Sunday, May 31, 2015

Long bike rides and philosophy

Bike, Wheel, Mountain Bike, CyclingToday I rode down to the bottom of the huge hill, about 1/3rd of the way to the ice cream place in town.  It was the first time I rode in the past two years so I'm pretty happy with myself.  On the other hand, I've only ridden up that hill one or two times.  If asked, I'll tell you that it is hard on my knees but that is not the whole truth.

Bike, Rays, TireA few years ago, someone I know wanted to go bike in Nepal.  Its a dream he had for many years but when the opportunity came up, he decided to get on with his career.  Over time, there are others who chose to be sensible rather than follow their dreams or desires.  The same applies to me.

Ice Cream, Summer, Cornet, Cone, Kiosk
I choose not to go up that hill as often as I should because I don't have the motivation to do so.  If I went up on a regular basis, my knees really wouldn't hurt and I could ride all the way to the ice cream place and get that delicious, locally made ice cream.

I could even justify enjoying the ice cream because I already worked off the calories......LOL.  I hate going up hills because you usually have to go down hill on the return trip. My problem is that I am scared of falling.  I"d rather walk my bike up and down the hill rather than take a chance on falling.

Mountains, Snow, Sky, Nepal, LandscapeTowards the end of the ride, I realized that I don't have to go up the hill because it is always going to be there for me.  When I'm ready, I 'll do it. Just like my friend and Nepal.  He can decide to go at any time.  I realized that I can go all the way to town when I am ready  and if I'm never ready, who cares! 

Always remember, the future is full of possibilities......LOL.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Pineapple, Fruit, Citrus, Food, SweetThe first time I recall riding a real train other than at Disneyland was in Australia.  We took the morning milk run train from Gympie to Brisbane.  Gympie (home of the huge pineapple at that time) is north of Brisbane by about 2 hours and it is near the Mary River.

 We were heading back to the states and my father decided we should go by train.
Rail, Railway, Train Tracks
I don't remember much about the train ride because it was a long time ago and we had to be there at 3 am to catch it.  Dad said it was called the milk run because it stopped at every little town along the way, so it took a while. 

Every time  I visit the United Kingdom, <grins>  I ride the train so I can enjoy the  scenery rather than driving and missing neat things.  Once, I saw a canal lined with small house boats. I love buying a rail pass and just go where the mood takes me.
Steam Locomotive, Snow, Winter, RailwayAlaska has a nice railroad service from Anchorage to Fairbanks but I've never ridden it because the cost during peak season rivals a plane ticket to California.  Its less during the off season but I'm usually not around to take advantage of it.

In the meantime, I make due riding a steam engine that runs in Fairbanks a few times a year.  Its not a long ride but the engine is special.  It used to run way back at the turn of the 1900's when Fairbanks was first established.  The engine ran out to some of the outlying gold camps.

Steam Locomotive, Smoke, RailwayThe train group in town, found it in need of repair, so they bought it, repaired it and now they run it on the tracks around in Fairbanks.  I know one of the guys in the group so when I hear it is going to run, I put on one of my steampunk outfits,  proper Victorian shoes, grab a walking stick and then go ride on the train in style.

I should tell you that I usually change once I hit the parking lot because it is kind of hard managing a clutch and a stick shift in long petticoats and skirts and various other things while driving a pick up. so I change in the parking lot, go have fun and then strip when I get back to the parking lot.  No, I don't show anything as I usually have a tank-top and shorts on so I'm not giving anyone a show......LOL.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Caribbean, Sea, Beach, Holiday, BankWhen I was about 14, there was a guy down the street who was building a trimaran in his back yard.  He had dreams of taking his family on a trip across the pacific and down to places like Samoa, Tahiti, or Yap.

My dad would watch him work on the boat, at little at a time.  I think when we moved into the area, the guy had most of the shell finished but not quite all of it.

Margarita Island, Sunset, BoatAround then, my dad started talking about building a ferro cement boat so we could sail into the sunset towards the pacific islands of Robert Louis Stevenson's life.  He had just finished his English degree while working at Sears full time so he could have a better future for us.

When he first mentioned building a boat out of cement, I could not picture that. At 14, all I knew was that cement was used to put around people's feet when the mob wanted to get rid of someone permanently or it was used in patios.  It honestly blew my mind.

My dad took time to talk about how the boat is built in such a way as to distribute the weight so the boat actually floated.  I even remember my dad going to the book store (this was before online places) to order books on the topic.

Boat, Anchor, Tropical, Water, ChainI think he envisioned us following the stars and stopping at various places to experience all that life and paradise could offer.  I don't know why dad never pursued this particular dream but it was one he had for a couple of years before we moved again.
Lake, Boats, Water, Sailing Boat, Blue

Dad never got the boat of his dreams built and I honestly don't know if the neighbor ever finished his boat.  My sister is the one who bought a lovely sailing boat that she and her husband regularly take out.  She talks about when they retire, selling off their house and heading out into the sunset.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wacky boats

Sea, Browse, Boat, Landscape, CalmYesterday, I wrote of my father's dream to build a boat out of cement.  Still sounds absolutely crazy to me but after a bit of research on the internet, it is done frequently but apparently the quality of the boats vary according to who makes it.  It looks like a regular boat.

Art, Attachment, Background, Boat, ChildThe other day, I was watching reruns of MythBusters and they were building a boat out of ice and newspapers based on a proposal from World War II to build ships from wood pulp or sawdust and water.  It was awesome watching them build it.  It was quite successful and it actually worked! Well for a little while.  It seems that if you have a boat of ice in water, even cold water, it will melt due to the temperature differences.

Tub, Palio, Race, River, Water, RemoAfter another quick search, found a place that discussed strange materials used to build ships.  
How about boats made out of giant pumpkins?  You read that right!  Its a local event in Maine among other places that have pumpkin boat races.

Fishing Boat, Denmark, Beach, SeaThen there were two guys who built a boat out of plastic soda bottles.  They sailed it 530 miles around Europe so it must have been seaworthy.

Finally is a viking style boat made of 15 million Popsicle sticks but after a bit more research, turns out the Popsicle sticks are only a covering the boat.  That is rather disappointing as I'd love to see a real boat made out of Popsicle sticks.  Geez.  Talk about misleading. 

Ohhh well.  I'm off to enjoy the sun with a bike ride. 


Squirrel, Moose, Animals, AntlerYou all know the moose!  You grew up watching him both on tele and in the movie theater.  He and his flying squirrel friend entertained us along with the nasty Russians.

It seems as if many of us have our first encounter with certain animals from watching cartoons or movies.  The animals make us laugh, make us cry, make us wish they were real.

Moose, Animal, Mammal, SwedenWell, in my case I've learned you really do not want to meet a moose in real life.  The first time I saw a moose was at night in Anchorage.  It was standing on a street corner and my first thought was simply "That is ugliest cow I've ever seen!"

It wasn't until I got home, that I found out I'd seen my first moose.  Moose can be rather aggressive if you catch them on the wrong day or they have a little one with them.  I was answering the phone one time at a school and I got a call from a mother, telling me her child would be a bit late to school because the child opened the door and came face to face with a moose.  She closed the door, called mom who called the school to excuse her tardy.

Bull Moose, Antlers, Moose, MaleYes finding a moose on your front porch is considered a valid reason to be tardy along with a blizzard, etc.  Moose can attack and kill people so when Alaskan's see a moose, they exercise caution and head the other way.

Sidenote:  Moose droppings are nice and compact.  They resemble pecans in the shell.  There are several enterprising individuals who collect, process, and then sell moose droppings to people as moose nuggets.  They are made into earrings, necklaces, etc  and look like nuts.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Reindeer pt 2.

 Remember when I told you that reindeer are not that big?  The other day I stopped by the university and took these two pictures of reindeer in their cages.  I am about  5 ft 6 and I held the camera level to my eyes.

I did crop the photos so you could get a better view of the reindeer.  They have horns growing and off on the right side is a baby who was probably born within the past two months.
The first time I remember hearing about reindeer was when my father read us "Twas the night before Christmas."  Then I saw that special on the tele about Rudolph.  Because of those two things, I honestly thought reindeer were much bigger and intimidating if they could pull Santa and the sled filled with all those toys.

I knew there was magic involved because the only creatures that could fly without magic were either certain types of dinosaurs or birds.  It wasn't until my first Christmas in Alaska that I got to see my first reindeer in person and I was shocked.  They were just a bit taller than waist high and it was rather disappointing.

Ohhh well, they have a reputation that makes them bigger than life and even today I love watching Rudolph the red nosed reindeer when it is shown on tele and I still enjoy reading "Twas the night before Christmas".  I can still suspend my disbelief to be a kid again.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Tribute to my Dad.

Aircraft Carrier, Ship, Naval, MilitaryI would like to thank all those who help protect our country now and in the past.  My father is a veteran who fought in World War II and the Korean War.  He served as a naval medic on board ship in the Pacific Ocean during World War II and just off the coast of Korea during the Korean War.

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Sky, Clouds, PortThe following stories might make you a bit uncomfortable but these are the few stories he has shared with us while we grew up.  My father was older when he met and married my mom. When I was growing up,  my father seldom spoke about his experiences.

 When I was around 10 or 11, my father finally decided to quit smoking.  It wasn't until many years later that he told us the reason he took up smoking. He started smoking because the stench in the hospital wards were so bad, you could taste it.  The smoking helped tolerate the situation.

Another time, he told us one of the ships he was on was attacked by the Japanese and he had to go man a gun to shoot at them.  I don't know if he hit anything. That is really the only time he spoke of actively being attacked. 

Aircraft Launch, Aircraft Carrier, ShipThe last story he told was when he was working on an aircraft carrier and a plane tried to land on the deck.  The plane bounced at the wrong moment and missed the catch wire.  At that point the pilot apparently gunned the engine while a bunch of people were running to take cover and the plane managed to get enough power to get over the back netting and was able to do another go round before landing properly.

Those are the only stories I've ever heard from my dad concerning the two wars he served in.  I realize from a couple things my mother said that my dad came back from war with some issues.  He's adjusted and done well in life.  In fact, when I took he and my mother to Hawaii four year ago, we went to the zoo.  That day was special because they were letting vets in for free.  My dad combed through his wallet twice before finding a dog-eared and ragged card that stated he had served in the Navy and was honorably discharged.

Thanks to my dad who is now 91 and all the others who have laid their lives on the line for our country be it in the Pacific, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, or any where else in the world.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Polar Bears: Have You Ever Seen One in the Wild?

Polar Bear, Bear, Animal World, Sweet  I have! I've seen polar bears both alive and dead in the wild.  Now before you get upset, I'll explain in this post the circumstances for both.  Before, I moved to Alaska, I'd seen a polar bear in captivity in the zoo.  You know, those enclosures to protect visitors with a drop between you and the bear so you can't get in and they can't get out.

Polar Bear, Ice Bear, Bear, Scarf, Toy The other times I've seen polar bears are either in animated films where the bears have a personality or stuffed on a shelf in the toy department. Both are very cute and adorable and no way true to real life.

The first time I saw a polar bear in the wild was way out in the Bering Straits, on some ice that was flowing south, much like you see in the picture to the lower right.  The ice was about half a mile out and you could see the polar bear running and jumping from slab to slab. I think the bear was going north a bit faster than the flow of the ice.  It was quite a sight.

Bear, Polar, Ice, Floating, ArcticThe next time I saw a polar bear it was dead.  It was thanksgiving morning, rather early, when someone spotted a polar bear prowling by the school.  Apparently this man called another man who threw on his clothing and shoes, rushed out barely dressed with rifle in hand.  He had to shoot the bear because it posed a danger to the children and people on the island.

We were all sad that the animal had to be killed but someone said the bear was old and sick with nothing in its stomach.  According to the guys, the bear was waiting to die.  They were also glad that school was not in session because the kids would have been out and in serious danger.

When you go to the zoo next, enjoy watching the bears and other animals. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Reindeer pt 1

Santa, Claus, Christmas, ReindeerAround Christmas time, there are movies and songs talking about Rudolph the Red nosed reindeer who leads Santa and the other reindeer across the sky to deliver Christmas presents.

Finland, Reindeer, Animal, Winter, SnowIt is a picture, we all grew up with but unless you've seen one in real life you have no idea of how small they really are.  You read that right!  Small is how I would describe them.

Reindeer, Snow, Frost, Walking, WinterThey aren't that much bigger than a pony.  The only ones I've seen are maybe waist height on me.

Many years ago, reindeer were imported to Alaska during the last part of the 1800's and the early 1900's for a variety in uses.  In fact, when gold was  discovered in Nome, reindeer were for food and for hauling sleds for miners.  There was even a postal route which used reindeer instead of dogs because the reindeer could forage while food had to be carried for the dogs.
Reindeer, Finland, Animal, Nature
Last time I was in Nome, there was a reindeer who loved riding in the back of a truck and is well known around town.  I never found out if it was a male or female reindeer but it looked cute in the back of the pickup.

On the other hand, if you ever get to Fairbanks, Alaska, you can see a bunch of reindeer on the main campus.  As you take the Parks Highway south from Geist road, the on-ramp curves around the university campus giving you a prime view of the reindeer.  Just remember, they may look larger than life but if you ever run into one, it will be quite small maybe no more than chest height.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The pinacle of a year in the life of a high school student.

In many places in the United States, the end of the school year brings the biggest social event of the
year.  An event that turns the high school gym, cafeteria or multipurpose room into dream land, a place where girls and boys  show themselves to be sharp dressers of the movies for the night.

Its almost a rite of spring and of being a teenager since so many youngsters I know, love the prom.

In larger places students might have the prom at a hotel,  or in the mezzanine of the school auditorium or perhaps even at a fancy place in town.  In small places, there are not that many choices.

I had the pleasure of attending the prom at a small school in Alaska this year.   They converted the
cafeteria into a beautiful dream for those who came.  The boys borrowed suits from their dads, uncles, older brothers or cousins and often paired them with their basketball shoes.

  I ended up doing 5 or 6 ties for the young men who had not learned to tie their own ties.  Most people out there never wear ties except to the prom or graduation.

The girls ordered in their gowns from Amazon, E-bay, or had family members from Anchorage send them something.  A few girls borrowed gowns from others.  I grinned a lot watching the girls in their too large high heels, clumping around the room scared to venture out by themselves and yet proud of how they looked.

For a town of about 1000 people, the girls all managed to find someone to do their hair, help them dress and let them live their dreams of being sexy and the boys, some of whom never wear anything other than hoodies and jeans, turned out in their best.

This was the night when the boys looked like they stepped off the cover of GQ, while the girls could have strutted their stuff in Seventeen magazine.  All in all, they lived their dreams this one night of the year and came away with memories to last them a life time.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Land of the midnight sun and myths

Taken May 9, 11:30 PM
I currently live and work in the largest state of the union.  No it is not Texas, it is Alaska.  Alaska actually is much bigger than Texas.  When people hear I live in Alaska, I hear "oh yes you have 6 months of light and 6 months of darkness!"  My response is "What do you think we do?  Hire someone to turn the sun off for 6 months?"

I'm far enough south that even in winter, I have about 6 hours of daylight and in the summer,  it never gets fully dark because the sun does not go far enough below the horizon.  It is more like a dusky twilight look.

Kenai River, Fishing, Boat, Alaska
Summers are fun when you get light most of the time from around the end of April to September or so but it also depends on what part of Alaska you live in.  If you are down by Sitka, they get less light than if you are up in Barrow in the summer.

Denali National Park, Alaska, Winter
In the winter, you have to be above the Arctic circle to get the extremely long nights.  To get the super long nights or total darkness for 24 hours, the sun has to get 6 degrees below the horizon to get full dark.  If you are just above the Arctic circle, you can still have one hour of sunlight per day from the light rays peeking over the horizon. 

Even in Barrow, they do not get 6 months of darkness.  They only get about 2 months where they don't see the sun at all.

Moon, Mountain, Alaska, Winter, SnowNo we don't live in igloos.   The only igloos I've seen have been those made during cultural heritage week.  Igloos are actually an emergency building used as needed but not lived in for a whole winter.  Hunters and travelers have also made emergency buildings out of snow.

One of the coolest things about winter is seeing a moon that is almost as bright as the sun on some days.  Yes, there are times when both the sun and the moon are out at the same time.  It is also cool watching the moon circle above the horizon .

The joke up here is that Alaska's state bird is the mosquito.  I hope everyone is enjoying their spring/summer. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Take me away!

Bathtub, Bath, Bathe, Shower, SilhouetteYears ago there was a commercial that showed a harassed woman who was going crazy, hair flying wild, demanding that so and so take her away.  She is shown whisked away to a tropical beach.  The idea is that you can use this product in a bath tub and it is like being in paradise.

Classroom, School, Desk, Chair, Class
My neighbor leaned over to me last night at a meeting and told me she was ready to run away to Hawaii to get away from it all.  She was tired of being responsible, tired of helping family members handle their problems and tired of going to various conferences and taking classes.

She desperately needs break so she asked for hotel and activity suggestions for the beginning of June.  Another friend is upset cause her husband decided they should go to Las Vegas this summer. To quote her, Las Vegas is so "ordinary".  She said her husband was tired of going to Hawaii.

White Temple, Chiang Rai, ThailandShe grinned. "I suggested we go to Hawaii, then on to Thailand!"  because his dad lives there.  He said it was too far.  I have an open invite to go visit his dad in Thailand.   We used to work together before he retired to Thailand to be with a lovely lady.

I can tell you for certain that soaking in a bath tub covered in bubbles is not my way of escaping hassles of daily life.  I have other ways of doing it......LOL.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Desperate for spring

Apple, Tree, Fruit, FoodSome years, when winter won't release its icy hold, when spring is reluctant to make an appearance, I get desperate.  I am taking the gotta have it desperation of a drug addict except my addiction is of the earth.  I hit a point when the white is too overwhelming.  The sky is still gray or overcast, the ground is white and it just won't warm up.

At this point I pull out a couple of gardening DVD's.  Yes you read that right.  I have a DVD on growing perennials, one on gardening in general, planting an orchid and I just got one on growing herbs.  These are filled with greenery galore:  flowers, vegetables, fruits, and all sorts of things to make you feel as if you have run away to wonderland.

Flowers, Purple, Bl├╝tenmeerI love gardening.  I love raising vegetables.  I love having fresh flowers flowing in between the trees, vegetables and herbs.  I would classify my style as flowing rather than precisely neat. I don't grow plants in rows, I don't have plants arranged from short to tall.  I just plant them wherever and allow things to just fit where I can put them.

Red Cabbage, Kohl, Violet, Blue, Food
The DVD's take me away from the reality of a depressingly long winter to a future of a bright spring that will eventually come but tends to be slow.  Right now, the weather is overcast and rainy instead of being warm and sunny.  It is not spring, it is mud, mud, and more mud.

In three days I am off to a place with trees, green, and even a farmers market which to me is Paradise.....LOL

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sledding down hills on what?????????

When someone talks about sledding, what do you think of?  Do you picture kids going down a snow covered hill on a sunny afternoon.

Sled, Skid, Tobogganing, Sports, WinterOr do you fondly remember the rushing down  the hill as fast as you could, the wind blowing in your face and you holding your breath hoping you wouldn't fall off?

You know, it does not snow everywhere.  There are lots of places where it only snows once every 10 or 12 years or high up on the mountain but never down on the lower elevations.  Never!

Pimp My Sleigh, The Vehicle, MountedI visited a museum in Honolulu a couple years ago and I was amazed.  Apparently, the Hawaiians built sleds of some sort so they could fly down a specially prepared slope just like you do on a snowy hill.  That just took my breath away.

I could not believe going down a hill!  Without snow!  It was awesome. They prepared the slope by setting down a foundation, covering it with dirt or soil and then topping it off with grass or leaves.  The sled was quite narrow so it required a level of skill to use. 

Mud, Rain, Puddle, Dirty, Fun MuddyW hen I was a child, we slid down hills by finding the gully just after a rain storm and using the mud to propel us.  After a single trip, I was usually covered head to toe in mud but I never stopped after one time.  I usually continued until I was cold, dripping, and looking like a walking muddy Pigpen from Peanuts.  My mother usually hosed me off when I got home.  She refused to let anyone in with that amount of mud on them!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The aurora borealis

Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights, GreenOver the years, I've had the pleasure of watching the auroral displays that flash across the night sky. The lights appear to be alive, jumping and dancing around, seldom standing still.

The color I've seen most often is green.  light green to dark green but green.  Someone I know has this statement at the end of his e-mails.  "Alaska, where the ground is white and the sky is green".....LOL.

Alaska, Aurora Borealis, Northern LightsOne night, after a lovely steam at a friends house, I spotted an auroral display. The lights looked very much like those in the picture to the left.  The lights sometimes remind me of that game children play "cracking the whip!"

Northern Lights, Sweden, LaplandOne time, around 9 PM, a neighbor came over to get us.  The display outside was so different than usual. The whole auroral display was of pinks and purples with absolutely no green.  None!

We watched the lights swirl and dance across the sky!  They spun and rippled, bowed and paused, moved here and there.  So  alive!  I could almost picture the lights as a living creature.

I have never seen a display in that color since then but hope to see it one day again.  Green is normal but pink is a treat and a joy.  Did you know that people believe that if you whistle when you see the aurora, it will dance to your whistling?