D'Sue

Alaskan Adventures and More


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Kennecott Mine

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July 4th weekend, my husband and I drove over to the old copper mining town of Kennecott, Alaska. Copper was discovered in 1900, with the US Geological Survey finding a sample of ore contained 70% copper along with silver and traces of gold.  There were a total of five mines in the area and the peak of the mining was in 1916, producing over $32.4 million of copper ore. Gradually the ore was depleted and the last miners left in November 1938, leaving it a ghost town.

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The hospital was white washed, and the only white building in town; all others were painted red (the cheapest paint color).  In 1986 the area was designated as a National Historic Landmark and is overseen by the National Park Service.  Today it is open in the summers to tourist, hikers, ice climbers and residents of McCarthy (4 1/2 miles away). At the end of McCarthy Road, approximately 60 miles of unpaved gravel, visitors travel by footbridge to take shuttles to McCarthy and Kennecott.

We walked the length of the town after having lunch at the Kennecott Lodge.  Won’t you join me on the walking tour? Explore as we did and find your view thru my camera lens.  You can find a map and other information at: http://www.nps.gov/wrst/learn/historyculture/upload/Kennecott%20Mill%20Town%20Map.pdf.

~D’Sue


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Georgia on my Mind

Continuing with the topic of family, the first 22 years of my life were spent in Georgia.

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I grew up in Fayetteville, my dad’s hometown and a wonderful community 18 miles south of Atlanta.  My brothers and I graduated from the same high school that our father had attended and graduated from. After high school, I attended college at ABAC (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College) in Tifton which was close to my dad’s cousins in south Georgia and whom I would often visit on weekends.  College is also where I met my husband Bo. He proposed at the church that I attended while growing up, and where we were married less than a year later.  The next two years were spent in Bo’s hometown of Darien, a coastal shrimping town, before he joined the Marine Corps and we moved away from our families in Georgia.

Family 10  One of my favorite wedding photos, showing the inside of the Fayetteville First United Methodist Church where our family worshipped during my childhood.

While growing up, we would spend Sunday afternoons at the home of my dads parents and enjoy an evening dinner with them followed by watching the Disney tv program. My grandfather also liked to watch The Lawrence Welk Show, which sometimes us kids would watch, but often times we would find something else to occupy that time. Sunday afternoons were often spent in Papa’s wood shop, as he was a great carpenter and often made furniture while he was away from his paying job near Atlanta. Gramma taught me to sew and crochet, and I would often watch her while she painted the Fayette County Courthouse or Starr’s Mill in oils. I was never able to duplicate her fried chicken or angel biscuits, and she did allow us to help while cooking and loved to share her knowledge of food.

Family 153 Generations, 1980, Fayetteville, GA.  Me with my dad Tom, and Gramma Nipper.

Other traditions I remember as a family were our Christmases together.  My moms parents would drive their camper from New Mexico to spend the holidays with us. Sometimes the camper would carry extra passengers in the way of our cousins and that would be a delightful surprise. It was always fun to have more family around during that festive time of year. Christmas Eve would be spent exchanging family gifts and we would rotate the location between our house and that of my aunt, uncle and cousin; and Christmas morning was reserved for Santa.

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Sam & I with Santa in 1965.                                     Grandma Brown loved coming up with unique gifts and this is what she gave my dad in 1978!

Our family spent time together camping, attending my brothers sporting events, or visiting local places of interest. As kids my brothers and I could be found participating in scouts, church events, or generally having fun being happy in whatever interested us at the time.

Family was,  is,  and always will be important.   Cherish yours as I remember and cherish mine.


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Family

Brown familyMarvin & Lois Brown with daughters Charlotte & Pauline

The topic for this blog strays from the usual Alaska theme.  I’ve been thinking about Family a lot lately.  It probably stems from the work I’ve been doing on a family reunion that is to take place in two months.  I had hoped that all 9 grandkids of my Brown grandparents (my mom’s side of the family) would be able to participate, but it’s looking like only a handful of us will be able to make the event. But that’s ok! We’ll still have tons of fun. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in Albuquerque, where my grandparents made their home for around 60 years; and to attend the balloon fiesta, one of Grandma’s favorite events.

When I moved to Alaska in 2006, there were quite a few reasons for that life change.  Namely I had been wanting to leave southern California for a while and when the opportunity presented itself to come to Alaska to work for the summer I jumped at the chance. Deciding to stay in Alaska, I like to think I would make the same choice these many years later as I really enjoy where I live.  My only regret is not being able to spend time with family on a regular basis.  I have to factor in two full days of travel whenever I schedule a vacation or trip “outside” or to the lower 48. Thankfully I haven’t had to make any emergency trips to Georgia where my parents, brothers and their wives live; or to New Mexico where my daughters family resides.

Nipper siblings 2010Me with my younger brothers Sam & Harold (at Grandpa’s funeral in 2010)

Family dynamics have changed over the years, and that even includes mine.  Last month my family expanded by three.  We gained a wonderful daughter-in-law and her two beautiful little girls Emma and Anna when our son married his lady in a small ceremony in Texas.  They called us on a Wednesday evening and were married three days later!! We’re hoping to see them twice a year due to custody arrangements with the girls fathers here in Alaska. Unfortunately we don’t have much contact with our grandson who lives in Alaska, only a 6+ hour drive away.

Ty and Kayle 7.11.15  The happy newlyweds Ty & Kayla, July 2015, Texas

Emma and Anna party   Emma and Anna at their birthday party in Alaska (Emma turned 4 in July and Anna will be 1 in September)

My daughter in Albuquerque stays in regular contact, and I know on an almost daily basis what her two kids are involved in, be it Lucas’ adventures at daycare or soccer, or Amelia trying out her gymnastics skills in toddler class. I’m now realizing what my parents and grandparents went through being so far away from their grandkids and only seeing and visiting with them once or twice a year. In this age of social media and computer technology, it certainly beats waiting on letters sent by the postal service or those expensive long distance phone calls, hands down. (Although nothing can compare to seeing my grandmothers handwriting on an envelope waiting in the mail box! How I do miss that, and her.)

IMG_8104  Bethany, Will, Lucas, Amelia and I; November 2014, Taos, NM

Each family is different and unique, but all of them are surrounded in love.

~D’Sue


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Kenai Fjords Day Cruise

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The end of May I journeyed down to Seward to take a day cruise into the Kenai Fjords National Park.  The weather was perfect and the wildlife abundant. The trip from my home in Wasilla down to Seward was a pleasant three and a half hour drive. Unfortunately I had to make that same drive back home after the cruise.  If you ever get the chance to visit Alaska, I would highly recommend making the trip into an overnight (or even two night) excursion so that you have time to enjoy the town of Seward and the surrounding area.  There is plenty to do in the area as well as in town, and some fine accommodations as well. I have been trying to get back down to Seward this season, but as yet have been unsuccessful in that endeavor.

I chose to go on the 8-1/2 hour cruise with a stop at Fox Island for dinner. Although I have been on cruises of Kenai Fjords before, I had not been on this particular route. We saw stellar sea lions, sea otter, gray and humpback whales, eagles and numerous other birds.  Alalik glacier was perhaps the most magnificent of all the glaciers we viewed that day and waterfalls were observed at various locations as well. Our dinner stop included wild Alaskan salmon and prime rib, both delicious!  It was a great day.  Hope you enjoy the view from my camera!

~D’Sue


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Gone Fishing

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Last week my husband and I were able to take a couple of days off to go fishing.  We drove down to Homer and took one of the charter boats, along with 18 others.  We met some guys from North Carolina, several other people from our own town of Wasilla, and a very lovely couple from Australia who are driving a motorhome across the US, Canada, and Mexico. Everyone claimed a bunk below deck and a table in the main cabin. After traveling about 3 hours, we were finally able to grab fishing poles and catch some small halibut.

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Later in the day we ventured a bit further out and started trying to land some “big ones”. The first big halibut came in around 90-100 pounds!  Everyone was cheering as it was brought on board.  Several in the 50 lb range were landed.  I finally caught one, but I thought it was too small to keep and released it.  Later on I had another on the line, but wouldn’t you know it – this one was about the same size, or perhaps even the same one! With only a couple of hours left in the day, and hands that were starting to hurt (I should have brought some gloves) I decided to keep it with the hope that Bo would land a decent size fish to take home.  Told him he’d better land a big one!  Guess he listened, as he knew he finally had a rather large one on  his hook. After about half an hour of reeling in, then that darn fish pulling  out the line and having to repeat the procedure again we could see that sure enough he did have a rather large halibut on the other end of the line.  To cheers, pats on the back, and a huge smile, the deck hands managed to haul an estimated 172 pound, 69 inch fish onto the deck!!

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Early the next morning we once again grabbed poles and this time it was ling cod and rock fish we were after. They eluded us for the most part, but everyone came away with at least one rock fish each.  One gal managed to bring in the only cod, and one salmon had been caught the previous day.  All in all, it was a pretty good trip and we now have just over 100 lbs of fish in our freezer for fall and winter eating!

~D’Sue


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July 4th

Here’s hoping everyone had a wonderful 4th of July weekend and that you celebrated with fun, friends and family.  My husband and I took a few days to take a much deserved trip and ventured to the old mining town of Kennicot (pictures to come later).  For now, here’s a few photos I got in the last few days.

~D’Sue


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Welcome Signs

Welcome Signs

Sign Alaska border 2006

How many of you have taken notice of the signs that welcome you into your state or town? We’ve all seen family pictures of the kids standing next to the “Welcome to (insert state name here)” sign when on vacation. Some of you may have signs of welcome in the town or community you reside in. Have you paid attention to what it looks like? I’ve found that they can be as varied as the individuals that are sometimes pictured with the signs. Some are surrounded by organization names and logos, some are simply a generic Dept of Transportation sign, and others are elaborate structures. Next time you’re out and about, take a look at your town’s welcome sign. What does it say about your community or state? Is it what you expected? You might just be surprised at what you find.

Here are a few welcome and road signs that I’ve found in Alaska.  Hope you enjoy the view!

~D’Sue (Donna)

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