Category Archives: summer

Is it September yet?

Summer in Alaska is a singular experience.

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For starters, Alaskan summers are visually stunning. You don’t even want to blink let alone close your eyes for 8 of every 24 hours. There is too much to miss. This is nature donning her Sunday best every day for 3 months, and there is a wealth of activity! The fishing, hiking, boating, wildlife spotting…When the outdoors screams at you like that, you run to her.

Which means, June through August, you stay the F#$% awake.

Ironically, as luck (and biology) would have it, Alaskan summers are also treacherous.

Alaska is bursting with life, the more deadly of which (just like you) wakes up for summer. (Another reason to keep your eyes open ALL THE TIME). There are 3 types of bear, large unpredictable moose and big cats but there are also some pretty scary little guys.

As my son reminded me yesterday:

“Mom I think I saw a wasp. It was about 2 inches long with a HUGE stinger and red stripes…”

(FYI that was not a wasp)

Even some of the botanicals are out to get you. Digging in the garden last week I brushed up against a plant know to scar human flesh before remembering,

“oh right, poisonous…”

(I’m fine by the way.)

The offensive green was removed immediately as I can’t be expected to stay out of the garden…all summer…in Alaska…

Like I said, singular.

Severely singular…thrilling, intense, ubiquitously exhausting…

(No I’m pretty sure that’s a thing)

All of the above.

And the effect this has on those who live here is curious. About the end of July a strange sensation begins to take hold and suddenly, shockingly, bizarrely (for an inhabitant of a place with such a short summer)…

Winter starts to seem like a pretty cool concept.

(Eagle River with bear and Eagle River without. You decide)

Yeah winter, it’s dark, people sleep, there’s no bear, the poisonous plants are gone and the life cycle of the 2 inch red stripped ‘wasp’ has ended.

Winter…there’s an idea…

Is it September yet?

 

life interrupted

It’s summer in Ireland which, it turns out, is remarkably similar to summer in Alaska which, is to say, things are busy.  

Really busy. Moments become history before I’m done experiencing them and the days swirl with such energy that I go to bed dizzy each night.

(or maybe that was the wine?)

Anyway, one would think, with all the experience I have navigating busy Alaska summers, I would be well prepared for my first Irish one, but this is not so.

(Unless, of course, “well prepared” has suddenly become a synonym for “horribly blindsided” in which case, I am a rock star)

Due to this, for the next few weeks (hopefully no more than that, but I am not optimistic) instead of fresh fun, I will be imitating network TV and filling the blog-sphere with re runs.

don’t hate me.

Anyway, to get things started here’s one from a few years ago that one or two people thought was kind of funny… 

Barbie and Superman walk into a bar

Hope you enjoy it.

and happy summer everyone 🙂 

 

The Busy Season

 

It’s that time of year again,

July!

Hang onto your hats kids and get ready for no sleep!

Welcome back Summer! Cheers!
Welcome back midnight sun! Cheers!

 

2014-07-02 07.47.26
ooooh, ahhhh…

Bring on the out-of-town guests! Gas up the car and let’s see the sights!

what bear?
what bear?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who cares if we’ve seen them before?

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105th time, still amazing.

 

 

Smiles everyone, smiles!
Smiles everyone, smiles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dust of the camping supplies, hit the trails and reap summers bounty before it’s too late!

and they keep on coming...
and they keep on coming…

 

But MOST important, do NOT forget July’s main event: FISHING.

so excited...
so excited…

 

(Just in case you weren’t aware of how I feel about fishing season, here is a really unflattering picture of myself thinking about it.)

Anyway, all that fun in great outdoors is threatening to catapult me out of the blogosphere,

but I’m stronger than I look.

I’ll dig myself out of Summer just like I do every year.

Probably just in time for snow.

 

 

Last Hurrah

 

I guess summer wasn’t over.

Not yet.

Sure snow covered the mountains around us and had recently done a number on our yard.

Sure I had already emptied the camper of food, clothes, boots, jackets and medical supplies.

Sure I had washed all the sheets, sleeping bags, pillow cases and re stowed them for winter.

Sure I had drained the water tank…

unplugged the heater…

and flushed the plumbing with antifreeze.

None of it mattered. Mowgli wanted to go camping ERGO:

Summer wasn’t over.

Not yet.

(That man has it in for me.)

So last weekend, we headed out.

Know what? We weren’t alone.

We saw motorized parachutes…

Strap a GIANT fan on your back, step off a mountain and let the good times roll!

 

Runway approaches minus the runway…

Meanwhile, on the corner of Jim Creek and Knik River…

 

As well as other questionable water crossing attempts…

 

I sure hope that isn’t his mom’s car…

We were in the nest of trailblazers!

You know the saying, when in Rome…

And so began…

Torch building 101:

For this project you will need: a long stick, paper towels, oil and 1 parent (tired, tipsy or simple beat into doing his children’s bidding).

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Step two: insert child…

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Step three: RUN.

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And keep running…

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It’s interesting to be out in Alaska when there’s no on left in town but us.

We’re a special kind of bold. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glass half full, again!

 

September 2nd, 2013.

Monday.

Weather: crap.

Enthusiasm: …enthusiasm:…? Doctor, I can’t feel a pulse…

 

It must be Labor Day, Alaska’s official end of the season. Summer is over. The fire-weed is dead, the shops closed, and the last of the tourists have gone home. You can literally watch the leaves turn brown and the raindrops crystallize into snow.

Winter is coming.

But, not to fear, I’m a glass half full kind of gal. This summer was pretty great and I’ll be rolling into the dark season with a brain full of fond memories.

(Mostly)

 

2013 Summer recap:

Highs and…not so highs.

 

High: Catching all the fish we need for winter!

Not so high: Processing all the fish we need for winter.

 

 

We're going to need a bigger shovel...
We’re going to need a bigger shovel…

 

High: Learning to drive on the beach like a pro!   

Not so high: All the “learning” moments: (see photo)

 

 

 

 

 

High: Record number of family visit!

Not so high: Record number of family visit!

(kidding. Loved every minute of it Mom.)

 

 

Boots, life jacket, rods, charter boat...thank you Visa.
Boots, life jacket, rods, charter boat…thank you Visa.

 

 

 

 

 High: Finally getting all the boys psyched up to go fishing!

 Not so high: Finally getting all the boys geared up to go fishing. ($!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

High: Basking in enough sun to last a lifetime!

Not so high: Remembering where I live and realizing that sun will probably have to last me an actual lifetime. 

 

High: Waking up one day and discovering WE are the family with a 4 wheeler for each kid!

Not so high: Waking up the next day and discovering we are NOT the family that can afford it.

 

helmets, gas, extreme medical insurance...are you still there Visa?
helmets, gas, extreme medical insurance…are you still there Visa?

 

best invention since...indoor beer.
best invention since beer indoors.

 

High: Beer Garden!  

Not so high:

It’s beer, outside! I didn’t even have to buy. Is there a down side?

Win.

 

 

 

Go ahead winter, bring it on. I’m ready.

 

 

 

 


 

The one that’s just photos.

 

It’s that time of year again, July! Yay Sun and summer, barbecue and outdoors! Daylight for days!!

Most people do not know this, but the word “July” is actually derived from ancient native Alaskan. Interesting, huh? The Yup’ik word “youslaveallmonth” dates back to the early 1300’s and roughly translates to mean “very long days, many many guests, tons of fishing and absolutely no sleeping for anyone period.”

So…I’m not blogging today.

AND I’m not blogging next week.

BUT, on the off chance I survive until the end of the month…

…you can bet I’ll have something to say about it.

Meanwhile, I’m offering the photo blog, a quick and easy taste of what has been happening up here in the land of the midnight sun…

…so far. 

From the “wear the kids down” category:

sand
brother love

 

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Clown tree. There’s 15 kids in there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hike, hike, hike!
hike, hike, hike!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up next “Touching base with Alaskan beauty” (AKA, mid summer 2 hour drive to see snow. Because they “miss it”)

glacier

boysglacier
Yep. Even in summer, ice is cold.
teig
King of the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And lastly the…

wait a minute how did that get in there?

beer
It’s not August yet! Put that beverage down and get back to work!

See you all (fingers crossed) in a couple weeks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope

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For as much as I complain, I love Alaska this time of year. The sun is up for 15+ hour a day and taking a noticeable bite out of the snow. The woods around us are on the verge of a green explosion. The boy’s bikes are road ready, the camping gear is out of deep storage and Mowgli and I are busy cleaning the summer toys. Yesterday, I even wore short sleeves. Winter’s days are numbered. There is hope.

At long last, we have hope. As a matter of fact, we’re drowning in hope. Summer is so impatiently anticipated that we latch on to any and all potential signs of the season and bathe in them.

Like when my neighbor stopped by last weekend and told me I looked tan. With foolish delight I rolled in the compliment. I took the very unreal probability that I had exposed enough bare skin to the sun for a long enough period of time to scratch the surface of my blindingly white complexion, and smothered myself with it. Hope.

I was tan. TAN! Summer was most definitely on the way and it was going to turn me into a bronze goddess in no time. Weeeeee! Hope.

Sadly, I wasn’t tan. I was coated in rust powder flung at me from the corroded frame of an ATV I had, in preparation for summer, been wire brushing all day. Rust dust: red neck spray tan. Wincing against the glare of my actual skin tone, Mowgli wiped my face clean and we went back to work.

But, in the end, even that was OK. You know what else 15+ hours of sun does? It doles out vitamin D like cheap jewelry on Mardi Gras. Nature’s happy pills.

Hope remains.

Summer is coming.  

Happy Earth Day Everyone.

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

Domesticating Animals

 

A summer of ‘wild’ life.

 

Of course they want me to eat the flowers, silly goose. Why else would they plant them in moose sized snack boxes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm telling you, Ralphy, we crack this safe and it's biscuits and gravy for the rest of our lives!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mine, mine, mine, mi...Oh! pardon me Mr. Baldy sir! So sorry. Didn't see you there. My bad. (ahem) His, his, his, his...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, for those of us who still find maturing a confusing if not altogether pointless enterprise…

Snnfff! Hey Sam, do you smell that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Dude! In the pool? How many times do I have to tell you - NOT in the pool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you all had a wonderfully wild summer.

What I learned on my summer vacation

This summer I drove from Alaska to Washington state and back again to help my sister and her family move. It was awesome. Here is what I learned on our amazingly long journey:

The WISH they lived this far apart.

 

  1. The phrase “Everything we own would barely fill the bed of a pick-up truck” is a euphemism for “Can you get your hands on a semi truck and trailer combo?”

    Has anybody seen the baby? On crap...
  2. 3 out of 4 border agents have a sense of humor. None the less, it is advisable to behave as if not any of them do.
  3. Canadians have a completely different conversion rate for the metric system than I do. Based on the example set by 99 percent of automobile operators between British Columbia and the Yukon, 100 kilometers per hour is in fact NOT equivalent to 62.13 miles per hour. It is equivalent to “as fast as I damn well please.”
  4. Wild animals 500 pounds and over have a weak spot for spontaneous games of  “highway chicken”. Do not engage.
  5. Murphy’s law of the Alaskan Highway: the moment you begin to think you are alone in the world you will encounter a fully loaded log truck to your left, a disabled Winnebago to your right, a troupe of hippie cyclists, no shoulder and approximately 30 seconds to react before impact.
  6. If you are the driver of a vehicle towing a 16 foot trailer and carrying children who insist on playing “who can hold their breath through the whole tunnel” it is completely appropriate for you to cheat. In fact, I highly recommend it.
  7. Rumors that the Alaskan highway is paved the entire way ARE COMPLETE FICTION.

    See.NOT PAVED.

I really enjoyed my summer vacation this year. Really.

Really. No, I mean it. Please don’t take my drink away. I’m completely sober.

Honest.

 

Summer time and the living is…easy?

 

It’s the same every year. All spring I sit taping my fingers impatiently watching snow melt until out of nowhere – BAM, summer arrives, greeting me like a cement truck t-boning a blind squirrel.

One minute I’m sipping coffee with the neighbors, comparing ice levels and driveway breakup, the next I’m more likely to bump into them at river mouths 300 miles from home.

“Hello! Gosh, haven’t seen you guys since…? Yes! Let’s get together the next chance we’re all free!”

Like October.

Alaska’s summer is intense. Beautiful, short but most notably, unbe-freaking-lievably busy. Everything returns, fish, snow birds, tourists, carnivorous wildlife. The weather cooperates making possible painting, gardening, and construction. The parks open, the trails clear and camping sucks up every free weekend we have.

We’re booked through Labor Day.

July isn’t even over yet and I’m already scratching out activities there just isn’t any time to get to this year. I’ve even started blowing people off. (sorry to friend R, my latest victim. I don’t know what I was thinking making plans so late in the summer :/)

I can’t even make it across the street without taking a day to work it into the schedule.

Friday I even flagged down neighbor A (whom we’ve contracted to mow our lawn) as he backed out of our yard and asked him to carry back a seedling flat I’d borrowed from his mother a month before.

“Uh, I’m not actually going straight home…” He said.

“That’s OK!” I replied. “Just carry it around in the car until you do.. go…”

And it hit me. In the midst of crazy summer motion I had concluded that it made more sense for A to drive around town with a dirty plastic flat on his passenger seat than it made for me to, I don’t know, walk over and return it in person?

Don’t tell anyone, but lately I’ve been dreaming of November. When summer is over and the snow finally hits, I’ll be the one in the corner saying “thank God. I’m exhausted.”

 

Sleep! I remember sleep...