First off - last night just before 10:00 PM we had another earthquake. 5.4 on the Richter scale. Lasted for 10-15 seconds here. It was centered up by Denali about 82 miles deep. Wasn't anything like the 7.2 we had some time ago, but everything sure comes to a stop when it happens. Kinda freaky!
Over the last 2-3 weeks we have begun walking again. Anchorage has over 200 miles of bike/ski/walking paths all around and through the city. We started on them last year so we are looking for new sections that we haven't walked yet. During our walks we also do a little bird watching. (Which tends to break up the actual exercise, but you we're willing to make the sacrifice.) Although we are seeing/hearing more of the "little brown birds" these days, they are just too quick to get much in the way of pictures. Here are a few shots, of birds and the area, from our walks.
|Conner Lake - not far from the mission office. Just another one of the lakes, streams, lagoons, ponds, waterways or bogs within the city limits of Anchorage. I took this shot mostly for the colors in the picture.|
|A Spotted Sandpiper on the edge of Conner Lake.|
|A shot of the downtown area from Earthquake Park. The water is the Knik Arm of the Cook Inlet.|
|Earthquake Park is near the International Airport and the Lake Hood Floatplane Base. This is just one of the "birds" we saw while we were there.|
|A Black-capped Chickadee seen in the trees at the pond just down the street from our apartment.|
Last Sunday we went with the Mayhues down to Beluga Point on the Turnagain Arm to watch the bore tide come in. If you've never heard of a bore tide, and we certainly hadn't, it is a tide that enters a shallow, narrowing waterway. Instead of just gradually raising the level of the water, it tends to build up a "wall" of incoming water. They apparently can be quite tall, but the one we saw wasn't that much to see. If you go to this website you can see it better than our pictures would show (it was raining and windy) and there's good information about bore tides in general. http://www.alaska.org/advice/alaska-bore-tide. The video is really close to what we saw, including the turbulence and eddies near the shore. It was taken from a location near where we were.
For 20 years of so, every year, on the first Saturday in May, President LaVoie and his wife (who now both work in the mission office in addition to him being the 2nd Counselor in the mission) take an ATV trip from Palmer up to the Knik Glacier. It is about 25 miles in and 25 miles out and this year the LaVoies invited the other senior missionaries to go with them.
So, at about 9:00 AM on Saturday, May 7th we embarked on the adventure. Sister Taylor and Sister Lavoie weren't feeling well, so they missed out, but altogether there were ten of us from the mission who went plus some other members of the church that are part of this yearly excursion with the LaVoies. Pres. LaVoie led the way in his 6-wheel Ranger (with a couple of passengers) and the rest of us followed along on some rented ATVs. It was quite an experience. I was only sore for a couple of days afterward, but when I say sore, I mean every muscle in my body. Part of the ride was extremely bumpy where the ground had washboarded and was covered with large rocks. My phone has an app on it that shows how many steps I take in a day. It showed 18,669 steps!! That means I hit 18,669 bumps! Everyone who went also ended up very dirty from the dust and mud. Afterward we all went over to the LaVoies and had dinner. It was quite a day and quite an experience for someone like me who has never ridden an ATV!
|That light blue area to the left of center is the glacier. Unfortunately, this nice flat sandy area was only a small part of the trek. The rest of it was over rocks, through woods and through streams and mud holes.|
|As I was pretty busy trying to learn how to ride an ATV and keep up with everyone else, I didn't get the chance to take as many pictures as I would have liked. Here are a couple of the sights we saw along the way.|
|You can see the river of ice that is the Knik Glacier as it works its way down from the mountains to where it piles up along the berm we were stopped on.|
|Just to the left of the first picture.|
|And to the left once more.|
|A little closer picture of the ice field and mountains across the way. This would be a close up of the second photo above.|
|Yours truly caught by Elder Mayhue as I drove down the berm to the glacier. The thing you don't get from the picture is that the incline was very steep. (for the inexperienced) I felt like I was going to go over on my nose. Aaggghhh!|
|The group stopped for lunch at the glacier.|
|Our group - from left to right - Elder Taylor, the Saunders, the Mayhues, Pres. & Sister Lambertsen (1st Counselor), the Lunds and Pres. LaVoie. Note that Pres. LaVoie is the only one wearing waders.|
|On our way out, we worked our way around to the right where the Knik River flows from the Glacier down toward Palmer and the Knik Arm. We stopped to take a couple of pictures and saw these two airboats.|
On our way back out, the Mayhues and I got separated from the others in the group, somehow missed the rendezvous point and became a little lost. The trail we were on got worse and worse until we got one of our rigs stuck. (not mine!) Some more experienced and better equipped Alaskans came by, pulled us out and offered to let us follow them on to the trailhead/parking lot. Unfortunately, we got separated from them, too, before we got all the way out.
|The Mayhues, arriving a few minutes later.|
|The leader (and instigator) of the expedition, Pres. LaVoie. We all were about this dirty from the dust, etc., but Pres. LaVoie also LOVES mud puddles and the water. If you ride with him, or near him, you've got to be prepared!|
So... That's the name of that tune for now. We are looking forward to visiting Valdez this coming weekend, having Jonathon come visit us in a couple of weeks and having Ralph & Dixie visit us in June. More to come!!!