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Saturday, June 25, 2016

View from the teepee

This past week Gregg and I conducted a 4-day archaeological survey of Kazakof Bay on Afognak Island. We traveled by inflatable kayak and camped as we went.  The scenery was gorgeous and we got super lucky with the weather. I'll write some more about the camping, wildlife, and archaeology in posts to come.  Today I'll show the view from our second camp through time.

It was sunny and hot every evening on the trip so we tried to find campsites that faced East, and were shaded by the tall spruce trees.  That way we could light the woodstove and not over-heat in a tent flooded with sunshine.  In the morning the rising sun would dry off the dew in camp.

Anyway, here is a series of photographs documenting how the view changed from just after setting up the teepee on our arrival, through sunset, moornrise (we were worried the high tide might flood our teepee), and sunrise.  Patrick

Monday, June 20, 2016

Wildflowers in the Alpine

Eschscholtz Buttercup - Ranunculus eshscholtzii

For the past fortnight I've been taking the dogs skiing practically every day.  We climb up Pyramid Mountain and then they chase me across the snow and we hike back down. The wild flowers are blooming like crazy. Two weeks ago the skiing was still pretty good, but by last week it was getting pretty skimpy.  There is still a run that is 600 vertical feet long - only it is broken in the middle and you now have to cross a short section of grass to ski the whole run. 

Last week I decided I'd try and learn a new flower every day.  I already know a lot of them like the Pixie-eye Primrose, White Anemone, Avens etc, so I went looking for the ones I did not know.  Each day I did not bring the plant book up with me so it was sort of a two day process.  I'd try and memorize the flower I found and then I'd look it up in the book when I got home.  And then the next day I'd find the flower again and confirm my identification.

I was surprised to find buttercups and hawkweed that are native to Kodiak.  I'd thought all hawkweed and buttercups were invasive species - but no I gather there are relatives of the standard roadside buttercup and orange hawkweed that do indeed belong here.

Anyway, here are the new flowers I learned the names of last week.  Patrick

Snow Bed Marigold - Caltha leptosepala

Another of the buttercup where you can better see the leaves

Leatherleaf Saxifrage - Leptarrhena pyrolifolia

Wooly Hawkweed - Hieracium triste

Dying snowfields, Brewster and Lupine

Yellow Anemone - Anemone richardsonii

On the ride home the doggies love to stick their heads out the car windows and sniff

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Stephen Curry and Pretzels

For the past week, Zoya took the kids to Anchorage where Nora attended a baking camp while Stuey did the basketball camp.  In the meanwhile I've been holding down the home base, taking care of the dogs (I've taken them skiing every day), and living the camps vicariously through pictures from Zoya's cell phone.  I got to see Nora's baking creations, and Stuey's shooting award.  I gather he came in third in the end-of-the-camp shooting contest.

What I find hilarious about the shooting contest is that it is the 'Stephen Curry Shooting Tournament'.  Stuey is a big LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers fan, and right now Stephen Curry's Warriors are playing the Cavaliers in the NBA finals.  Tonight is the final game of the season - the winner of the game is the NBA champion.

All spring Stuey has been asking me who is better - Lebron or Steph?  And we've both always agreed that Lebron is the MAN.  Steph can shoot, but not if you push him around (which is no longer legal in today's NBA - click here for nice article on this).

So it is ironically funny that Stuey got a 'Stephen Curry' shooting award.  At least I think it is funny - I hope the instructors did not sway Stuey's basketball allegiances.   Patrick

Garden at the Solstice

Beets, salad, and carrots - radishes all gone

Tomorrow is the summer solstice and it is time to report on the progress of this year's garden.  Needless-to-say, but it is way ahead of what it usually looks like at this time of the year.  Last year it was pretty far along (click here for post), but this year is even ahead of last year.  Normally at this time things are barely starting to grow (Click here for June 2011).

We have been eating lettuce for a few weeks now, and have already harvested all the radishes.  Today I cut the scapes off of the garlic and plan on making pesto with them (click here for the recipe I want to try).  I also noticed that the red potatoes are about to flower.  Will we be eating new potatoes in July?

This past winter all the annual flowers I left in plants survived - as did the kale.  The over-wintered kale desperately wants to flower and I've been eating the flower shoots in salads.  The new leaves are tender and very mild - way way better than kale that is less than a year old.  Also the kale from 2 years ago went to seed last fall, and self seeded for this year's crop.  Wow! It looks like my kale is becoming self sufficient.  Patrick

Beets and carrots - radishes all gone here too

Red potatoes about to flower!

Last year's kale and self-seeded kale for this year

Some self seeded kale and thyme and sage that over wintered

Garlic with scapes and yellow potatoes

Monday, June 13, 2016

Peanut Butter Cookie Monday

Since last February the kids have been signed up for June camps here in Anchorage. Stuey for basketball camp and Nora for baking camp.

The past couple of years I've felt like a failure in helping Nora in the baking department and figured it would be super fun for her to learn from someone else. There has admittedly been a lack of patience on my part with the baking, measuring learning curve.  The occasional flour, chocolate messes to clean up in the kitchen end up feeling like bigger deals in my mind then they really are.

My thinking was that if she spent a week with someone else really pounding out the basic recipes then I could take things from there and explore all types of recipes with her. I really want to do more baking and cooking with Nora. She is so enthusiastic in the kitchen. Its a fire I want to add fuel to.

 Stuey's  friend Liam decided to join Stuey at basketball camp. This greatly eased Stuey's nerves for doing a new camp in Anchorage. There have been oodles of giggles and laughter on car rides and at bed time...4th grade boy humor at full action. Oh boy!!

This morning as I sat with Nora waiting for her baking camp to begin she said, "Thank you for waiting with me until camp starts". The other students were filing in, getting their white chef jackets on and sitting and talking with each other.

"Thank you for letting me sit with you!!" I replied.  I'm glad she wants me there, not pushing me away. It was fun to see the kiddos come in, put on their jackets and see how they congregated together.

At 11 o'clock sharp the junior chefs were whisked off to the kitchen. Nora gave me a nervous but excited smile and I left for the parking lot.

At the end of the day, Nora walked proudly out of class with two boxes of cookies! Chocolate chip, oatmeal chocolate chip, Sugar, Ginger Molasses, peanut butter. The peanut butter cookies are truly the best peanut butter cookies I've ever had.

Nora said that just maybe she'll share the  peanut butter cookie recipe with me.
As well as the secret in making those peanut butter gems so deliciously moist!


Secret beach

Tunnel through the salmonberries

Yesterday Nora and I took the dogs for a walk to 'Secret Beach'.  It earns its name because it is tucked away between cliffs and hard to access unless you know the trail, and not many people do know about the trailhead - it's a secret.  Of course you can also access the beach at low tide when it is possible to walk below the cliffs.  Nora liked the secret aspects and mentioned that 'it sort of like the secret garden' in a book she read.  Patrick

Secret beach

Doggies fetch sticks - only Tank likes to swim

Nora's jacket matches the shooting star

Nora explores the tide flats


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Woody Island Day Two

Day Two on Woody Island was filled with a walk to Sawmill beach on the other side of the island for a beach clean up. This was my first time there and it was fun to be situated between Long Island on one side and a view of Spruce Cape on the other!

We picked up a whole trailer load of marine debris and loaded it onto a four wheeler where it was driven back to camp.

When I fly over woody island, it doesn't seem that big. And it seems flat. But Woody Island is neither. It is hilly and much bigger than it looks.



Saturday, June 11, 2016

Woody Island day One

Last weekend my girl scout troop ventured to Near Island for two nights to stay in the Woody Island Camp. This was my first time staying in the cabins and having bunks for the girls to sleep in was so lovely. They had such excitement about setting up their things in the cabin and their smiles were contagious!

In lieu of losing my mom so recently, this trip was just perfect. We didn't have to set up tents and we had a full kitchen to work with. There was a warm woodstove going to dry wet gear and all had a lovely time. I ended up not sleeping well in the cabins~I'm thinking I do better sleeping on the earth in a tent. The weekend was full of "firsts" for scouts and adults alike and my love for Woody Island grew even more.