Late Bloomers

Our garden has been a true testament to the mostly dismal summer we’ve been having. Plants that are typically mid-June bloomers have just started to show their true colors this past week.

I’m just thankful they finally decided to bloom so we can enjoy their beauty for the remainder of our short summer.

Dog Jog

Anchorage’s 18th annual Friends of Pets Dog Jog took place yesterday.  And while Pongo is not quite ready to participate in the Dog Jog, I truly believe some day I will be running the trails with my sweet Cattle Dog pal by my side.

To get in some exercise before Steve and I stuffed ourselves at Kincaid Grill, an early anniversary celebration in case Steve is out of town on our true anniversary date: August 1st, Pongo and I decided to do our own Dog Jog yesterday…Pongo style.

Come Rain or Come Shine

Last Wednesday, we packed up our Airstream and a 28 foot RV rental and headed down to the Kenai with my parents and Uncle in hopes of finding some sun and some fish.  I had this trip planned out months ago: we would spend two nights at the Russian River, two nights in Kasilof and one night at Williwaw campground.

I have always avoided the Russian River Campground because of the crazy stories you hear about the bears.  They haze people fishing in hopes of a free meal and are often seen roaming the campground.  That’s a little too close for comfort for me but we decided to take the plunge, along with lots of bear spray, and give the campground a try. The last time I was there, 16 years ago, it was gravel roads and pretty primitive camping. We were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the campground was and all the improvements they have made: asphalt campsites, nice restroom facilities, bear-proof food containers at every site, and a beautiful boardwalk down by the river that had numerous access points along the river.  We were also blessed with 2 days of sun and hot, yes I said hot, weather.

Unfortunately, the fishing wasn’t so great on the Russian River by our campground so we dropped Dad and Uncle Art off at the Russian River Ferry to try their luck there.

While they were fishing at the confluence of the Russian and Kenai Rivers, Mom, Steve, Pongo and I went to explore Skilak Lake Road.  It was so hot (trust me, I’m not complaining!) that we decided to stop and let Pongo cool off in a lake by the road.

We still had a couple hours to kill before we needed to pick up the fishermen, so we hiked up Bear Mountain, a 1.6 mile hike roundtrip.  It was a beautiful hike with spectacular views!

Here’s Pongo completely pooped after his swimming and hiking adventures; he isn’t too pleased Mama is taking his picture.

Dad and Uncle Art had absolutely no luck snagging salmon at the Russian River Ferry; they didn’t give up though and tried again the next morning, before we headed down to Kasilof. After 3 hours of fishing the Kenai River off of Skilak Lake Road, they came back with 3 beautiful Red Salmon (unfortunately, I don’t have a picture).

We traveled the hour down to Kasilof, after Dad and Uncle Art’s successful fishing excursion, where we spent two nights at Kasilof RV Park.  It was our home base for Halibut fishing and touring around Homer.  The rain decided to return, after two and a half days of gorgeousness, and it never stopped.  Dad and Uncle Art went on a full-day Halibut charter and shipped back to Nebraska 40 pounds of Halibut they caught.

And while they were out fishing, Mom, Steve, Pongo and I traipsed around Homer.

We ate brunch at one of Steve’s favorite eateries in Homer, the Duncan House Diner. They really know how to do breakfast!

Our last stop of the five day trip was at Williwaw Campground, just outside of Portage.  We walked the trails during the brief break in the rain and played a lot of dominoes when it was really coming down.

Overall, come rain or come shine, we had a fabulous family trip! 

Beauty and The Beast

After a long night of managing Pongo’s restlessness because of fireworks going off around us, I woke up to grey skies and 50 degrees…again.  I was tired and a little bit weather cranky but knew Audra was going to be waiting for us at the Gold Mint Trailhead.  So, I packed up the car and made the venture to Hatcher Pass.  As we drove further North and further from Anchorage, blue skies started to peek in-between the grey.  I started feeling hopeful that we may actually get to hike in some decent weather.  By the time we arrived at the trailhead, the sun was shining and it was absolutely gorgeous!  I can’t believe I even thought about not going…I wouldn’t have missed this hike for anything.


Greta and Phoebe

Audra and the girls


Pongo showing me he really doesn’t like having his picture taken.


My attempt to get a picture with Pongo–he was having none of that.

Dwarf Dogwood

Alaska Spirea

Success!  I got Pongo to sit still for the 10 seconds it took to shoot this photo.


I’m not too sure what jumped out and got Pongo: a rock, a log, an animal he found in the brush?  I didn’t hear him yelp or cry and he wasn’t acting any different until we got home. He was walking a little funny and I thought he was just tired and sore.  But as I was brushing him out, I came across this nasty beast that took 2 staples and a week’s worth of antibiotics to tame.

Our poor boy is now having to wear the donut-of-shame.
And is having a hard time getting comfortable.

I’m sure though he has absolutely no regrets about running, jumping and zipping around having the time of his life.

Meet & Greet

Living with a reactive dog is a learning process, especially when that dog is Pongo.  You never know what he’s going to be OK with and what is going to send him over the edge. Sometimes it’s a big guessing game and unfortunately, there are times when my guesses aren’t spot on.

Pongo and I drove out to the Valley today to meet my girlfriend Audra and her two Golden Retrievers, Phoebe and Greta to go for a walk.  We wanted the dogs to meet before we do a bigger hike together where Pongo might have to be on-leash.  The whole way up I contemplated how to best introduce the dogs.  I decided that I would let Pongo out of the car, off-leash and then Audra could let her girls out.  Well, that didn’t work so well.  Pongo got snarky with both of the girls and ended up sitting in the car for a time-out and some cool down time.  I was prepared to leave Pongo in the car, while the four of us enjoyed a walk, if he couldn’t behave himself.

When it was time to try the meet and greet again, I asked Audra to walk down the road a little with her dogs and Pongo and I would follow.  That seemed to work.  When we caught up with Audra and her girls, Pongo appropriately greeted Phoebe and Greta and the rest was history…they had a blast exploring, running, and playing together.

Phoebe and Pongo deciding who was going to bring the stick back to shore.

They came up with a good compromise.

The dogs were always on the move so it was hard to get a shot that wasn’t one of their backsides.

Pongo’s new BFF, Greta.

While there was a small bump in the road upon initial meeting, I think it was a very successful meet and greet.  Plus, it was a great time had by all!

Savage River

What Steve and I are slowly realizing is that there aren’t many more weekends available to get out and camp.  Summer is quickly flying by and before we know it, our trailer will need to be Winterized and put back into storage (sigh).  Alaska’s camping season is so darn short, and we are trying our best to make the most out of the time we have to enjoy our trailer and explore the great outdoors.

This past weekend Steve and I went camping in Denali National Park at the Savage River Campground, with some friends of ours and their two girls.  We left Friday evening, after Steve got off of work, for the four and a half hour drive up North.  We hit rush hour.  We hit construction.  We drove through a torrential downpour that had the possibilities of hail but thankfully the storm did not release it’s full fury on us.  We were really pushing it as check-in at Riley Creek Mercantile is no later than 11:00 PM.  We pulled in at 10:30 PM to this beautiful scene.

After we checked-in, we had another 13 miles to drive to reach Savage River Campground.  We found the last two spots available, set-up, got the girls to bed, and poured a much needed drink after the stress of driving.  I am always amazed by the differences in light as you travel through Alaska; the farther North you go, the lighter it stays.  This picture was taken around 1:00 AM (with no flash).

It ended up being a late night for all of us, especially Pongo who had spent all day at daycare while Mama prepared the trailer and food for our trip.  He was overly tired and beyond CRAZY!

The next day we explored down by the Savage River.

Here’s Steve photo-bombing Jenn and Matt’s family photo (don’t worry-I got the perfect Christmas card photo for them, minus my goofy husband).

We knew that it might be a little difficult for Pongo when we made reservations, as there are some pretty strict rules pet owners must follow when bringing their pets into the park: dogs are not allowed on any of the trails.  You can walk your pets around the campground loops and along the road.  He adapted though and enjoyed the places he could go.

Walking along the main park road, which was heaven…no other dogs for miles.

Pongo enjoyed using the well more than his bowl.

What we found was most of the A campsites (for RVs and tents between 30-40′) at Savage River were uneven and you had to do some leveling.  Our campsite 32A had some pretty incredible views and had some great sun exposure, when it was shining.

We were excited to see our campground host living in an Airstream.

A sight-seeing plane taking off near the park entrance.

As always, the weekend went by way too fast but it was great to get out with friends who we hadn’t seen for awhile.   We will definitely be visiting Savage River Campground again next year to do some more exploring.