Tuesday, July 22, 2008

First Year of Residency Over & the Harding Icefield

What does a group of family medicine residents in Alaska do to celebrate the completion of their first year of residency? They go camping! Every year, the Alaska Family Medicine Residency holds a camp-out. It ends up drawing about 100 people (residents, faculty, staff, and their families). Jen was in charge of much of the planning and shopping for this event (she's the class representative in the residency), which meant that Chris "volunteered" his help as well. He's such a good sport! The Saturday of the camping trip was spent on a strenuous 8 mile round-trip hike to the top of a mountain to the Harding Icefield. This ice field is 60 x 60 miles in size and over 3,000 feet thick. The day was amazingly sunny and we all ended up with sunburns (bad doctors!). See pics below...
Jen and Chris half-way to the top.

Chris showing what NOT to do.
A group of young Alaskan docs and their significant others.

Check out the line of people in the snow above - gives a good perspective.

Jen & Chris at the top. Notice the points (tippy tops) of mountains sticking out from the massive ice field. Those mountains are 3,000-4,000 feet tall and are encased in ice. The Natives call these exposed mountain tops "nunataks."

Intern year is behind us! 2nd year of residency involves less time in the hospital, more clinic time, fewer nights of call, less 30 hour shifts in the hospital, and new levels of responsibility (supervising the new interns). We also get more weekends off - more adventures to be had. Thanks to all those who have given their support and love through this first year of residency. Only 2 more years to go!

Jen's 30th Birthday & A Word on Bears

Jen's 30th was spent in Soldotna, Alaska; on the Kenai River. A wonderful birthday dinner complete with triple chocolate cake (why have only single or double chocolate?) was prepared by the folks at "Kenai Vineyards" (the elder Hyer's place on the River). The day itself was spent going for a hike in the woods (see above) where there was uncomfortably close signs of bear nearby. At REI, where Chris works, people often ask Chris, "So, are there bear at such-n-such place?" His standard reply has become, "Is such-n-such place in Alaska?" They often pause and then get it - there are bears EVERYWHERE in this state. People bring bear protection of various sorts, from bear spray to guns. There was even a black bear spotted in our neighborhood a few weeks ago. There are a few things that people can do to decrease their odds of a bear attack - go hiking in groups (a bear has never killed anyone in a group of 6 or more), talk loudly while hiking (don't surprise bears), and stay FAR AWAY from any dead animals (bear food) and cubs (baby bears). However, no matter what you do, nothing decreases your odds to "zero" of a bear attack, so it is wise to be aware and carry protection. Our good friend, Steve, was just charged by a bear in the middle of an open field last week. There was no precipitating factor, he was not a threat to the bear. Luckily, Steve actually teaches a class about bear safety and shooting. The bear charged, he shot, and the bear ended up dead. He was a teenage bear, which are said to be the biggest troublemakers - something that must run in all species :)

The Kenai Peninsula Canoe Trails

Every summer, we try to spend a long weekend on the Canoe Trail System on the Kenai Peninsula. This year, we spent that weekend in May with our dear Alaskan friends Nate and Leah and their baby Anna.
Here is the AMAZING thing that shows why Nate and Leah are perhaps the best parents ever. Anna is only about 1 year old, which is a feat in itself for a canoe trail excursion. The canoe trails involve portaging over land, carrying all one's gear and the canoe, going from lake to lake. Imagine carrying all that gear AND a baby AND all the baby's gear. Even more amazing is that Anna was born with spina bifida, and has little to no movement of her legs. So, here we are, in backwoods Alaska as these amazing parents take the time and the energy and the love to share the beauty of nature with their little girl.
We feel blessed to have them in our lives and to have shared this weekend canoe adventure. Here are some pics:
You know you're in Alaska when....every sign is covered in bullet holes.
A moose swam across a lake right in front of our canoes.
An amazing loon that repeatedly swam under our canoe, popping up on either side. We could actually see the body of the loon as it swam through the water.
Chris, Nate, Leah, and Anna in a water portage - always nice because we don't have to unpack and carry our canoes.
This should be in a brochure....fantastic accommodations, fresh salmon grilled on the fire...

Chris portaging our canoe. Note key components of an Alaskan man - brown "Xtra tuff" boots, a 44 on his hip for bear protection, a beard.

Nate and Chris portaging our canoes. Leah and I offered to help...

A wonderful weekend of laughs, stories, campfires, great food, great adventure, wildlife galore, and more - THANKS NATE, LEAH, and ANNA!

Summer in Alaska: Family and Friends Welcome!

SV High Endeavours (Thumb Cove, Resurrection Bay, Alaska)
This summer we have been blessed with three sets of guests/family: Jen's parents Dick and Kathy Burger, our "Oregon parents" Bob and Christine, and our Oregon pirate friends Chris and Kim. The following are some highlights and pictures from their visits:

Bob, Christine, Chris, and Jen at "Chinooks" in Seward.

Christine & Bob on SV High Endeavours, enjoying gin-n-tonics.

We spent a weekend with Bob and Christine in Seward, Alaska; where the SV High Endeavours lives amidst icy glacier waters and mountains. We had a great visit, drank many gin-n-tonics, and simply enjoyed catching up. In our guestbook, they wrote: "We will be back for more beauty, more joy, more laughter, more love." They were here in May and we are determined to show them Alaska in all 12 months - so we know they'll be back at least 11 more times!

Dad Burger at the helm, with Ma Burger as First Mate.

Some beautiful scenery from touring about the Kenai Fjords.

Dad and Mom Burger in Kenai, Alaska.

Next, my folks flew in from Wisconsin. It was a bit colder than they were expecting (it HAS been a cool summer), but they were great sports. We took the sailboat for an overnight trip out of Seward to beautiful Thumb Cove, where we sat at anchor overnight. We drove to the Kenai River, where we camped at "Kenai Vineyards" (Chris' folks place on the river) and watched too many eagles to count soar through camp. And we simply spent wonderful time catching up, enjoying mom's home cookin', and making grand plans for the landscaping that needs to be done on our yard! We saw a black bear, moose (mom ran into a baby moose one day), eagles, puffins, sea lions, and other Alaska critters. It was a FABULOUS visit and I think they'll be back next summer (with lots of long underwear!).


Kim and Chris in Resurrection Bay, Alaska.

Thumb Cove

Chris Taylor, Jen & Chris tanning on an Alaskan beach.

Chris Taylor sun-tanning on an Alaskan Beach in front of an avalanche.One mile stroll to hug a glacier (Exit Glacier, Seward, Alaska)

Chris and Kim Taylor in front of Exit Glacier, Seward, Alaska

Alaska Zoo: amazing unique moment of watching a Polar Bear swimming.

Next, our boating friends from Oregon, Chris and Kim, came for an extended weekend trip - Alaska is not THAT far away for a weekend trip. If you are not getting the theme of where we take our guests - we went to our boat in Seward! We spent a weekend of laughter out in Thumb Cove, where we enjoyed sun-tanning (YES, it was SUNNY!) next to an avalanche, throwing snowballs, napping on the beach, surviving an anchoring mishap (the keel needed cleaning anyway), hiking out to a glacier, and playing dice games in the cockpit. While they were here, excursions around Anchorage were also had - the Anchorage Air Museum, the Anchorage Zoo (almost all Alaska-found injured animals that are there for rehab), and simply bummin' about town and relaxin'. I also think we convinced them to sail their boat NORTH to Alaska, prior to heading on their planned journey SOUTH to Mexico in 2013. For those who don't know, we are planning to do some sailboat journeying in 2013 with the Taylors.

A few highlights from SUMMER in ALASKA...

Jen always climbing rocks.

Jen & Chris spending a moment in the sun (Thumb Cove, outside Seward).

Sailboat in background is SV High Endeavours.