Friday, May 7, 2010

Minus 4 in Seldovia

Minus 4?????  This time of year?????  That's the tide level, not the temperature, and for us it means, glorious, glorious beachcoming and discovering.  All the creatures that are normally underwater become exposed and we get a chance to see, touch, and feel them.  Even though both boys had sore throats, we took a ride out to Jakalof Bay with the newest teddy bear Imaq, our two dogs, Uncle John and Grandma to check things out.  Here are some of our finds:

Sam and Zack with Sea Star

An eel that was hiding under a rock

Giant red sea anemones clinging to the dock

Imaq and three spiny sea stars

Imaq and a purple sun star

At the end of the Jakalof Bay Dock

Returning the sun star to deeper water

A bed of rock welks on kelp

Imaq with moon snails

Sun star is back in deeper water!

Click on Teddy Bear Page for more sea life pictures

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In Honor of our Cub Scout Friends in North Pole

Our friends in North Pole went on their annual winter campout.  They took a long hike along the Tanana river and then camped out.  In honor of them (and because we miss them) we took our own hike, the very day they went on their adventure.  We walked all the way to the top of the t.v. tower hill in Seldovia.  It took almost two hours to get up and only twenty minutes to get down!  Uncle John and Mom carried sleds and we whooshed our way down the hill after we had some hot chocolate and a small lunch at the top.  We are proud of our big hike and we miss you very much friends in North Pole!

Hurry and catch up Zack!  What a big hike for such small legs.  This is our first resting spot.  Notice our friend Thor's house in the background just in front of Cook Inlet.

Our dog Maddie digs a snow den by Uncle John.  She'd make a great sled dog and a good dog to have along on a Treasure hunt! 

You made me run to catch up, now I'm going to rest!

Sam takes a moment to appreciate the view up Seldovia Bay while Zack laughs at our Dog's sledding down the hill on their bellies.

That was fun!  We took a side trip to roll down a small hill of alders that are completely covered in snow.

We are almost there.  Do not stop 'til you get to the top!

This last part was really steep and really windy but we did it.  There's our target!

We made it!  Now we can see three different bodies of water, Kachemak Bay, Seldovia Bay, and Cook Inlet.  What a view!

Heading down now.  We walk over to the slope and prepare for the sled ride down. This was a mega sliding adventure and it was worth all the hard work!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New Rubber Boots

Sam and Zack with Uncle John, Rowdy, and Maddie- Nice Boots!

For the best fun in Seldovia, be sure to get a pair of rubber boots.  Our Grandma knows this very well and when she came back from Homer on Friday, she brought us each a brand new pair.  We love our new rubber boots and we love our Grandma too.  This is a song that Zack wrote about rubber boots:

My new rubber boots
My new rubber boots
I LOVE them soooo much
that I want to eat fruit

in my new rubber boots
my new rubber boots
Toot Toot Toot!
(Make a tooting sound with your lips for the last line)

You can't be a kid in Seldovia and not own rubber boots.  Why, our Mom says that if you're a kid who lives in Seldovia, and you DON'T own a pair of rubber boots, you might as well go back to where you came from.  Here is a list of things Zack made that you can do with rubber boots in Seldovia;

1.  Walk in puddles
2.  Wade in the slough
3.  Walk in deep slushy snow

4.  Go Tide-pooling
5.  Wade in the rivers
6.  Cross the creek

7.  Chase waves
8.  Walk in the mud

Sam's rubber boots are taller and he can walk all the way across the slough on low tide.  In fact, he walked all the way from our house to the bridge on the opposite side of the slough at low tide.  Zack built an oragami boat and waded out to the current so his boat would have a speedy launch.   On Sunday, all three of us went to church on the beach.  Our church has walls made of volcano's and ancient towering pine trees.  When we were Lutheran's we loved to 'pass the peace' (not the peas) in church by shaking peoples hands and wishing them well.  Here at our beach, the church passes us peace by giving us pretty shells to collect, and this Sunday with our new rubber boots, our beach church gave us some really really cool Easter tide-pool finds.  We couldn't have discovered these beautiful things without the new rubber boots.
Green Sea Anemone

Bidarki- a delicacy for the Alutiiq People of the area, otherwise known as a Black Chiton

An Unidentified Sea Worm- Perhaps a Hairy Gilled Worm or a Ribbon Worm

Two types of Limpets (We always called them China Caps)- A speckled limpet and a shield limpet

Sam wrote a poem that describes his pair of new rubber boots:

Really Fantastic
Utterly awesome
Extremely Radical

Brilliantly Sweet
Overly Cool
Of Course It's Nice
The Best


Our dog Maddie rests on one of the rocks in the tide pool
Bye for now!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Seldovia Sawmill

The Seldovia Clinic has a small collection of historical Seldovia photos on display. One of them is a picture of the old sawmill (the one from the 50's). Here is a picture of that picture. We also found out (from Susan Woodward's book, Seldovia) that the sawmill was repurchased for service as far back as 1932. At that time it was purchased by a school teacher whose wife was a nurse and by 1933, according to news clips from the time, it was back up and running. Other pictures of the sawmill in the 50's show that by then, it had fallen into disrepair and collapsed. Pictures from the turn of the century (1906) show some men milling logs on a beach in Seldovia. It was unclear whether or not that was the same location as our mystery mill down the beach, but it does lead us to believe that the sawmill in Seldovia had four distinct periods of use. First at the turn of the century for the herring fishermen and Russian fox farmers, then in the 1930's when the newspaper quoted large orders from all over the Kenai Peninsula- from locations such as Seward, Portlock, Port Graham, and Homer. The next era was the 50's in which it was used for a couple of years before being completely abandoned. An owner is listed on the back of the photograph in the clinic and we will update you with his name later. The next era, was when logs were milled in the 70's after the Native Association sold rights to have hundreds of acres logged. Grandpa worked on the logships then and will probably have even more stories about that time. Today, in the tradition of the early turn of the century settlers of Seldovia, there are a handful of private personal use mills in operation. While none of them produce the large orders that the Seldovia mill must have had in its heyday, they do service locals and provide a way for folks here to use local wood if needed. Most people, however, drive on up to Home Depot in Kenai or Anchorage for their large wood orders because of time and cost factors. Join us again later as we attempt a project from our deck to test the power of the outgoing tide. It's a full moon week and that means the tides are really high this week, so we want to see how powerful the tide is. Signing off for now, even as a large log goes floating up-slough on the incoming tide.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Indiana Zack and Samuel Jones


Well, we asked Grandpa about the mysterious finds in the slough. It turns out that back in the twenties (maybe earlier) there was a large sawmill not far down the slough from where we live. This saw mill was the largest in the area and served all of the south peninsula as Seldovia was the prime port of the area at the time. The thing that we thought was a vehicle, was actually a type of fly wheel engine that must have been used to run equipment in the mill. The mill stood vacant and unused and was left to fall apart. Then when people started to purchase pieces of the property and build homes along the slough (in the 50's or 60's) they pushed things that were left up against the sides of the banks and covered them with fill to protect against erosion and high tides.

The Anna M. and Her Black Stallion

Grandpa also told us that when he first came to Seldovia in the early sixties, he bought some land along the slough. He also bought an old broken down barge named the Anna M. to live in. He stuffed the holes in her bottom with some old mattresses and waited until the Fall high tides to float her up the slough so he could moor her there and live in her.

Many, many years later, a man showed up at his door asking questions about the Anna M. It turns out that the Anna M. was used to carry horses down to a cattle ranch in the Aleutian Islands before World War II. He was writing a story about one of her trips that didn't end so well. According to what Grandpa says, on one particular trip, after running into foul weather and being delayed, the captain ran out of feed for the horses and didn't have any more money to feed them. He ran the barge aground (it was a self motored landing barge) and let the horses go. This was somewhere across Cook Inlet where there are lots and lots of Grizzly Bears. When the barge company and owners came back to get the horses in the spring, only one was left, a black stallion, who had learned to fend off the grizzlies and somehow, against all odds survived the winter.

Grandpa said that when he sold the property, the new owners had the Anna M. covered with fill so they could build a home on the property. We took a walk on up the slough to see if we could find some signs of her. This is what we found, but we'll have to look more when the snow is melted.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Slough Mysteries

What is it?

This vehicle is buried underneath a retaining wall.
What type of vehicle was it?
A fly-wheel engine for the old sawmill.

How old is it?
We have reports of the mill being used back in the 20's or even as far back as the turn of the century. Susan Woodwards book, "Seldovia" details a news clipping about the mill being repurchased in 1932 and getting back into business by 1933 with several large orders. By 1950 it was in a state of disrepair and was torn down within the decade.

The more we walk along the slough, the more we find. The slough played an important part in the history of this town, but for years, as we understand, before there became a general awareness about environment, it was common to dump things into it, and leave things there. We also know, that much of what once existed along the slough has since been torn down, burned down, or fallen down, perhaps mostly because of the 1964 earthquake. Here are some of Sam and Zacks biggest finds. They are mysteries of the slough. We'll ask Grandma and Grandpa and some other old-timers about them and we'll update this blog when we find the answers!

What is it?

These pilings across from Hags Nook once held a building.

Was it a home, a warehouse, or a dock?

They were a mooring dock for some boats.

Who owned it?

Probably the Mars family. Not sure about that.

What is it?

These large planks are enforced with iron and are tied up on the bank.

What were they for?

Don't know their purpose but may have been part of the old mill.

Were they part of the old barge that was once anchored in the slough?


What is it?

These tall spruce poles are anchored to the ground above some old horizotal posts.

Did a home once stand here?

It was a docking spot for a boat.

Or was this a dock or mooring spot for a boat?

What is it?

This engine is tied up to an long pole so it won't wash away.

Did it belong to the vehicle in the previous picture?


Is it being used to cure the wood for some purpose or to keep the pole in place?

Not sure yet.

What is it?

These remnants of some type of boiler are sitting under the posts in the picture above.

Was this a boiler from the tug or the vehicle or someones home?

Probably a boiler from the mill.

Does it cover the secret back entrance to another world?

Yes. It covers the secret entrance to a magic world called Clumsia. Only people with pure hearts who believe in magic can gain entry. As a result, very very few adults ever make it in. More about Clumsia later.

What is it?

This cable lays between the engine and the vehicle on the beach.

What was it used for?

Probably a cable used in the mill.

Do you think it might come to life as a sea snake at night in the dark?

Yes, the Prince of Clumsia put a spell on this snake that turned it into a large rusty coil of cable. Unfortunately for the Prince, he hadn't eaten a full breakfast that morning and his spell only partially worked. So, sometimes, during the fullest of full moons and the darkest of dark nights, the rusty cable begins to twitch to life. It slithers along the slough beach, searching all the while for the entrance to Clumsia so that it can seek revenge against the Prince. So......SHHHHH.....don't tell him about the boiler!

Monday, March 22, 2010

First Day of School in Seldovia

This town is so small it doesn't even have a school bus so we have to wake up early and walk to school. On our way to school a google eyed monster tries to block our path. We throw giant snowballs at it and this gives us just enough time to dart past the terrible beast. We are so scared that we hold our breath and run as fast as we can all of the rest of the way to school. When we walk into the school it is emptier than a leaky clam bucket and it smells like one too. We tiptoe into the principals office and notice a black folder on her desk. It says:

Enrollment Requirements

-At least one black, green, or pointy tooth
-Horn in back of head
-Stinky Feet (smells like onion)
-Beard (the longer the better)
-Really, really, long fingernails
-One Eye (extra points for patch)
-Long Nose Hairs

We are worried now, because we don't have any of these things (except for maybe the fingernail part).....and it looks like they won't be letting us go to this school. Just when we're about to leave, a walking light bulb with a big smile comes out and locks the front door. We think its the teacher and we ALSO think she is from another planet. She grabs us by the back of our coats and drags us to class. The classroom looks like the movie set of Frankenstein. Our new class mates look like monkeys and goats, and even like Frankenstein himself, and they are all staring at though we are the WEIRD ones!

The teacher shows us to our desks and tells us that we need to get started on Math right away. "Every day we do math for FOUR hours," she says, "and then after that we do oral language, and then after that we do science." "Today we're working on an enlargement potion for the classroom hamster." For math we count how many eyeballs each student has and we are shocked to find out that we are the only ones in the whole class with only two. We have never felt so normal in our whole lives!

The only fun part of the day comes when the teacher messes up the formula for Hamster enlargement and horns grow out of the hamsters head instead. We laugh so hard that Mrs. Light Bulb takes us to the office to see the principal.

The principal offers us a choice of fish eyeballs or raw clams to snack on. When we decline, her face turns bright red and steam comes out of her ears. She screams "Dragon, Dragon, Dragon!!!!" at the top of her lungs and then she opens a door in the floor by her feet. We can't believe our eyes when a dragon pops out of the floor, sniffs her bucket of eyeballs and clams, and then heads straight for us! We can't tell you how the rest of the week at the Seldovia School went because the dragon ate us instead of the clams. We don't blame him.