Start your engines! We did one weekend when we were staying in Houston took the small trek into Palmer to watch some NASCAR action. It was another fun night of fitting in with the locals. Of course, I had to buy a shirt. The racetrack is Alaska Raceway Park they also have a drag strip and we decided not to come back the next day to see them race. Intermission brought the kids out to race with their toys.
We saw two fender benders but not any great crashes. Enjoy the video and slideshow.
People you meet. I have been craving WISCONSIN cheese curds for a few months who would have thunk I would have to come to Alaska to get some. You know with me there is always a back story to how I get the things I get. Here it is.
Having the chair, I was able to run rampant, at the air show. (I see new wheels in my future.) I’m headed down the flight line and I see a booth selling real Wisconsin Cheese curds. (You can find them on Facebook.) I’m from there so I had to investigate. Danielle was cute and very helpful. I asked were they for real and why here in Alaska. She explained that her SO had moved up to Sterling Alaska and she followed with cheese curds in tow. I guess there was no good cheese in Alaska. That is how it started and now they do local events and serve deep fried cheese curds. I put on my sad face because deep fried cheese curds are not the same. Danielle said that they only bring frozen cheese curds to big events for sale purposes, they do have fresh curds at the Soldotna Wednesday markets. So, I get all sad and say that’s ok. After some more banter about cheese curds. I was able to get a little more than a pound of frozen cheese curds. They have thawed and I am now squeaking to my heart’s content
Today started with Roy and I meeting one of the campers in the park we are staying at (Three Bears, Trapper Creek AK). Roy had helped them when they had checked in with some questions about the area. We got to talking and gave them some ideas on what to do in Fairbanks because that is the next place they will be. The woman kept calling us her ‘Angels of Life’.
Being a chair user and having MS you just know things. That is what happened today. We stopped at Alaska Birch Syrup and Wild Harvest Products on are way to Talkeetna. The shop is cute with lots of free samples. I’m in the store and I look over and see a woman with a walker, (she has that MS stance). I didn’t want to go up to her and ask how long she has had MS because that is strange. Long story short. We did start talking and I said something like I’m not drunk it’s MS. She goes I have MS very small world. We traded the dates of our diagnosis and how we were getting along. It was something I think I needed today to help me realize I’m not the only one. They leave and I make my purchases and leave. So off to Talkeetna we head. The town has a cat for the mayor, so it has to be cool.
We find a parking spot (which was hard to find), I see that there are ramps into some of the stores. I have been so good this trip about shopping. I fell off the wagon I had to go shopping. So back in the chair, paved bike/people lane and I was good to go. Driving up and down the street who do I see, but my MS buddy. So, we chatted some more and enjoyed each other company. She also has just started using a chair and agrees with me it is bittersweet. You get a little more freedom to go more places, but it is with the need of some motorized device. You lose some freedom to do it yourself.
Today was also a day of just talking to people. (I knew I should have written his name down) At the end of the street there are tents set up flea market style, I see a photography tent. I make an effort to talk to photographers who sell their work, either to get some pointers or let them know I enjoy their work. We sat and talked about why photos sell, what photo sells. Inspiration. I was able to share one of my baby birds phots from Ninilchik. That is when he brought up getting a little burned out because he seems to sell the same photos over and over. So, he had been itching for photo field trip. Although, he said he doesn’t like to shoot in the summer. He just does not like the colors plus he sells his works to tourists. He did say he might have to go down and see for himself. He thanked me for stopping in and talking to him, this made part of my day.
Just on a side note those ramps that looked handicap accessible were not all that accessible. I will give them an E for effort. I do have to say the one store I stopped at that had a ramp but had a lip my chair would not get over to get in the store the owner was very helpful in bringing the things to me.
Every once in a while, you have to take the day and just meet people. Slow down and reflect. See how they touch you and how you touch them.
We were at the Artic Thunder Air Show at JBER (Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson) on Sunday July 31st. I am going through the pictures, and I have to share this slideshow of the Thunderbirds. They were the closing act. I did not know that they are an elite flying group rich with history. I will say that my camera work was a little shaky. The action was so fast and everywhere.
From start to finish the whole experience was choreographed down to the landing. We were not close enough to see the precision routine of getting into the plane. I was a tad bummed until they started the performance, and we were front row center.
I have to preface the coming posts. Yes, we are in Alaska and that means the internet and wi-fi connects are like 1999. With that said, I am not sure when the picture posts will return. I am hoping in Fairbanks.
Look at the bright side it will give me time to edit some more photos
I was finally able to get to the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center Here is also the Facebook page. I had been here before in 2017 but did not want to walk around the museum or do the boardwalk. So, this is another time that my chair allowed me to enjoy something I could not do before. I was also impressed that we had a sunny day to do this.
I grabbed the camera and got in the chair, went down to the main floor and headed out to the trail to get to the boardwalk and maybe even get a sandhill crane picture. Needless to say, that plan did not work. But more on that later. I can find more than one way to skin a cat. I headed back to the center before I got to stuck. I was able to talk to a park ranger about the trail and the bad gravel. She was interested because they do say that the trail is handicap accessible. I might have created a project for the youth conservation corp. She gave me a work around where I could get on the board walk, which I did do.
I first decided to go through the museum that was there. Interesting how depended we are on the sea and the variety of wildlife in the water. There is a room that is dark and has movie screens with a bunch of birds flying around landing on rocks. It gives you a feeling of being out at sea and seeing all of these birds.
I was able to listen to an Indigenous trapper talk about his family and how they trap foxes although with the decrease in Canadian Geese the foxes are also decreasing. (This was one of those motion activated recordings.)
They have a research vessel the Tiglax. They travel the Aleutians and gather information on sea life and climate. It was interesting to be able to go through the museum and enjoy it. I am enjoying the freedom this trip because of the chair. Now back to the boardwalk.
As I tried to get to the boardwalk from the visitors center, I ran into a curve that had too much gravel and did not attempt. So, back to the car and three left turns later we get to a level gravel area that will take me to the boardwalk.
My first thought was not more stones. These stones were ok though, I am loving hard packed rocks. I was a tad concerned about get up any lip that might be on the boardwalk. Thank goodness it was only a little lip. I motored my way up as far as I could go, then turned around and saw a few good landscape photos. I even saw a sandhill crane. It was a little breezy, but it felt good to get that close to the wetlands.
I think I will begin to follow the advice I found on this sign. It is strange how different things look at ground level. We drove over the wetlands every time we went to Homer, from the viewpoint on the bridge it looked small. At ground level it looks vast.
I wasn’t able to get to the beach, so we decided to drive down to the beach and explore old town Homer. I want to share this piece of art that we came across.
This trip has been amazing, and I am enjoying sharing these adventures with you. Sitting in Houston AK this week with the raining weather has helped me to catch up on the adventure.
Dip netting. (I borrowed this video from YouTube). I did not have a drone to capture the massive amount of people. They were close together and it made me wonder how the salmon chose which net to get caught in.
The fact that dip netting is only open to Alaskans is amazing and good. It is called Subsistence Fishing this allows for Alaskans to fill their freezers for the winter. Here is a link to the permits required. We went to the Kasilof River on July 9th to experience the sight of salmon getting entrapped in a net. It was so overcrowded they were even parking under signs that said no parking anytime.
It is interesting to learn that a permit is required and that you have to clip off the end tips of the tail this is to distinguish the fish that were gotten during dip netting and the ones caught with rod n reel. (Which has been hard to do this week July 17th too much rain means swollen rivers). Speaking of rain this is why I am catching up on blogs and photos. We extended on the Kenai to maybe get a few more pictures. We’ve gotten rain and a few less pictures. I got sidetracked back to better weather and the drive up the Peninsula.
We headed into Kenai so I could do some grocery shopping. Headed towards Kenai on the Sterling Highway was where I was treated to seeing two moose. Roy was able to enjoy also but they were on my side of the car. (So, I was closer.) The first one was just hanging around a dirt lane popping in and out of the tree line.
The second moose was just chewing and minding her own business along the side of the road. I took some pictures and we headed onward.
On we go to get me salad stuff which Roy struck out with Safeway. It was early yet so we decided to find out where the bear viewing boat trip left from so, we knew where we were going and how big the planes were. I was surprised at how rough the roads were getting out to the Alaska West Air, water terminal.
Sitting in the parking lot I got lucky and was able to catch a plane taking off. The taxi way is also the landing zone.
After a full day of travel, we almost found everything for my salads. Roy still had to pick up lettuce and some onions from Wal-Mart because Safeway didn’t have any. No onions but we were able to get fresh leaf lettuce and some farm fresh eggs. Roy pulled one of his favorite u-turns for a roadside stand that advertised fresh veggies.
The enjoyable thing about driving some of the backroads is you never know what good farm fresh things you’ll find.
One Great City. That is what Homer AK has been this trip. We found a nice day to head down to Homer Alaska we were hoping to find halibut hanging from the days catch. No such luck. We are not sure they even do that anymore. Well, when that didn’t work, we decided to dig out the transportation from the car and have lunch. Before lunch we wanted to figure out if Roy and I could take a bay tour and head over to Halibut Cove or Seldovia. Unfortunately, the answer was no. Partially because getting the wheelchair over the lip of the boat, and the fact that this time of year has the lowest tides, and it is a floating dock. (The lower the tide the steeper the incline.) Off to lunch, at Captain Pattie’s Fish House. This place and the boardwalks in Homer are very handicap accessible in a strange way. I say this because the sidewalks are wood slats but are close enough, I won’t get stuck, or tip on any ramps. Not that I’ve gotten stuck before. Lunch was good Roy had local razor clams and I had halibut.
I had a video appointment so that left Roy free to explore. When he came back to get me, he brought bad news Halibut Cove was also out due to the same tide issues. Side note is we both would have been seasick because of the size of the boat. It was so sweet that he would have gone with me even though he would have been sick. I did say this trip I was not buying more t-shirts so Roy heads me directly over to a shop with t-shirts. I had to buy it because it said Salmon Slut F/V. I haven’t been able to see if the fishing vessel is still fishing.
So, shopping done we were off to explore the docks. A visit to Homer is not complete without a visit to Salty Dawgs (this however is not handicap accessible). Although the gift store Salty Girls is which carries Salty Dog t-shirts. Speaking of that area of the dock we saw this halibut charter between
Salty Dawg and Salty Girls called ButtWhackers (not saying a word). Further down the dock we drove the chair and took a few pictures of the harbor.
It was a bright sunny slightly windy day on the Spit which treated us to some Parasurfers for lack of a better word.
A beach on the Cook Inlet side of the Spit had a few brave souls letting the wind catch their sails while standing on a surfboard. I thought letting the wind lift you out of the water might be exciting but also unnerving (I was watching and that is how I felt.
What we did do was drive around the spit and town taking pictures from the car. I had attended a camera club meeting where ‘bad weather photography’ was the subject. Who would have thunk I would use it. Check these photos.
Roy decided seeing I wasn’t doing my trek he said we needed some salmon, so we stopped at Salmon Sisters for sockeye salmon. This will be dinner in a few nights. Along with the fresh halibut I was able to talk one of our neighbors out of. They caught and cleaned it, Roy will cook it, and I will eat it.
So, driving through Homer we saw a bus named Sue and of course had to get a picture of it. The restaurant is an old double decker bus, and you can eat upstairs. It serves tacos.
Although we did not stop because we were on a mission to get wine. We discovered this little winery in 2017 on another trip to Homer. The restaurant I mentioned earlier that we said was now ok is where Roy was introduced to the wine. He tried a rhubarb chardonnay (Roy is not a big rhubarb fan.) So, we headed up to the winery making a long story short. He loved the wine and has received Christmas gifts from here. This stop was on his agenda this year and we made it back. I was also impressed he has now broadened his horizon to include pomegranate / raspberry wine and some others. The best part of the winery is the respect and help they give to Military and Veterans. They even have a parking spot reserved for Veterans right outside the door. So, Bear Creek winery is a must do stop when on the Kenai. Roy enjoyed the tasting room, and I got a t-shirt. If you are keeping track that is 3 t-shirts so far.
on camera. It is one of the things I have always wanted to capture, two eagles locking talons and falling through the sky. I’ve only seen this once and was not quick enough with my camera. There is such a wonder about how such a large bird can twist and turn while connected to another. Here is the photo I captured. This was taken with my long lens, and I cropped in quite a bit.
This happened on one of those trips when Roy said ‘you don’t know, if you don’t go’. We had just finished a fresh fish taco dinner, caught by Tom who we had met on the ferry. I need to mention the side of mosquitos were interesting. (I have a thermacell lantern that is making the trip with us next time.) I don’t brag or recommend a product but this one does work. Ok done with infomercial. The tacos weren’t any fish they were halibut smooth tasting fish not bad for someone who only sees from one side of its body. Tom’s place was cool because we ate in the garage which was two shipping containers and a truck trailer for walls. Just interesting and only in Alaska. So, after dinner we decided to visit my second favorite eagle spot. (First one is church and babies).
The spot where I took these photos from is what by a cliff this is where in the afternoon the eagles can catch the wind. Here is a page explaining how they catch the wind. This is also a spot where juveniles fake fight or sometimes real fight. Here are some of the pictures I took that night. I am hoping I get that opportunity to capture it this trip.