Friday, July 30, 2010

Big Jim's Visit, Part 6: Finishing Up

The last few days of Big Jim's visit were pretty laid back, really... Sunday, he and Jim did some more fishing on the Kenai River, and Monday he helped us do some jobs around the house. We ate quail egg sandwiches and pancakes for breakfast, and salmon and steamed crab legs for dinner, and on Tuesday there was Kodiak scallops for lunch!

But also on Tuesday was Big Jim's flight back to Dallas. James had to say goodbye to his Gramps early in the morning before he left for work, but Jim and I got to be with him until the afternoon when he caught his flight out of the Kenai Municipal Airport (pictured below) to connect with his red-eye flight back home.

Thanks for coming to visit!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Big Jim's Visit, Part 5: Panning for gold

Saturday morning, as you know, was full of parade-y goodness. After the parade, I took Big Jim to see Northland Furs and meet Leon, then to do his souvenir shopping and get a burger, halibut and breaded mushrooms at the Burger Bus. James got off work and met us at Town of Living Trees to learn to sluice and pan for gold. Dirt from Crystal Creek is available, for a fee, to look through for gold. We thought it would be a good idea to have someone show us how it's properly done before we ever head out to the river to try it on our own. Here we are, operating the sluices:

Big Jim points out a fleck of gold caught in the ridges of the sluice box:

Jim feeds some silt and rocks through the sluice:

James sifts through his sluice. He was also lucky enough to find several nice quartz crystals in his bucket of dirt.

I finished sluicing my dirt first, and the instructor showed me how to pan the silt that was caught in the sluice filters. There wasn't any extra gold in my silt.

James didn't find any extra in his silt, either.

However, when Big Jim panned his silt...

... he found some more!

As did Jim:

Here's the findings. Okay, so you can't see what's in the vials, but there is gold in there. This is just a bad picture. There are 11 pieces of gold in my vial but they're all small and they settled to the bottom. We're not about to sell our finds and retire on the profits, but it was still entertaining. Thanks, Jim, for the fun new experience!

Of course while we were at the chainsaw carver's, I had to have a look around at the new carvings. There was a chainsaw carving competition here the previous week, and this is the winner:

Another entry was "Poodle Panic." The poodle's owner is using a flyswatter to defend it against the giant mosquito. 

SO CUTE. A saddled sea horse in progress.

I have a new friend. I think he likes me.  :^)

James seems to be having different luck with his new, uh, friend.

Once we got James out of the jail, we headed home for a supper of steamed crab legs followed by ice cream, and I have introduced Big Jim to the joys of Nutella straight out of the jar. Life is so good!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Big Jim's Visit, Part 4: Progress Days Parade

This is going to be a photo-intensive post. Brace yourselves.

Saturday morning started off with Canadian bacon from my favorite local meat market, garlic / white cheddar cheese, local tomatoes and fried eggs served on English muffins. Jim had to work again in the morning, and James was scheduled to work at 8:00 a.m., so as soon as I could, I got Big Jim out the door with me to see the Progress Days Parade. I admit that what I wanted most to see was Wienees On Parade - dozens of dachshunds strolling down the street sounded too adorable to miss. There were supposed to be Wiener Dog Races, too, but one of the dachsie owners told me they'd been cancelled. Bummer.

I also admit that I can get bored really easily with big flashy parades, but this small-town stuff is simply precious. You don't get this kind of entertainment and community togetherness just anyplace anymore. The parade route was packed with locals, and nearly every kid in the crowd had a grocery bag or a pillow case for carrying home the candy the parade entrants were throwing. Not just Smarties and bubble gum, either. They were throwing the good stuff, and lots of it. Balloon vendors and cotton candy vendors walked up and down the street and the ice cream truck sold goodies in the feed store parking lot. 

The parade began with this flag-filled truck:

This train is awesome. American Legionnaires, you know how to trick out a truck! You can't see it in this photo, but the trailer they're pulling is mocked up to look like a caboose.

Parades need an appearance by the fire department. I couldn't get a pic of Smokey facing me, though.

This guy was really popular. He had a 49-star flag. Every few feet, he'd stop, show the crowd the flag, point out the number of stars, and finish up his short speech by reminding everyone that the country's motto is "In God We Trust." He got lots of applause.

Wienies On Parade!! Big Jim stopped counting them at 63. We assume that, with so many dachsies in the parade, not to mention the number of floats and entries that had the owners' dogs in them and the dogs who were watching the parade, we probably saw 100 dogs that afternoon. Alaska loves dogs.

You've just GOT to have some amazing wheels in a parade, and there were some sweet rides here. The Corvettes were in a show after the parade.

1960. < drool >

I have no idea why an older lady dressed like a cat was sitting on the back of a '68 Plymouth Fury, shooting bubbles out of a gun, but she was. [shrugs] Oh well, you don't have to completely understand something to enjoy it.

Aaaaaaaaw. The little old lady in the passenger seat seemed to be having a grand ol' time.

The Dairy Queen race car was followed by a couple of ice cream cones.

A Delorean. Say it with me and let the word roll off your tongue: 
Deeeee looooooh reeeee annnn. 

The breast cancer awareness group had some fashionably dressed golf carts.

Must... hug... tiny... tractor!!!

This guy had a penny-farthing bicycle! How awesome! Every little ways, he'd stop and get off and walk the bike around so that the crowd could see it better.

How on earth does he get up there?

The theme for the parade is Past, Present, Future. The trappers were a good reminder of the area's history.

And they weren't the only animals in the parade. There were horses from the rodeo and riding clubs, too. I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of the dejected-looking young girl, maybe ten years old, walking behind all the horses pulling a garden cart and a shovel.

Check out this girly-girl pony (which, by the way, is a boy):

< squeal! > Want the tiny llama! WANT!!

The floats for the local businesses were several different flavors of awesome. I didn't get pictures of all of them, or all of the church floats, and didn't bother taking any pictures of the many political candidates  marching for voters. These floats, however, were some of my favorites:

There's a person in the inflatable Shriner, waving the arms.

This cutie patootie was in a florists' truck:

The Fat Tires mountain biking club. I'd never seen a bike trailer that had pedals on it so that the kid in it could help, and I think that's a great idea.

The giant prospector was part of the float for a bank!

And because every parade needs a giant salmon and a Bait Bot, right?

Yes indeed, small-town adorableness abounded. Stay tuned to find out what we did Saturday evening!