Fall in Alaska

Summer is officially over in Alaska.  The leaves have changed color, the days are getting much shorter, the temperatures are dropping (below 0C)... and a new hockey season is about to begin.  In honor of fall, and since we had yet to experience a September in Alaska, we set out to do some fun fall stuff including picking veggies at Pyrah's Veggie Farm in Palmer and a beautiful nature hike in Eagle River.  Check out some of our pics...


Rocky

For those of you that have not had the opportunity to meet our friend Rocky the mouse, you're missing out.  Before you judge, know that he is not your average rodent.  In fact he is a very loving, outgoing and loyal mouse.  He is quite the character.  We got Rocky back in February when he, and his girlfriend Tofu (who lives with the zoo’s Volunteer Coordinator), were part of a zoo spring break camp all about rodents.  At the zoo we breed our own mice and feed them out to our birds and snakes.  Everybody’s gotta eat! Anyways, I could not stand the thought of him going back on death row at the zoo, so of course being the animal lover I am, took him home.  Steve, never having small animals as a child (what was wrong with him?!), was super excited and immediately took Rocky under his wing.  He researched how to train mice (how cute) and now thoroughly enjoys hanging out and watching tv with Rocky.  Rocky’s favorite past times include building escape tunnels with the gazillions of toilet paper rolls in his cage, running on his wheel (he’s a real fitness freak) and napping curled up on his Canadian flag (he has dual citizenship).  His favorite snacks include cheezeits, peanut butter and the odd sunflower seed.  We leave the cage door open for him to come out of his cage and explore but he can’t escape, it’s pretty much like he’s on Alcatraz.  Everybody loves Rocky. Here are some pictures of the little guy...





Photos  ©Marla Wales 2011


The Hockey Community

I’m sure many of you have heard about the tragic incidents that happened in the hockey world this summer. While Steve and I only recognized names and did not personally know any of them, it still knocked the wind out of us. Believe it or not the hockey world is a small one, everyone is one big family.  Personally, the most recent plane crash that killed an entire KHL team may be the most tragic of them all because Steve’s team flies to all of their away games.  I found this blog post from a fellow “hockey wife” (I really do not like that term, for a number of reasons, but I won’t get into that here).   It is written beautifully and I don’t think I could have said it better myself.  What she writes is so true. Enjoy.



Another Amazing Adventure

As many of you know, I have been given an incredible opportunity and will be heading to Churchill, Manitoba, aka polar bear capital of the world, the week of October 9-15 to take part in Polar Bear International’s Communicator Leadership camp. The Alaska Zoo is part of Polar Bear International’s Arctic Ambassador Center, meaning we provide leadership for carbon emission reduction in the community and ultimately assist in polar bear conservation.  We offer a variety of education programs, for all ages, at the zoo regarding polar bears and climate change.  This week long camp will not only be a life-changing experience, full of adventures, meeting new people and not to mention polar bears, but also a lot of hard work.  Attending this leadership camp means that I will become an advocate for conservation and sustainable lifestyles.  I get to observer polar bears in the wild and learn about climate change from experts while aboard mobile classrooms (that’s right, tundra buggies!).  I will come back educated, empowered and motivated to make a difference!  It is my hope that I can be an inspiration to others to change their lifestyle and protect these amazing creatures for generations to come.

Even though the camp is still weeks away, the countdown has definitely begun.  Since I will be pretty much on the open tundra in the middle of nowhere, with obviously no wifi and chances to update the blog, I have attached the link to the communicator group blog PBI’s website, that also includes a brief biography of the members in the communicator group.  Please follow here for updates about our exciting adventures during this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  And don’t worry… there will be MANY pictures to follow.


Clamming in Clam Gulch, Alaska

Clam Gulch, as the name implies, is famous for the hundreds of thousands of razor clams harvested annually from the sandy beaches. Situated on the bluffs overlooking scenic Cook Inlet, the recreation area offers visitors a panoramic view of the Aleutian Mountain Range and its three tallest peaks - Mount Iliamna, Mount Redoubt and Mount Spurr. 

Clamming in Clam Gulch, Alaska
Clamming in Clam Gulch, Alaska
Clamming in Clam Gulch, Alaska

We took a trip down to the Kenai Peninsula for a new adventure - clamming. The beaches from Clam Gulch to Ninilchik, Alaska are the most popular razor clam beaches in the state, so we figured we couldn't lose, especially since our 'tour guides', also known as our good friends, were seasoned clamming vets.

Clamming in Clam Gulch, Alaska

It really is not as easy as it looks, those little critters can hustle through that sand when they need to! While very difficult at first, we finally got the hang of it and ended up with a  bucket full of delicious razor clams to enjoy for dinner that night. The view wasn't too shabby either.

Clamming in Clam Gulch, Alaska
Clamming in Clam Gulch, Alaska
Clamming in Clam Gulch, Alaska
Clamming in Clam Gulch, Alaska
Clamming in Clam Gulch, Alaska

The same weekend we did a little river fishing and I caught my first King salmon, the ultimate prize. There is nothing better than fresh caught fish for dinner. 

Clamming in Clam Gulch, Alaska
Clamming in Clam Gulch, Alaska


Another solid Alaskan adventure under our belts.

Have you been clamming before? 

Taku Lake, Anchorage

Taku Lake is one of our favourite spots to visit near our house.  It is a great lake for Steve to practice his fishing, has a trail around it perfect for a nice stroll and is home to a busy beaver and muskrat that can always be seen swimming from one end of the lake to the other.  Around 9pm on a warm summer’s night the lake turns into something out of a painting, making it the perfect place to practice my photography.

Taku means "(place) where geese gather" or "where geese set down." It is named for the subsistence resource (wild Canada geese) that the shores of this inlet afford seasonally. 

Taku Lake, Anchorage


Location: 100 E 76th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99518




Brown Bear in Kenai

Well we did it!  We FINALLY saw that brown bear that we’ve been dying to see all summer! And this one was at the perfect distance.  This female brown bear was looking for some salmon in the Kenai River.  The flow of the Kenai is pretty fast so the fact that she was pretty much motionless in the river while catching fish just goes to show how powerful these animals really are. 

This was such an amazing sight that I can’t just include one photo this week…


The Kenai and Russian Rivers are clear, shallow stream that draws thousands of visitors each season who are in search of the prized sockeye salmon or rainbow trout. Similar to the rest of the Kenai Peninsula, brown and black bears inhabit this area, searching for food for themselves and/or their young. 



Have you seen a bear in the wild?



Family AK Vacay


My family ventured to the Land of the Midnight Sun a couple of weeks ago.  It was great to see them after 6 months, I just wish they could have stayed longer because the week flew by! Here are some pics from the week, including our trip up to Denali National Park.

At the West Rib in Talkeetna - home to Seward's Folly, as seen on Man vs Food


We had the Kelly Cup for the night to celebrate and all took turns drinking from the cup...