Bear Tracks

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Everyone on the “Outside” (aka the lower 48, plus Hawaii) asks if we’ve seen a bear yet.  Steve saw one in the distance on his bike ride yesterday.  And today, the girls and I saw bear tracks down at Boy Scout Beach.

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I still can’t fathom the size of this creature, even after putting my hand in its print.  If you’re curious, the little notch marks/imprints at the very end of this track, beyond the hump of sand that is beyond my fingers, are claw marks.

I’m eager to see a bear, but I sincerely hope it is just on the side of the road, NOT on a hiking trail.  Because even bears prefer trails to scrubby alder underbrush…and that trail isn’t big enough for all of us.

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Salmonberry Jam/Jelly/Syrup/Compote

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A few weeks ago, we went camping at Ft Abercrombie for the express purpose of picking enough salmonberries to make jam.  And we did it!  It was slow going, since Allison is a salmonberry eating machine.  She can spot them on the bushes, and will point and gesture and fuss and grunt and carry on until you give her one.  She eats them really fast, too, so it’s hard to keep up with her demand and fill a bucket at the same time.  But we managed.

Rachel and I made salmonberry rhubarb jam and salmonberry jelly.  I thought that the salmonberry jelly had not set up despite the hard boiling and addition of pectin, but it actually gelled pretty well.

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We put it on our French toast tonight, and I’m eager to have it in oatmeal this winter.

It’s almost the end of August, and the salmonberries are all done for the year.  The fireweed is almost all dead, too.  The northern slopes of the mountains are becoming more tan than green.  Fall is on the way–so strange, compared to living in Florida where August is the height of heat and humidity!

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Tide Pools

A few weeks ago, we met up with some friends to explore the tide pools at Ft Abercrombie.  Hopping around on those crazy jagged rock edges that collect the tide water into tide pools while wearing Allison in the Ergo was rather precarious, but we all survived and Rachel had a great time.  It was pretty neat, actually, to see all those creatures up close.  The naturalist there had buckets, nets, and guidebooks for us all to use.  Rachel was incredibly disappointed that I was unable to help her catch a fish (a little sculpin; they were everywhere except in my net).  Thankfully, the friend’s cousin was an instant pro at sculpin catching, so she helped Rachel procure one for the bucket.

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Camping Buskin

2014-06-27 18.20.41Two weeks ago, we made our first Alaskan camping trip!  It was also our first camping trip just the 4 of us.  We rented a 13 ft travel trailer from MWR and hauled it approximately 7 minutes down the road to Buskin River State Recreation Site.  There wasn’t a lot of hiking to be had, which is our preferred camping activity, but we did meander down to the beach and watch people fishing for salmon.

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It was a good “shake down” trip which prompted me and Steve to compose a Camping Pack List while we sat around the campfire after the girls went to bed.  We did, however, remember the crucial items of s’mores material (Rachel calls them Mores) and tortellini.  Tortellini has become a traditional camping dinner for us, and we gave Allison her first tortellini ever, thus formally acknowledging her as a full member of our camping-loving (pasta-loving) family.

2014-06-28 00.35.50The Scamp was pretty bare bones, but had two amazing features.  1: Waterproof  2: Dark.  We brought our extra blackout curtains and situated them over all the windows of the trailer, and slept snugly and happily in the dark.  This is quite a feat when the sun sets at 11:15 pm and rises at 5 am, with lots of twilight time in the middle; true darkness is achieved for only a few hours each night.

While we acknowledge that camping isn’t quite as camping-ish in a trailer, we are in the market!  So if anyone happens to be looking to offload a 13 foot Livnlite all aluminum trailer with bedspace to sleep 4…please let us know.

Old Woman Mountain

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Old Woman Mountain is the dominant feature in our home landscape.  It is what I see while eating, washing the dishes, driving home from town, and playing at the playground.  I was happy to make that our first hike.

It was a hike.  I love hiking, but hiking up a streambed with a 10 month old baby on your back when you have lived in Florida for the past four years is quite a hike.  I loved it.  I was so incredibly happy to be hiking, for real, again.

panoramic view from the top

panoramic view from the top

The views from the top were spectacular but chilly.  We lingered just long enough to eat a quick snack and take a few pictures.  The only wildlife we saw was one eagle soaring at the top with a branch clutched in its talons, on its way to do some home repair, we assumed (we sympathized).  And one clump of fluffy white mountain goat hair.  No bears, thankfully, though we did outfit each kid carrier with a bear bell and Steve borrowed bear spray from a friend.  Apparently, the island has run out of bear spray and no one seems to know when the next shipment will arrive.

Allie approves of the Deuter kid carrier

Allie approves of the Deuter kid carrier



“Trash” Beach Treasures

Searching for sea glass

Searching for sea glass

Living here in the guest house while we wait for Quarters has been a great opportunity to meet incoming as well as outgoing Coastie families.  We were invited to accompany a group of other moms and kids on a 1/2 mile hike to a beach that some people call Trash Beach because of all the large rusted boat parts and oil barrels that have washed up on shore.  But we weren’t in search of Tetanus, so we bypassed that and instead hunted for sea glass. P1040066

As a side note, everyone assured me that we were making enough noise with all these kids and moms that we didn’t need to worry about bears, though most moms carried bear spray with them just in case.

We spent a pleasant 2 1/2 hours in the sunshine, talking and searching. P1040063


As a side note, can you believe they are paying us to live here?  Pretty sweet deal.  At least when the sun is shining!