Friday, May 24, 2013

More birds.

More bird stuff around here ;)

With the crazy weather we had this May, Alaska (and probably other places I'm sure) experienced what they call a "fallout", where a lot of the birds that would normally fly right over our area during migration, ended up taking a break from the weather and stopping over here.  It was crazy for a little while!  There were birds everywhere.  And they were acting crazy.  Our house was overtaken by the little woodland birds because they had nothing to eat.  At first it was interesting and kind-of fun, but after a few days it almost felt like a rat invasion.  And they were smoking through the bird feed and stealing all the chickens food ....  Anyway, if you are interested in birds at all, this is an interesting article about it.

:: getting a "birding" lesson from our local expert and neighbor :: 
:: May 13th.  New Snow :( ::

:: Sparrow invasion during the "fallout" ::

:: The two baby chickens and six baby ducklings from Grama's classroom hatching ::
On Tuesday, we went to the school and picked out our baby ducklings.  I had only planned to bring home four, but they were all so cute and different!  We ended up with six :)  Let me see if I can name the ones above, from left to right ... Moses (all black), Katniss (the chick in the front looking at the camera), Perry, Sunny (Sunnie, should we name it Sunny or Sunnie??), Bravery (the light chicken in the back), Alice, unnamed for Bry to name when he gets home, and Leggings. :)

:: "Leggings" -- notice his pants and orange shoes? ::

:: Letting the ducklings explore and go for a little dip ::

Friday, May 17, 2013

Chickens & Eggs.

Some documentation of our first eggs from the chickens and picking out a few baby chicks to bring home from the eggs that Grama hatched in her 5th grade classroom .....





:: First egg from Gold Nugget ::
:: Beautiful color. :: 
:: Picking out their chicks at Grama's classroom. ::

:: Look at that dark puff ball!  Irresistible. ::

:: the three newbies ::
:: a favorite ::

P.S. She hatches ducks next week ... stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ultima Thule Photo Album.

I tried to whittle it down to my favorite photos from our short trip last week and this is what I ended up with. 
It's a lot, I know.
We had such a wonderful time though.  Our first real taste of summer warmth, including Tell's first mosquito bites of the year.  Although we did get new snow here at home yesterday :(
Ultima Thule is a remote, family-owned and run, fly-in lodge essentially just on the other side of the mountains from us.  It was our first time visiting there after years of wanting to.  
One of my favorite parts of being out there was being off the grid for a couple days.  It was really refreshing to be without cell phones (they don't have cell reception or a land line, only sat phones) and the computer.   
The people we were around were awesome.  So friendly, super interesting, and incredibly welcoming to our kids, which they don't get young ones out there very often.
The reason we went out there was for a Geo-Caching event that they do with bush planes.  Each plane has a team of one pilot and one "spotter".  On the first day each team is given six hard-boiled eggs and six hours to go hide them within a 25-mile radius, the idea being to find interesting places to explore and land the airplanes.  At the end of the day they compile a spreadsheet with the GPS location of all the eggs.  The next day they are given seven hours to go out and locate as many of the other teams' eggs as possible.  They have to land in order to identify actually locate the egg and identify a unique code written on the egg.  It's a super cool event and both Bry and Johnny really enjoyed it.  

Jo and I spent both days at the lodge with the kids exploring the grounds and area.  Pretty much we enjoyed the sunshine, being outside, watching the kids throw rocks, and no housework.  Perfect.

So thankful the weather cooperated and everything worked out.  I start to get real selfish of these last few days in May for family time ... Oh, and did I mention that Bry's team won?  :) 

:: kids and I in the back of the Cub on the way out.  Cozy :) ::

:: Tell testing out the controls ... literally.  He pushed and pulled everything within reach.  Turkey. ::

:: A couple photos Bry took while out hiding eggs.  Some incredible places. ::


:: Out of order, but Ever in the front seat with Papa on the flight home. Look at that scenery. ::
:: Enjoying the view and sun before Papa headed out to hide eggs. ::

:: Down the hill to the airstrip to send their Papa's off. ::

:: Bry's partner, Kevin, an avid ice climber, showing the kids his gear.  They get serious about hiding these eggs :)  A couple teams even headed out with skis too. ::


:: Jo and I took the kids down to check out the Chitina River and hunt for rocks. ::

:: No running water yet, things were still frozen up.  This was the incredible, although simple, bath house/sauna.  One pot of hot, one bucket of cold, a pot to scoop it with, and a sink to hold it in.  I'd like a replica of this little retreat at my place. ::

:: The cozy cabin we shared. ::

:: Cousins. Grass. Time. ::

:: Bare feet, super heroes, and trucks. A little one's summer plan? ::

:: Teams swapping stories and results on the return. ::

:: A full airstrip. ::

:: The kids loved this musk ox rug. So did I ; )  Who's scarier? ::

:: My Tell ::

:: Jo and I getting on the other side of the cameras ;) ::

:: Ever said she saw "A hundred sheep!" on the way home. ::

:: Interesting spring remnants of summer waterfall/winter ice. ::

:: One of Alaska's many beautiful braided rivers. ::

:: Castle Mountain.  My photos did these mountains no justice.  Breathtaking.... ::

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Flying Things -- Planes, Ducks, Chickens ... Words.

We had a wonderful week around here leading up to Mother's Day.  On Wednesday we took a trip to Ultima Thule Lodge, which I think I will give a post of it's own in the next day or two.  I got quite a few fun pictures to share of our time there and the beautiful flight home.

Yesterday the kids and I drove to Valdez for the annual air show.  This year Bry and Johnny decided to compete in the take-off and landing competition and it's almost always (weather depending) a fun little event to check out.  Not to mention the drive to Valdez is one of my favorites in the entire state.  The kids loved driving through "Waterfall (Keystone) Canyon".  Even Tell caught on to spotting the waterfalls; some running, some frozen.  The guys didn't do as well as they would've liked in the competition, but it was really fun watching them.  Plus the kids got some cousin time in too :)


:: the crew standing in front of the Otter at Ultima Thule ::

:: photo of the grounds taken as we flew home ::

:: stopped at McCarthy for fuel ::

:: Bry & Johnny headed to their planes for the Valdez Airshow STOL competition ::

:: Grama took Ever to get her face painted at the airshow ::

:: Another kinda cold, rainy Valdez airshow ::
Every year around this time when the snow melts, the land in front of the house temporarily floods making timely ponds that we sometimes get to spot ducks in.  The water usually disappears within a week or so, but this year there is more water than usual.  It's so lovely.  On Saturday we woke up to a dozen geese in the yard and at least that many ducks swimming over in the "lake".  Every year it makes me want to make a man-made pond of some sort .... dreams.  Bry says there's about 40 ducks out there right now.  So fun.

Today, as a bit of a Mother's Day treat, we went and picked out three hens from a local farmer that is getting rid of his birds.  They are about one year old and should be laying as soon as they recover from the shock of the move.  Right now they are staying in the duck house until we can build them a proper coop.  Cross your fingers that they like it here :)

The last flying object -- words :(  Today, I got in my first "facebook fight" with some stranger from Anchorage that I share a mutual friend with.  I don't know this person at all, but couldn't resist to respond on her bashing of the patriotic display of eagles around Alaska.  I thought twice about writing anything, and then my pride got the best of me.  Say what you like about political parties, I'm well aware that practically 1 out of every 2 people will disagree on that.  But don't talk bad about veterans.  
And that's pretty much all I said, that as a veteran's daughter I always feel pride when I see an eagle sticker on anything.  Within two comments the lady was calling me choice words, it was really incredible.  It was the first time I'd experienced that kind of hatred in a very long time.  Probably since I was in college.  It has really bothered me so much all day and I'm hoping it's therapeutic for me to put it in words.  That said, I've resolved to take a slight step back from social media.  I was kind-of feeling like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram were causing me to spend more money than I usually would anyway.  So it's a good thing.  I'm not calling them off completely, but I think checking in only once a week might be a good place to start.  I don't need to bring that kind-of negative into my home...

And last, but definitely not least. 

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

To all of you Mom's, but most especially to my own, whom I miss every day and can't wait to see.  Hopefully this fall ....


:: lots of ducks in our "temporary" lake out front ::

:: Ever welcoming the ladies to their new home ::

Monday, May 6, 2013

Turnip.

Just a little note that at 17 weeks, baby is about as big as a turnip :)
xo


Friday, May 3, 2013

USS Anchorage or Bust .... Busted.

Well, our trip to Anchorage didn't go quite as planned.  We weren't able to find out whether the baby was a boy or girl, but we did get to hear it's heartbeat!  And, or course, see how much weight I - I mean the baby :)  -- has gained ....

We had hoped to get a tour of the USS Anchorage that is being commissioned in Anchorage this week.  They call it an 'amphibious transport dock'.  Such an unusual and historic event for up here.  Unfortunately, it was just far too limited for the amount  of Alaskans hoping to get a peak of such an awesome ship.  We went and stood in a very long line for about 5 minutes when we realized that we would be there until midnight and still would have the 3.5 hour drive home.  People waited in line 3.5 hours before they even got on the shuttle bus to take them to the ship!  And only 150 people were allowed on the ship at one time, so I'm sure there was more waiting to be done after that.  Apparently Alaska has the highest number of veterans per capita and the ship was only here half the number of days that it was originally scheduled.  Only 2 days of public tours for essentially a whole state is asking a lot.  I sure hope some of those vets were able to get on board.  Virtual tours are online at: http://ussanchoragenavy.com/

Bry and I were super disappointed, the kids of course didn't really know what was even going on.  I asked Bry if we could at least try to find a place where we could get a good view of the ship, unfortunately that wasn't possible either.  The ship was tucked back away behind Government Hill and we had to turn around at a gate where you needed ID.  Shoot.  Another time I suppose.  A cool event up here anyway....

{Photo from adn.com}