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Tag Archives: adventure

The Emergency Orders came out on Thursday, they completely closed our Personal Use Set Net fishery. Devastating to our family. (Pic from previous years.)
Being held by his favorite hooman.
False morels, some type from the genus Gyromitra.
Six baby Bronze Turkeys to add to the flock.

It was a short week, 6 days ago, that I tapped our Birch tree. I probably could have tapped it a few days earlier if not for just being too busy. But better some sap than none!

With the speed of the melting snow the Birch sap has slowed it’s flow.

Checking my Sap Bucket.

Our first gallon I poured into individual collapsible water bottles for drinking later. I found these new at the thrift store, a great find! They came with mini carabineers to clip onto your pack or belt while hiking this summer. Into the freezers they went.

Hiking refreshers.

Next, I used 3.5 gallons to try our version of Birch Beer, similar to root beer, and made about 3/4 of a gallon of flavored concentrate. I slow-simmered the sap in my turkey roaster until about half with a few Birch twigs. Once done I turned off the heat, added a vanilla bean and cinnamon stick and 1/2 cup xylitol to sweeten it a bit more. To serve, pour concentrate into a glass, half full, add a squeeze of fresh lime, a little more sweetener (to individual taste) and top off with seltzer. It’s got an earthy taste, faintly reminiscent of a root beer but not as herbal. I like mine less sweet, the kids like it more sweet. But they like it, that’s good.

It’s nice to have a natural soda alternative that’s not 44 grams of sugar per serving or full of who knows what.

I also put about half a gallon into some reusable popsicles for a cold summer treat. I made 20 of these, Alaskan style Otter Pops, all natural, no artificial dyes, flavors or sweeteners.

Birch pops.

I did learn that we have another native tree here that can also be tapped: Alder. I experimented and tapped a couple larger trunks (they aren’t very big here, 3-5 inches in diameter). I wasn’t set-up properly for collecting the sap so missed a lot. I did get enough to taste it. It’s similar to the Birch water, less flavor tho. Overall good to know in an emergency but not likely to try it annually.

What remains of our harvest is apx 3.5 gallons, which I’ll turn into ice cubes and jugs of sap to freeze and use later. I’m going to try brining my salmon in Birch sap and salt this summer.

Overall we harvested about 9 gallons from a single Birch tree in 6 days, 1.5 gallons a day on average. This is important to know if we want to harvest enough for a larger batch of syrup or beverages. Since Birch water doesn’t keep for more than a couple days without spoiling, it has to be used or frozen quickly. So if we needed 5 gallons to process into wine we would need to tap 4-5 trees for a larger daily quantity.

I pulled the spile early Saturday morning. And another foraging season has come & gone.

Next up for wildcrafting is cottonwood buds, fiddleheads, fireweed shoots, spruce tips and morels. Oh boy, I can’t wait!! So much to do, so little time!

Snow is melting, spring is here. Come on summer!

Yesterday was our “end of year” field trip. We’ve still got a few weeks left but a little early celebration never hurt anyone.

Before we boarded we spent some time exploring around the docks.

Major Marine Tours out of Seward took us out for a 4 hour tour. (Glad it wasn’t three and the weather wasn’t rough.)

Captain Marcelle navigated the “Kenai Fjords 360” throughout Resurrection Bay like a boss.

First thing we see after leaving port are Dall’s Porpoises swimming with our boat. They look like little baby Orcas. They were quite amusing swimming and jumping out of the water, crisscrossing in front of the bow.

Once we were underway the Capt put this nav map up for us to reference. It helped keep our bearings for sure.

Then we saw a bald eagle perched on an enormous rock. We spotted a sea otter in Thumb Cove.

After traveling past Fox Island we saw some Stellar Sea Lions sunning themselves on Mary’s Rock. Captain Marcelle was terrific for getting us excellent views of the wildlife. We had a beautiful day, sunshine, 41-45° air temp and no sea swell! Simply gorgeous spring day!

We cruised past Barwell Island on the east side of Resurrection Bay, which has some WW II era bunkers. Then the best thing happened, another vessel alerted us to a pod of three Orcas just two hours into our tour! What an awesome inspiring moment!

We also experienced a mirage, called fata morgana, of Montague Island. It made the island look like a plateau instead of the peaked mountain tops it has. Once we changed position and could look back at the Island you could once again see it’s peaks and valleys. So weird!

Besides the abundance of wildlife that we saw and learned a few facts about (did you know there were 10 types of Orcas worldwide and three types that frequent our Alaskan waters?) we also learned about history (WW II, Russian exploration, President Harding and the Good Friday Quake) and geology when we passed some unusual rock formations of pillow basalt. It was quite the learning experience!

Our route was the red one. It would be nice to take the blue one some day!

We peeked into Carol’s Cove to observe 6 Harbour Seals on our way back towards the west side of Resurrection Bay where we had a great view of Bear Glacier. Lil Bit was excited for this one, she really wanted to see the seals. It’s nice to see them elsewhere, than in our nets stealing our fish! Then we spotted two coastal mountain goats on the sheer face of the mountain side! And another Harbor Seal in the water along the Callisto Cliffs.

Nearly 4 pm and our tour is about over, what a wonderful experience! I love seeing the rugged beauty and bounty of Alaska. And seeing landmarks like Cain’s Head which we’ve explored a couple of times on foot. I think Lil Bit counted 8 species in total that we spotted today. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves! Little Mister was most comfortable on the bow feeling the wind rush through his hair. Thing 2 wasn’t in too many pics as he enjoyed the freedom of roaming about the boat at will.

I’m very grateful for the homeschooling resources we have with IDEA and the rich experiences we get to have thanks to their efforts. Trips like these would be out of reach for us without them.

Good things come to those who wait, or so the old proverb says. I’ve been waiting a very long time. 31 years to be exact.

In 1992 I visited Alaska for the first time. Came up with my (then) husband Pete for an epic adventure to see my Dad & experience Alaska. We hiked to Exit Glacier (which was much bigger than it is today), ate barbecued King Salmon, experienced Seward’s Fourth of July celebration, went clamming for razor clams at Clam Gulch, fished for halibut in Resurrection Bay and stayed at his Gray Cliffs cabin.

That’s when I met Fritz, Dad’s husky. He was a large, imposing sort of dog. Dad had psyched me out about Fritz being only his dog and that I shouldn’t try to be overly friendly with him. To let Fritz make friends with me . I think I was low-key afraid of him before I even met him.

Turns out, Fritz was a gentle giant and I fell in love with him and his breed on the spot. My Dad pulled a good one on me!

For years I’ve wanted a husky of my own but timing was never right. I didn’t want one in Kansas or Oklahoma where I felt the dog would be too hot (yes I know people own huskies in warm states, but I didn’t want to). Or I wasn’t ready to have a dog. Or kids were too young, too much work, yada, yada, yada.

May the dreams you hold dearest, be those which come true. The kindness you spread, keep returning to you. – Irish Blessing

I’ve walked by many a “husky puppies for sale” sign at the local Fred Meyer’s parking lot over the past decade. Look but don’t touch. Too expensive. I don’t have time for a dog right now. Thoughts running through my mind, convincing myself to avoid temptation.

Nearly a decade into my Great Alaskan life I was minding my own business, stopping at the local gas station for some propane when I spied a dog sled team in their boxes on the back of a maroon truck. Working dogs. They were happily looking the other direction, paying the cars and people no mind. I called to them and they simultaneously looked at me from across the lot. Smart dogs. Attentive. Beautiful huskies.

I complemented their human as I walked past the pumps, for his beautiful dogs. He thanked me for the compliment then said “you’re not interested in a puppy are you? Or know anyone who is?”

Oh dear.

“Would you like to see them”, the Sled Dog Dude said.

Oh dear.

They were the chunkiest, quietest little balls of fluff I’d ever seen. White with gray markings, white and black and solid white pups, like their mom. Some with blue eyes and some with dark eyes. One little white female with one blue & one dark eye. Oy. No I can’t get one but I’ll take your number if I hear of anyone I’ll pass it along. Thanks & good-bye.

Oh dear

I went home telling everyone about the cute pups. I texted pics even.

Oh dear.

A week passed, I couldn’t stop thinking about the little buggers. I figured by now they’d be all gone and I would have missed my chance.

I texted Sled Dog Dude and asked him if he had any pups left and sure enough he had three, two females and one male.

Oh dear.

I wanted a male. He’s the biggest pup of the litter and all white, just like his mom. Dark eyes. Quiet. A bit shy.

Sled Dog Dude called me last Friday and said the pup was ready to go. So I drove over to pick him up, it was St. Patrick’s Day. What do you name a wee lad you bring into your family of St Paddy’s Day? Why a Gaelic one of course.

Uisce, pronounced “Ishka”, means frozen river or cold wind from the north. And since no one in their right American English speaking mind will pronounce Uisce correctly, we spelled it phonetically.

We are now a two dog family. Panda Bear was definitely not impressed on day one. By day two she had realized the little guy wasn’t going away. Day three she started to entertain the thought of playing with him. And now they are wrestling, sharing toys, food dishes and beds. Although Panda can still jump up onto the bed to escape his little needle teeth from time to time.

Welcome to the adventure! #SledDoglife.