Wednesday, July 20, 2016

AK - Musk Ox, Reindeer AND Stuffed Bananas

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What a full and fun day we spent in the city of Palmer.  The museum was part of the Midsummer Faire, so after Carl drove the Dodge touring car to the faire site, we helped Sherry set up.  Off we went with Joe and Joy to check out the two animal farms in the area...musk ox and reindeer!  We had seen a few reindeer during the Colony Days in Palmer, but I wanted  Not only did I see more, but I learned a lot more.  The reindeer grow a full set of very heavy antlers in only 3 months!  The soft fur that grows early on has gobs of nerve endings and if you touch them it would hurt the reindeer a great deal.  There are approximately 1,000 hairs per square inch of their fur.  They can run 35mph for 50 miles.  They can't kick back or to the side and have no front upper teeth, making them safe to be close to!   Believe it or not, many people here have them as pets!!!  Each season as the new reindeer are born, names are given to each one.  The names are themed, such as gems, hurricanes, national parks, etc.
Just FYI

More cool info

Friend Joe with the "Big Guy"

Hanging out

A very young cute are his

Getting ready for the hot summer

Knowing how heavy the antlers are,
I am amazed that this guy doesn't fall

Full grown half rack, nearly 4' high

The fuzzy fur shedding

Also, at the farm was a bison named Dolly.  Dolly was the runt of the litter...siblings were born in May/June and she did not officially arrive until November causing her to grow to a weight and size of only about half of the others.  In order for her to survive, she needed a friendly place to live out her life.  Something very interesting I learned is that there are NO buffalo in North America...the bison are often referred to as American buffalo...but they are all bison!
Moose ntlers

Awesome chair made with reindeer
antlers and moose antlers

Dolly the bison
I'd like to take a moment to honor the woman who started the Reindeer Farm. she passed away just a couple months ago.  Also, thanks to her family who has chosen to keep the farm going!
     The Musk Ox farm proved to be a lot of fun as well as informative.  First off, they are huge!  They are kinda leftovers from the Ice Age and resemble a wooly mammoth; however, they are closer related to...are you ready...GOATS!  Their outer fur or top coat is very long and wiry and is called their 'guard coat'.  It gives them an appearance of being larger and more powerful than they actually are.  It also gives them protection from the cold as they live in the tundra regions of the high arctic.
Now, the under fur, or QIVIUT, is a whole other thing.  It is 8 times warmer than sheep wool and one of nature's softest fibers...combined this makes apparel made from qiviut VERY expensive and in high demand here in Alaska.  A 14"x14" lop scarf will go for about $300 and a pair of socks...$175!
We are not allowed to touch them even through the fence, but one of them rubbed himself along the fence to scratch an itch, and....I grabbed some outer fur that was stuck in the fence and tucked it in my pocket...oh, my!  Well, I didn't touch him...LOL  I did purchase a tiny bag of qiviut from the gift shop for a couple bucks to send to my grandson!

Musk Ox

The pattern of the apparel
tells where it was made



Musk Ox

A sleepy musk

Me being silly...imagine that!

     By then, we were all getting hungry so we headed back to the faire.  Carl and I went to the Historic Valley Hotel cafe and I indulged in a fabulous burger...yum!  There is where we met Caitlin, an absolute Bright Spot!!!  She was born and raised in Fairbanks.  This was only her 4th day waitressing and what a shock that news was for us!  She was beyond wonderful...funny, pleasant, confident, accommodating, knowledgeable about the menu and filled with a natural JOY!  We got to talking and it was no surprise when she told us how much she loves life!  " People are my favorite things in this world...I love them."  She is 27, a college grad, has been a nanny and pre-school teacher and has dreams of becoming a therapist at some point!   She currently lives with her parents whom she adores and I'm guessing the sentiment is reciprocal.   Caitlin, you are a breath of fresh air, sweetheart!  You exude the fullness and freshness of life!  I'm so tickled that our paths crossed ever so briefly, yet fabulously!  You go, Girl...go for the gold!  Possibilities are limitless for a delightful spirit like you!
Kaitlin !

    After lunch, Joy and I walked a round the faire and I happened upon a stand selling 'stuffed bananas'.  How in the world can you STUFF a banana?  I was about to find out!  I approached the window and boldly asked!!!  The merchant explained it to me and then of course I needed to see it happen, so I ordered one, stuffed half with peanut butter and half with coconut cream...there goes the diet...LOL  See pics for a detailed visual!
These pics are in reverse order and I
can't switch them...oh, well!

Sliced after stuffing and peeling

Half p.b. and half coconut cream

After injected

Machine un-curves the banana, then the top gets slit open for stuffing

A corer is used to create stuffing space

I felt like Alice in

LOVE the wine label

This art was gorgeous...
handmade using dyed sheep wool

The sheep and his gifted wool

Sheared in one solid piece!!!

I LOVE flowers...

Sunday, July 17, 2016


  I have been way too focused on getting my blog posts entered before I get too backed up and my Bright Spots have been building up!   So, my wonderful Bright Spot friends, please forgive the delay!!!

Bright Spot - Kymber, our bubbly waitress at Denny's in Salina, UT shared that she had totally let go of some old ways that no longer served her and is now celebrating and embracing the new!  Her living space is looking amazing and she is ready to experience all the wonderful possibilities that are available to her from this moment forward.  Kybmer, I have a feeling that those possibilities are endless, so be open to them all and remember that you always have choices!  Enjoy your new life!

Bright Spot - I have had the honor of meeting many wonderful people working here at the museum.  One such person was Larry from Pella, Iowa!  He makes wooden toys for children as do others affiliated with a special organization called "With Love" toy ministry.  The joy in his eyes and the smile on his face as he told me about his work let me know how important his contribution is and how much he loves it!   Thank you, Larry, from me and all the children whose lives you brighten with your love.

Bright Spot - Two fun-loving and adventurous people, Ski and Nila came through the museum on a day I was working...lucky for me!  They actually lived in Alaska for about 25 years awhile back. Currently, they reside in Tucson, AZ...missing their home here!  They were here visiting good friends from many years ago, getting out of the Arizona heat and doing some halibut fishing!!!  Ski told me a great story...years ago he wanted to go fishing one day on the Russian River and Nila decided to stay at home.  Well, while Ski was deciding where to set up the ole pole, he saw two other men fishing. One man caught a fish and within seconds a black bear happened along and grabbed it!
He cut the line so the bear could have full access to his snack!  Down went the fish!  And the bear set up temporary residence at the fishing hole!
Ski continued on to his chosen location and caught himself a few fish!  He returned to the 'bear' spot and asked the men how they were doing...GREAT...for the bear, they replied!  He has helped himself to about 9 now!  OMG - too funny!  What a fun couple!  They even gave me great fishing spot tips for Carl!  Thanks so much for coming in and sharing a bit of your time with me.  I thoroughly enjoyed your company!  You were both delightful!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

AK - Wilderness Jet Boat Tour and Historic Talkeetna

     Talkeetna, about 1.5 hours north of where we are staying, was where we caught the Jet Boat.  It rained some on and off during our ride but it didn't interfere too much with our experience and the boat had a closed cabin with huge sliding plexi-glass windows.  Denali wasn't visible, but I know we will see it eventually!
Rafting tour we passed on the river...
looks a bit crowded to

Our Jet Boat

Just awesome flowers in the sky

Our captain, Tommy
The tour covered an area where three rivers converge...the Talkeetna, the Susitna and the Chulitna...all of which are glacier fed.  The Jet Boat stopped for us to take a guided tour of an Indian encampment of the Dena'ina's...the earliest Native settlers...and an authentic trapper cabin.  It was great being able to see how the natives lived back in the day...such ingenuity.   If you just stood there without saying anything for a little while, you could almost feel their energy...their courage, their drive, their tenacity, their love for this land.
Animal hide drying rack

In the background is the storage
area for food...up high to deter any
large animal

Hugged by a Grizzly!!!

Carl leaning on the 'lean-to'!

Moose Me!

For drying fish

Bald eagle nest

See the tiny speck on the upper right
lone branch...the eagle!!!!


  The tour guide pointed out a beautiful bald eagle nest and then down river a bit, we spotted an eagle perched high in one of the statuesque!!!  It was great!
    After our tour, we walked around historic Talkeetna.  At a local craft tent, I purchased a small handmade birch basket and a pair of flip-flop earrings with the sole made of coconut shell.  Afterwards, we had a picnic lunch at the Riverpark along the Talkeetna River.  It was amazing how rapidly the flow of water was!  I had a sweet thing happen on our way back to the main part of town...there was an area where we had to cross some shallow water by walking carefully along stepping stones.  A young boy approached me, and holding out his hand, he offered to help me across.  He was so adorable and I'm guessing about 9 years old.  He made my day!
My sweet little helper!

Bear paw print seen right where
we had our picnic!!!
Oh my...those claws!!!!
Cool shop...there are decorated wooden
moose all over the place here!

Fun!!! This was at the
entrance to the craft area!

Super mushroom

Carl used to fly one of these...
in bigger proportions of course

Awesome chair

Trapper's cabin model

Wooden post card...
Signed by Carl...

This is the walking stick the info card
refers is made from a willow tree. 

Being the willow tree lover that I am...
this was very exciting information!

Look at all those antlers!!!!