Monday, December 31, 2007

Peace out '07!

2007 has been a great year for me. Spent the last days tele skiing - thought my thighs may literally burst into flames on the last run of the year. Yeooowwww! Here are a few parting shots. Bring on '08!

Monday, December 17, 2007


My last posting was in August?? Wow. My bad. We're waiting for the snow to fall up here in the Last Frontier, so in the meantime, enjoy a few pics from this summer...going for a wildlife theme here:

One of the 13ish bears that Bree, Michael and I camped with near Pederson Lagoon. WAY too many bears for our liking. We ended up moving camp from a forested area littered with scat to a rock outcropping, where Bree and I proceeded to down some JD and catch some ZZZ's while poor Michael stayed up most of the night ready to defend our lair against these bruins.

Near our Pederson campsite, we spotted a lone coyote. We floated by on the tide as it took us up the stream to the glacier. This was an unexpected site! S/he just stood there and watched us float by.

Some sandhill cranes flying over Homer/Kachemak Bay. These guys loved the open meadows of lupine and fireweed and zig-zagged their honking way all around us.

And who doesn't like seeing a piggy otter (there are two crabs on his belly)?! You may need to click on the pic to see the crabs a little better.

And finally, my favorite wild thing:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Summer at the Green House

I spent a good part of this summer thinking about all the cool things I could do with my yard (garden, plant wildflowers, fence it in and call it "Wrigley's Field"). But summer up here is short, and although I did manage to "borrow" some lupine seeds from Andy's family's place in Homer and plant some rhubarb, I've got a ways to go. But this is a start, right?

Not to be Forgotten

I finally downloaded my pics from trip to Ketchikan (that I took in the spring...whoops). I was down there for a preliminary injunction hearing against Bruce Weyrauch's him, I dare ya. Anyway, old school Ketchikan is built up on stilts, which makes for fun pics. The rest of the residents use these handy wooden walkways to get from their 'hood to outside their 'hood. I know it's steep there, but really, who puts wooden walkways in a rain forest? (Yes, I know it's sunny in the pics, but Ketchikan gets a LOT of rain.)

29 Foot Beast

Ah, there she is, the 29 foot Beast. This is the rig the Wolter family scored when we called the RV rental place a little too late. It sleeps 8 adults. The Wolter fam = 4 adults. You do the math. I should've called MTV to film an episode of Cribs in this thing. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. Anyway, we rolled out of town (then back to get some stuff we forgot at my house, and then rolled out again) and made our way up to Denali. Denali itself (aka Mt. McKinley) is rarely visible since it's usually surrounded by a sea of clouds. But we managed to see it twice! Check it out (double click the pic - Denali looks like a massive cloud):

After a bit of hiking and bus-riding and backing the Beast into small campsites (well, small for a 29 foot Beast), we headed off to Valdez, via Thompson Pass. If you've not seen Thompson Pass, you MUST come visit me and we'll go. It's unbelievable. If you want pics, let me know and I'll send you the snapfish link to all the Wolter adventure pics, which include our ride through this heavenly pass. After arriving in Valdez, I conned the family into taking a kayak trip out to Columbia Glacier. I did not realize that this glacier, 3.5 miles wide and1900 feet tall (1000 feet above water, 900 feet below), is calving at the rate of 70 feet per day!! WHAT?! So we managed to get, oh...7 or 8 miles from the face of the glacier before getting totally stuck in house-sized icebergs (usually kayakers are to remain .25 miles from the face so they don't get squished by falling ice or massive waves resulting from falling ice). Not exactly what I'd had in mind, but how cool is this??! I think they're having fun:

Look, the sun can shine in Valdez!!
I think it's safe to say the fam will return for another round of Alaska, and if we score the Beast again, we'll have room for 4 more!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Broken Record

It's official. As of yesterday, I've seen 92 moose in 2007. No. 92 was standing in the Kenai River as I floated by trying to catch a damn fish (my fishing is not nearly as successful as my meese viewing). This surpasses my meese sightings in 2006 and means that I am only 8 measly meese away from my goal for the year!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wrangell-St. Elias

Since Mike was visiting from the Florida Keys (and soon to be an inhabitant of Yellowknife, NWT!!), I thought, "What better time to take some time off work and explore an unknown area??" So off we went to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. W-St. E. is the nation's largest National Park, yet only receives about 40,000 visitors a year (which is something like a tenth of what Denali sees). Four mountain ranges converge in the park, so you can only imagine the incredible views. I would recommend that everyone go see this place, but I do like that it's not maybe I won't recommend it.

We accessed the park via the "usual" route - the McCarthy Road, 60 miles of gravel road from Chitna to McCarthy. Expect washboards and potholes, but don't believe the tour books (they tell you to have two spare tires - the road isn't that bad, it's like the road to Child's Glacier and the Million Dollar Bridge outside of Cordova). And don't expect the ice cream store at mile 44.2 to be open. That was a disappointment. Anyway, we went to Kennecott Mine in Kennicott, Alaska (a clerical error led to the misspelling of the mine's name), and then took a hike up towards Bonanza Mine. We ran out of time and had to turn back around near tree line, but it's one heck of a hike with awesome views the whole way! Then we explored the town of McCarthy (Kennicott and McCarthy are about 5 miles apart, but you can't drive between them - a narrow footbridge is the only thing connecting the two over the raging Kennicott River), and that place surpasses Seward as my favorite Alaskan city. It's quaint, has tons of dogs, everyone knows each other (and the dogs), and sits in the most spectacular landscape I've ever seen. And it was sunny (and hot!) the entire time we were there. :) Two thumbs way up for W-St. E/Kennicott/McCarthy!

(I have pics, but will have to upload them later...)

The 2007 Harriman Expedition

In 1899, the first explorers (that I know of anyway) of what is now called Harriman Fiord saw glaciers, marine life, etc. Can't say much has changed since then in Harriman, except that the glaciers have drastically receded. Well, that, and we arrived via water taxi with our polypro and waterproof clothing, bear cans, and plastic kayaks. See?

Anyway, my friend, Mike, joined Val, Brent (together, Valent), Jenn, Alison, Ron, and myself for a 5 day trip. We spent our first night at Black Sands Beach, which allows campers to watch not one, not two, but THREE tidewater glaciers calve...all night. Coxe, Barry, and Cascade Glaciers put on quite a show for us (and the couple of black bears who joined us near camp). The second day (first full day) we were greeted by sunshine. Sun in Prince William Sound?!?! What a gorgeous day it was! We paddled past Serpentine Glacier (if anyone can tell me why/how it's covered in sediment, I'll buy you something really cool) and headed toward Surprise Glacier. That's when I snapped this photo:

After arriving at Toboggan Beach (our camp), I learned that Brent had proposed to Val (and she said YES!) just before this picture was taken. Not too shabby a place to get engaged, eh? (By the way, this was followed by a rainbow sighting, and two harbor porpoise, seals and sea otters swimming by!) A total surprise in front of Surprise Glacier...this called for a celebration! Congrats Valent!
Sometime that night the sun was again hidden by clouds and it rained the entire next day. Mike and I managed to get out for a wet, windy paddle. It's still fun to paddle in crappy weather...and then dry your stuff out near a fire. We had overcast skies, and even a little sun (no more rain!) the rest of the trip - perfect paddling conditions. I'll definitely be heading back to Harriman in the future.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mud Pie

A biking/camping trip in Denali in May = mud/snow/hail/sleet = good times! And you know what else equals good times? Try driving 4+ hours, setting up your tent in the rain, and then realizing that you'd forgotten to pack your sleeping bag. Doh!! Luckily, I have some super duper friends, and they were kind enough to loan me a bag while they cuddled up with one bag and a spare blanket. Let's just say no one really slept that well. We scored an extra sleeping bag the next day, though, so at least I didn't have to endure taunts much past the first morning. The biking was fantastic...if you were in the right mental state, i.e. crazy. I'd packed layers and was essentially waterproof, and turns out, that was enough to make the ride enjoyable. We rode about 10 miles uphill to Sable Pass Summit, took a lunch break in hail. Hail?! Yes, hail. Then the ride back was a total mud fest. This pic was taken on the way home. I like it b/c my teeth look really white as compared to the rest of me. :) Flossing does pay off! Anyway, if you ever get the chance to bike in Denali before the tourists arrive, go for it. Just remember your sleeping bag and your waterproof clothing!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Whale of a Time

I flew down to Juneau for the annual Alaska Coastal Management Program conference last week. I took it upon myself, as a steward of the environment and protector of all things coastal, to invite myself for a fishing and whale watching expedition on my friend's know, to check up on the coast and stuff. We just so happened to have some King salmon fishing gear aboard, and we just so happened to come across a feeding whale in the harbor. Although we didn't land any Kings (yet), we had a close encounter with a feeding humpback. While in about 15 feet of water we realized that we were atop a big ball of herring (i.e. whale food) and the whale was headed right for it. Quick math - 15 feet of water doesn't give much wiggle room if a whale is under the boat. While I was pretty excited about the prospect of being bumped by a whale (we were about 10 feet from shore), my friend, claiming he was protecting me...and his expensive fishing gear, started stomping on the bottom of the boat just in case the running engine wasn't enough to scare the whale away from us. We never got bumped, but I did snap this picture as the whale went on his merry herring-eating way.

After returning to Anchorage from Juneau, I decided to try out my backcountry tele skillz. Four of us hiked up Ptarmigan, in Anchorage's front range, and skied down some sweet soft corn. This was my second backcountry trip and it was infinitely better than my first experience. I'd like to think its because I improved, but since I hadn't actually skied at all between my two backcountry trips, I guess I can only thank the snow Gods for soft corn. This is a picture of my lines (may have to click on it to enlarge the lines) - yeah, the slope looks pathetic, but believe me, it looked steeper in person. I swear.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Fairbanks or Bust

My friend Jenn and I took an excursion up to Fairbanks a few weekends ago (we had a three day weekend thanks to Seward's Day, neener neener). The 6+ hour drive up there was enough to make the trip worthwhile - check out the scenery!! There are caribou in the foreground of the mountains!! I was in the car on the side of the highway when I snapped that photo. Crazy, eh? But once we got to Fairbanks the real adventures began. We kicked off the first night at Chena Hot Springs. Can't say it was the best experience, though it's been my only hot spring experience. Imagine a REALLY hot pool, solitude under the steam...and then add about 30 drunk teenagers yelling profanities. Ugh! I'd been hoping to see the aurora while in the hot springs, but by the time the Spring Break MTV-style party made it to the pool I was hoping that the aurora would save their show for another time since I kinda wanted to enjoy the experience. Punk teenagers. Anyway, when we got back to my buddy's cabin, we were standing outside (in -20 degrees!!) brushing our teeth (Tom doesn't have plumbing, which turned out to be a blessing) when I heard Tom yell, "Hey! The northern lights are out!" I'd been dreaming of this moment! I look up and see a light green streak running all the way across the sky (which is BIG in Fbanks b/c there aren't mountains nearby). Then it starts to grow, pulsate, swirl, drop like rain, and break into separate bands all doing their own dance. Then parts turn yellow, pink, purple. It was like watching music. So we stood with our eyes looking up and our mouths hanging down for about 15 minutes. Then the show ended we gave it a standing ovation and hit the sack. What a way to end our first day in Fairbanks!

Then the next day Jenn and I visited some friends who have a recreational dog team. Dog mushing is incredibly popular in Fbanks - there are trails and dogs everywhere. Jenn and I were each personally chauffeured by 10 huskies around the trail system and under the pipeline! This was our view for the ride. After a few beers (like we did ANY work warranting a beer) we bid farewell to our new furry friends (not you guys, Carrie and Duff) and visited the World Championship Ice Carving contest. I'll have to post some pics of some of those sculptures - they were really amazing. Unfortunately, more punk teenagers - they seem to run rampant in Fbanks - ran around destroying about 20% of the sculptures, including totally destroying the best one there. By the way, if you ever make it up to Fbanks for the ice sculptures, you MUST find the ice slides. We must have spent upwards of an hour in -25 degrees playing on those things. They don't look very fast, but don't be fooled. I don't do well in that kind of cold, so you know those slides were ridiculously fun because I never once noticed the cold! Thanks Tom, Carrie, Duff, and all the doggies - we had fun!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Poor me. I just returned from a trip to Hawaii (Maui and Oahu). It was 90+ degrees warmer there. Em, Brandon, Krista, and Duncan: THANK YOU for showing me your homes!! I'll be back next winter...what are you doing in January? :) Here are my top ten must-do's in Hawaii:

10. Swim in waterfalls. Jump into their pools even when you're afraid of heights. And then get yourself stuck on the other side of a rising river that you must cross to catch your plane. (Just wait a while and it'll return to a flow that you can safely cross.)

9. Visit the lavender garden on Maui - try the scones and tea while overlooking the sweeping views of the West Maui mountains and ocean.

8. Go on a whale watching boat and get soaked by a huge rogue wave (this would be no. 1 if the wave had been from a whale breach).

7. Go for a run along the beach, get lost, and then stumble across a mansion being renovated by Tiger Woods.

6. Try the "Black Hole Lager" at Brew Moon in Honolulu. (Note: Do NOT try the Kona Porter, unless you like porter in your coffee.)

5. See tons of fish, sea turtles, and almost get your finger bitten off by a moray eel.

4. Call your buddy in Juneau from the beach in Honolulu and let him know it's 85, sunny, and the palm trees are swaying in the light ocean breeze.

3. Visit Maui's tallest peak. Though it looks like it's a measly 4,000 feet, the volcano is 10,023 feet! The cool air up there feels good on sunburns.

2. Watch humpbacks launch themselves clear out of the water...from your kayak.

1. Dive down about 10 feet while snorkeling during winter months and listen to male humpbacks sing.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Symphony Lake Slide

A group of us went for a ski yesterday, and with all that blue sky, who could blame us? It's been warm up here lately (in the 40s last week), and then it chilled a bit to just under freezing. This means that the snowpack is essentially icy white asphalt. Not exactly prime conditions for skiing. You can see in the pic to the right how tough that snow was - you can't even see any marks from our skis!

See the steep sloped mountain way up on the left of this photo? If you're me, you'll let your friends talk you into switchbacking up that sucker despite the pesky voice of reason screaming "DON'T DO IT! ARE YOU NUTS?" into your head. And even when you express your concerns to your friends, you still manage to be talked into risking life and limb just to experience a few extra minutes of sunshine up high as the shadows descend on the safety of the valley below. And then you'll lose your footing...once, twice, and then a third time, and that third time will be a doozy. You'll rocket feet first towards a clump of trees while thinking, "This is going to suck." But then you'll hit those trees, somehow manage to be shot out of them, only this time you're plummeting down the ice head first into another clump of trees, and your thoughts are much more serious. You'll miraculously manage to stop the fall and only end up with some jammed fingers (which hurt when you type). You'll have a friend also loose her footing, and end up dislocating her elbow during her plummet to the bottom. Moral of the story: NEVER let your friends talk you into skiing on ice on such a steep slope. Tell them they're nuts if they insist on it. Don't give in. Your fingers and your friend's elbow will thank you.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My House the Meese Magnet

Just this weekend I spotted meese no. 9 of the year (officially the 100th moose I've ever seen) right outside my house! This pic was taken from my front deck. This guy was clearly thinking, "Please lady, help a moose out. You got anything to eat other than frozen bark?"

And just minutes ago, I let Wrigley out for his nightly bathroom break, and what did I see? Moose tracks headed to my backyard! I have a sorry excuse for a tree back there, and it's actually looking more sorry than usual now that it's surrounded by several feet of snow - looks more like a bush. It appears as though one small moose and one large moose made their way back to pay tribute to my little lilac tree/bush. I'm just glad they didn't leave any part of earlier eaten trees behind since Wrigley treats moose pellets like little energy bars. He goes nuts for 'em.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Wolter Glacier

Alaska is known for its glaciers, many of which have been named, explored, documented, etc. Although it is exceedingly difficult to venture out and discover an unnamed glacier and fully explore it, I have done just that. Tonight I raked my roof...

to find a slowly advancing glacier (those are the rarest types - most are receeding due to global warming) ON MY ROOF! What luck! This is about 12 inches of ice right up against my chimney, plus the top part of some long icicles that I enjoyed destroying. I just hope it doesn't come crashing into my living room. Outdoor glaciers are so much nicer.

Here is what Anchorage roofs (sans glaciers) look like:

Thursday, January 11, 2007

So long, 2006!

Oh, how time flies. Here is a quick recap from my last entry. I went to North Carolina, where my parents have built a home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I always look forward to seeing the fam, hanging out in the mountains, and eating my mom's food. This time I was also excited to meet my sister's boyfriend, Mike. Despite his inability to spell words backwards during Cranium, the Wolter family gave him two thumbs up. The Wolter family also kept a little secret to themselves...on Thanksgiving day I was sitting on the couch knitting and feeling sorry for myself. My sister had her boyfriend, my mom had my dad, and I had my parent's dog, Glory. Something didn't seem right. I missed Ron. I was also worried about him - I'd called a few times over the previous 24 hours and couldn't get through to him, which is really unusual. I started thinking that he's either: 1. cheating on me (very logical - ha), or 2. he's on his way to North Carolina. I knew it wasn't the former, and I really hoped it was the latter but was sure he wouldn't fly all the way to NC. Turns out my scheming dad arranged a surprise attack weeks in advance. My father, with the help of his secretary, managed to find Ron's number and orchestrate the surprise. So after a missed flight and several legs to his trip, Ron suprised me by walking up behind the couch while I was feeling sorry for myself and saying, "What are you doing?" I nearly passed out. What a GREAT surprise!! That's one good thing about being gullible - people can always surprise me! During our trip to NC we managed to get in a game of golf in 65 degree weather. (We were trying to avoid the minivan parked right down the hill in the trees. Not a wise place to leave your car...)

Decemberrrrrr brought a LOT of snow to Anchorage. I'm digging the snow, literally, but am glad there's been a bit of a break. I still need to shovel my deck, though Wrigley loves to bound through the feet of snow that remain on it. Yes, I'm using my dog as an excuse for not shoveling my deck. It's pathetic. By the way, check out the depth of snow sitting on top of the railing in the pic with Wrigley.

I did escape the snow during a quick trip to Chicago for Christmas. It's always fun to get the entire family together, sans Grandpa Allen. And this year we had three new members (thanks to my uncle's secret spring wedding to his girlfriend - I now have two "new" cousins and an aunt)!

And, of course, what's an update from me without the Official Moose Count? The Official 2006 Moose Count: 91. My goal was 100, but now it gives me a goal for 2007 (lofty goal, isn't it?). So far for 2007: 1. I'm well on my way!