The view west from the homestead

The view west from the homestead

Sweet Chance

Sweet Chance

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ptarmigans by Cassidy

Cassidy Ruge
September 17, 2007

Ptarmigan are chunky birds and have very short rounded winds and short tails. They weigh between 350-800 gms, and range from 12-15 inches.. There are 3 species of Ptarmagin in North America; the Willow, Rock, and White-Tailed. Ptarmigan are unique in that they have 3 plumages while most other birds have only 2. When snow is on the ground in winter, Ptarmigan have an all white plumage to blend in with the snowy landscape. In fall, they are brown to catalogue in with the dry arid country. In spring, they are half white and half brown.

The three Ptarmigan species live in different habitats. Willow lives in lush tall vegetation and coastal tundra. Rock Ptarmigan live in dry, sparse vegetation, and White-tailed is strictly alpine, living on high peaks up to 2000 meters with mountain goats and hairy marmots.

Ptarmigan range from the Southwest all the way to Russia. Willow ranges all over Canada from Nova Scotia to Northern Alaska. Rock live in the same places as Willow, except they go into Russia and Greenland. On the other hand, White-tailed is the only Ptarmigan to range down to the lower 48 states, going all the way down to Northern New Mexico.

All Ptarmigan eat plants, but they also eat insects and spiders when they are available at Safeway. In summer, Ptarmigan eat leaves, buds, berries, catkins, flowers, seed capsules, bullets, and sometimes mosses. In winter, they forage for seeds, buds, and twigs of low willows, alders, and birches.

When in courtship, the male’s red eye combs get swollen and they strut and make odd noises like other grouse. Willow Ptarmigan gargle, Rock Ptarmigan snore, and White-tailed scream. Willow Ptarmigan and White-tailed Ptarmigan only have one mate, while Rock ptarmigan court 2 or 3 or 4 females at once! (I think that is kind of selfish) The male Rock Ptarmigan even steals his neighbor’s females! When a bird has 2 or more mates it is called polygeny. The females of a male compete for a male’s attention. When the female is on the nest, the male will guard the nest with the female for a little bit, but gets bored pretty quickly and will go find another mate and will leave the female to incubate the eggs and raise the chicks on her own! (LITTLE GIT!) The Willow Ptarmigan is the only father in the grouse family who stays with the female to raise the chicks and guard them and doesn’t run away!
The nest of all Ptarmigan is lined with grasses, moss, and feathers. It takes three weeks for the eggs to incubate. Ptarmigan lay 5 to 14 eggs and hens raise one brood a year. In 3 weeks, 5 to 14 little brown striped chicks are waddling around with their mother in the tundra! The chicks grow very fast, and are able to scurry like mice in a few days and fly in 1 week.

Destruction of Ptarmigan habitat is their biggest threat. Ecotourism has affected them too, because it brings more people to the forest and tundra. Their predators are Northern Goshawk, Lynx, and humans.

I chose to study and research and write about Ptarmigans because I love birds and I think Ptarmigan are pretty interesting. (Well, all birds are interesting!) I also wanted to learn more about them and write what I thought about Ptarmigan. I hope you enjoyed my writing.

The Willow Ptarmigan is the Alaska State bird.

Cassidy Ruge

Gray Wolves by Teslin

GRAY WOLVES (Canis lupis)
Monday, September 17, 2007

HABITAT: Gray Wolves range in a variety of different habitats. You can find them in the arctic tundra to the forest, prairie, and dry arid landscape.

DIET: Gray wolves are carnivores. Their diet ranges from deer, elk, caribou, moose, sheep, reindeer, musk oxen, rodents and other meat and grass. When the meat is scarce, they will eat and find mice and grasses. Catching mice is also a good way to teach the pups to hunt.

TERRITORY: Their territory is 50 to 1000 square miles in diameter, depending on the season, and how much meat there is.

DESCRIPTION: Gray wolves are very interesting animals. They are the biggest members of the Canis family. The alpha male weighs 44-150 pounds, and averages around 90 pounds. The alpha female weighs 40-120 and averages around 80. It is usually about 4.5-6.5 feet from tip of tail to tip of snout.
Gray wolves vary in a variety of colors. Usually the upper parts of their bodies are white with shafts of gray, cinnamon and brown. The back is usually dark black, wh8le the muzzle, ears, and limbs have cinnamon coloration. The under parts tend to be a light whitish color and the tail is usually pale below the tip and the tip is ure black. Once in awhile, you might see a totally white wolf. This is not very common, but it does happen sometimes. All wolves have a dense undercoat for the winter climate and coldness of where they live.
The Gray wolf has a bigger snout, bigger ears, and a bigger body than it’s cousin, the Red wolf. It is also 50-100% bigger than it’s small relative, the coyote.
Gray wolves can run up to 40 miles per hour for short distances. Gray wolves hunt in packs. The packs usually have 8 to 35 members, most often 10 to 15. When hunting, they will sometimes run fast to corner an animal so it cannot get away. If their prey is a deer or a moose, the wolves are more cautious than around other animals. If a deer or a moose turns to fight, the pack of wolves will usually move on to easier prey. A deer or moose’s sharp hooves can kill a wolf very quickly if kicked in the head.

RANK: For people who don’t know, the rank in a wolf pack is where they are in the group (like who is more powerful over the other wolves). The dominant (alpha) male is always the head of the rank, followed by the dominant female. The rank is communicated by body language and facial expressions. Some of these include crouching, chin touching, and rolling over to show their stomach.

REPRODUCTION: The Alpha female and male are the only ones in the pack that every breed. The breeding season is January thru April. Wolves always mate for life. After they mate, the female digs a den in a hillside or a cave. Dens will usually slope down and then go up so that when it rains the main part of the den where the pups will be won’t get wet and will stay warm.
The Alpha female will be pregnant for 60 -63 days and then will give birth to the Pups. The Gray Wolves usually have 6 to 7 pups, but they could have 1-20.
The pups are born blind and deaf. They weigh 0.5 kgs, (how many ounces?). Their mother will be with them round the clock, except when getting food. The rest of the pack will feed the pup’s regurgitated food until they are 45 days old. They also depend on their mother for warmth and milk until they are around 3 weeks old. Pups eyes open when they are 10-15 days old. At 10-15 days old the pups can only use their front legs so they have to crawl around. The pups can stand 5 to 10 days after they open their eyes. They can also vocalize and run around at that age. They leave the den when they are 20 to 80 days old. When they are 10 months old, they will begin to hunt with the pack.

CONCLUSION: I chose to study Gray Wolves, Canis Lupis, because after I read about them they became my favorite animal. I also love dogs, and they remind me of wolves. I have never seen one before and I really hope to. I always think of them as Timber Wolves. I really think that hunting them should be illegal because they are almost endangered, and some species of them are even extinct. I hope you enjoyed my report as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I have my own email address for comments; it is You can also post them on the Blog.
Teslin Marie Ruge
Age 10
FUN FACT: Their scat is hairy, brown, and huge. It is 1 ½ to 2 inches in diameter!

Alaska Marine Highway

September 14th, 2007
On the Alaska Marine Highway

UNBELIEVABLE!!! Our weather has held and we continue to experience jaw-dropping scenery. Chris has been in need of a primal scream now since we left Sitka at 7:30 this morning. It’s just too much beauty to take. He wants to live on a stretch of island out here where every morning he could come out and do a primal scream on the banks. I think he’d attract some moose in rut…maybe swerve the caribou off their migration. The channel out of Sitka was very narrow…amazing they can navigate a boat this size through it. At one point, we passed through a rip with 2-foot standing waves in a passage that looked far too thin for this massive boat. Very exciting. Pristine wilderness…. occasional small streams running down from the hills with a lot of bird activity where the streams meet the river (probably salmon there as well). Bald eagles are beginning to amass out here---more than 3,500 of them will be up in the Haines area by late October for the late spawning of Coho and chum. It is the biggest gathering of bald eagles in the world and a good excuse for a festival in November in Haines.

We are on the Matanuska, the biggest of the ferries that we have seen. Our cabin is up in the bow, 1A, and is much bigger than we expected. Two bunk beds, nice size, a table, 4 chairs, a desk, and a tiny bathroom with shower sink and toilet. We feel like we are in the Marriot! It’s amazing. Right now Chris and I are sitting in the observation room in the bow. Comfy chairs that swivel around and face the 5-foot windows that wrap around the entire bow section (180 degree vista). Now the channel has opened up and is about a ¼ mile wide. We passed some glaciers yesterday, but today have just seen snow on mountaintops.

The boat has a large cafeteria in the stern, fairly good food, 2 movies a day upstairs in the lounge area, and lots of deck space. A few folks have pitched their tents on the top deck, a pretty cheap way to take this glorious route. I guess in season, this boat is packed…now it is quiet, except for an Elderhostel group of 30 who is getting off today in Petersberg. There are 2 other families with kids on board, so Cassidy and Teslin are in heaven. One family has just left Tanzania where they lived for 7 years and is taking 6 months off to travel before they pick up life in Uganda. The father is from Holland and works for an NGO sponsored by the Dutch government. Great family. The other family has one son and they are taking 2 weeks off to travel to Alaska. The kids are playing tag, various other games, and mostly spying on the rest of us. Cassidy doesn’t seem very interested in birds right now!

Well….I’m going to turn it over to Chris….ta ta for now.

What to add… blah, blah, blah, bald eagles, blah blah, blah, pristine mountains, blah, blah, drop dead gorgeous islands, coves, beaches. I’ve spent 90% of the time on the bow of the ferry, normally alone or with one person, quiet on all sides as we float through this unbelievable country. We’ve really come to appreciate the serenity, the wildness of this land and have started talking about what it would be like to live here. Suddenly, the mountain West seems crowded and overrun!!! It’s all about perspective I guess. The wildness comes at a price- it’s isolated, hard to get to, far from relatives and friends- this Southwest stretch of waterfront communities more than the Anchorage area. They are in need of nurses, jobs wouldn’t be an issue. Our brains are definitely churning- we are thinking of returning after our visit with Anny’s folks around Vancouver the next 2 weeks and spending more time from Sitka to Haines- any excuse to get back on this ferry perhaps. There is a Native peoples’ clinic system with clinics in Sitka, Juneau, Haines, and some other smaller communities and islands we would like to check out. This system was one of the first to break away from the IHS back in the 70’s I believe and sounds very interesting.

We’ve gotten a good taste of what living Alaska could be. Stocking up on Salmon and wild game, spending a lot of time out of doors, looking at the Weather and length of days as a much larger part of your life-how it affects your daily existence, more time turned inward-to family and self- as a natural consequence of the geographic isolation here. Our discussions now are really about whether this narrowing of focus on a personal level is a positive or negative. There really is no debate about the physical richness of this area- it is just so…ALIVE…in ways that fill your senses, replenish your soul, make you sit back and think.

We are looking forward to much more camping and fishing on return trips here or if living in Alaska. Most of the hiking here is without benefit or hindrance of trails. One must develop skills around planning of hikes, reading of topo maps, and understanding of being just another piece of the puzzle that the wilds of Alaska are made of—how to deal with encounters with Bear, Moose, and weather changes. River floats will have to happen, there are too many options to mention- Yukon, Forty-mile River, kayaking around the many Fjords that make up the Kenai Peninsula, visiting the spawning grounds of all the different Pacific Salmon that fight their way upstream to spawn and die-Silvers, Red, Coho, Pink. So much to explore- we may have to live here just to save the money we would need to spend on gas to return here as often as we would need to do all of these things!!!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Route Facts for the Mappers of our Journey

OUR ROUTE: Entry #2--Dawson Creek, Yukon, to Saturna Island, British Columbia:

Note: this is for those of you who are map-crazy and want to follow our whereabouts on your own….it was exhausting just reading it ourselves!

Leaving Jasper National Park, we headed East on Canada 16 to Hinton (1 night) and then went Northwest on HWY 40 the “Scenic Route to Alaska”. This was the start of most locals referring to the highways we were taking by their given name instead of their actual numbers. We will include the given names whenever possible. We took HWY 40 to HWY 43 in Grand Prairie, and we continued on HWY 43 up to Dawson Creek (1 night).
The Al-Can officially starts in Dawson Creek, British Columbia (BC)-Mile 0. We went N on HWY 97 to Liard Hot Springs, BC (2 nights), then continued on HWY 97 to Teslin, Yukon—Yay!!!! (2 nights). The Al-Can changes to Rt 1 at Watson Lake, BC. We continued on RT 1 to Whitehorse (3 nights). We left the Al-Can here and turned North on the Klondike Highway ( Rt 2) to Dawson City, Yukon (1 night). At Dawson City we crossed the Yukon River on a ferry and took the Top of the World Highway (Rt 9) to the US border at Poker Creek, Alaska. This leads you into the first real town in Alaska, Chicken (population 7). We then followed the Taylor Highway (Rt 5) South to Tok, Alaska where we turned South on Rt 1, the Tok Cut-off, to Glennallen. At Glennallen we turned Southeast on Rt 4 to Rt 10, the McCarthy Highway, to Chitina, (that was a long day).We stayed in Chitina 5 nights.
Then we had to voyage to Anchorage (for 2 nights) on Rt 1, the Glenn Highway, to get the big Beluga fixed –that’s our car--not Chris, and on to Cooper Landing and the Kenai Peninsula (1 South again) for 2 nights. Then to the end of HWY 1 at Homer (2 nights) before backtracking back to RT 9 South to Seward for 5 nights (ahhh). From Seward we drove North on RT 9 to RT 1 to Anchorage where we turned onto RT 3, the George Parks Highway, to Talkeetna (1 night) en route to Denali National Park.
By now we were feeling the crunch of time since our ferry from Haines South was only in one week. We were in Denali for 2 nights only, then continued North on the Parks HWY to Fairbanks for 1 night. We headed Southeast on RT 2, the Al-Can HWY, to Delta Junction (1 night) where we turned South on RT 4, the Richardson Highway, to Glennallen. We returned to Chitina via the McCarthy HWY for a few final nights. We took a one day trip to Valdez which is at the end of RT 4. Phew!
We left Chitina all geared up for the ferry down in Haines that would take us out of Alaska. It took us 2 days to get there (Rt 10 West—RT 4 North—RT 1 North—Rt 2 South (Al-Can) to the Canada border. Then Canada RT 1 to Haines Junction, Yukon where we turned due South on Canada Rt.3 to the US border. Here the Highway becomes RT 7 which ends at Haines, Alaska. We spent the first night of this trip out in a very remote provincial campground somewhere in the Yukon (Lake Creek Campground). We arrived in Haines on fumes and went the last 49 miles on the reserve tank with the Empty light very bright (mostly down hill luckily).
Then we took the Alaska Marine Highway south from Haines for 48 hours of ferry transport. It stopped at Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, Wrangell, and Ketchican before we got off in Prince Rupert, Canada. From Prince Rupert we drove north on RT 16 to Terrace (2 nights) and then had three long days of driving to Vancouver…..the first to Burns Lake, the second to Lac La Hache, and the third day down the impossible Rt 99 via Whistler and 14% grades that went on for miles. Our wheels were smoking so badly at one point that we had to dump all the water in the car on them and then go to the streams and fill up again (8 gallons later it still stunk, but the brakes were luke warm). Finally we pulled into the huge metropolis of Vancouver around 11:30 pm. We met my folks and scooted to the ferry with them over to Saturna, one of the Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the coast (SE of Vancouver Island). And that is where we sit, quite contented and peaceful!
And now, without deadlines imposed by ferry schedules (the Alaska Marine Highway ferries fill up fast and you have to make your reservation weeks in advance), the Roving Ruges will be moving much slower!

Lac La Hache, BC

September 19, 2007

This family sure can sleep! I awoke about an hour ago to a heavy frost and the camper was pretty nippy!! I plugged in the ol furnace, and it has been running constantly since. It’s warm but not cozy. We may actually find we have a temperature limit in this Poppy (maybe 15 degrees). It’s not a problem of comfort at night—we are all cozy in down bags and flannel sheets and polar fleece blankets. It’s just the getting up that is hard!!!

We are on a gorgeous lake with loons and a kennel full of Husky sled dogs. Our campsite is on a grassy bank a few feet above the lake. There are trails everywhere for mountain biking and it begs a week at least. But…..even better things will happen today…Mom and Dad are flying into Vancouver! Yay. We will return here I am sure…It’s called Fir Crest Resort. Just North of Lac la Hache on Highway 97. It’s about 4 to 5 hours from Vancouver.

We are all a bit sick….it never fails that the kids get colds right before a visit with their grandparents. I think it was that bus on Denali. We’ve been very healthy til then. Or maybe it was 3 days on the ferry. Anyway….time for sourdough pancakes. Did I mention that sourdough starter we keep in a ceramic urn in our sink? A woman in Whitehorse gave it to us and we’ve been feeding it and making outrageous sourdough pancakes every morning or so. Hmmm…could be our eating habits!


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Traveling down to Haines

September 12, 2007

We are traveling down a very bumpy road in the Yukon…crossing through enormous expanses of valley, across braided rivers. Right now there is evidence of a forest fire and black sticks of aspen and birch are poking up from the yellow underbrush. We are traveling through boreal forest, so the trees are mostly spruce mixed with bright yellow aspen and birch. We are on our way to Haines and will get on the ferry tomorrow and leave Alaska for the Southlands. To get to Haines, you have to travel through a corner of the Yukon …a part that is very sparsely populated!!!! Most of the camping facilities are closed for the season already…..we didn’t stop till 11:30 last night since all the places in the Milepost we were aiming for were boarded up. We lucked upon a Yukon Provincial campground and creaked into the first site at 11:30. The stars were brilliant—the new moon long set and the nearest human dwellings hundreds of miles away. Wow! The Milky Way looked like a horde of distant clouds….I don’t ever remember seeing it so, even in Chinle. There was a greenish glow on the northern horizon which was a murmur of the Aurora….not in full bloom, but very exciting.

Oooeee it was cold, though! The car thermometer said 40 degrees, but those sheets felt much frostier. We did a skeleton set-up, leaving the trailer attached to the car, the table down, milk crates full of stuff still in place. The kids climbed in their sleeping bags and I put a fleece over them. Chris and I climbed in our bed and we had a comforter and a sleeping bag, and a fleece….oooooeeee so snuggy. Chris ‘s CPap worked off the batteries (he wasn’t able to use the batteries in Denali but figured out a way in the wee hours last night). Chris has to take the fuses out when we are off the grid so the propane detector doesn’t drain all the battery juice. When he plugged them back in this morning, the furnace went on….we thought we could only use the furnace plugged into electricity. Yippie!!!! This is actually great news for us as we sail into fall weather camping….it frees us from the confines of the grid….we can actually be snuggy AND n the middle of nowhere!!! (There are countless places to set up, and provincial/state campgrounds are scenic and deserted this time of year).

Now we are listening to Bob Marley and jammin our way down this beautiful road. Cassidy and Teslin are busy with a box of K-nex in the back and periodically a small car comes launching into the front seat. It is great to be out of the audio book world since it consumes them so. We are happily tinkering our way through the wilderness.

Chris and I are thinking Helena Montana and getting a house right next to cousin Hailey. Teslin can baby sit Parker and well….Today it is Montana. The only hitch is neither of us has been to Helena yet (Hailey and Greg have decided to move there and we like their taste). We would like to get less expensive car insurance and hope to get an address somewhere soon. This morning a woman asked if we were on our way to or from Massachusetts….we don’t really know how to answer these questions. Where ARE we from? The idea of full time travel is fitting us quite well right now. Chris answers where are you from with, “most recently Massachusetts”. The kids always say Massachusetts. But Alaska has had a profound effect on Chris and me….it is so exquisite, and yet so few people. I have had all faith in beauty and wilderness restored, and even traveling in such close quarters, feel plenty of personal space. Tranquility, really. Could we live up here?

On this particular day, 1pm, we pass an oncoming vehicle every 5 min or so. We are driving alongside a very long lake. The far side of it has scrubby hills that look bare from here, but have aspen and spruce near the bottoms of the slope. The spruce is a deep dark green color—they are slender tall spindly trees.

Three little birds is playing and Teslin is singing along in the back. She has made some massive cross-country mobile that has a rotating gigantic snowflake on top of it. Cassidy is working on a space shuttle. Yesterday they did Mathmate and their spelling books en route. We’re trying to get in the groove of school on the fly…..we have Mavis Beacon to teach typing, 7 different curriculum from Alaska Fish and Wildlife (seabirds, wetlands, ecology, tundra, wildlife, and others I forget), a Spanish program, and their 5th and 6th grade math/spelling books from Hilltown. The trick is to use them. Teslin’s next project is on sled dogs, and Cassidy is working on Willow Ptarmigan. Cassidy is not so sure about having to do spelling and cursive…..the 6th grade spelling appears to be harder than 5th…did anyone else notice that? Chris wants to study Pacific Salmon, and I like want to write about bore tides and druken forests. So much to do. Much love, Anny

Sea Otter Report by Teslin

Sea Otter report.
By Teslin M Ruge.

Sea Otter: Enhydra lutris

Habitat: Kelp beds

Diet: Sea Urchins, Crabs, Abalones and other shellfish, Fish, Small Octopuses, and a variety of other things.

Size: Up to five feet long, including a foot long tail. Weighs up to 100 Lbs.

Distribution: costal waters of California, Western Alaska, the Commander and Kurile Island, north of Japan.

Sea otters are very interesting marine mammals. The mustelidea family, including badgers, minks, weasels, martins, skunks, and sea otters are all warm blooded. They are mammals, just like you and me. Sea otter babies are born alive after 8 to 9 months of pregnancy. The mother feeds the baby her own milk every 3 hours. Sea otters only have one baby at a time because the pup needs so much attention. Very few mothers are as devoted and loving to their pups as sea otters. The pups are practically helpless at birth, so they need a good mother to take care of them. The pups can barely swim at birth. They can’t feed themselves either. For the first month of its life, the sea otter pup rests on its mother’s belly while she feeds, grooms, and cuddles it. Until the pup is about 6 months old, the mother never leaves the pup except to get food.
Sea otters are social animals. They feed themselves but they often gather in groups called rafts to rest in their favorite kelp bed to prevent drifting. Sea otters are the only otters that do this. Mothers and pups and other females usually float in separate rafts than the males. Most rafts are about 50 to 100 sea otters. The largest raft of sea otters ever seen was in Alaska. It had more than 2000 members!
Sea otters spend as much time feeding in the night as they do in the day. Sea otters sleep with their forepaws tucked under their chin, over their eyes. They usually take catnaps. If they are not sleeping, they are usually playing or diving for food.
When escaping from danger, the sea otter mother tucks the baby under her forelegs and dives under the water. If the pup is too large to tuck under her foreleg, the mother gently gets the pup’s loose skin in her mouth and pulls it under with her. This does not hurt the pup at all since it has so much fur. Pups are not strong enough to dive under water until they are 2 to 3 months old.
Sea otters have 3 enemies: bald eagles, sharks, and killer whales (orcas). To feed their young, bald eagles try to get young sea otter pups because they are easy prey when their mother is diving for food.
The sea otter fur is very thick. If you compared sea otter fur with dog fur, you would find a big difference. German Shepherds have about 40,000 hairs per square inch, but sea otters have about 1,000,000 hairs per square inch. That’s a lot of hair to groom, but they can trap air bubbles between their two layers of fur. Their two layers of hair help keep them warm. The first layer is the thick undercoat, the second layer is the long guard hairs. Sea otters have the thickest fur of all the ocean mammals.
Sea Otters have a small round head. They can close their nostrils and ears underwater so that the water does not get in to them. Sea Otters can see underwater as well as they can above the water.
Sea otters communicate in several different ways…. A baby might cry when left alone. The cry sounds like a shrill “wee”. Sea Otters will whistle or whine when they are upset or frustrated. The otters will hold up their front paws and hiss to say “back off”. If the thing comes closer they will dive under water to safety. The mothers will “coo” to the babies as she grooms her own baby. Babies will also cling to the closest otter if it is afraid. If you ever see an otter moving its head side to side, that means” hello”. When they are happy they will grunt, most often when enjoying a good snack.
Sea otters eat a lot each day. They have to eat 25% of their body weight each day to keep warm. They have to do this because they live in very cold water and they have to get a lot of fat on them to stay warm. Sea otters eat a variety of foods. Some of these foods include clams, snails, abalone, crabs, starfish, mussels, scallops, squid, chitins, small octopus, sea urchins, prawns, sea cucumbers, lipids, marine worms, several types of small fish, and a variety of other things. They use rocks from the bottom to crack open hard shells and eat the meat inside. They also use their stomachs as a table. They use loose flaps of their skin as bags to carry up food from the bottom. To eat starfish, sea otters bite off the end of their legs and suck out the soft parts.
Sea otters were once thought extinct, but they have had a healthy recovery since then. They now live in the Kurile Islands, Kamchataka Bay, the Commander Islands, the Elutian Islands, British Columbia, Vancouver Island, and Pt. Sur, California.

I chose to study sea otters, Enhydra lutris, because when I first saw one, I fell in love with them. They are so cute. I got some of this information about them from the Internet, and also a Zoobook about Sea otters. I had a lot of fun doing this report and hope people have fun reading it.

Teslin Marie Ruge
Age 10

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Denali Diary

September 5, 2007

Denali Diary entry, Cassidy

I woke up at 7 O’clock and got ready to go on a shuttle bus. When we were all ready to go, we all got in the car and went to the Wilderness Access Center (WAC). We, Teslin, and me got Junior Ranger programs for us to do and then we got on the bus at 8:30. The bus driver was very nice. The destination was Fish Creek, about 45 miles into the Park. We drove for about 2 hours and then someone spotted a Dall Sheep. We looked at it for a little bit and then continued. (On the whole ride we saw about 35 sheep!) We drove for a little bit and then we saw some more Dall sheep. They were just little dots on hills! From then on whenever we saw Dall Sheep we only took a glance at them before moving on. After a while we stopped at a ranger station and everyone said: “ Good morning Ranger Ellen!” That was kind of funny. “Ranger Ellen” talked to all of us for a bit about animals and other stuff and then we went on our way. In a little bit, we came across a big tent with different stuff in side of it. I stayed in the bus, and Teslin and Mom went inside so Teslin could get a Junior Ranger badge. Then we continued for Fish Creek. In about 15 miles, we were pretty near Fish Creek. We saw 6 Willow Ptarmigan in some shrubs on the way!

On the way back it was spectacular for animals and for scenery. We saw 4 Moose, 4 Caribou, 3 Grizzly bears (a sow and 2 cubs), 1 red fox, 3 Golden Eagle (!!!!!), 1 Northern Harrier, and a ton of Dall Sheep. Golden Eagle and Willow Ptarmigan were both life birds for me.

When we got back to the WAC, we got in our car and drove back to our camper. Then Teslin and I rode our bikes for a while and then ate dindin. After dinner we (me, Mom, and Teslin) went to a sled dog presentation at the campground amphitheater. It was very cool!!! After that, we met some people from Australia who had rented a camper and were traveling through Alaska, from Denali up to Fairbanks and down to Valdez and then flying to a wedding in New Jersey. Then we came back home and I wrote in my journal for a little while then ate some yummy cereal. After that, I brushed my teeth and hit the sack! It was so cold that I had to stick my down sleeping bag under the covers to keep warm (it was pretty cozy!). It got down to 30 degrees during the night.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Kenai Penisula

September 2nd, 2007

Hello!!!! Thanks to Whitney Mortimer's sleuthing and Chris's long effort today, we have pictures on the blog. Wow! We are in Seward, about 3 hours south of Anchorage on on the Kenai peninsula. Since the last post, we have wandered down from Chitina to Anchorage, Cooper Landing, Homer, and Seward. We finally got the car fixed (full access to the back--pretty sweet), and have gone on some fantastic adventures with cousin Whitney and Lee and Joyce (Aunt & Uncle extraordinaire). It is getting darker 8 minutes earlier each day, and now it is almost completely dark by 10:00. We're celebrating with a big bonfire and s'mores. It's also pretty frosty, although we have had glorious weather for the Kenai--a full week of warm sunny days. It is getting down to the 40's at night and into the 60's in the day. We are plenty snuggy in our flannel sheets, warm blankets, down bags and polar fleece. We're ready to hit some good solid cold weather and then we'll bail to Mexico!

Too many highlights for my energy right now....thinking of you all this big transition time.....sad to not be joining the ranks at Hilltown, but very happy to be settling into our adventure. Cassidy and Teslin are starting weekly reports on some fun thing---Teslin is starting with Sea Otters and Cassidy with Alcids...we'll have them up for you on the blog with any luck. (you'll just have to wait and see what an Alcid is). We have come across some great Wetlands, Sealife, and Sea bird curriculum through the Alaska Fish and Wildlife. We are hoping to do most of this years schooling around the places, people, and critters in the areas we are traveling. Glaciers, bears, sea lions, otters, and really cool birds are top of our list right now. Well....Cassidy is ready for another bird update, so I will make room for him. Tata for now, Anny