May 26, 2010

First sewing project of the year...

My boss loves dragonflies and as her birthday approached I decided to make her a wall hanging. I looked around for patterns but decided to go my own route: fly by the seat of my pants! I've never been one to use a pattern or recipe or even read directions for that matter.. I started the project two weeks ago (kinda forgot her birthday was fast approaching) and finished it last night (her birthday is today). I've never done beading before and I loved it! I made some cat tails out of beads and could have gone a bit overboard so I stopped myself while ahead.
I wound up at Michaels last night buying a few more things and the lady at the counter offered to buy my wall hanging for $75! I almost took her up on it--- As I pointed out all the oopses and mistakes of the piece she shook her head and said, "People like you shouldn't do art projects because you are too critical of your own work. Nothing will ever be perfect, leave it at that! I wouldn't have ever noticed that the bead was crooked!".. So, I left it at that and gave it to my boss today... she cried (which of course makes me uncomfortable so I told her to come talk to me when she was done crying).. Here's the final project:

May 25, 2010

Beth in Bethel

I had the opportunity to travel to Bethel this week to teach at a youth camp. Bethel is a larger village about 340 miles west of Anchorage that is only accessible by boat or plane. There are approximately 6000 residents in Bethel but many more live in the 56 surrounding villages that lie along the banks of the Yukon-Kuskokwim River.

After waking up at 5am and having my flight delayed 3 hours (due to fog) I arrived in Bethel ready to teach 10 high school kids about rocks, minerals and mining. They students weren’t as excited to see me as I was to see them. The thing with the Native culture is this… they don’t speak, they don’t make eye contact and they sure as heck don’t want to wake up at 6am to listen to me blabber on about the importance of rocks and minerals in their lives. Regardless of this little setback, I brought them out of their shells and had them doing some fun activities. After about 3 hours, they had to get ready to leave for Donlin Creek Gold Mine where they were to spend the rest of the week learning about a gold mine and the careers associated with the mine. I said my farewells and wondered what the heck I was going to do with myself for 5 hours until my flight..

As I was pondering where I could possibly take a nap, Kurt (a man I met months ago who has since joined my product development committee) told me to pack my bags because I was going to Donlin too. He told me it was a 50 minute flight one way and I’d go up with the students and then come back with the pilot. I was assured I wouldn’t miss my flight to Anchorage so away I went.

I got in our little 9 seater plane and sat in the far back seat – later to be learned was a BIG mistake. For the first 30 minutes I was in awe of the beautiful landscape and river systems that wove their way through the tundra. I had my camera readily available and was just taking in the wonders of Alaska.. until… my stomach decided it needed to be sick.. yup, I got motion sickness. As I willed myself not to throw up I felt myself getting hot and cold, hot and cold and I knew the flight wasn’t going to end soon enough. The girl in front of me did not have as strong of will as I and ended up getting sick (luckily puke bags were available). That added to my misery and I continued to count to ten and praying that the flight would soon end.. it did, with no puke bag for me!
The dirt runway that made my butt pucker and my stomach do somersaults.

(Donlin Creek Gold Mine)- it’s in permitting phase now..

After about 20 minutes of being on the ground, the pilot informed me it was time to go. I informed him I wasn’t quite ready and it would be beneficial for him (and his plane) to give me a few more minutes. He laughed and told me he would fly higher on the way back to keep out of the wind. Thank God… So away we went and it was a nice and easy ride home.
Look at the river systems through the tundra.. absolutely amazing if you ask me!

May 22, 2010

And then there were 2.... wheels that is!

I have been talking about getting a bike for about a year and I've finally gone and done it.  It was not a fun experience. Why you ask? Well let me tell you.....
I wanted a sweet cruiser type bike but was talked out of it by a certain someone... so I settled for a regular ol' mountain bike... $cha ching$....
My car had a roof rack but not the lateral racks needed to hold the bike rack... $cha ching$...
Then I needed to buy locks for the rack so that someone wouldn't take the rack right off the top of my car... $cha ching$$
tack on a bike lock (for locking up at work, etc), water bottle holder, and I spent a whopping total of... none of your business!!  Luckily for me I had my REI dividend which took off a good chunk of the final bill.. 
Got the bike home and took it for a quick (3 mile) spin around the lake and it was a lot of fun.  Tough on the ol' knees but it will be a good mode of transportation to and from work now that school is out! The picture is looking up out of my sunroof... gotta love it!

May 11, 2010

Camping.... Take 2!

As recent posts may have indicated that I went camping weeks ago... that isn't the case.  I'm not entirely sure why we didn't go but in the end, we didn't. 
So, last week we decided to take a few days off midweek to go on our first excursion.  We got all ready with our packs (mine weighed 34lbs) and headed off to about mile 2 of the Eagle River trail system.  The first part of the trail was nice and dry but the second part was packed with hard (and sometimes soft) snow.  We got out to our destination to find patches of snow but a lot of bare ground.  Perfect for tents and perfect snow patches to keep our sodas cold!
I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't be able to stay warm but I had high hopes for my new zero degree sleeping bag.  It did not let me down.  I was warm as can be in my little tent and sleeping bag- even in 30 degree weather.
It was a great first hiking/camping trip and hopefully the weather will allow for many, many more!

Greg on the trail

"Hurry up and take the picture! It's cold out here!"

Our bear bag up in the trees.  No bears will be eating our food!!

May 3, 2010

Better luck next time!

My eldest brother Ben,our good friend Matt and I decided to go on a little road trip this weekend.  The weather was nice, the roads were clear and I had a new car I needed to break-in.  I decided we should go to Denali National Park because the boys had never been there before (or even close).  The drive itself is about 4 hours one way up a scenic road (the only highway in Alaska) through forests and mountains.

The reasons for my desire to go to Denali are simple:
A) The boys had never been there
B) It is beautiful
C) Normally you can only drive in 15 miles but
before tourist season (mid-May) you can drive in 30 miles.

1st Unfortunate Occurance
It wasn't pretty out! We are still in breakup time so the
 ground was muddy and the trees are still dead. Nothing pretty about it.

2nd Unfortunate Occurance
Riding in a car for 8 hours where all 3 people have entirely different tastes in music. 
 Thank God for headphones!

3rd Unfortunate Occurance
We can see ominous clouds in the distance.
We see a bit of rain.
We get to the park opening .....
the rain is gone.... but
We drive to Savage River which is the
normal "turn around point" 15 miles in.
Past that is a large ROAD CLOSED sign.
The extended road is closed. I could cry.
It is snowing so hard we don't even get out of the car.
We drive home.  :(

And Then...
On the way home...
We get to see this:

Denali aka: Mt.McKinley
You rarely see it out in full force like this because it is generally covered by clouds.
It was pretty spectacular... and no matter how many times you see it, it's still simply amazing.