Husband and Father

Husband and Father
July 15, 1958 ~ August 25, 2008

Monday, October 19, 2015

Day Three - Alaska 2015

This morning we checked out of our hotel in downtown Alaska, and started our journey towards Kenai.  We visited the Polar Bear Gift shop on our way out of town for souvenirs.  According to Mike, it's the best place in town.  After several purchases we drove past Gridwood, and stopped by the Wildlife Conservation Center.  It is located on the shore of Turnagain Arm, and is surrounded by mountains and glaciers.  It is a 200 acre Conservation Center with lots of wildlife such as reindeer, elk, bison, and birds of all kinds, just to name a few.  The star of the show is definitely the bears.  We enjoyed watching them, they were so playful.

As we were at the Wildlife Conversation Center, we happened upon a family that we had shared the Hand Tram with in Girdwood.   We had learned a lot about the Knell family. It takes quite a long time to help each person over the river and back.  You use all of the strength your arm muscles have to give to work the Hand Tram.  When one person would get tired, another would fill continue.  The Knell's  had enlisted a guided tour for their Alaskan vacation. With our cheap tour guide, Mike, we seemed to hit all the "hot spots".  I'm sure our guide was much better than the professionals.

We traveled along the Seward Highway heading towards Kenai.  Along the highway were spectacular views of the mountains.  We stopped at the Kenai Lake which is one of the largest glacier lakes.   We hiked down to one of Mike's favorite spots. He thought it was his "secret" hike, until we ran into several people on the same trail. The lake is a beautiful turquoise color up against the rugged mountains and is absolutely stunning.

As you travel further down the road you will see the the Kenai River.  The shores were packed with fisherman and women trying to catch Salmon. When the "salmon are running" it is the best time to fish for Salmon.  We happened to be vacationing during this time and got to see what the mad rush is all about.

After a lovely lunch at Caribou Family Diner, we stopped in Soldotna for ice cream.  We "happened upon" Elder Shurts and Elder Jolly. Elder Jolly was one of Mike's favorite companions.  We were able to enjoy some ice cream with the Elders as well as become involved in a missionary experience.  While the kids were eating ice cream I had started a conversation with the clerk.  She told me how she needed a change in her life.  We talked for quite some time.  I told the Elders that they might want to talk with her, and they gave me a card to give to her. She was grateful for the card, and seemed enthusiastic about learning more.  I'm not sure what happened with my friend Christy, but hopefully she let the missionaries teach her the gospel.

 Kenai, was both Mike and Steve's first area. I think it has a special place in both of their hearts. When we arrived in Kenai, we drove to the Olsen's.  Mike was able to baptized Sister Olson while he was serving in Kenai.

Our next visit was with the McCubbins family.  I remember Steve's stories about this family.  They had 10 children, and were very accommodating to the Elders.  Thirty years later, Mike was able to meet with them on his mission.  A lot has changed in that time.  The kids have grown, and left the house, all except Amy.  Amy has a rare disease that confines her to a wheel chair.  She doesn't speak, but you know what she wants.  Mike and his companion were able to give her blessings, at the request of her mother, when the disease was at it's worst. What a tender time it was to spend time with Sister McCubbins, her daughter Lisa, and her daughter Amy.  Lisa shared stories of Steve with us, and served us refreshing root beer floats.  My heart melted as I watched Sister McCubbins with her daughter Amy.  She did everything for her daughter, with a happy smile on her face.  It couldn't be easy living alone with a special needs child, but she did it with such grace.

We spent the evening at the McCubbins, reminiscing about old times. I realized how much things have changed in 30 years.  Mike had met several other people that remembered Steve, however, they were mostly in Fairbanks, and we weren't able to visit there this trip.

After dinner at Paradisos, we went to the Kenai Ward House.  There we took a picture in the same spot that Steve and his companion had many years ago.

We then took a tour around this quaint little town.  We watched the dip netters along the Kenai River for some time.  There is a telescope you can look through and see up close what is involved with fishing for salmon.  It looks very wet and cold, but I'm sure they are dressed for the occasion.  Mike's old apartment is right by the Kenai River so we dashed over to get a picture.

What a wonderful day, my heart is full!

The Wildlife Conservatory Center
The Knell Family
The Wildlife Conservatory Center
Kenai Peninsula
Kenai Lake
Hiking to Kenai Lake
Kenai Lake
Ice Cream in Soldotna with Elder Shurts and Elder Jolly
The Olsen Family
The McCubbins
The Kenai Ward House 2015
The Kenai Ward House 1980
Fishing along the Kenai River
Elder Brown's Apartment in Kenai
Out our hotel window at 11:45 pm.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Day Two - Alaska 2015

Day two began with a quick tour around Anchorage. We enjoyed learning about the ins and outs of missionary life. Early afternoon we stopped by the Arctic Road Runner, which is a famous burger establishment, for lunch.  It was cold and raining, so we dined inside. On a beautiful sunny day, you can dine outside and  enjoy the beautiful Alaska scenery along side a brimming creek.

Strawberry Road is where the Mission Office is located.  Who doesn't want to live on Strawberry Road, what an adorable name for a street.  At the Mission Office we met all of the Senior Couples that keep the mission running.  Mike was Assistant to the President prior to returning home, so he was able to work directly with these wonderful people.  They showed us around the office, and briefly explained how it operated. They were so excited to see Mike again.

On the wall, are plaques from all the Mission President's who have served in the Anchorage Alaska Mission.  It was so touching to see plaques of the two Mission President's Steve served under in 1980,  President and Sister Papa, and President and Sister Snarr; as well as the two Mike just recently served with, President and Sister Beesley, and President and Sister Robinson.

The Mission Home isn't far from the Mission Office.  Mike had made arrangements with President Robinson for us to drop by.  We had a wonderful time talking with the Robinson's.  We enjoyed listening to mission stories as well as fishing adventures.

Sister Robinson made us her famous raspberry shakes.  The Robinson's lived in the Bear Lake area prior to coming out on their mission,  and everyone knows that the best raspberry shakes are found in diners by Bear Lake.

It is busy and eventful at the Mission Home.  Elder's and Sister's were in and out, eating lunch, bringing boxes of personal items to be stored, as the President and his wife were preparing to catch a flight to another Alaskan destination.

They showed us, the Mission Home "store", where missionaries can drop off clothing that they can't use, as well as pick up coats, boots, shoes, or suits and they can use.  It is just like a clothing store except there is no charge.

President and Sister Robinson explained to us the mission schedule.  Elder's sleep downstairs, and Sister's sleep upstairs.  Each bedroom is filled with twin beds, that may or may not be occupied depending on the influx of incoming and outgoing missionaries. Showers are scheduled on a board,  meals are prepared, and meetings are held in the office.  It is a very busy place!

What a delight it was to meet Mike's Mission President and his wife.  As we were leaving they both pulled me aside, with tears running down their cheeks, they expressed their adoration for Elder Brown. They love him, and were so grateful for the wonderful service that he provided while he was serving there.  It warmed my heart to hear them speak so highly of Mike.  As they said, "he is one of the best", I couldn't agree more.

The temple is very close to the Mission Home.  It is open upon appointment, so we were only able to take pictures on the beautiful temple grounds.

Potter Marsh Nature Preserve was our next stop.  A wooden boardwalk winds 1,550 feet through the marsh and across Rabbit Creek.  It is the perfect habitat for birds of all kinds, and other wildlife.  You may see a moose or other wildlife meandering around.

Half way up the boardwalk we saw salmon spawning in Rabbit Creek.  They are bright orangish-red in color. The "salmon are running", so there are fisherman everyone.  Not at the preserve, but pretty much everywhere else.

After our visit at Potter Marsh we drove on the Turnagain arm, towards the Alyeska ski resort.  The drive to Alyeska was beautiful.  On the left was a tumbling roar of the stormy ocean, and on the right the rugged snow capped mountains.  We stopped at a natural glacier to get some fresh water along the way.

In Alyeska we hiked a 3 mile hike on Winner Creek Trail, to the Hand Tram. The scenery is absolutely stunning.  It almost seems like a rain forest with the dense greenery, and towering trees. It was raining as we hiked, but that didn't stop us.  I was hoping that I wouldn't slip and fall, since the trail was wet and muddy.  Someone in our party, slipped and fell, and became a muddy mess. She was a good sport and laughed it off.

The Hand Tram is a thrill!  You step into the metal cage, and slowly pull yourself out and over thrashing Glacier Creek, about 200 feet below. We were grateful there were others that were there helping each group with the Hand Tram. Working together your experience is quicker and easier.

Once we returned from our hike, we toured through the ski resort.  Fortunately, we were driving in the car, since we were cold, muddy, and wet.

That evening, the Jacob's took us to Moose Tooth for dinner.  Moose Tooth is rated as the third best pizza place in the U.S.  We dined on their famous pizza, cheese bread, and salads.  With their fresh ingredients, and perfect crust, the pizza is divine.  We especially enjoyed spending time with Brother and Sister Jacob's.  They are so kind, and a joy to be around.

Since it was still light outside after dinner, we went for a quick tour of Bear River.  Mike showed us where he used to tract.  On our way up the mountain, we saw a moose close up, and a Brown Bear at a distance (thank heavens the bear was not close).  While tracting in the area, Mike and his companion were required to carry bear spray.  I can see why!  At the stop of the summit was a beautiful panoramic view of Anchorage.

We ended the night, by driving passed the old mission office.  The office senior couples had given us some old letterhead with the address on it.  Things have changed a lot in 30 years.  The old mission office is now a coffee shop.

Lunch at Arctic Road Runner
The Mission Office
Brother and Sister Weston, Mike, The Dunn's, The Jacobs, and the Taylor's
President and Sister Robinson
The Mission Home
The Anchorage Temple
Pottter's Marsh
Glacier on Turnagain Pike
Winner Creek Trail, in the Alyeska Ski Resort, and Hand Tram.
Moose Tooth with the Jacobs'
Elder Brown's apartment in Bear River
Scenic View Bear River
Steve's Mission Home

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Day One - Alaska 2015

Today is July 15th, Steve's Birthday. Happy Birthday to a wonderful husband and father!  I miss him every single day. Today we felt like we were walking in his footsteps as we began our adventures in one of his favorite places, Alaska. What a wonderful way to celebrate his birthday.

We arrived in Anchorage around 1:30 p.m.  I thought that perhaps it would be a travel day, with not much to see or do, since we would be getting a late start on our day in Alaska.  I was surprised and thrilled when I learned different.  Mike had us on a tight schedule for the entire day/night.  The sun doesn't set until around midnight, so it makes you feel like you can just keep going.

Our first official stop was Hatcher Pass which consists primarily of mountainous terrain in the Talkeetna Mountain Range. It is an hour and 20 minutes from Anchorage, and about 20 minutes from Palmer and Wasilla.  There we enjoyed the gorgeous  mountains,  green velvet hills and extraordinary views.  We hiked up to the crystal clear Gold Cord Lake. It reminded me a lot of both Mary's Lake, and Ceret Lake in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon, in Utah.

In the same valley as our hike is Independence Mine State Historical Park.  This Park consists of two abandoned gold mine combined as one.  We were able to wander around, hike through the old mines, and railroads.  There was an abandoned village where the miners lived and worked.  We browsed through the streets imagining what it would have been like to be a miner during the gold rush.

After our adventures in Hatcher's Pass, we drove to Wasillia.  There we visited the apartment that Mike lived in while he was serving there.  Of course the missionaries were out, so we weren't able to see inside. We stopped by the Stake Center, and a couple members homes, before reaching Bishop and Sister Gray's house.

The Gray's had invited to their home for dinner.  They were wonderful hosts, and delightful people. Their home was a beautiful log cabin, located on a small lake.  As you walked in their home a large window captured a stunning view of the lake.  It is a home you would imagine in a magazine or wedding event.

We enjoyed talking with Bishop and Sister Gray, and meeting several members of their family.  They spoiled us, with a dinner consisting of halibut, salmon, and King Crab.  They loved Elder Brown and were so grateful for the wonderful service he had provided in their area.

After our lovely evening with the Gray's we stopped by the famous Miller Ice Cream Parlor on the way to Willow.  Rumor is they have the best ice cream around. Mike never served in Willow, but he visited there.  Steve had served in Willow and helped build a church there. It was interesting to compare the pictures he took in the 1980's with the ones we took.

On our way back to Anchorage, we stopped by Calle Eagle River, a small town just out of Anchorage.  Mike served part of his mission there, and gave us a quick tour.

What an amazing day we had.  Throughout our visit to Wasilla I kept having deja vu.  I kept feeling as if I had been there before.  I wonder if perhaps instead of deja vu, the feelings I was having were from  our guardian angel spending part of his birthday with us in a place near and dear to his heart. I can't adequately describe the feelings I was having,  but whatever it was, it was wonderful.

Welcome to Anchorage - Airport
Hatcher Pass

Gold Cord Lake
Independence Mine State National Park
Hatcher Pass
Elder Brown's Missionary Apartment in Wasilla
Bishop and Sister Gray's
Miller Market

Willow Chapel 2015
Willow Chapel 1980
The fireweed are blooming and are absolutely beautiful.
Elder Brown's Apartment in Bear River