Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Little Farther South

Here's a slide series of walks along the road on the Kenai penninsula,at a similar latitude to Kodiak. Note how much less color there is than on the prior blog further north.

(Hope you like the train-like tempo of the music. The train that takes the cruise ship people to Denali passes by here. So you could have seen this too, if you where a little lazy and just rode the train.)

Our vacation was exciting. The first night camping we stopped by the Portage glacier in a campsite with only one other camping family. The lady rode her bike over to let us know they had 2 visits by a bear during that day. Thought we might want to know.

They had been Bar-B-Q ing and had a trailer into which to retreat. We had gotten there just before dark and had already set up out tent.

So, I stayed up till dark at 10 PM with my camera (and 44) hoping to snap a picture in case a bear came. After that it was the 44 by my side, all night long.

Fortunately, no visitor. Until our return form the glacier. A little movement of the bushes and the small black bear in the pictures crosses the trail 15 feet in front of us.

He doesn't look at us. Seems not to notice us. Just crosses as if he owned the place.

Our 2 dogs just keep smelling the grass...didn't notice him either.

Wonder how close to the tent he came that night.

But...All's well that ends safe, don't you think?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn on the Alaskan mainland

Below is a slide/video of our trip after visiting the State Fair: Palmer, thru Glenallen down to McCarthy (next to the Kennicutt mine) at Wrangle-St.Elias National Park. Went up 3 glaciers on vacation (more about those another day perhaps).

It was the last week of August and the first week of September. On the way back, the leaves had lost their oranges and even many of the yellow ones had fallen.

The further north and the higher in altitude, the earlier winter comes. Anchorage is at 61 degrees Latitude north. Kodiak is at 57.6. Since each degree of Latitude is 69 miles, that means Anchorage is about 235 miles north of us. Glenallen is at 62.1, so about 310 miles north of us. In addition, Glenallen is about 1000 feet above sea level. So check out their fall colors!

The locals seems to really enjoy living so far from modern civilization and the frigid inland cold of AK. So I thought that song is something they would appreciate (even if there is only one road that goes towards their neck of the woods).

P.S. Here in AK, the treeline is about 3000 feet, according to a ranger. So you can see how high some of those peaks by the side of the road might be. Wrangle-St Elias park has some of the highest mountains (aside from Mckinley/Denali), lots of them over 15,000.

Anyway, look at our video on the prior blog, about Old Woman Trail in Kodiak taken just 3 - 4 days before today's video....for a comparison of how much greener it is here in Kodiak, at sea level and 300 miles south.

By the time we got back, Kodiak's Pushky had started to turn brown. Now the wild grasses are also changing. But the trees are still nice and green. And my lawn still keeps growing and growing; that is good.'ll need at least one more mowing! Darn it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Take a Hike

Enough about berries. It is time to burn off some of those calories from all that baking.

Here's a hike up Old Woman Mountain at the end of August. Its a nice climb along what looke like a creek bed to a great view of Kodiak. And if you are tired and hot, how about a swim in the lake at the top? That's the plan.

But on this day, it was a little too windy. So we returned before reaching the lake for a swim.

The houses below are for the Coast Guard. The airport you see is Kodiak's major airport, and the plane you see takingoff goes to Anchorage. There are 2 others for float planes and wheelled small planes used locally.

Note how green everything was in Kodiak. Our next blog will be showing pics from just north of Anchorage, about 2 days later. What a difference a few hundred miles north can make! (We'll show you autumn on the mainland soon.)

P.S. If some Coasties see their old houses, hope you don't get too homesick. But remember: Kodiak is a great place to return for another tour of duty or even retire. Hope to see you soon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Our Favorite Kodiak Berry

Sounds like lots of people liked the blueberry blog. Yes, our blueberries are great.

We also have low bush cranberries that grow on the mountains, though I've never gone to pick those.

By far, though, this is our favorite: The Salmonberry.

Maybe they call them that, because they look like red salmon.
Here it is, early in the season, June to early July.

In late July and through August. Just right to eat!

The darker, the sweeter.

Its bigger than a a raspberry. But, less tart, and has a lot of more liquid inside. So when you go on a hike, you can just pick them off the branches and get a "pick me up". In fact, you really don't need to take water if you are going in a short to moderate hike. You have sweetness, tartness, and water all in one.

We are not the only ones who love them, though. I've heard that bears occasionally abandon fishing to find a bunch of Salmonberries and take a break from all that protein.

So watch that there is not a furry picker in the bushes wanting the same thing you want. And be careful of what you put in your mouth..... 'cause slugs like to crawl on and in them after a rain.

They are great to put on your cereal in the morning. Or make a jelly for your toast. Syrup for your ice cream or bread pudding! So get youself a bunch and get canning.

Here is how you do it: Freeze them. Then rinse them (....'cause its easier to remove the occasional baby slug when they are frozen).

Cook, mash, and can them.

(P.S. Maybe this is why they really call them salmonberries:
when mashed for canning, they do look like salmon eggs)

Anyway, now you have a special treat for your breakfasts.

It's a reminder in winter of why we live here!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kodiak Blueberries

August was berry picking month in Kodiak. And blueberries are a favorite.

Here is what a mid August afternoon's efforts can yield.

Enough for 2 good size pies and leftovers for morning pancakes.

Sure, ours are not as large as those genetically engineered giants at the grocery store.

But they sure pack a heck of a lot more flavor into every bite!