Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The “Grump’s Guide” to Christmas music

No matter how cold it is where you live, Alaskans have it worse. I take special pride in having survived another morning (this one at -12° F/-24° C) at these temperatures. After a recent hour-long walk outdoors (don’t worry, I won’t do that again!) I had aged about thirty years with fully frost-encrusted hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows. I say nothing of the frozen snot.

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I choose to take pride in this awful weather because my misery is best saved for January and February, the traditional times of frigid cold. It’s hard to find anything to be glad about when the temperature is hovering on the wrong side of 0° Fahrenheit. But I persevere, for your sake at least, and have found ten things in which to rejoice…or not.

10. I’ve have, thus far, been exposed to only one country music Christmas song.

9. There are no curse words or crude phrasing in Christmas songs. I’ve lunged for the volume in the car when pop music becomes a little too frank. “You want to do what to whom?! Good grief, I have kids in the car, get a room! And stay off the lawn!” The objectionable bit about Christmas music lyrics is the whining about how many gifts the singer deserves.

8. The grocery stores (which I note have started playing background music) forgot to change their regularly scheduled music to Christmas music. So I can still enjoy Sir Mix-a-Lot whilst shopping for deodorant and radishes. Whew! I don’t know how I managed to shop for essentials without the thrum and thump of music.

7. No new Mariah Carey Christmas album this year.

6. Elevator music in December: another reason to take the stairs.

5. Are we living through a golden age for Christmas recordings? If Ella, Bing, Eartha, and Frank are the high bar for Christmas singers, where should Monsieur Bolton, the Dave Matthews Band, Hanson, Miss Jessica Simpson, Twisted Sister, and the New Kids on the Block be placed? I’m thinking ankle high, but that’s just me. I make an exception for Enya. She’s not taking a dirt nap, and can still rock a Christmas song. Any other living singers make the high bar? You tell me, I don’t get out much.

And if the Sinatra decades were the Christmas golden years, I must mention those that were solid tin. The 1980’s were the epicenter of the mess, and I include a good portion of the 70’s and 90’s in the unpleasant aftershocks. If I hear George Michael breathlessly regret that “Last Christmas” I gave you my heart, just one more time, I won’t be responsible for the ensuing destruction of the nearest electronic equipment. Get over it, George, and just try to concentrate on whether you are in the proper mood for buying gifts (see number 3). And will I ever forgive Paul McCartney for his crime of “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time?

4. Christmas songs can have such though provoking titles. My personal favorite is notI Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” “A Chipmunk Christmas,” or even “I’m Getting Nuttin’ for Christmas.” No, the winner for me is What Can You Get a Wookie for Christmas?” I’m not specifying what those provoked thoughts are in this case, and whether they be fit for public consumption, but I’ll just hint that George Lucas should be horsewhipped with a wet noodle.

3. Christmas creep, or retailers starting up the festivities earlier every year, will soon become so bad that the decorations will be left up year ‘round. Thus their objective, which (as Wikipedia tells us) is nothing short of world domination but PR spins as just “putting shoppers in the proper mood for buying gifts,” will be accomplished.

If the proper mood is a pathological hatred for: red and green swags, ringing bells, the maudlin holiday warbling of hung-over singers, and what seems like every available Alaskan plus all their out-of-town extended family at the shopping mall/on the road, then mission accomplished! Merry Christmas to you, too! And Happy Easter while I’m at it.

2. We still have a local station that plays only classical music, KLEF 98.1 FM. This translates into no pop Christmas tunes when the time comes (and it does come) to play Christmas music. Christmas songs in Latin from a boy’s choir? Ah, blessed relief. At least I think they are Christmas songs. My Latin, alas, is a little rusty and mostly confined to scientific terms. I suppose they could be lamenting a la George, the unworthy soul they gave their hearts to last Christmas, but at least I can’t understand them.

1. It will all be over in less than a month. December 26th is hereby proclaimed as “Auditory Sanity Reclamation Day.” Hurrah! Watch for people twitching in the void as Sir Mix-a-Lot plays softly in the background.


Did I miss anything in the Grump’s Guide to Christmas Music? Your favorite song? Worst ever song?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quick Watson, names for garden dwarfs!

This is yet another post wherein odd questions are answered. I get between a grin and a guffaw when periodically I check the “search keywords” and uncover a treasure trove of phrases that lead souls to the Last Frontier Garden blog.  Poor saps.

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Anyway, in the spirit of serving my fellow gardeners (and may I humbly add, all mankind), I shall answer with all the wisdom and clarity of the oracle at Delphi. Tally ho!

*How did nannies blow away in Mary Poppins?

The same way my garbage can blew away last month: the wind. Who knew England was so very gusty? Therefore, avoid toupees and wrap dresses when visiting, and never under any circumstances carry an open umbrella. Just a tip.

*Plants moose eat.

They might not eat all of your plastic or fabric plants, but the rest of the bona fide ones are vulnerable. In other words, anything but spruce trees or ornamental grasses, kid.

*garden dwarf names

Do you by chance mean gnomes? (Or are you referring to persons of shorter stature that grow petunias? I’ve heard they prefer to be called “little people.”) For gnomes, you can’t go wrong with “Barry” or “Roger.” For a female, “Smurfette.”

*fish bonker

If you plan to fish for something bigger than a minnow, it always helps. Wood is best. If you don’t know what a fish bonker is, welcome to Alaska.

*saxophone water fountains

Uh, Bill, is that you? I mean Governor Clinton. Generally speaking, sir, musical instruments do not belong in the pond. I know my mom would faint if I put my viola in there. Though on second thought, I am about ready to commit the family harmonica and hand bell set to that fate. Ring-a-ding-a-ding for preserving sanity!

*snow white

I said it before and I’ll say it again, for lots of hits on your blog, write a post (or better yet, just a title) about Snow White. That witless, trusting princess has fascinated a lot of people, as evidenced by the continuous stream of referrals to the one post I sort of wrote about her.  In truth, it was about dwarf evergreens, but tenuous connections are my specialty.

And finally, the all-time top entry:

*bunny boots

I’ve really got to do some more garden-related writing.

Now, now don’t complain. I spared you “dwarf umbrella,” “white vs. black bunny boots,” and “Cinderella's pumpkin carriage.” You’re welcome. Tune in next time as I bring you __________. That means I haven’t decided yet: The Grump’s Guide to Christmas Music or Cross Country Skiing Disasters.


Funny search keywords for your blog? Snow White devotees?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Anchorage to Denali by rail: only slightly less exciting than something exciting

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Being an American, I am not one to turn down a free (fill in the blank thing).  I refer to my recent railroad journey to Denali National Park. Train phobia, or siderodromophobia, is a condition suffered by one of my husband’s relatives, who coincidentally had won some train tickets. I was able to take the railway trip of a lifetime, or at least, the best trip for the month of August 2012. Full disclosure: the towns of Seward and Wasilla disparaged herein.

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I have the complete set of Agatha Christie mysteries, and the star of quite a few is the little Belgian detective with perfect moustaches, Hercule Poirot. His first adventure is on the famous Orient Express. Perhaps I allowed myself to become a bit starry eyed about the whole rail travel thing, but I did have a few preconceived notions: glamour, exotic locales, and mystery. (Spoiler alert: No glamour in the Duct Tape capital of the United States, I’ve been to Denali National Park and am a lifelong Alaskan so no exotic locales, and the only mystery I found during the course of my travels was a faux chocolate milkshake, see paragraph 7.)

In Alaska, trains are mostly for tourists when they aren’t hauling coal, gravel, or other oddments. The Alaska Railroad tries to drum up some local interest by offering rates from Anchorage to Palmer to attend the Alaska State Fair, but other than that, lots of tourists. And grumpy people. And unruly children. And doors that won’t stay closed.

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The train ride from Anchorage to the Wasilla stop was worth it, if for no other reason, than to hear a loud-talking gentleman ask the porter, “What? Wasilla? Is that some kind of wasteland or something?” You might have to be Alaskan to appreciate the sentiment, but I had to put my hand over my mouth while the LFG hubby made no effort and laughed aloud.

Now this was no ordinary gentleman. He was wearing what was, quite frankly, the widest leather belt I have ever seen. Which would have been remarkable enough, except that the belt wasn’t connected to his pants in any way. So maybe more of a girdle? 

After the Belt King and his either very quiet or mute mail order bride/daughter/whatever got off at the Wasilla stop, we chugged on to Talkeetna, the last brief stop before our arrival at the park. After what seemed like 8 hours, but might have been only 6 hours, we arrived at the Denali station. Whereupon I entered a really stuffy little shuttle bus. Hot air on the face + shot suspension on bus + “smells like people” scent = feelings of nausea. We got out at the hotel just in time and I took such a deep, loud breath that the other passengers probably thought that was the first breath I had taken since entering the bus.

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We stayed in the McKinley Village Lodge, which the hotel bills as “intimate,” but which I say is “too far away from anything.” You can quote me. We had to catch a shuttle to do everything other than wander down to the river and get sand in our shoes, which, note to self, never wear pebbled leather loafers on a sandy beach. Ouch. We did manage to check out “downtown Denali,” which consists of about 30 grossly overpriced stores. And we discovered, yet again, there is no such thing as too much fur in one’s wardrobe.

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At one of the restaurants on the premises (not the one pictured above, which had a great pizza) I received the most watered-down version of a chocolate shake I’ve ever had. I don’t think any ice cream was involved, just chocolate and milk, which most people will agree is called chocolate milk. But I am not one to make a big fuss.

I made a tiny fuss and asked the server (Boris? from Romania. Helpful nametags revealed quite a few of the hotel employees were young people from foreign countries) for some ice cream in my milkshake. I think something was lost in translation as he looked very puzzled. However, he emerged from the back with a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream and made it all OK. I forgive him, maybe in Romania a milkshake is chocolate milk. If I were inclined to any sort of research I would find out. That being said, chocolate milk should not cost $7.00.

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Here’s a free tip: never go to a dinner theatre. We went to the Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre and ate around a big table, family style. I passed the corn and ribs and rolls around to people from all over the country. We also were to holler and wave our napkins periodically at certain catchphrases.

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Just as the food was cleared away and I was ready to leave, the goofy music and singing started in earnest. The doors were shut (is barred to strong a word?) to prevent escapees. No wonder people were drinking so much alcohol. We were to learn, musically, the history of some of the old timers that lived in the area, who’s names, tragically, I’ve already forgotten. If you like cheesy singing, bland food, and sitting by strangers for an overpriced dinner, you’ll love the dinner theatre!

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The next day we took a(nother) bus ride in a real school bus, painted a more dignified color. I was hoping for one of those monstrous, cushy Celebrity Tours buses with included restroom. Alas. Don’t worry, at only one portion of the 6.5 hour ride did I think I was going to die. I really hate a narrow road. Especially on a mountainside.

We saw a lot of wildlife, scenery, and a few glimpses of Mt. McKinley (aka Denali. Yes, a mountain with two names.), all 20,320 feet of it. We also saw: grizzly bears, caribou, a Dall sheep, a coyote, a northern harrier, ground squirrels, and moose on our bus ride. Being from Alaska, I’m pretty jaded, but the tourists were really excited.

Attention: Those faint of heart skip the below picture, I wish I could have, but this view was my near constant companion at every stop. “What?! A wolf, you say?” someone would holler and then the bus would tilt starboard as every soul bounced up to photograph the beast. “But that’s not a wolf, it’s only an old coyote!” The bus riders would snap a few and sit, thus righting the badly listing bus. Repeat at the next animal sighting. For 6 hours. P.S. I wish sweatpants were not the travelers pant of choice. What’s wrong with trousers or a skirt, I ask you? 

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The highlight by far, was the river rapid float on the gray, cold Nenana River. We chose the option where the passengers paddle and the guide steers and hollers out directions. This was the most fun I’ve had in a while, especially when the raft was almost vertical three times. Thankfully, we were wearing dry suits. I have no pictures of this exciting event (I know I heard men screaming), my hands were too busy clutching the paddle with a vise-like grip.

Some brave/foolhardy souls, including myself, jumped into the river near the end of the float. Cheers to the couple from Mexico that took the plunge. I thought it was very brave considering the water must have been about 50 degrees colder than any river in their country!

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The train ride back to Anchorage had two highlights. The first was a tourist from California asking, “What was that town we got off the cruise ship in? Sewage?” You must mean Seward, madam. No, don’t worry, an easy mistake to make. We often name towns in this state after fecal matter. Why there’s Dookie, Poo, and Manure, Alaska, and that’s just off the top of my head.

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The second, lurching around the dining car (above), trying not to fall into anyone’s lap whilst carrying nachos in one hand and a piping hot cheese sauce in the other. Those trains can sway, let me tell you. Now if it had been Viggo Mortensen’s lap, I wouldn’t mind so much. Unfortunately, giant that I am, I would have crushed the tiny, frail-of-bone senior citizens who were actually seated in the dining car. Food grade: a couple of stars better than dinner theatre, and the chicken was impressive. Prices: fairly high, but I say that about everything.

All in all, not much like the glamorous journey I imagined the Orient Express to be. However, the chance to hear unfiltered opinions about Alaska was precious. For my next trip, I plan to track down the town of Manure, Alaska with a clothespin on my nose. Tally ho!

Tips for train travel? Seen Denali National Park?

Monday, July 23, 2012

5 Ways Dopes Dipnet on Kenai Beach

I was all set to write the much anticipated Last Frontier Garden edition of “Advanced Rules for Dipnetting,” as promised last year.  Then I went dipnetting last weekend and discovered that a good 25% (the Last Frontier Gardener only uses made up statistics) of people on the beach either had never dipnetted in their life or were under the impression that dipnets were weapons and we were attending the beach version of a jousting tournament.

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Instead of roses and handkerchiefs being thrown around, it was red salmon, fish bonkers, and epithets. I feel I must, for the sake of posterity (or at least my dental work) put off the advanced rules and go with bare bones basics (again) because somebody is going to get maimed.  Surely you intermediate dippers can wait another year.

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Ways to ensure your neighbors on the beach will be miserable and that you are a first class dip:

  • don’t prepare beforehand. Forget about packing extra gear for a change in weather or in case you fall into the water, firewood, dipnetting accessories (i.e. empty milk jug, rope, pliers, socket wrench, filet knife, ice, cooler, fish bonker). You can beg for what you forgot. We had two beggars solicit us this trip: firewood (“grandma is getting cold”) and empty milk jug (“I can see I need one of those things for my net. You need yours?”). Um, yes, but go ahead, we have an extra.

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chest waders, you will want these

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  • don’t look around before you insert your net into an opening on the beach. Just haphazardly jam that thing into a 6-inch space between people, if the current is strong and dragging the nets into each other, so much the better. Points for standing still if you are in a walking area or trying to walk in a standing area. Bonus points for ignoring swearing of neighbors or ugly glances in your direction.

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  • have no idea how to process the fish once caught. Ignore those that look competent, especially those that have bled the fish by yanking out some gills and are gutting fish within hours of capture. By all means forget to put fish on ice as soon as possible after gutting.

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  • be unfamiliar with the dipnetting regulations. Opening and closing times, harvest limits per person/family, allowable fish species, tail clipping requirements, who needs it?

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  •  be absolutely as loud as possible as late into the night as possible. Extra points for drunken, expletive laden rants near tents with children’s toys nearby. More bonus points if you leave litter behind. Beer cans, water bottles, and disposable gloves were biggies this year. You win the dip award if you drive a four-wheeler around tents after midnight. Be sure and shine your headlight directly into the tents for a minute or two. Rev the engine.

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Reading this list over, I can see it may come off a little grouchy. (Well, I feel like a saint seeing as how I wrote nothing about a request to clean the outhouse seat off if you’ve been on a bran binge as a courtesy to those behind you, dancing in line.) But things just work better when everyone is on the same page. One hopes fewer threats of violence and accidental impalings at the very least. The Last Frontier husband started getting into arguments with egregious dips and we were only on the beach for 22 hours. Time to go!

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(for a general idea of what dipnetting is, see here)

Slipped up on a rule? Want to add one? Just glad you’re not Alaskan?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Floating the Gulkana River: I survived

Yes, take a moment and dab off your fevered brow.  I realize (and regret) that I left you all in suspense after my last post wherein I mentioned in the interests of family togetherness I would be floating off into the wilderness for a few days. A surprise for the Last Frontier Gardener: we made it. Hardly any broken bones, animal attacks, or lost baggage/children.

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No snorts of derision from the pack and paddle crowd.  As a city-bred female, I am particularly and devotedly attached to the modern comforts of indoor plumbing and have quite given up expecting men to empathize. Sadly, “indoor plumbing” and “Alaskan adventure” are not often found arm in arm. But fear not, I won’t bore you with graphic details of attendant suffering during this journey.

[OK, maybe just this one graphic detail: our commode was a bag attached to a rickety comfort seat. Yes, you read that right, we had to pack everything solid out. On the liquids end of things and to save millions of women and girls the pain of piddling on a shoe whilst squatting in a mosquito infested patch of Devil’s club, I am in the process of patenting my drip proof wilderness bathroom commode for women and girls (“Potty Cup”) which I picked up at a gas station beforehand.

For humanitarian reasons, I will risk spoiling this trademarking process. I will help campers all over the world and share, for free, my idiot-tested invention: a large (plastic is most durable) concessions cup. See last picture in this post. And your welcome.]   

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Floating down a river with unseasonably high and fast water (class IV rapids anyone?) was a bit daunting.  On the Daunted Scale, 1 being a visit to your local library and 10 being a visit to your local fast food play land at noon on a rainy Saturday, I was about a 7.  At the risk of this post turning into a War and Peace saga, here’s the condensed version of our 47 mile/75 km Gulkana River float on June 27:

Day One, Wednesday

  • Drive to Paxson Lake, make arrangements for someone to take truck from lake (start) to Sourdough Creek Campground (finish), $60, worth every penny if you are a lousy hitchhiker, the alternative.
  • Put on approximately 34.97 pounds of gear. Pump up raft. Slowly. Sweat. Wish gear off again. Wish raft was on a trailer already pumped.
  • Three hours later, kids cranky. Wind picks up. Starts to rain/hail. Hard.
  • Begin 4 mile paddle down lake. Wish small motor wasn’t rubber band horsepower and on the fritz.
  • As the hours pass, and no discernible progress is made across lake, silently curse the outdoors, family trips, and occasionally husband.
  • 10pm- Find first camping spot available. Set up tent. Put sodden, hungry, and crying kids in it. Make dinner.
  • Midnight- Go to bed and hope bears eat us in the night and save us more misery tomorrow.

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Day Two, Thursday

  • Wake up and rue the day. But hey, the rain stopped, for a few minutes.
  • Eat breakfast, pack up camp for two hours.

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  • Load up boat again and float off. Do some fishing, catch/release quite a few grayling and one trout.

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  • Get to tricky Canyon Rapids section (class III and IV depending on conditions), stop and grind teeth.

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  • Portage all gear to campsite (there is an outhouse!!! well, more of a shack, really, and bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer, kids), abuse young children silently for not being able to carry as much as a Sherpa.

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  • About forty trips up and down hill to campsite and back, laden with gear.

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  • 9pm- Camp set up, ready to float rapids. Pray. All rain gear on. Kids stowed on bank, watching with video camera to document our deaths for insurance purposes.
  • 9:02pm- Float by two gentlemen on the cliff, sipping their beers, they holler, “Good luck!” and laugh. More beer swilling men appear to watch our demise. No women appear to be within twenty miles of this place. Feelings of apprehension.
  • 9:03pm- Swept towards giant boulders. First time death imminent, but avoided.
  • 9:04pm- Second time, avoided, but small scream escapes mouth. More prayer.
  • 9:04.5pm- Third time, a steep drop and boulder thrown in for fun. I get wet, very wet.
  • 9:05pm- Pull over to side after rapids section, tie off raft, squish over to campsite. Change undees. Oarsman unscathed and laughing. Requests another float next week.
  • Sleep the sleep of the reprieved. Remnants of s’mores still smeared around face.

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Day Three, Friday

  • Pack up raft. Again. Float away. Into next section of rapids. Assured by husband that this is a cinch after yesterday. Get stuck on a couple of large trees in the water. Both adults exit the raft into fast, deep water in order to push it free. Entertain fantasies about what children would do if they floated away and we weren’t able to jump on in time. Thoughts turn slightly uncharitable towards husband. Raft slips free, we throw ourselves in.

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  • Pull out for lunch. Hot dogs on the bank. Look for hot dog loving bears over shoulder. Swat mosquitoes.

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  • Float in between every spare rock not busy holding something up in Alaska. Hit a few.
  • Campsites all full.

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  • Except this one. Stop and haul most of the gear off the raft. Again.
  • Eat a sumptuous dinner of green enchiladas cooked in a Dutch oven. Preparing food ahead of time and freezing it does have its benefits. Pat self on back.
  • 9pm- Set up portable bear fence.
  • 10pm- Still setting up portable bear fence. Electrical engineer hands housewife directions in five languages for properly attaching battery to fencing. Achtung! Peligro! Steam escapes wife’s ears. Engineer repents and figures out problem after three tries. Hint: make sure batteries are properly installed.
  • 11pm- slight humming sound of electrified bear fence is music to ears of neurotic camper. Oblivion.

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Day Four, Saturday

  • 3:30am- awake instantly and determine no more humming is heard. Hear branches crackling nearby.
  • 3:31am- force other adult to wake up and check batteries. Still going strong. Might as well use Potty Cup. Paper version on it’s last legs, determine to bring a plastic cup next time.
  • 10am- camp packed up and put back on raft (again). Float off for the last time.
  • Smooth going. A little boring. Wishing anemic, unreliable 2.5 horsepower motor was attached again.

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  • Pull into the landing at Sourdough Creek Campground after passing under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline (above pic). The end.

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  • Maybe not. Unpack gear from boat (again) and haul up to truck. Deflate and fold raft.
  • Eat a sandwich with a little sand in it. Swat bugs.
  • Pack up truck. Put whining children in it. Drive away. Resolve to take a long, hot shower at home, draining the hot water tank if possible.

And next year, we’ll do it all again.


Any camping or rafting this summer? Feelings about concessions cups? And please do weigh in if you’ve floated the Gulkana!

Monday, May 28, 2012

You might be an Alaskan if…(summer edition)

Not content to canvas a subject so near to my heart just once, I hereby present for your pleasure the quiz you are all longing to take. Your week will not be complete without the perusal of this list.  And if nothing else, you will find out if you are a true Alaskan.  Just in case you weren’t sure.

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You might be an Alaskan if:

  • summer is your favorite month of the year.
  • your pet fishing hole is a more closely guarded secret than oh, say that time you ran out into the street in your pink bathrobe waving a broken golf club and throwing cheap garden ornaments at a bear.  Whoops, did I really just write that for all to see? Again?
  • the first mosquito bite of the year is a badge of honor.  Not really, but it helps take your mind off the itch.

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  • you just planted your new annuals, perennials, and veggies out this weekend.  Memorial Day weekend is the traditional “safe” time to plant so as to ensure no frost damage. (As for this impatient zone cheater, mine got planted two weeks ago. Don’t tell!)
  • your plant defense arsenal includes a bottle of Plantskydd and in certain (mostly rural) cases, an electric fence.
  • camping weekends have already been blocked out on the calendar. If I survive my four-day camping trip and float of the Gulkana River, I’ll let you all know. To rally my spirits, the husband has shown me YouTube clips of people losing their coolers and dumping their rafts over on that river. I’m feeling really confident about the whole thing, as you can see….
  • you have water-skied on a lake so cold your lips turned blue.
  • you anticipate attack every time you step outside by our official state bird, which long time Alaskans know is the mosquito, or Gigantus bloodsuckerus. Continued exposure to attacks results in chronic twitchiness and occasional, random waving of arms around in short bursts of paranoia.  Your out-of-state family members begin to look at you with concern.

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  • you have gone dip-netting, an Alaskan residents-only fishery.
  • the snow no longer hides your two junk cars, elderly Arctic Cat snowmachine, boat trailer, and badly listing wood pile. On the up side, you found that [thing] you were looking for during the winter that was buried under snow.
  • the motor home has come home.  Or maybe, if you didn’t take it to an offsite storage company for winter, you have at least yanked off the blue tarp cocoon that swaddled it over the winter.
  • the chirping of robins keeps you awake at night.
  • Alternatively, the famous midnight sun keeps you awake at night.  Those needing darkness to slumber invest in curtains, shades, or in a tacky pinch, aluminum foil across the window.

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  • you know what devil’s club is, and want nothing to do with it.  (Gold stars awarded to those that know it is a plant, demerits for those that assume it is a wicked, prince-of-darkness endorsed motorcycle gang/book group.) I threw in a very recent picture (above) of a stem before the leaf unfurls.  The largest spiky stalk I saw was over my (6 foot) head. 

The undersides of the leaves develop spikes as well.  Or is it prickers? Since I can’t find my botany book from college and am too lazy to find the answer on the computer, we may never know. I still have childhood memories of running through the forest and stumbling into patches of this.  Not good in short pants and short sleeves.

If you have experienced 79.85% of these items, you have, or were, or should be, an Alaskan.  Congratulations!  Or is it condolences?


What makes the locals unique where you’re from?


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