Friday, June 28, 2013

Weekend Getaway

I had the best weekend ever recently – I swear, it felt like an actual vacation. I felt so rejuvenated and refreshed when I got home afterwards. It was totally awesome.

Several months ago, I got myself a Groupon for a private cabin at the Knik River Lodge (50% one night’s stay) and another Groupon for a helicopter tour of the nearby Knik Glacier (50% off a half-hour tour). I posted on facebook about it, and my friend Marlene asked if she could join me.

The funny part of that was that she was in Panama at the time! The world is so small… and yet so big, all at the same time.

Anyway, we coordinated our schedules and got our reservations all worked out – and last weekend we set out on our adventure.

The drive out there was just gorgeous. Alaska really is a spectacular place, even when you've been here as long as I have. You just never get tired of it.

We left my house about 10:00 and got to the lodge around 11:00 or so. Our check in time wasn't until 3:00, so we took off on foot to hike the trails nearby. The mosquitoes were horrendous, as they are everywhere this year – but we had plenty of bug dope, so didn't get too many bites. After our hike we still had a little bit of time to wait, so we lay out on their lawn and dozed off for a bit, watched the people come and go, and saw the helicopters come in & take off.

Eventually, we got settled in to our cabin – just in time to head on down to their dining hall, which was in a Yurt! Our meal was absolutely wonderful: I had the salmon, she had the halibut. After dinner, we sat out on our private deck with a bottle of wine and watched the scenery as the sun slowly set. Well, actually we didn't stay up late enough to see it go down – but it did get slightly dusky by the time we went to bed.

9:00 the next morning saw us bright eyed and bushy tailed at the helicopter pad, waiting for our tour. This was my first ever experience in a helicopter, and I had such a fantastic time.

Helicopters Rock!

Our pilot was a very nice guy; retired cop and long-time Alaskan. He was very proud of his helicopter and kept calling it “the Corvette” meaning that it was a very fine craft. He took us out to the glacier and landed on the ice so we could get out and walk around a bit. He even collected some ice water for us to drink, and explained the history of ice (how it forms, why it’s actually blue, that sort of stuff). Once we were in the air again, he took us over to Colony Glacier so we could see Lake George, then flew down near the mouth of the Knik River so we could see the ice bergs.

Sadly the tour ended, so we checked out of our cabin and headed on down the road to Palmer. We stopped a couple times along the way to see the sights and ended up at Vagabonds for lunch. I showed her around town, taking her to the visitor’s center, the Presbyterian Church, the Half Moon Creek Gallery, NonEssentials, Fireside Books, and the second hand store. And to top off our visit, we ended up at Mother’s house and got a tour of her gardens.

It really was a great weekend.

Whew – So Much Going On

I've been so bad at updating my blog lately; life just somehow gets away from you if you’re not paying attention, you know? So, here’s a short summary for you:

Hiring a Handyman
When he left me, he left a lot of things half-done – so I hired a handyman to finish up a few things around the house. I had the guy fix the fence that had blown down in that big wind storm last year, install the door handle onto my screen door, take out the broken-down dish washer and put in new flooring & a curtain rod so I could create a “recycling center” in my kitchen, install a new garbage disposal unit in my sink, and fix the trash compactor. The guy did a great job and was very reasonably priced, so I will definitely keep his contact information handy for future use. Maybe I can get him to paint the inside even?

Classes at Summit Spice & Tea
I had such fun with the other classes I took last year I went ahead and signed up for some more this year – I even talked my niece in to going with me to a couple of them! She and I have already gone to the Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar class and will soon be attending the Infused Oil & Vinegar class. For myself, I will be going to both the Tea & Chocolate Pairings and the Flavored Chocolate classes.

Hiking This Year
I've written out a rather aggressive schedule for myself this year, but I think it will be a fun one. I am not required to do them all, nor am I required to hike all the way to the end of each one – my list is more an inspiration. But, so far I’ve gone on the Coastal Trail, the Smokejumper’s Trail, Powerline Pass, The Dew Mound Trail, Thunderbird Falls, The Butte, and out at the Knik River Lodge. Still left to go on the list is Ptarmigan Lake, Bird Ridge, Lost Lake, Turnagain Arm Trail, Gold Mint Trail, Johnson Pass, Winner Creek, and Resurrection Pass.

A New Roof
I decided to replace the roof on my house this year, even though it’s not leaking just yet. It’s old (30+ years) though, so really it’s time for a new one – and it’s a lot cheaper to replace it now rather than wait for it to be an actual problem, if you know what I mean. So, with that in mind, I called a company I’ve worked with before and asked them for an estimate. I was rather shocked when their estimate came in at $20,000.00 for a new roof - so got estimates from five other companies, all of whom came in around the $6,000.00 mark. Quite obviously, I chose one of the later companies, and will not be using that first one ever again! Anyway, I put a deposit down and the guy said they’d be starting my roof in a couple weeks.

A New Driveway too?
My driveway is slowing sliding down the hill. It started out, about 10 years ago, being right up next to my garage – but today you can actually put your fist into the gap that is forming, it’s slid that much. So I called the company who did the driveway back when, and he came out to inspect it and see what could be done. He actually had some good news, for a change. Apparently there is a warranty on my driveway that is still in effect! He is crunching some numbers for me right now, but said that if it went the way he thought it would go, he’d actually end up paying ME to fix my driveway! How sweet is that?

Friends Coming to Visit
I was so excited to learn that my good friend Joanna would be in town this month. About 6 years ago, she and her husband relocated to Australia – and I've really missed her. Sadly, I ended up getting sick the weekend they were here. What horrible timing! I did manage to see her briefly, and got a hug even, but I would rather have been able to spend more time. Another good friend of mine will be visiting next month: Shelly comes in for the July 4th weekend. She’s actually going to stay with me for a few days, so we’ll get lots of time to reconnect. I’m so happy!

One Year Ago
It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year already: I had my Neck Surgery on June 22, 2012. I have healed up so well, with hardly a scar at all. I sent a Thank You card to my doctor even – with a picture of my neck so he could see for himself how good he is!

Shopping Spree

Once again this year, my insurance company offered up an incentive to participate in their wellness program: $150.00 debit card to spend on anything you want. I see no reason to turn down free money, so again took the tests they requested.

Honestly, I don’t see why the entire office doesn't do this: not only are the tests required fully covered by our insurance – all you have to pay is the $25 Office Visit Copay – but we would get a discount on our premiums if we got 100% participation! And you really do get that $150.00 debit card that you really can spend anywhere you like.

Last year, I went shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond for new bed linens. This year, I went online to and got myself some toys for my card making hobby:

     Sizzix Big Shot Cutting and Embossing Roller Style Die-Cut Machine
     Spellbinders Grand Shapeabilities Templates: Wonderful Wings
     Spellbinders Nestabilities Mega Dies: Labels
     Cuttlebug All-in-One Embossing Plates: Bloom & Grow

Yay! I’m so excited – I've wanted one of these for quite some time now, and the templates I chose will be so much fun to play with.

And by the way, if you'd like to receive one of my hand made cards in the mail - send me your mailing address!

I Won Again!

I was so excited about winning that last contest by radio station 102.1 The Peak (a pair of tickets to a Jazz show at the PAC) I went ahead and entered in their next contest = and won again!

This time I have two tickets for the Portage Glacier Cruise, good through September 15, on board the mv Ptarmigan. I looked it up on the internet and found that it will be an awesome trip. I plan on making a day of it, of course.

In late July or early August my friend Marlene and I will drive out there, taking our time to appreciate all the beautiful scenery along the way. We’ll take the cruise and have fun out on the water. We’ll eat a picnic lunch out of the back of our car. We’ll hike the trails nearby, possibly the Trail of Blue Ice or the Byron Glacier Trail. And on the way home, we’ll even stop in at the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center for a drive-through.