Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring has sprung

I know. It has been a while again since my last post. I do have plenty of pictures though so I suspect I'll be off the hook at least a little bit. Summer is coming quickly with a lot more activity so it's going to get harder to keep up with posting again. As if it wasn't hard enough already! I figured I'd better get one up quickly before May hits! This picture was taken just days after the Gunsight trip on the last post. I think it captured the blues in the glacier better than the last picture did.

Just another pretty shot of the mountain out our front window.

This shot shows our house from the front. It's a bit washed out but I decided to leave it that way rather than try to tone it down. The sun really does make everything VERY bright! That isn't the point of the picture though. Check out the cliff just above and to the right of the house.

Did you see these guys? The sheep like to hang out in the sun up on that cliff.

I finally found a way to demonstrate the power of the sun up here. These pictures were taken in our kitchen. The indoor/outdoor thermometer sits on a shelf next to a window with the "outdoor" probe sitting right up against the window. The indoor temperature is whatever temperature it is right where the thermometer is sitting. Solar gain is an awesome thing but you'd better plan to shut down the wood stove by lunch time or you'll cook yourself out of the house by mid-afternoon.

This picture is an early morning "sun isn't hitting here yet" picture. The days are really long again too. It is starting to get light at about 5 am and is still light until close to 11. We're still gaining almost 6 minutes of daylight every day. When spring comes, it works quickly!

This is what the sun did to our driveway just days after the last post. Besides the small pond, if you look at the ice in the foreground, you can see the tire tracks crunching through the top layer of ice and also note the smaller holes forming next to the pond. Those smaller holes were showing up all over the ice road at that point. Needless to say, we didn't drive it much after that. The ATV trail still had quite a bit of ice over the one section (as you saw in the last post), but it is melting off fairly quickly at this point. Most of the trail is clear now with just a few ice sections and bits of snow here and there.

Yesterday wasn't the most beautiful day with some snow, sleet and rain falling here and there, but it made for some fantastic picture taking. I made good use of the sun bursting through the clouds to get some pretty pictures. Long Lake.

I FINALLY captured the blue! This is Long Lake again.

This is the overlook on the hill outside Palmer.

Down by the Matanuska River toward the butte in Palmer.

Last week on the drive into town.

King River last week.
King Mountain last week.

Sergei rescued the little Chickadee that hit the window.

Just got a kick out of this. You never know if the place you will be will have a handy plug-in so you carry your own extension cord to make sure you can reach! Only in Alaska!

We got a book on wire working for Oksana so she has been busy making all sorts of jewelry. She's always been interested in using beads, but adding in the wire work has given her so many more options! She's having a blast!

The same goes for Andrei. He did a little leather work this summer at camp and really enjoyed it so we got him a kit for Christmas. He has been busy doing leather work all winter. Here is a gun belt he made for Rodney.

And he is working on making his own chaps. I'll get a picture of them when he's done! He's also gotten Rodney hooked on making gun holsters, knife sheaths and leatherman cases. The two of them together have been having a blast making stuff for themselves and for others.

Speaking of projects, this steamer has been in the making for a couple of years. Nate had drawn up plans for a "more power" steamer before he left. It was recently completed and then Matt cleaned up the tank a bit. Before it was painted with Matt and Ryan examining the work.

Not quite done with the paint job, but they needed it already so the paint job will need to be finished later. Apparently it works GREAT!!! It makes plenty of steam to thaw frozen pipes!

Next week the summer staff starts arriving and we have the outdoor education classes starting. Schools from Anchorage bring students out for a few days of outdoor learning. They take trips to the glacier and the fossil beds, climb on the climbing wall and more. Here Earl and Todd are hiking up to the fossil beds to see if the snow has cleared enough up there.

Jake and Joey also hiked up.

The summer schedule is about to hit! We're still looking for a few girl counselors (and a nurse and a worship leader) for the summer so let us know if you know of anyone who might be able to come help!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New picture record

I'm pretty sure this post will break previous records for number of pictures! It's April though and seeing that March and April are some of my favorite months, that means there are lots of pictures to share of the beauty and activities! I'll try to get some order to these but they are pretty random so to some degree, there won't be a lot of connection between them. The first one is the full moon, the one that was supposed to be bigger than normal. We didn't have much luck with pictures of the moon itself but this one was interesting to me in a different way. It really shows how bright it is here in the winter when the moon is out. With the snow reflecting the light, it is bright enough to see quite a bit with a minimal amount of moon-light. So even when the days are short, we still often have quite a bit of light. Right now our days aren't short though. We have over 15 hours of light (including long twilight periods) per day now and are still adding almost 6 minutes of daylight every day.

The ice has already started breaking up on the Matanuska River but this shot is from a few weeks ago when the snow had cleared quite a bit so you could really see the texture of the river. I know this shot is right into the sun but it highlighted the texture better that way. You can double click on any of the pictures to see a bigger version of it.

This is the best I could get of the color of the river. It still didn't capture the color as well as I had hoped, but you can see the glacier blues a little bit.

This is just a gratuitous scenic shot of my drive to and from town a week or so ago.
The camp ice rink was as slick as could be for the BOW weekend (I think that's when this one was taken):

So is our ice road! Makes for rather fun driving to be sure! So far the ice road is still rather thick and we're not getting overflow (thanks to Lee's road placement instructions and a much lighter snow pack) so we're still driving. We weren't by this time last year. The worst part is the mud that washed down off the driveway leaving a mud pond at the bottom of the drive. That is causing faster melting, but so far we're still in good shape. We also have to be careful now not to drive the truck off the hill in the afternoon. If we want the truck, we have to take it down the drive in the morning when the mud is frozen.

The ATV trail had a lot of ice through one section. Sergei shoveled dirt over the ice to help it melt off quicker after these pictures were taken. The sun is intense this time of year and anywhere there are dark spots things melt off VERY quickly!

Rodney and some of the other guys from camp went out on a day trip a week or so ago.
This is the view of the Matanuska Glacier from on top of Fortress Ridge.

Jared Thiessen, Brian Wilbert and Lowell Hilsen on that same trip. Jared seems to manage to go along on almost every trip that happens. ;) Lowell used to ride all over the area but is slowing down a little bit. Rodney figured that with it being Lowell's first trip this year, he might be able to keep up. He did, but it was still quite a job! Not sure if I've ever introduced Lowell or not. He's the breakfast cook in the winter (one of those morning people). In the summer he takes off to other parts of the country.

JJ and Bella Cote helped me work for a few hours this week while mom and dad went on a town trip "date." Seriously! They worked hard! Or worked me. I forget which!
Ellie isn't the only naughty one. Eider had Rodney's hat and was sooooooo pleased with his bad self! Dufus!

Ellie spends a great deal of time seeking out sunbeams lately. Good thing for her there are plenty of them!

Annie made this beautiful quilt for me so I had to show it off:

Yesterday we went to Gunsight for the annual spring sledding party. Rodney and I rode up to the base of Gunsight where you can see for miles around. If you double click on this picture to go to the larger one, and then see a miniature magnifying glass with a plus sign, click once to go to magnified view and look at the very top edge of that ridge. You should be able to see the V formation that gives the mountain it's name. Legend has it that Dwayne King (of Kingdom Air Corps) used to fly through that V. No idea if it is true or not or if he still does but it should give you a good feel both for the scale of things AND Dwayne's character! He's a character all right!

The snow was what they call "sugar snow" or "corn snow" - crystalized and unstable so we left the machines on the trail and hiked up a small ridge to get a better look around.

Coming back down the hill Jesse Lee and Rodney stopped to chat. This is actually two pictures stitched together. For some reason it cut off Jesse's hand and part of his leg when it did it. I would have liked to have fixed it but it was late at night when I stitched these and bed was calling. This morning I still have a pile of things to do before I hit the road again. At any rate, this is another one worth seeing in better detail so if you'd like, double click and then you can use the magnifying glass again. In the center on the horizon to the left of the mountains that are clearly there are some mountains barely visible way off in the distance. Those are the Wrangell-St Elias range that we saw on our way to Valdez. Near the road in the lower part of the picture is the group that was there sledding. Another way to get an idea of the scale of things is to look at our truck and trailer parked right on the road.

Sergei and Jared took the death sleds down a for run but apparently Jared was dragging his feet in front of Sergei so Sergei got a bit covered in snow. Note the Alaskan Special knee patch. Sergei has a habit of getting too close to the fire. And he also has a habit of using duct tape to fix EVERYTHING.

Jesse took Sergei for a ride - always an adventure and Sergei has learned to hold on TIGHT!

And one more gratuitous scenic picture. It was a bit cloudy so I was trying to see if I could capture the glacier blue better without so much sun on it. Not bad, but might have been better with the Canon.

Morning commute

Morning commute