31 August, 2010

Sister Visit Part I

It's that time of year again... when I get to see family as they're finishing up the summer and heading back home to Seattle.  While I'm never very excited for fall (since it's a reminder that the cold, dark winter is quickly upon us), I always look forward to visits from my family.  Jeannea is the first to arrive - her season gets done in August - and I get a follow-up visit from Sara (in September).
The timing for Jeannea's visit couldn't have been more perfect, since it coincided with the state fair and it's been a few years since she's been able to go with me.  We hooked up with Stacy and headed out early.  At least, early for me on a weekend... since we got there just after 10am when they open, and I'm normally still in bed at that early weekend hour...  But the start of our eating adventure (that's what fairs are, right?) went a long way to make up for it.  How can you pass up fresh doughnuts?
We spent the next 8 hours or so, wandering from food to food: fresh made pretzel, fresh dipped corndog, deep fried pickles, kettle corn, roasted corn on the cob, fried cheese curds...  And in between that, we got our faces painted, saw the pigs and cows and goats, examined the enormous pumpkin (902 lbs - I wonder how many pies that'd make?) and stopped in the beer tent to give our barkin' dawgs a brief respite.
We even tried the chocolate covered bacon.  How was it, you might ask?  I give it 1-1/2 thumbs up.  I think I'd like to try it again, but I'd like the bacon a little thicker and crispier (lack of crisp might be because they made it and then froze it) with just a tad less chocolate.  I think if I were to open a chocolate covered bacon stand, I'd find a way to deep fry the bacon (so I can consistently get it to the perfectly crispy but not overdone state), then have some of that magic shell chocolate on hand.  That way as I get orders, I can dip my perfectly cooked bacon in the chocolate just prior to handing it off to my customer...  Anyhow.  It was good enough that the idea of bacon cookies doesn't seem that ludicrous any more.  Hmmmm.
We didn't get to see the roller derby, since it was typical fair weather: rain.  Thank goodness I was with people who have their heads on their shoulders.  Stacy brought rain ponchos for all of us, and both Stacy and Jeannea brought dry socks and shoes.  Turns out that was a good thing, otherwise I would've been driving home barefoot.
I had a *lovely* time visiting with Jeannea.  Too bad her company isn't based in Anchorage - then I'd have both of them (Jeannea AND Sara) close by all year 'round.  Ah, well.  At least this gives me something to look forward to in the spring - my next visit...

By the way, Jeannea: Thanks for the RockStar treasure hunt!!  It took me more than a week to find them all, and that was with some helpful hints from your cohorts in crime.  We all know I'm not the most observant person in the world - especially in the morning - but I opened the medicine cabinet three times before I finally saw that one... =)

19 August, 2010

Walking with Dinosaurs

It's amazing to me that I still feel the draw of dinosaurs.  It's not just children that were excited for this event... In April, I first heard it was coming to town, and went to the website to check it out.  After looking at the cool site and watching some of the "making of" videos, that clinched the deal.  I convinced Greg to get tickets on the first day they were available (in May).  So I've been looking forward to this show for more than four months.  Of course, it was even better because we shared the experience with good friends (happy late birthday, Nita!).  If this ever comes to your neck of the woods, I highly recommend it!

18 August, 2010

Here Comes the Sun (da da da da dah)

Enjoying the sun is now a newsworthy, momentous event.  After 30-some-odd days of overcast and rain, we had a really *lovely* day today.  Too bad I had to work.  It's times like these that I think it'd be worth it to get a schedule where I work all the crappy days (sometimes weeks on end), just so I can have ALL the nice days off.  I'll probably get that schedule right before they tell me they've decided I can work from home (doing anything and everything I please, including nothing) and be paid for it.  Oh, and by the way, you should sleep in until 10am every morning since we know you're a night owl and mornings just aren't your cup o' tea.  Feel free to work in your pajamas - even if it's just reading the latest novel you picked up at the bookstore - and here's a raise, since we know you've been working so hard...  Ahhhh, sweet dreams...

I've been missing the sun immensely.  I moped at home all weekend last weekend, just because there was a forecast for sun on Saturday, but that didn't happen.  (Okay, so someone told me that if you were up before noon, you got to see the sun for a bit, but that doesn't count.  Who can be up before noon when they went to the movies and then spent most of the rest of the night reading a book??  Y'all would've been sacked out right along-side me.)  I've been thinking that maybe I need to pick up some vitamin D to help combat my lack-of-sun-depression.
Today, the sun came out again.  It's like that time when you've done everything perfectly and the rest just falls into place for a lovely surprise (and you can almost hear a chorus in the background, singing praises).  It's the feeling you have when you're sitting around visiting with good friends and things couldn't be going better for you.  It's Tillamook Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream decadence.  It's winning the million dollar lottery.  And it's also the knowledge that you received a reprieve from going insane from all the dreariness and chopping up the neighbor's dog (or the neighbor) that was making all the racket the other night.  However you describe the feeling, it was wonderful!
To celebrate this recently uncommon event, we drove out to Turnagain Arm Pit for dinner.  We had great barbecue food, and got to sit on the deck enjoying the weather.  In the picture above, I look like I'm about to sneeze.  Not sure what was really happening, I just know you don't get an idea of how good the food is by that picture.  You don't see the perfectly cooked slab of bacon on my sandwich or the homemade barbecue sauces (I really like the mustard-based one); nor do you see the sides: fried okra, fried pickles, fried jalapenos (those were all for Greg), and sweet potato fries...  Oh goodness, what a treat!!
I certainly hope this isn't the last of the sun for the summer - but the dour-hearts on the radio keep saying that we're moving from that one system that gave us all the rain, right into our normally scheduled rainy season.  I'm going to enjoy what rays of sunshine fall my way with enthusiasm and abandon.  I'll post updates, as they happen...

12 August, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

It's been a wet and rainy summer, thus far.  I think the best weather we've had was in May over Memorial Day weekend - thank goodness we went camping that weekend.  There hasn't been enough sunshine put together in the last two and a half months to make a whole week, let alone a weekend.  I heard on the radio today that we're "flirting with the record for the most consecutive days with measurable precipitation" or something like that.  Rained again today.  If it rains tomorrow, we tie the record... if it rains on Saturday, it's a new record.  Ugh!  I'd rather have a record for the most consecutive sunny days.  =(
The upside to all the rain is that I haven't had to water my flowers practically since I planted them.  Although, the ones at the back of the front flower bed are dried up dead husks.  How can that be, you might ask?  Well, that bed sits right against the house and the back portion is sheltered from the weather by the eaves.  Since I haven't been watering, and they've been sheltered from the rain... you do the math... (but it starts with a D and ends with a D and has two vowels in between.)
Another anomaly I've noticed is that we're growing loads of mushrooms.  Tall ones, short ones, white ones, orange ones... and for the first time ever, I've even found them in my flower bed.  Which makes me wonder where the little mushroom seeds come from.  I mean, I didn't plant them; they didn't grow in the flower bed last year (or for any of the past five or so years); I don't think birds crap them out... so where do they come from?
And then there's the spiders... *shudder*...  We normally have a fair amount of spider webs that populate the deck in the summertime.  I let them live because they're eating other bugs that I may not want around (read: they'd better be eating those damn mosquitoes and any other bug that's trying to eat me or my plants!).  But there seem to be more spiders this summer.  Not sure if it's because of the rain too?  Or maybe because it's been cloudier and the spiders don't like sun?  No idea, but I get the heebie-jeebies every time I walk through a web or get close to one.
Those guys were lucky to keep on living - except that I didn't have a hard-soled shoe on me and I suddenly had a mental picture of them jumping on me.  So I stayed as far away as I possibly could to get the picture.  Thank goodness for the zoom feature on my camera!!

03 August, 2010

Chilkoot Chums

I've heard stories for the last couple of years about Greg's trip to hike the Chilkoot trail.  It's been more frequent recently, since he's planning another trip to do the same thing (end of August).  The trail is 33 miles long, starting just outside Skagway, Alaska, up and over Chilkoot Pass to Bennett, British Columbia.  It's a trail that was heavily used for access to the gold fields in the 1890s.  Now it's a hikers dream and a National Historical Landmark, apparently drawing people from all around the world.
Trail Map
Trail Profile
I found the map and trail profile here, which has some interesting information.  Particularly regarding people who do the hike in a day; or more amazingly, hike there and back in one day. Based on the trail profile, I'm glad Greg and his group are taking time (and took time on the last trip) to enjoy the route.  Maybe someday I'll make the trip, but rest assured that I, also, will not be doing it in only one day.

Anyhow.  When Greg, Tony, and Brian did the hike a couple years ago, they met and hiked with Steve and Inga, who are now vacationing in Alaska (including hiking Bomber Glacier - call me before 10pm on  Friday, so I know you're okay... otherwise I'll assume I need to send someone out to rescue you!!).  Greg's been super-excited to get together for dinner, and I admit to being curious about the people he's talked so much about.
L to R: Tony, Steve, Inga, Greg
Dinner was a marvelously enjoyable event.  (One would hope so, since we were visiting for more than four hours!)  It's always delightful to meet people and construct new friendships. It seems we have lots in common - even me, the non-hiker in the group - and therefore conversation was flowing the entire evening.  I hope the rest of your vacation is full of adventure and fun, Steve and Inga, and maybe someday we'll make it Down South to visit you there...

01 August, 2010

Dave's Visit

Dave came up to Alaska to work in Dillingham for the summer.  It's a great chance to save money, since they work lots of hours and there's not a whole lot of places to spend the money.  I didn't get to see him on his way up, but he made sure to give me a couple days on his way back home.  Always, always nice to see family!
I'm grateful he didn't mind sleeping on the couch, since the spare bedroom is still crammed full of things that haven't made their way back upstairs yet.  (I'm thinking we need to get rid of a lot of what's left down there.  Haven't used or needed it for more than six months, and I like the less-cluttered look we have right now.)  We had company over Friday night for a barbecue, visiting, and a game of Killer Bunnies; movies and a fire on the deck on Saturday; and all too soon it's Sunday morning - time to get breakfast and head to the airport.

I love this time of year, even though it's bittersweet.  Dave came through and we had a chance to catch up and visit; in a couple weeks, Jeannea will be here for a short visit; a couple weeks after that, Sara will be here for a bit; and a couple weeks after that, we'll be heading to UT to see everyone...  YAY!  But it's also sad, because it means that summer is almost over.  I have to get ready for the cold and dark, and won't see family again until next April.  But I get ahead of myself... right now, I'm glad I had some time with Dave and I'm looking forward to having Jeannea come visit!