Alaska Photos Don’t Look Good From The Car….Pull Over Please

(Answer to question: All of the Above)

Anyone who travels on the road system in this country’s largest state gets accustomed throughout the year to small delays involving wildlife on the road. It’s what happens when people, with their cars live with moose, caribou, and the many other animals of Alaska. However, during the warmer months, when the tourists and newcomers start to arrive, traffic tends to slow down even more. That is when the animals have come out from their winter hiding places and the cameras have come out to record the animals. Many times this involves pictures being taken by people on the highway.

The easiest pictures to get are the eagles and the moose. Believe me, newcomers and visitors to Alaska, these two wonderfully photogenic creatures are everywhere. Trust me. This is just a guess. But, I bet there are more moose born each year in Alaska than humans. You will see a moose that you can photograph. You don’t have to get out of your car in the middle of the intersection at 5 p.m. on a Friday afternoon in the middle of summer to take a photo of the moose that just crossed the road in front of your car. There will be another moose. Don’t worry. As for eagles, they love their fish. Just go to the beach and sit with the seagulls. An eagle will usually fly by during the day. Just keep your camera equipment covered up. Seagulls are messy creatures. Disney or another producer of animated films could make a fortune with an animated film about talking seagulls with digestive problems who want to get back at humans.

Here is another FYI for any newcomers. Black bear tend to eat berries. Brown bear tend to like fish. If you want brown bear photos, go to the river when the salmon are running in the summer. If you want black bear photos check out the state and national park sites for berry picking seasons. Just don’t go berry picking in the parks without a little bear protection that you know how to safely use. The same advice works for the rivers and lakes, too.

The state has spent millions of dollars constructing free scenic turnouts for the amatuer photographer and professional photographer. It would be nice if photographers would use them periodically, instead of slowing down on the highway to take photographs. That simply causes road rage for the drivers only wanting to drive. If you’re new to Alaska, here’s a suggestion. Get a Milepost booklet, and plan scenery trips during the summer and winter at your convenience. A person can learn more about Milepost at any City Chamber website or Visitor Center.

These are just a few quick tips to make any sightseeing and photography excursions, safe, fun, relaxing, enjoyable for everyone, and, most of all, free from any controversy. Have a good one and a safe one.

Alaska: A Way to Escape from the Lower 48

Alaska is the lone conservative state in the United States that is on the west coast. Its neighbors to the south, Washington, Oregon, and California, have become states that support government programs, assistance and regulations. This transformation in recent decades has created an increase in Alaska’s population. People wanting to migrate away from various issues in the Lower 48, have chosen Alaska as their new home.

So, what have been some of these issues? One person told me he moved his family to Alaska, because the land he wanted to buy in his home state in the Rocky Mountains had become too expensive. So, he built his family’s log cabin a little further north than planned. He avoided the taxes, building codes, zoning ordinances, etc…. of the lower 48. He built a log cabin made from his own lumber; and, it still stands today.

Another person told me his family took a job in “The Last Frontier” because of the fishing and hunting. Regulations created in his area made it difficult to enjoy these hobbies. His family hunts for moose in the fall and fishes the rivers and lakes during the salmon runs in the summer. His family enjoys salmon throughout the year, along with frozen moose meat that has virtually no fat on it. Although the regulations can be confusing in the state, with some patience the fishing and hunting can be successful.

Another person I met up here was from the Michigan area. His family was already adjusted to cold weather and snow. However, he took a job in Alaska that would get his family closer to the ocean. After a few years of living here, they began a commercial fishing operation with their family. Commercial salmon fishing on the west coast has nearly disappeared due to salmon farms.

The list gets longer and longer for all of the people who migrated from the Lower 48 to the Last Frontier to continue enjoying some of the activities they had performed in the past. A past that saw less regulations, laws and restrictions on human inter-action with wildlife.

In the lower 48, the wildlife…..more and more….are being micro-managed in parks. In Alaska, everyone shares the land with the wildlife, just like we did decades ago across the entire country.

That’s what keeps many here in the Last Frontier. People can walk outside their home, and look up in the sky as an eagle flies. Near the coast, those fortunate enough to be near the sea, get to hear migrating whales as they make another journey to the north. Then, there is the annual migration of birds of all kinds. They live here every summer and leave just before the fall.

For many visitors, Alaska seems to be the state that’s frozen in time. The Wi-Fi sometimes can be slow. There aren’t as many roads. And moose, bear and caribou get to cross the road first.

One Item Usually Found Only in Alaska

Each of the fifty states in the USA has its own identity that sets it apart from the other forty-nine. Alaska, the Last Frontier, is no different. For everyone who has lived in this state, nothing comes as a surprise. We have seen many odd things happen in the nation’s largest state. But, what is really fun to see is the newcomer being introduced to Alaska like the rest of us were many years ago, especially to the world of tires.

Studded tires to some Alaska drivers are a necessity. To those who don’t drive and get tired of seeing so many tires around this state, studded tires are a nuisance. They are only used in the winter months.

In the lower 48, people use chains on their tires, or they use snow tires, or all-season tires. What do a lot of Alaskans get for the winter monthes? They are called studded tires. Yes, tires with metal studs to better grip the hard ice on the road to improve traction. These are not cheap tires. You have to pay for those pieces of metal in those tires, and you get ticketed for keeping them on into the summer months. That’s because, just like chains, the studs damage the pavement.

So, what do drivers do at the end of winter? When studs first came out, motorists were expected to have eight tires. Four studded tires would be for the winter. The other four tires would be for the summer. But, almost all Alaskans are penny pinchers. “What…buy new tires without studs? Nope.” Alaskans started taking the studs out for the summer months. Then, when winter would come, it would be time to buy four more studded tires. You can’t put studs back in the old tires.

Years have now passed. So, all of the people in Alaska now have old tires in their backyards being used for planters in gardens, as tree swings, and stairs. Others are still trying to come up with more things to do with all of their old tires. Then, there are those who will sell almost anything for any price, including that very popular price of “$1….just come pick it up.”

So, what do people do who buy these worn out studded tires? These are the drivers with the 20-year-old cars, that have 200,000 miles on them, and worn out tires that were bought for $1 apiece. These cars can usually be found abandoned on the side of the highway in the winter after having a couple of flat tires. Welcome to wintertime in Alaska!

Healthy Snacks To Try Between Meals

Whether I am on the go, or working around the home, I am always taking a quick break to fill up with some food for a little energy. One snack that I really enjoy has always been raisins. They hit the spot when mixed in with some nuts for a quick energy boost. Other types of nuts to try for the health benefits include: unsalted peanuts, brazil nuts, walnuts and pecans. Watch the numbers, though. Some are high in calories.

Another healthy snack is any homemade trail mix that omits the sweet milk chocolate. Instead, go with dark baking chocolate that is not sweetened if a chocolate fix is needed in the mix. It isn’t as damaging. Other items to try in the mix include nuts for protein, cranberries, raisins and sunflower seeds.

Another quick energy boost is two pieces of whole wheat bread with a little bit of honey and nuts in the middle. Don’t use white bread. Make sure it is whole wheat. If you want this to be a warm snack, stick it in the microwave for a few seconds.

Fruit has always been a great snack for me. I try to get at least 4 servings a day, if not more. I usually start with breakfast. Apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, and pears all are great snacks in my book. Blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries are also good snacks. For the berries, sometimes it is best to go frozen. Make certain there has been no sugar added to the frozen fruit to help with taste. I always grab honeycrisp apples when they go on sale. Bananas usually have to be eaten pretty quick in my neck of the woods. Our selection of oranges also is not very good, either. But, it is still a good snack when you can get it.

Enjoy the rest of your week. Take a few breaks when you can. And, energize your body with some water and food from time to time. Have a good one.

It Isn’t About Dieting. It’s about Eating Healthy.

With this new year comes the usual talk about diets. It’s time to diet because it is January. Well, if you want to live the rest of your life on a diet, I guess you should listen to the people selling those fad diets, low-calorie meals, and promises.

But, the truth is anyone will lose weight after they eliminate processed food, sugar, salt, fast-food, restaurant food, sugary drinks, and grocery store desserts and candy from their diet. All this food does to the body is destroy it. Think of it this way. What does your cat eat. Does his system handle the catfood pretty well? After you eat all of the food I listed above, what might happen to your system? I think the cat has a better diet.

Go back in time…..when many people were skinny. It was because they walked more. They had to walk to the bus, the train, their wagon, to get to work. How often are people sitting down in a chair or couch in a western movie or a photo from the 1800’s. What did these people eat? It wasn’t fast-food that’s for sure. What did they drink? I would guess tea, coffee, alcohol, or water.

When I started losing weight, I first eliminated what I knew caused my weight gain. I got rid of doughnuts in the morning. Then, I got rid of my cappuccino, and went back to straight coffee. When I had to eat away from home, I chose salads. I stopped my attraction to soda pop. I started drinking more water and tea. Then, my sugar fix became fruit instead of candy and sweets.

No, it wasn’t that easy. It took several years. It took a commitment and a determination that I would return to my college-time weight. With exercise everyday, a completely different menu for the food I eat daily, and by finding ways to stay busy, the weight has stayed off, so far.

For those who struggle with this issue…here’s two words: Stay positive!

January is Definately Winter Time

Now that the holidays have passed, its time for those cold winter months of January and February. It’s time to avoid those bitter cold days of winter by staying warm by the fireplace or stove inside. This is always my reading time.

However, sitting for too long is bad for your bones. So, the physical therapists and others say to get up for a few minutes before an hour passes. Here are some tips to help achieve that exercise time.

It’s Saturday morning. You have dishes to do. The dishwasher is running with yesterday’s dishes. So, you still have some more to do. But, you don’t want to use all of the hot water. Guess what you can do. Make hot water by heating it up in a pan. Then, pour the warm to hot water in your sink. Put some of the dirty dishes in the water to soak with some dishwashing soap for about an hour. That will make the cleaning easier.

While you are up, check the laundry. Do any clothes need put away or put in the dryer. Check the hamper. If the washer is empty, do some laundry that can be washed in cold water.

Do you have pets? Check their food and water. Just like humans, animals need quite a bit of water, too.

These are just a few of the many things that could be part of a “TO DO” list that a person can make to keep those bones active from time to time. It does help.

Other ideas that help with staying active include:

1) Don’t use the living room area as the dining room area.

2) Put all magazines and books in shelves that are away from the seats.

3) Take all dishes and glasses back to the kitchen sink area.

4) Put dirty clothes hampers or bags in every bedroom, and use them.

5) Put a broom in every room; and, teach everyone how to sweep.

6) Pick up your trash.

7) In this age of home deliveries, get a container for cardboard. Break the cardboard down everyday.

8) If you have kids, work with them on “Pick Up, Clean Up.” There are plenty of resources like PBSKids, Sesame Street, etc…. to help them learn.

9) Shoe racks and shoe warmers are great for the cold states. If you get snow in the winter time, you will want them.

These are just a few ideas to help someone stay active during the cold months, and still get in some exercise.

Ways to De-Winterize

For some of us in this world, the winter season after the holidays can be a long period. Where I live everyday, I have to bring in some extra light to help with short days. That is also true for most of the people around me.

Another big negative to winter is staying inside on the couch too much. During winter, just like the summer, everyone must get out and about. One of my greatest exercises is shoveling a little snow every day. Another option is to take a walk with a friend or your dog. Just get up and get out there! Your bones and muscles will thank you.

Then there is the d-word…….depression. I am not an expert on this one. I just know what others say. People need to talk about their feelings to other people. Find a friend, find religion that is comfortable for you, find a companion, find a pet, find a hobby, and then start finding positives to replace the negatives. Remember….you are in control of you……..

Another way to “de-winterize” is to leave the cold by taking a winter vacation. If you go to a warm spot for a week, or two, winter just got shorter. But this usually only works for people who don’t have school-age kids.

Whatever you do to make the next few monthes shorter, have fun doing it. April isn’t far away. And, soon, it will be May.