Just as we sat down at the table by our big window overlooking the backyard to start composing this letter, we noticed that the window was smeared with huge smudges of fresh moose drool. A moose had tried to nibble our green plants hanging inside the house, but instead managed to slobber the window with its nose and mouth. Sigh... a window cleaning operation came first. Yes, living in Alaska sometimes has its amusing moments. So, back to composing our letter…
About 45 years ago we discovered and fell in love with the remote canyon country in southeastern Utah. We are continually drawn to the massive-walled canyons, peaceful desert, petrified wood logs, and ancient Indian ruins. Last April, we once again met a large group of friends in Escalante to explore canyons. This time, however, we had a brand new experience. A local resident told us about an area of immense rocks dotted with dinosaur tracks. After wandering around on top of the rocks, we finally found them! Hundreds of huge dinosaur footprints were embedded into the rock. We even found evidence of their heavy tails dragging between the footprints. What a thrill!
We both keep busy with various volunteer activities. Dick’s adventures as a volunteer with the U. S. Geological Survey continue. This summer, he and a USGS hydrologist drove 160 slow miles from Fairbanks to the isolated village of Circle on the Yukon River. From there, they boated about 230 miles down the Yukon and then up the remote Porcupine River into northeastern Alaska. The Yukon Flats is one of few areas in Alaska Dick had not yet been to, and he describes it as endless spruce or cottonwood forests along the rivers. Layers of frozen ground (permafrost) overhung the river banks. Dick also made two USGS trips into Wonder Lake, Denali National Park, to help with a lake water-quality project.
Liska continues her role as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for a large family of many children, who are in State custody. It has been challenging and yet rewarding. This summer we both volunteered at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. All the athletes are veterans in wheelchairs who come from around the U.S.A. to participate. It was inspiring to see these athletes of all ages and abilities competing.
On Labor Day weekend, our 4-year-old granddaughter Tazlina fell in the woods behind her house and broke her leg. She wore a bright neon pink cast on her leg for 10 weeks. Tazlina was such a good sport and never complained. She scooted around like a beached seal and was amazingly active: climbing up and down furniture with ease, clunking her leg behind her. Her 1½-year-old sister, Marley, is an enchanting fun-loving, cheerful kid, who is rapidly learning to talk.
David continues as a programmer for Geographic Information System maps and Patty is still with the disabilities section of the Social Security Administration. Gary is teaching high school biology and math and Heather is a busy mom.
The year began very sadly with the tragic and untimely deaths of our close friends Liz and Ken, in a senseless car accident. They were blameless victims. The accident cast a shadow of grief over us throughout the year and yet again reminded us how precious life is. We are deeply grateful for our fulfilling lives and good health.