Susan’s Travelogue Part IX

July 27, 2011

[This is a series of blogposts for my friend Susan. I have left all her misspellings included, since they add to the charm of the travel log. I have removed any writing of a personal nature. These writings were given in email form. I offered to post them for her for all her friends on Facebook and others who may have missed her emails because of overactive spam filters. To comment on her log, please go to her  Facebook page and comment there. Susan doesn’t have access to comments here on my blog. Sorry.]

The return trip from “The Great Alaska Adventire”

Tenth Edition

In the last edition you learned about “flipping and that Reds don’t eat when they start up the river to spawn”.  Let me print a retraction….new info from a second source says that Sockeye Salmon are plankton eaters and they have their mouths open to gather the plant food  as they go up river to spawn therefore they are not interested in traditional bait. But  ofcourse they are vulnerable to hooks!  The fishing regulations vary but in the area where we are fishing we can hook them in the mouth but if the hook were to catch them outside the mouth we would have to through them back.  You have to have a degree in fishing legal ease to understrand some of this stuff.

Thursday the 21st was the “Great Halibut Hall” The next day we (3) spent the first part of Friday packaging and freezing lots of white fish after which we had breakfast.  I made Roy & Dave pan cakes, sausage, bacon, eggs and hash browns.  These “he men” brought home 60 pounds of fish and felt justified and deserving of BIG cholesterol and sugar filled breakfast so I fixed it for them.


The three of us sat at the picnic table in the sun filled yard, in front of Roy’s Alaskan built home and enjoyed the view, friendship, fried food and warm sun rays falling on our tired and sore bodies.  The short green trees surrounded us and the moose mom did not show up for breakfast.  She and the twins might be scouting out the busy hwy as over 250 moose have been killed on the Alaskan roads so far this year.  Big signs are placed on all roads that might have moose crossings which say “Give the Moose a BREAK” and then listing the current death figures.  Let’s hope the twin’s mom is smarter than the 250 that went before her.

You might ask “what is the difference between an Alaskan-built-home and lower 48 built-home?” Well this is what I was told by a young resident and several adults residents.  First there are no building codes in most of Alaska.  Some cities might have codes but these codes do not apply outside the city. So the owner of the land cuts down the trees, to clear part of his/her land.  Then s/he uses the logs to build the house.  It is often built right on the bare ground without the benefit of a foundation.  It may have electricity but may not have a septic system.


Most homes of this ilk probably have an out-of-doors, out back, out-house while in the house a bathroom has a shower and sink (another sink is usually in the kitchen). water is drawn from a well via an electric pump and heated by the electric water heater.  “Where does the water go?”… Into a pipe towards a rock filled hole in the back of the property.  The roof is sometimes sod and these days sometimes metal.  They don’t have gutters because the gutters would be torn off by snow and ice every winter.


The wood stove is most often the only source of heat as electricity & oil are very expensive. (With oil heat it could run $1000 per month in the winter for house hold heating.)

Dave’s Birthday was Saturday July 23rd, so we had a little dinner party.  Ted and Janet were close by and came to Roy’s home/our trailer site to join us for the celebration.  We had salmon, Moose sausage/hot dogs on the barbeque, with homemade potato salad by chef Roy, and birthday cake an excellent bakery called “The Moose is Loose” bakery.  The cake had a large king salmon cookie on top with writing that said “Happy Birthday Dave!

The next morning Dave and I road with Ted, Janet whi drove their car to the end of the Kenai Peninsula, some call it the End of the Road because it dead ends on the Homer spit.  The spit is a long finger of land which makes a natural shelter for mooring boats in Cooks inlet.  The spit has, RV parks with full hook-ups that look out on the bay, a tent camping ground on a sandy spot with a similar view, small to medium businesses to include the obvious fishing charters and restaurants and not do obvious gift stores, theater arts, art galleries, ship docks for luxury liners docking, and ferry terminals.

The four of us were interested in the later because we booked a night in Soldovia.  The only way to this small old quaint fishing village is the hour trip by ferry across the bay.  The residents of Soldovia have cars but the ferry does not include cars so we were on foot.  The hotel was a block or two from the dock and had balconies that overlooked the small bay and moorage.

We ferried across Cooks Inlet to the far side to find this small town, with three restaurants, a once a year chainsaw carving festival (not today), one bridge and 15 miles of roads which do not go to anywhere with a name but fishing lodges and homes.  The residents number about 250 year round and it swells to over 1200 people in the summer months.  There is a fire department, City Hall, a policeman with the appropriately painted car and flash on-demand light/siren.


There are at least two official churches and we saw a church sign on what was an old unpainted single car garage next a home.  There were a dozen or more hotels/bed and breakfast lodgings and a view of the snow capped mountains that surround the miniature bay.

This town was nearly wiped out in the 1964 earth quake/Tsunami.  Prior to the quake the town had a large cannery, which was destroyed by the shaking earth and a population over 3000. The town was originally built on the edge of the ocean with wooden boardwalks/docks lining the shore.  When the tides were in the boats could pull up to the board walk and tie up.  When the tide was out the tall pilings traversed the space between the boardwalk/docks/buildings and the sandy beach below.  Only a few of the boardwalks are left after the earth quack and they have a charm that matches other old frontier towns The wood fronts with hand painted signs are much like we see in old western movies.  Many of the buildings share the same outside walls and might magically produce a old salty sea captain any moment.


These days the town does not have a large industry but it does boast that it has one of the only ice free ports for ships in the area.  Even Homer, just across the bay, in direct sight, can not match that claim.

We had an early dinner at a cafe which was two doors down from our hotel.  After dinner, Janet and I walked the town checking out the 2011 chain saw carvings that were sprinkled here and there. They were perched on porches, rolling off roves, lounging in the library, viewing the visitors center and playing in all of the little parks scattered around the town. (We counted 4 postage stamp sized parks in the first mile and central Park was right across the street from our accommodations)  I will post photos after I get home as the carvings were many and wondrous in size and imagination.

We found that Verizon cell phones work well but our ATT cell phones could only get a signal when the holder of the devise could visually see Homer across the bay.  TV’s worked and you could rent ATV’s to ride the 15 miles of road or go on long hikes to small beaches or nature viewing with multiple types of berry picking in the forests around this isolated small town.  There was a visitor’s center with very beautiful young women who could only answer a few of our questions but was charming just the same.


Some of the history of the town was displayed in the visitor’s center with a live camera that was recrding and showing shots of the birds on a nearby island. Should we call it Bird-Cam or Peeping Cam?

We chose to check out the town and kick back and watch the ships/boats go in and out of the tinny harbor.  The other fun viewing was the one male Otter who inhabits the bay and river.  He paddles his 3+ ft long dark furry body along then disappears only to surface a minute later with his clam dinner on his belly and a rock held under his arm pit.  The rock comes out from under his arm to crack the shell and reveal his sea food prize.  Then he swims on to another spot to disappear once more.  We were told that Otters have ….800,000 TO 1 MILLION HAIRS PER SQUARE INCH of fur) and that was why the Russians came so far to hunt for these prized the furs and build towns like Soldovia.

The munchies came upon the four of us about 7 pm and we found a nice bayside place to have desert.  Dessert was very good and included things like; fresh personal size hand made Strawberry-rhubarb cobbler, blueberry cobbler, coconut or banana cream pie, and pecan pie.  Some of us went al-mode and when the bill came we were astounded that it was over $40 without the tip.  Very good food and very pricy was exactly what we found everywhere.  The grocery had a large bag of walnuts like you get at Costco that was priced at $28.  A pint of Kailua liquor was $45 so we decided to drink water instead.

The next day we had breakfast watching the small charters and personal crafts buzz in and out of the quiet port.  Janet and I have this thing about adventuring on foot to see whatever we could find.  We could see an old church steeple but could not find the road to get up closer to it.  Then we found a small path and took a chance that we would not be found trespassers and went up to up to the Old Russian church at the top of a small hill in the middle of town.  At the church we discovered several interesting things.  First, there were at least two other roads coming up to this church, the church has a padlock on the front door and lastly that I could see Homer and get my voice mail and make a phone call.

At noon we were all back on the ferry for the 45 minute trip to Homer.  Small town life would be interesting but none of us were ready to check into any of the many “for sale” signs sprinkled around town.  Some lots were as low as $10,000 and some ragged weathered homes were as low as $45,000.  This info was on a sign at the real-estate office which also was “for sale” and had a second sign saying “gone fishing”.  Well, the reds are running.  In fact when we got to the bridge on our walk, the tide was out and the red/sockeye Salmon were waiting under the bridge for the next tide to go up the river and spawn.  I here that if I had a fishing pole with a treble hook I could have dropped the line in the water from the bridge and snagged a fish and it would have been legally fishing since my fishing license was still good for a couple days and that river has special dispensation for that type of fishing.  I could have rented a pole in town but our freezer was full to over flowing.

Well, many people have been asking when we will be home.  I can’t answer that question but I can share that tomorrow (July 26th) is the day we are leaving for home.  The freezer us full, the fishing license expires to-marrow at 6 am, and both of us are tired, sore and in agreement that it is time to head for home.  It could take a couple of weeks or more before you see the RED  of our tired eyes but we are heading home with a dream come true and memories of the wonder and beauty of this very natural extraordinary place.  In many ways it is like stepping back in time because Alaska has so much undisturbed land and very few cities with people.  We have really enjoyed this long but flexible adventure and appreciate those loved ones and neighbors who have looked after our place and our kitty while we are out adventuring…

Love Susan and Dave.


Susan’s Travelogue Part VIII

July 25, 2011

[This is a series of blogposts for my friend Susan. I have left all her misspellings included, since they add to the charm of the travel log. I have removed any writing of a personal nature. These writings were given in email form. I offered to post them for her for all her friends on Facebook and others who may have missed her emails because of overactive spam filters. To comment on her log, please go to her Facebook page and comment there. Susan doesn’t have access to comments here on my blog. Sorry.]

The Eighth edition

July 13th 2011
It does not seem like Dave & have been gone 6 weeks.  (and it does not seem too long-so far)  I thought Dave and I would have been irritated with each other by now living in a 23ft trailer but I should have had more faith in our 18 years if marriage and two years of living in sin.
For those of you that don’t already know, the Viewfinder trailer has a queen size bed in the bedroom/rear of the trailer. The room is only 14 inches longer (at the bottom of the bed) than the bed with 24 inches on each side then there are walls. The kitchen is centered on one side and has a small fridge, 3 burner propain stove with an oven that is 18 inches wide with 6 inches of oven space in which to bake.  Cookies bake ok and muffins but don’t think small turkey don’t even think whole baking chicken unless you cut it into pieces.  The sink is double (36×20) but the only drain board is a cutting board that fits over one of two 18×20 sinks.
The couch is accross from the kitchen and can sit three average people if you don’t mind touching elbows. We found extra storage under the couch by removing the kick board under the seats.  Some of you would ask “why more storage space since we have the truck bed covered with a high canopy?”  I will tell you about the truck it is full of; a freezer; generator; fishing stuff; extra gas, tires (one for the truck and one for the trailer), light bulbs for various outside plastic covered lights on both the truck and trailer and a (folded) net covered tent to sit in if the mosquetos are bad.
We did not have room for the 16 foot car top boat and the parts that go with it. (motor, gas cans, oars, seats, cover/ top etc)   Oh, so what is under the couch? (tools, first Aid kit, and games to entertain us)
Also for entertainment, the built in TV/CD/DVD  player is at the end of the couch at a 45 degree angle to the only seating though if our old eyes were up to the distance we could easily watch from bed.
  The bathroom is spacious and is in the “V” nose of the trailer.  Yes “V” shaped front rather than a flat nosed front.  The bathroom is about 3 steps from the mid seat on the couch and the bed is about the same distance the other way from the same seat.  I can sit on the couch, open the fridge and eat on a small collapsible table (in front of the couch) at the same time and not  get up from the couch. Likewise Dave can take off his slippers on the far end of the couch and neatly toss his slippers to his side of the bed with out effort and with deadly accuracy. (I don’t like it much when I am still in the bed and I let Dave know that…with a smile.
The couch is on a small slide which collapses into the center of the trailer and leaves a narrow walking isle when traveling and is useful when needing to fix a quick lunch on the road. At that time I can almost sit on the couch to fix lunch….almost!
So far we are pretty careful not to cause an argument or miss-understandings as there would be no where for one of us go to lick our wounds or hide for a while.   In light of that ..we ask each other if the other needs the bathroom for any urgent nature callings, before we go in to the only room with a toilet.  So far we have had no collisions and no disagreements on the three step voyage to and from the bathroom.
Dave try’s to be quiet in the mornings when he gets up between 3 or 4 am.  If he makes it to 4:30 am he feels like he is sleeping in.  One morning at about 3:30 I heard a sound kind of like a small rodent in a cereal box of rocks. Neither of us can remember what he was looking for at 3 in the morning … by rummaging thru drawers in the very small central kitchen, but the sound went on for what seemed like hours.  I did remind him later (in a nice friendly voice) that he usually try’s to be quiet when I am sleeping and I smiled again as I remind him that he missed the mark that morning. That is the man dearly love…Dave just gets driven/highly focused sometimes!!!

Most mornings Dave is my alarm clock and when he gets tired of being alone he takes the three steps from the couch to the bottom of the bed and leans on me feet.  First he is gentle then he escalates to playing with my toes through the blankets.  By then my eyes are fluttering and he asks if I want  him to fix me hot chocolate with marshmallows.  When I respond “yes” he quickly heats up the water and makes the hot chocolate.  If I am still in bed when he is finished he proclaims “your hot chocolate is getting cold.”. If I don’t respond correctly by getting up or at least giving it a good effort at this point he plays with my toes again until he has my full attention.

At night when, Dave’s head is nodding off and his chin is dipping towards his chest I,  finally agree to go to bed. (about 9 pm or 10 if the everlasting sun has fooled him)  Dave is the first in bed and is soon off to sleep usually after a good night kiss. As soon as I hear his gentle snore I put the ipod Namo earbud into my ear to listen to a audio book. This deters my chatter as he attempts to sleep and I can get relaxed.  The problem is that I fall to sleep and the book is still playing in my strange and dizzy dreams.
Today when I went to town to do laundry I looked up ahead and saw cars stopped. They were not stopping for a light.  I was confused…then I saw a large brown hairy head poking out between the two lanes going towards Homer AK.  I thought maybe it was a large dog in the bed of a truck 4 cars ahead of me.   Then I realized that it was too big to be a dog and too tall to be a stuffed/taxidermied moose in the truck bed.  Then when the head stepped out from behind a car with all four feet, very long legs and proceeded across a four lanes busy city street. I was shocked to see a full grown (live) Moose… calmly/slowly walking across the busy (but stopped) four lane highway.  I started to look for one of our 4 Cameras and the only one on hand was my iPhone.
By the time I turned it on and found the program, got situated to point it at where I last saw the Moose, it had moved into a Wells Fargo bank Parking lot.  I had to think quickly.  So I turned the lumbersome 4 wheel drive extended cab truck into the parking lot, not noticing the one way sign that was not going my way.  The moose was  better prepared than I as she chose the driveway with the sign “enter here”.
I tried again to snap a shot  but this moose was too fast for me.  Then I got really excited.  There, right next to the large calm hairy moose was two slightly hairy but adorable baby moose/s?  Their long spindlly legs helped them to follow at moms moderate speed.  The three of them then lumbered into a parking lot of a motel.  By then I was only (dizzy-out of state) vehicle following the moose.  I got a couple shots before the small nature family found refuge by turning their backs/butts on me and walking into the parking lot of the police station.
Did I tell you that I could not find my drivers license yesterday?  Well , I decided not to follow the alaska wild life into the local police domain as I was driving with out my licence.
Soldotna Alaska is exciting in so many ways.  At the Laundramat they had showers, wifi, ice-cream and lots of tables like a cafe.  I learned a very important lesson today besides the use of front load washers and driers. Drivers licences Wash very nicely but small tissue packs do not wash so well.
Dave, Roy(his local resident/hunting/freightliner friend) and I went fishing in the Soldotna River yesterday and today for a total of 2 hours.  No fish yet but we only stay one hour if we don’t start catching or see others catching fish.
When “Reds” run you only have to put your bare hook (which is a little more than an inch long) with no bate out in the current a couple times and the salmon runs into the hook with thier mouth wide open. Then you set the Hook by a quick straight up pull.  People say the fish will not eat once in the river so the fishing is a matter of hooking them in the mouth when they are not looking.  We can have three “reds” per-day each.  (Sockeye Salmon)
Dave and Roy are out in a boat fishing with local friends of Roy’s.  Dave bought a King salmon tag good for 24 hours so the last half of yesterday and the first half of today they are trying to fill the tag.
Well, this is long enough so I will send it now…please understand that my phone does not have a very good spell check.
Love Susan and Dave
On the cusp of catching fish.
[from the ‘editor’: Susan, I’m loving the (mis)spelling. No need to apologize or feel bad about it. :D]

Susan’s Travelogue Part VII

July 25, 2011

[This is a series of blogposts for my friend Susan. I have left all her misspellings included, since they add to the charm of the travel log. I have removed any writing of a personal nature. These writings were given in email form. I offered to post them for her for all her friends on Facebook and others who may have missed her emails because of overactive spam filters. To comment on her log, please go to her Facebook page and comment there. Susan doesn’t have access to comments here on my blog. Sorry.]

The Seventh Edition of the Great Alaska Adventure

Seventh Edition…..

July, 6th 2011

Well, the scientific test asking the question “Will a dizzy person get dizzier if she rides/bounces in a quad for 4 hours on a dirt road with large slushy muddy holes?”  The answer is….There is no evidence to show that this type of (crazy) activity will increase dizziness or decrease hearing.  Your/our prayers were heard and I am still a little dizzy/deaf, but not dizzier/deafer.

The ride in the quad with Dave driving and me as side kick was fun.  The mud was plentiful and if we had been on smaller individual quads we would have been mud from foot to at least our knees…not counting splashes to the upper torso, face and arms. The result of a single quad  ride for me might have been to have me face down in a mud hole and who knows what the dizzy/deaf results would be.  The side by side quad had a plastic windshield and a self bailing floor (THANK YOU FOR INVENTION OF SUCH THINGS).  The mud would come in around the windshield and over the side and pool on the floor which had holes for drainage.  We saw no animals; they are smart to stay away from loud unruly machines as there is hunting year round by subsistence hunters who live in Alaska 6 months or more to become residents.  The quads were not in Denali but in a section that paralleled with the park.  After about 2 hours of quading through deeply wooded (thought very short trees and bushes compared to Oregon) we stopped at a clearing and had a campfire cooked meal of hamburgers and  hot dogs  with chips and pop.  The people were from all over the world and to numerous to mention, we returned the 2 hour trip a bit wiser about the mud holes to be encountered the second time on the way back.

It was a fun day but so tiring.  We got home at 10 pm and went to bed pretty quickly before we could argue about who was most tired.  (Note that Dave is staying up later and later as the lack of darkness has him confused as to when he should get tired/go to bed).  We woke in the morning and sat around trying to recover from our active late night.  We went early to the Bus trip 66 mile trip into Denali park and used the information given by other campers to make a good decision about the cost and length of the bus trip into Denali.  We found that taking the buses driven by the park service would cost 1/4 the price and just as good as or better than the vender service at $139 each.  We reserved the time we wanted to leave.  You could get off and on the bus as the busses were on a schedule of about once every 30 minutes and  traversed the park stopping for anyone who flags them down (if the bus has room).  When I say you can get off and on when you want… here is anexample.  You see an interesting trail and ask the bus driver to stop and let you off.  You hike the trail and come back to the road to flag down the next bus that comes along.  If the bus has two seats then you can hop on.

We saw moose, caribou, ptarmigan, snowshoe hairs and several grizzly bears, one with two grizzly cubs.  The bus would stop whenever we saw an animal and we would take pictures while the guide talked about the park/Alaska history and all the animals.  The landscape was striking and the day was sunny and bright.  We were told that only a few days each month are clear enough to see all of Mt McKinney.  We were lucky on that account.  Maybe we paid our dues by enduring many mostly rainy days in the last 5 weeks of travel. 

The 8 hours bus tour was a bit long but it was great not to have to drive and to have the bus driver/guide tell stories and explain the history of the park.  He named the mountains and rivers and told stories of people for whom they were named.  Did you know that some of the rivers that are fed by the Glaciers are called “Braided Rivers” because they have small separate weaving sections that cross over each other like braids?  The mountains are so different from one another.  Some are black and some are pointed, some are like a pile of rocks that seem to be piled to a point, which show  evidence of lots of slides, others are sculpted like someone chizzeled the crags all going the same direction like wet hair on a dog.  These look like the receding glacier has scraped the mountain and left these fingers/tentacles of mountain and the water released by the ancient ice continued to etch a deaper more intrecate designs.  Other mountains have a little snow and yet others are painted by a half a dozen colores ranging from grays to browns and blacks.  Some have trees and others bushes and some have little or no green on them at all.

We were going to leave the next day but were so tired that we could only get irritated at each other over a late dinner.  I suggested staying one more night and Dave was quick to agree.  The next day was a slow day of rest and going to town one more time to send e-mails (that did not go through to most of the people on my list) and a little more shopping. (every day is a good day for shopping….I found bone buttons and small crystal thunder eggs that were cut in half and would make a pendant on a chain) Dave found a knife maker who uses various ancient bones, some from extinct animals to use on handles of large and small curved and straight well honed knives.  Dave bought two and was smiling like a kid with a new toy. The when I got back to the truck Dave secretly purchased bone etched ear rings with small moose decorations.  (What a sweet guy) I keep finding rocks, some to take to Marin a friend in Damasucs and some from the ground/camp ground for me to tumble in my rock tumbler at home to see if they will look pretty and some from the store as they are already pretty.

Now we are to camping near Wasilla.  The name comes from an Alaskan Indian Chief.  Wasilla is just before Palmer which we will go through tomorrow (then  on to pass through Anchorage) on the way to Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula.  It should take about 3.5-4 hours of driving. Dave has a friend that lives in Soldotna and we hope to start fishing for halibut, salmon and other interesting fish with the friends help.   Wish us luck as we have a freezer in the back of the truck which plugs into electricity each night to keep our beef/pork/bacon/chicken frozen on the trip here and we hope it will freeze the fish, clams etc to transport home.

One very interesting thing that we did not think about before we left on our trip is the people we would meet from all over the world.  We have met people from Holland, Germany, Australia, Canada, New York, Minnesota, Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Arizona, Illinois, and the list goes on.  Tonight we heard a knock at our trailor door and two men asked where in Oregon were we from?  It turns our they were from Hermiston and know Rueben Gettman who is our neighbor and who worked with Dave for many years at Frieghtliner.  Larry owned the barbar shop and fruniture store in Hermiston and knows the Gettman’s.   

We moved from Denali to Wasilla the night of the 9th of July.  Today July the 10th, Dave and I went to the Musk ox Farm and the Reindeer Farm and took tours.  They were both interesting.  We saw the two afore mentioned animals, adults male and female and others starting as young as one month old.  We also saw a Bison (up close and personal – through the fence) which is the name of the Buffalo type of animal that is common in the North American area.  The real Buffallo’s are from Africa and Bison are only from our continent.  We saw moose and Elk as well.  I have been looking at really interesting carvings on/in antlers and horns and I purchased a reindeer antler so that I can try to carve on one.  Wish me luck and happy carving.  We got to pet and feed many of the animals that we saw today then see displays of fur, yarn, pelts, antlers and horns.  I learned the difference between an Antlers and a Horns.  Antlers grow inside a velvet/fur casing that feeds the Antler with life giving blood while the antler grows and then the “velvet” falls off.   The Antlers grows and after the season it falls off and the animal grows another one the next season.  A horn is like a bone, fed by the body/blood from the inside of the horn and is a life time growth and does not come off unless broken.

The two places we went today were ½ price thanks to our good NEW friends Ted and Janet who thought they were going home early and gave us their Entertainment Book for Alaska.  We hoped to use the ATV coupon when we were at Denali but the tour we wanted did not come with a coupon. 

Well, buy for now….we drive to Soldotna tomorrow.

Dave and Susan….from the land of nearly 24 hours of light…..everyday……all night.

Susan’s Travelogue Part VI

July 25, 2011

[This is a series of blogposts for my friend Susan. I have left all her misspellings included, since they add to the charm of the travel log. I have removed any writing of a personal nature. These writings were given in email form. I offered to post them for her for all her friends on Facebook and others who may have missed her emails because of overactive spam filters. To comment on her log, please go to her Facebook page and comment there. Susan doesn’t have access to comments here on my blog. Sorry.]

July 4th 2011

It is now July and the rain was coming down reindeer and moose.  (You know cats and dogs in the lower 48…..Up here they call the lower 48 “The Southern America”)  Dave and I have done several things that were more fun even when hiding from the rain.  We saw a scientific news reel about the Aurora Borealis and how it comes to be. The natives thought the lights were their ancestors communicating with them.   You might say “why are Susan and Dave going to movies when they could look up in the sky and see the Northern Lights?”  Well here are three facts for the price of one.  The dark time in Alaska at this time of year is so short….and more like dusk than dark so there is no time for the Northern Lights to happen.  Second fact…there is no fireworks shows either because of the lack of light.  The sun sets at about 12:29 am and the sun rise is about 3:11 am.  The time between sun rise which is the moment that the sun shows above the horizon and the moment it touches the horizon is the time of sunset.  So that is why there is not much dark time and the darkness is more like dusk.

Oh, what makes the Northern Lights?  You might be familiar with neon lights?  Well there are different gasses in the glass tubs and when electricity is sent through the tube then the different gasses give off different colors.  Well, the Sun of our solar system is the electricity maker and it has these storms that cause solar flares which send electricity our way.  When it hits the atmosphere of the earth it touches different gasses and makes different colors.  The green, blue and gold colors are common and the red is the least common and they only show up in the dark hours and most often at midnight.  The best months to see the lights are September and March.  We will be home by the end of August so we won’t see these beautiful ungelating light shows.

The other fun thing we did was go to the Pioneer Village while here in Fairbanks.  It is a big with free entre and they take the older homes that need to be moved due to improvements/freeways etc and bring them to the park and make a village.  Each house has a plaque that tells when and where it was built and by whom. Some of these old buildings house merchants/artists who show their art and sell it to people who wander through.  Some have ice cream and others have carved bone or antlers or wood for sale.  The log homes with sod on the roof are the most interesting.  You look up and see grass and even little trees growing on the roof.  They say that it protects the roof from rain and insolates the house in the winter from the cold.

The Gold mine tour was really fun.  You get on a train which takes you into past showing you several types of gold mining equipment and an old log cabin that was used by a minor.  They explain the equipment and show you how it works.  Then the train goes into a mine.  YES into a tunnel that is set up to be like a mine.  A minor is there to explain how they do the work and where the bed rock starts.  He explains the type of gold that is found here and how they get it out.  Then the train stops at a large slues box and the owner of the mine….a women wearing three large gold nuggets (one on each ear and one hanging from a necklace)….tell us the story of her gold mining experience.  She explains and then shows us how the slues box works.  Then she has four young men take some fine gravel out of the first few feet of the slues and they use the gold pan to separate the sand and gold.  Each young man has gold in there pan when they finish.   



Wow, we had gold fever and could not wait to find our fortune.  The next thing they do give us a “poke” which is a cute small bag full of sand, gravel and hopefully gold.  Then take us to a row of (warm) water filled 10 foot long sink like bins.  They give us a gold pan, a bottle to put our gold in and show us how to do the work of a gold miner. Well, many minutes later and with some help from many gold helpers, we have a little bit of gold in each of our pans.  We pick up the gold with a dry finger…if we can get one dry.  Then wipe the tiny flecks into the gold bottle and shake it to make sure it is still there.   We followed the masses of people and took our little bottles in to have them weighed by the authentically dressed young people who are the gold helpers.  People seemed to have between $5 worth and $45 worth.  I got the 5 and had $20.  Well then they go about trying to sell you a necklace to hold you’re newly found gold.  They will put it in a small glass container for about $70 and through in the chain.  Dave and I skipped that part.  The commercial look and feel of the whole tour was evident but it was interesting and fun….other than waiting in line.

On the train there was a local singer with a guitar who said he opened for Willie Nelson when Willie came to Fairbanks way back in.????? I forget when.  He was a good singer and he sang some of the Willie songs as we waited for the train to load on both the ends of the trip.  He sold his CD’s in the big gift shop.  His jokes were fun and he and the Lady gold mine owner were quick to stop and talk with folks and answer questions.  The owner let you hold one of her large gold nuggets and was dressed the part in a pair of jean, a plaid flannel shirt and boots.  In the store they let you pick up a larger nugget that was worth $60,000.  A person watched it constantly.  The nuggets are less than 2% of all the gold that is found. 

On the 5th of July Dave and I moved on to Denali Park.  We were sad to leave our new friends Ted and Janet as they had other plans and we were going different directions at this point in our trip.  The RV Park on the base was really nice even though they were trying to get it up and running after it was closed for a few years.  We met some nice people who were the camp hosts and felt safe as were on the base and it was well guarded.

The drive to Denali was about 3 hours and all sunny.  Wow the sun is with us for the day and when we drove up to the Grizzly RV Park a man asked if we brought the sun with us from Oregon.  We said that the rain has been following us but maybe the sun finally caught up today.  The first thing Dave and I did after set ting up of the RV, having lunch and a beer was to look at the tours.  We were not ready to pay almost $900 for the two of us to fly over the top of Mt McKinley so we opted to take a 4 hour ATV tour tomorrow, July 6th.  Now, those of you that have been following my dizzy person are probably asking is she better.  Well, the answer is yes but it is still a bit dizzy.  The hearing is mostly back in the left ear but the ringing is still loud.  I will wear a sea sick patch and try to enjoy the swishy world as it bounces by.  Please say a prayer with me that the trip does not make it worse.  I will report in the next /Seventh Edition.

So bye for now from Dave and Susan in Denali Park Alaska.

Susan’s Travelogue Part V

July 25, 2011

[This is a series of blogposts for my friend Susan. I have left all her misspellings included, since they add to the charm of the travel log. I have removed any writing of a personal nature. These writings were given in email form. I offered to post them for her for all her friends on Facebook and others who may have missed her emails because of overactive spam filters. To comment on her log, please go to her Facebook page and comment there. Susan doesn’t have access to comments here on my blog. Sorry.]

June 30, 2011


We left Dawson City on the morning of Saturday June 25th and took the ferry over the Yukon River at about 7 am before the rush.  (The Klondike River flows into the Yukon just before Dawson City) We did not have to wait as the ferry held our truck and trailer, another truck with small trailer and a class C motor home with room for a car but no one took that space.  A few minutes after we shoved off we  landed  on the other side.  The ferry took us to a graveled spot that was kept flat by as bulldozer which was part of the ferry crew.  We took the short paved road to the long-very long graveled road and forward we went on the “Top of the world Highway” to Chicken and  then Tok Alaska.  It would be going about 200 miles to Tok but the Garmin GPS told us we would not arrive until after 6 pm.  As we advanced on the road and found that the pot holes and rough road meant that we could only do 16 miles an hour, we figured the Garman must be right.  It was depressing to think it would be evening before we would finish this bumpy, gravel road and arrive at the Camping area.   We were sure that It was going to be a very long day.

Then the Garmin changed and said it would be more like 9 pm before we would arrive.  The trees went on forever and they averaged about 12-14 feet tall.  Short pine trees for Oregon standards but still mostly pine trees with a few that looked like Aspin or maybe small Alder trees.  There were no wild animals to see on or near the road as we snaked our way along a road that was two lanes wide counting both directions.  The road would go along the ridge of the hill and then go around another ridge and you could look ahead and see the same road going along the next mountain ridge.  There were no roads crossing the one we were on and no gas stations or homes.  The only thing that broke up the expanse of the road and trees was an occasional gravel wayside. 

There was one motor home ahead of us but they pulled off  on a wayside and then the only other folks we saw were two motorcycles that passed us before we got to the border crossing.  We all waited at the boarder because it did not open until 8 am (which was a time zone change-one hour back on the clock).  Once the boarder opened we followed the motor cycles and after a few questions by the border guards we were on our way again. The road on the Alaska/US side only got worse and continued to be very bumpy at times.  If you did not slow down when you hit a hole the shaking was enough to cause us to feel pretty beat up.  Sometimes the holes were not easy to see and we were jolted into slowing down.

We drove until about 11 am when we arrived at a large bend in the road and stopped at the town of Chicken to get gas and stretch our legs.  The gas station was also a gift shop and we took a little time to look around.  There were lots of  T-shirts and small chicken things.  It is said that this very small and remote town was named Chicken because the folks wanted to call it ptarmigan but could not agree on how to spell it so they choose the name of a bird that they could spell   There was a trailer type building near the gas station with a large sign that said “Halibut” and we checked it out for an early lunch.  It was not open and the gas station attendant told us that the lady that runs the place, in the summer feeds the minor’s breakfast very early and then she goes to take a nap and returns at noon to serve lunch.  A 1/3 lb Salmon burger was $15.95, a 1/3 pound buffalo burger was $14.95 and 2 reindeer bratwurst $10.95.  A half pound Wild Salmon Fillet was $21.95 and they had something that they called a “Complete Chicken Dinner” for $1.50.  Who knows exactly what that would be….we guess it would be a hardboiled egg.

We asked about the road between Chicken and Tok and they said it gets better a few miles after Chicken.  We crossed our fingers and double checked the Garmin.  We did find the road to be better but the Garmin must have been all shook up because it said things like “turn at the next tractor road on the left” and “turn left here” when there was no road except the one we were on.  I think the Garmin had a concussion.

About 1:30 pm we were seeing signs of civilization.  There were a couple gas stations and a sign that said 15 miles to Tok.  We arrived in Tok and settled into a Very Nice trailer park.  We pulled out our chairs and sat in the first sun we have seen in days.  About 4 hours later our friends Janet and Ted rolled in and parked near us.  The trailer park had free bluegrass music in the recreation hall and we stumbled over and sat down.  It was two young people (violin and banjo) and a seasoned guitar player who wrote some of the songs and told stories between songs about Alaska.  He told us there are no snakes, cockroaches, flees or ticks in Alaska but we found that they make up for them in mosquitoes.  We left the music hall in the pouring rain and fell into bed thinking that we would check with the Alaska Ferry system to see how much it would cost to ferry from Whitaker to Bellingham Washington on the way home.  We wanted to miss the bumps on the way home as we here beat up by the bumps on the way to Tok and there is no better choice of roads.

We stayed two days in Tok to see if we could heal our bruises and find /buy some of the stuff we had lost on the road.  Dave found that our sewer pipe storage tub had opened up on the Top of the World Highway and we left several connections and a hose for the wild life to play with somewhere on the winding hill top road.

June 27th we left for Fairbanks Alaska and only were on the road for about 3 and a half hours and it was so easy that we got to the North Pole and finally mailed the post cards to Mia and Katelyn two of our grand children. Santa was busy but we did get a picture of the cabin/post office with real growing sod on the roof.  Our friends Janet and Ted met us in Fairbanks and invited us to stay on the Army base at the Campground.  I did not know there was such a thing but it w as nice and pretty inexpensive.  We decided to stay about a week and see Fairbanks.  There are a bunch of things to see if the rain would give us a chance.   I will tell you about the sights in the next installment. 

The strange working of the Garmin on the top of the world Highway is still a mystery.  Maybe it was a concussion or maybe the person who programmed it was the one with a fuzzy brain.  (my dizzy head is better but not well as of today) We may never know the reason it was so far off on its calculations and the instructions.  We thank God that we did not take the instructions and left turn on the Tracker road or we might have never arrived in Tok let alone arrived at 9 pm at night.  To the Garmin’s credit, it had not been that far off or even wrong before this strange occurrence.  It is usually very calm and correct even when we take off in a different direction and the Garmin has to say “Recalculating…make a safe U turn…..”  We figure that Ms Garmin will be a truly mentally unstable by the time we get home in august.

Love   David and Susan 

Somewhere on the Wienwright Army Base in Fairbanks Alaska. (where Leonard Grill called us on the cell phone today during a moment of sunshine….

Susan’s Travelogue Part IV

July 25, 2011

[This is a series of blogposts for my friend Susan. I have left all her misspellings included, since they add to the charm of the travel log. I have removed any writing of a personal nature. These writings were given in email form. I offered to post them for her for all her friends on Facebook and others who may have missed her emails because of overactive spam filters. To comment on her log, please go to her Facebook page and comment there. Susan doesn’t have access to comments here on my blog. Sorry.]

Week of June 24th, 2011

Hello from the real Dawson City.  It looks like the photos with old buildings and mostly dirt streets.  It rained the day we arrived and there was a small lake between the Truck and the trailer.  We named it Howard Lake. We stayed in the camp ground just 3-4 blocks off the main highway.  Would you believe there in no bridge going across the Yukon River and we have to take a small ferry across to the other side in order to continue our tip. The second day here we saw a large caravan (15-20 rigs traveling together.)  When they decided to leave going towards Alaska, they waited in line along Main Street for several house before they could all get across the river via the ferry which took 2-5 veicles depending on the size.

Our new friends Janet and Ted turned out to be three trailer spots down from us and we did not have a chance to plan to meet here but the powers to be allowed for a quick connection.  NO cell phones work here except those that are from one particular Canadian cell company.   So we were lucky to pick the same park and the park was in easy walking distance to all the town’s interesting featchers.  We went to dinner at Klondike Kate’s and had barbequed pulled porkn a very casual atmosphere.  The restaurant had very good food with very prices that were more like a fansy resturant.   Then we walked a few blocks to see Gerties diamond tooth can-can show.  It was funny and had a bunch of old songs and 4 young women who did a pretty lively show of Can Can with splits and tap dance.

We got out of the show at around 10 pm and walked back to the trailer park in what looked like full day light.  It does not get dark here.  It is so strange to have it be so light all the time.  It fooled Dave into not knowing that it was after his bed time.  We were up until 11 ish the last two nights.

Janet and I have been walking in the morning and going to sight seeing things that don’t interest Dave or Ted. Today we took a walking tour with a guide in 1909 costume.  He had keys to some of the buildings that were refurbished like the bank and the saloon.  He told stories about some of the old timers.  One person won 2 million Dollars in gold and booked a ticket on the boat which we leaving that day.  The boat was delayed so he thought he would just play a few dollars on a few hands of pocker.  Before the boat left he not only lost the millions but he lost the ticket on the ship so he could not go home.

In the afternoon Janet, Dave and I went to the Dredge #4.  It is in the process of being refurbished.  It is not being used at this time.  The story goes that the people who first came to Dawson city looking for gold used back breaking methods to get the gold out of the earth by hand.  Many of them could not work there claim efficiently for the 5-6 months of the year and make money.  They sold to large mining outfits that used the Dredge to pull out gold.  The Dredge #4 was abandon during World War 2 and restarted again for a few more years of dredging.  They it was left to sink into the creek when it became too hard to make a living. Later the Canadian park service received a donation of the dredge and they have started to fix it up.  It is one of the most viewed tours in the Yukon.

Then Dave and I went to the local First Nation (Native Indian) exhibit.  It was beautifully made and the speakers and presenters were young people of the tribe.  They had much the same experience of our American Indians.  The people were put on a piece of land and told not to move around as they had done for 100 of years. They did not seem to fight the White man but the children were sent away to boarding schools for much of their school years and were not supposed to speak the native language or follow customs.  The school life left large scares on them, being away from home so long without family and tribe, 

Now we are tired and getting ready to move to Tok tomorrow going through Chicken on the way.  We will take that little ferry across to the other side and then brave the bad roads, which everyone say are “gravel”.  When we get to Chicken we will be in Alaska/USA again.

My ears are getting better.  I can hear out of the left one almost as good at the right.  The dizziness has gotten better but I don’t think it is gone.  Taking Predazone is awful.  The bitter pills leave an icky taste in my mouth all day.  I am almost done with the prescription.


We have now completed the most difficult road from Dawson City to Chicken and then on to Tok Alaska.  The roads were so bumpy with pot holes, gravel, and mud.  It felt like we were being torchered.  When we got to camp it seemed like we were beat up. 

Susan’s Travelogue Part III

July 24, 2011

[This is a series of blogposts for my friend Susan. I have left all her misspellings included, since they add to the charm of the travel log. I have removed any writing of a personal nature. These writings were given in email form. I offered to post them for her for all her friends on Facebook and others who may have missed her emails because of overactive spam filters. To comment on her log, please go to her  Facebook page and comment there. Susan doesn’t have access to comments here on my blog. Sorry.]

June 19, 2011 (third installment) (if you missed the frist one or two installments, let me know individually and I will send again)

We arrived in Jasper  June 15th and stayed until the morning of the 17th so we could do our laundry before we were out of clean underwear.  The town had very little to see but the country side was wooded and full of wild critter.  Near camp we saw elk and deer.    The Columbia ground squires gave us a show hoping for a bit of food. It rained part of the time and had some sunshine but the wind in the park made it too cold to stay outside for long.

The Laundromat was a place to meet people and get the job done.   Each load in the washers cost 4 Canadian dollars.  Each 40 min drier load also cost 4 Canadian dollars.  We spent 24 Canadian dollars to do three loads.  We met interesting people at the same time.  A young couple form Holland had rented a RV and were hiking and camping from Banff to Vancover BC.  They spoke English pretty well and we talked while the loads of clothing were going around.  Turns out they were staying in the same campground. (The laundry was in the city where two parallel streets made up 90% of the town) 

The last morning before we hit the road we went to the dump station and there were two young people from Holland, also dumping.  We gave them a business card with e-mail if they had questions or concerns or if they just wanted to let us know how their trip went.

We had a long drive from Jasper to Dawson Prince George where we spent the night and moved on in the morning to Dawson Creek.  Don’t get Dawson Creek confused with Dawson City as we still have a few days to go before we get to the later.  Dawson Creek was just a one night stay, the neighbors were friendly and around our age. They are on a very similar route after Dawson Creek.  We will both left on the morning of the 18th for Fort Nelson.   They asked if we wanted to follow each other the next day but I challenged them to be up early because Dave gets his motor running (in his head) and there is no stopping him when he is ready to leave.  As it was we exchanged phone numbers and each left in our owe time frame.  The other couple sleeps later in the morning. 

When we left Prince George it was foggy. That is particularly anxiety provoking because in the mornings many of the wild animals cross the highway.  We don’t want to hit one of them because it might be the end of the cridder and us /our trip.  On the 6 hour drive we watched the trees and terrain change from moderate height pine tree’s to very short and sparly arranged desiduous trees.  Fort Henry is on a high plague with shorter trees, some trees were that were malformed by the harsh snow/weather.  We watched a large moose cross the road a half a mile ahead and he was limpping his way into the forest.

Picture these, long straight roads that go up hill and downhill with very few cross roads or turns.    There are some curves in the road but they are so infrequent that the builders of the road warn you when there are coming up warn drivers with road signs.   We saw road repair crews on each of the last two legs/trips.  It made for some delays but not too bad given we don’t make reservations to hurry to check in.  We are choosing the places to stay as we go and if somewhere is full, then we might end up in a Fred Meyer or Walmart parking lot for a night. So far with leave early and get in early to the campgrounds and have no trouble getting a spot..

So we arrived on the 18th Fort Nelson and stayed two nights to rest up after two long days of travel.   To marrow we go about 7-8 hours to Watson Lake.  Then the next day we will head for Whitehourse.  After that is till up for grabs, we have to make a choice to go to Dawson City…the famous one or take a better road and travel a longer day before we find a place to park. 

When we arrived here at Fort Nelson, the couple we met, Janet and Ted pulled in 15 minutes after we arrived. They called ahead and set up a spot so we asked the staff and they gave us a spot near them.  Janet and I walked across the highway to the visitor while the guys talked about guns and Vietnam/War details.  They have a  fast ice maker so they made some ice for us to put in our freezer for drinks.  Ted has more stores than anyone we know. He was in the Army and is retired with a VA pension. Janet was in the Navy and also has retired after 20+ years.  They will be heading to Alaska and staying at the Military camp grounds which are very nice and half the price.  They have invited us to camp with them as a guest.  It is yet to see if that is possible.  If the camp grounds are full they surely won’t take a guest, and we don’t know how it would change our trip if we take them up on the offer.

Sickess??? I am still dizzy but using the patch for seasickness helps even if I seem drunk.  I still need to walk carefully and try not to turn my head fast or the wrong way.  I am in the middle of the meds given by the Canadian ear specialisy and hoping that it will be all better in another week of meds.  My hearing on the left is a little bit better.  I E-mailed my Kaiser doctor about the symptoms, meds, progress and what to expect.    She says that I might do well to get a MRI because the infection is just a guess as to what is wrong.  I will wait until we get to Alaska and these meds are gone in hopes that I won’t have to spend any of my “Great Alaska Adventure” in medical care.

Well, bye for now.  Susan and Dave

Amber and His Friend, Peekaboo – A Story About True Friendship

July 21, 2011

Amber is our 14 yr old cat. Well, we know he’s a cat; he has his doubts. I know he hates cats. I’ve seen him escape the house and attack any and all cats he encounters.

Now, this isn’t the usual ‘cat fight’; he truly goes for the throat and gut. I’ve pulled him off other cats.

On the flip side, he loves our dogs, and gets into grooming contests with them. He also loves to play Chase the Kitty. (He’ll streak through the room with the dogs, sometimes leaping over them. While in the air, he’ll tap them with a paw, just to make sure he’s got their attention. Then off they all go. It’s noisy, fast, and fun!)

One of the habits he’s gotten into is running around at night, playing with whatever he can. He’ll dig around in the little paper bins we have at our desks, pull out a scrap of paper, and play soccer with it. I’ll find the strangest things in the strangest places sometimes.

One night, in May, he was making so much racket that I had to get up and see what was up. He was playing soccer with some paper, under the dining room table. I turned on the light, and gave him heck for making so much noise. He just looked at me, like I had the tv on ‘pause’; his eyes dilated hugely. (I knew he’d be right back at it, just as soon as I turned out the light.)

He was.

And he was LOUD about it…. he was making a HUGE, DEEP merowh noise, one I’d never heard before. At this point all the doglets were barking; they wanted to be part of the fun.

On came the lights again. (Did I bother to mention that this was about 3am?)

I opened my mouth to give him heck again, when what did I see but something strange in his jaws?? It had a tail. And eyes. And wasn’t moving.

It was a mouse; one of those little cute deermice. IN MY HOUSE. No wonder he was having so much fun…

I watched him. (I knew I didn’t, 1. want to touch the mouse, and 2. take it from him.) He watched me. The mouse didn’t move. I thought, Surely, it’s dead.

He put it down. IT RAN. Right behind the paint cans that were there.

And here’s where it gets interesting.

The mouse went to the right side, behind the can. And waited. Amber when to the right side, in front of the can. And waited.

The mouse went to the left side, behind the can. And waited. Amber when to the left side, in front of the can. And waited.

Rinse. Repeat. Again. Again.

I watched this happen, at least 10 times. Then I moved the can, just a little.

The mouse dashed out. And Amber gently picked it up in his jaws. Took it into the kitchen. Put it down. Played in that room. Then they changed back to the dining room. (Yes, he carried it there.)

Then, it ran downstairs. I thought, Well, that’s that. The Mouse is in the House.

Nope.  He was back upstairs with the mouse in an hour.

James was in New York City during that week. When he came home, I told him the story. He waited that night, and when it happened again, he caught the mouse.

And put him in an aquarium (no water, for you folks who worry about such things.) And I had to name him. After all, this may not have been the ‘original’ mouse; but we needed a name for Amber’s BFF. Here’s his picture. I named him Peekaboo.


James took him across the little creek beside our property, figuring he’s still alive, but now in a different country (for a mouse) and wouldn’t be back.

Hah! His wife came looking for him the following night.

Two weeks later, the kids came out. These were small enough that Amber didn’t think of them as friends, but instead, (finally), as maybe a snack. I came out at the now-familiar soccer noises and weird, deep cat howls to find him licking the back half of a young mouse. (As in, there was no front half. No blood either.) He seemed VERY confused.

So, we bought a mouse trap, the kind that traps them live, not kills them. Haven’t caught any. Neither has Amber. We’re all wondering if Peekaboo is done with his playdates.

My Birthday Present from James

July 19, 2011

My birthday was in May, so this is a late post. Well, so was the present.

I started guessing what it was when he told me it’d be late…. So, I began at the beginning: “Is it made of plant material?” “No” “Is it made of plastic?” “No” “Is it made of fabric?” “No” “Is it made of concrete?” “No” “Is it made of glass?” “No” “Is it made of wood?” “No”

You get the idea. And I apparently didn’t guess it, so we didn’t go any farther than that. And he loved that I was guessing, AND not getting it.

It arrived in two BIG boxes. And, the present he got me was very unusual and deserves a post of its own.

So, here it is, my very own garden zombie. (It’s gonna be SO KEWL when the moss starts growing in weird places on it. :D) I named him Christian. (If it’s not obvious why, ask me in an email. 😉 )

Garden Zombie

Oil Pastel Artwork I’ve Done

July 9, 2011

All of these works were done in the domain of tiny paintings called Artist Trading Cards (ATCs). This means that they never go over the size of 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. And they were done with those fat crayon shaped sticks called oil pastels. (ATCs can be done in ANY medium.)

For years the oil pastel clubbed me over the head; nothing I made with them looked any better than scribbles a 3 year old could do. I was severely frustrated by the medium. Until… da da dummm … I took a workshop with Gary Michael.

Watching him, how easily he does what he does, made it appear simple! (You know, when an expert in any field does something, it always appears ‘simple’ 😉 ) But I paid attention, and this was the result. The following work is NOT an ATC; it’s dimensions, unframed, are 5″ x 7″. I entered it into an 2009 art show, where it netted me a First Place Ribbon in Landscapes!

Afternoon Exercise 5x7 Oi Pastel

Afternoon Exercise 5x7 Oi Pastel

I like oil pastel so much I continued to work in it, on my own. The next work I did was this one, of which I’m still very fond:

Corbett Canyon #2

That one was done for an ATC swap, and so it now belongs to someone else. These next 4 were also done for that same swap.

Emo Possum

(Forgive me, I’m still learning the WordPress way of putting in images.. my first try overlaid several. Second try stacked them like a deck. We’ll see if I can get them all in here without more mishap.)

3 Chicks - I SO adored this one. Still think of it. Should have kept it.

This next one shows why Colorado was named as it was:

An April Sunset in Colorado

Next, another one I feel I should have kept. This one was very difficult and took me weeks:

Hydrangea in Blue

Not done for a swap, I still have this one, framed up. It got me a Second Place Ribbon in the 2009 art show I mentioned above. I think I’d like to keep showing this one. For as small as it is and the size of the pastel stick, I think I got great detail and effect:

3 Petaled Wonder

This piece has never been shown. It’s a 4×6, framed in a gold frame which complements it nicely.

3 Trilliums

This one, a 5×7 on masonite, is framed in a gold plein air frame.

Another Colorado Sunset

Next up is an ATC, made for a trade. I had done this earlier in acrylic, and liked it, but love the brilliance of color the oil pastels gave to it in this version:

California Poppies #2

Next up, an ATC sized, framed up, Griffon Vulture. I liked this guy when I saw his image, and just had to see what oil pastel would do! He got me a Third Place Ribbon in that 2009 art show. (Yes, it was a good year for me!) So, he’s been shown but is still at home with me. Note the blues in his neck feather ruff:

Griffon Vulture

This one is ATC sized and framed up. Didn’t get me an award, and have no idea why! I enjoy this one still. The title is a play on words: Tres Bien means Very Good, and Tres means Three (kinda :D), which is how many bananas there are. Also, this is how I LOVE my bananas: a few spots, nice and soft but not falling apart nor fumy:

Tres Bien

This one is a traded ATC, taken in part from the Afternoon Exercise piece above. A different take, a different exercise:

Hackberry Ridge

Made for a personal trade, I worked from a photograph of another trader’s husband and young son in a beautiful quiet moment. I need practice with the human form, obviously, but was happy enough with this one to send it on home:

OY's Men

Another traded ATC, this one was lots of fun, and I almost regretted trading it. These ATC sized works are great practice!:

Posin' Puffin

An ATC sized work, this piece is framed in a plein air frame. I liked the starkness of the landscape: no tops to the trees, just the bare trunks; and the mountains in the distance, clouds in the sky for company. Feels peaceful to me. This one is still at home too:

Bare Trees

Done for a swap, this ATC is also gone. I wasn’t sure how to work this one; it took longer than most of what you’ve seen so far!:

Bluebell of the Field

Done for the same swap, I did these next two from the same photograph, but from different crops. I liked both but decided to keep one. This is the one that stayed home:

Dainty Dandelions #1

And this is the one that was submitted to the swap, and went home to the trader:

Dainty Dandelions #2

For another swap, I did a series. Will eventually do a larger set in the series, same subject:

Arms of a Friend Series, #1

Second in the series. Can you tell I like tress?:

Arms of a Friend Series, #2

Done for the same swap and gone home to the trader:

Grandfather Baobab

This next one gave me fits. I was happy with it when I was done though. It looks very abstract, and yet, not. It went home to a trader:

Orchid Spray

I painted these pears, ate them and then sent the ATC into the swap:

Red Pears

Next up: Yeah, it’s pink. But sunsets sometimes do that, and I liked how it almost turned coral where it hit the yellow of the setting sun. This is the Mason Barn at Champoeg (pronounced shampoo – ey) Park in Oregon. An original structure at an historic registered site, the garden is sown with plants only grown during pioneer days. This painting is 11×17, done on pastelbord, and framed:

Manson Barn with Garden at Champoeg

At 9×12.5, this painting is framed. At a show last year, it was second in the running for People’s Choice. (Didn’t get it though):

Old Avila Bones

Wow. Until this posting, I had no idea how many works I’d done in oil pastel! I should have made it into two posts, at least.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the ‘show’; I’ll be posting more artworks in the future. I’ve many more to show off, though most are gone in ATC trades. That’s what the ATC world is all about!