Wednesday, December 2, 2015

hey there...i'm still here.

"  The Mountains are calling and I must go."- John Muir.

The quote I have lived by since April.  It has been a while since my fingers felt this familiar twinge of guilt from not typing up my latest adventures up here in the last frontier.  Last time I updated; what few people actually read this blog; I was working at the Alaska Zoo.  I had a great summer working as the Assistant Camp Coordinator there and had a wonderful group of people to work with.
 However one thing has always held my heart here in Alaska.  G.I.R.D.W.O.O.D.

I wasn't entirely thrilled on the idea of driving this winter to work on the Seward Highway; which by the way is the most dangerous highway in North America.

I felt as if fate stepped in and finally placed me where I belong.....right smack in the heart of Girdwood, AK.  I now work part time as a housekeeper through Glacier City Reality.
Simply put I clean private homes, condo rentals, and move outs for 3 days out of the week.
Ok enough said on that job. Self explanatory....  Moving on.  IT PAYS THE RENT.

My passion is working for Four Valleys Community Schools.  AKA -FVCS.
I am the Assistant Program Coordinator.  What is that?  Ok here goes the explanation then I will never type this long job description up again....

Girdwood- 45 minutes from Anchorage.  This means we don't have a shopping mall, movie theatre, sports complex, an actual grocery store (the mercantile in Girdwood doesn't really count)..... etc.
My job is to bring recreational, educational, and cultural programs to Girdwood.  I plan sports events, art classes, educational classes, and all kinds of classes really for our community.  The possibilities are endless for my job.

click here to see who I work for.

I have been living in Alaska for nearly 5 years now and I finally feel like I am where I belong.  Sure I have had great jobs working with animals on movie sets, training bears, bottle feeding musk ox calves,  getting chased around by moose and all kinds of fun things playing with animals.....However I also missed out on my personal goals.  I am still growing in both my personal interests and learning all kinds of things about myself.  Simply put I had no life out side of work.  I ate my feelings these last few years, was out of shape, tired all the time, and very stressed out!  Now I am back on track, healthier habits, establishing new goals, and becoming a better person.

Ok hopefully this explained a bit why I was gone for so long.  I had to clean my life up a bit these past few months.  I shed a few unhealthy pounds from work related stress,  got outside, and became the old Erin again.  I will get back on track writing blogs.
Just to inform anyone that actually reads this- stay tuned for new adventures, new recipes(vegan/vegetarian baking), and a new year.

cheers and Goodnight lower 48,

Erin and Zelda.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mountains,quills, and sleeping goats

What a week!  

The weather up here seems to be making up for how terrible it was this winter.  We have had such amazing, sunshine filled days that I haven't posted a blog in nearly a month for a reason.  It has simply been to gorgeous to stay on a computer longer than 15 minutes.   

         Zelda and I have had so many adventures.

We hiked bird ridge last week.

Hiking Distance: 2.5 miles one way Elevation Gain: 3400 feet Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Zelda and I had our first multi-day hiking/camping trip with Caines Head trail.

on a Friday night we drove to Seward,AK (with other friends) and hiked the 2 miles into our first spot for the evening.
The next morning (saturday) we hiked out with a beautiful sunrise to find our next nights's camping spot another 2.5 miles away.

A beautiful waterfall Jeremy, Kevin, and I posed in front of along the the walk to the final camping spot.

Hooray! the next camping spot.
Caines head trail is most noted for the historical army barracks you can see along the trails.

This area of the land actually sank about 10 ft. during the 1964 earthquake.

Hiking along the trail you will find a few monuments to the men who served in this part of Alaska.......
This monument notes:
The 250th and 267th Coast Artillery
"To all the Men who bravely fought the unpredictable and unseen foes of cold and dark isolation, severe weather, impenetrable wilderness and relentless seas all the while defending this country's precious freedom......."

The inside of Fort McGilvray.......a weapons room?

seems a bit creepy....

Once arriving at the Fort McGilvray site; we were overlooking Resurrection Bay.

                                                                         WORTH IT.

 at the top of Wolverine Peak.
Distance: 4.7 miles Elevation Gain: 3500 feet Difficulty: Moderate

We feel good after a long hike.

When I wasn't on an adventure with Zelda; I was learning some pretty cool things at The AK Zoo.  We made homemade paper out of the scrap construction paper cuttings.  It was so much fun!  First we took the left over colors we wanted from our scrap bin.  Then we threw them in a blender and soaked in water for a minute or 2 before blending to one delicious looking construction paper smoothie.  Then we poured over a filter in a nice filled in square.  Once sponging the excess water out; we allowed to dry for 24-48 hours.  Then we simply stenciled on a heart and cut them out. But wait!  What's the point of these?

If you look closely notice the bird seed in the paper?  Kids can actually take these home and plant them in their garden as is!

The reason for making the homemade plantable paper was for our upcoming event...."International Migratory bird Day"  this event focuses on issues such as: how important bird habitats are to our environment, how to properly care for a pet bird, live bird presentations, and so much more!

This fellow posing below was representing The Alaska Bird Club.


Bird Treatment and Learning Center was also doing live bird presentations.  Below is a Great Gray Owl.

We even had a guest making appearances throughout the zoo....
No it wasn't me and yes I have already worn this costume.  (topic for another blog)

One of my favorite birds (Peregrine Falcon) was also brought in by Bird TLC.

Of course Kodi the cashing crow has to make an appearance.....
                  One of my favorite volunteers, Mrs. Sharon, was presenting a Short Eared Owl.

Between hiking, making homemade paper, and International Migratory Bird Day.....oh wait almost forgot....

look closely.....

notice anything that shouldn't be there......

Zelda finally met a cousin of Snickers the porcupine.  It wasn't nearly as excited to see Zelda as she was to meet it.

Even the goats were exhausted after this long week.......

Ok so between hiking, making homemade paper, international migratory bird day, and porcupine quills; this past few weeks were so fun and exciting!!!!!

Ready for the summer camps to start at the zoo!

Goodnight lower 48,

Friday, April 24, 2015

Belugas and Bore tides

As I'm driving down the Seward highway listening to Milky Chance pandora station; I look to my left and see the amazing boretide coming in.  The bore tide wasn't the only thing arriving in the Turnagain Arm; soon following was the famous Cook Inlet Belugas.   No mom I didn't take a picture I was driving....

For more info. on our local Cook Inlet Beluga population check these sites out:

Now that things seem to be feeling more routine I feel it is time to catch you up........

I must admit it has been a bit of a transition going from riding four wheelers, playing with fox, getting chased by musk ox calves to driving an hour to work and not getting nearly as many animal encounters.

However,  I also get to hear wolves howling, coyotes yipping, watching polar bear swim, and working with a great education Team at the AK Zoo!  I learn so much every day!  I am probably annoying my friends with all my new animal facts.

I snapped some quick photos with my phone nearly 2 weeks ago when the animals were getting their new enrichment.

Enrichment is providing anything stimulating to an animal's environment that causes them to act as their wild counterparts, enhances the enclosure, and simply to cause the animal to think.

We give enrichment to our pets at home.  For example, bones to chew on, training our dogs, playing fetch, cat nip for the cats (and dogs if their name is Zelda), etc.....
The possibilities are endless.

Anyways; here are a few pics of the Amur tigers getting their new plastic (Tiger proof) toy.
Meet Kunali and Korol.  These are 2 brother Amur Tigers.  They represent their species and help educate guests about Tiger conservation.

Here these two lovely gentleman had just been let out of their den and are approaching their new enrichment.

 It seemed that the flatter toy proved to be more thought provoking than the red tubed toy.
They each took turns trying to pick it up in their mouth.

I am still learning how to tell them apart so pardon the lack of identification at the moment.

One of the brothers quickly chose the red tubed toy and went and found a nice place to lay and enjoy playing with it.

Meanwhile back at the flat toy......


how do I pick it up........

Maybe if I swat at it....

          Now I will stand on it.
                 I own you toy.
                  You are mine.

This strange looking blue concoction is also another form of enrichment that I got to make for the Polar Bears!

It is simply water with fruits topped with 2-3 drops of blue food dye.  This makes for 1 fun looking bear popsicle.

Again things like this make it more interesting for animals in captivity to get their food.  It causes them to think
"How can I get to that".
People need the same thing.  Imagine eating the same food every day, same time, and same way for your entire life!  Not enjoyable right? Well, same for animals.
Meet another new animal I get to learn about:  
Nickoli (spelling is probably not correct; actually I am certain that it is wrong)  the Snow Leopard.  
He is approaching his new toy as well.  

"I bet I haven't marked that yet?"

                                                                Just a little closer......
                                                                    Woah! It moved!

Ok one of the newest things I am still getting used to is watching marine animals right outside the offices.  Lyutyik- literally jumped into his pool as we were standing and talking.

 My turn for enrichment.

Once June gets here summer camps will pick up.  So in the meantime I am planning all the camps for the summer that I Was assigned.  I get to pick out, create, and learn new crafts that teach kids about animals!  How cool is that!
I hate to say it but Pinterest is sort of my best friend right now....

I had to have a sample of one of my crafts to show.
Yeah, I know it isn't Jade but this will have to do.....

It was really fun thinking how Jade looked when I was making this craft.

Can you tell I miss Snickers?


(Disclaimer:  This puppet is Snickers approved & No prickly porcupine were harmed in the making   of this puppet.)

With that being all said,
prickly porcupine and musky oxen,

Goodnight lower 48,
Erin and Zelda (her "looking stoic" look)