My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

Unalaska~ beauty on the Aleutian Chain of Alaska

July 2010

Work has its perks and traveling to the beautiful community of Unalaska / Dutch Harbor in July of 2010. This is a ‘retro’ blog to add some of my experiences pre setting up the blog.  I took great notes on our tour there and want to capture them here and now!

  • the average winter temperature in Unalaska is 36 degrees, winter average 55 degrees.IMG_2471
  • the islands were formed by volcanosIMG_2388 IMG_2391 IMG_2392
  • artifacts have been found that are over 9000 years old
  •  in the old days there was thought that the decedents were from the tip of Russia and that they came across the ice, however, Through DNA it is known that there is a direct decent from the Aleuts.IMG_2411
  • During WWII there was an Army Base here called Fort Mears.
  • On June 3/4, 1942 the Japanese bombed the area with upwards of 10,000 military troops.  This was six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the Japanese aircraft struck at U.S. Army and Navy bases on Amaknak Island.  The Japanese were surprised as the air was filled with anti-aircraft fire due to the fact that  3 weeks before the US had ‘broken the code’ and the bases were on high alert expecting something like this.  The Japanese did not find an airfield nor a carrier fleet at Dutch (as they had expected) the Japanese pilots turned to secondary targets, dropped their stuff on Margaret Bay Naval barracks, killing 25 servicemen.  In total there  were 42 military deaths and 1 civilian death.

    from the museum






    during our nightly hike

  • Along the mountain sides were jagged lines which were trenches dug by all troops “Umnak” Airstrip was laid in 9 days so that fighter planes could continue to come in and land there.
  • Hog Island was named this because in the mid 1700’s pigs were brought there during the fur trade times simply to eat.
  • there were no road before WWII
  • 40-50,000 troops were on the island before 1947
  • in 1805 a Russian Orthodox minister planed 3 Sitka Spruce on the island
  • 120 types of wildflowers bloom here annually.

crabbing gear

Now this area is known for it’s fish/crab processing.  It has the largest plant in Alaska as well as being the largest seafood plant in North America.  The Akutan facility sustains a year-round operations and on busy days processes over 3 million pounds of many species. Akutan’s precise daily production varies depending upon the season. There are a number of different seafoods that come from here: Alaska pollock, including frozen fillets, blocks, and surimi, as well as fishmeal and oil and halibut. The plant has  filleting capabilities and also produces both bulk and custom packs of Alaska king and snow crab. We got to have dinner at the plant, that is self-sufficient.  It has an amazing dining hall and dormitories for it’s 825 employees.   It was like college life all over again, except for the smell.


after the hike to the top


Eagle’s Nest, they will build anywhere!


Eagle talking to us!


Russian Orthodox Church

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Surprise at the Unalakleet Airport

Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013

Okay, I am behind in my trips, but this was worth sharing.  After 2 days in Unalakleet, I was headed home.  The airport was full of travelers and 2 looked very familiar to me.  Once I realized that I had some Alaska ‘rock stars’ with me I got a bit awe struck.  The female was DeeDee Jonrowe and we admired each others bright colors!  DeeDee has run the Iditarod race for many years and has been in the top 10 finishers over a dozen times and was the 2nd place finisher 3 times.  She has the fastest finish for a female ever in 9 days, 8 hours, 26 minutes, and 10 seconds.  In 2002 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but managed to come in 18th place the next year and is a huge supporter of breast cancer research… you will always find her in pink.

One of the reason I admire her so is this, “DeeDee has won numerous awards for the care of her dogs throughout her career, including the best-cared for team, the best dog care award (given by staff veterinarians), the dog’s best friend award, and the Iditarod’s Alaska Airlines Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award for excellence in dog care. Because her dogs are a top priority, she became a founding member of Mush with PRIDE, which provides responsible information of a dog’s environment, exhibiting her commitment to set the standards for all aspects of sled dog care.”

Once I said hi and asked for a picture we spent a lot of time chatting about her dogs and she was so excited to share her love of them with me.

The other face in the picture is 4 time winner of the Iditarod Race, Martin Buser.  He won, in 1992, 1994, 1997, and 2002.  He was as nice as DeeDee and happy to allow a picture.

They were there b/c they were racing a shorter race in preparation to the Iditarod, but they got weathered out and were heading back to town with their dog teams.  IMG_0298

I did take some other pictures on this trip so here they are!


dog races on their way through one night


one of the stored in town


post office


inside the entry to the school… this is safety at its best


murals on the walls of the schools


modes of transportation to school




sunset on the Bering Sea


for drying fish

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Valdez, Alaska, 3 trips over 2 months~ both flying and driving there with views of Wrangell~St. Elias National Park

March 6-9; April 8-9; April 16-19

Well, I have learned a lot about getting to and from Valdez.  On trip 1, I was able to fly from Juneau to Anchorage then catch the ERA Airline flight to Valdez.  However, once there the snow got heavy and on the afternoon I was to fly out, the flights could not make it into Valdez and hence there was no plane to fly home on!  I tried to book for Saturday, but because it was the first day of spring break, all the seats were full and I could not get on a plane until Monday.  I  have to say I was a bit bummed, mostly because I wanted to get home and prepare to fly back to ANC on Monday.

Thankfully a school board member was stuck in ANC and her husband/2 daughters and dog were driving up to ANC on Saturday and offered me to ride with them!  What a nice offer.  So, at 6 a.m. I was in a suburban with Chris (dad) Kate ( who drove part of the way with her learning permit) and Grace my new friend who is in 5th grade.  “Bean” the dog was also a delight during the ride.

It is 300 miles though some beautiful terrain, AND some curvy tight roads.  I tried to enjoy it as much as I could and again felt blessed to be dropped off at the airport in plenty of time to catch the flight home to JNU, arriving home about 7 pm.


entering the facility


if I had toured the plant I would have worn this, but it was a quick visit


inside the front door

While I was in Valdez I did get to go the Valdez Alyeska Marine Terminal where the southern end of the pipeline ends.  You have to show ID and be pre approved to visit, much like going on a base.  I did a meeting there with staff, and it was fun to visit the end of the pipeline! IMG_0433 IMG_9507


After spending the weekend in ANC so that I could attend the inspirational Spirit of Youth http://www.spiritofyouth.org/ banquet on Saturday night, I was scheduled to fly on ERA air leaving ANC at 7:15 a.m.  Though the weather in ANC was beautiful, Valdez was not as lucky.  It was socked in and by 8:05 a.m. the flight was canceled.  Since I HAD to get there, I announced to 3 women who were also trying to get there, that I was going to rent a car and leaving; if they wanted to ride w/ me they were welcome to… all 3 joined me for the 6 hour adventure.

There we times I could barely see the road in front of me.  From Palmer to Glenallen there were whiteouts most of the way.  However, once we headed S, through Thompson Pass it was beautiful. We rolled into Valdez about 2:30 and my meeting started at 2:45 and I finished at 12:20 a.m.!!! LONG DAY.


yep gas is expensive but it was worth it!

I then had to turn around and drive back to ANC on Tuesday… the roads through Thompson Pass were terrible, but unlike the day before, from Glenallen to Anchorage were perfect, just narrow and curvy!  The roads were crowded because the Arctic Man event was that weekend.  http://www.arcticman.com/


leaving Valdez headed N towards the pass


Bridal Falls


Bridal Falls, you can see how cloudy and dingy of a day it was.


IMG_9576 Headed towards Thompson Pass


this is as I am getting to the summit, it continued to get worse.


visibility at the summit was almost NONE


visitor center in Glenallen


I am not joking, it was almost a total white out.

IMG_9566IMG_9565IMG_9561Highlights of the drive include views of the Largest National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias.  This connects with Canada’s Kluani National Park and together are designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site due to its unique beauty and natural splendor.  Wrangell-St. Elias is 13.2 Million acres and the size of 6 Yellowstones.  It is full of rugged mountains, glaciers, rivers and valleys.  There are all kinds of wildlife including moose, bear, Dall sheep, and mountain goats.   IMG_9594 IMG_9592 IMG_9591 IMG_9590 IMG_9588 IMG_9587 IMG_9585 IMG_9584 IMG_9583 IMG_9582 IMG_9579 IMG_9578          IMG_9591

Trip 3

FINALLY I was able to fly both ways!  The weather in Valdez was beautiful, as the pictures show.  It was just breathtaking.  The sun was out, the sky was blue and the days were packed full of work!IMG_9608 IMG_9643 IMG_9641 IMG_9640 IMG_9632 IMG_9630 IMG_9622 IMG_9621 IMG_9620 IMG_9619 IMG_9618 IMG_9617 IMG_9615 IMG_9614 IMG_9613 IMG_9611 IMG_9610 IMG_9609 IMG_9650 IMG_9646

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