June 2017 ~ Explore Alaska

Chronological Order

Washington Day 1-4June 27th, 2017

My parents arrived a couple weeks ago so Dad was able to pick me up at the airport.  Kay and Paul drove down in the afternoon and we all went out for pie in Sumner.  Later that evening, Denice cut and colored my hair.  The rest of the time up to the wedding was spent visiting friends and family, listening to a concert in the park and relaxing.


Washington-BoundJune 26th, 2017

Headed down to Seattle to help and see my sister's wedding.


Royal Family Kids CampJune 19th, 2017

Nina volunteered to help at the Royal Family Kids Camp, serving local kids, ages 6-11, in the foster care system.  She had three days of training, after which she and her co-counselor had charge of four kids at a camp north of Anchorage.  Exhausted by the end of five days, she did say that it was worth it and hopes to go back next year.


Cabin Hangout Day 3June 20th, 2017

We awoke to grey and wet, good time to catch up with work (Peter) and making a back up copy of my photos (me).  After three harddrive crashes, just the ones with all my photos, you'd think I'd be better prepared by now.


Cabin Hangout Day 2June 19th, 2017

Sleeping in, we spent a leisurely morning before heading into Soldotna in search of new bearings.  Considering 4-wheelers are pretty much standard issue around here, we didn't have to search far.  Following, we hit Walmart and the hardware store then got gas so we could de-bug the windshield before heading back.

While Peter finished installing the bearings, I filled the water tank so we could try to get water flowing down to the cabin.  We were done just about the time the rain arrived.


Cabin Hangout Day 1June 18th, 2017

Not in a rush, we pack and load the car after church and head out about 2pm.  The drive down was quite pleasant, a bluebird day the whole way.  The 4x4 run caught up with me and I drifted off just as we headed into the pass awaking in Sterling.  Peter was pretty tired by then so we switched so he could nap.

In the evening, we took the 4-wheelers to the Kasilof River where hoards of campers lined the beach for one mile each side of the river.  The personal use fishery has opened and folks are ready to net their winter supply.  Pippin, on the other hand, was mostly interested in all the dogs that hung out every third tent it seemed.

On the way back, we stopped to get some bird photos.  Upon starting back up, however, a piercingly loud metal-on-metal scraping sound came from one of my wheels.  What in the world?!  Limping back slowly, Peter determined it to be bad wheel bearings.  So much for our planned Kenai River run tomorrow.


Mud Bogging in WillowJune 17th, 2017

Our friend, Jeff Logan, and his son were headed north with their 4x4 rigs to do some off-road traveling.  Having underestimated a puddle in the road on the last trip, and having nearly submerged the thing, he mentioned that this would be an easy ride to be sure all his repairs worked.  This was good, too, because we just bought a used side-by-side so we didn't want to hit it too heavy or far on the initiation trip.  They figured two hours, tops.

With this information, and that it was a sunny day, I decided to tag along and check out this sport.  After all, Jeff's wife went last time and came back in one piece.  Jeff and Griffin arrived around 4pm, loaded our Rzr and we were off heading north toward Willow.

The ride started out fine, though a bit dusty due to it being a well-traveled road.  Then, we turned off onto the 'trail', a definition I use lightly.  I'm not sure I would even define it as a trail through the woods, but rather it gave the impression of a wide space through the trees through which a wild hacking machine entered.  Deep ruts, pools of water, gooshy muck around every corner.  My initiation of hailing mud clods within the first 20 minutes was my first clue that Jeff's definition of 'easy ride' was highly subjective and, thankfully, we have really good suspension.

We got going at 6:15p and finally broke out of the trees for a bit of a view at 8:45p.  The odometer told us we'd covered a whole 6 miles. In between were countless streams, swamps, bogs, ravines and puddles, large and small.  There's a reason these rigs come with winches and I lost count in how many times we used it.  With an earlier start, we probably would have kept on riding as the trail became flatter and dryer up on the knoll, but it was late and time to turn back.  To my skeptical ear, Jeff assured us that the way back would be much faster and we'd only have to use the winch once.

We returned to the bog where we all got stuck multiple times and, sure enough, had to winch ourselves out at the very edge.  We still had much more mud and swamp land to cover and we figured there was no way we could finish without another several winchings.  However, gravity was on our side on the return trip and it turned out Jeff was right.  On the flip side, the ability to return at a much higher speed probably tripled the mud on us and the vehicle.

Once out on the road, Peter flagged Jeff down to point out that his right front tire bowed out opposite the other just shoveling the dirt.  Somehow in one of those last couple of rutted trail, the steering tie-rod had bent.  Incredulous that it hadn't happened in the first two hours where no normal vehicles could reach and even walking would be a serious challenge, he limped the last mile over a flat, dry road to the truck and trailer.

We're gonna be sore tomorrow.


Dawn Treader Day 4June 14th, 2017

Partly cloudy in morning. Breakfast in another bay 9:30. Moved to beach at south end of Culross passage at 11am. Sun came out. Spent a few hours there before heading north through Culross Passage to Whittier.


Dawn Treader Day 3June 13th, 2017

We woke up and the shining sun lifted our spirits.  We finished breakfast and all headed to shore for another hike.  After hearing how beautiful it was, the guys were keenly interested in going as well.  Hoping we'd have plenty of time to get to the glacier at the head of the river, it soon became obvious that it wasn't going to happen.  The brush was thick and we could find no easy way around or through it so we abandoned that idea and headed back to the river for a snack.

Once back on the boat, we motored to Derickson Bay to check out the waterfall while awaiting the tide so the water was high enough to navigate through Grant Creek to get to Nellie Juan Glacier.  Along the way we saw a bear, beavers and a cute seal sunning himself on an iceberg.  Hanging out as long as we dared before the tide started going out again, we managed to catch the glacier calving.

We then motored to mink island where we built a fire, cooked some dinner then brought out the instruments while we ate pie and s'mores.  Yum!



Dawn Treader Day 2June 12th, 2017

After a restful night, we motored across to Culross Island and south through Culross Passage.  One of our favorite spots in the area is what we've deemed the 'swimming beach', named after our first time when several in the group went swimming (not me).  After building a dam and kayaking around, the rain came so we packed up and headed southwest to Port Nellie Juan.  Since we weren't in a hurry, Peter and Tyler grabbed the fishing poles and attempted, in vain, to catch some dinner. We continued on across to Deep Water Bay.
Wendy, the kids and I went ashore and thought it was high time to get the blood pumping a bit on a hike. Since they couldn't remember where the trailhead began, we pretty much went straight up and were rewarded with an awesome panorama of the bay, valley and glacier.  The sun even popped out part of the way in.

Back on the beach, we took advantage of a non-rainy day by building a fire, roasting our dinner and playing a couple rounds of ultimate frisbee.



Dawn Treader Day 1June 11th, 2017

We managed to get packed and out the door to make the 2:30p tunnel and get the boat ready before the Shaw's came in at 6:30p.  Once all were aboard, we headed out around 7pm to Surprise Cove.  Due to the numbers of campers and kayakers, we opted to go around the back side for anchoring.


Downtown Soup KitchenJune 9th, 2017

Today, the middle school youth group volunteered at the Downtown Soup Kitchen in Anchorage.  They provide some form of soup or stew, sandwiches and dessert to its clients every day, seven days a week.  Local grocery stores around town donate their dated food and I think some farms also donate vegetables.  There's even a vegetable and herb garden on the roof of their building.

I offered to help Criss drive kids in, he took the boys and I had the girl car. Two other groups were there so we had plenty of help. We arrive around 9:30am to prepare food for the day's meal and also those in the future.  This includes chopping and storing vegetables, fruit, bagging chips, shucking corn or anything else that improves efficiency for another day.  Their chef makes the soup and volunteers make and individually wrap sandwiches. Bread or rolls are served and today we made mixed popcorn bags to hand out.

The kitchen opens at Noon for an hour and a half.  Desserts are cut and prepared while lunch is served, then handed out at 1:20.  Fruit and vegetables are set out on tables for the taking.  At 1:30p the doors close and, while 8-10 clients clean up the eating area, we volunteers work to clean the kitchen.  By 2 or 3pm, we're finished.


Cabin Day 3June 4th, 2017


Cabin Day 2June 3rd, 2017

We didn't tackle any major projects, but just spent time on the beach and resting.


Cabin Day 1June 2nd, 2017

It was high-time for a cabin run.  The kids didn't want to go, so Peter and I went by ourselves.  We had a bluebird day for the four hour journey so we stopped often so I could get some photos.