And why are they not frozen? Because their hearts are warmed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Welcome to our blog! We hope you enjoy our travels and dialogues as we journey to Anchorage Alaska for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sorry for the delay in putting up a new post.  You have to concentrate on the work sometimes.  As I indicated in the last post, the first of the last two weeks we spent most of our time traveling to/from and attending zone conferences.  While the conferences were all great, we had the most extra-curricular fun traveling to and from the Soldotna conference, down on the Kenai Peninsula.  We drove down with Elder & Sister Weston, another senior missionary couple from the office.  Elder Weston is our vehicle coordinator and Sister Weston is the mission secretary.  We had a great time visiting with them as we traveled back and forth.  (About a 2.5 hour drive each way.)  Here are a few shots of the day.

Lots of beautiful countryside - fields of wild fireweed everywhere.
(Okay. As far as I know it's all wild.)

Sister Taylor  and Sister Weston in the fireweed.

The two of us standing in a different patch of quite tall fireweed near a lake.  The folk lore is that when the fireweed has bloomed all the way to the top winter is only six weeks away.  As I write this, the fireweed has bloomed all the way to the top and is finished.  We shall see if the lore is accurate.

Most of the peninsula we passed through was either mountain pass or flat forested land with the occasional river/marsh thrown in.  On this marsh we spotted a pair of Trumpeter Swans and a Red-necked Grebe with it's young.
(Both are below)

Driving back to Anchorage, after leaving the peninsula and turning up the Turnagain Arm,
we were greeted by this view and a whole group of swans on the marsh along the roadside.

There were actually about 10 swans in this group.  Quite a sight.

The next week, my sister Claudia and her husband Wes came to town from their home in Missouri.  They stayed part of the week with his Aunt and Uncle and spent the weekend with us.  We had a great time showing them around Anchorage, some of the Mat-Su Valley, and Hatcher Pass.  Wes is a serious birder of long-standing, so Friday we spent our day together at Potter Marsh, Westchester Lagoon and several other spots along the way where we could go birdwatching.  With his help and expertise we were able to identify six new birds and add them to our list.

We spent the entire day on Saturday going to the Reindeer Farm in Palmer and driving the length of Hatcher Pass to Willow and then back home.  On Sunday they attended the Bush Branch with us and then we went by the Lake Hood Seaplane base and watched a few float planes take off and land.

Claudia and Wes at Alaska Wild Berry Products, home of the 20-ft chocolate waterfall.
Elder Taylor and his sister, Claudia, at our picnic lunch in Palmer
just prior to going to the Reindeer Farm and Hatcher Pass.

Claudia feeding the reindeer.

Wes feeding the reindeer.

Sister Taylor with a friend at the Reindeer Farm.
She tried to share the gospel with him but he wasn't very receptive.

Elder Taylor at the Little Susitna River in Hatcher Pass.

A wee friend we found at the Independence Gold Mine.  An Arctic Ground Squirrel.
One of many we saw as we drove over the pass.

Wes & Claudia at the entrance to the Water Tunnel, Independence Gold Mine.

One of the many, many gorgeous views of Hatcher Pass.

The famous wild blueberry that grows in Hatcher Pass and is harvested and coveted by many in this area of Alaska.

We stopped for ice cream on the way back to Anchorage.  This is Sister Taylor's new motto!

On Monday the four of us went to the Alaska Native Heritage Center.  In addition to a short program of dancing, we also were able to see a demonstration of Native Alaskan sport and tour some dwellings of the various different peoples.  It was really educational and fun as well.

A modern, yet traditional representation of the Raven, a prominent
figure in the culture and lore of the various Alaskan peoples.

Each dance was a story told by the various symbolic movements of the hands.

A story about a seal coming up for air, shaking his head and blinking his eyes to clear the water.

Ceremonial Mukluks worn by one of the dancers.

Ceremonial fans used by the dancers to add grace and emphasis to the hand movements.

The lead singer and drummer.  This man's home is on St. Lawrence Island.
He explained the dances and songs and told us how his people live.  

Below are two of the sport contests.  Both involved kicking a ball that was
suspended from different heights.

The various peoples of Alaska were represented by dwellings built around the Heritage Center's grounds.  This is a "Womens's House," of the Yupik/Cupik people, built mostly underground.

Claudia in a "Men's House," a communal living space.
This is a "Long House," built by the people of the southeast, around Juneau.  They are closely related to the Chinook and other peoples of the Pacific Northwest.  We felt almost at home around their totem poles and lodges, etc.

Claudia and Wes 

Sorry for the long dry spell.  Will try to get another post up soon.


  1. Wow... I miss you both so much .. So happy for this blessing in your lives .. Keep up the good work ..