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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Run Bike & More Nora Pics

Yesterday I came home from skiing and found the kids already out on the lawn with the babysitter. She had them 'sledding' with the run bike down the hill in the back. The babysitter left, and we spent another hour going up and down the hill with the run bike. Stuey also did a few runs on top of Thomas the Train. I was amazed at how well the kiddos can ride the bike, and brought out the bike with pedals for them to try. The bike with pedals and training wheels did not work well at all because the training wheels got in the way! I guess it is time for the training wheels to go away.

I took the top two photos of Nora 'sledding' on wheels, and then she decided that she wanted to take photos of Stuey doing a run. The bottom 3 photos are all ones Nora took. I've noticed that Nora is into taking self portraits of herself just like Mommy does. But Nora prefers to take them while making a funny face. Nora got a pretty good action pic of Jake with a stick. Patrick

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Flying versus driving (My TSA rant)

The recent attempted airline bombing has prompted a great deal of discussion in the press. Much of the coverage has highlighted the inadequacies of our ‘security apparatus’ and how the recent events should be a wake up call for improvement.

Do we expect the TSA to catch the bad guys every single time? Is this an achievable goal? ‘Improvements’ are spendy, and will make airline travel a serious hassle – way worse than it is now. As a nation we have already spent over 40 billion dollars improving our airline security, and I’d argue that we are only minimally safer today than we were in 2001.

Meanwhile our airlines are going out of business and plane travel has become a serious hassle. Today in an effort to cut costs the airlines seem to nickel and dime everything. Remember the good old days when you could put 2 big bags under the plane for free, the planes were half empty, and you always got a good, in-flight meal? And today, the worse part of travel is not the flying – it’s just getting through security.

I’d rather they not try to improve security because I’m certain that they will not get it right. Remember a few years ago when Ted Kennedy got tagged as a terrorist and held up in security. Or when the Feds tested the TSA checkers by putting explosives through the machines and the explosives were not detected? How about all the stories of people inadvertently carrying on pistols etc?

Millions of people travel and it is inevitable that TSA personnel will burn out fruitlessly checking everyone for weapons and bombs. Isn’t it ridiculous when they treat toddlers and grandmothers like hardened terrorists? I think we’d be far better off if the TSA did profile a bit and saved their serious searches for people who did not make eye contact etc.

Terrorist attacks are inevitable – just like the occasional plane crash. We will never be able to stop a determined terrorist. But even with the occasional crash and bombing, airline travel will still be far safer than other modes of travel. Since 2001 fewer and fewer opt to fly and more people are choosing to drive. How many extra people have died because they decided to drive rather than fly? Statistics show that car travel has higher rates of fatality.

I like to think of our airlines as a chicken coop, and the terrorists as foxes trying to get in and kill the chickens. A farmer will only keep chickens if it is worth his while in eggs and chicken meat. If he has to spend more on fences and traps keeping the foxes out than he gets in eggs and meat he will stop keeping chickens. Most farmers are realists and do not mind losing the occasional chicken. They do not spend a buck on new fencing to get back a dime’s worth of extra eggs.

Picture the airlines ten years from now if we do try to improve security further –tickets will likely cost twice what they do now. The hassle will be far greater, and every bag will cost you 50 bucks. Will it be worth it? Will we be any safer than we are now? Everything we do entails risk. You can get hit by a car crossing the road, so should you cross the road? As a nation we need to learn how to assess risks and their cost of mitigation. Do we need to make our airlines safer than our crosswalks?

Just some food for thought. Patrick

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Busy Doula Days and Nora's photos

Patrick has recently trusted Nora a bit with his camera and she has been whizzing around the house snapping photos left and right of walls, us, the floor, furniture...etc. It is fun to see the world through "Nora lenses"! You realize how low she really is to the ground and what things really interest her. All four photos posted were ones that she took.

Today I"m a bit groggy...I attended 2 births as a doula in a matter of 3 days, which is quite a feat! The first birth was on Sunday and the second birth began as soon as I got home from work last night (Monday)-I got the text message at 7Pm and was at the hospital with her shortly after. The funny part was the nursing staff and doctor were identical on both night shifts. When I arrived on the floor, I looked at nurses and we all laughed. They said, "back for more? Weren't you just here?".

I returned home at 10:30 this morning from the hospital. Wow! What a busy couple of days. Being at 2 births back to back is quite the task! But 200% rewarding and fabulous. (Typically, Katie and I are back up for eachother and in this case we would most likely have shared the case load, but Katie is out of town for the holidays, so I was on board for both of them.I"m just SO happy they didn't both go into labor at the same time!)

I'm in awe of the miracle of birth. It is truly amazing-watching babies be born into the world-and to see men and women transformed into parents! This past year I've attended around 10 births as a doula and each one is so unique and incredible! It is a true, true honor to be invited and to be part of such an personal, incredible rite of passage for a mom. Its hard to believe that it was less than a year ago that I began doula work--and what a positive response the community of Kodiak has displayed towards A Balanced Approach Doula services. When I opened up my business just over a year ago, I envisioned it having only physical therapy services and fitness classes...and now childbirth education and doula services are offered. I truly couldn't be happier in my own clinic.

Off to do some laundry and cleaning then EARLY to bed for this cowgirl!


Grinding Meat

Last night we ground up all the burger from this year's hunting season. That's over a 100 pounds of meat! And I am proud to say that Stuey seemed to enjoy it. He was intrigued watching the ground meat coming out of the grinder, and frequently helped Gregg with redistributing the finished meat in the tote.

We did not grind the meat earlier this year because we wanted mix in organic beef fat from my Aunt and Uncle's farm out East. Last spring we sent them Halibut, Cod and Crab from Kodiak, and in return they sent us organic beef fat and lamb from their farm. What a deal! But we had to wait until December for them to butcher their cows - hence the long delay for the big grind. Only problem with the fat is that it was too good and kept on gumming up the meat grinder. Patrick

Monday, December 28, 2009

Annual Christmas Party

Yesterday I took the kids to Libby and Jim's annual Christmas party. It's an after Christmas Kodiak tradition. Kids galore, good food, Balalaika singers, a HUGE christmas tree, and a diverse blend of the Kodiak community. I think my favorite part is the ham - Libby always puts out the world's best ham. But I think the kids really like the toys and other kids. Nora also liked dressing up in her new dress. Stuey REALLY liked the horsey, and they also played a lot in 'Rosie's Bait Shack'. Jim told Mike and I that the box really did once contain a load of bait (squid actually), and that since the box was so substantial they decided to keep it. They made it into a little fort and it has held up to 9 years of abuse. Zoya was helping with a birth so I went to the party with the kids and Mike and Cece. Mike and I traded off on watching the kids. Patrick

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Dinner

Mike, Roxann, Cece and baby Sophie came over for Christmas dinner. Patrick and Mike made a prime rib and we were laughing about the Fred Flintstone-size servings of meat. Patrick is seriously part cave man!

Stuey LOVED holding baby Sophie! He sat with her on the couch for around 20 minutes. And the only reason their time together had to end was that Sophie was getting hungry! He was so gentle and content with Sophie on his lap! It was precious...I had a BRIEF moment of "maybe another baby would be fun....Stuey would make a good big brother" (but don't worry-that moment quickly passed. I love having 2 kids!! Its the perfect number for our family. Any more, and I believe our lives would become chaotic.)



Stuey and Sophie, The Fred Flinstone portions of meat, Patrick and Mike, Roxann and Myself & Stuey modeling the goat hat.

Santa Claus came to Kodiak

On Christmas Eve, Nora and Stuey were very excited about Santa's arrival. In preparation, we talked to Nora about how we should leave some food out for Santa. The "standard" Santa food usually consists of cookies and milk, but we didn't have any cookies, so Nora suggested Pistacios and oranges. And a can of LaCroix soda water! Patrick said, "What should we leave for the reindeer? How about some carrots?"
The next morning, we saw pistacio shells, orange peels and there were teeth marks in the carrots! Santa and his reindeer appreciated all the food! Nora loved seeing how the food was gone. Patrick and I appreciated how there will only be 2 years or so when the kids believe in Santa! And how fun it is. Nora takes Santa so seriously. Its precious. That is the true magic of Christmas!

Patrick's present for me was a goat and beaver fur hat...made from a goat he "harvested" (its so hard for me to write "shot") 2 years ago. Susan Malutin made it. Patrick gave her the whole goat hide and she has been using it for various projects. The fur is so very soft. It's hard to believe it's goat fur! I already have matching goat fur, boots, gloves that Susie fun! Luckily we've had cold weather this winter so I have been able to wear some of it, too!


My new goat-fur trimmed hat!
Stuey and Nora in clothes which were given to them from grandparents.
Nora in a new dress modeling mommy's new hat
Me getting ready for dinner with a final vaccuum.
The remnants from Santas Christmas eve snack! Note the teeth marks on the carrot pieces on the floor!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'No snow' means 'some snow' on Kodiak

One great thing about living on Kodiak is that we always seem to have snow. It's just that sometimes you have to work a bit to get to it. When I lived in Wisconsin - 'no snow' meant no snow. But here, with all the mountains around. No snow usually just means no snow down low, or in town. There is always snow in the mountains - even in Summer. Right now we officially have no snow in town, and yet I can be skate skiing after just a 20 minute hike on the top of Old Womans Mountian - or I can get in some downhill turns on Pyramid Mountain after a short 25 minute drive. Not bad. Am I a Pollyanna? Patrick

Photos: A view over Bells Flats from the top of Old Womans (top) and Barometer Mountain from Pyramid - note that Old Womans just to the left of Pyramid does have a nice cover of snow (bottom).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

'N''O''R''A' Spells Nora

This past week Nora learned how to write her name! Sue helped teach her how to write the letters of her name. Nora was just thrilled. She has done it repeatedly since then and it is becoming more and more read-able. :)

On the top right hand corner of Nora's magna doodle-you can see her name spelled out. (you have to use your imagination a little bit for the "A").

In the picture she drew a house, the dogs, our was a drawing she did when going to sleep in her bunk. She woke up in the morning and came running out with her magna doodle to show us her nighttime creation!


Surf's Up

On my way home from picking up Stuey and Nora at the sitters we noticed some surfers catching the waves at Mill Bay Beach. The kiddos were intrigued by the action so we stopped and watched for a while. As you can see - Stuey was entranced. Stuey just may have caught an inkling of what he'd like to do in life. If you look closely you can see the surfers in the wave beyond Stuey. I also tried to catch them surfing, but every time one of the surfers caught a wave it seemed I was helping one of the kids with something. But I did catch a brief moment of a surfer catching and then rejecting a wave. It will have to do.

Given that our house is in sight of where these guys were surfing. Or as Nora pointed out when we first got to the beach, 'there's our house!' And that Stuey appears to be infatuated with the idea - I think we have more surfing in our future. ... ..

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


On Sunday, Patrick made his debut trip to a pool in Kodiak. It really surprised me as we drove out there, he didn't know where to park, how to get into the building, etc. He really had never been inside the pool! Sunday was a rainy, windy, day and it was fabulous taking the kids for a swim. Patrick played little animal/sea creature games in the kiddie area-they would sit on him and he would scoot around like a sea otter. They loved that! Afterwards we went to the pizza parlor for some dinner. When I ask the kids which pool they want to go to, they almost always reply, "Base Pool" and I believe its because of the pizza parlor next door!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Birdcount

Yesterday I helped out with Kodiak's Christmas Birdcount. My job was to climb up into the mountains and find a ptarmigan. And I did, but it sure was nasty up there (top photo)! Of course when I got back down it cleared up and got beautiful (second photo). The rest of the day I helped out my team by walking down Pilar Creek (where I found an Ouzel, Kingfisher, and some Mergansers). Since I got so wet climbing up the mountain in a blizzard I was freezing for the rest of the day. We even counted the eagles at the dump. When I got home I took a really hot shower and finally warmed up. And then when I took the dogs for a walk I saw my most exotic bird of the day at the end of our driveway - 2 robins. Robins may not sound exotic but they are quite rare on Kodiak. It's funny because a birder in Ohio probably would not bat an eye over a robin - but the 400 bald eagles at the dump would have bowled them over! Patrick

Friday, December 18, 2009

Abercrombie Lake & Zoya's Bible Lessons

Nora goes to the Baptist Mission PreSchool, which we have really enjoyed. They have caring teachers, a great outdoor play area and lots of free play time. In addition, the school also provides a lot of bible education and story time. Patrick and I don't partake in religion at a church at this time here in Kodiak, so for Nora to have some religion in preschool is quite fine with us. THe other day Nora came home with a little wrapped present for us. When we unwrapped it, we discovered a snow globe with a picture of Nora on one side and a drawing of a bible on the other side. I don't know if the kids were under assignment to draw a bible, or if they could draw whatever they chose, but it was cute nonetheless.

Today Nora came home with a christmas gift for her from the Baptist Mission. It was a kids bible. We read about a quarter of it...and ended with the story about God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son. It was a little ghastly and hard to read it with out any sounds of shock in my voice. Nora's eyes got really big, nonetheless. I know the stories have a moral theme to them, and Patrick was remembering how hard core the old testament is. (By the way, I have read VERY little of the bible...I'm ashamed to say. So this is an education for me. Its watered down enough for me to understand. Patrick, on the otherhand, has read lots of the bible in schooling.) Nora is looking forward to finishing the book tomorrow, so I believe I"ll be learning a lot more about the bible, and all the famous historical people in it!

The past week, Nora has carved out a little play area in the living room. She calls it her office. The other day, Stuey ventured into this area. Nora said to him, "Stuey, out of here. A birth is coming up. And I'm taking care of lots of babies." I smiled to myself. She hears me talk about attending births as a doula and taking care of moms and babies with the KINDNESS program. Since that time, Nora has set up her office and I hear her doing imaginary play and talking about babies and feeding babies. Its funny how thats what she talks about because she is emulating me! If I worked at a fashion design company, she'd probably be talking about display ads, getting orders out the door, advertising, etc. Too funny! Shes my little mini-me!

Nora has an imaginary friend, Maya. At first I thought she was talking about our friend Katies daughter, Maya. But the past couple of months, I realized that since she hasn't seen or talked to Katie's Maya, that it is an imaginary Maya. Nora has discussions with her and a few weekends ago even talked about going to Maya's birthday party and Stuey wasn't invited. (this made Stuey cry-poor guy) She can spend 20-30 minutes talking and playing with Maya-perfectly content. I don't remember having imaginary friends as a kid, but thats probably because I had my twin sister always around during those imaginary play years.

Today I went for the first cross country ski of the year on Ft. Abercrombie lake! Patrick and I got a baby sitter for the kiddies and took off for the lake. The weather was just perfect, as was the snow conditions for classic skiing. No one else was on the lake. We did 4 laps and then finished running our various errands. Skiing once again felt so good--got me excited for winter! It was just what I needed. I love how my husband waxes and preps the skis for me--my complete ski guru. In the 10 years of knowing him, I've never had to do any ski waxing and I've done quite a bit of skiing in that time! I'm so lucky!

This past week, Kodiak experienced its first really cold spell this winter. I pulled out the great goat fur winter boots that Susie Malutin made many years ago. Boy did they keep my feet warm! I wore them all over town. So soft and furry on the outside and inside. Not once did my feet get cold, even with temps in the single digits and with wind chill factors below zero degrees!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Big Villages on Rivers

Last spring I got to help map huge prehistoric villages on both Kodiak and the Bering Sea side of the Alaska Peninsula. I was struck by how different they are from each other. The top photo is the map of the village from the other side of the Alaska Peninsula while the bottom map is of a couple of villages on the Karluk River. In each map a 'big' square is 20 meters while a 'small' square is 2 meters. So, as you can see, the old house depressions from the village on the other side of the peninsula are much bigger than the ones from Kodiak. And if you look carefully you will even see 2 'Kodiak' style houses on the map in the lower left corner. The Alaska Peninsula village is also a lot bigger.

Explaining why they are so different from each other is complicated. One reason is that they were built by people with different cultural backgrounds (sort like Italian vs Irish houses) but that does not explain all the differences. The villages are also different ages - the Kodiak villages are only about 500 years old while most of the Peninsula village is about 1500 years old (the 2 'kodiak' style houses are the same age as the houses on the Kodiak map). Another big difference is that the Peninsula village is built on a hill in the middle of a huge swamp while the Karluk villages are built on the banks all along the river. In other words, on Kodiak village placement is not constrained by the geography while on the far side of the Peninsula there are only a few places where you can actually build a village. The latter might help to explain why the villages on the Peninsula are so much bigger.

These are the issues that face archaeologists as they try to interpret what they find. Archaeologists need to consider the geography and history of a particular area to put the archaeological site they are studying into a good context. Next summer we will excavate the village from the far side of the Peninsula. And we will be studying both how it fits within the archaeology of the Alaska Peninsula and comparing it with what we find on Kodiak. In the end, we hope to learn how the two peoples were related and interacted with each other. But first we got to put the villages in context. Patrick

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Terrible 3's

Stuey turns 3 in just over a month and I believe we slid through the twos and could be headed for the "terrible" 3's. Stuey is becoming STUBBORN. For instance, if I start to lift him out of the car and he wants to get out on his own, he says, "No, No, No-Me do." and I have to put him BACK in the car so he can do it on his own.
(I don't mind that part of his independent streak, however. I think thats healthy.)
The part that is draining is he and Nora fighting. Argh. And when Stuey is at all tired, his temper flares up more so than ever before. Stuey is such a cute, sweet little guy but then he just gets SO mad.

Yes, that little guy in sponge bob pajamas with a barrette in his hair is hair is not as innocent as he looks. Today, for instance, was a particularly frusturating stay-at-home day.... fraught with time outs, crying, hair-pulling and other attention getting tactics.

At times I think, "well, maybe its because I'm working too much"...but thats not it. I haven't been working much and recently I had 4 solid days off in a row without any change in his behavior. Who knows. Parenting is like detective work at times. Trying to figure out what changed, or what could improve the situation. One thing I do know is that sleep is HUGE for Stuey's mental attitude (as it is for me, too. Patrick reminds me of this...when I get at all sleep deprived, it is reflected in my mood). And lately Stuey has been rebelling against bed time, which isn't a good cycle.

I know what my sister Ella would recommend-serious physical exercise during the day to tire him out for bed time. I think a seriously long walk tomorrow is in order to tire out my little ones...


Monday, December 14, 2009

Bunk Bed

Nora and Stuey recently got a bunk bed as gift from grandparents. Nora LOVES her top bunk-it is like a private little tree-house. Way up high and only hers. Stuey is stil trying to l warm up to his bottom bunk. I think the bed feels a little small to him after all his time in his toddler bed. And there have been the altercations about the ladder & Stuey wanting to climb into Nora's space...the standard battles which occur all over the world with bunk beds. They are being won and lost here on Cliffside Drive, too!

Tonight before bed I put Nora's hair in a pony tail and Stuey wanted a pony tail too-so he got a "bam-bam" pony tail (flinstones reference) as well as a hairclip like Nora.

Photos are of Patrick telling the kiddies stories at bedtime.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' is something my mom repeated to me over and over when I was a kid growing up. Actually when I return home she still quotes it to me. It's right up there with 'Chacun à son goût' (each to one's own taste) and 'Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone'. But today when I was climbing Pyramid I actually thought about beauty. And my mom is right - beauty is biased by who we are, and we all certainly do not appreciate the same things.

I know that I love winter on Kodiak and I also know that many people do not. Today as I climbed Pyramid I was struck by the stark beauty of the ice and light. It got me thinking about how boring I find it climbing the mountain in summer. It's always raving green and just varies between dry and soaking wet (and always brushy). Sometimes the clouds can be awesome, but, in general, I find the scenics in summer pretty drab. Not so in winter - one day the mountain is covered in powder the next in ice. And the light is always low on the horizon. What's not to love about winter? But then again 'Chacun à son goût'. My mom is always right. Patrick

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Patrick is feeling Old

This is a photo of Patrick taken in 1985-his first summer in Alaska-Karluk. It was discovered by an Aluttiq Museum co-worker who is in the process of recataloging photos. Patrick was 20 at the time of the photo (I was 9).

Patrick thinks he has changed a TON since the photo and I think not so much. Sure, he is more gray now, maybe a few more lines on his face, but really-he looks amazingly similar. Still the same great smile I've always loved Patrick for.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Places to Cross Country Ski

Kodiak’s XC Ski Trails

Trails named in pink
Ski areas named in blue

The basic areas to go XC skiing in Kodiak are as follows:

Lake Gertrude in Abercrombie State Park
This is a very convenient place to go after work, and it is often the only nearby protected place to go when it is very windy. Park at the State Park parking area near the ranger station and walk down to the lake. The lake is pretty safe, but often melts out from shore at the seaward end. Generally good from December through March.

Island Lake
Another convenient place to go after work – even after dark. It is a 3K loop all the way around the outside of the lake. Watch out for the inlet and bad ice on the far left shore (if you are getting on the ice by the Boy Scout lodge). The downside of Island Lake is getting barked at by dogs, and competing with the ATVs and snowmobiles. Generally good from December well into April.

Lilly Pad, Potato Patch and Mission Lakes
These are other small, convenient lakes to go to around town.

Swampy Acres and Lake Catherine
An excellent area to ski where it often snows when it is raining in town. Take the first right in the USGC housing area after Boy Scout Lake and park just past Lake Catherine (on your right) at the yellow gate. There are numerous old military roads to follow in here and Lake Catherine is often a good place to skate ski – and no competing with ATVs or snowmachines. I like to classic ski on the old military roads immediately after a snow before the trails get tracked up by snowshoers and hikers. They eventually turn to packed ice. Generally good from December to the beginning of April.

Buskin Lake and Upper River
I think this is my favorite place to ski – usually us cross country skiers have it to ourselves and our tracks last a while. I usually park at the outlet to the lake and ski across the lake to the river and old military roads up above the lake. But you can also access this area from the road past the golf course. If you ski way up the upper river you can ski into a pretty cool canyon, and if you are really gung ho and on skate skiis you can continue all the way to Elbow Creek. Generally good from December well into April.

Golf Course
A good place to go when there is not a lot of snow. Stay off of the greens! Generally good from November to Early April.

Crossfox Lakes
Another place where it is good to go very early in the season. These lakes are shallow at a bit of elevation, and freeze earliest of all - I often ski here in October. Park at the switchbacks and hike up the old military road about 35 minutes to reach the lakes. Generally good from October into May (I’ve seen that the lakes are still frozen into May from the top of Pyramid, but I’ve only skied here in October and November.

Ski Chalet
This is a good place to go early and late in the season when there is no snow down low. If I am feeling vigorous I often go on a skate ski tour up over the ridge and into the valley that leads up to Easter Sunday. I did this tour last May 12th! Generally good November until Early May.

Red Cloud River Area
This area holds snow really well. There will be no snow in town but 3 feet out there at sea level. I like to park at the Red Cloud bridge and then explore all around. If it has been really cold and dry you can often ski up the river and even the canyon I’ve marked as the Green Grotto. Both are beautiful. Most frequently I simply ski to the sea and back for a nice tour. Generally good from January well into April.

Burma Road
Park on the left by the yellow gate just past the first Buskin River bridge on the way to the golf course. A nice long tour up into the mountains, but is often rutted out by ATVs. I like to turn back when I get to the overlook over Bells Flats. Generally good December into April.

Top of Old Womens Mountain
The top of Old Womens is relatively flat and is a good place to go classic skiing when we’ve lost all our snow down low. And it has a long history of cross country skiing too – this is where the US military trained their ‘winter’ troops at XC skiing during WWII. Generally good from late November into May.

Jack Lakes Area behind Bells Flats
These lakes are shallow and among the first to freeze in the Fall – so this is often a good place to go ice skating or skate skiing when none of the other lakes in town are safe. Generally good from November through April.

Russian River Gorge
If it has been cold and dry for a few weeks this is one of the best river gorges to ski up. It goes for miles and is very pretty. Sometimes on the way back I leave the canyon and ski back via the Jack Lakes area. Generally good from January through March.

Salonie Creek and Gorge
Salonie Creek is often the first river that is good for skiing – the upper river is generally dry and not flowing unless it is flooding. So if we got enough snow to cover the rocks – then this one is usually good to go. There is an awesome ice fall way up in the canyon if you are feeling intrepid. I park at the entrance to the rifle range, ski in the road to the rifle range and then get on the river flats. Generally good December into early April.

Heitman Lake
I like to go to Heitman Lake in the late spring when all the lakes lower down are melted out. One parks at the pull off about ¼ mile before the Cliff Point turn off and it is about a 40 minute hike up to the lake. In April bring snow shoes because the snow is often deep up by the lake even if there is no snow at the road. When I am feeling intrepid I do not stop at the lake but keep on going along the ridge way back in the backcountry. In April I have had some awesome skate ski crust cruises on this ridge. Generally good December into May.

American River
Another classic river tour. Park at the parking area by the road and ski about a mile or 2 along the Saltery Cove road before you get on the river. No flowing water – so just need the snow to ski. The first 2 miles are often pretty bad with little snow and ATV ruts but the upper river and canyon at the head are well worth it. This is the longest river tour on the roadsystem.

Chiniak and Pasagshak – Rose Tead Lake, Sacremento River Valley, Roslyn Creek, Logging Roads, Chiniak Lagoon
I’ve had great skate skiing on Rose Tead Lake and even went to the Sacremento River Valley once. But generally it is too long of a drive to get out to these places. I have never skied out in the Chiniak area but have always wanted to try skiing up the logging roads or Roslyn Creek. I went out this way one in mid April and was surprised at how much snow they still had in the woods.

High Mountain Flats – Flats below Cope Mountain, Flats above Salonie, Heitman Ridge, Center Mountain Ridge
These are the places I used to go early in the fall when I was training for ski marathons. They are also great places to go in the LATE spring or when we have had a super warm winter. But they are also a lot of work to get to – you generally have to hike at least 45 minutes to climb up to where you can put your skiis on. Generally good November thru June. I once skate skied from the Cope Mountain area way back into the mountains towards center on the 4rth of July.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

O Chistmas Tree & Winter Walks

This past weekend we put our Christmas tree up. Patrick sawed one down off our property-it is the "Charlie Brown Christmas" tree type that we get every year. It has a solid, wide base, which is good to prevent tipping!

We have been slow in putting ornaments on it. And VERY selective about which ornaments to put up. This year, there are only un-breakable ornaments on. The ones made of aluminum or cloth are winners. This morning Stuey and Nora spent around 1/2 hour rearranging the ornaments-placing them high, then low, then high. It was quite cute. (Especially since Stuey was wearing a headband. Nora put one on for herself then insisted that Stuey wear one as well!)

I am really enjoying how for a couple of days we've had mild weather and no ice. Last night we took advantage of the conditions by going for an after dinner walk down the road. The kids and myself had flashlights, and we took the dogs-whose eyes glowed in the dark! There are 6 houses on Cliffside Road who have put holiday lights up, so it was fun to walk down the street and admire them. We held hands with the kids and they enjoyed playing with their flashlights.