19 jan 11 booking blossom

On Wednesday I thought it was just another spam comment on the blog, but something caught my brain as I scanned the message. Then I really read it. A graphic artist wanted to use a photo from my July Blossom post for the cover of a kid's book, written by a kid and his dad. They are self-publishing the story. I'm glad that they have an image of a sailboat off an island in Maine for a book about the same. I look forward to reading it.

14 jan 11 where's the fun?

This year, the winter temperatures have been lower than normal, except for an unwelcome warm spell at New Year's. In the last week, the high temperatures in Anchorage have been below the normal low. December was similar. Paul and I have had some trouble motivating to get outside in this weather. Luckily this is one of the big upsides to having a dog - he needs to go outside multiple times a day and he needs a daily walk. Often a short walk with him has turned into a longer one as we realize that we're warm enough and don't need to head home too quickly.

With the lack of long outings, I've been feeling like a blob and disappointed that my resolution to improve my fitness is probably not advancing much. We seldom get snow when it's so cold, so there's no fresh powder calling out for skis or snowshoes. The ski club has done a good job trying to convert the ice on the trails back to snow, and I appreciate the effort, but a turn around the park currently is really more about the workout than having winter fun. I need the promise of some fun to get motivated to get outside in this cold.

A bright spot is that everything that melted during the New Year thaw is now ice. This isn't so great if you're trying to walk on our driveway or many parking lots in town, but these conditions provide an opportunity to explore the waterways. I read a few local bike blogs and realized that the fun was on the other side of town on the coast.

On Friday I made my first tracks on the iced mudflats on the Anchorage coast. I've always wanted to ride there but wasn't sure where to start. I called Rose to see if she was free that afternoon and if she could show me the way. I installed studded tires on my mountain bike and pulled on a bunch of synthetic and wool layers.

The thermometer read 3 at my house when I left. The Weather Service indicated that places along the coast might be a few degrees warmer and I hoped the predicted north breeze wouldn't be blowing. At the parking area, it felt warmer than my neighborhood, but when we reached the open flats, the breeze met us.

We rode north into the wind for several miles, pedaling through small draws for creek outflows, over clear smooth ice, and around tufts of grass. In places, our tires broke through the thin white ice and dropped to the frozen layer just below. After a few miles, noses were frozen and we turned back to the south. In the distance, two foxes stopped to watch us when Rose howled to them. We were in a wilderness a quarter mile away from south Anchorage. All was quiet except for the sound of the studs gripping into the ice and the occasional break through to the lower frozen levels.
Not only did I find some winter fun, but I was reminded why I love winter and Alaska.

Dressing for success: fleece balaclava, 2 heavy layers under synthetic down, wool liners in lobster gloves, long johns, ski pants, insulated skirt, 2 pairs wool socks, and stormtrooper sorels. Plus sunglasses because the sun is at a very long angle these days.

highlights 2010

Over dinner on New Year's Eve, we remembered some of the fun and travels of 2010. Again, we are grateful for the good fortune that continues in our lives: good friends, great family, stable jobs, good health, and being with each other.

Here are some of the highlights of each month of 2010:

January: Good skiing when the snow was fresh and great mountain biking on packed trails in the local parks. Never a dull moment in Anchor-town.

February: An active trip of hiking, biking, and snorkeling with good friends in Hawaii.

March: We skied out to Dalteli, a small lake in the Alaska Range foothills with a group of friends.

April: A warm sun made spring skiing solar powered and brought a smile to everyone's face. Even the ptarmigan got friendly.

May: With the return of the green came more biking and hiking, and gardening. This little footpath became a regular route on evening walks in Bicentennial Park.

June: When we weren't on the boat in Prince William Sound, we rode the singletrack trails in Bicentennial Park.

July: We spent most weekends and an entire week on the sailboat in Prince William Sound. One of the highlights of our time in the Sound were hikes through bogs with abundant shooting stars.

August: A silver-lining of the wet summer were the mushrooms. We spent many evenings harvesting boletes in the parks. This red bolete dramatically and quickly exhibited a change in coloration to blue when cut, which signifies a poisonous bolete.

September: The annual backcountry bike trip with the Alaska Dirt Divas to the Serenity Cabin near Eklutna Lake in Chugach State Park. Blue skies, stunning fall colors, and fun friends.

October: Mountain biking with the Alaska Dirt Divas on the White Rim Trail, in Canyonlands National Park, Utah - an adventure with good friends
November: Spending Thanksgiving with my mom, step-dad, brother, and sister-in-law in central New York. My brother and I wandered the farm's woodlands, just the two of us, and appreciated the big trees.
December: Santa found us in Talkeetna, bringing us more than we deserved and helping to remind us how blessed we are with friends, family, and a happy pack.
A post about the highlights of the year begs a mention of the sadnesses of our year as we lost family, friends, and acquaintances who have touched our lives and hearts. In August a plane carrying three young maintenance workers from Katmai National Park disappeared in bad weather on the coast. Paul knew one of the young men and they worked with some of our friends at Katmai. In September Sandy Kogl, a good friend of good friends in Talkeetna, died after a gracious struggle with ALS. In October Paul's aunt Norine succumbed to a rare form of lung cancer caused by her exposure to asbestos as an infant. We saw Norine each Christmas that we spent with Paul's parents and we traveled to Italy twice with Norine. Norine and Sandy were both just 68.