Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gasline Trail from Upper O'Malley Trailhead


It was on of those mornings... my sweet 4 year old was reaching atomic meltdown levels, because he didn't want to wear his bibs when he got dressed at the house, but wanted them when we got to the trail head. One mama locked her keys in the car with her little guy inside and had to get a cab to get the car open for her. I hope she doesn't hate me for mentioning it, but really we've all been there. Part of the pure beauty of this group is that we're all here as parents to empathize with one another. If we haven't been through that experience... we probably will. We all know that parenting is filled with humbling scenarios and spending time with other parents lets us know we are not alone in it.

I thought for sure my boys and I were not going to get past the trailhead. My husband and I recently made a list of the character traits we hope to instill in our little guys. One of the top 10 was perseverance - to plug on despite the challenges for things we believe are right and good. A suggestion in one of the hundreds of parenting books we've read. This morning my boys and I persevered and were rewarded for it.... What a glorious morning we would have missed with great friends!

We took the Gasline Trail from the Upper O'Malley trailhead. The trailhead is off Stroganof Dr., though the muni has it now listed as being at the Prospect Heights Trailhead. It is an uphill climb. I was thinking about how much further we used to make it up the trail when most of us only had 1 kiddo. The views from this trail are spectacular, no matter which direction you look! To the east you look up at Flattop Mountain and the rest of the Chugach, and the the west you look out over the inlet, Mt. Susitna and the Alaska Range.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Evolution of Hazel's Sled

You may have seen this fantastic sled, and the wonderful little girl it was built for, on a recent Trek. I love the story and the homemade ingenuity that created it. I asked Kellie & Pat to tell us the story of Hazel's Sled. Here it is....

Throughout my life l have always felt the need to move objects with my own devices whether it be homemade or altered. In the past I have needed to move myself, supplies or even an outhouse from here to there with only simple contraptions. For most people a backpack would be ok but for me it lacks the space needed to bring along mass quantities of unneeded but possibly necessary items. All of my past research and development has allowed me to now use my children as test subjects for current and future carrying devices. We test ones that have been picked up along the way like wheelbarrows, a kayak,  sleds and a wheelchair, seeing what cool things can be pushed or pulled in them.  This is how Hazel’s sled was developed and has evolved over the past year and a half.
The sled started out originally as a poor mans kick sled that my father in law and I built just for something to do one winter. I salvaged a whole bunch of wooden skis from a gym teacher who was happy to see them go. By the way I love free stuff, especially wood and metal. I’ve made all kinds of things out of the skis like coat racks, pivoting light switches, fish bats and a ski-bow (looks cool but lacks any punch).
The kick sled was a flop so when Hazel arrived I started making her toys to help her get around and work on balance. I figured I could also make Hazel a basic sled out of salvaged wood, rope and wooden skis that wouldn’t be too much of an eye sore and would serve it’s purpose as a kid hauler.
The first winter it worked pretty good and even kept Hazel warm as she was bundled up in cozy snow gear and tucked in-between many blankets allowing for longer outings. By the second winter Hazel was almost two and the sled needed more space for her new long legs and baby brother Cahill. Hazel came up with some design ideas as well as mapped some trails she’d like to try. I was able to modify the sled per her instructions by extending the skis on the back, adding some thick plastic strips to the base of the skis (no more waxing), a rear platform with some traction and a handle bar for that true mushing experience. Again the sled worked pretty good, needing a few tweaks here and there but everyone was happy. The sled allows for two kids to ride comfortably, we haven’t done much of that with Cahill just turning 5 months recently but next season we’re ready for him. It also allows Hazel to hold on and look for moose tracks and sticks that she likes to collect and put in the sled. She even uses correct mushing terminology that I’m able to understand “Daddy Mush”.  
I wouldn’t be surprised if we need to go back to the drawing board for a few modifications next year but that’s part of the fun. We still use the Chariot and the three-wheel bike but for sure more fun and smiles are had with the homemade sled.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Coastal Trail from Earthquake Park & Winter Transportaion

Today we hit the Tony Knowls Coastal Trail from Earthquake Park. At the parking lot to the trailhead there was a mama and baby moose waiting to greet us, munching on some alder shoots in front of a stunning inlet view of Mt. Susitna (The Sleeping Lady) and downtown Anchorage, with the Chugach Mountains looming behind her. One of the infamous postcard picture vantage points of our fair city. There were about 9 or 10 parents and about twice as many kids.

Our theme for conversation along the trail was winter modes of transportation. I couldn't have planned it if I had tried for the trail groomer on his snowmachine to go by just as we were talking about it. There was also a couple skijoring with their husky, some classic and skate cross country skiers and of course many of our kids in sleds. For you East Coasters a snow machine is the same as a snowmobile... but don't call it that here. Instead you can call it a snowgo or simply a sled, especially out in the more remote communities where they are the primary means of transportation.

Some parents made it out for an hour and a half this morning while some turned back rather quickly. Kids don't always have the same agenda as us parents. Please try us again if your munchkins were not feeling it today.