Part 2: The Alaska State Fair Events

My daughter and I decided to spend a beautiful Sunday at the Alaska State Fair. She did not go two days ago when my son and I went to the concert. You can read about that adventure on the Part 1 blog , if interested.

Our primary reason for going was to enjoy the events on a gorgeous sunny Labor Day Sunday. Why not be outside on a day like today? We mapped out our favorites before we left our house: Dan Meyer, The Sword Swallower, Fred Scheer’s Lumberjack show, Age of the Dinosaur, and Cirque Zuma Zuma. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and didn’t get to see Cirque Zuma Zuma.

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The first event was the performance by Dan Meyer. He was very entertaining and definitely put on a show. In fact, the Alaska State Fair printed program describes the show like this:

Known for his ‘cutting edge innertainment,’ Dan Meyer is a 40-time World Champion Sword Swallower and holds seven Guinness World Records. Hailed by Ripley’s Believe It or Not as the ‘World’s TOP Sword Swallower,’ Dan made it to the finals of America’s Got Talent where he was AGT’s ‘Most Dangerous Act’ (Alaska, 2018, p. 15).

One of his performances is shown below.  I can’t show all of my recorded segments because you must make plans to see his show yourself to appreciate his humor and skill.

The next event we saw was the Lumberjack Show.  It was awesome.  The lady announcer said she was Fred Scheer’s wife. (The show is Fred Scheer’s Lumberjack Show.)  I thought she did a fabulous job and earned her spot there.  She was raised around Lumberjacks and is quite accomplished herself.  The Lumberjack Show was described like this in the program:

Watch world-champion lumberjacks battle it out in the ‘Olympics of the Forest,’ while comedy routines keep everyone laughing. This fast-paced show features the same events showcased in ESPN’s Great Outdoor Games and the Lumberjack World (Alaska, 2018, p. 15).

All of the performances by these talented Lumberjacks were awesome.  I will share the pole climbing competition with you.  Apparently, this is one of the events that happens every year.  If you are at the Alaska State Fair in the future, definitely put this on your must-see list!

The last event we went to, besides more of the beautiful flower gardens, was the Age of the Dinosaurs.  It was definitely geared toward younger children but Caris seemed to enjoy walking through and seeing the pretend dinosaur land.

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“I feel like there is something behind me.” – Caris

I will leave you with a few tips and other random pictures.  Some tips: arrive early to avoid long waits on the highway, tie a jacket around your waist in case the temperature drops, order your tickets online for speedier entry, take some cash for the parking fee, and map out your preferred event times prior to arrival.

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GCI is a communications business in Alaska.
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The giant chair was in the Farm Exhibits barn.
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Parking isn’t free.  It is $5 for the day and it was a walk to the fair entrance gate.
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We LOVED visiting the fair! Bye!

XOXO,

Mel

Part 1: The Alaska State Fair Vibe- Palmer, AK

Last night, my son and I went to the Alaska State Fair.  Our primary reason was a concert, but we also wanted to check out the exhibits as well.  As far as the vibe, it was very relaxed.  Most people were dressed for comfort and warmth.  Everyone seemed happy to participate.

Tour of ASF

As far as the weather, it was quite cool.  In fact, it reminded me of cool October mornings in south Georgia because the humidity level was extremely high.  When high humidity meets cooler weather, it collides and makes people feel much colder than the temperature gauge displays.  However, if you looked toward the skyline, you realized you were indeed NOT in south Georgia because there were mountains everywhere.

I would love to share some sights and even sounds with you from the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, Alaska. It was a fun experience; although, it was not inexpensive for the amount of time we were there.  We arrived at 7:00 P.M. because Connor had to work all day.  The two concerts were both about 40 minutes each and the tickets were approximately $50 per person considering the fair admission.  The views were astounding though.  In fact, at one point, we were staring at the mountain with a helicopter and two planes, different depths, within our sight line.  If only my phone camera could capture that spectacular view.  Oh well… I hope you enjoy the video and some pictures of what I could capture. I will start with a song by “Lovely the Band.” (There is one use of profanity before the music starts. Beware!)

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Connor is relaxing outside the designated concert space.
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What a view!
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I am definitely feeling lucky to sit in this beautiful setting.

Shown below are some beautiful flowers located in the main agricultural building (called the Farm Exhibit barn) not far from the concert stage.  I will number these images.  If you know the name of the flower, please comment with this information.

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Purple flower – 1
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Deep Brown flower – 2
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Spotted Lavender flower – 3
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Orange flower – 4
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Burgundy Burst – 5
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I call this one, “swaying in the wind.” -6
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The yellow lady – 7
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Yellow Lovely – 8

On another side of the the Farm Exhibit barn, there were other cool things like animals, mushrooms, and giant vegetables.  These are shown below.

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What a monster!
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Cabbage anyone?
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Giant Squash
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The beets, man!
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Inside the Farm Exhibit barn
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On the way out of the Farm Exhibit barn – a display to dazzle the children
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Heading out of the Farm Exhibit Barn

Next, we went into a building called the Irwin building, if I recall correctly.  I forgot to take a picture of the outside but there were some really neat things inside it as well.

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The before picture shows a plain dresser but the after product is beautiful!
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Someone put a lot of energy into creating this project
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This is really cool! The spring breakup is a happy time but not for this truck!
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This is really neat. The pennies on the edge of the table are bent to fit appropriately.
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Craftsmanship!

I will have more adventures to share with you soon.  Have a happy day!

XOXO,

Mel

Summer Solstice in Anchorage

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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.

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Connor is relaxing in downtown Anchorage.
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Children’s area at the festival
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Chalk drawings are everywhere.

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.

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Caris was avoiding the camera so no photos of her on the rooftop of 49th State.
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What  a view!
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We had a great seat – corner spot on the rooftop.
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This was our server at 49th.  JOKING! This little spider was hanging out and since all things deserve to live, I left it alone and hoped it wouldn’t hop on us.
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Beautiful flowers downtown
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Beautiful flowers downtown

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?)

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These ladies are super cool and fun to be around.  (Check out the background outside of Williwaw…)
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I love that Micah and I took a picture together but wish I wasn’t standing so awkwardly.  Too pretty of a background not to post though…

I hope you enjoyed! If you get a chance to participate in Summer Solstice next year, I highly recommend it.

XOXO,

Mel

A Family Fishing Adventure in Seward, Alaska

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!

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Forest Acres Campground has a playground and fire pits at each campsite 
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The Seward Military Resort is behind the campground.

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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.

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Connor with the Sockeye Salmon after the first day of fishing
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Even McKinley got in the action

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.

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Harbor view
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Micah and Caris enjoying the sunshine
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Micah did you know you have a glacier behind you?
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I thought you may enjoy some of the details about the glacier.

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.)

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Exit Glacier Nature Center
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Outside the Center

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.

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Fish on! (I am so excited here!)
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There are not a lot of people out there during the week. 
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These two enjoyed themselves.

 

XOXO,

Mel

Surprise! It’s a glacier!

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.
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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.

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I love these two.  Happy to have you visit…

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.

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One of our first stops: Talkeetna, Alaska at Twister Creek
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Smiles all around… Happy and no longer hungry

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.

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This is a view on top of Skyline Drive in Eagle River, Alaska. The sky wasn’t clear or you could see Denali and the other mountains at a distance.
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We went hiking on the easiest route at Thunderbird Falls.
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Mom checking out the falls…
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On another trip, Mom and I stopped to walk out to Beluga Point. Beluga Point is located on the Seward Highway. It is on the way to Girdwood from Anchorage.
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Great view behind you, mom!
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Mom, in Girdwood, Alaska, enjoying the left-over snow.
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I told daddy to look afraid of the gift shop bear at the Alyeska resort.  My sister did a great job of editing the trees in the background.  I love this and thankfully it was only a stuffed bear. He could win the biggest award for acting scared!
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My dad collecting glacier water at Mile 109 on the Seward Highway
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I am collecting water too.  It tastes amazing.

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.

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Connor and I decided to “say cheese” too.
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My parents are so cute!
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Mama is such a great actress.  We haven’t even left for the cruise but my request for her to look amazed was taken seriously. “And the newcomer’s acting award goes to…”
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Hanging out at Surprise Glacier, which was the main attraction of this cruise
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Some of the crew collected a huge chunk of glacier ice to bring on board.
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The captain announced photo props on deck and these two didn’t let the opportunity go to waste.
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Mom hanging out in front of Cascade, Barry, and Coxe Glaciers…
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Further away from the glacier trio (Cascade, Barry, and Coxe), I take a moment to smile for the camera.
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Ice chunks galore…
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Connor, did you know there is a surprise (glacier) behind you?

Enjoy the video below from the end of the cruise.

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On the way out of Whittier… The sun was so bright, you had to wear shades.

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.

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The men enjoying the hike…
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Just another day in the AK…

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.

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Mom, wait, I am running to join you!
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After we left the museum, we went to eat at Simon and Seafort’s restaurant.  I wish I could show you the beautiful sunset that day, but any photo wouldn’t do it justice.
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McKinley will miss you guys until she sees you again! Adios and Good-Bye…

We were sad to see my parents leave, but knew they had to go.  We can’t wait to see you two again soon.

XOXO,

Mel

From Avocados-n-Eggs to Donald Trump

How long have we been in Alaska again? Oh yes, a little over 2 months… I am not sure the reason, but a day seems like 2 or 3 days. A week here feels like 2 weeks. Time is completely different. For the most part, everything is different.

Today, I’ll share with you some really neat experiences we’ve had right by our home. As I have already mentioned in several prior posts, some of our neighbors are amazing people. The family across the street from us has chickens. These chickens have the Shangri-La of chicken coups built by them, of course. What else would you expect from tough Alaskans? Caris was impressed by being given permission to pick up some eggs to take home with us. The best part of that experience was breakfast the next morning. Since we eat eggs for breakfast 99.9% of the time, this was something we needed anyway.  These eggs were fun to pick up and functional (because we ate them almost immediately.)

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Caris loved picking up the neighbor’s eggs.
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Eggs, Avocado, Fresh Thyme over toasted wheat bread

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If you noticed in the breakfast picture, avocado is another of our breakfast favorites.  I read about how food can help heal (or help hurt) us AND I have a lot of health books too. I know avocados are some of the superstar foods. Our skin loves these little fruits. In fact, since these little gems are full of lutein and zeaxanthin to help protect our skin from harmful UV damage (Roberts, Green, & Lewis, 2009), the benefits go beyond beauty. A few other benefits include being heart healthy, good for weight maintenance, and great for balancing hormones for some people (Shatzman, 2015). Okay, I will move on past my obvious love of avocados.

Most recently, we were invited to our other neighbor’s house for a Halloween party. They had the best decorations and great food too. Caris enjoyed hanging out early in the night. She dressed as a baby in a cute onesie. I threw some stuff together for about $4.00 and said I was “Halloween tacky.” Micah didn’t wear a costume and Connor didn’t participate this year. Yes, Donald Trump was there too.

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Caris was able to hang out for a little while early in the night.
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An inexpensive Halloween costume (knee high orange socks not shown)

Hugs,
Melissa

References:
Roberts, R. L., Green, J., Lewis, B. (2009). Lutein and zeaxanthin in eye and skin health. Clinics in Dermatology. 27: 195-201.

Shatzman, C. (2015, July 13). 6 foods that balance your hormones for younger looking skin. Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.prevention.com/beauty/hormone-balancing-foods-better-skin

Pebble Mine Problem – Bristol Bay

no pebble mine

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One of the booths at the AFN Conference
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Another booth with some beautiful ornaments
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Micah and Caris walking back in after getting a reindeer dog outside
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A popular sidewalk favorite in Anchorage: A reindeer dog

Last weekend, Micah, Caris, and I went into Anchorage to the Dena’ina Center to visit the Alaska Federation of Nations conference. There were many booths with things for sale and social services agencies with handouts about their services. We perused the conference center for a while to enjoy the sights and arts on display. Then, we walked outside and grabbed a reindeer dog for lunch and then returned to the Dena’ina Center to enjoy some singing in the lobby. Overall, it was a great day.

While we were there, a peaceful march ensued to prevent Pebble Mine (the name of a company desiring to mine) from mining in southwestern Alaska near Bristol Bay.  I was given a sticker to help support the cause (seen below) and decided to check out the website. Some information quoted from that website is listed below as well.

The Pebble deposit is a massive storehouse of gold, copper and molybdenum, located in the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers, two of the eight major rivers that feed Bristol Bay. If built, Pebble would be one of the largest mines in the world. Because of its size, geochemistry and location, Pebble runs a high risk of polluting Bristol Bay, one of the world’s most productive wild salmon strongholds… (The Pebble, 2017, p. 1).

Apparently, this Bristol Bay area has millions of pounds of gold almost a mile thick (Warrick, 2015).  Can’t you see those big capitalists getting saucer-like eyes at the thought of the greenback exchange from all that gold?  (Eyes rolling…)  However, the area is also important for much more legitimate reasons than gold, nourishment.  The mine’s location is in the Bristol Bay watershed which apparently is, “the headwaters of one of the most productive salmon fisheries in Alaska” (Pebble Project, 2010, p. 1.)  In fact, Warrick (2015) mentions the area is the “spawning ground for the planet’s biggest runs of sockeye salmon…. that generates $500 million a year” (p. 1).  Did you get that?  The PLANET’s biggest producer of sockeye is located there.  The ripple effects of this decision will be felt for generations and long after the gold has been mined.

Of course, there are two sides of this debate.  There are people that say there will be jobs generated from the mining.  However, as I have already mentioned, many say it will destroy the area’s salmon supply, not to mention pollute the land and deprive some of the natives living nearby of a much needed resource too.  Does this story sound familiar?  We have heard these types of stories so many times.  Big (fill-in-the-blank) company says they will do (x-y-z) to help a local economy but won’t destroy the land in the process.  I don’t believe it.  This sounds like another problem that can easily be described by the sociological perspective, the conflict theory.  Those wanting that gold see pollution and destruction of the area as business-as-usual to make a profit. However, there is a precious resource being destroyed that is way more valuable than gold.  How about attempting to eat a 24 kt nugget with a side salad covered in copper sprinkles, Mr. Gold Digger?  Before long, we are going to destroy our food supply even more than it has already been destroyed.  This impacts you.  This impacts all of us. This doesn’t seem logical.  Where is Leonardo Dicaprio, environment activist extraordinaire, when you need him? (After I wrote that last line I looked online to see if he really is working on this environmental social problem and, guess what?  His agency wrote something about it.  Thanks Leo…)

Sincerely,

Mel

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The Sticker – No Pebble Mine
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The March on the other side of the road
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March participants with signs

Lastly, I have a video on the ride home from the center and protest.  It is below.

References:

Haddad, K. (2017). Grantee spotlight: United tribes of Bristol Bay. Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.leonardodicaprio.org/grantee-spotlight-united-tribes-of-bristol-bay/

Pebble Project. Northern Alaska Environment Center. Retrieved from http://northern.org/programs/clean-water-mines/hardrock-mines-in-interior-and-arctic-alaska/pebble-project/pebble-project

The Pebble Proposal. Save Bristol Bay. Retrieved from http://www.savebristolbay.org/pebbleproposal/

Warrick, J. (2015). Pebble mine debate in Alaska: EPA becomes target by planning for rare veto. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/internal-memos-spur-accusations-of-bias-as-epa-moves-to-block-gold-mine/2015/02/15/3ff101c0-b2ba-11e4-854b-a38d13486ba1_story.html?utm_term=.893f8369e973