28 July, 2009

Budz Cut

There must have been a windstorm in Anchorage the weekend we went to King Mountain. When we got home, one of my flower pots (the petunias) was at the base of the stairs leading up to the deck. The pot is split down one side - looks like I'll be getting a new one next spring. Poor flowers were mangled...

In deciding what to do, I figured I had three options. 1) Leave them alone and see how they fare for the rest of the summer. 2) Throw them away. 3) Trim the stems down to see what the roots can do to recover.

I chose option 3 - mostly because I didn't want to throw them away, and I didn't figure all the bent & broken stems would be able to recover.

I'm sure they won't be able to recover to where they were before the fall, but hopefully there's enough time for them to start blooming again...

Camping Eklutna

Another camping weekend has come and gone. It was a nice one! The weather wasn't as good - cloudy with sporadic showers - but the company was good, and it was nice to be away from the normal day-to-day life. We went out to Eklutna Lake (about an hour from the house) on Thursday night. Set up the tent and had a fire. Greg went home instead of staying the night with Todd, Anita, & I. We would've had to leave the campsite around 5am so he could be ready for work on time - 6:15am was early enough!!

Somehow I always seem to sleep better (and need less sleep) when we're camping. I can stay up until the wee hours enjoying the campfire, then get only 5 or 6 hours of sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Doesn't happen like that at home. I did have strange dreams Thursday night, but I think that was because we had noisy neighbors so I didn't sleep as well as I could have. It was still nice.

Friday after work, we hooked up with Kathryn, loaded up the rest of the camp gear and headed out. James was already there, on the site next to us - we were late enough getting there that he'd given up and was going to bed when we pulled in. Campfire time!! =) (After we put air in the mattresses and get the sleeping bags ready so we can just crawl in when we're tired...) This is the first campout we've used our tent heater. Had it for a year now, but it's either been warm enough that we don't need it, or (last year) we weren't camping that much. It works *good*!!

Saturday morning was pretty leisurely... got up when we felt like it, had a nice breakfast of bacon & eggs, chilled for a while... I was just thinking of heating water to do the dishes, when we decided it'd be easier for me to bring them (the dishes) in to town and do them. Seems like a long trip just to wash some pots & pans, right? Well, I actually had a whole list of errands to do, #1 being Pick Sheri Up At The Airport. YAY!!
So while my compadres were wandering around the forest on bikes, I scooped up Sheri (she's here for work, but that means that while she's not working we get to play!!), and ran the errands on the list: stopped by the house (to wash dishes, drop Sheri's gear, and pick up a few things that we forgot); stopped by several stores to stock up on supplies; and stopped at the Moose's Tooth to feed Sheri before dragging her off to the campsite.
Note to self: When people are coming up for work, it's not necessarily a good idea to surprise them with a camp trip. Greg spilled the beans, not knowing I was going to surprise her. Good thing he did - as she needed to get with some of the work people here over the weekend to plan the schedule for the week. If she hadn't known we were going to be camping, she may have made other plans that would have seriously derailed my weekend. Fortunately, everything worked out just fine...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... the bikers were busy! Todd, Anita, & James did a 7-mile ride, then came back to camp to play games and prepare dinner (beef stew - without V8, since that's the one thing I forgot to bring - yumm!!). When I returned with all my goodies, we sat around the campfire (under the awnings, since it'd started to drizzle) visiting until Greg & Kathryn returned. They'd gone 21 miles total, placed a cache, and Kathryn bit the dust. She has a bruise the size of a small dinner plate on her hip - ouch!! - and hobbled for the rest of the evening. But she said it was definitely worth it, and she rode a bike over to the lake Sunday morning. Way to go, Kathryn!!

All too soon, the weekend was almost over. Greg took Sheri kayaking Sunday morning, but they didn't stay out long as the wind made the water pretty choppy. Greg wanted to hide a cache somewhere around the lake, but didn't as they were already soaked and cold (pretty much as soon as they got on the water, they were wet). Had a fire to warm the bones when they returned, then broke camp to start heading back home.

Since it was on the way, we decided to stop in Eagle River for some good Mexican food at Jalapenos. Good thing they don't mind smelly campers for patrons! =) And (of course) there was a cache (two, actually) close by, so we stopped for those. At one of the sites, there was a building that looks like it has a face. Reminds me of the kids book where the little house gets surrounded by city streets & buildings, and eventually gets moved to the country. Anyone remember that one? The illustrations of the house give it a face too. Anyhow. This one's not as picturesque as the one in the book, but it's still interesting. =)

All in all, it was yet another wonderful weekend. I'm so excited that Sheri's here to visit for three weeks!! I'm hoping we'll get some fun things in around the necessary evil of the work-week. And I'm hoping that the weather cooperates and is relatively nice while she's here. We'll see how that goes. Summer is passing by way too quickly for my tastes, but I'm making an effort to enjoy it as much as possible while it's here. I can always clean house in the winter, right?!? =)

19 July, 2009

Adventure Weekend

What an amazing, gorgeous, fantastic, adventurous weekend! Good weather, good friends, good times... how can you beat that?!?
Greg set up a couple of geocaching events for the weekend of July 18th & 19th: river rafting and rappelling. Since the rafting was quite a drive, we opted to camp overnight at King Mountain. We've been there before, and it's a beautiful spot (previous posts are here, here, & here). Although I opted not to do either event, I went out for the campfire and companionship - and it was well worth it!!
Rafters Are Ready
Anita convinced a friend to come along, so Greg, Todd, Anita, and Kathryn braved the rapids, while I soaked up some sun, read, and relaxed at camp (was going to nap too, but I got sucked into my book). While I had a very nice time; a pleasant, relaxing time; the rafters had a BLAST!!! Stoked and happy. That's what they were when they got back to camp (and a little cold - but I'd burned all the wood thinking they'd be back earlier. Oops!!)

We didn't stay the weekend - although the weather was great and it would have been nice... but the rappelling event was Sunday morning and we didn't want to have to drive in super-early in the morning (and be all campfire smelly - that's fine if *everyone* smells that way, but different if you're the only ones...). So we broke camp, hid a cache, then headed back to town.

Made a pit stop in Palmer to get some food at Turkey Red - a very nice joint that serves good food and didn't make faces at the stinky people invading the room... Since we ate *so* much at dinner, we opted for some walking before hitting the road again... and wouldn't you know it? There are caches within a couple of blocks of downtown Palmer. Stopped at a park to find one, but there were too many prying eyes - so Nita & Kathryn tested some of the equipment... seems to be in working order to me!! =)

Morning comes *really* early sometimes... and so it seemed on Sunday. Greg got up even earlier, since he had to be down to McHugh Creek to set up. I rode down with Todd & Anita. I didn't do any cliff climbing... I was just going for moral support for Anita. The really good pictures (where she's already on the way down the rockface) were taken by someone else with my camera. I would've had to belly crawl just to get close to the edge - and by the time I was there, she'd probably already have been at the bottom. I keep telling myself that I'll do this another time. We'll see if that happens, but I might be a little braver seeing how well Anita did and how happy she was when she finished. Way to go, Nita!!
Look, Ma! No Hands!

Over the Edge

Anita had a blast!! She did a little practicing to get the feel of things, then squashed the flutter-bies in her tummy and walked over the edge. If you enlarge the pictures above, you can see two people at the bottom - the one in green is Greg (he's got the control rope for the descent).

This was one of those truely lovely weekends. Always over too soon, but memories to last a lifetime. Ahhhhhh.

14 July, 2009

Flower Power

My flowers have been planted for just about six weeks now... it's time to see what growing they've done. Pictures of the beginning - at least, when I planted them - are here. I'm always impatient - and this year is no exception. I didn't think the trailing petunia basket (supertunias) had done very much until the last week or so (when the double ruffles started to bloom). Turns out they've all practically exploded - which I can see when I compare the pictures. I think my favorite basket this year is the petunia basket. I love the colors and that it's so full of blossoms.
Petunia basket

Deck basket

Supertunia basket

I'm also pleased with the riot of colors in the front bed. So far, I haven't had to worry about any of the back flowers growing tall, falling over, and squashing the flowers in front. I'm going to have to figure out what I put in here, so I can try it again next year...
Front bed

There's one plant (in the deck basket and the front bed) - the Sunny Sheila - that still hasn't bloomed. I thought I must've bought a plastic plant, except that now there are buds (there weren't even buds a couple weeks ago) and it looks like one of them is going to open soon. I check it every day to see the progress. =)

10 July, 2009

My Friend Blueberry

The weather has been great this summer! Pretty warm for the last couple of weeks, and no rain. Much, much different than last summer... and I *love* it!! It looks like the smokey haze that has covered the sky is finally clearing out too.

To enjoy the good weather (and get in a little exercise), we went up to Flattop. The parking lot for Flattop actually feeds a large number of trails into the park (Chugach). Normally there are fantastic views of town (particularly downtown) and the inlet. Because of the haze, none of my scenic pictures turned out - but I got a good one of the sun. The picture below was taken at 10pm on the 8th of July (as we finished our walk).

I try not to think about it, but I'm already mourning the loss of sunlight and the coming winter...

08 July, 2009

4th of July Campout - Part II

To continue the tales of camping...

Saturday afternoon we hiked to Thunderbird Falls. It's not a very long hike, and has a well maintained trail. The walk was nice, as well as the views, the fun trees, and the caches (of course!) we found.

We were later getting back than we anticipated, which means that Greg's mom and our niece were waiting at the campsite for us. To celebrate the 4th - besides just going out camping and all the fun we'd already had - we had a yummy steak dinner with fire-cooked onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and a watermelon.

After dinner, we split up into teams to challenge for ladder golf. Emma & I won the first round, but because I don't seem to have much luck with scoring (INCOMING!!! watch your head!), we lost the second game. While the other teams were vying for bragging rights, we went over to stoke the fire and cook marshmallows.

After a marvelously lovely day, we spent the rest of the evening relaxing around the fire. We made a large one, as we had lots of wood to burn... I *do* so love a roaring campfire... Another night lulled to sleep by the river - I believe I slept like a baby! - and then it was time to pack and go home.

On the way out of the campground, we stopped for one last cache - the owner replaced it over the weekend, as Greg & Anita tried finding it Friday and came away empty. This was an amazing weekend: good weather, good company, good food, good fun!

Midnight Sunset

We now interrupt the camping posts to insert a sunset picture (please enlarge to get the full effect).

I took this picture shortly after midnight on the 7th of July. This has been a *great* summer!! =)

07 July, 2009

4th of July Campout - Part I

Wasn't sure we were going camping over the weekend of the 4th this year. Normally we head up to Squirrel Creek and take a side-trip to Valdez to see Sara. But I didn't have the 3rd off (Greg did), and Greg was on call - meaning he had to stay within 30 minutes of town and have cell phone service. Had just about given it up, when our friends mentioned going out to Eagle River campground (within 30 minutes of town, and cell service - perfect!). Since Nita & Greg had Friday off, they went out and got us a site Thursday night, and then we all hooked up Friday after work. (Greg came back home for the night, but Todd camped out Thursday with Nita, came home Friday morning to shower & go to work, then headed out for the "real" weekend after work.)

Friday night was relaxing. We sat around the fire and visited for a while, then played Ladder Golf. It's a lot like horse shoes, only different. There are two "ladders" at each end, each rung has a different point value. You toss bolas (two golf balls connected by rope) to see if you can wrap a rung (ha! say that fast three times...). According to the official rules (here), game etiquette is that you should "make as many remarks, sounds or movements as possible during play in order to distract the opponents"... hmmmm... I'm going to have to work on that some. =)

We put the game on hold around 11:30pm so we could find a place to watch the fireworks. Sure, it's the night of the 3rd, but by the time they started it was already the 4th anyway. I do miss seeing fireworks in the dark (without freezing my hiney off), but these were still some nice displays. Because of the lack of dark, but not really light - and because fireworks will always be blurry on my little point-and-shoot camera - the only shot the turned out okay is below. Wanted to show what it looks like at 12:30am on July 4th, way up North. =)

On Saturday, after a hearty breakfast of bacon & eggs (around noon or so), we headed out for hiking and some geocaching (of course!). Bob the Squirrel was interested in sharing our food, but we didn't leave him any. Since there's a bear alert, we made sure to put all the food into the vehicles whenever we weren't going to be around camp. Greg even scooped up some dog food that got spilled and took it to the trash so we wouldn't be tempting to the predators.

First hikes/caches were around the camp ground. We were close to the river (Eagle River - who'd've thunkit?) - falling asleep with the sound of the running water was *so* relaxing!! We saw a raft that had lost it's people upriver - Greg first spotted it on his morning run and alerted the camp host. Rescue teams came to see if anyone needed help, but there were no people and just the lonely little boat, bobbing in the water. I'm sure Greg would have snagged it, if he could've figured a way to get up there. (Eventually our camping neighbor got it free, and now they have a new - to them - boat.)

I think we ended up finding two caches right around the campground, then another two or three more when we moved our efforts elsewhere. I'm glad AKHoudini was around to help us find the Spud Cache... it sounded like it'd be easy, and Lord knows I'm a fan of spuds (so I thought I'd spot it right away), but I would've gone away disappointed if he hadn't been there. I'm not the greatest at doing the finding, but I generally enjoy the journey and the company. And with sights like the flowers and the river, what's not to like?? =)

I have so many nice pictures of the weekend that I broke this post in half - OW - just so it didn't get too long. Part II - coming soon (to a theater near you)...