Mel welcomes you to her website. She will discuss information on a variety of topics all designed to help you in one way or another. Check out the "about" section for some ideas of topics or use the search bar to discover your favorites.
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Just last week, we had friends visit us from Jacksonville. They stayed for 7 days. During these 7 days, we packed in as much adventure as we could with one day dedicated to riding 4-wheelers on Eklutna Lake. This lake is a seven-mile-long lake with trails built beside it which are perfect for ATVs, while other nearby trails are specifically designed for bicycles. Bicycle trails would have been our path to the end if it weren’t for our neighbors. Our amazing neighbors let us use their “toys” since we don’t personally own any ATVs or even a trailer to haul them. Thus, as always, they are some of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet (if you are lucky enough to meet them). They let us use their well-maintained 4-wheelers for a faster, less challenging path. I know everyone appreciated it and felt like superheroes.
While on the drive, we saw beautiful flowers, amazing creeks under bridges, and a perfect mirror image of the mountain on the lake because of the calm day. I would recommend taking this trip with 1) water, 2) food for a picnic, 3) sunblock, 4) bear spray, and 5) mosquito repellent. You could also kayak on the lake but since the lake supplies Anchorage with drinking water, there are no motorboats allowed.
Here are some images for you to enjoy! I hope to add another blog soon with our other adventures.
I hope you enjoyed the pictures and consider making this a wonderful day trip. You could hike it, bike it, ATV it, or even kayak it! Whatever you desire…
The longest day of the year was last week. There was even a festival called the Downtown Summer Solstice Festival in downtown Anchorage to celebrate the event, even though every day after June 21 was a little shorter than the day before. Since one of our friends also had a birthday, we had a birthday event too. Saturday was full of activities on one of the most beautiful days of the year.
During the day, my family walked around to see the displays and events, eventually arriving at 49th State Brewing Company to have appetizers and claim a spot on the rooftop (our friends were joining us within the hour for a birthday dinner.) The beer there is okay (I am not that big of a beer drinker but King Street has some really good beer if you are into that sort of thing.) The rooftop and food at 49th State are both great though. In fact, I had the Seafood Artichoke dip and I highly recommend it. The rooftop is a winner when the weather is great because the views are fantastic.
After we left the restaurant, all of us (the three couples) went to Williwaw and a few other places. There are three floors in this cool bar. The bottom floor is a dance floor/concert floor. The middle floor is a lounge. The top floor is a rooftop bar. On the way down, Micah took a picture of the three ladies. (Don’t we look like we are on a Theater set?)
I hope you enjoyed! If you get a chance to participate in Summer Solstice next year, I highly recommend it.
Once upon a time in a far away land, students and teachers used Poster Boards, Overhead Projectors, and/or eventually Microsoft PowerPoint to create dynamic presentations. Then, some smarty pants created Prezi and Adobe Spark options and the world exploded with creativity! (Smile) Sorry folks, I am a little giddy today since the sun has been shining for days now. I even went to pick fresh wildflowers yesterday for my backyard picnic table and had happy 1980s music playing. So, I just had to make a joke while writing this. On a serious note…
Last semester, I had an opportunity to serve as Subject Matter Expert (SME) for a new Social Problems course. Of course, my home office was transformed. The huge dry erase board served as my visual for ensuring I had all the assignments and resources for each week covered. (In fact, my family asked how long the board was going to be used for planning and I said “as long as it takes.” Side note: I was actually a little sad when I had to erase it. I digress…)
Since I didn’t serve as the Instructional Designer on this project (my contract was only for the SME), I didn’t need a storyboard. Although, I most certainly DID need dynamic lectures to go along with the Creative Commons textbook. When a SME chooses to use a Creative Commons textbook to create a course, the students do not have to pay a high price for the textbook. Textbooks cost a lot and most students do not have endless supplies of money. Thus, I chose a Creative Commons textbook that is free for the world and readily available to anyone online. This also meant that I had to create the supplemental items to go with the textbook. That was a fun part of the process and when I used Adobe Spark, it was super easy to add additional websites for viewing statistics and facts. The program was easy to use and more streamlined than Prezi. (I love Prezi but it can make me a little dizzy if it moves too quickly. That is just my two cents.)
I am including an example of an Adobe Spark presentation which only took about 4 minutes to create.
Last Thursday, we decided to camp in Seward, Alaska. Connor and I went before my daughter and husband to set up camp at Forest Acres Campground and try fishing at high tide. My husband discovered from a coworker that the salmon were moving in Seward. When the salmon are moving, this means they are moving from the ocean to the river. When you stand at the mouth of the river, fish, and they’re moving (a.k.a. “running”), you are one lucky fisherman or fisherwoman!
When Connor and I fished on the first day, it took us 4 hours to snag 4 fish. Micah purchased snag hooks at Bass Pro Shops earlier in the week and when the fish are moving, you simply have to throw your snag hook rig, pull steadily to one side, reel the slack, and repeat. You do this over and over again if you are unlucky. (Stay with me…) On the second day, we all went fishing early and didn’t have any luck. In fact, I thought my technique was broken, flawed, well, you get the picture. None of us caught anything that morning but we weren’t finished with Seward yet.
Connor left to go to work and the rest of us went to eat lunch. After lunch, we checked out the harbor and then went to hike Exit Glacier at the Kenai Fjords National Park. The hike didn’t take but about 30 minutes because we went on the shorter “Edge of the Glacier Trail.” It wasn’t a tough hike but before we reached the top, there were some places that most certainly engaged our leg muscles.
After the hike, we also visited the Exit Glacier Nature Center. I took some neat photos of the diminishing glacier to share in my environmental sociology lecture in the future. (I may share on the blog soon as well.)
Before we went home, Micah and I decided to try fishing again. I am so glad we did! We caught 8 fish in only 28 minutes. We already had 4 in the truck and since Connor left already, we decided to count those as ours to meet the total limit of 12 in possession. The day was absolutely amazing and thus it was the lucky time of the day because the fish were most certainly everywhere. All of us felt like we went on a vacation even though this was only a one day mini-getaway. I love trips like that.
I love the Christmas holiday season. It is one of my favorite times of the year. Recently, my parents came to visit us from Georgia and although it was only April, it felt like Christmas-time. During the holidays, my family laughs a little, eats a lot, and plays tons of games. This is the same thing we did, and more, while they visited.
I can’t wait to share the amazing sights from our journey with you. Just as the gift of giving at Christmas is so satisfying, the gift of showing them the amazing scenery in Alaska was also satisfying. I hope you enjoy the highlights of their two-week vacation with us. We didn’t let the rainier than usual weather cause complications in our plans. In fact, nothing could dampen our spirits during this joyful occasion.
One of our first visits was to Talkeetna, Alaska. This town has charm. In fact, the Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce have a great website where you can download a visitor’s guide, if interested. While we were there, it snowed quite a lot. Although, the snow didn’t stay around long due to the temperatures being warmer than freezing, it was still a lovely sight. If you visit this town, I highly recommend a stop at Twister Creek restaurant. I always enjoy it.
During the week, we made mini trips near by. We drove to the top of the mountain in Eagle River where a breathtaking view is easier to reach. If the sky is clear, you can see Denali. Unfortunately, with all the rain, we didn’t have a great view of the mountain range, but the view was still pretty.
We decided to plan a cruise on the 26 Glaciers Cruise where we saw sea otters, eagles, mountain goats, a humpback whale, dolphins, and beautiful birds. It departed from Whittier, Alaska. Mom and dad enjoyed the visit immensely. We even made a few stops for pictures on the way there too.
Enjoy the video below from the end of the cruise.
Next, we decided to take an early morning hike at the Eagle River Nature Center. It was great! We were avoiding bears by making a lot of noise on this walk. The bears are waking up and are likely to be looking around for food. We didn’t want to tempt them.
We decided to take in a few indoor scenes too. Thus, we visited the First Friday at the Anchorage Museum. There were lots to see and even a Cinco de Mayo event going on. Mom and I couldn’t wait to check it out.
We were sad to see my parents leave, but knew they had to go. We can’t wait to see you two again soon.
Visiting the State of Hawaii has always been on my bucket list. I’ve been to many beautiful beaches, like St. Martin, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and many places in Florida. Although, Hawaii was always on my mind but out of reach for various reasons. Recently, Micah and I were able to visit Kauai. Before going, I learned Kauai was one of many islands in the Hawaiian Archipelago. In fact, Sprout & Sprout (2010) mention in the center of the Pacific Ocean, “is the Hawaiian Archipelago, some 132 islands strung in line for about 1,600 miles, all part of the State of Hawaii” p. 8. As far as populated places, Kauai is the northernmost of all those.
I would love to share with you some of our wonderful visits on this lovely island, which is why I took a lot of pictures. From the moment we flew into Lihue Airport, the air was fresh and temperature mild, which was perfect after leaving 0 to 10 degree temperatures in Alaska. I bet the beauty of the island erased at least one wrinkle formed from years of contemplation and hard work.
For starters, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Wailua Bay (on the eastern side of the island.) It was a pretty place with an open-air lobby and restaurant. I really liked it! We never did swim at the hotel because it rained for several days. However, they apparently had two pools and a hot tub. When the rain cleared, we figured it a better use of time to go snorkeling. Micah and went snorkeling on a Poipu Beach beside a restaurant where we had a light lunch and a fancy cocktail. It was a lovely day and we did see some colorful, unique fish.
Furthermore, there were many beautiful scenes and pull off areas. Unfortunately, I don’t know the names of all these places but all of these are easily accessible from the main road. The main roadway where the tourists travel have many areas to stop, get out, and enjoy the scenery. Although, one of my favorite places on the island was the beautiful, breath-taking Waimea Canyon Lookout.
All-in-all, this was a great visit, regardless of work (Micah and I had to work some) and the rain. Micah worked (at a conference) at the Grand Hyatt Poipu, which was a resort quality hotel. It was absolutely fantastic too even though I didn’t spend much time there.
I feel so lucky to have been able to go on the trip and see a place that has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I hope you enjoyed the images of this beautiful place.
Hugs and Happiness,
Sprout, J. & Sprout, J. (2010). Kauai trailblazer. Kilauea, HI: Diamond Valley Company Publishers.
Time is such a valuable commodity. We don’t know how much of it we have left and yet, many times, we don’t stop to appreciate and process this very important fact. The holidays are especially a time when we don’t truly think about the concept of time. You probably know why, but let me explain. Christmas is tough for some people because of worries about getting the perfect gift. However, this should not be positioned as the most important activity. The most important thing you can do is cherish your family and make memories that will live long after the toys have broken or grown old. After all, we never know what tomorrow will bring. In fact, I truly wish some of my loved ones who have already left this earth could be here for me to share a conversation and squeeze in an endearing hug. Without a doubt, I decided long ago that every moment of this holiday would be spent enjoying people and promoting the reason for the season.
In fact, Christmas Eve kicked off with a Candlelight Service at a local church. Then, when Connor got home, we played games and snacked. Afterwards, we watched a Christmas movie and crashed because we know Christmas Day is always packed with activity after activity.
As usual, Christmas Day started with our annual breakfast of pigs-in-a-blanket and a tall mug of freshly made coffee. We then opened presents and made calls and texts to family and friends. The evening closed down playing games and watching a family movie with some of our friends. Overall, it was such a wonderful day. I will end the day with this. I hope your day was wonderful and that you cherished those people in your life on this joyous day that only comes once a year.
As I have already said before, I have some awesome neighbors! Early last week, my neighbors invited us and a few other families to go ice fishing on Saturday with them. It ended up being a spectacular time! The place where we went fishing wasn’t too far from our home which was even better. When we woke up, we realized the day was going to be warmer than usual at around 35 degrees. (That seems funny to say especially coming from over 100 degrees in the summer with the heat index factor.)
We loaded the truck and headed toward the lake. Once we arrived, everyone loaded up their sleds and transported all of their goods from the parking lot to our claimed spot on the lake. On the way down, I decided to FaceTime mom and dad so they could see some of the ice fishing adventure too. They even got to meet my neighbors. Super cool… In fact, Micah took a picture of me holding up my phone showing them around (shown below.) Also, since Caris hurt her knee the night before, we pulled her to our camp location on the sled. She liked the sled as most children do.
Once we pulled all of our goods to our camping area for the day, the holes were already drilled by my neighbor with an auger. We haven’t purchased a sled yet but should definitely put that on our list. We waited until one of the other families finished and borrowed theirs which made it easier to transport.
After seeing the entire thing go down, I now feel one step closer to going on my own ice fishing adventure. My neighbors also own an Eskimo Portable Ice Shelter and added a heater to it to create a warming tent. It was very comfortable actually. I brought some hot cocoa and we enjoyed that as well. It was definitely one of the coolest things I have done in a while. I think it helped that I caught the first fish of the day, shown below. It was so much fun! Listed at the bottom of this post are some of the major things to consider purchasing to make your first ice fishing experience wonderful. If you are an experienced ice fisher-man or ice fisher-woman, please feel free to comment on some things you think are required for a wonderful (and comfortable) family-fun day adventure.
Things needed for a great ice fishing day:
Tiny shrimp for bait
Small fishing pole rigged with small hook and weight
Eskimo pop-up tent AND a sled
Hot cocoa already prepared in a thermos
Micah has been very excited about winter weather in order to break in his new Snow Machine. Being able to access places that aren’t accessible by any other means, except maybe bush planes, is an exciting way to see some beautiful places in Alaska. Most recently, he went to Petersville in the Dutch Hills to check out some territory. He said the most awesome thing was being able to go to the foot hills of the Alaska range to get a great look at Denali. Since it takes some skill to be able to ride the machine, he is getting practice now but the entire family will join him in the future when he becomes more proficient.
The images you see below are from his first Snowmachine journey.
Meanwhile, while Micah was gone, Caris and I continued in the Christmas spirit and wrapped a few presents, went shopping, watched movies, and played some games.
If you didn’t already know, Christmas is my favorite time of year. Well before having my website, I used to create all kinds of fun things for the holidays like fancy cookies, specialty painted signs for our front door (our former home’s front door is shown below), and even handmade gifts for friends and family. However, now that I am chronicling my family adventures, I get to share the behind-the-scenes part of the creativity, which is very exciting to me.
As I mentioned in a prior post, we scaled down our Christmas decorations quite a lot this year due to moving. We couldn’t take every item we collected over the past 20+ years or we wouldn’t have had enough room for the necessities like clothes, pots and pans, and furniture. This gave me a goal though. I decided I would create a fabulous Christmas house on a dime. I knew I could do it. After all, I had packed some ribbon, a ruler, red poly mesh, an X-acto knife and had plenty of imagination and heavy cardboard boxes. What more does a lady need?
Even though my husband and I both work, things cost a lot more in Alaska. Thus, if you are like most people, every penny adds up. I didn’t want to sacrifice the Christmas house my family is used to just because I wanted to save a little money. Since I had some boxes and a little time, I sat in the carport brainstorming. The first thing I knew I needed to do was spray paint the boxes green. This was the start of my idea for the Christmas tree theme. You will find the list of items needed below, how to order some of those items, and a photo diary giving the progress from beginning to completion. I hope you enjoy and consider doing for yourself if you need to save some money on decorations this Christmas season!
The total cost of this project was around $5.00 because I had to purchase spray paint and some white poster board for behind the tree box.
Heavy Duty Cardboard Boxes
Green Spray Paint
Red Poly Mesh Ribbon
White Poster Board
Christmas Lights (optional for lighted tree box)
Items below if desired:
I sure enjoyed completing this project! I hope you have a Merry Christmas!