Sunday, July 31, 2011

Anticipating Arrivals

Tomorrow is the day! Tomorrow is the day that my fiance Adam arrives in Alaska! Adam has just finished his internship in Marquettet, Michigan. It is interesting that he is just finishing and I am just beginning. At any rate his arrival is much anticipated. Long distance relationships are, well, long distance. Along with the many miles between us there is also the four hour time difference. There have been several occasions where I have called him as I am off to bed (11:00pm AKDT) and wake him up in Marquette at 3:00am (EST). The four hour time difference has defiantly been an hurdle but we have managed to overcome it. 

Adam will be here all week. In addition to Adam visiting my Concordia supervisor will also be here at the end of the week. This is also ironic since when I visited Adam on his internship in Marquette, HIS Concordia supervisor was also there.

It is good that they are coming because virtually everyone else is gone. It is fishing season and EVERYONE (and their dog-literally) have headed out fishing to the Kenai River and beyond. The fishing report has been one of the best in a long time. The number have been up exponentially! With that said not many people are around and it showed in worship this morning. I had several additional key people come up to me and apologize that they will not get to meet my supervisor or Adam as they are heading fishing tomorrow. Ah, well, this is Alaska time and I love it!

In other news there was a beautiful sunset last night. By sunset I mean 12:30am sunset. Check it out. I could see Mt. McKinley and Mt. Foraker.

Mt. Foraker & McKinley in the background
Foraker & McKinley

Friday, July 29, 2011


Yesterday I experienced my first earthquake. I take that back, yesterday I FELT my first earthquake. There was an earthquake (5.1) when I first arrived but I was hiking at the time and did not notice it. Earthquakes happen many times a day right here in Alaska. Click HERE to see the most recent earthquakes and their magnitudes in Alaska. Did you know that there are an average of 50-100 earthquakes in Alaska, daily! In fact, Alaska has more earthquakes per year than all the other states combined.

The Pacific Plate is moving northwestwardly under the North American Plate at a rate of approximately 2 1/2 inches per year. The result is many fault lines and earthquakes throughout the state, every day.  

Alaska is number one rank for quakes. Minnesota had as at least 1 event in 30 years.
Earthquakes over magnitude 8.0 occur, on average, every thirteen years or so in Alaska.  However, no one can ever be certain of when or where the next great earthquake will find them.
Three of the six largest recorded quakes in the world were in Alaska The largest of those was the earthquake that occurred in March of 1964. With a magnitude of 9.2, it went down in the records as the second largest quake in the world.

The earthquake that I experienced was a magnitude of 5.2. So "what was it like? "people ask. Well, I heard the earthquake before I felt it. I could hear the quake approaching. It sounded like an approaching  truck with its air breaks on or like a rumble of thunder getting closer and closer. I was miffed because I didn't know what it was and I thought it was a construction vehicle (they have been doing road work). I soon realized this was not the case as the mirror and walls began to shake. Nothing fell down but I certainly could feel it. It lasted maybe ten seconds. I would best compare it (forgive my farm analogy) to riding on a hay rack or flatbed...the ground (rack/flatbed) below you shakes like when going over bumpy terrain but you remain upright. It was exciting (if I may say so), but to the rest of the Alaskans its just "another quake".

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gone Fishing

This past Tuesday I was fortunate enough to go fishing with one of the families at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. The Coburn’s (A family at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church) took me fishing.
We left bright and early at 6:00 to head to Soldotna, AK. If you look on the map below you can see Soldotna is about 170 miles south of Chugiak, AK. It took three and a half hours to get there. The road is winding and very busy since it has traffic that heads south as it is the main southbound Alaska road. For the most part the road is only one lane so if one gets stuck behind the MANY tourists traveling in a motorhome it is a long, slow haul!

View Larger Map

At any rate we arrived in Soldotna and I purchased my fishing license. I only got a one day license. Being a non-resident of Alaska is EXPENSIVE to hunt or fish. A day pass (non-resident) is $20.00 and a year pass is $145.00 (non-resident). This is A LOT compared to the meager $24.00 year pass for an Alaska resident. You can see other prices here: . Trapping license are even higher for moose, bear, and muskox. Although if one is a resident you can get a grizzly bear license for only $25.00.

After purchasing the fishing license we headed out of town to the Kenai River. The Red Salmon were headed upstream for spawning. The Red Salmon that we caught were very “fresh”. What I mean by this is that they were fresh from the ocean. Most of them still had sea louse on them. This is very FRESH since sea louse originate in the ocean and fall off when they reach fresh water, needless to say our fish were very fresh from the ocean.

My large Red Salmon
4 of these are mine including the largest and smallest Red Trout plus the salmon-Kenai River

 After 10 hours at Soldotna we had supper. I figured we were done for the day as it was around 7:00pm but we then traveled 2 hours to Hope, AK. Hope is 10 miles from Anchorage by flight but it is on the opposite side of the inlet so it is 90 miles by road. We stopped in Hope and fished this time for Pink Salmon.

Click on the above video to see the baby bear in the tree

Baby Black Bear up the tree
Hanging Out
Not only did we find Pink Salmon but we stumbled upon a momma black bear and her two cubs. The momma bear was down by the river where we were, fishing, just like we were. The momma bear saw that one of the nearby fishermen had a bunch of pink Salomon stocked up on a stringer just floating in the river. This, of course, would make for a bountiful, and easy meal. Why go to all the work of catching Salmon where there are five on a stringer, stationary in the water. The momma bear walked over the stringer and picked up the fish. The nearby distraught fishermen yelled and the bear dropped the stringer.

Click for larger view:
Sniffing...there are fish on a stringer
Fishermen (left; he blends in) and approaching black bear (right)
Run away!
Eventually the momma bear came back and I witnessed her catch a Pink Salmon all on her own. It was fun to see.

My total count for the day—4 Red Salmon, 1 trout & 3 Pink Salmon. I caught the first fish of the day, the largest fish of the day (at 10.5 pounds) and the smallest fish of the day. Not bad for my first time out. 

Trout-Kenai River
Pink Salmon a female on the left and a male on the right--Hope


The blog post is a reflection of last week. I was able to be a part of a weeklong spiritual retreat called Kaleidoscope. Kaleidoscope is offered once every three years for high school students. It involves intense spiritual growth and learning experience for Christian youth. Students from Homer, Palmer, Chugiak, and Fairbanks travel to Meier Lake Retreat center near Wasilla and although at the beginning do not know one another, by the end of the week become lifelong friends and support for each other’s spiritual life.

Kaleidoscope is…
A unique experience
Of the Christ community
In which we grow
In our grace relationships
With Christ and with others
By learning to be less defensive
And more free in self-expression,
By learning to affirm
The Christian identity
And individuality of each other.
By giving and receiving love
In the context of celebration,
And by becoming more in touch with
And sensitive to
The fullness of life with Christ
With all its’ blessed surprises

Kaleidoscope is…
Asking Questions, Seeking Answers
Discovering Truth
Listening with their eyes
Seeing with their ears
Tasting with their hands
Feeling with their hearts
Looking in new ways at old things
Looking in old ways at new things.
Encountering the familiar
Uncovering the unfamiliar
Living together
Being in touch with self and with
The forms textures and sounds
Colors and beauty
Of life
Of others
Of God.
Being surprised!
Gaining Insight!
Experiencing life with Christ.
With tears and lots and lots of laughter.

Kaleidoscope 2011 the group!
For the week of Kaleidoscope (K-Scope) I was one of six adult leaders. I had a fantastic group of five youth, which we dove into scripture, and spent much time unraveling God’s Word.
Moose-Mom and her TWO babies across Meier Lake
Ducks-Mom and her babies on Meier Lake
The days begin at 8:00am with breakfast as a large group. One of the traditions of K-Scope is that we do not do anything without everyone present. At the beginning of the week each student is assigned a number which is theirs for the week. Before starting any event we count off. We do not start until everyone is accounted for.

After breakfast the students have what is called “one-on-one” This occurs five times each day. During this time the students are paired with another students and are guided through a relational experience with one other person. During this half hour block of time the two students are allowed to share with their one-on-one partner insight based on questions provided (ie: what’s the best vacation you’ve ever had?, What is your favorite season?) By the end of the week each youth has an opportunity to have this structured time with every person. It allows for close relationships to form.

After one on one we have Bible Study which is exactly what it sounds like. We use both small and large group discussion to dive into the word.

Other components of K-Scope include the ever popular Centering Hour which is a time for relaxation and nap, Serendipity which is a leadership development activity, and Agape (evening Worship).

Agape-each student has a prayer point cross that serves as their mini alter for time of prayer and reflection.
Songs during worship.
The boys led part of Agape on Friday
End of Agape Worship

I must admit the retreat was as much of a time for spiritual growth for me personally as each individual that attended. It was very rewarding to see the students working together, break out of their comfort zones, and support one another. Wherever they’ve been, whatever they’ve done, K-Scope is a time to be one’s own self since most students do not know one another, it is a time to start anew. It is very powerful and in my top three for favorite experiences thus far on internship.

One of the Serindipity activities in which each team had to get as many layers of clothes on one person as possible.
66 layers
Another Serendipity activity "The Spider Web"-each student must go through a hole without touching the edge and each hole can only be used once.
Serendipity activity-PVC pipes and a golf ball...all the way around the building

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mmmm! Moose Meat!

DISCLAIMER: The following story and photos contain graphic content, view at your own risk. Not for the faint of heart.

Today I helped butcher a moose. Yep, a moose. Our Redeemer Lutheran Church has a food pantry that assists over fifty families each week. In Alaska, when a moose is hit on the road as road kill, instead of letting the meat go to waste various organizations are called and allowed to take the moose. Each organization is put on a list with a corosponding number, when the number of killed moose reaches the number assigned to an organization they are called to come and get the moose.

It is really neat and resourceful, the only downside is the organization must come as soon as they are called or they will simply go on to the next number. Generally calls come very late at night. This incident was no exception. The call to pick up the moose happened at 2:15am, which meant that one lucky member from Our Redeemer Lutheran Church got to retrieve the moose in the wee hours of the morning.

Once the moose is obtained it hangs out in the church garage until it is ready to be processed. Since it is the summer and the weather is warmer the moose hung a little over 24 hours before being processed. I was told by Johnny Jarnagin (an elder, and one of several men who helped process the moose) that it would have been ideal for the moose to hang longer but the heat would not allow it.
Moose in the church garage-our church van in the background
So members of Our Redeemer gathered this evening to help with the process. It was all men except for Jess & myself. It was real neat to see the whole process.

The moose is brought in in pieces since it would be too large to carry as a whole. This moose had a lot of trauma to the stomach which ruptured on impact so the pieces of the moose that were left were the four limbs and part of the neck. Each leg was brought in and then the fun began.
Left to right: Johnny, Chuck, Bart & John
Chuck-my host dad
Johnny (left) let me cut some meat off the leg!
Meat was cut off of the leg. The men cut around the fat and bone. Smaller pieces were then put into a meat grinder and ground into moose burger. Larger pieces off of the moose’s upper leg were cut into moose roast. Remaining fat, and bone were disposed of.

The whole set up...grinder on the left, and cutters of the meat on the right
I must admit that I did not do much cutting. My main job was as a runner. I would run cut up pieces of meat from the kitchen window over to the meat grinder. I would also run packaged meat to the table, write with permanent marker the meat cut and date, and then put it in the freezer. While I did a lot of running around I did get to run the grinder for a while and package moose burger in 1 pound balls and wrap them in butcher paper.
Grab the meat and run it over to the grinder...
...put the meat in the grinder
Moose Burger! Yum!
The men were thoroughly impressed with “get ‘er done” attitude and not-so-squeamish manner. I explained to them how growing up on the farm has formed me into not your typical girl, and they were all glad for that.

Packaged and labeled :)
Did I ever mention how much I love this internship?! Gutting and processing a moose? Who would have thought. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me next 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Drive North

I am way behind on blog posts as I have been gone for the past week on a Kaleidoscope retreat but travel back in time with me to last Friday (7/15/2011)…

I left work early to enjoy the beautiful weather and to explore the area north of Chugiak. I headed north on the Glenn Highway past Palmer, AK and past the Alaska State Fairgrounds. It was interesting to see since the size of the fairgrounds is no larger than the Nobles County (MN) fairgrounds and our county fairgrounds are the smallest around. At any rate I will have to go explore and take in the Alaska State Fair when the time comes.
My destination for the day was Matanuska glacier and Hatcher Pass. These two destinations are about 100 miles apart but I wanted to see both.

mountains, and low tide river
The drive to the Matanuska Glacier takes place by following the Glenn Highway. It is winding and changes elevation from down by the river to up high along the mountains. Several times along the way there were signs warning of falling rocks from the cliff. I saw several large stones on the road that had fallen so the signs proved accurate.
Bald Eagle-notice the mountains in the background, they look like clouds but they really are mountains
River at low tide

After driving the winding road I arrived at the Matanuska Glacier. What amazes me is the valley I drove along, and the river that was at the bottom of the valley had been carved out by this glacier. It had taken millions of years to make but the valley was now present and sitting down at the valley was the glacier, still carving out the river and valley below.
The Matanuska Glacier, for afar it looks like snow but its not its a glacier-click for larger image
Matanuska glacier tucked in-between the mountains

After taking many pictures I ventured back south toward Hatcher Pass. Hatcher Pass is an area of Talkeetna Mountains that once contained a Independence Mine-a gold mine that started in 1906. In 1906, Robert L. Hatcher staked and filed the first hard rock gold claim opening one of the richest chapters in Alaska mining history lasting until 1953 when Independence Mine was finally closed.

Looking at what used to be the main building, with the railroad tracks up top.
Looking down at the dorms where the miners would live
the track used to haul out much gold, not any more
In the late 1970's, the Independence Mine State Historical Park was established, where today, guides lead walking tours among its romantic old buildings. I got to hike around these remains and was carried back in time to imagine what it must have been like during the great gold rush.

notice how high in altitude I am, the clouds at the top.
The tracks went down the VERY steep mountain...I wounder how that worked, here is what's left of the tracks on the steep incline.
After looking at the mine remains I drove up the mountain to the top of hatcher pass. It was interesting to me to find a lake at the top of the mountain. Summit Lake, as it is rightfully named, is a small cirque lake, or tarn, reaching a depth of 20 feet. This cirque was the beginning of a long-gone, alpine glacier. The surrounding terrain is all glacially carved as well. North of the lake, the uneven ground is caused, not by boulders, but by frost action in combination ground moisture and soil type. 

Notice how high it is...the road is merging with the clouds (right)
Summit Lake
Amazing View, great for paragliding
Near Summit Lake there were paragliders launching off the 3,886 foot peak. It was fun to watch and the view was breathtaking.