Canada/Alaska Adventure | Home Again

Somehow, the three and a half weeks since I got home from Alaska flew by without me realizing it, full to the brim with summertime and normal life. I jumped back in to work the day after I got home, had a week of work and then five days on the road and in Bozeman, MT, at a Biblical counseling training conference. The rest of the time filled in with everyday life, family, housekeeping, unpacking, packing again, unpacking again. My brain has been so fried, my blogging took a back burner.

Alaska, like all of the West that I’ve seen so far, tugs at my heartstrings in mysterious ways. While once-upon-a-time (and not too far in the past) I would have said I never wanted to leave the Black Hills, I find my heart waking to the idea of seeking out the deeper West. There is that quiet place in my soul that hungers after the remote, the distant, the separate, the raw.

It was definitely a shock to the system to come from the cool moistness of the Glacier View climate, to the hot, arid Black Hills. It was strange to leave behind a green, lush landscape and exchange it for a landscape that had been green when I left, but is now very lacking in rain. I miss puttering in the garden for hours at a time in the cool of midday, without scorching or melting or frying. I miss the bright flowers and foliage that thrive in the almost endless daylight. I miss the wildness, the steepness of the peaks right outside the window, I miss the water and the clear, blue mountain streams. But then…this is home. Where the hot summer air smells piney and golden. Where beebalm and chokecherries line the Hole-in-the-Wall Trail, where the stars are diamond bright, and the sun sets behind Harney Peak. Home is where my family is – my blood family and my church family. Home is where Trixie and our log cabin and the Miner’s Cabin wait in our little hollow underneath our red ridge. Where Ember comes running when I call her name, or sits yowling outside the window until I let her in. Home is where I have a bed underneath the eaves and can hear the raindrops pattering on the tin roof a foot away. Home is here.

They say home is where the heart is. For now, my heart is here. But will it always be? Only time will tell.

Canada/Alaska Adventure | Entry #10

America from the earliest days was built upon tenacity and determination. Each place has its stories of the men and women who were the first-comers, the settlers, the pioneers, those at the front lines of the frontier. Driven by myriad reasons, but driven nonetheless, men and women trekked through the harshest conditions to pursue and fulfill those dreams. It is amazing to what lengths mankind is willing to go, to expand, to explore, to pursue freedoms and wealth and opportunity and stability and adventure. And the further west and north in the United States, the more recent those stories are.

The Independence Mine was a hardrock gold mine, formed by the joining of two mining companies in 1938, and was worked until its closure in 1951. It was the second most productive Alaskan gold mine, producing nearly $18 million by today’s standards. This is an informative article, briefly outlining the history of the mine. IMG_0035eIMG_0026eIMG_0045eIMG_0053eJenny and I, along with a friend of Jenny’s, visited the mine on Friday, after we hiked Hatcher’s Pass. If we hadn’t been starving and a little pressed for time, we could easily have spent more time walking the trails around the park, taking pictures, and taking in the scenery. Run-down and tumble-down buildings, in various stages of dilapidation, hugged the mountainside, giving quiet testimony to a time when the area was alive with industry. It is amazing to think of the men who first came into this area, in spite of – and maybe because of – how remote and rugged it is. The camp buildings in particular were fascinating to me, as someone who loves old buildings, but also because of how out of place they seemed compared with the rest of the mine buildings. The bunkhouses, cookhouse, and other camp buildings, according to the informational signs, were painted with aluminum paint and red trim, “giving the camp a clean, cheerful appearance.” The manager of the mine wanted to keep his miners happy, and the accommodations were known as the best in the area. IMG_0081eIMG_0127eIMG_0118eIMG_0114eIMG_0002eIMG_0014eIMG_0097eSo much history, and so recent. A step back in time.

 

 

 

Canada/Alaska Adventure | Entry #6

Happy first day of summer! Here in Glacierview, AK, we are enjoying the last bit of daylight at midnight – We’ll have 19 hours and 21 minutes of daylight today! Honestly, it is the light that is the biggest adjustment for me up here. Sleeping really isn’t an issue, since I can hang a blanket over the window, but energy is the issue! At home, I’d be tired by 11:00pm, particularly if I had just gone on a hike and had a busy day (both of which I did today!), but when it is daylight outside, the energy just doesn’t turn off. The daylight really has wreaked havoc on my sleep, since I’ve been staying up a lot later, and then a few mornings ago I was wide awake at 4:30am! I love it.IMG_9421eIMG_9476eIMG_9452eIMG_9444eAfter dinner this evening, probably around 8:00 or a little later, Jenny and I climbed up to Big Rock, which overlooks the whole valley, with the Matanuska River snaking its way along way below, and the houses and Victory Bible Camp scattered like little models here and there in the trees. We left home in a slight rain, and enjoyed a rainbow on the way to the top, but once we were at Big Rock, it cleared up a bit, and the sun even came out briefly. The clouds were wisping over the mountaintops, and the Matanuska Glacier could be seen further east. IMG_9493eWhat a day. So much to marvel at.

 

Canada/Alaska Adventure | Entry #5

It doesn’t get much better than sitting on the deck in the evening eating a quiet dinner, with Amulet Peak and the Chugach Range towering – and I mean towering – into the sky across the river, clouds tangling in the valleys, watching the play of sunlight. What a sight. The first two days this week were rainy and cloudy, and only occasionally could I see the tip top of Amulet peaking through a tear in the clouds. But the past couple of days, the view has been a wonderful sight. While out in the garden, the mountains are visible across the river, and Victory Peak up behind us, and even when walking along the road, Amulet can be glimpsed through breaks in the trees. The mountains are so…big.
IMG_9335eIMG_9299eThere is so much sunlight. Almost too much. The wildflowers thrive in the almost-24-hour daylight and the moist climate. The foliage is thick and lush. The creeks are muddy and swift. Aunt Sandy and I have spent a lot of time out in her gardens, and one of my particular projects was cleaning up her large raised garden bed. How fun to get it looking neat and tidy, clearing out the old, dead foliage, getting the weeds and moss pulled and scraped off the soil, applying lime to keep the moss at bay, and spreading a new layer of rich, black compost on top! I have to say, gardening is a lot more pleasant in temperatures of 60-70 degrees, rather than in temperatures of 80-100 degrees. IMG_9274eIMG_9198eGolden retriever Kaiah has been a delightful, albeit rather ditzy, buddy to have around, and she is a good company-keeper. She tags along when I run down the road to take something to the guest cabins, or get the mail, or when I’m in the garden. Everything is a game to her. Basically she’s an 8-year-old puppy. And somehow she thinks she can challenge a moose and not get put in her place! I was at the house by myself two nights ago and heard her barking ferociously, so I ran to the front window, and there she was, practically underneath an unhappy moose! So I ran to the front door and shouted at her, and she came, trembling and scared, but somehow it doesn’t keep her from doing it the next time.
IMG_9217eA few nights ago after dinner, Uncle Dan and I went to a job site of his, which overlooks the Matanuska Glacier. Another almost overwhelming sight. So much ice, sprawling through the valley and out of sight between mountains. And yet it looks minuscule, unimportant next to the mountains. Mountains are perspective-givers. IMG_9384eWhat a wonderful Creator God, to have spoken this world into existence! From the beauty of landscape, to the delicate intricacies of flowers, to the special bonds He lets us enjoy with His animal creatures, to the purpose and meaning of honest work, He has blessed us so richly, to be able to enjoy all of this, and to try to process all of it. God, help us not to take it for granted, but to give glory to You!