G., S. and I then stopped by Kincaid Park to see if we could spot Denali (Mt. McKinley) – but even though the day was fairly clear, we couldn’t. The mountain you do see in the pictures is called the Sleeping Lady because it looks like … a sleeping lady.

The park (at the end of Raspberry Road) – has much wildlife, a chateau to rent out for weddings, a Nike missile site (well, what’s left of it) and an obviously great hill for rolling down on Sunday afternoons.

Not sure what the tents are for – but they sure look like they’re setting up for an Awana event – just saying.


Besides having lots of moose, Alaska has a lot of berries.

All kinds of berries.

Lowbush cranberries on Flattop.

Like low bush cranberries – unlike the bog-dependent cranberries I’m familiar with, low bush cranberries grow in the wild and are not cultivated. People do pick them, however, as were some people on Flattop Mountain that Sunday afternoon.

Highbush cranberries.

But Alaska also has high bush cranberries with the notable reputation of smelling like wet, dirty socks.

Alaska also has many plants that aren’t cranberries or any other kind of berries either, but they are pretty.


Flattop Mountain is beautiful – but one of the coolest aspects of the mountain is the view of the Cook Inlet, Turnagain and Knik Arms and the city of Anchorage. More than 40% of the people who live in Alaska live in Anchorage. (That’s approximately 295,000.)

Anchorage also has:

250 black bears, 60 brown bears and 2,400 Dall sheep (of which we saw none)

100 – 1,000 moose (depending on the season) of which I saw about nine and three ski jumps (which I didn’t use).


This is when posting pictures gets difficult because there are so many I like – not because I took them, but because anyway you looked the view was beyond magnificent. (Second thought – maybe it IS because I took them because actually taking them meant I had the privilege of BEING there.)

Most people come home from Alaska with pictures of snow and glaciers. I happened to be there during the fall color – which I’ve been told only lasts a short time each year. You blink and fall is over and winter has settled in.

In fact, “termination dust” was spotted while I was there. “Termination dust” is the name given the dusting of snow that appears on top of the mountains signifying the termination of summer.  People who live there know that within a couple weeks, it will be snowing in the valleys.

The trees themselves turn different shades of yellow and greens – the reds and oranges come from the ground cover, making the earth look like spilled watercolor. (The song: The mountains are His, the valleys are His, the skies are His handiwork, too – kept going through my mind.)

On Sunday afternoon we drove up to Flattop Mountain which is just east of Anchorage – in fact, the road on the way up wound through beautiful homes nestled in the hillside. Flattop is the most-climbed mountain in Alaska and is located in Chugach State Park.

AMC #1

After spending the night in North Pole, we headed to Denali Bible Chapel in Fairbanks the next morning for the AMC.

So on Friday I had a lot of firsts –  first time to Alaska, first time eating halibut stew, first time seeing Mount McKinley (very cool, I saw the peak above the clouds as we landed in Anchorage – but it was too cloudy to see it once on the ground).

On Saturday I had another first – FIRST TIME SEEING A MOOSE AND TWO CALVES on the way to a conference

Incidentally, Mount McKinley is also called (and preferably called) Denali or “The High One.”

Anyhow, I met a lot of great people at the conference, many who had moved there from other places – literally from around the world for their jobs such as those at Eielson Air Force Base. One lady I met (another discussion on salmon fishing) had recently moved with her family from Abu Dhabi.  She said Fairbanks was opposite in absolutely EVERY way. I can believe that.

After the conference we cleaned up and went out to eat and then headed for the airport to fly back to Anchorage – which was 10:20 their time and 1:20 in the morning my time. Being that I had basically been on a plane or teaching workshops for the past 30 hours – I was a little giddy.

Somehow the “no snow globes” security sign made me laugh and then everyone started laughing about it. I wanted to get my camera out, but it was buried too deep. (However, as a memory of the midnight plane ride, I was given a snow globe with a moose in it later in the week.)

We arrived back in Anchorage about 3:00 a.m. and once again I fell into bed.



We ate at the Chowder House where I discussed salmon fishing with a ministry team member – actually a subject I know a little about because of our proximity to Lake Michigan in Racine. Our neighbors fished for salmon all the time and once they reached their limit of preparing salmon for the season – they fished for us. But the salmon here is different (more on that later).

Anyhow although The Chowder House doesn’t look pretentious or anything, it has a lot of character and charm (and a lot of great reviews on the Web). I started out my first evening in Alaska by having a first for me: Halibut chowder – which was excellent and fit my “I-can’t-believe-I’m in Alaska” mood.

The time was getting late – at least for me – and this was becoming a 27-hour day, (Alaska is three hours behind us) and so we went to the house where we would be staying and I stayed in the teen boy’s room which had a wrestling mat for a carpet). Cool idea if you have a teen boy interested in wrestling.

I think it took me about two seconds to fall asleep.


One sunny afternoon more than a year ago, I was sitting at my desk working when the phone rang. I picked it up and said “hello,” only to be asked the question:

Did I want to do the Alaska conference?  Or maybe two Alaska conferences? And maybe stay there the in-between week?

I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska – one of the last two states on my never-have-been-there list. And the one I most wanted to visit. (Yes, even more than Hawaii.)

So earlier this month I got on Alaska Airlines and headed north. Approximately six hours later I arrived in Anchorage and then hurried to get on another plane that was heading three hundred miles further north to Fairbanks – where my hosts G and B were waiting for me. (J., another Awana co-worker, was also there to do the two conferences.)

We got in a borrowed van (G and B had also flown to Fairbanks from their home) and headed to North Pole – not THE North Pole, but North Pole, Alaska, which you can see from these pictures, might just be THE REAL North Pole.


Often people think John Deere built the first tractor – but tractors weren’t designed until the late 1800s, early 1900s.

What John Deere did do, is invent a plow with a polished steel blade that allowed midwestern dirt to slide off. (Midwestern clay dirt is different from New England sandy dirt.)

As more and more farmers clamored for their own plow, Deere realized he would need to move near the Mississippi River so that steel could more easily be delivered to him – so the Deere family left Grand Detour and headed for Quad Cities.

The “Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree” title refers to the poem I learned in sixth grade. I had to practice and practice and practice it to such an extent, I think my mom could recite it by osmosis.  The poem is about the village blacksmith.