A Happy Birthday in Alaska

August 20, 2009

Sunrays finally softened the rain clouds on my twenty-third birthday, August 17th. I spent the morning on a lake boat cruise to nearby Portage Glacier, which was a pleasant little trip. Afterwards I stopped by the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center— hard to believe it was one of the first places I scouted in the neighborhood almost two months ago. That afternoon I worked for nearly three hours at the printer in Anchorage making the final edits to my brochures. How exciting to sign off on all ten proofs! I think they look great and I hope you will too.

The drive back down Turnagain Arm was just beautiful, so I decided to hike Mount Alyeska in my backyard. Two big bull moose impeded the upper trail! That night, I put on a dress for the first time in two months and even blow-dried my hair. Energized for a celebratory meal, I pulled into the parking lot of the Double Musky… and it was closed.

Va bene. The escapade certainly cinched my first birthday that didn’t really feel like a birthday, probably because I am getting old! Thank you so much to all who sent well wishes. I do wonder where my life is going to go, but much of my happiness derives from the surprises and unknowns. For now, I can’t wait for the lobster dinner greeting me at home!

My most ridiculous Alaskan portrait

My most ridiculous Alaskan portrait

Girdwood from above

Girdwood from above

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Thank You for Your Patience!

August 13, 2009

I’m grateful to have such faithful readers, and apologize for my disappointing blogging lately. For the past two weeks I’ve been working 12-14 hour days in order to get these brochures in tip-top shape for the printer. InDesign is eating me alive and I am ready to send Adobe a few snippets of constructive criticism. Stay tuned for photographs from Homer, Denali, and Kenai Fjords… and of course, the final versions of my brochures! In the mean time, here are some cute snapshots from adorable animal photo shoots. Much love to all— I am missing you!

Me with Jewelie the Sikta black-tailed deer. She is graceful, sweet, and beautiful.

Me with Jewelie the Sikta black-tailed deer. She is graceful and sweet.

Me with Snickers the porcupine. He's pretty sassy!

Me with Snickers the porcupine. He's pretty sassy!


Happy “Birthday,” Alaska!

August 3, 2009

Fifty years ago, Alaska became America’s 49th state. But Alaska Natives have lived here for thousands of years.

I spent the rainy days of my fourth week learning more about Alaska’s rich history. I visited the Anchorage Museum, Native Heritage Center, and Aviation Museum. The Anchorage Museum displayed extensive information about ancient archaeology and Alaska Natives’ subsistence lifestyle, Captain Cook and the Russian conquest, Seward’s Folly, Christian missionaries, the aviation era, railroads, the Klondike gold rush, World War II, 1959 statehood, the 1964 Good Friday earthquake, the trans-Alaska pipeline, permanent fund dividends, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and Sarah Palin. An entire floor of art galleries featured the work of Sydney Laurence and illustrations from Captain Cook’s Arctic voyages. His South Pacific journals in Stanford’s Rare Book Collection are remarkable, and here I saw his men pointing rifles at Alaskan walruses, which they called sea horses. One sailor thought it would be anti-Christian to eat them. At the traveling Gold exhibition I read about both Australia and Alaska’s gold rushes and marveled with some disgust at extravagant Gilded Age artifacts like a baby rattle with an ivory handle and circular gold baubles.

The Native Heritage Center also impressed me. Aboriginal Australian Dreamtime Centers were some of my most memorable visits on that continent, so I was excited about the positive press this Alaskan version has received. Eleven different Alaska Native cultures exist, and the 1971 Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act formed thirteen Native corporations. However, the center organized itself around five broader cultural groups. I watched an interesting film about hunting walrus for their meat and tusks, and a fascinating exhibit on Alaska Native values reminded me of the principles of Unitarian Universalism and Shotokan karate. Here are my favorites:

See Connections: All Things are Related
Know Who You Are: You Are a Reflection on Your Family
Honor Your Elders: They Show You the Way in Life
Take Care of Others: You Cannot Live Without Them
Accept What Life Brings: You Cannot Control Many Things

Before I leave, I also hope to explore the Russian Orthodox churches on Kenai Peninsula as well as Girdwood’s Crow Creek Mine and Talkeetna’s nationally recognized historic buildings.