Monday, August 24, 2009

Alaskans know how to party!

You gotta hand it to Alaskans: they fight for their right to party!

Today was the company picnic for my husband's store and even though the weather has been beautiful the last couple of days (or so I've been told), it started raining the moment Logan and I showed up to the picnic site. and it didn't really stop the whole five hours or so that the party raged.

And yet there was a great turn out. Despite the rain, a water balloon fight erupted, much to the delight of the kids attending. Also, a "pie" fight (pies were just pudding and whipped cream) to ensure all managers were "pied" willingly or unwillingly (Logan was willing), an egg fight (between several employees and managers who carried the pie fight to a new extreme), sack races (Logan and I both did that), and an archery contest.

So much food was brought, it was barely contained under the awning that was set up in case of rain. Kids roasted marshmallows over an open fire, hot dogs and hamburgers filled the air with that lovely grilling smell, and I had so many sodas I'm surprised I didn't float away. We brought Ghiradelli chocolates and they were devoured. Logan just said some people took handfuls home to spouses that were unable to attend!

Logan and I were among the last to leave, making sure everything was as picked up and clean as possible (the splotches of pie will just have to wash away in the rain) and make sure the fire had burned down safely. A few others hung out with us by the fire and told interesting stories about old ladies buying them drinks and how to get around California's various smog laws.

All in all, it was a successful party, one I was glad to be a part of. And I got to see just how determined Alaskans are to have fun, no matter what tries to get in their way!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Home again, home again

Well, I did all the things I said I wanted to do in the last blog post. I saw my friends, family, and my cats. Gerry jumped onto my back, Damien grabbed my lap, and Schmendrik hovered around close by so I could scratch his cheeks. Boothie is now the oldster kitty of the group and lays around a lot, though he still appreciates a good pet. The dogs are all gray around the muzzles, except Buster, who is white to begin with. But he's showing his age, too; Dad built a set of stairs so Buster has an easier time getting up to the bed.

My parents are chugging along just fine. Dad and I played guitar together a couple of times while I was there, but my fingers got sore quick. I haven't been able to practice as much as I would like, so my fingers remain newbie tender. Their gardens are flourishing and they even have a greenhouse now!

I did stuff my face with Chinese food and wish to God I could have stuffed my bag full of it so my husband and I can eat some together. The Chinese food here in Alaska is just not that good. Even the Panda Express down there is better than the best Chinese we've eaten here so far.

I got to take my friends out to lunch. We went to Red Robin and the conversation ranged from theatre (of course) to the death of Michael Jackson. I love these people and wish I could have spent so much more time with them while I was there.

I went to see the latest show that's opening at the Olde Coloma Theatre, "Six Flags Over Coloma." Anyone who lives in that area of Northern California should see it. They have a talented cast (and many different accents abound, which is hard to do!) and lots of beautiful costuming. The dress my best friend wears in the second act will knock your socks off! (Or at least burn out your retinas, but you'll still find yourself saying, "Thank you. Can I have some more?") And trust me, I'm not just saying that because she's my best friend! Watch out for those hoops!

I got to see Moonshadows, my favorite metaphysical book store in the world. Though it is no longer owned by the sweet lady I loved to chat with, it still has lots of great stuff. I left the store with a bottle of locally made lotion that has bug repelling and sunblock properties. I haven't smelled it yet, since I wanted to wait until I got home to open it, but I knew it would be the perfect lotion to have here in Alaska during the summer! (Though the summer is pretty much over now, sniff.)

My family went to Alder Creek the day after I arrived. There were lots of photos and video taken while we splashed around in the creek and then hiked up to the pool. A fellow hiker's dog joined us in the water and begged us to throw sticks for him, a nice old Golden retriever named Al. I missed my own Bruno quite a bit at that point. I actually wore a bikini, something I haven't done since I was a real little girl! It covered more than most bikinis do, though, since my chest is practically concave. (I can hear my mother gasping at me mentioning that on a public blog.)

I will have lots of pictures to post on Facebook and Myspace eventually. I arrived home after 2 am, and my husband had to get up at 6:30 for work, so I am functioning on little sleep right now. In fact, I think I will put off doing the dishes my husband piled up while I was gone and go back to bed for a while. Yawn.

It was a great trip.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yay for vacations!

I will be leaving for California tomorrow night. My flight leaves at 12:30 am and I'll be arriving in Sacramento by a bit after 9 am. I long to see my family, my friends, my cats, stuff my face with Chinese food, and visit my favorite places, including Moonshadows and Alder Creek. I want to take all my friends out to dinner to say happy birthday, some belated, some quite early. I want to forget work.

Logan and I have been trying to get outdoors since the summer is nearly over. Leaves are already changing color here and it's chilly in the mornings, though still warm during the day. We hiked a trail near Lake Eklutna, which was a very steep one. We took the dogs with us and during the last mile, Uffda lay down every chance she got. And made a few opportunities of her own as well. She was quite tired, poor "little" girl. Bruno, however, trotted briskly every second and was still tearing around the yard when we got home. So we decided next time, he gets to carry their water, cookies, and travel bowl!

We had bought a pack for him. It hangs on both sides of him, fitting like a harness with a loop on the back to clip the leash. We just never had an opportunity to use it yet.

So we went on a hike at Hatcher's Pass, called Archangel Valley. The drive up the trail was rocky; Logan had to put the Landcruiser into four wheel drive for the last part. When we reached the gate where the hike started, it had begun to rain. It had been sunny at home when we left, but clouds loomed over the mountains as we got close to the pass. We thought it would pass along and clear up.

Boy, were we wrong. It got harder as we went. Logan forgot his hat, though we were both wearing the tops of our Frog Togs. I put on the hood of my sweater, but it was soaked through by the end.

This was the most frustrating (and scary) hike we'd ever been in. We would have been better off leaving the dogs at home. I'm sure Bruno had a blast, but some things went wrong that made things ... sticky.

The trail got really thin and hedged in close by thick bushes. We got to a point where the path forked and we took the wrong trail. We reached a place where we had to jump across some big rocks with the stream running over them. I thought the dogs would slip and fall when they jumped. Uffda almost refused to jump, and I can't blame her. I almost didn't want to, myself.

We had read that there were some abandoned cabins at the end of the hike, so that was our aim, to check them out. After the rocks, we topped the hill and saw we were on the wrong side of the stream. By this time, it was more river than stream. We tried to find a place where we could jump or cross without soaking our feet. One place looked good, but when Logan stepped into the water, his foot sunk. He had high boots on, so it wasn't a problem for him, but it would have been for me. So I went farther down and found a place where there were more rocks and less water. This was a worse idea, because the rocks were slippery and I soaked my right foot, anyway. I was wet from head to toe by this time and starting to get chilly. There was nothing to dry my hands on. My fingers got pretty stiff after a while and I worried about hypothermia.

So we were starting to feel really stupid when we finally hit the ridge and saw a large expanse of field to cross before reaching the cabins. As we started across, we discovered it was mostly swamp. I soaked my my other foot and we decided to finally call it quits.

Logan had some spare wool socks in his pack, so I switched out my soaked ones. Then Logan took our packs and I took the dogs and the dog pack. We let the dogs run around free since they usually stay close. That was our other big mistake. Bruno likes charging around. He wanted to chase a bird that streaked out of a bush, but that would have meant diving off a big rock. I'm so glad he listened to me when I yelled at him, though it took three times to turn him around.

I had reached the narrow part of the trail where bushes clustered thickly on the edges, hip high. Bruno decided to plunge head first into the downhill side bushes. All I could see was an occasional wiggle. Uffda decided to follow him. I yelled and yelled and eventually Bruno emerged with some difficulty. I kept calling Uffda and saw the bushes wiggle here and there.

Then the wiggles stopped and whining started. She had gotten stuck just a foot from the path. I pushed through the branches and saw that she was stuck down under a bush behind a rock wall. She couldn't jump the wall and the bush on top of it and was freaking out. I tried pulling her up, but only succeeded in pulling on her fur. She didn't even so much as whimper. So I dropped down the where she was and scooped her up in my arms. She's at least 60 pounds now and it was all I could do to lift her up. If she'd been like Bruno, she would have leaped from my arms and scrambled over the bush to the path. But she was scared and would not move. I couldn't throw her over the bush, so now I was stuck, too. I was so afraid she was hurt. Logan had caught up and asked if I'd got her and I said, "NO!"

He came down, managed to wrap his arms around her while still up on the ledge, and lifted her to the path. I was so relieved, I almost cried. And as she walked down the path, I saw no sign of injury. I immediately put their leashes on after that event.

I was never so excited to see the Landcruiser as I was that day.

And here's the kicker: As we drove down the rocky road, the sky behind us showed patches of blue. Logan took pictures of it as a way of shaking his fist.

While much of this is embarrassing to tell, as it makes us look like unprepared greenhorns, I wanted other people who read this blog to know that you can never be too prepared in Alaska. Even something as a simple hike on sunny day can turn into a disaster. Just want you all to know that because I care about you.