Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hey all, its Corey (Dr. Stilts). It was our last full day and our final group got to go fishing (Yeah).  We also cleaned our cabins and packed our bags. We tried to get all the souvenirs in as well.  At the end of the day we went to AJ's Steak and Seafood and had a nice dinner out together. Tomorrow we are off for to Anchorage with a short stop at the wilderness center and we will be back at EC by 1:00 PM on Tuesday.

It has been a great trip and we had a really great class.  I believe they learned a lot and I have already heard them planning their next trip back.  I hope you have all enjoyed our blog ......


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hello!  This is Amy and Stephanie. Today was a very adventurous day! We went hiking all day. We met our guide Jenny in Homer and then took a boat to where we would be hiking. The hike had lots of different parts to it. We started off in a field station for Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies where they had touch tanks for us to look at various creatures from the ocean. A lot of the creatures were similar to what we had seen on our tide pool exploration a few days ago. From there we began hiking along the trails. Our first stop was "lost and found" lake and then we headed off to a native settlement. Jenny and Deb, our other guide, told us that people lived there up to 8000 years ago! By this point we were all getting hungry so we hiked up to Moose Point to have lunch. We enjoyed the great view of Gull Island while we ate. After that the hike began, and all of us (or so we thought) ventured back down the mountain. A few minutes into it, Dr. Stilts received a phone call from someone he "didn't know" so he hung up. Turns out, it was Stephanie calling in distress because she was separated from the rest of us. Jenn and Jenny went back to rescue Stephanie once we figured out what had happened. Once everyone was reunited, we maneuvered our way through giant boulders in order to get to a beach. We got to sit on Otter Rock (pictured above) and look at tide pools. From there we hiked back to the boat and we were EXHAUSTED! Overall though, it was a great day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hey Everybody! It's Abby and Annie! Today was EPIC! Our journey began at 4:45 a.m. We voyaged across the Kenai Peninsula to Seward sledding and whale watching!!!!!  The dog sled, as seen in the photo above, was rigged up for our "Ididaride." The dogs were so excited to pull us. They were all very ferocious and  powerful (and by that we mean fluffy and adorable!). They were wet, and mildly stinky, but we pet them anyway! We met more celebrities than expected today. We met Hugo, the lead dog from the Disney Movie Snow Dogs! We also met Danny Seavey, from the famous Seavey family who are known for their victories in the Iditarod. Grandpa Seavey was one of the founders of the Iditarod and it was really great to hear about the history behind the race. We know you're all wondering and yes...we got to see the puppies!!!! They were sweet and fuzzy and we were tempted to sneak them away into our vans! Did we mention we like dogs? ;-) After we had our fill of dog hair and slobber, we went whale watching. We were lucky to see so much wildlife on this rainy/sleety/snowy day. We saw 4 or 5 humpback whales, lots of stellar sea lions, a lonely sea otter and many sea birds from the boat. We all survived our voyage through the sea and celebrated with a delicious warm cookie as we headed back to Seward.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hey everyone~! It's Jenn here!

 So today turned out to be not only a very interesting day but an exceptionally fun one too! The day began with a trek out to the Homer Spit, for the annual Shore Bird Festival which Homer prides itself in every year. The concept of the festival, is for bird watchers from all walks of life, to come and view a wide variety of birds that only stop in Homer this time of year to rest and refuel before continuing on to their breeding grounds where ever that may be. However, its not exactly a festival. This may be because today is Thursday, and only the first day, but we will never actually find out because we have so much else planned to do. So we walked the Spit, browsed through the shops, and went to a delicious little cafe for lunch.

After lunch, we met up with our guide at the Beluga Slough trail for the first of several different activities that had been planned for us. Our first activity was a walk through the marsh, to view some of the birds that had migrated. We saw a sand hill crane, and some geese, but for the most part that was it. The ground was wet, or saturated, but it was an experience all its own, and we learned about the different mud consistencies in the estuary.

The next activity we did for the day was determining the pollution level in Beluga lake. The way to do that was to check the amount of bugs we could find around a dock, and the numbers we ended up collecting told our guide a lot about the health of the lake.

The final activity of the day was snow shoeing at the Wynn Nature center on top of the mountain overlooking the city of Homer and the Homer Spit. It was a very unique experience and an excellent way to end the day. Everyone had a wonderful time, despite those, like myself, who took a face plant into the snow when we tripped.

That's it for today!! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hello from Heather and Abby! Today we went clam digging as a volunteer project for Alaska Fish & Game. They are in the process of collecting clams from various beaches to monitor clam harvest. We assisted them by clam digging at Ninilchik beach. We began by suiting up in chest waders, boots, and rubber gloves. Then it was time to get muddy...really, really muddy! We trudged through 6 inches of silt laden mud that engulfed our feet making it nearly impossible to walk. In times we got stuck and/or fell, leaving some in need of assistance to get out.
After a few minutes we were used to the mud and just plopped on our knees to begin digging. We looked for dimples in the sand, marked the location of the clam by sticking a wooden dowel in the dimple, and began quickly digging to one side of the wooden dowel. Finding the clams was tricky as they "ran away" through the mud as we dug after became a race against the clams! We were surprised at how fast they could move. Even more challenging than getting the clam, was recovering the clam without breaking the shell. For the study, the clam shells needed to be intact. Regardless of their condition, we kept every clam we dug up. The people that dug from the tide going out to the tide coming back in were clam digging for about 4 hours. We could not feel our hands or use them by the end of it because they were sopping wet and freezing cold.
Now we had to clean and process the clams. We heated a large pan of water in which the clams were drop into in order to cause them to open their shells. Next the visceral mass (clam meat) was removed from the shell and put into another bucket of water to clean and cut out the icky parts. All the intact shells were bagged and given to AK F&G for their study. We bagged the clam meat into other bags to bring back to the cabins and cook for dinner.
The day was definitely a new experience and super tiring! Some of us did not enjoy the dig, while others had fun; however, all of us agree that it was a wonderful experience to have and a memory that will last forever! Farewell and we will remember to blog tomorrow, so stay tuned. :D

 Helloooo from Macy! Like Moody said, we're a little behind schedule but I'm going to talk to you about what we did yesterday. We woke up early to head to Kenai, Alaska to learn a little bit about homesteading in Alaska. This was one of my favorite events because I have studied archaeology for the past two spring terms so it was really interesting to see the old cabins and artifacts from the earliest European and Asian settlers. But, alas, I'm getting ahead of myself. Our first stop was at a Russian church which our host, John said was one of the most photographed places in Alaska, so of course we had to stop long enough to take a few shots!
     After we traveled to Soldonta to see the Historical Society and Museum. This was my first outdoor museum, and it was incredible to see some of the earliest Alaskan homes. The Historical Society has collected old cabins from along the Kenai River. One of the cabins was a trapping cabin and it was filled with old tools that trappers would have used to clean and stretch the hides of animals that they had gathered throughout the winter. Many of these one-room trapping cabins would have been built along a single man's trap line. Another cabin was set up to look like a fisherman's cabin, so that we could see the typical equipment and netting used for fishing and processing. The picture on the post is actually a building that was used by fox farmers back in the day. This is was a "kitchen" would look like. The farmers would use this building to cook food for the foxes that lived in pens around the farm. The "roost" on the top of the building is where the farmers would observe the foxes to make sure that mating was going according to plan and also to watch mothers to make sure that they were raising their pups sufficiently. The Society also had some small  wooden fox dens so that we could see where the foxes were housed. Other buildings included an outhouse, an outdoor freezer, and the terminal of the old airport that used to be located in Soldonta.
     In Kenai we saw some cabins from Homesteaders. There were many funny stories about bachelors living in very small and poorly constructed cabins until they got married and the women demanded larger and more women friendly cabins. One of the men specifically tailored his cabin to provide his wife with everything she could possibly want including one of the very first Maytag washing machines! It was really awesome to be able to walk in the cabins and see how people lived. After, we went to a visitor center where we all did a scavenger hunt and found clues hidden in the paintings throughout the museum. It was supposed to be an independent project but we all ended up working together anyway! Our last stop in Kenai was at a movie theater where half of our group went to see the AVENGERS! GREAT GREAT MOVIE! Dr. Stilts was a bit of a critic but the rest of us loved the film. After the movie we went to dinner at a Mexican Restaurant and then headed home! Great Day!
Ahoy everyone! Sorry for the missing blog posts, the past few days have been a bit busy, but here we are again! So for Monday, on May 7, we started the day off with an Intertidal Walk. Two guides, Lisa and Ingrid, from the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center took us on an education walk on the beach during the lowest tide of the year. The big moon's effect on the water pulled the tide out so far that we were able to sea amazing sea creatures  that surface "when the water and land meet". We saw ribbon kelp, acid kelp, billions of barnacles, green, purple, and neon red starfish, octopus, crabs, anemones (Christmas ones are red with green strips), etc. It was so cool to be so far out into the water and to have the chance to see the bottom of the ocean floor!
After the walk, we went to the "Two Sisters Cafe" for lunch. It was a nice cafe with a hipster feel. It happened to be meatless Monday and all the food was vegan or vegetarian, needless to say, Heather was in Heaven! We sat on the back deck to eat and dry off in the warm sun. We returned to the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center to attend a lecture on Oil Spill Clean Up Efforts. It was interesting and we learned that we have gotten better with quick and efficient response, but not where we should be.
For dinner, we ate fish chowder that I cooked, I'm glad to hear that it was liked. Chicken stir fry was made by a group of students and it was delicious! We had movie night and had our mind blown from watching Inception! Great movie!! Tuesday is going to be a day of history!