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Alaska Zoo

June 25, 2009

Tuesday, June 23rd was our last day in Alaska.  We had a few hours to kill before we boarded our 2:30 flight back to the bay and we did not get our complete fill on Alaskan wildlife, so we decided to check out the Alaska Zoo.  The majority of the animals at the zoo had some type of injury or had be rescued.  Its agglomeration of animals includes polar bears, musk oxen, arctic foxes, bald eagles, wolves, moose, red-tail hawks, porcupines, wolverines, otters, harbor seals, a variety of owls, ravens, trumpeter swans and one tiger.




Look at this beast of an animal!  Geoff Lee this photo is for you…it is not just a brown or black bear, it’s freaking polar bear!





Alaska Sea Life Center

June 25, 2009

Monday, June 22nd was our last full day in Alaska, so we decided to take another day trip southeast along the Seward Scenic Highway to visit the seaside town of Seward.  Many of our friends who have visited Alaska before us highly suggested that we take the drive down there.  The drive started out beautiful with snow capped mountains in the distance and the Alaska State Train hugging the coastline, but the further we traveled gray and dismal clouds swooped over the landscape.  They masked the majestic mountain side and invited some summer showers to join its plan to “rain on our parade”.

I love this picture!  Stuart took it and I feel like it should belong in the Alaska Sea Life Center advertisement or brochure.  Don’t you?


Here is some of the sea life the Alaska Sea Life Center has to offer.  For an extra$80 person you could go behind the exhibits and actually get to touch the animals.  It is a cool concept, but we could not bring ourselves to pay the extra cost.  Besides we have to save our hard earned dollars for our next trip…Coast Rica!





Heather’s new favorite bird, the puffin!  Alaska is home to two types of puffins, the horned and tufted puffin.  All the photos here are photos of horned puffins.




More Salmon!





Day trip to Wasilla, Palmer, the Musk Ox Farm and the Matanuska glacier.

gps map

We came to Wasilla to invite ourselves for some good ‘ol homemade moose stew, but Governor Palin was not home.  She’s probably vetoing a bill or two in Juneau.  Oh well, may be next time.


Musk oxen are gentile giants of the tundra.  There are supposedly only 3,000 of these creatures left in the wild.  Musk oxen happen to be Jeopardy host Alex Trebek’s favorite animal and he is a avid activist for the survival of these species.  Not only are musk oxen a rare animal, but their  under wool, qiviut, is a rare fiber.  It is stronger and eight times warmer than wool.  It does not shrink in water or itch like lamb’s wool.  It is also softer than cashmere.  This fine fiber comes at a cost.  For a fine hand made qiviut scarf be prepared to pay at least $250.  It looks like I won’t be getting one of these fine scarves for a long time, especially since I am unemployed for the moment.  But a girl can always dream.







Sketchy bridge!


The Matanuska glacier!



Bill, the glacier caretaker,  giving Heather a lesson about glaciers and the Arora Borealis.  Bill states that the Matanuska glacier is more accessible and safer to explore than any other glacier in Alaksa because it does not rest on steep slopes like Exit Glacier does.


As we were venturing out onto the glacier, we ran into our new photographer friend, Daniel.  We met Daniel at the Juneteenth festival while photographing the giant kites the night before the marathon.  It was Daniel who told us about the Matanuska glacier.  What a small world to run into him there on that day!


Despite her aches and pains from running a marathon, Heather was once again determined to accomplish another feat…hiking out on a glacier.   How many people do you know can claim that they actually walked on a glacier?


A terrible shot! My first moose (10th moose for Heather)!


Race day was finally here.  Everyone at the starting line was buzzing with excitement.  As for me, I was swelled up with anxiety.  Unfortunately Stuart woke me up at 4 am this morning worried that I overslept.  He scared me so much that my heart pounded heavily in my chest so I could not fall back asleep.  Anyway I found out that largest number of TNT athletes participate in the Mayor’s and Honolulu Marathons.  Interesting!  I’ve never been to Hawaii, but let me see how I feel about running this race first before I sign up for my next marathon.

At the starting line!  “Can I get a go TEAM?  Go TEAM!  Can I get no wimps?  NO Wimps!  East Bay Rocks!  Team Heart!  And the East Bay runs and walks smooooth!” Runners to your mark…


Here comes a sea of purple!




This was the only wildlife I saw on the trail.




As the miles and hours slowly and painfully wasted away, I thought Faith, our waitress from our first dinner in AK, would have left her post at mile 25 by the time I dragged myself to that point.  But there she was, graciously expressing her gratitude to all the TNT runners that passed her by.   I just had to stop and take a picture with her.



The finish line!  Coach Joe from the San Francisco TEAM joined me at the last mile.  Erin, a mentor from the San Francisco TEAM and Coach Joe ran with me during my last 100 meters.  Was I beat!  I ran as far as I could until my legs decided it was time for me to walk.  It took me about 7 hours and 6 minutes to finish the race.  Not bad considering all the bathroom breaks, walking with stiff muscles for 6 miles,  recording video and snapping photos along the way.   I was the 420th woman to cross the finish line out of 460 and 70th in my age group.  Besides I was not shooting for any specific time as long as I completed the race within the allotted time given and in any way possible.  Now I can cross completing a marathon off of my list of things to do.  In the words of Coach Al, “I did the damn thing!”


Ah, victory!  Ever so painful, but yet so sweet!  Only difference from me and the first place runners, Michael Wisniewski and Natasha Yaremczuk, was they got a check.  On the other side of the medal there is a picture of a moose.


The Greater San Francisco Bay Area TEAM celebrating at the victory party later that night. Erin is the other person besides me wearing her medal and Coach Joe is next to her with beverage in hand.


today is moose

June 20, 2009

Day two in the land of the midnight sun. This is The View from the bedroom window. We can’t change it. It is the thing of wonder we must face every day (morning and night seem to make no difference).


Breakfast at Snow City. Highly recommended. Multi-grain french toast and I bought a pint glass.

IMG_0411 copy



Snow City’s neighbors must deal with vandals:


So at this point, we venture into northwest downtown Anchorage. Anchorgians (I made this up) certainly take the moose theme to extremes, for profit and else. Witness:

Mickey Moose


Hannah Moosetana (clever)


Moosetourisim (full disclosure, this photo was doctored)


The only thing cooler than moose and salmon? Malmon? Saloose?


Muart?!? Stoose!!!


something more attractive:


ok, enough making fun of Alaska


Each year, artists are commissioned to decorate a salmon to specify some greatness of State. Typically this means a salmon decorated with iconic and trendy ornament. Apparently there is a Sarah Palin salmon that sold last year. Probably for a lot of money to a middle age single man.



Lunch at some cafe which had an amazing pesto chicken sandwich which was so good that my camera forgot to take a picture of it. I did snap Heather for posterity!


We came home this afternoon and while checking The View we were treated to some extreme kite action



if the rainbow one gets into the American Flag first, Sarah Palin will have a fit!


Here is what we covered today, according to the GPS data logger. Does anyone know how to upload a KML gps datalog, superimpose on a google map, and iframe it into a freebie wordpress blog? A screenshot is all we get until i figure that part out:


Tonight was the prep party for the race tomorrow. Matt Claman, Mayor of Anchorage, came to speak at the Carbothon prior to the marathon. Apparently it is appropriate to stuff one’s self with carbohydrates prior to extreme physical activity. This makes sense, chemically.

Mayor Claman warned runners to get their photograph taken at the beginning of the race, as their phyical demeanour will have deteriorated by the final count down. He also warned of bears and moose (ah, moose) in the path of glory.


What is involved in running a marathon? How do you prepare?

Heather will need to fill in the details of the required weaponry tomorrow. It is midnight; the sun is just now setting. Thanks all for tuning in.

Update… The race attire includes:  visor, sports bra, under singlet, TNT singlet, racing number, fuel belt (aka:  the batman utility belt), bandana, socks, running shoes with TNT shoe tag and race microchip (to record my time), shorts, chonies (not seen), contact lenses (cause running with glasses is a bother and so is running blind), sunblock, insect repellent, Biofreeze for the knees, and the most important thing…Team Heart Honorees and personal honorees ribbons.


Personal Honorees Ribbons:  I will be running in the honor of Richelle Romero (Miss Robin’s sister) and Phoenix Hall.  I will also be running in memory of David and Judy Fairless (Chirstine Fairless’ dad and sister), and Rear Admiral Benjamin T. Hacker (Lee Davis’ brother).


Team Heart Honorees (Bay Side Honorees)


What I will be carrying in my fuel belt…water, Gatorade, powered Gatorade when my liquid gatorade runs out, chocolate Gu, insect repellent wipes, hand sanitizer, bible verse that Coach Rudy gave the Team before we left, health and wellness stone given to me by Nicole Dreyfus, money (not pictured), and the most important device to carry on my for my first marathon is…my camera.

I probably don’t need all of these things as I have listed here, but you never know and I won’t until I run my first race!:)


Its hard to believe how far north we are right now. The Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska, located at 61°13′6″N 149°53′57″W, population ~360k, is the largest city in Alaska. Heather is running a marathon on Saturday; more details to come on that. We got here at about 1:00pm Alaska Daylight Time (one hour behind California) and dropped our stuff off at the Downtown Anchorage Marriott where we are staying until Sunday.

On the Plane

On the Plane

Heather Takes Aim

Heather Takes Aim
The New Production Station

The New Production Station

Glacier Brewhouse IPA

Glacier Brewhouse IPA


mmm...IPA. No, not Oatmeal Stout



Hail to the chief

Hail to the chief

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Moose

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Moose

Can you pick out the champion here?

Can you pick out the champion here? Heather is picking up her bib number. Go 640!

The Brilliant Mountains.

The Brilliant Mountains.

Scary Mountains!

Scary Mountains!

Simon & Seaforts

Simon & Seafort's

Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye Salmon

Halibut Cheeks

Halibut Cheeks

Heather & Faith

Heather & Faith

Faith was our waitress at Simon and Seafort’s for dinner.  She was a quintessential example of the famed Alaskan hospitality.  Not only was Faith an excellent server, but as Stuart and I found out, she is also a leukemia survivor.  On her right wrist she wears a purple Leukemia and Lymphoma Society bracelet and credits the Society for helping her fight her disease.  For the past seven years, Faith has been at mile 25 of the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon rooting on Team and Training runners as they make it towards the finish and thanking them for aiding the cause.  Faith’s story, like so many others I have encountered along the way,  has touched my heart and reaffirms one of the reasons why I am committed to TNT.  I look forward to seeing faith as I reach the final leg of my 26.2 mile journey.

11:14pm; still sunny

11:14pm; still sunny

Its hard to believe how far north we are right now. The Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska, located at 61°13′6″N 149°53′57″W,  population ~360k, is the largest city in Alaska. Heather is running a marathon on Saturday; more details to come on that. We got here at about 1:00pm Alaska Daylight Time (one hour behind California) and dropped our stuff off at the Downtown Anchorage Marriott where we are staying until Sunday.