Where I grew up, in the Midwest, if there were solstice celebrations, I was unaware of them. However, here in Alaska, celebrating the summer and winter solstice is a much bigger deal. This is for the obvious reason that the solstices have a real effect on every day life here.

Alaska is known as the last frontier. It is beautiful, and yet very dangerous in many ways. The largest earthquake to ever hit North America happened in Alaska in 1964 at a magnitude of 9.2. It is known as the Good Friday Earthquake or the Great Alaska Earthquake. This is the second largest earthquake ever to be recorded worldwide. In addition it is considered a mega-thrust earthquake. It is believed that Alaska has had 9 mega-thrust earthquakes over the last 5,500 years with an average time span of 630 years between each earthquake. The 64′ earthquake reworked the landscape of Alaska and, along with the two following tsunamis, took the lives of 139 people. Most of these deaths can be attributed to the tsunamis. 13 of these people didn’t even die in the state of Alaska, but from one of the resulting tsunamis that reached California! Thankfully the earthquake that Alaska experienced on November 30th, 2018 was not as strong as the earthquake experienced in 1964.

 

I assume when the average person envisions Anchorage, Alaska they picture mountains capped with snow and valleys rounded out by the glaciers that once passed through them. They may think of salmon swimming up the streams or moose wondering about. Often people find it quite surprising to learn that nestled in the forests of Anchorages Kincaid Park there rises a sand dune straight from the forest floor. However, this remnant of the Ice Age was in fact deposited by a glacier moving through the Anchorage Bowl!

Independence Mine State Historical Park is located in the beautiful Hatcher Pass. From Anchorage the drive is a little over an hour, but it is well worth it. On your way you pass the Knik River, the Little Susitna, Hatcher Pass Lodge and countless peaks! In addition, there are many great hikes to be found in Hatcher Pass, not to mention great skiing and sledding in the winter!

Jasper’s third birthday is upon us and I don’t know where the times has gone. He is so big and so smart. He can do so many things and is constantly impressing me. However, at the same time it makes me very sad to know that his baby years are past. This year we celebrated on his birthday, just the three of us at home. However, this coming weekend Jasper will have a birthday party. He has chosen a Monsters Inc theme and he is very excited for his birthday cake!

It’s been a few week since our most recent visit home, and I have been working on compiling my list of top places to visit! I grew up about 30 minutes outside of St. Louis, Missouri on the Illinois side of the Mississippi. My mom worked in St. Louis so before I started kindergarten I went to preschool in Chesterfield, MO. In my town, you pretty much had to go to St. Louis to do anything. So I have a lot of experience with what’s fun in St. Louis. On our most recent trip to St. Louis, we didn’t get to visit all of our favorite spots, but we got a few in!

If you are an inexperienced hiker, you have small children, or you don’t have a lot of time to spare I totally understand wanting to find a place that is beautiful, yet doesn’t require a lot of walking. In addition, due to the somewhat intimidating wildlife in the area, I like to keep a list of places that I feel comfortable going to completely on my own. These three locations fit the bill!

Obviously it is colder in Alaska than it is in the lower 48. When trying to start a garden this coolness plainly hinders the planting process. I have read that in some places it’s not safe to plant until today, June 1st. However, I have also read that if the birch tree buds are opening, then you are good to go!

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Jasper – Seven Days Old

We have photos of my husband reading Jasper his very first book, days after he was born. In addition, Jasper was the Very Hungry Caterpillar for his first Halloween! Books are extremely important in our family. My husband and I both harbor a love for reading and, at two-years-old, we have successfully passed that love onto Jasper. Jasper can sit quietly in his room for over an hour looking at his books. He loves to see the pictures as much as he loves being read to.

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The second hike we did after moving to Alaska was Thunder Bird Falls. In April of 2017 we climbed the ice covered paths to the viewing deck overlooking the falls. At this time we were unaware of what microspikes are. We slipped and slid with Jasper strapped to my husbands back. It would have been so much easier with microspikes!