Thursday, August 19, 2010

Miramonte Winery

Miramonte is a delightful family-owner winery that provides a great experience - outdoor wine tasting, picnic luncheon in the gardens, and a tractor ride through the vineyard.

Olive Oil & the Serbian Church

97 year-old Bob Porovich was our docent at the Serbian Orthodox Church. During WWII he worked as an engineer in the Pacific building airstrips for McArthur. When I asked a question about the church's religious icons he replied "enough about that, now more about me." Bob is an original and the very best person to give the history of the church.

The church's exterior.

Olive oil tasting in Copperopolis. Unlike wine, olive oil does not improve with age. Buy California extra virgin olive oil to get the freshest.

Ed Rich explains the differences in taste by variety of olive as well as his recipe for lemon olive oil - 3 tons of olives to 1 ton of meyer lemons.

Broadway Pops at Bear Valley

Relaxing at the hotel before the performance.

The scenery changes from the agricultural valley to rolling oak-covered hills to the pines of the Sierra Nevada.

The Broadway Pops performance is a highlight of a wonderful and diverse festival.

The festival features a nice display of local artists, wine tasting and tables and chairs to relax in the clean mountain air.

Up Close with Clydesdales

Marge visits the 3 month old clydesdale colt. All draft horses have their tails docked so they don't get caught in the rigging.

Jim says hello to this spectacular stallion.

Several of the ranch hands were raised in Amish families where they gained lots of practice working with draft horses. Here a pair are put through their paces learning to match their gait.

Margaret and Becky on the buggy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Joe DiSessa's Alaska Pictures

Joe & Jean e-mailed us some of their Alaska pictures. More are available on in the Alaska folder on our website. Here they enjoy the train ride from Denali to Anchorage.

Joe spent time on the platform between cars to capture photos without having to shoot between the glass. The air was fresh and had that wonderful forest scent.

These newborn Husky puppies are so small their eyes have not yet opened.

Joe & Jean cuddle a larger pup, which looks like he would prefer to be running instead of interacting with visitors.

We passed the Palin home on the lake in Wasilla.

Joe's Alaska Pictures

Alaska travelers Joe & Jean DiSessa e-mailed us trip photos which we have added to the Alaska album on our website.

Here Joe & Jean enjoy the train ride in the dome car from Denali to Anchorage, a beautiful route.

We passed right through Wasilla and caught a glimpse of the Palin home.

Our visit to Husky Homestead was a trip highlight.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Totem Poles & Wildflowers

Alaska's wildflowers were peaking in mid July. Summer comes sometime in May and leaves by September, so there is an exuberant bursting during the summer season. Our trip to Denali was so filled with wildlife because the berries were ripe.

A Native American artist at work on totem poles.

Our flight home featured a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier

Inga Shuler in the tundra.

Caribou silhoutted against the ridgeline.

Andrew and Diana check out the weight of moose antlers. You know when the moose sheds his antlers it's gotta feel good - try taking 50 pounds of weight off your head.

Denali Grizzly Bears

We saw 10 different grizzly bears during our day in Denali, none cuter than mama and her twins.

How close were the bears? One sauntered across the road directly in front of our bus. This mama bear was not crazy about our presence, so when we were in line for the restrooms she came up out of the riverbeds and we were all herded back onto the bus. This is her world, we just live in it.

We also saw Dall Sheep, caribou, marmots moose and a variety of other critters.

This squirrel is on the lookout in front of Alaska Fireweed. It is said that when the top of the fireweed finished blooming it is 6 weeks to winter.

Jeff King - 4 time Iditarod Champion

We visited the kennels & traning ground for Jeff King's sled dog team. The first thing they did was let us hold some of their puppies.

Most of the pups were friendly, but some were very wiggly. You definitely had to keep you eye on them at all times.

Patricia's pup loved the velcro on her jacket.

Diana was in 7th Heaven

Native American Village & sled dog training

Andrew & I check out a variety of pelts

This recreates an Athabascan Village after contact with trappers. Befor the 1900s the Athabascan were more nomadic, following the caribou herds.

This is the smart way to fish - a fish wheel that employs the current and a basket system to automatically scoop us the fish. The salmon are then smoke cured. Now a brine of salt and sugar is used to increase the flavor - wonderful stuff.

The river cruise passed Dave Monson's kennels. We shopped fo view how sled dogs are trained in the summer, but pulling ATVs.

Huskys & Native American Village