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Teaching at Half Moon Creek Gallery in Palmer Alaska for the third time, we landed in Anchorage with a side trip to Homer  scheduled first.  Cloud covered, we could see hints of blue sky causing our spirits to soar.  Each previous working vacation has been rainy, cloudy, and generally stormy.


As the sun came out, we knew this trip – our third – would be charmed.

Especially when we saw a moose along the highway before we’d been in Alaska a full day!

As we pulled into Homer, it was a bit dark, but hey….it was 10pm!

We splurged and stayed at Land’s End Resort Hotel, the last building on the Homer Spit.

Our room had a fantastic view and I braved the cold wind, going out on our deck often to breathe in the sea and sky.

Our first full day was long and early, beginning with a halibut fishing trip for my better half.  I had booked a birding excursion, but my trip was cancelled due to high seas.  So I Looked for eagles birds  on land….

…found some seagulls in a parking lot at 6:30 am after dropping my hubby off at the docks, then decided to treat myself to a latte since most of the birds were still asleep.

At Two Sisters Bakery I found one of the best mocha’s I’ve ever had!  Took their shelter from the rain, a warm cinnamon roll and a little wi-fi.

Next I went on a guided hike at the Wynn Nature Center and since I was the only one at 10 am I had a naturalist all to myself for an informative and personalized tour.

The views from Skyline Drive on my way back into town were breathtaking and I still had time to use my plastic at all the galleries, gift shops and book stores in Homer.

Back to my tireless hunt for birds along the sandy shore of the spit…

…found plenty of seagulls….

…and finally….the following day on our way out of town….

…after countless blurry images, this guy decided to pose for a few shots.  He wasn’t happy about it, but he did and I was grateful.

Later that afternoon in Girdwood, we took a short hike at the Historic Crow Creek Gold Mine, ending at the creek’s edge.  We stayed at a B & B and our evening meal just across the street at Double Musky Inn was one of the best ever. Thanks to everyone who recommended it!

Girdwood hosts the Alyeska Resort with an Arial Tram that takes you to the top of Mt. Alyeska, 2300 feet up in seven minutes….. with astonishing views.  When we were here last year it was closed due to high winds, so I was really looking forward to going up.

Not wanting to break our record of clouds and rain in Alaska, this was the clearest shot I had of  Turnagain Arm from the top of Mt. Alyeska.  Exhilarating, nonetheless!

The Alyeska Hotel, viewed during the tram’s descent….which might be a bit scary if you’re in the front.  OK, yes I was scared, but only for a minute, and there were children onboard, so I smiled valiantly, held on tightly and loved every moment even though my white knuckles implied otherwise.

The gardens at Hotel Alyeska are spectacular….the roads in downtown Girdwood are under construction, so I just grabbed a latte and we continued our northern journey.

Almost to Anchorage we stopped at Potter Marsh, the southern end of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge with incredible views of Turnagain Arm.

Alas, I wasn’t having a lot of luck with my birding adventure this week, but I did find a few feathered friends to photograph.

The scenery was breathtaking … as it always is … in Alaska … despite gray conditions.

Our next stop enroute to Palmer was the Alaska Botanical Garden in Anchorage.  A lovely short hike with a warning that bears were in the area; but the only wildlife we saw were mosquitoes.  Fortunately I had citronella oil with me.

Can you tell I am completely enamored with the Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis)!  I’ve tried growing them to no avail, but here in Alaska they thrive.

With time for one more stop before arriving in Palmer, we chose to hike at the Eagle River Nature Center (you know I was hoping to see an eagle!).

We found baby swallows, but no eagles in sight.  The setting was gorgeous and we had a great hike!

My Powderology class is the reason for my being in Alaska.  Two days, ten students, 4 kilns filled twice, and a ton of fun at Half Moon Creek in Palmer!  Once again, I had a set of talented people unafraid to take risks, play and explore.  Does anyone in Alaska know what can’t means?  I think not!

A collaged collection of student work, I did not pick up my camera as often as planned.  We start having fun and I forget to document!  It was one of those magical classes where everyone connected, shared ideas, and laughed together.

And we all excitedly gasped as the kilns were opened in the morning!

Our trip to Palmer wouldn’t be complete without a drive up to Hatcher Pass for stunning views.  One last treat by our lovely hosts at Simon’s in Anchorage with a panoramic view of Cook Inlet, then back to our B & B to pack up.  All in all, the third time WAS a charm!  We loved every moment and want to again thank Half Moon Creek for offering another opportunity for an amazing adventure!!

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Welcome to Palmer Alaska

Half Moon Creek is an amazing glass gallery, Bullseye Resource Center and studio.  The owner/partners treated me like a queen and lined up a full class of incredible students.  Four days together without a hitch or a glitch.  I adored each student and the tiles they produced were nothing short of inspirational.  I can’t stop thinking about my experience, it was one of those adventures that I’ll remember the rest of my life.  The land and the people.

After landing in Anchorage, we headed south along the shore.

I’ll try not to overload you with over 1000 photos that I took, but only a few to tantalize.  I arrived a day early and took a quick trip south of Anchorage to find glaciers, whales, bear, moose, eagles, and everything wild that I’d read about Alaska.

broken off glacier

I found a glacier just before going into the tunnel leading to Whittier.  Or a piece of one, broken off, I later learned.

Elk at Wildlife Refuge, south of Anchorage, Alaska

I found elk, bison, caribou, and moose at the wildlife refuge but never saw one in the wild.  Didn’t see any bears either.  I was really looking forward to seeing a bear.

I took hundreds of photos, but don’t want to spend my time processing & editing!

It rained and clouds settled in during my entire week there, with rare exceptions.  I didn’t care, I was THERE.  In Alaska!  I planned to experience every moment, in the moment from my class to the daily treks after class.  The sun only sets for a couple of hours in August, so I had all day to teach and all night to explore.

Morning of Museums around Palmer & Wasilla

We played tourist to the hilt, going to all the museums in Palmer & Wasilla before class began and generally exploring the area.

Summit Lake in Clouds

Hatcher Pass was so cloudy and rainy we couldn’t see Summit Lake just beyond the wildflowers!  Can you see it?  We didn’t see Independence Mine either!

Little Susitna River

Which river photo to show from our drive back to town…..how about this one!

Knik Glacier from our B & B

View of Knik Glacier from our B & B….

Knik Glacier with telephoto

And zoomed in.  A spectacular view every day in spite of clouds or rain.

First day of class

Day one in class saw a full slate of students working diligently, modeling glass paste and getting to know one another.  Chris and Christian had the studio well stocked and our every wish was their command!  Not to mention the catered lunch with truffles for dessert!

Using Steider Studios Glass Medium as a binder for small components

We had one kiln filled with beads, buttons & cabs; and another kiln filled with small sculptures.

Susitna River

Day two, I forgot to pick up my camera in class, we were so busy producing samples and discussing possibilities.  That evening, still playing the role of tourist by night, we drove out to Talkeetna, the staging camp for Denali, hoping to see Mt. McKinley.  No sun, no mountain view.  But the clouds made for a dramatic view of the river!

Will the sun shine today?

Day three of class … yep, more clouds with a wink of the sun.

Samples from Day 1 Powderology

These are samples from day one of Powderology, our second day together. Two more kilns full of tests yet to view and discuss!

Viewing samples, comparing notes.

Excited students dove into their samples with gusto, curiosity, and risk-taking attitudes.  I think I surprised them with how much could be done with powdered glass!  I caught a couple of them talking about exhaustion!!

Matanuska Glacier

That evening we drove out to Matanuska Glacier.

I am so inspired by the colors I can’t wait to start my ‘Glacier Series’!

Still light at the B & B, I grabbed a few shots of surrounding color.

Last day of extended Powderology course

How many different ways can you visually say the same thing?  Using wafers; full vs tack fuse; kiln-carved; and so much more.

Working with glass powders

Last day of class everyone worked long and hard to finish all the experiments they wanted to tackle.  We filled three kilns plus a load of wafers earlier in the day.

At the end of the day…

Ten very happy students and one extremely happy instructor that last afternoon!  Who looks more spent, me or students?!!

Reindeer Farm

After class we headed out to the Reindeer Farm.  Had high hopes of seeing Santa, but alas he was vacationing in a warm sunny part of the globe, we were told!  Do you know how expensive it is to ship an antler home?  A gift for my garden!  OMG!

Our last morning the sun came out!

We woke to sunny skies on our last day.  Yes, this is what the sun looked like.  Did I say the landscape is incredible?  Awe-inspiring?  Beyond spectacular?  The memory takes my breath away.

Our view coming into Palmer Alaska

Our last drive into Palmer was gifted with a sun-filled sky….joy  still welling in my heart to see this photo of it!

Collage of projects

Back at Half Moon Creek unloading kilns, giving a final critique to everyone who could be there & packing up my tools & samples.  Wish I had been more diligent with photography in class to show you how much our students accomplished!

Hatcher Pass

Then we headed back to Hatcher Pass to see what we missed due to cloud cover the first part of the week.  I could show you a hundred more pictures, but will try to refrain!

One last view of the first glacier segment

And a speed trip back to Whittier, where it was still cloudy, and raining; accompanied with the eerie news of Senator Steven’s plane crash.

It was the trip of a lifetime and I can’t wait to go back.  For the incredible people, the enormous landscapes, and next time I really, really hope to see wildlife in the wild. Oh, and Denali.  And Valdez.  And Seward.  And Homer.  And bears!  Next summer I’ll  bring Powderology Plus back to Half Moon Creek!  Alaska is awesome, I can’t wait!!  Thank you Christian and Chris for the invitation, you were wonderful to work with!

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