Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The longest day of the year in terms of daylight hours was yesterday. While further north in Alaska the sun will not set, here in Willow it did dip below the horizon just after midnight. I can't say when it came back up as the storm clouds had rolled in and it was raining. But I ventured out around 11:30 to find these shots in and around Willow. For those who have been to Alaska for the Iditarod restart, the lake in the photos is Willow Lake where the restart happens. Looks kind of different now! It was a lovely evening out there too. A mama duck and about 12 ducklings swam by and the loons were out there too, diving for fishing and calling.  Just really a serene setting. All photos were taken between 11:30 pm and midnight. None have been adjusted for contrast or color. What you see is what the camera saw.

From the road leaving my subdivision, looking north to the Alaska range. It's about 11:30 pm.

From the view spot in Willow along the Parks Highway, across from the hardware store. A few drops of rain were falling now.

The same view spot, looking south towards Wasilla. (right) Zoomed into the sunset below.

The next few shots are from behind the Community Center looking over Willow Lake. About 11:45 pm.

Leaving the Community Center, it looks like the sun is almost gone. A few minutes before midnight.
But as I turned back into my road, with rain on my windshield, I could still see light behind the Alaska Range. Midnight!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


 With the summer solstice tomorrow, Alaskans are enjoying long days of light. While the sun does set in Willow, it doesn't get dark. We lose the sun around 12:30 am and it's back around 3:30. Don't hold me to those times since I am usually asleep. Some Alaskans use black out shades to make their bedrooms dark in summer. Not me. If I'm going to wake up, I like to see the lovely birch tree outside my window. I'm lucky, the light doesn't bother me.

Having returned from my fun trip to Canada (here's Chena (left) and new kid, Fritter). I immediately went to work for the census. Yep, I am one of "those" people who come bug you to fill out a form if you didn't send yours in. I even bug you if you did send it in and somehow was not recorded. It's been an interesting job and I've enjoyed most of it. I did listen to a few irate people who didn't like the government, said it was a waste of time and money, already sent it in and no I'm not answering again. But most were pleasant---if I even saw them. Where I live in Willow, many of the homes are summer or weekend residences. Gosh, on April 1, which is when you were counted for where you lived, some of these places were still snowed in.  I traveled mostly around Nancy Lake. Found some lovely homes that if they were mine I'd live there year round! I also saw a bit of wildlife and I always love that. When I first started work the lakes still had some ice on them. As the weeks went by the ice melted and birds appeared. The white ones are Tundra Swans. They are so gorgeous.

Melting Nancy Lake in May to the right. What a nice day that was. Tundra Swans looking for a place to land below.

I didn't take any photos of homes I visited with one exception since it was lakeside and publicly visible. This sweet little old log cabin (above)with an incredible view of the Alaska Range beyond the tree tops.(below) Wow, what more you could want?

There was one moose I kept running into also. I'm pretty sure it's the same one as it was the same area every time. Young and a bit nervous---that's a good thing.

The lakes melted fast through May and we had some picture postcard days. It even felt hot when the temperature rose over 70 degrees F.

You may recall that last September the Pioneer Lodge burned down (above). This was a fun gathering place in Willow, along Willow Creek and the Parks Highway. Everyone was sorry to see it gone. Well, this past month, it is really gone. All that is left is most of the stone fireplace. Rumor has it they are rebuilding. I sure hope so.

But summer is building time here in Alaska and here at Husky Heights, we are building too. Well, my friends Keith and Mike are building. I left for the day! :) 

With Keith's dog Jack as the supervisor, the men managed to put together a pretty nice greenhouse. 

Coming from Maryland where growing tomatoes is as easy as planting them in the ground, I've had a hard time adapting to how to grow things in Alaska. Well, not this summer. With the greenhouse, the tomatoes are doing fantastic! My apologies to Karen Ramstead---she'll understand!

Even with dandelion weeds growing, the house looks really cool out back.

Can't wait to gather ripe, juicy tomatoes!        

Summer also means walking dogs. Keith and I took Jack and Maggie for a swim one day at South Rolly campground. LOL---why is it dogs have smiles on their faces after a swim in a cold lake??!!

And on the way home, we saw this guy along Nancy Lake Parkway.(below)
That weekend I would take photos for the Willow Race Series. They were running the Red Shirt Lake Trail, not far from where we saw the bear. But it was a great run. My favorite shot of the day is below--Mom and son having a great run.

Of course, I couldn't help but get a quick shot of this butterfly along the trail.

A few days later Keith and I hiked the same trail to Red Shirt Lake. We didn't run into any bears, or any other wildlife, though I did see a bald eagle out at the lake. It was a nice 6 mile hike with Jack, Maggie and Spirit. 

A view of the Talkeetnas from the trail.

Red Shirt Lake

From this spot you could see all the way to Pioneer Peak near Palmer. Cool!

Pink! chiming bells

I need someone to tell me what these are!(Thanks to Susan Laugal who pointed me towards Marsh Mallow, I do believe this is a Blue Mallow.But then Gail Thiessen sends me a link for Wild Geraniums and it looks like that is it! And two more confirmations from Tina Owen and Jane Eagle--it is a  wild geranium. Thanks everyone!)

A few days after our hike, signs would be posted that a Sow and two cubs were on the trail and hikers should be aware. That's a brown bear with cubs! Yikes!

The best part of summer is when friends come to visit. I've had the planning team for the Willow Dog Mushers symposium meet here several times now. What a fun group. Last time everyone brought their dinner and we shared food. Almost got as much work done as food eaten! I also had Marlene and Doug visit for several days with their fifth wheel parked in the driveway. What a fun visit. It reminds me of all the great things there are to do in Alaska.  
We visited with friends Mary and Mike and their dogs (Mike is the one who helped Keith with the greenhouse). After the visit, we drove up to Hatcher Pass in the evening. Always a great place to visit.

Mike and Doug visit while Mary grills the burgers. MMMM---thought the men did the grilling?!
Mary and Marlene watch the dogs below.

Doug and Marlene at Hatcher Pass.
Later in the week, we took a drive to Talkeetna. One of my favorite Alaskan towns. Yeah, it's for tourists, but it's also pretty cute. THE mountain was sort of out that day.
We stopped at the view spot just before town. Marlene and I below. Then we walked around town before having a great dinner.

Painted moose decorate the town. They are really cute and quite imaginative!

Talkeetna is a very small town. It is where those who wish to climb Denali gather before they begin their trip. Lots of climbing tales told in this town.

On the way home, the sun was clouded over by smoke from the forest fires up here. Fortunately, since that time we've had a lot of rain and most of the fires are out. I even heard some places near Tok had snow last week. I did see some new snow on the Talkeetnas this week when I went to Wasilla to shop.Yep, that's Alaska---where it can snow most anytime.

The good news is I got my permanent Alaska fishing license. Given to those over 60, I can now fish---or hunt (not me!)--and not pay any fees. IS this a great place or what? I hope to float Willow Creek before it closes and reopens for combat fishing. Seems the Kings are IN! Silvers later in the summer. I hope to get my Scamp on the road and head to Homer too. I haven't been there since 1982. Ah yes, I love summer. After tomorrow, the days will begin to shorten. Gotta pack in as much as possible before the end of the season.

And with that, I'll post this shot of a truck I saw in Wasilla the other day. We should always remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice so the rest of us can lead the lives we do. Thank You.