This morning I was casually reviewing the view out the back porch of our vacation rental here in Big Lake, Alaska.  To my surprise I see we had an afternoon guest!

Looks like the big fella was not in the mood for chatting.   But a moose is a moose and he will do as he pleases when he pleases.

Ahhhh, Alaska.

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Written by Dave on March 12th, 2014 - Nostalgia | Make Comment

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Big Lake enjoys its recreation year round.

Once again, at least one Ice Racing event will be held on Big Lake this winter.  Several other races will be held at other locations in the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) valley

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Written by Dave on November 8th, 2012 - Nostalgia | Make Comment

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The sights in Alaska are breathtaking and there is plenty of daylight in the summer to take the breath away!

Our cabin at Jade Lake is only a few miles from Anchorage, as the crow flies, so it shares similar weather and night/daylight cycles as Alaska’s largest city.   Many misunderstand how day and night are influenced by the northern latitude.  So I’d like to offer a little primer while at the same time waxing reminiscent of our families recent stay in Big Lake.

The longest and shortest days of the year are called the solstices.  You have winter and summer solstice.  The farther north you go, the greater the difference between daylight and nighttime hours at each solstice extreme.  Once you cross the Arctic Circle the sun will not set on the day of the summer solstice and will not rise on the day of winter solstice.  This means that as the calendar progresses toward the summer solstice the days will get several minutes longer each day

At the latitude of Big Lake (where our vacation rental is located) it means that in the vicinity of June 20-22 there will be nearly 20 hours of daylight.   Due to the fact that the light from the sun illuminates the sky even after the sun has dipped out of sight (we call this dusk) and begins to illuminate the sky before it can actually be seen rising (we call this dawn) it can remain light around the clock.

View of Jade Lake from our cabin at 3:30am during the 3rd week in June

During this later part of June that is exactly what happens when looking out our cabin windows which overlook Jade Lake.  This photo was taken at 3:30am, there is no sun yet visible in the sky but it is just about to peek out toward the left (southeast) of the photo.

When you take a journey up our way in the summer months you have some very long, beautiful days in which to explore.  It is rather disorienting, but yes the sun does technically set over our cabin since we are some 350 miles south of the Arctic Circle.  And yes, between about 11:30pm -3:30am it is too dim to read a book indoors without artificial light.

Imagine the possibilities to enjoy Alaska!  A one or two week vacation actually has enough daylight hours for you to enjoy double your actual stay if you’re from Florida, Texas or Arizona.

Who goes on vacation to sleep anyway?

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Written by Dave on July 20th, 2012 - Nostalgia | Make Comment

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The Iron Dog is “World’s longest snowmobile race. 2000 miles across the Alaskan wilderness.”

Today’s Iron Dog course is over 2,000 miles, starting in Big Lake to Nome and finishing in Fairbanks, making it the World’s longest snowmobile race. Participants must traverse in some of Alaska’s the most remote and rugged terrain while confronting some the harshest winter conditions. Survival skills are essential, making it the World’s toughest snowmobile race. All teams in race classes are a team of two persons and two snowmobiles for safety. (from Iron Dog History)

The official start of the 2012 Iron Dog Pro Class Race began Sunday, February 19th at Big Lake approximately 1 mile from our vacation rental cabin in Big Lake, Alaska!

Planned community events for 2012 include:

  • Family Fun Snowmachine Run by Big Lake Trails
  • Kitty-Kat Races by Big Lake Aurora Lions Club
  • Ice Skating at the Big Lake Lion’s Club Rec Center
  • Eats available at the Boathouse Restaurant at the Sunset View Resort.
  • Beer Garden by RumRunners
  • Helicopter Rides by Jay Hawk Air
  • Power-drawn Hay Wagon Rides by Big Lake Trails
  • Iron Pup Race by AMMC – Sunday

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Written by Dave on February 21st, 2012 - Nostalgia | Make Comment

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USA Today Travel recently posted an article entitled 10 places you never thought you could afford [February 16, 2012] which covered the breath of travel opportunities now available to many.

The list included:

  • The Galapagos
  • Greece
  • Egypt
  • Japan
  • Berlin
  • New York City
  • Hawaii
  • Alaska
  • Switzerland
  • Cayman Islands

Did you catch that? Alaska! Our home away from home. Read an excerpt from USA Today.

…Alaska is enormous—it’s two times the size of Texas. […] For an amazingly economical Alaska vacation, book a cruise during . As of this publication, we spotted weeklong spring and fall Alaska cruises on our sister site Cruise Critic’s deals page on sale for as little as $569 per person…

I’d like to point out that an alternative, and one that allows you to get the feel of that which truly defines Alaska, is to find a “homebase” and plan excursions to the sites in Alaska which most interest you.

Cruise ships are nice but you are restricted to the “glamorous” coastal view. The sites in Alaska are only part of the adventure. Alaskans themselves have a spirit that cannot be quantified and is truly unique to Alaska. To see Alaska without spending time with Alaskans is like a BLT with no bread.

From a land-based perspective a vacation rental is ideal. Our cabin in Big Lake is near enough to Wasilla, Willow, Talkeetna, Denali, Anchorage and Portage Glacier to make all the sites of these destinations viable day trips. This gives you ample time to return for a BBQ on your personal balcony while enjoying the laid back beauty of Jade Lake.

A trip to the local grocery store to pick up those steaks & fresh salmon may not be as elegant as dinner with the captain, but maybe your goal is not to simply check “cruise” off your list.

Browse our Adventures and Places if you’re wondering whether you’d prefer a shopping trip in Ketchikan or a picnic at a gold mine followed by a stroll through an authentic early 1900’s Alaskan town.

But I do understand if maybe you just want to try your hand at some salmon fishing from the side of that cruise ship and call that “experiencing Alaska”.

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(travel industry) The time between high and low season in a travel market, or, if the market is divided into four segments, the time just below high season.

Written by Dave on February 16th, 2012 - Nostalgia | Make Comment

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Just reading the article Alaska dog-mushing season kicks off with a triple bang takes my imagination to a sporting venue that sounds uniquely exciting.  Read a few excerpts below:

Near Wasilla, the Alaska Excursions 120 saw an exciting field of entries with mushers from as far away as England, Brazil and New Zealand. They and several Iditarod and Yukon Quest veterans competed for $10,000 in prize money.

The first day’s fastest finish belonged to Ryan Redington, co-founder of the event and grandson of Joe Redington Sr., founder of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The second day of racing saw Redington’s team overtaken by the world champion sprint racer Blayne Streeper, whose Streeper Kennels is the only kennel in history to have won the World Triple Crown of mushing.

Race fans watching the Alaska Excursions 120 Facebook page were amused by a running commentary which included reports of Santa being on the trail (“…he may be DQ’d due to Prancer and Vixen not being on the official entry list…”) and then disappearing (“Report is that reindeer and sleigh tracks just… vanished.”), and one very unusual note about a musher being “shirtless, wearing only a bib… trying to confirm identity and… gender of said musher. Must be warm out.”

“In 1925, a life-or-death race to rescue the children of Nome, AK, from disease made an international hero of one sled dog – and eventually led to the creation of Alaska’s Iditarod sled dog race.”  (Quote from the inspiring story of hero sled dog Balto and his team’s thousand mile race: Sled Dogs: an Alaskan Epic – PBS)

Dog mushing was designated the official state sport of Alaska in 1972.

PHOTO FINISH (2010) — Paul Gebhard, left, crosses the finish line on the first day of the Alaska Excursions 120 sled dog race, followed by Ryan Redington, who won the race. Photo by Diana Haecker

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Written by Dave on December 21st, 2011 - Nostalgia | Make Comment

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Sometimes life seems like an unrelenting battering of one storm after another.

I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.
Louisa May Alcott

Quiet in the midst of quiet

For me part of learning how to sail mean times of solitude, times in which I can spend in quiet contemplation. 

That’s what this little piece of paradise up in the Alaskan north feels like to me. 

View of Jade Lake from our Big Lake cabin

Big Lake is a rural community with  the basic amenities.  Quiet, unassuming.  When the need arises the local Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Safeway and Fred Meyer are only a short drive away.  Wasilla has a movie theater and restaurants abound.  But that’s not why our little cabin on Jade Lake means so much to our family.
The snow has a quieting affect on the noise of life.

Our Alaskan vacation rental 60 miles north of Anchorage

This is the place where the seas are calm; where one can return to the basics.  Our vacation rental near Wasilla, Alaska is more than a getaway.
It’s a place where we, and those who visit, can learn (and re-learn) how to sail.  It’s a place where there’s reprieve from the storm.  A place where bearings can be adjusted and priorities established.
Well, it’s a little more than all that too.  It’s a little reminder of life not in the passing lane.
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Written by Dave on December 2nd, 2011 - Nostalgia | Make Comment

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From the Anchorage Daily News:

Tosa is big-boat best at Big Lake regatta

Published: September 6th, 2011 10:42 PM

Doug Tosa won the big-boat class and Tim Gould and Jodi Dingle took the small-boat class in the 45th annual Governor’s Cup Regatta over the weekend at Big Lake.

Small-boat class – 1); Tim Gould/Jodi Dingle, 2) tie, Geoff Wright, Anchorage, and Elayne Hunter, Anchorage.

Big-boat class – 1) Doug Tosa, Anchorage; 2) Bruce and Tina LaLonde, Anchorage; 3) Jeromy Reed, Anchorage.

I have never been afforded the opportunity to watch this.  I look forward to the day it is possible to be in Alaska while the regatta is going on.

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Written by Dave on November 29th, 2011 - Nostalgia | Make Comment

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John Denver sang,

Oh, for the fire on a cold winters night
Once more to gaze at the great northern lights
For all of the beauty my children will see
Here’s to Alaska and me
Here’s to Alaska, here’s to the people
Here’s to the wild and here’s to the free
Here’s to my life in a chosen country
Here’s to Alaska and me

A look from our front porch toward Jade Lake



This is the place our family longs to be. 

Our Thanksgiving Day was nowhere near the pure white  powder you see all around… but our hearts were.

What a blessing that we can share our home away from home with many others.  Big Lake, Alaska is the place to be this time of year!

Oh, for the fire on a cold winters night!

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Written by Dave on November 27th, 2011 - Nostalgia | Make Comment

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Alaskan Chalet @ Jade Lake

Memories of our time with Alaska