Summer 2011 in Review: June

Visiting the Zemke Ranch in Montana

It was an awesome summer for our family. Every month was action packed with wholesome goodness family fun, and a whole lot of delicious baked goods! Let’s start off with June 2011.

We kicked off June with a visit from Laura’s sister Shari and her family. We visited Carkeek Park and enjoyed an evening BBQ. The following week Ethan spent a few days with his Grandma and Grandpa in Oregon. While he was away Laura, Autumn and I did a wonderful hike up to Barclay Lake in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. It was a beautiful family hike. When Ethan returned from Oregon, he  completed his first year of preschool with an outstanding celebration for all the kids. We enjoyed some DQ Blizzards in his honor. The following week we headed east to visit our friends Phil and Jessica and son Evan. We did a great hike in Cowiche Canyon near Yakima. Ethan finished up his first season of soccer. It wasn’t a competitive season but rather was spent on skill development. It was perfect for him.

Summer Vacation: Autumn stays warm.

The last week of June was the start of our Summer Family Vacation to Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks. We first stopped in Spokane, WA to visit Laura’s alma mater, Whitworth College. We next spent a few days at Glacier National Park where we camped, hiked, did a boat ride, and enjoyed the views. We then continued east to Billings, MT where Laura’s cousin Scottie and his family live in the area. We enjoyed the simple life where Ethan and his cousin rode horses and we got a tour of a wildland fire station. You can read about the entire vacation here on our site.

Indeed, it was a great month…and start to our vacation. I’m going to keep this pretty simple and just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Read about all of our June experiences here!


“That banana slug has antlers!”: A walk through St. Edward State Park

St. Edward State Park

“That banana slug has antlers!” Our little naturalist has a great view of the natural world and he calls it as he sees it. It’s our job to encourage his curiosity and his sense of wonder and if that means he sees antlers, then they’re…well, we’ll help him out and let him know that they’re actually antennae (or tentacles) and used to watch television. We just can’t lead him astray.

We spent last Sunday morning at St. Edward State Park in Kenmore. It’s a short drive from our house which made it convenient. We’d been traveling all week and didn’t feel like spending a lot of time in the car. The State Park is a former Catholic seminary and became a park in 1977. It’s primarily wooded and offers great hiking and mountain biking. Continue reading ““That banana slug has antlers!”: A walk through St. Edward State Park”

Happy Birthday to Me!

Kodiak Island (August 2011)

I’m 37 years old today. To put it simply, it’s been an awesome 37 years. My family is not with me today since I’m in Alaska but am truly thankful for their love and support. We’ll Skype this evening when I get to Anchorage. I’ve done a lot with my life that I’m extremely proud of and I look forward to all my future endeavors. Thank you for coming along for the ride.

I’m leaving, on a jet plane….to Kodiak, Alaska

Welcome to Kotzebue! We hope your flights aren't cancelled for weeks on end.

Alaska in August is what I’m talking about. Fire season has died down a bit. The sun is shining. Wildlife is roaming. Next week, I’m in Kodiak for two days for an earthquake training and meetings with the City. This will be followed up with meetings with the State of Alaska Emergency Management and the City of Wasilla (yes, that one) in the latter half of the week. This visit will be in complete contrast to my Alaska visit last February….I’m hoping.

I don’t recommend visiting Alaska in February unless you only plan to visit Anchorage. It’s cold and the weather is terribly unpredictable. I was there for FEMA meetings in Kotzebue (just north of the Artic Circle), Cordova, and Valdez (yes, that one). I only made it to Kotzebue where I was stuck for three days due to extreme weather.

Kotzebue, Alaska winds
The winds pick up in Kotzebue, Alaska

Originally I had only planned to be in Kotzebue for 8 hours. I took the early flight to make a 9am meeting. When late afternoon rolled in, flights were cancelled due to a weather front between Anchorage and Kotzebue. Over the next few days I spent most of time at the Bayside Inn and Restaurant where I checked our flight status and ate…a lot. The food was greasy, internet connection was working and, honestly, I didn’t really have another choice. I was staying at the Nullagvik Hotel next door (for the government discounted rate of $200/night) but there was no restaurant and the internet connection was down.

Chewbacca Lives in Anchorage!
Chewbacca Lives in Anchorage!

On my second night, I was almost taken out by aerial plywood. Myself and a guy with the State just finished dinner at the Bayside. The winds were seriously blowing outside but we thought we could make it to our hotel. As we passed the new Nullagvik Hotel being built in between the old Hullagivk and Bayside, plywood and insulation started ripping off the hotel and flying towards us. We hit the ground, waited for a clearing, and ran back to the Bayside. After telling our story to the Bayside employees, a couple of them went outside to verify. It says something when the locals are in shock and awe of the high intense the winds that were blowing. One of them gave us a ride in his truck to our hotel…100 yards away.

The next day the National Weather Service stated that last night’s storm was not a record storm for that area, but it was somewhere in the top 5 percent. That’s like saying we experienced a .00001% chance storm in the lower 48s. I’m just sayin’ it was intense and I was almost dismembered by flying plywood.

Upon returning back to Anchorage on Friday evening, I explored the City and Turnagain Arm until Sunday evening when I was due to fly to Valdez to make my Monday morning meeting. When I arrived at the airport, I was informed that flights to Valdez were cancelled all day Sunday. Later I was informed that flights to Valdez were cancelled all the next day. After seven days in Alaska I wasn’t about to hang around a few extra days to see if I could “make it” to Valdez. I grabbed the next flight home and landed around 3am in Seattle.

I took some video footage from my February visit to Kotzebue. I hope you enjoy them.

Kotzebue, Alaska Videos (February 2011)




Kotzebue, Alaska Photos (February 2011)


Heather Lake Hike in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Yum Yum Yum
Yum! Yum! Yum!

Did you grab the camera? Shoot, forgot it. Did you bring our iPod for the drive? Nope. Boy those kids are eating a lot on this drive to the trailhead. Do we have extra food? No. Ugh, my pants are too tight. Why didn’t I wear others?!? Hey, did you grab the Northwest Forest Pass before we left?  Uhhhhhhhhh, no. If this is how the drive was going, I couldn’t wait to see how the hike would turn out!

After a quick stop at the ranger station to see if we needed to buy a day pass (we didn’t), we made our way up the road to the Heather Lake Trailhead. We arrived at 10:15am and the lot was almost full. This is definitely a popular hike. Continue reading “Heather Lake Hike in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest”