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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Some Pictures I Missed

Now that we are back in Kodiak I've been going through the vacation photos and found a few that escaped posting. We seem to have taken A LOT of good photos and I don't want any to get away. (We tend to never again look at the photos we don't post on the blog).

It's good to see all the warmth and sun - I do miss it. Here on Kodiak it is now dreary, wet and warm. Funnily enough, I checked the weather for Wickenburg and for the next few days it is supposed to colder there than here! Arizona without the heat - Egads! We did leave just in time.

Photos: Top - Nora and Stuey on top of a rock - Stuey has become a photo ham/hog and once he saw I was taking a photo of Nora he runs over to get into the picture. Second - sunset view from the porch. Third - Polly and John and family enjoying the sunset on the porch. Fourth - Zoya enjoying the sun. Fifth - Nora and an etchy sketchy drawing she made on the way home - clearly influenced by the desert views of Arizona. Note the cactii, mountain and even palm tree on the upper right. Bottom - a family photo while on a hike down a wash taken by John. Patrick

Monday, November 28, 2011

As expected it snowed while we were away

Back before we left for Arizona I posted that I expected the weather to be great while I was away (lots of snow and cold). This always happens - when I leave it snows and when I get back it rains. And guess what? I was right.

While we were away Kodiak had temperatures in the single digits and it snowed A LOT. With this morning's snow we are now up to almost 30 inches total for the season, and when we left I think we were up to less than a foot. To put this in perspective Anchorage is setting snow records for this early in the season, and they are only up to 31 inches so far. So we are only an inch behind a snowy 'Los Anchorage'!

Unfortunately, the other side of the coin is that it is about to rain. On wednesday it is supposed to get up to around 40 degrees and RAIN. But hey, at least I got back in time to enjoy some of the snow. AND even if it rains here in town it will snow up high.


Photo is of the Upper Buskin River just below the canyon where I went cross country skiing this afternoon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wintery Sunday

This morning we woke up with lots of snow so Patrick and I got a sitter for the kids and went to Abercrombie Lake to ski. The kids were so excited about a sitter all morning. I think because they haven't had a babysitter for so long, and after being with us more or less 24/7 for the past week, they were looking forward to a break from the 'rents'.

Patrick and I skiied for an hour and 15 minutes and the time flew by. We went at the perfect time, as by the end of it, the weather turned to rain. Since taking 2 cross country ski lessons in Anchorage last year, I"ve been trying to work on making my form a bit more efficient, so days like today were perfect. Especially for skiing around the lake over and over again.

At one of my ski lessons last year, I videoed my instructor, Lili going over all the cues I needed to work on. Today I watched that video, wrote down the pointers and said them to myself on the lake. It really helped to watch the video as a reminder of what I was working on last winter, as its been 8 months since I've been working on ski form.

And then this afternoon, I had another wintery holiday moment by going to Isle Bells Holiday concert. It was so beautifu and perfectl. I was in awe. What a phenomenal group of women producing wonderful music together. I was so happy for Ella up there directing--what a gift. Stuey and Nora loved the concert as well...Stuey is a VERY enthusiastic clapper, I've discovered!


Ella and Stuey
Me on Lake Gertrude at Ft. Abercrombie

Isle Bells Concert

Tonight was the Winter Holiday Concert for Isle Bells, Kodiaks first Community Handbell Choir.

It was beautiful! The auditorium was packed-350 people in attendance! Ella started the choir last summer with the help of many amazing women and what a gorgeous group they are. They played holiday music and other beautiful pieces for 1 hour. The concert was at 3:30 in the afternoon and lots of families were in attendance. What a great way to start the holiday season!!

In this clip, they play Little Drummer Boy.

Congratulations to Ella and Isle Bells!!


A bit of History

On our last day In Wickenburg, we all signed the 50 year old guest book. The house was bought by Patrick's grandparents in 1958 and the guest book started in 1960. It is quite a relic. There are entries from Patrick's aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, family friends. The book is almost filled up, with only a couple of pages left. It was fun for me to read back to the 4 prior times I"ve been there, to see what we did and who else was there.

Just a few more pictures from our last desert hike before leaving--where Patrick led us to an old Indian site and petroglyphs. Our nephew, Sam, was fascinated by looking for artifacts as well as hearing about Patrick's hunting stories throughout the week. He was quite disappointed to not be able to take any arrowheads home. Its always fun to go history-hunting with Patrick....


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bye Bye Sun~ Hello Holiday Travel and Rude Passengers

In the Seattle airport for a 2 hr layover. Just got off a flight from Phoenix to Anchorage. I sat with Nora and Stuey on the airplane and they watched a movie.

At the very start of the flight, Nora lightly touched the seat of the lady in front of her. She promptly turned around and said in an uptight voice, "Hi kids what are your names? I don't want you touching my seat. It really bothers me." this took me by surprise, as they had barely touched her seat. Nonetheless, the flight proceeded with only a few arguments amongst the kids. And the kids were really good about not touching her seat. On a scale of 1-10 of flying misbehavior (10 being worst possible), I'd say they were a 3-4.( And we've seen a 10...when Nora cried for 5 hours straight from Seattle to Boston...It was horrible.) Not too bad considering they got up at 3 am.

Then the good part comes. We go to a coffee shop at the Seattle food court waiting for our coffee. And there next to us is the lady on the airplane. She looks at us and promptly said, "Your children were awful". I was speechless. Patrick replied, "You thought that was bad? oh they usually are much worse." I asked her "do you have kids?". She hesitated and said Yes, although something about her reply made me not believe her. I said, "Wow. Way to spread the love." I was in total disbelief. If I had been quicker on my feet, I may have replied, "Happy Holidays to you, too!".

Flying with kids makes Patrick and I keep our sense of humor. Fortunately, as she walked off, Patrick and I were already starting to laugh about how horribly rude it was to say anything like that. Flying with kids is the pits. Really truly.


Pictures are some Arizona ones that make me miss the sun.....

Missing the sunshine in Arizona...but excited to get home to Ski!!


Archaeology in the Desert

Yesterday we all hiked up a nearby wash to look at some ancient petroglyphs. Somehow, despite almost 40 years of exploring and visiting the area AND another 25 years or so as a professional archaeologist, I had never visited or seen the petroglyphs. They lived up to their billing - VERY cool.

The glyphs (top 2 photos and bottom) are only lightly pecked into the weathered granite. No where near as deeply pecked as the ones I am used to examining in Alaska. In the wash directly in front of the glyphs animals had dug out a hole in the sand down to water, and I wonder if the glyphs were there to mark the water? Or perhaps to act as magic to keep the water flowing?

It was fun to visit the glyphs with my cousins and kids - I don't usually get to play 'the archaeologist' with family around. And I remembered that I had found an ancient campsite near the glyphs. So we went looking for it. It was a little disconcerting to realize how little I know about archaeology in the desert. Totally different place and archaeology than what I am used to experiencing by the sea in Alaska.

It took a while to find the old campsite, and we even found the little piles of artifacts that I had left in place 20 years earlier. I don't think many people know about the site because all the scrapers and chipped stone points are all still there on the surface (I strongly suspect that not even the State archaeologists know about the site). No one has picked any of the artifacts up, and I must admit, it was a little difficult to convince the kids NOT to keep the beautiful tools that they found (see stuey with his first artifact and Zoya with a notched chipped point).

We left all the artifacts in place, and I think I convinced them that removing artifacts destroys the site's integrity. Everyone agreed that it was cool to see the mano still in the metate (the mano ground mesquite beans or something in the metate hole)(fourth photo). We even found old tent rings with all the chipped stone flakes lying all around dropped just where the prehistoric inhabitant had left them.

Everyone kept asking what we had found - how old was the campsite? And I kept thinking that if we were on Kodiak I'd know everything. But in the desert of Arizona I really do not know the local culture history. Still, I noted that we did not find any pottery so that it must be a pretty old site. And the mano and metates indicated that people seemed to have stayed there a while and that it was probably not a temporary hunting camp. But I'll have to read some books about Arizona archaeology to get some more insight!


Friday, November 25, 2011


Yesterday we enjoyed thanksgiving here in Arizona with Polly, John, Jack and Sam. Patrick de-boned the turkey, where he takes most of the bones out, lays the meat flat, then puts the stuffing in it and wraps it up. This was his first time doing it by himself and he used the internet descriptions for assist. His prior knowledge with carving up animals in the field helped a lot,,,as he had an idea where muscles and tendons went.

The dinner was yummy and fun-asparagus, stuffing, turkey and apple crisp for dessert. Polly made apple crisp with apples from Maine and it was delicious!

Good times in Arizona for thanksgiving!

Today is our last day of vacation and we will begin packing up for the return trip home tomorrow. We’ll be returning to cold, snowy Kodiak! Back to skiing!


Pictures: The one of Nora on the floor was after dinner. She was exhausted; it was only 6:00! She was closing her eyes to go to sleep and went to bed shortly after the photo was taken!!

Walks and Swimming

Two days ago we all took a great walk down the driveway on the road a ways. There are so many incredible hikes into the desert on various trails that Patrick and Polly know about from 30+ years of coming here since childhood.

The kids loved scampering up the big rocks, and Stuey got himself stuck several times on big rocks. He would cry but not want anyone to help him. He is a very determined, stubborn little guy at times. Along the way Jack found an old small snakeskin-see photo!

Polly showed us where the horse graveyard was. There are about 4-5 horses in the horse graveyard, with gravestones from the 70’s and 80’s. Patrick and Polly both remember way back when there were horses here on the property and they even remembered all of the horses. The last of the horses on the property died in 1986. By the end of the walk Stuey was beet red and very warm. Fortunately Polly brought water for him to drink and when we returned to the house, everyone went to the pool and played for a long time.

In the pool, Stuey is learning how to doggie paddle. He has had semi-deflated orange arm inflatables on, but they don’t provide much support as he jumps in and swims along the side of the pool. We watch him like a hawk. He is learning the art of blowing out his air underwater and struggles to not hold his breath. It is such hard, good work for him. He has been very tired and extra grumpy in the evenings from it.


Pictures: Outdoor shower which has warm water. Love taking showers in it after swimming!
Stuey and his water "wings"
Horse Graveyard
Hiking in the desert
Nora and I playing cards. We play lots of rounds of Crazy 8's! She loves her card games.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Aunts and Uncles and Cousins

Aunts and Uncles and Cousin Love

This past week has been so great for cousin time together. It warms my heart to see the older cousins playing with the younger cousins. On our walk today, I noticed Sam (9) holding Stuey’s (4) hand for a long part of the walk- warmed my heart. I can tell Nora and Stuey admire Sam and Jack. In the morning, they are excited for Jack and Sam to get up.

My twin sister and I were the youngest of 30+cousins growing up; Our older cousins were the cool cats-we always wanted to be like them and do like them. During the summers they were the ones who would put lip gloss on us, take us water skiing, talk about boys, etc. Since Ella and I didn’t have older siblings, our cousins filled that role when we were with them. I see the same happening here. Except that Nora occasionally says to me “Mom, it seems like there are only boy cousins”… which is largely true.

It has also been fun to see the Aunt/Uncle relationships form, especially with Nora and her Aunt Polly. During dinner preparations the other night, Polly encouraged Nora helping her make apple crisp. She gave Nora lots of fun kitchen tasks and Nora soaked up every minute cooking with Aunt Polly.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vulture Peak

Ever since my first trip to Wickenburg in 2002, I’ve heard about and seen Vulture Peak. It is a uniquely shaped mountain that I had heard was fun to hike and I never had the chance to do it. Today Polly, John and my two nephews Jack (11), and Sam (9) hiked up Vulture Peak. It was a blast. It was a 3 hour roundtrip trek- 4 miles.

The weather was the perfect temperature (high 60’s/low 70’s), the views were incredible and it was fun to catch up with Polly and John and my nephews. I was most impressed with my nephews…they didn’t complain or say “are we there yet” at all. Jack got a blister on his foot, but made very little deal out of it. We had lots of good laughs and conversations on the way up and down.

When we got home, the kids were playing by the pool. When we were gone Patrick took them to the local Wickenberg museum which evidently was a blast! The evening was filled with all of us cooking together in the kitchen, music playing, Nora helping Polly cook apple crisp, Sam helping Stuey make paper airplanes….
Very good family times.


-Group picture on Vulture Peak
-View from the Top
-My sister-law-Polly and I at the start of the hike. Vulture Peak is behind us.
-My nephews, Jack and Sam and I taking a break. They were awesome hikers!
-Hanson-Saltonstall family pic!
Evening scene on the front deck.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fun Chaos

The whole crew is now at Smokeview. Polly, John, Jack, Sam, Zoya, Patrick, Nora, Stuey and 4 random dogs. The countdown to Thanksgiving has begun. Needless to say, but it is pretty noisy around here. There is a great deal of energy here now.

Yesterday, when I went for a walk in the hills behind the house I could here dogs barking, loud conversation and kids screeching over a mile away from the house. This is not a bad thing. Stuey and Nora are in Heaven. Sam and Jack helped Stuey with his sand fort and there is always someone for them to play with. The energy of the kids playing together is so fun….older cousins with younger cousins. Patrick