A Note To Parents: We make every effort for Roxanne's blog to be a SAFE site for children. Whenever possible, activities are in pdf format or link to safe sites for children. Please feel free to use the information in these posts for homeschool studies! All rights reserved by author and nature photographer, Virginia Parker Staat.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

First Day in Denali

Mount Denali
At Denali, we spent three days at the Teklanika campsite, and two days in the Savage River campsite. The sky was mostly clear for our whole stay there, and we even saw Denali three out of the five days! Did you know that only thirty percent of people that go to that national park get to see Denali?  This is because Denali creates its own ecosystem because of the snow evaporating, resulting in the mountain covering itself in clouds.

Morgan at the beginning of the eleven-hour bus ride
On our first day in the park, we decided to take the eleven-hour bus ride to Wonder Lake. We got the whole package with that decision, including bumpy roads and multiple sick and crying babies (for the whole eleven hours). But there were also amazing things I saw on that ride. Starting with the animals, the first one we saw was probably an Arctic Ground Squirrel. Those little things were everywhere, I would look one way and there would be two darting under the wheels of the bus and the next minute there would be one sitting on a bridge watching the bus drive by. I don't remember the order of the rest of the animals, but we spotted many Dall Sheep (those sheep are the reason that the park is here) and Bald Eagles.

Denali Caribou
Close to the third hour of riding on the bus I had seen three caribou -- one of them was even walking on the road in front of us for nearly a half mile which reminded my of the Polar Express movie getting stopped by caribou. Shortly after that, on the left side of the bus, was a herd of caribou running north to get away from he blistering hot forty-degree weather and to find some new grass to munch on.

When we were riding back to our Teklanika campsite, someone spotted a blonde grizzly bear on the right. I was at the front of the bus, so I looked towards the bear  through my binoculars and realized the bear was really just a bear-shaped rock. They have a lot of those in Denali. I mentioned it to the bus driver, and she started to move on until Mrs. Virginia snapped a picture and blew it up as much as possible which blurrily showed a mama bear's nose and eyes and her two cubs sleeping with her. Oops, I was wrong. We stopped to watch them for a little bit even though all you could see were blonde blobs from the distance we were at.

Grizzly bear and twin cubs
I think the animals were the best part of the bus ride but seeing Denali was awesome! Another part I really liked were the wildflowers that grew alongside the road. The bus driver (she was really nice) gave me a wildflower guide so that I could identify some of them. The most abundant and easy the spot were Shrubby Cinquefoil, Blue bells, Arnica, Wild Rose, and Eskimo Potato.

One animal that we didn't see on the bus was a moose. Which was interesting because coming into Denali, we saw a moose and her calf swimming in a pond and a mama moose with twins grazing on grass coming out of Denali. I guess moose don't like buses.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Palmer Highland Games

Bagpiper at the Palmer Highland Games
    Liz and Walter are some of Mrs. Virginia and Mr. David's camping friends they met earlier in their trip. They decided to head up to Palmer for the Highland Games and the three of us voted and decided to tag along. This would be the Staat's first time seeing clans from Celtic countries compete for various events in skills such as strength, baking, and piping and drumming. I, however, went to a Highland Games two years ago back in North Carolina, but I was excited to see what they had in store for my second visit.

    We arrived a couple hours late because it started at eight am, when we were waking up. But luckily, most events hadn't started yet. The big, heavy men in kilts were in the field warming up with the weight for distance while the musicians with snare drums and bagpipes were tuning.

    We stopped to observe the tuning of the bagpipes until the competition of the men's weight for distance began. Basically, an 28(light hammer) or a 56 pound(heavy hammer) ball on a chain thrown from one hand, whoever throws the farthest wins. I thought that it looked funny because the wind-up to gain momentum consisted of many wacky twists and turns, but they could sure throw that thing far.

     While the men continued the weight for distance, women started the Scottish hammer. Throwing a 12 pound(light hammer) or a 16 pound(heavy hammer) ball on a stick- they competed for the place that could throw it the farthest.

Big guys at the Palmer Highland Games
     Many events went on like this but my two favorite strength events were the weight for height and the caber toss!  The weight for height is a weight(56 pounds) thrown, well, for height. At this Highland Games,you weren't allowed to use a spinning technique so the men had to stand still, throw a weight over their head, backwards, and over the bar. This event is also referred to as Weight Over the Bar, or WOB. Jody Potosky won that event reaching almost 19'6"!

   About halfway through the Highland Games, we decided we were going to get something to eat.  With many vendors to choose from, we settled on German food.  We had spatzel on a stick and schnitzel smothered in onions and cheese.  I thought it was funny that we were eating German food at the Highland Games.

Eating German food at the Scottish Games?
    I think the Caber Toss is just crazy (Mrs. Virginia thinks so too) -- especially considering how big and heavy the pole is. A caber is a little shorter than a telephone pole, and not as big around either, but just to get the idea, the athlete picks up the caber without any assistance, runs forward to gain momentum, stops, and throws. A successful throw includes the caber going end over end straight in front of the athlete. The judge decided how many points the person gets based on two things:

1. If the person flips it and,
2. The angle from how far away the caber from 12:00(straight foward) when it lands.

    Sometimes the case is that nobody can flip the caber and the judges get out a different, smaller or lighter caber, this is why there can be no world or country, but only field records, every caber is a different size.

Caber Toss
     Nearby the Tea Tent, were Celtic Dance Performances. An Irish dance academy with many girls were dancing to upbeat music and afterwards a group called the Midnight Sun Cloggers performed for us with many songs including an acapella piece. 

     The best music I heard all day though, were the bagpipes and snare drums. They had many band competitions and solos, which we unfortunately missed, but the opening of the ceremonies(before Caber Tossing and WOB)  was amazing. Every clan had their own band of pipes and percussion and then they joined together. They played Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave before leaving us to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Morgan's First Post

My first airplane ride by myself!
Hello everyone, my name is Morgan and I'll be writing on Roxanne's blog for the next three and a half weeks.

My first view of Alaska from the airplane window.
My flight from North Carolina to Atlanta was my first time flying. It was really fun, until my next flight that day to Anchorage, Alaska which was eight hours long- and I changed time zones.

Me in the airplane's wheelchair. 
After what seemed like forever, the plane landed safely and I was welcomed by a wonderful greeting committee of two- Mrs. Virginia and Mr. David, who I will be camping with for about a month. I forgot to mention that I am still recovering from a broken ankle from a trampoline accident- hiking in a boot with crutches will be interesting, I will be walking in four days, I can't wait!

Me and part of my welcoming committee

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Exciting News!

Dear Friends,

A very dear friend of ours has volunteered to take over Roxanne's blog during the next several weeks. Morgan will be traveling with us in Alaska. She is 13 years old and a very talented writer. We hope you enjoy reading about her travels as much as we will enjoy traveling with her!  We invite you to join us for the adventure!

Roxanne... a Tribute

Roxanne (2001-2016)

We called her the 98-pound Wonder... Circus Dog... Roxanne. She could yodel, hop through hoops, climb ladders, and make a six-foot vertical jump from a sit. She only chased golf balls. She crossed the Arctic Circle six times, traveled over 500,000 miles with us, and loved the smell of bison and bears. She thought horses were big dogs but could never figure out what a little dog was. She hiked hundreds of miles with us and loved to swim in freezing water. She had the courage of a lion. She rode in canoes, ferries, hay wagons,and elevators and laid at my feet at conferences, expos, and restaurants. She was a therapy dog, helping the sick, elderly, and foster youth. She was a Canine Good Citizen and too smart for her own good. She was the quintessential Golden, always loving, gentle, adaptable, and happy. For 14-1/2 years, she brought us love, service, loyalty, and joy... our Roxanne.


Dear Friends,

It has been some time since we posted on Roxanne's blog. We lost our beautiful Golden Girl last year, in May, 2016. Rox was nearly 15 years old. It has been such a sad time without her, but we know we will see her again in Heaven.

Rox's blog will continue. We will have guests to write posts, as well as us. One day we hope to have a new Golden to carry on the blog. Our next post will be a tribute to Roxanne. Then we'll share some exciting news. Thanks for joining us!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Amazing Honey Bee

Honey bees with pollen on their legs
Honey bees are truly amazing creatures.  They are called the most useful insect in the world.  One third of all the food that we eat is pollinated by honey bees.

Bees gather pollen.  They may visit as many as 50 to 100 flowers each trip.  In the process, they pollinate the flowers and help them to make more fruits and vegetables, like apples, oranges, almonds, and tomatoes. 

They also take nectar from flowers to feed their young.  Bees make honey from nectar.  It takes 5,000 flower visits for bees to make one teaspoon of honey. 

Here is what the inside of our beehive looks like...

Bee keepers raise bees to harvest honey and to pollinate crops.  During the summer, beekeepers take the extra honey that the bees make from the hive.  They cut off the waxy top from the honeycomb and drain the honey into jars.  When we harvest our honey, we'll tell you all about it!

Each beehive colony can have as many as 60,000 bees during the summer.  The colony needs as many bees as possible to gather honey for winter.  They must have at least 70 pounds of honey stored in their hive for the winter months.  Beekeepers must be careful not to take too much honey during harvest so that the bees will have plenty to eat when it is cold.

Bees have been mysteriously dying at an alarming rate over the past few years.  Scientists have become bee detectives to determine why the bees are dying.  If you would like to read more about bee detectives, check out this great book from your library:  The Hive Detectives:  Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe by Loree Griffin Burns.  

We found some fun activities to help you learn more about bees and honey.  Just click on one of these links:
If you would like to read more about our amazing honey bees, check out this book from your library:  The Life and Times of the Honeybee by Charles Micucci.