Posts tagged ‘alaska’

Trail Leader or Command Leader?

Rich and I went on a short anniversary trip to Fairbanks this month, enjoying the beauty of the nearby Chena Hot Springs as well. While we were there, we signed up for a tour of Chena Dog Kennel, home to both retired and up-and-coming sled dogs as well as ones who love the trail, but just aren’t fast enough for the elite dog mushers.


We didn’t tour the kennels too much. We were too busy enjoying the pup he brought indoors for us to play with and peppering him with a million questions. We loved it.

Rich and tour Guide.jpg

(Rich is on the left, our tour guide on the right)


It wasn’t even a spiritual conversation. Our tour guide didn’t mean to cut my soul to the quick during our “tour.” But he did.

He shared how there are two types of lead dogs: Command Leaders and Trail Leaders.


Trail Leader dogs know the trail so well they could lead the dog team without the musher. They don’t get lost. They don’t run off. They are trustworthy. They know their job and do it with alacrity and joy.

Command Leader dogs have that same alacrity and joy, but they may or may not know the trail, or they may be entirely off-trail. It doesn’t matter. They listen for their musher’s voice and respond. They can be trusted wherever the musher takes them.

It makes me think of parenting. What parent wants their kid to be one who is just along for the run, pulling their weight? Who even wants their child to be a leader, but one who simply runs the trail correctly? A wise parent wants their child to be Command Leader, attuned to the values and morals they were taught, so that no matter what the trail of life brings them, they can respond with alacrity and joy.

Since when has the trail of life ever been simple and unchanging, anyway?

And what about my spiritual life? Am I a Trail Leader or a Command Leader?

Do I check off all the Christian boxes? Church attendance, check. Read Bible daily, check. Pray before a meal, check. Run the trail as usual, check.

Or do I feel safe when God leads me off the trail into glorious, beautiful, mysterious parts unknown, because I am attuned to His voice?

John 10:27 “My (dogs) listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” — Jesus refers to us as sheep, not dogs, but the point is the same, lol.

Psalm 143:8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. —uh, Who else would we trust but our Creator?

May God lead you off the trail into glorious, beautiful, mysterious parts unknown as you listen to His voice!



PS. As an aside, life is like dog mushing…a leader is not the one in charge. The Musher is, as in Jesus Christ. Life is also NOT like dog mushing…a leader is not necessarily the one out front. There are many ways to be a leader and impact the world for good other than being out front.

PSS. After our “tour,” which lasted longer than expected as we asked question after question, we were invited to watch them prepare the dogs to take some tourists on a run. To keep the dogs healthy and engaged, they do this on wheeled carts year-round, even without snow. Rich was petting one of the dogs when she was not “chosen”—don’t feel sorry for her; her turn eventually came. The poor, silly thing literally climbed up Rich and began whining. These dogs LOVE to run.



Kodiak, Alaska: Barometer Mountain Week 21

Alas, I got over-excited deleting photos from my phone the other day and deleted my Barometer Mountain Week 21 photos. So sorry about that.

I won’t be able to show you how the fog was playing with Ms. Mount Barometer last Friday. Photos taken seconds apart looked different as the fog swirled around her, teasing, playing hide-and-seek with itself.

Instead, I bring you this photo, taken at 10:45 PM Tuesday on my way home from a VERY long meeting.

Barometer 21.1



And in case you wonder why all us Kodiakians sound gravelly these days, here’s this photo:Barometer 21.2

That yellow stuff? Spruce pollen. In fact, you could see a huge yellow cloud of spruce pollen going between Kodiak and Near Island several days ago.

On the good side, the reds are running (salmon) really well this year, and we also have a really good crop of salmonberries coming up. One of my friends, an Alaskan native, said he was taught that a good run of salmon and a good crop of salmonberries go together, and this year is proving that out. Now if I could get my hubby out fishing to catch some of those reds. Yummo!


Weatherwise, Weather Underground says Kodiak had a high of 52 and a low of 41 on Friday, May 30. Sunrise was at 5:21, with sunset at 10:54…just a few minutes after I snapped that photo. 19 hours and 43 minutes of “visible daylight.”

More of my 52-week Barometer Mountain photo challenge next week!



Kodiak, Alaska: Barometer Mountain, Week 19



Yep. Barometer was in fine form for her photo shoot. (We didn’t drive to the base for shopping on Friday due to my husband having a day off, so she posed for my self-imposed 52-week Barometer Mountain on Saturday the 17th at about 4:30. We had the same weather on Friday, for the most part.)


In her close up, you can see greenish tint on the lower third of the mountain. Yay for spring! Also, you can see the still snow-covered spots toward her top. This is Alaska, you know.

On the way, we stopped and took a walk around Boy Scout Lake, in the picture below. If you squint really hard, you can see the six wind turbines on Pillar Mountain in the background. Still a lot of brown, so we’re still early in spring. I promise, you will soon see why we are called the Emerald Isle of America.


On our walk around Boy Scout Lake, we saw pieces of moss forest. The moss ground cover and spruce-shaded ground makes it feel like you’re in a fairy tale.


Here’s where your jaw will drop. Our high temperature was 77 degrees–yep! 77 degrees. The low on Saturday was 69. 5:42 AM was sunrise, and the sun set at 10:31 PM. Makes it hard to settle down and think about sleep. 🙂 We had a total of 18 hours and 41 minutes of visible light. When the dog needed to go out at 4:30 in the morning (ugh), we had plenty of light due to the sun not going very far under the horizon this far north; that’s what we mean by visible light compared to length of day.

And that’s why we like blackout curtains in these here parts!



PS: Check out Weather Underground for a fantastic weather info source


Kodiak, Alaska: Barometer Mountain, Week 18



Yep, Barometer Mountain was sure in fine form Friday, May 9 for my self-imposed Barometer Mountain 52-week photo challenge. Look! The grass beside the road is green (ish)! Soon all of Barometer will be, as well, though some of that snow/ice will stay for most of the summer.



Our temps on Friday ranged from 63 to 47 degrees. Sunrise was at 5:59 AM, while sunset was at 10:14 PM, so our actual visible light was 17 hours, 59 minutes. However, when I was looking up the info on Weather Underground, I noticed that “astronomical twilight” said, “Sun does not rise.”


So I looked up their definition for Astronomical Twilight–i.e., I hovered my mouse over the words–and here it is:

“Astronomical Twilight
The time period when the sun is between 12 and 18 degrees below the horizon at either sunrise or sunset. The sun does not contribute to the illumination of the sky before this time in the morning, or after this time in the evening. In the beginning of morning astronomical twilight and at the end of astronomical twilight in the evening, sky illumination is very faint, and might be undetectable.”
So, I guess in Kodiak at this time of year, the earth’s tilt toward the sun keeps the sun very near our horizon, but we’re still far enough south that the sun dips low enough (12-18 degrees below the horizon) to give us dark.
At least, I, for one, call undetectable sky illumination, “darkness.”
Dude! I misjudged last Wednesday, and didn’t post my Word Nerd blog entry. Sorry about that! It’ll be there Wednesday, I promise.

Kodiak, Alaska: Barometer Mountain Week 17

Well, I sit here, surrounded by fog-shrouded spruce trees. I can smell the salt water, and even hear the sounds of the ocean.

IF I open my window. And I will, for a bit. Except it’s too chilly to do it for very long.

But it wasn’t that way last Friday! We had a whole 9 days of pure, unadulterated sunshine from Saturday to Sunday. My husband says one of these spring/summer days is worth 10 of our icy, foggy winter days. I’ve gotta agree. Mount Barometer’s photo shoot went something like this:


and this:



It was so sunny, I literally couldn’t see the photo I was taking. Barometer is very much backlit at 5 in the evening.

And look! Her snow is almost gone.

I talked my husband into stopping at the overlook on the way, as well. Didn’t take much talking.

Barometer 17.3

This is just a minute or two from my self-imposed spot for my self-imposed 52-week Barometer Mountain photo challenge, looking away from Barometer toward town, though I still couldn’t see the pictures I was taking, due to the sunshine. You can see the town, but mostly the harbor. If you squint you can see the bridge to Near Island…it’s the bridge to, well, Near Island, which is called Near Island because it’s, well, near Kodiak Island. You can see all of Near Island in the picture. It has more harbor and some fabulous walking/running trails.

I’ll have to stop and take some harbor pictures one of these weeks.

Almost forgot Kodiak’s weather stats for Friday, May 2, 2014 (from Weather Underground): We had a high of 66 — a record — and a low of 46. Just for reference, the record low for May 2 was 26 in 1949. Sunrise was at 6:15 AM, and sunset was at 9:59 PM, so we had 17 hours, 21 minutes of visible daylight.

I’m wondering if anyone has any questions/curiosities about Kodiak or Alaska. I’m having great fun sharing bits and pieces of my home with you, and would enjoy hunting down the info.

Meantime, check out my Word Nerd blog post tomorrow, Dudes!



P.S. My Facebook friends (and if you’re not, feel free to look me up and friend me — it would make my day!), know I am on a self-imposed two-week ban from Facebook while I complete the synopsis of the novel I’m writing.

However, blogging and Pinterest do not count as Facebook, and WordPress has an automatic function to post my blog link there. So my 52-week Barometer Mountain photo challenge continues!

Kodiak, Alaska: Barometer Mountain, Week 16

Last Friday (April 25), Barometer Mountain looked like a plateau covered with spruce.



Really, her head is just hiding in the ever-present fog.Barometer16.5


Our low was 37, with a high of 41. Winds averaged 28 MPH, gusting up to 48! Crazy! However, my hubby did get home via plane the next day, thanks to the wind dying down. We were hoping he wouldn’t get stuck in Anchorage. When the pilots can’t fly, you can’t fly. That’s just travel in Alaska.


We’ve had other excitement around the neighborhood.


Next Friday is supposed to be sunny with light clouds! And all the way up into the 60s. Maybe I’ll get a full  pic of Miss Barometer Mountain for next week’s self-imposed 52-week Barometer Mountain photo challenge.

Blessings, all!


Kodiak, Alaska: Barometer Mountain, Weeks 14 and 15

Last week (Fri, April 11), I was a dud. Insert excuse here, but it doesn’t really matter, because Barometer was hidden behind fog once again. See previous pictures of fog-hidden Barometer. Sigh.

We had “daylight” from 7:10 AM to 9:15 PM, for 15 hours and 26 minutes of “visible  light.” Not so visible behind clouds. Sigh. That’s why they suggest not using grays when you paint your house. We get enough gray in this rainforest. Summer is on the way, though!  (Our temperatures were 41 for the high, and 21 for the low.)

Last Friday (April 18), Barometer made an appearance, even if she kept her head hidden under the clouds.

Barometer 15

I guess she just didn’t want to get out of bed.

We got up to 43 for a high, and all the way down to 32. We’ve had 4.49″ of precipitation so far in April. Phew! No wonder Barometer’s been hiding in fog.

The sun came out from 6:51 to 9:28, so we had 16 hours and 4 minutes of “visible daylight” that was mostly cloud-hidden. I saw that we had .20 inches of snow this month, which seems a little high, but we’ve officially had to have our studded tires switched out for regular tires since April 15. Normally they extend the deadline into May, so maybe summer really and truly is coming!