Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Alaska Journal: Wasilla/Palmer and Mat-Su Region

Greetings from Alaska and Welcome to the first part of the Alaska Journal!

My husband and I are traveling a small portion of this enormous state and you are welcome to join us on this adventure. Please come along with us today as I share photos from our first stop, Wasilla/Palmer area and the agriculture rich Mat-Su Region of Alaska. Mat-Su is the shortened name for the region including the Matanuska and Susitna Rivers.

Our first view of Alaska--from an airplane
Three take-offs and three landings during our twelve hour travel from home to Anchorage and we landed easily at Anchorage Airport. The trip was seamless thanks to the great performance by Delta and Alaska Airlines. (Note to local folks--The Comfort Inn on 28th St., Grand Rapids, MI has friendly park and fly service. They even serve breakfast at 4 a.m. so guests can make the 4:30 a.m. shuttle to the aiport!)  

 The snow patches and the glacier iced mountains greeted us when we touched down in Anchorage. This city is not a city of tall skyscrapers nor contemporary architecture. It is plain and reflects the values of hard-working folks. The friendly people were cordial and helpful and soon we were on our way from Anchorage to Wasilla in our rental car. 

On the road to Wasilla
As we drove the route to Wasilla, majestic mountains guarded the highway. No matter where we looked, there were gorgeous views. I was in awe of the beauty. "Purple mountain majesties" the words from America, the Beautiful resonated in my head.

I was not prepared for the emotional experience of Alaska's landscape. I'm a writer and yet I cannot grasp the words to describe the beauty and the power I saw in those mountains. (Later I experienced more mountain vistas, so you may get sick of mountain pictures. I have taken hundreds of photos, but still have not captured the drama of these vistas.)

We spent two nights at Alaska Lake Lucille Bed and Breakfast...a charming home decorated with quilts and country paintings and coziness. Carol cooked up a deeee-licious breakfast each morning and started off the days with cheerful greetings and smiles.

Our aiplane--well, for half an hour at least, during the flight seeing tour
Flightseeing Tour
We flew over the lands drained by the "braided" streams of the Susitna River. Instead of one channel, there are many connecting to each other. What a sight to behold. So much water!

This is only a small part of the waterway we saw during the airplane ride.
Hatcher's Pass
We had quite an adventure finding Hatcher's Pass, but eventually we made it there. The mountains are amazing!
On the road to Hatcher's Pass
You will see snow patches on the mountain even at this time of year. There is a lot of snow still on the mountainsides because Alaska experienced a record breaking snowfall this year and a late spring. The icy glaciers are also visible and remain on the mountain throughout the seasons.

Our car was dwarfed by this snow bank along our route to Hatcher's Pass

The Musk Ox Farm
After our long drive through the awesome mountains we stopped at the Musk Ox Farm.

Musk ox Mama

Musk ox are unusual animals related to goats, not cattle. They can withstand the extreme temperatures of the Alaskan winters by growing a heavy coat. At this farm, their hair, called quviut is combed out in the spring and saved so Alaskan natives can use the material to knit gorgeous, warm scarves and hats, etc. I was going to purchase two scarves for my two daughters as a memento of our Alaskan trip, however, the scarves were $245. each! When I picked up my jaw from the counter, I thanked the clerk, but told her no. I was even afraid to touch the beautiful works of art.

The next destination is Denali National Park. Yes, there will be lots more mountain images for sure. 

If you have a question about our travels, please ask. If you have visited Alaska, please share your experience with us.

This is the first part in the series on our trip to Alaska. Please click the links below to follow the whole trip.

Part 3: Alaska Native Heritage Center 
Part 4: Ski Resort Girdwood
Part 5: Seward, Kenai Fjords, and Alaska Sea Life Center


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hubby's Birthday

Today is my hubby's birthday. No special plans except we will be packing for our trip to Alaska. We leave tomorrow, so I have no idea if I will have Internet access during this trip. Anybody know if there is wi-fi in the Alaskan bed and breakfasts in the middle of nowhere?? LOL...

I'm looking forward to being away from it all for a bit. But when I do get service, I will post some pics and let you know if a moose ran over me and other interesting tidbits.

I'll be joining you all again soon. Keep the light on for me!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Camping with Our Grandsons

Working weather vane in downtown Montague, MI
This past weekend we camped at Trailways Campground in downtown Montague, MI. Yes, the campground is owned by the city. Quaint area with twin cities Montague and Whitehall located on White Lake which empties into Lake Michigan. The campground is right next to the Hart-Montague Bike Trail. Busy place in the summer and so beautiful.

Whitehall is the home of Whitehall Products which manufactures weather vanes. This one used to sit out on an island in White Lake, but was moved to this area to protect the island. Magnificent.

Fishin' off the fishing bridge..Covell Park
Yes, the guys did a LOT of fishin'--mostly feeding them though.

White Lake shore
We journeyed over to Lake Michigan, but the water is so cold. Even in August the big lake is cool. It had to be cold for the boys NOT to get in. So here they are at White Lake. Beautiful there, but water is not warm. We found warmer water at Duck Lake State Park and a great shallow spot for hunting minnows!

Historic light house on White Lake
West Michigan has gorgeous beaches on Lake Michigan. The lake is so huge it seems it is an ocean. People who live on the coastlines of the oceans cannot get used to getting in the water and not tasting salt!

Earl was our constant companion
This beautiful brown pigeon, dubbed Earl by the boys, decided to be our mascot. He was so tame we think he was a lost carrier pigeon. One morning my DH was outside with the laptop open and Earl landed on the upturned screen and peeked over the top to see what was up.

The weather was perfect for camping. Time for campfires, turtle huntin', fishin', bikin', and water play. What more could you want??

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kickoff to Summer Blog Hop and Giveaways

Join us June 5 and June 6 and enter for giveaways!
Today I am thrilled to welcome you to the Kickoff to Summer Blog Hop featuring author friends who are outstanding writers AND  my critique partners. When this group, dubbed the Koffee Kuppe Writers,  first met not one had a published book. Now four of the five are traditionally published with approximately fourteen books pubbed or contracted.

We, the Koffee Kuppe Writers, are gathering together online today for a fantastic, Kickoff to Summer Blog Hop. Not only will you learn  more about my special author friends, but you will have the opportunity to win the random drawing on each author's blogsite. Just leave a comment to enter. The winners will be announced on June 7.

Please visit the rest of the Koffee Kuppe Writers to discover their unique stories 
and win their great giveaways:
 Mystery author W.S. Gager
YA paranormal author Tess Grant
and Sweet Romance author Joselyn Vaughn 
on June 5 and June 6 on the
***Kickoff to Summer Blog Hop.***

Win a PDF copy of my mystery, Sunshine Boulevard, but if you can't wait for the drawing,  Sunshine Boulevard, is specially priced during this blog hop at my publisher's bookstore, Muse It Up Publishing. The winner will also receive an excerpt from my latest mystery, Coda to Murder, which will be released by MIU Publishing February 2013. You will be the FIRST to read it. AND what would be a giveaway by J Q Rose without some kind of flamingo as the prize? So you can win a cuddly flamingo too! 

Veggies from our vegetable garden.

Our Main Summer Activity

Throughout our marriage, my husband has been a gardener. Our summers are focused on gardening and eating! We have a pretty good deal worked out where he does all the soil prep, planting, weeding, fertilizing,  harvesting and I do the prep and cooking. Yep, that's it. No bugs or weeds or pickin' green beans for me.( He doesn't like the way I pick beans, therefore I am off harvesting duty. The beans are the same color as the leaves and stalks so I "overlook" the beans. He even planted purple beans several years to help me find them lurking in the green foliage. Needless to say, I even missed the purple ones! Yes, really. Purple beans are tender and turn green when you boil them.)

Can you find a green bean in here? Neither can I!
He was so intent on gardening that on our FIRST anniversary over 40 years ago, he went out to till the garden. I was shocked! No romantic, candlelight dinner? Not even a pizza from the take out pizza shop to celebrate? Needless to say I was in tears when he came in that evening. And being a man, he had no idea I had expected some celebration and romance. That was the beginning of learning to communicate with each other. After forty years we are still working on it.

We continued to garden even after having our first daughter. He loved taking her out to the garden with him.

Green, purple, yellow, and pole beans.
Bean Planting Time

Our two-year-old daughter, Sara, toddled around the spring vegetable garden as my husband carved rows to plant the bean seeds. It was a perfect evening to enjoy the outdoors. So many fun things for the little girl to explore….hoses, buckets, new plants springing up, lots of dirt and bugs.

My husband grabbed the bag of bean seeds from his pail and noticed how enthralled Sara was with the beetle-like black June bugs crawling around the dirt and through the plants. She picked them up and let them crawl along her small hands and up her arm until it tickled her, then she would shake them off and pick up another.

“Sara,” he called. “Don’t step on the onion sets, the green stuff there in front of you.”

Sara looked up from her play with the bugs. She squatted down and gently touched the delicate sprouts arising from the row of onion sets. She checked with her daddy to see if this is what he meant not to play with.  “Yes, Honey, don’t play with the plants, okay?”

He watched her for a minute and smiled as she carefully reached for another June bug. Turning his back to her, he began planting the bean seeds in the rows.

My husband heard a rustle behind him and checked to discover little Sara following him down the row. He turned back to the planting, then heard Sara crunching and chewing.

Whirling around to our daughter, he yelled, “Spit it out! Spit it out, Sara.” Fearing she had eaten a mouthful of June bugs, he rushed to her side as she slobbered out pieces of bean seeds.

What a relief. Sara ate bean seeds, not June bugs!

Sara is now a grown woman, and her sons toddle after Grandpa in the garden. So far, no grandsons have eaten the bean seeds during the spring planting….that we know of.

Through the years, we learned a LOT about gardening. We especially enjoyed sharing tips with customers who came to our greenhouse in the spring. A few years ago I decided to blog about our gardening experiences and knowledge on The Garden for Eatin'  for Practical Vegetable Gardening. If you're a gardener, you may want to check out the site to follow our journey this year. If you are the cook and like trying new recipes, please e-mail me for a copy of The Garden for Eatin' Recipe Collection with tasty recipes using fresh veggies from your garden or local farmer's market. My email address is jqrose02 at gmail dot com.

Thanks for Kicking Off the Summer with us! Comment now to be eligible for the drawing and visit the other authors in the hop to learn more about them and discover their entertaining stories. Leave a comment to win!

Wishing you a fun-filled, relaxing summer season!!