Friday, June 29, 2007

Echo Lake

In typical Joel & Sarah fashion, we have overbooked ourselves a little this summer! This past week we went camping with our friends, Garrett & Jordan. It has become a summer tradition for us to go camping at least once with them. We had a great time at Echo Lake Campground. It is right at the base of Mount Evans. They still had some snow at the campground! It was a great escape from the heat in Denver. Joel had class on Wednesday night, so Garrett, Jordan & I went up early to set up the pop-up trailer (no more tent camping for me!).

We took the dogs for a long walk (they have 2 dogs--you can see Arya's cute face sticking out of the water on the left) and Haiku had her first real experience swimming in a lake! She L-O-V-E-D it. She is a true Labrador Retriever--she loves the water & she loves fetching just about anything!

We had a great time relaxing, enjoying nature, reading, spending time with friends, eating (Jordan plans the meals & did a great job!) and just being away from the busy-ness of life! I never thought I would really enjoy camping (especially because they like to go places without a shower), but I am really learning to enjoy the slower pace. Haiku had a great time, too. She came home and slept from about 1:00pm (after a good bath to clean her up!) on Friday to 8:00am on Saturday--straight through! We can't wait to go again!

Days 6 & 7

After departing from Ketchikan, our boat cruised down the coast of Alaska and Canada to Vancouver. We were on the open water for most of Friday and it was the first time Joel & felt really sick on the boat. We were able to see some orcas (killer whales) at one point, but we never saw any humpback whales. That was my only disappointment about the trip! We couldn't get any good pictures of the whales, but Joel did get this nice picture of a rainbow. It was a great end to our wonderful trip!

We left the boat on Saturday morning--about an hour later than we were supposed to. Mom & Dad's flight was late enough that they were able to take a bus tour of Vancouver. Both Aimee & Gary's & our flight were early enough we had to just go straight to the airport. By the time we arrived at the airport, Joel & I thought we would miss our flight for sure. We were so late! We had to drag our luggage from one end of the airport to the other to check in, then drag it back to the other end to get the line for Canadian customs, then drag it again to go through US customs. We ran to our gate only to find out it was delayed for 4 hours! We ended up leaving Canada about the time we were supposed to get home. But, we got home safely and were warmly welcomed by our puppy, Haiku. She had stayed at Grandma J's house (Joel's mom) for the week. She was SO excited to see us she didn't know what to do with herself!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Ketchikan was our third and final stop before heading on to Vancouver. Our excursion in Ketchikan was a 4x4 Jeep trip! All 6 of us ended up doing this one together, too. First we were taken to a small lake (it was very windy and wet), which we canoed across. I think Joel & I were the only ones paddling in our 16 passenger canoe. Or, maybe, we're just out of shape! They had baked salmon and hot clam chowder waiting for us.

Liking neither, I proceeded to eat the goldfish (native to Alaska, I've heard) only to find out from Joel later that one of the young children had been eating them out of the bowl with the same spoon I had used to dish them into my hand! I guess she had been eating them out of the bowl with her fingers and her mom told her to "use the spoon". So she did--and proceeded to eat the goldfish like cereal! yuck!

We then walked through the rain forest and saw lots of vegetation. I had pictured Alaska to be more barren--but it was just as if we were in a South American Jungle (except it was cold!). One of the large plants that they have is called skunk cabbage--because it smells like skunk! Here are some pictures of Joel being abducted by this alien plant!

After this fun stop, we paddled back to our Jeeps and set off for about 45 minutes of back country driving. Us being city-folk and all, we don't do this very often. Joel, Gary, Aimee & I all took turns driving our jeep. It was great fun--very messy & we didn't even have to wash the jeeps when we were done!

Here is a video that shows a little bit what it was like. My sister Aimee is driving, Joel is in the front seat & Gary & I are in the back seat. As you can tell a little from the video, we are all laughing and whopping it up!

By the time we got back in to town it was pouring down rain. We did a little walking around town. Part of the town is built on stilts over a stream (picture below). In a few weeks, the stream will be filled with thousands of salmon traveling upstream to spawn. We walked through town to a salmon fish hatchery. They release fish into the rivers to help keep the fish population growing. Very interesting.
Then it was on to do a little more shopping in town and back to the boat to dry off!

Great Views

After the Zip Line Extravaganza, my mom, dad, Joel & I rode up the gondola in Juneau. The views were spectacular! We saw lots of bald eagles flying around--they are magnificent birds. At the top, there is also an eagle living in captivity because it was injured and unable to live on its own. We enjoyed the view from the top of the world--our boat looks so small!

A little bit of interesting history about our national symbol...
(taken from

As some of you may know, Benjamin Franklin didn't necessarily agree with the choice of the bald eagle as our national symbol. Prior to it being accepted as such, he suggested other animals such as the rattlesnake for our "temper and conduct of America". Other suggestions included an action scene with Moses and Pharaoh, a two-headed eagle, a rooster, a dove, and a "phoenix in flames". In the end, a picture of the bald eagle was submitted by Charles Thomson and approved on June 20, 1782.

In 1784, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter about this choice. An excerpt is below.

"For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

"With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country . . .

"I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."

Zip Line Extravaganza!

Way back in February, when we were booking our cruise, there was much discussion among my family members about what excursions we would do in each city we visited. We decided we wanted to do at least 1 together. How we all decided to do this particular one, I can't quite remember.

Our excursion in Juneau began on a cool, wet, Wednesday morning with a short van ride to a boat dock about 5 minutes away from town. The landing was near part of an old gold mine--just a rusted out old building now. Then we stepped onto a boat that fit about 15 people. It was a great boat ride--fast & furious--across the way to another landing dock. Well, this dock was really just the beach--they just run the boat right up onto land. We disembarked and walked up to a small cabin to get our gear.

If you've known either my sister or me for any length of time, you know that we tend to giggle when we get nervous. Aimee is famous for it on ski slopes when she's going a little too fast or feeling a bit out of control. I tend to do it a lot at amusement parks before, during and after rides. Keep the giggling sound in the back of your mind as you read on. Just remember, we paid money for this trip!

The guides began handing out our harnesses--both for around the waist and over the shoulders--a chest harness. Once we were strapped in, we received our helmet & leather gloves. We were taken by an ATV-type vehicle (it sat 6 in the back and 2 in the front) up the hill. And by hill, I mean, practically straight up the hill! All of the activities lead up to this moment were worth the money! But the real adventure was just beginning!

What we had actually paid for was the 1 mile long path of 9 zip lines and 2 suspended bridges 100-200 feet above the ground, swinging through the trees! There was much giggling as the fun began. (Well, some people thought it was fun!) How we decided to do this adventure, I'm not sure!

We spent the next 2 hours laughing, jumping from trees, and squealing with delight. The zip lines take you through the Alaskan rain forest and over an entire area of abandoned gold mines. You go racing through all of this beautiful scenery at about 25-35 miles per hour! At the end, you have to fling yourself off of a platform about 50 feet off the ground to repel down to the solid earth. That was the scariest part, but all of us wanted to do it again!

In the end we all had a great time, and would do it again, right Aimee?

Here are some pictures form this grand adventure! I've heard they have these same zip lines in Costa Rica. Family vacation anyone?

Alaska Bound

After many years of talking about it, then planning for months, my family finally went on our Alaskan Cruise! Joel and I were really grateful for the timing because we needed a break from working on our house. Plus, it ended up being in the 95 range here in Denver, too! It was H-O-T! (We know because our grass is completely brown!)

Joel and I left early on Saturday morning and arrived in Anchorage around 2:30. We met up with my family and loaded on a bus for a 45 minute drive to Whittier. On the way, we made a stop at a Conservation/Nature Center. They had all sorts of animals: brown bear, coyotes, fox, owls, moose, muskox (a very strange animal!) and black bear. Joel got some really cool pictures of the bear.

Then it was on to our ship--the Diamond Princess. It really is amazing how large the cruise ships are!

Then we were off! We had 2 days of sailing through beautiful fjords and then through Glacier Bay. We sat for about an hour or so outside watching the glacier drop off pieces into the water. It was COLD! Here's me with my nice warm blanket!

You have to stay about 1/4 to 1/2 a mile away from the side of the glacier because when the ice drops, it makes large waves in the water. It was incredible! The pictures don't even show the magnitude of the glacier! You can see some of the ice falling into the water in this picture.

Our first day in port was in the town of Skagway. For all of you literature fans, this is the town mentioned in a couple of Jack London's books. It is also the town where many of the people came through during the Gold Rush of 1898. Joel and I splurged on a fantastic helicopter ride. It was his birthday, so it was a great gift! We ended up getting to sit in the front seat (I asked the pilot "Can we play the 'what's this button do? game! He said "no"). We flew for about 20 minutes and then landed on a glacier. We were there for about 20 minutes and then flew back. It was incredible! Joel even drank some of the cold, refreshing glacier water! Flying in a helicopter was on both Joel and my lists of things to do in our lifetime. Definitely worth it! Here is us in the helicopter & a picture of the beautiful scenery!

My mom, sister, Joel & I then rented bikes and went out to an old cemetery and water fall at the end of town. We met up for lunch--yummy pizza. Then Joel and I hit the hot tubs on the ship. It was a great birthday for Joel, indeed! (much better than last year--we had a toilet installed!)

That evening we were off to Juneau. Our events in Juneau deserve their own blog entry, so I'll save that for another day!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ta da!

For all you out of towners who have been waiting for pictures of the laminate, here it is! It is taking longer than we thought it would, so there isn't much installed yet...but at least you get the idea. We LOVE it & can't wait for this project to be done! I took a picture of the kitchen, too. The stove is in the living room. The blue stuff you see is the mat that goes down on the floor as padding...

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Our 2 major projects for the summer are to get the laminate flooring done & to start working on landscaping the front yard. As you can see from my previous blog, we're well on our way with goal #2. Yesterday, in the midst of working on the floor, our neighbor, Scott, came over to help us remove a dead tree in our front yard. Here are some pictures of us taking it down. Well, really, our neighbor taking it down & us watching! It was a bit mess because when it came down, it just shattered in the street because it was so dry! We now have plenty of firewood for next fall!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

What a Mess!

Our house is officially a wreck! And, I'm not just talking a few dirty dishes or a little dust! I am talking a certified wreck! On Monday we moved all of the furniture from our family room, dining room, living room & hallway into the guest bedroom & garage. Then, we began the overwhelming task of ripping out 25+ year old carpet! WOW! What a mess AND it takes a long time!

We will be replacing the carpet in all of these rooms, plus the kitchen with laminate flooring. I think it will be an instant update to the house & a nice "renovation" for us! It's our major project for the summer. We are also replacing all of the baseboards.

If you have a free hour or two and want to stop by and help, just come on over!

Forget the bone...

...I'll take the squirrel! Haiku has entered chewing phase #2. Someone told us she might go through it again during month #9. And, here we are! Thankfully she hasn't chewed our stuff...but, I did have to go and get her some new toys. So, I got her this great squirrel. She has attacked it day and night for the last 24 hours. It has a squeaker in it, so that makes it even funnier. A dog after my dad's own heart. :) Now, if it were only real...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I Surivived!

And by survived, I really mean it. It wasn't pretty, but I made it! On Memorial Day, my friend Janelle & I walked the Bolder Boulder (a local 10K race). Neither of us had really trained for it, but it was really fun! A bunch of other other friends ran it, so that is my goal for next year! I just couldn't manage with my broken toe (it's finally better)! Joel & some of his guy friends are going to run, too.

It was a great day & we had lots of fun. You finish the race in the University of Colorado football stadium. It's pretty cool to walk in & every one is cheering. They also have a ceremony following the race at 11:00am. They had parachuters jump into the stadium with each of the Armed Services flags followed by the USA flag while they play the National Anthem. Pretty cool. Then they had a fly over of F-15s or something during the song, too. I had goose bumps. So cool. They had a speaker from the Korean War, too. Following the race, some of our friends came over for a BBQ on our back deck. Lots of fun!! Come join us next year! (it's every Memorial Day!)

Green Thumb #2

It's "done"! I say "done" but I know the real work is just beginning! But, for me, the hardest work is done & I love the way my new garden looks. The other day we were sitting in the living room with some friends & the windows were open. There was a slight breeze that brought in a fresh aroma from the garden.

I planted all perennials (with the exception of some free snapdragons--they are my favorite). I only had two plants die--phlox, I think. They weren't very healthy when I bought them. My neighbor (who is an expert gardener) says that you aren't a real gardener unless you kill about 30% of your plants--so I'm feeling ok about it! I love having something to take care of & we've had TONS of rain, so that's made it lots easier!

I can't wait until we get the bushes/trees/weeds out of the other parts of the yard so I can keep trying my hand at gardening! I think my next endeavor will be with bushes/shrubs! Oh, and my new favorite thing is---mulch!! It looks so nice & is cheap & easy! How did I not know about this before??