hungry
Dogs barking
Tired of walking through deep snow
Children or adults throwing snowballs at them
Traffic
Hmm, all those things make me agitated too.  

An angry Alaskan moose Wikipedia Commons

Their advice on what to do if a moose charges at you?  Unlike with bears, you should run, as fast as you can.  But since moose can run at speeds up to 35 miles an hour and the fastest human on the planet, Usain Bolt, Olympic gold medalist, can currently only run at about 28 mph for 100 meters, they suggest you find something to hide behind; like a tree.  A tree sounded good until I remembered that some moose have antlers up to 6ft wide and can weigh 1600 lbs.  I guess look for a giant tree.  



Other Moose facts:

Largest of the elk family
Great swimmers, even underwater for short periods
Mostly solitary
Eat land and aquatic plants

If you want to read more about moose check these out:

National Geographic- human running speed


Kathy :)


I can’t believe today is the halfway point for the A-Z!  I’ve had so much fun reading everyone’s posts. I just wish I could get to everybody!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Liard River Hot Springs

Count-down:  33 days until departure for Alaskan Adventure!

Hot Springs Wikipedia Commons



There is a special little place in British Colombia on the Alaska Highway about 18 hours northwest of Jasper, Alberta, Canada and almost 17 hours northeast of Juneau, Alaska that was once called “Tropical Valley”.  Hidden within a lush boreal forest like a secret garden, is a group of natural hot springs ranging in temperatures from 108 F to 126 F.  Now named the Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park, it is Canada’s second largest hot springs and a popular tourist attraction especially in the summer. Travelers can rest from the long drive on the Alaska Highway and relax in the hot restorative waters. 
The warm water pools nourish an immense diversity of flora and fauna, including 14 different species of wild orchid. Moose often feed in the warm swamps surrounding the pools.  One hot springs pool is reserved for humans, but moose, beavers, and bears, don’t always follow the rules.  Another pool had been open in previous years, but the bears enjoyed it too much so they had to close it for humans.

In the winter, visitors to the hot springs can soak in the relaxing waters surrounded by snow frosted trees and gaze up to see the dancing greens and purples of the Northern Lights.  I would love to witness that. Even though we’re going in the spring, I think it will be just as magical and maybe someday we'll return to see the park in its winter splendor.   


Snow covered trees surrounding springs
Wikipedia Commons

National Geographic Travel- check out this link to see a cool winter photo of the park
British Columbia Parks

Kathy :)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kayaking in Kenai

Count-down:  35 days until departure for Alaskan Adventure!

Resurrection Bay Wikipedia Commons

The Kenai Peninsula lies to the south of Alaska’s most populous city, Anchorage, and extends into Prince William Sound on the east and Cook Inlet on the west.  Because of extensive glacial activity and plate tectonics, Kenai’s coastline is littered with deep fjords, some are 1000 ft deep.  

In 1980, Kenai Fjords National Park was established to help protect the numerous icefield and fjord environments.  Currently the park covers over 1000 sq. miles.  One popular excursion in Kenai is kayaking the fjords’ pristine waters to see sights such as the magnificent Aialik Glacier up close.  
Alyssa heard about this and exclaimed, “Wouldn’t it be so cool to kayak right over Killer Whales!”
My eyes widened and I gulped as I thought about kayaking in frigid water floating precariously above a 6 ton carnivore.  “Uh, yeah that would lots of fun.”

From Wikipedia Commons


Kathy :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Family Journal

Count-down:  36 days until departure for Alaskan Adventure



I’ve never been great at journal writing, but for this trip to Alaska, I have an ambitious plan.  I’m going to buy each of us our own special notebook and have everyone write at least a few words every day.  For Jessica, Alyssa, and me this will be relatively easy.  It’s the two boys I worry about.  Can I get them to put their thoughts down on paper?  I think I can get my husband to do it, but Ryan’s not too much into writing.  He loves reading. Persuading him to write though, is as difficult as pulling a bear away from a salmon stream.  I have to coax him the entire way.

For some reason, I have the desire to see this trip through everyone’s eyes.  We will all see places differently, notice little things the rest of us miss.  A smell, a color, the way the wind moves through the trees. Ryan might see things closer to the ground. What will Alyssa see in a glacier that I miss? How will Jessica describe the blue of glacier fed lakes?

I want to capture these thoughts and experiences.  

I don’t want the writing to become a chore though.  So I’ve decided, in addition to the notebooks (or maybe in Ryan's and my husband’s case, in place of), every day we will do a quick two minute video log, describing what meant the most to each of us that day.  

When we return home I want to put together all our journaling, videos and pictures into a media project that tells our tale of adventure.

Maybe it's because Jessica and Alyssa will be heading off to college in a year or two and Ryan is almost ten, that I have the need to preserve these precious last moments our five member family has together. I want to capture this beautiful moment in time and hold it forever.

Kathy :)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Icefields Parkway

Countdown:  37 days until departure for Alaskan Adventure

On our way to Alaska there is a stretch of road 144 miles long (232 km) that parallels the Continental Divide and goes right through the heart of the Canadian Rockies.  Connecting Banff to Jasper, The Icefields Parkway, also known as Highway 93, traverses some of Canada’s most stunning vistas, (at least that’s what I’ve been told :))  In the summer, 100,000 vehicles a month travel this route.  
 I’m most excited about seeing the turquoise waters of Peyto Lake.  The color is caused by all the glacial rock flour(tiny particles of rock that have been ground to a flour-like consistency by the glaciers), that washes into the lake in the summer.  These particles are suspended in the water and reflect the turquoise color.

I have a feeling on this drive I will be snapping pictures every few seconds.  I know it’s silly to try to capture the beauty of a place like this.  It never works.  When I look at my pictures later, something is always missing.  The immense power of the landscape never comes through. But I will fill up my phone with pictures anyway.   

Here are a few pictures of what we will hopefully see on this route.

Captivating waters of Peyto Lake from Wikipedia Commons



Columbia Icefield from Wikipedia Commons

Kathy :)