What is it about those moose? So big, so endearing and so much fun to observe. And, so dangerous.
This blog tells you a little about our Alaska moose. Long story short, they are beautiful, graceful, elegant (in a weird way) and entertaining. But, you need to be wary. Don't approach them. Don't tease them. Don't feed them. They are wild animals and their hooves pack a powerful, killing punch.
The following set of facts is compiled from Wikipedia, Alaska Fish and Game and other websites.
"The Alaskan Moose (Alces alces gigas) or Giant Moose, is one of the largest species of moose and is a subspecies of moose that ranges from Alaska to the Western Yukon. Alaskan moose inhabit boreal forests and mixed deciduous forest throughout most of Alaska and most of western Yukon. Alaska moose are usually solitary but sometimes form small herds. Typically they only come into contact with other moose for mating or competition for mates. During mating season in autumn and winter, male Alaskan moose become very aggressive and prone to attacking when startled."
Predators include bears, wolves and people. Moose are a mainstay of many Alaskans' diet (including ours) and as a game animal are well managed by Alaska Fish and Game. Each autumn and winter brings a hunting season, during which the hunter can use either a firearm or a bow. The largest Alaska Moose was shot in western Yukon in September 1897; it weighed 820 kg (1,800 lbs), and was 233 cm (92 in) tall at the shoulder.
What do they like to eat? "Alaska Moose have a similar diet to other moose subspecies, consisting of terrestrial vegetation forbs and shoots from trees such as willow and birch." (And Phil's ornamental trees, which is what that moose is eating in the photo.) "They require a daily intake of nearly 10,000 calories (32 kg). They lack upper front teeth but have eight sharp incisors on their lower jaw. They also have a tough tongue, gums and lips to help chew woody vegetation."
Size and weight of the Alaska Moose? "Males can stand over 7 ft (2.1 meters) at the shoulder, and weigh over 1386 lbs (630 kg). The antlers on average have a span of 6 ft (1.8 m). Female Alaska Moose stand on average 6–7 ft at the shoulder and can weigh close to 1,056 lbs (486 kg). The Alaska Moose, along with the Chukotka Moose, matches the extinct Irish Elk as the largest deer of all time."
Social structure and reproduction? As mentioned above "Alaska Moose have no social bonds with each other and only come into contact with each other to mate, or when two bull moose fight over mating rights. Although a bull moose is not usually aggressive towards humans, during mating season it might attack any creature it comes into contact with, including humans, wolves, elk, deer or bears. Bull moose often get their antlers locked during a fight" (who hasn't seen Animal KIngdom?) and "both moose typically die from starvation. Bull moose call out a subtle mating call to attract female moose and to warn other males. If a male moose loses to another male, he has to wait another year to mate. Alaska Moose mate every year during autumn and winter, and usually produce one or two offspring at a time. At around 10–11 months, yearling Alaska Moose leave their mothers and fend for themselves."
Safety: You are quite likely to see a moose while out hiking, biking or running. If you do, leave it be and give it a wide berth. Unless it's food stressed (which happens in winter) or has a baby nearby, it will likely leave you alone. If it decides to charge you, keep in mind this safety info from the Alaska Dept of Fish and Game. "Many charges are "bluff" charges, warning you to get back and keep your distance. However, you need to take any charge seriously. Even a calf, which weighs 300 or 400 pounds by its first winter, can injure you. When a moose charges it often kicks forward with its front hooves. Unlike with bears or even dogs, it is usually a good idea to run from a moose because they won't chase you very far. Get behind something solid; you can run around a tree faster than a moose can. If it knocks you down, a moose may continue running or start stomping and kicking with all four feet. Curl up in a ball, protect your head with your hands, and hold still. Don't move or try to get up until the moose moves a safe distance away or it may renew its attack."
How will you know if it is thinking about attacking you?
The long hairs on its hump will raise up and the ears will lay back, much like a dog or cat. It may lick its lips (if you can see this, you are way too close). A moose that sees you and walks slowly towards you is not trying to be your friend; it may be looking for a handout or warning you to keep away. This is a dangerous situation and you should back away. Look for the nearest tree, fence, building, car, or other obstruction to duck behind.
In closing, moose are big fun to observe. But they can also be very dangerous. Enjoy the experience when you see one but keep your distance and know what to do in the case of an attack.
Anchorage – Home to the World’s Most Spectacular Marathons and Other Smaller Races
The Visit Anchorage site says it very well when it notes… “With low humidity and summer temperatures that typically top out in the mid-70s, Anchorage is an excellent choice for avid runners who want to incorporate a race into their visit. "
They also note "Anchorage is at sea level, requiring no adjustment to a higher, heart-pumping elevation. There is no hustling through traffic or breathing in car exhaust - as most races take place on Anchorage’s award-winning trail system. Along the paved trails, runners enjoy wooded vistas that open up to expanses of the steely gray waters of Cook Inlet or the rugged peaks of the Chugach Mountain Range.”
2014 will see a number of major and smaller runs hosted in Anchorage. Running in general is a big sport here, in part for the reasons noted above, and we’ve got many great places to train. Part of the trail system, the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is very popular with walkers, runners and bikers alike. You can see the diversity of our trail system by clicking on the link to the overall map at the bottom of the blog. Maps are presented in a bit more organized fashion on the Trails of Anchorage website, also found at the end of the blog.
Marathon season begins in February. Highlights for the year include the:
Other fun runs also happen each year. We are really excited about the
We also just learned that the Color Run is returning to Anchorage on June 28th. We are located one block from the start. Guests had so much fun at the Color Run last year - we’re really looking forward to a repeat experience.
11th Avenue B and B is a great place stay while in town for any race. Why? Because you will get a restful sleep the night before in a convenient, quiet location; a fortifying breakfast, lots of fluids, lots of encouragement and if you have special needs, we will help you with those.
For the most up-to-date race list click here (maintained by Skinny Raven) or here (maintained by the Municipality of Anchorage).
For the trail system maps, check out the Trails of Anchorage (organized by area of the city) and the Municipality of Anchorage's overall trail map.
And remember, you don't have to be a runner to participate. Walkers are encouraged too. Whatever your preference, we hope to see you soon, with your shoes on!
Star & caregiver Al Whitehead on a walk 11/24/2013. Photo by J. Polak.
I was born and raised in Anchorage and as far back as I can remember, Star the Reindeer has lived downtown, in a large fenced area off the west side of a house at 10th and I Streets.
That’s just a few blocks from our B and B breakfast table, where Star is a frequent source of questions. ”Hey. What about Star the Reindeer? What’s her story?” The questions made me realize that Star has been an Anchorage icon all my life, but I don’t know much about why. I did a little research to be able to share her story with you.
To start, a little background on reindeer. Unlike their cousin the caribou, reindeer are not native to Alaska. They closely resemble caribou but are shorter and stouter and don’t migrate over long distances like caribou. Reindeer -including Star’s ancestors - were first imported to the Seward Peninsula (537 air miles northwest of Anchorage and home to Nome, Alaska) from Siberia in 1892, as part of a federal program to provide sustainable food sources to the Bering Strait Eskimos and other people of the area.
Star’s story begins with Mr. Ivan and Mrs. Oro Stewart opening Stewart's Photo Shop downtown on 4th Avenue in Anchorage’s oldest building in 1942. True Alaskan pioneers, they were known to be the type to accomplish their goals, no matter how unusual the goal might be. Mrs. Stewart wanted to adopt an Alaskan pet. There were no laws against adopting reindeer and the original Star came to Anchorage in 1962, selected for Mr. and Mrs. Stewart by reindeer herder Larry Davis of Nome. She was named for the starburst of white fur between her eyes. Star I lived to be 23 years old - roughly 15 years longer than the average reindeer. Larry Davis selected every Star to follow (except the current one- who came from a reindeer farm near Palmer) to look like the first Star.
The Stewart’s were assisted in Star care over the years by Albert Whitehead. Whitehead came to Alaska in 1960 with the military. Shortly after his arrival, he met Ivan and Oro Stewart and began working for them part time. Over the years he evolved into their reindeer caregiver, moreso after Mr. Stewart died in 1986. On her death, Mrs. Stewart left Albert Whitehead a life estate to help take care of her reindeer.
Beautiful as she is, Star has not been without her controversies. In October of 1973, she was ordered evicted due to changing zoning laws. The Stewarts appealed and won.
Including the current Star, there has been six. Star II died in the mid-1980s when a newcomer to Alaska broke into her pen, killed and butchered her, and sold the meat. He spent a year in jail for his crime. Star III died in 1986 when she ate plastic bags. Star IV enjoyed 14 years under Mrs. Stewart’s care. She suffered from arthritis and could only tolerate weekly walks. She was assaulted in 1987 when a man climbed into her pen and broke off one antler. She survived that and died in May 2002. Star V was 2 months old when she came to Anchorage from Nome, arriving in July 2002. Sadly, she passed away unexpectedly of a bacterial infection, not long before Oro Stewart herself died that fall.
Star VI, the current Star, was born in April 2001 at the reindeer farm north of Anchorage. Originally named Noel, she was renamed Star by Albert Whitehead, who fell in love with her at first sight. Rejected by her mother, her growth had been stunted. She is only four and a half feet tall, which makes her about six inches shorter than others her age.
In April 2006, Star VI was nearly kidnapped. Whitehead found a hole in the pen's fence with a trail of hay leading out to the sidewalk. Star had stayed in her cage, however, and was not hurt.
You can often find Star VI and Mr. Whitehead on walks around downtown Anchorage, and kids visiting Star at her home. Star may be a symbol of Christmas, but she’s also a symbol of Anchorage, and as it turns out, our founders and our rich history.
The following sources were used in the writing of this article. Links to those and more about Star:
· A link to a beautiful photo of Star and Albert can be found here… http://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Star-and-albert-web.jpg
· Watch this fun video… among other things; you’ll see Star visiting our friend Terry Potter in her downtown wine shop, where there’s a lot of expensive wine. Now, Star in a wine shop- that’s Alaskan bravery! http://www.alaskapublic.org/2012/12/24/star-the-reindeer-brings-magic-to-downtown-anchorage/
· A great article about Star, and some old photos, can be found here. http://www.litsite.org/index.cfm?section=Digital-Archives&page=Community-Life&cat=Communities&viewpost=2&ContentId=2717
· This article contains information about Star’s attempted eviction. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1338&dat=19751003&id=JPAjAAAAIBAJ&sjid=yfgDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4741,941094
· And totally off topic but fun- this article tells the story of the Stewarts, their amphibious car (which is still seen in Anchorage parades today) and a 1968 drive 165 miles down the Yukon River, from Eagle to Circle City. http://www.amphicars.com/yukon.htm.
· Star also has her own Facebook page. You can friend her at https://www.facebook.com/starthereindeer.
Viva la Star!
What is the Iditarod, and why do we Alaskans love it so?
It's the pinnacle race of mushing, the practice and/or sport of using dogs to pull a sled. The race is held each year in March for two reasons. It celebrates the competitive side of the sport- in 2013 66 teams from around the world participated. It also commemorates the bravery of the men and dogs who, in 1925, saved the people of Nome. You ask, "How did they do that?"
In January of 1925, a diptheria epidemic was brewing in Nome (located on Norton Sound in the Bering Sea.) When there was no other way to get badly needed anti-toxin serum to the landlocked, icebound community, 20 dog teams and their mushers relayed the serum across the Interior of Alaska to get it there. They traveled through indescribably harsh and dangerous conditions, including temps to -62F and wind chills of -85F. The endurance and life saving actions of the heroic men and their teams in this true story race against death demonstrated a courage and fortitude of epic proportion.
As a kid, I never paid much attention to the sport or the race (first run in 1973 when I was a pimply 13 year old adolescent) but I clearly remember the moment I had my epiphany. It was March, 2000 and I was at a friend's lodge on the Yetna River, at the confluence of three rivers (Little Lake Creek, Lake Creek and the Yetna). A group of 20 of us had flown or snowmachined out to watch the Iditarod mushers and their dogs come through on the trail which runs on the frozen Yetna right in front of her lodge. We were roughly 20 miles upriver from the Yetna Station checkpoint and 62 miles into the race from the re-start in Willow. 10 miles further up was the Skwentna checkpoint.
It was about 1 a.m. We had a bonfire quietly blazing out on the river and teams were cruising by at regular intervals. It had been about a half hour since the most recent one had come and gone- the dogs full of energy and the musher casually returning our waves and greetings from the back of her sled. The conversation around the glow of the fire was, for the moment, at a lull. It was clear, calm and cold, about -20F. The Northern Lights had come out and were lazily simmering in blue-green waves across the sky overhead. The fire, although big, was not casting much light beyond the immediate circle of ground surrounding it. It was very dark out, but the snow was catching the moonlight in that pronounced way it does in deep cold, reflecting the light and turning the snow crystals into a carpet of sparkles. Beneath that sky, in the middle of the pristine nowhere, it was an indescribably beautiful night.
In the stillness off in the distance, I could sense it before I could see it. A presence was gracefully nearing, murmuring a song of quiet, rhythmic breathing. After about 15 seconds, in that black void darkness, a headlamp switched on and cast a warm beam of light out into the night, over and above the dog team. The beam shone through the hazy steam of the dogs' breath rising in small smoke-like clouds, creating little auras around their heads. 16 beautiful animals completely in their element were moving as one in a dance over the snow. The musher, with a relaxed, easy grip on the handlebar, quietly stood at the back of the team on the footboards of the sled. Trail partners, the musher and the dogs appeared completely bonded in a journey to conquer the beautiful, solitary, inhospitable landscape and challenges rising up to meet them.
I don't know who that team was. Whoever they were, the spirit of mushers past, present and future was with them. There was such a sense of teamwork, fortitude, courage and adventure - I knew that team could conquer anything.
I think Alaskans love the Iditarod because it celebrates the best of humans and dogs. It commemorates the best of us as people as well. It symbolizes good, strength, fearlessness and toughness- the frontier Alaskan spirit in general.
Iditarod 2014 begins on March 1st. And I hope I see you there!
With 125 park units totaling more than 3 million acres, Alaska State Parks provide visitors with great year-round opportunities to explore a wide variety of recreational, historical, and cultural experiences. One of the primary objectives of Arts in the Park, an art-based program, is to bring a creative focus to the outdoors by hosting events in park units throughout the state. It's a family oriented initiative that seeks to inspire people to get outside and experience state parks with an eye toward art. Events are open to the public and include art-themed activities for children and adults and guided interpretive hikes. People involved in all kinds of artistic mediums- drawing, photography, sculpture, music, poetry, jewelry making, and even cooking (that would be ME!) are encouraged to participate.
From a personal perspective, my good friend Denise Broussard and her sister Dawn are both involved, as painters. You can see from Denise's website what a great artist she is. (Dawn is as well.) (And yes, their mother Pat is very proud!) We will be featuring Denise's wonderful work at 11th Avenue B and B this summer, available for sale. Denise and I met in the 7th grade, in Band Class at Romig Jr. High School.
For information on the upcoming program, or to share ideas for future Art in the Parks events, check the Alaska State Parks website at www.alaskastateparks.org, Arts in the park .
You know, it was Pablo Picasso who said "the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls."
I can't help but think he's got a good point.
Here in the 49th state, we are coming up on the 49th anniversary of the largest earthquake to ever hit the North American continent. I'm speaking of the Great Alaskan Quake, which struck at 5:36 p.m. on March 27th, 1964. With an epicenter located below the Prince William Sound, it measured 9.2 on the Richter scale and lasted over four minutes. At the time, it was the second largest earthquake in recorded history, as measured by seismograph. I was 4 and 1/2 years old. We lived in Anchorage, in Old Turnagain (Turnagain by the Sea), and the neighborhood behind us was lost in the landslide. That's my house in the upper right corner of the photo to the left. My mom still lives in it today.
Like many, many other great places to travel, our beautiful Alaska is earthquake country. It’s a fact that can’t be ignored. Small earthquakes occur here every day and usually go un-noticed. Could a big 1964 style earthquake happen again? It’s not likely, but yes, it could. In the event that a larger quake (as in, one that gets your attention) does occur, it is wise to know the general safety rules to help keep you as safe as possible, during and after. I thought I’d share them with you. Because knowledge is power and being prepared is good.
So here you go. Widely known general guidelines (culled from various credible emergency preparedness websites) include:
During the earthquake:
After the earthquake:
Check for casualties/injuries, attend to injuries, and seek assistance if needed. Help ensure the safety of people around you.
Walking around Anchorage in February of each year, you’ll hear people saying that. What the heck does it mean?
Well, my dear Adventurous Traveler…the Fur Rendezvous Festival is a significant part of the history and tradition of Anchorage! In the mid 1930's, Anchorage was a tiny town of 3,000 that stretched between the Park Strip and Ship Creek. Winters were long, hard and tough. Spirits would dip after the holidays. Cabin fever would descend. People got cranky.
Enter Vern Johnson, the father of Fur Rendezvous. Vern was a likeable, outgoing Anchorage citizen with a keen understanding of social conditions. To help raise the spirits of Anchorage’s residents and to put the “win” back into winter, he and his friends established a festival to coincide with the time that the miners and trappers came to town with their winter's yield. It began as a three-day sports tournament on February 15, 16 and 17, 1935 and featured skiing, hockey, basketball, boxing and a children's sled dog race down Fourth Avenue. The entire town turned out to “Rondy.”
Over the years, Fur Rendezvous has continued to be something that Anchorage residents look forward to. It’s also earned national and international notoriety, drawing visitors from throughout the world.
There are many Fur Rondy events- some old, some new. The Official Rondy Fur Auction has been a staple of the Festival since the beginning and the Festival was named in large part because the fur trade was Alaska's third most valuable industry in those days. The Blanket Toss*, an ancient Native Alaskan tradition, joined the Festival in 1950. Alaskan Native hunters and dancers were flown into Anchorage from Nome and Little Diomede to participate in the Blanket Toss and perform artistic, captivating tribal dances.
The World Championship Sled Dog Race debuted in 1946 and has become the cornerstone event of the Festival bringing teams of sled dogs and mushers to Anchorage from across Alaska and the world. The World Championship Dog Weight Pull began in 1967 as a bet between two dog owners to see whose animal could pull the most weight. Four decades later, dog owners are still competing against each other for the cash, notoriety and the illustrious World Champion title for the event. Other traditional Fur Rondy events include the Rondy Carnival, the Grand Parade, the uniquely Alaskan Original Men's Snowshoe Softball and the Grand Prix Auto Race, one of the oldest street races in North America. The Frostbite Footrace, Miners and Trappers Charity Ball and the Outhouse Races and many other events are also not to be missed. For a complete schedule of the events, which last from 2/22-3/3/2013, go here,http://www.furrondy.net/images/stories/2013_events/2013-rondyofficialschedule-updated-02-15-13.pdf.
See you there. “Let’s Rondy!”
(Official Fur Rondy Website information was used in the writing of this article.)
I've been sitting on 40 pounds of Brown King Crab from Adak. (Thank you Phil.) I've had a birthday party for each of my kids (E and J dearly love crab) and we've had several crab dinners in addition. You probably know that King Crab is a bit of hassle. It's easy to cook, but those super spiny shells are hard and it really hurts to hold them when you crack the shells before serving. (It's like holding a rose bush stem with really thick, sharp thorns. A big padded glove on the non-dominant hand and a foshizzel pair of scissors on the other does solve the problem.) The work of crab cracking can be a disincentive to serving it. Long story short, I've still got about 20 pounds and I need to use it up soon. I do appreciate having it and I love it like my kids do. So I don't want it to get old, plus it's taking up a lot of real estate in the freezer.
The other day Eric was telling me about a great Eggs Benedict he'd had at a local restaurant with a crab topping, and of course we have our own guest (and personal) favorite, Eggs Benedict Chinook, which incorporates cold smoked Bristol Bay red salmon. It got me thinking about Egg's Benedict with a crab cake base. It seemed like it would involve an awful lot of painful cracking work. Then again, I have all this crab. Another long story short- I decided it's an opportunity. : )
I set about looking for an easy crab cake recipe. I found one online and just tried it tonight. In a word. it's GREAT. Check out the photo above. These cakes are almost pure crab with very little filler, and are super easy to make. I think they will freeze well, so I plan to get the pain of crab cracking over in one sitting. I am going to make a whole bunch at once and lay them in, in the freezer, for the summer B and B season. I should have some happy guests!
Sharing the crab cake recipe here...
Crab Cakes for Eggs Bennie Aleutian
1 lb. crab meat
One rosemary flatbread cracker, equivalent to the size of 8 saltines, crushed. The bloggers recipe called for 8 saltines.
1 fresh egg - I used a fresh laid egg from Phil's sister Peggy's chickens
1 Tbsp. mustard- really, this may be too much. I thought there was too much of a mustard overtone. Experiment with what you like.
1 Tbsp. mayo (The bloggers recipe called for Greek yogurt.)
cayenne pepper- pinch, and then to taste
Fresh ground salt to taste
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, except the oil. Heat that oil in a pan over medium heat.
Using your hands, form the mix into cakes 3 inches wide or so, 1 inch deep or so. The yield should be 5-6 cakes. Place the cakes in the pan and cook until lightly golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side.
While those are cooking, using your regular Eggs Bennie recipe... toast your English muffin. Layer some grated cheese on the muffin and microwave or broil for a few seconds to melt the cheese. Top that with your crab cake. Place your poached egg on the crab cake, and cover (smother) with your Hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle with paprika, basil flakes or parsley flakes. Serve hot.
Note: I like to serve my Eggs Bennie with a broiled tomato and roasted asparagus.
Another Note: Eric found a really cool way to poach eggs, on You Tube. They turn out perfect each and every time. Check it out. Easy schmeezy. (Instead of butter, I just spray a shot of Pam into the plastic. )
We have had a wonderful holiday season here at the 11th Avenue Bed and Breakfast, and we hope you have also been celebrating a season filled with peace, love and joy. We've been busy and full. We really enjoyed all our guests this holiday season and were so honored that they chose us to be with during this special time in their own lives.
We recently tried a new scone recipe borrowed from a sister inn in Napa Valley- a recipe which has received nothing but rave reviews. Christmas Scones, and that's a picture of them to the left. A light scone, they are built on flour and oatmeal, and have cranberries, pistachios and white chocolate chips, as well as a little peppermint extract in the dough. I think they'd be fab with dried cherries or blueberries and plan to try that as well. Topped with a candy cane glaze, I gotta tell you, they are comforting and scrumptious. I'm not sure about the legalities of sharing the recipe here without permission, so won't, but instead will recommend the cookbook - everything I've tried from it has been absolutely fantastic. Inn Food, by Gillian Kite.
Who knows? Maybe someday, we will be writing our own book and she will be recommending us. Hey. It could happen!
Wishing you all the best in the coming year, and I do hope we get a chance or many to visit.
So. You’re coming to visit Alaska? You are spending some time in Anchorage? Well, you’ll want to know the places that locals vote as the best of the best when it comes to the arts, “Made in Alaska” products, eating establishments, drinking spots, health clubs, fishing charters, flying services, Sunday drives, outdoor sporting goods stores, overnight hikes and more.
Each year, the Anchorage Press (also known as Alaska’s Pickiest Newspaper) asks readers to vote on the “best of” in a number of areas, including:
The results are darn interesting and reveal that Anchorage and the people who live here are quite diverse. Visitors will find the information useful, as it can help eliminate some of the guesswork when pondering where to go for what. For example, if you want to know the best place to get a massage, you’ll find the local votes here. Best florist? Yes. Best coffee house? Done! Best Local Politician? Why of course! It’s all here.
As a matter of fact, you’ll find the best of everything, as proclaimed by the People of Anchorage. So, look for a print copy or go online at http://www.anchoragepress.com/special_sections/. You’ll be glad you did. Because knowledge is power, and this information gives you the power to experience the very best of Anchorage, as told by those who set out and seek to live it.
When you know where to go and what to do, you’ll have a better time. Go forth. Go big. Go do that Big, Wild Life!
Marilyn Walsh Morgan