Sunday, September 17, 2017

Alaska 2017|Small Plane-Big Views

I agreed to do a flight seeing with Steve during our visit to Talkeetna-when he first suggested it I was verrrrrry hesitant!  We booked through K-2 Aviation, and I have to say I'm glad I did this.  Visit the website to if you'd like to see what the flightseeing tour involved.  This post is going to be more photo heavy, and I have no idea what I was taking pictures of except that we were somewhere between Talkeenta and Mt. Denali.  Originally our flight was supposed to be 2 hours with a glacier landing.  The weather, which by Alaska standards was great, was still not good enough for a glacier landing due to crevices on the glacier the company is permitted to use for landing.  Also, the low cloud cover kept us from seeing the top of Mt. Denali.   It was still pretty cool, and it literally felt like we were gliding through the air.

Here's our plane and pilot- we flew in a Otter- which holds 9 passengers.  Our pilot has been flying for about 20 + years, and has been around small planes all his life. He's an engineer and winters in Arizona.  Apparently, in Alaska there are more people that have pilots licenses than driver's licenses. When he explained the 2 features of the plane that would help find us if necessary, and that there were emergency provision such as blankets, food and water, I wasn't sure whether to be scared or confident that we were prepared.
 Ready for take off-we all had headsets and could hear the pilot speak to the flight tower- no SOS's were secretly communicated to the tower!  Our pilot also did a great job of narrating the tour.  As with the other excursions we did, this one was very informative.
Ground control to Major Tom.
Truly stunning views- the terrain is so diverse and it goes from green marsh-y lands to heavy snow capped mountains.

It was truly an awesome experience, but I have to say when we landed I was pretty glad to be back.  We wrapped up our day at Talkeetna with another stop at the Denali Brewing Company before heading back to the train for the return trip to Anchorage.

Talkeenta is definitely a place I'd like to visit again.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

3 on Thursday| Puppies, a Picnic and Presents

Andrew and I had plans to see my Mom today, so we combined the visit with a trip to the lab for blood work, a stop at the drug store, and a picnic.  Her apartment complex has a rule about visiting dogs, so we have to make other arrangements for her to visit with Sophie and Cocoa.  There is a nice park nearby with a pavilion.
I couldn't convince Andrew to be in the picture, so he played photographer.  I made a egg-cheese casserole and a cranberry orange breakfast bread for us, and we also stopped at Starbucks since I had only 1/2 a cup of coffee, and Mom and Andrew hadn't gotten that far!  We had a nice long visit before we take her back to her place, and Andrew and I head home.

So my 3 things on Thursday are:

1.  Puppies that get to ride in the car [one of Cocoa's favorite things] and a visit with their Nana-there was no way to get 2 dogs and my Mom photographed at the same time!
2.  Picnics-the temperature was fantastic a lovely 70 degrees and no bugs!  The only thing missing were mimosas, but I had to go to work later in the day.
3.  Presents- we brought back some goodies from Alaska which Mom really liked.  I had fun picking out socks, earrings, and a moose bobble head [among other things].

It might seem like a lot of work, but these 2 were very happy to see each other, and really-isn't that what it's all about anyway?!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Weekending with Irma

My weekend plans pretty much consisted of a birthday party, a meet up with friends, long walks and football.  We had a great time celebrating Charlie's 3rd birthday [I forgot to take photos].  A couple weeks ago Katie mentioned there would  be make your own trail mix and mimosas-I was sold, then Mary blogged about the cupcakes- so yea-jackpot!  The weather was glorious and we spent most of the time on the back deck.  Andrew kindly let me nibble on the wonderful biscuits from this place, along with some delicious berries.  Saturday afternoon Sophie and I did something we haven't done in quite a while- an afternoon walk!  She managed 1.6 miles before she was ready to head home.  I went out again so as to hit my target of 4 miles total. Sunday morning brought the same brisk temperatures, winds, and loads of sunshine.  I headed out for a walk before meeting up with Brenda and Joyce for our monthly sewing get together.  Another 4 mile loop- sans Sophie, so I've now established a good route for cycling and walking around my neighborhood.

While Irma brought us lovely weather for Saturday and Sunday, it also brought 2 days off from work as south Georgia and the metro Atlanta area braced for high winds and rain.   Before bed we made sure everything was charged and our camp stove was at the ready.  Fortunately for our area of DeKalb County we only lost power for about 20 minutes Monday morning, after the coffee was ready-that was good timing.  There were some serious high winds intermittently throughout the day, but I don't think they ever reached the predicted strength.  Andrew, Steve and I, plus the dogs spent the day hanging out, talking, and watching TV.   I did manage to finish listening to The Boys in the Boat and binge watch several episodes of Turn.
I got the baby sweaters finished-or so I though and blocked [after multiple re-does of the button bands on the green ones!]  While I was completing the green ones I kept thing that something just looked off about them, and then when I was switching out the towels it dawned on me what I forgot to do.  I re-read the pattern, and yep- I forgot a whole set of decreases at the yoke- ugh!  So the grown up knitter in me is going to unweave the ends for the button band AGAIN and finish the yoke decreases, and reknit the button bands AGAIN.  These sweaters are going to the UK, so it's not like their sweater weather is going to end anytime soon.  However, since these are a gift, I want them to be as near to perfect as I can get them.   Since I know what I did wrong, and can fix it, I'm going to be a good knitter and invest the time.

There wasn't much cooking as there wasn't anything in the freezer to cook!  I did bake some pumpkin cupcakes which were delicious.  Not too sweet and just the right amount of fall-y spices.
Tuesday was pretty much a repeat of Monday except taking the dogs out for their potty breaks wasn't nearly as miserable as Monday.  I devoted all my knitting time to working on this project, Shells and Tide, which is a Christmas gift for my Mom.  She bought the yarn a long time ago, and was going to make a shrug.   When she cleared out her yarn stash she gave the yarn to me.  It's an aran weight merino/silk blend I couldn't find anything to knit for myself, and since she is always cold this will be the perfect thing for her to wrap up in.  I'm maybe 1/2 way finished, and I plan to use up all 12 skeins.  This is pretty much all I'm working on right now, I have some socks that are in various stages of completion which I hope to tackle this weekend to give myself a break from the shawl, but don't want to start anything else until the big project is finished.  Our families made it through the tropical storm with no significant damage aside from losing power which was no fun for them.  My hope and prayer is for all of those who are having to re-build and re-group are able to do so soon.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Alaska 2017- Peeps

Any great trip requires the best company, and we had that in spades. Thanks to Mary for this group photo taken one night before dinner during the cruise.  There were 6 of us on this adventure: my mother in law- Polly, sisters in law Mary and Karen, my husband and Karen's husband Ron.  On the cruise Mary and Polly had a cabin together and the rest of us were a couple decks below and side by side.  Ron and Karen were the perfect neighbors.  I can't say enough good things about Silversea Cruise Lines, I've been on a couple other cruises, but this one was just amazing.    The food, staff, accommodations, etc., absolutely no complaints, well except one-no bourbon-whaaat?!  We rocked it at team trivia, and came sooooo close to finishing in first place.

There was plenty of laughs through out the trip, and a couple times we had to hold each other up when the boat was really swaying, and there's a reason why those hand rails are along the hall ways on a cruise ship.

We encountered so many wonderful people both on the ship and in the cities where we stopped.  I'm sure the people and the surprisingly wonderful weather were what contributed to an overall excellent experience.  Now a few photos, Mary and I did a photo safari with the Gastineau Guiding Company which included whale watching and a short hike to Mendenhall glacier in Juneau.  Our tour guide was Skip and Jen captained our boat-both did a fantastic job.  Skip is native to Juneau and seasoned photographer.  He took the time to give advice and help everyone who need to reset their cameras to get the best photos and maximize their camera's capability.  He also knew ALOT about the city and state.  I have to say Jen certainly knows how to handle a boat-it was waaaaay smaller than I thought it would be.  For the trip I rented a 55mm-300mm telephoto lens.  It took some great photos and was also pretty heavy, but I think was totally worth it.

FYI- whales do not pose for photos and they are quick!
Mendenhall Glacier in the Tongass National Forest.

I was so surprised at how green Alaska was and that there is such a thing as a temperate rain-forest-who knew?!.  We learned about the eating habits of bears, the life cycle of salmon and how glaciers are formed-so much science!  And this was just the beginning. . . .

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Three Things on Thursday-To Do

I always have a to do list, and sometimes I have a to do list for my to do list which is typically un-deleted emails that I use as reminders!  Maybe Carole's prompt and this post will help keep me on track to at least get a couple of these things marked off and deleted.

1- finish these 3 baby sweaters.  This was my Alaska knitting, and I have 2 that need ends woven in, blocking, ribbon and buttons added.  1 needs to have the neckband finished and then the button bands, etc.  The green sweaters are for a cousin's daughter who is having twins in October, and the gray is for a friend's first grandchild.  I figured the gray sweater might not be usable until much later in the year, the baby was born in August, but with the current temps it'll be perfect timing.

2- Delete and edit photos from our Alaska trip.  I'd love to get this done before the end of September so I can decide on what photos to have put into a photo book.  I also need to do some other electronic cleaning up as well.

3-do my planned blog posts on said trip.  I want to add links as I know how many people do their research on-line and I want to give shout outs to the wonderful tour guide groups and business owners we encountered on our trip.

I like to use September as my finish up summer month, so I have a couple other things on the needles I'd like to have done, and then focus on fall/winter knits.  What's on your list?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Alaska 2017- a brief overview

We've been back from our trip for a week now, and I finally feel like I'm caught up.  Catching up at work was easy compared to recovering from jet lag, laundry, house cleaning, errands, etc.  I'm going to do several posts about our trip.  It was fantastic on so many levels and for so many reasons.  For now I'll leave you with a few photos.
A glacier-not sure which one it is, but we saw so many both from a distance and surprisingly up close.
Spectacular views and so many water falls- it was easy to see the path the water cuts through the glacier/mountain.  I had no idea that Alaska was sooooo green!
There was some wildlife-in case you were wondering; whales do not pose for photos!
Views from above-yea, I boarded a 9 seater Otter and spent an hour literally gliding through the mountains near Mt. Denali.  We weren't able to land on Ruby Glacier because of the crevices, and the cloud cover prevented us from being able to see all of Mt. Denali.  Even though it was a shorter trip, and we didn't get the full experience it's one I won't forget.
On the return trip of our final train ride that went to Grandview I played around with my camera and I got some pretty good photos of the sunset.
Something I never expected to see was all the flowers and color- more of that to come.  Below is a native plant/flower- fire weed.

I hope you enjoy this glimpse into Alaska.  Stay tuned  . . .

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Hello August

Hello August, you are here and I'm going to embrace all that you have in store for me.  The 12th is my 49th birthday, so I'm on that count down to the big 50!  In the UK the 12th is referred to as the Glorious 12th- it's opening day for shooting red grouse, and the tradition goes back to the Game Act of 1831.   There's your history lesson-you're welcome.  My UK family always reminds me of the glorious day along with their birthday wishes.   The card pictured is an early birthday card from my friend Brenda-it says a lot about what I think August will be all about.

Not only is it my birthday month, but I'll get to spend 1/2 of the month with my family in a much cooler climate- Vancouver and Alaska- can't wait!  There will plenty of photos during this time.

This month I'll also be embracing having Andrew home from school until he finds a job.  That means someone to help with the cooking and grocery shopping and a built in dog sitter.  While I hope he finds a job soon, it will be nice having him at the apartment to dog sit while we are gone.  Sophie loves having Andrew home, but the trade off is having Andrew's dog Cocoa here too.  She'll adjust-right?!

In a nutshell I'm going to take in all that August has to offer me and live in the moment.  I hope August is very good to you-

Monday, July 31, 2017


In order to prepare our family trip to Alaska I decided to test drive a couple lenses in advance to see what I might like to use.  Mary's suggestion to visit the Atlanta Botanical Gardens for their Cocktails in the Gardens seemed like the perfect place to give this a go.  I've decided to go with the 18-300 mm telephoto zoom and not rent the 10mm-24mm wide angle.  My Nikon has a 18-55mm lense already which is actually pretty good.  I think taking the telephoto will be all I will need, and be able to manage for special photos.  Here are some of the photos from the Gardens.
I took this to show how close I could get-this isn't even fully zoomed in.  You can get an idea of distance in the photo below.

A chihuly piece

 I tried to capture this hummingbird but he was a little too fast, but I was able to get pretty close!
 More of the Atlanta skyline-I used to work just to the left of the tallest building.

The Earth Goddess is one of my favorite installations.  I got a really close photo, but the it was not very clear.

Another one of Chihuly's permanent installations


 Mary and I were pretty intrigued by the bog plants at the Skyline Garden, the Garden's latest addition.  The Venus Flytraps really do much fun to play with these plants!

Another carnivorous plant in this section was the sarracenia-insects are attracted by the color and nectar and then end up falling into the plant.
I know I still have some practicing to do with the lens, and fortunately I'll have it a few days before we leave.  In the meantime I'm going to get acquainted with my "big" camera again.