Alaska Day 7..part 2

The poem below was written as a request for a boat Robin saw on the dock at Seward that was named Rumdoodle’s Son. … so there ya go.

The portside is where his story began,
The son of a drunken fisherman,
In the water he was destined to be.
Early to rise and early to sea.
His father found him in his fishing net,
A little bit frozen, but mostly wet.
Rumdoodle raised the boy on his ship,
Becoming a man through every trip.
When their boat would dock seaside village,
Daddy Rumdoodle would drink til he spillage.
On one dark Alaskan winter night,
He drank too much and couldn't see right.
Rumdoodle steered the ship into ice,
With him and his son they paid the price.
Some claim if you look at the long night's sky,
You might get a show and see them sail drunkenly by.

Backstory on the poem below… the Aviator hotel screwed up our reservation majoraly and we almost had no where to stay on our last night. That’s the short version. 🙂

Here she is like a dear old friend.
Bittersweet til the bitter end.
You don't have to go but you can't stay here.
Where will we go? We can't just disappear!
So we pause for a moment at the Inlet Inn.
Use the loo, have a drink, and just try to grin.
Lisbeth will take her hobo bath.
The Aviator will hear Adam's calm wrath.
It's a good thing we're an understanding bunch
Or someone might be on the other end of a punch.
But not Adam! We know, he's trying real hard.
To get us a room or even a tent in a yard.
Data miners convention has filled up the town
But Adam will avail. He won't back down.
Never thought we'd be happy to see this place again.
We've got rooms! Hallelujah! Can I get an amen!
Woah! Look at this! We've got Aviator's best.
Satin dust ruffles and an iron. We're so #blessed.
So here we are, the final day at last.
Thankful for our guide who's so steadfast.

Alaska Day 8

Last day. This day made Anchorage not so bad. But still… Anchorage is ick.

  • Went to the Anchorage market and met some cool local artists.
  • Watched salmon fishermen in the local waters
  • Went to the Anchorage Museum (Art and Culture stuff)
  • Hit up a few local artists galleries/shops
  • Champagne and oysters at Bubbly Mermaid
  • Zazu drink and fries at Tequila 61

After many failed attempts to see a moose, and one blurry shot from earlier in the week of a baby moose, we finally saw one near the airport on our way out. The below poem was written when we saw the baby moose. But it feels fitting to put here.

The elusive moose is a mamma moose
And she drinks the sweet berry mountain juice.
The elusive moose is one to seduce
And she trollops with her calf at caboose.
The elusive moose seems to be a recluse
And our time is up so me must vamoose.

This poem is for our tourguide, who really was awesome. 🙂

He's a wealth of information
With careful pauses of ... consideration.
He narrates as he drives the shuttle
With dad jokes that aren't too subtle.
Talking for hours with tales galore
He'll keep on going, even if you snore.
He'll get your ticket and get you there
And tell you exactly how, when, and where.
Be on time and don't be late.
The stress that'll cause him is too great.
He works hard to ensure our happy trip
So we will be sure not to forget his tip!

Alaska Day 7

Day 7 was our boat ride to the Kenai Fjords. Absolutely unbelievable. We saw seals, otters, bald eagle, puffins, orca whales, comorans, and some other bird related to the penguin and living up on the cliffs with puffins. Oh, and we saw climate change and global warming in effect with the glaciers. But that’s not real, right?

I can’t fit all the photos onto this post so I will make a second one… that one will have the whales and other wildlife…

Please excuse any crooked shots. Not easy taking photos on a boat, and dude, I don’t have time to go through and straighten all of them. Just pretend you are on the boat.

  • Woke up for breakfast at the hotel restaurant. They had a vegan sausage skillet scramble. Yum.
  • Loaded onto the boat for Kenai Fjords tour. Big ol boat with lots of folks on it. I found that I liked riding in the very front like a mermaid on a mast, the best. 🙂 Some good wave jumping action there and the best spot to scout the wild life.
  • Headed to the glacier first, and then to see a pod of orcas that was spotted, and then over to the cliffs where the puffins hang out.
  • Headed back to Anchorage. Most folks were a little wheezy from sea sickness, but that doesn’t affect me and I had all the free refills on coffee I could stand!
  • Pit stop somewhere on the Seward Highway. Grabbed some delicious ice cream.
  • Back to Anchorage- and low and behold- the crumby Aviator screwed up our reservation. Too long and complicated to explain, but just don’t ever stay there!!!!
  • Didn’t really eat dinner this night.
  • But did have more ice cream from Wild Scoops!!! I had some pea berry flavor with matcha almond cookie crumbles and of course, the baked alaska on top. Duh.
  • Walked around a bit, and then off to reorganize the packing for our departure the next day.

There is one poem… but I will save that for the Alaska Day 7 Part 2 post. 🙂

Alaska Day 6

On our way to Seward this day! An oceanside town, with a large fishing industry. Set against the backdrop of the mountains, this town easily became my favorite!

  • Shuttle to Seward… amazing views with little rays of light peeking through. The horizon seemed to go on forever fading away.
  • Quick look from the street of the Alaska Wildlife Center where we saw buffalos and a moose (the moose was too far away)
  • Stopped for a pit stop at a little coffee/ice cream shop. Cute location with a lake and Mountains of course. I did cartwheels. It just felt right.
  • Passed over Kenai lake- gorgeous!
  • Grabbed lunch from the lighthouse bakery in Seward. Met the owners little 5 year old daughter who was a cute lil chatterbox.
  • Ate my egg salad sammy on the shuttle as we drove to Exit Glacier
  • Hiked Exit Glacier. Started off with Ranger Rob, but there were far too many people crowded in that group, so I went rogue and did my own thing. Stood on the glacier bed of rocks with black sand. Climbed my way as far as I could go without damaging nature or leaving a trace.
  • Back into the town of Seward and walked around for a few hours. Explored the coast, watched some salmon fishers, and saw tourists and fisherman’s big catches! And I mean BIG!
  • Ate a salmon dinner at Chinook, and of course I also had to have a king crab leg. Watched the shadow’s mountain take over and it almost got dark!
  • Walked the dock and the beach a little more before bed time.
Quiet and calm
Disappearing into the inlet's mist
Subdued and hushed
Where the ocean meets the mountain's kiss
Endless hills
Colliding into the mountain hue
Forward on
Fading out of our own view

The sun sleeps behind the mountains
But the light echoes in the sky
It glows in between the valleys
And slips away gently with no goodbye
Left in the shadow of the mountains
Time eludes the silhouetted town
Discovering the quiet beauty of the valley
Only moments til daylight's crown

Alaska Day 5

Day 5 was a traveling day on a train. Long day of travel but I enjoyed it. 🙂

  • Breakfast again at the Black bear cafe- Alaskan Benedict with smoked salmon. Yum!
  • Back to Denali Park to romp around for an hour before we had to board the train.
  • I made the most of that hour and hiked to Horseshoe Lake to see the Beaver dam and hopefully to see some beavers. It was raining and I made it to the damn but saw no beavers. I had to run un the trail to get back to the shuttle in time- up steps and hills. It was a breathtaking exhausting, wetty, and sweaty run…but I made it back!
  • We took the Alaskan Rail Wilderness Express train with the glass domed ceiling.
  • Smoked salmon chowder for lunch on the train and Halibut for dinner on the train.
  • I bought a goofy engineer cap because why not?!!
  • Got back into Anchorage in the evening, and to avoid spending time in the gross hotel, we walked around and got ice cream at Wild Scoops. Fireweed again. I got mine with a “baked Alaska” on top. Marshmallow Fluff torched! Sooooo good.
I'm sorry that you're feeling queasy
Motion sickness isn't easy.
And when ginger just won't do the trick
You can step outside to get sick.
But how amazing is it to ride the rail!
Sit back. Enjoy the view. And drink some ale!
With it's views of Alaska from the glass dome ceiling
The Wilderness Express gives you a special feeling.

Alaska Day 4

Today was an early 6am morning! But we slept with the sliding door open and waking up to the crisp mountain air and the sound of the river rushing with glacial water was quite awesome.

  • Breakfast at the Black Bear Cafe- Really good vibe and great coffee…ate a “Bearito” but don’t worry, there was no meat in it. 🙂
  • We went to Denali park today and were given the Green Bus tour, which is an 8 hour ride to Eielsen Visitor Center with a stop every 90ish minutes to stretch the legs and empty the bladder. Our tour guide was Aaron from Utah who was very entertaining.
  • Animals we saw: grizzlys, caribous, ground squirrels, a moose’s caboose, grouses, and snowshoe hare.
  • Upon returning to the main visitor center, Jes and I hiked a wee bit, and found some cool “off path” hikes as well as some terrific views!
  • Dinner at 49th State Brewery. Ate smoked salmon chowder and the halibut. Took some photos with the bus used to film Into the Wild.
  • Saw a baby moose and mom from afar, but only got one blurry shot of the baby. 😦
We're riding on this old green bus
Driving through curves that'll make you cuss.
The mountains are high and the valleys are low
The cliffs are steep and the bumps really blow.
Craning my neck to take in the view
Stop! An animal is at our two!
Thrown to a halt we gather to one side
Take photos and stare, then back to the ride.
8 hours on the bus and with any luck
My lunch I'll keep in and I won't up........

I could do without another caribou.
But another bear and I'll be there.
Have you seen any wondering wolverine?
Was it stalking prey or just enjoying the day?
I've seen plenty of the silly squirrel
One even sat on the lap of this girl!
I stared a moose in her caboose.
And a snowshoe hare in the posterior.
From afar I peeped a mountain doll sheep
A cotton ball dot, didn't look like a lot.
All the creatures and their features
From behind the glass through our mountain pass.

BREWERY BLUES (Sing it like a blues song, duh)
After 8 hours on the Denali Bus
I was so hungry I made a fuss!
I should have had a larger lunch
Instead of just a little munch.
By the time we got to our dinner spot
I only complained "It's too hot!"
Woahhhh ohhhhh I was Hangry!
Yeahhhh ahhhhh I needed to eat
Oh Man! I was Hangry!
Woahhhh! I'd even eat meat!
I finally got an IPA in me
Chowder too with things from the sea!
I began to feel like myself again
Singing songs every now and then.
And what a surprise Mike bought our next beer
For switching rooms, oh what a dear!
Woahhhh ohhhh I was Hangry!
Yeahhhh ahhhhhh I needed to eat!
Oh man! I was hangry!
Woahhhh! But I didn't eat meat!

Alaska day 3

  • Hit the road to Wasilla for our visit with Martin Busser at Happy Trails Kennel and his Sled Dogs
  • Hung out with all the puppies and learned about how they prepare for the Iditarod
  • Traveled to Talkeetna and ate lunch on the bus
  • Got on the Talkeetna Air Taxi, a 10 passenger plan equipped to land on a glacier
  • Flew all around Denali and the surrounding glaciers and mountains and landed on a Glacier!! I ate some glacial ice, because of course I had to
  • Walked around the small village of Talkeetna and ate Fireweed ice cream- Yummo!! I skipped some rocks in the river and found a few to take with me 🙂
  • Long drive to Grizzly Bear Resort in Denali National Park area- Great resort with camper, campsite, and room options
  • Ate dinner at a food truck in the resort- Thai food! Lot’s of Thai options in the area
  • Hung out on the patio of our room, with a glass of wine and listening to the river

Soaring above the land
White noise as your soundtrack
Turn a corner and
You'll never want to look back.

Views that will draw a tear
Your eyes can't believe what they see
As the mountains draw near
This is where you want to be.

Majestic scenes at every turn
It's hard for the mind to comprehend.
Nature that'll make you yearn
For this beauty to never come to an end.

Alaska Days 1 & 2

I’m realizing it is very hard to blog while traveling. So I will do this the best I can!

We got in yesterday late afternoon. And though I love being somewhere new, I gotta say, Anchorage is probably not gonna make it on my “must visit again” list. It is quite possible that I am missing something, but I am honestly not blown away. That’s not to say that I’m not enjoying myself, because I definitely am. Just overall- anchorage feels a bit underwhelming.

Day 1:

  • Landed around 2pm
  • Hotel stay at The Aviator in Anchorage- I highly suggest you avoid this place at all costs!!!
  • Walked around a local weekend market right around the corner from the hotel with my pal Jes
  • Drank a beer from local brewery called 49th state and met a friendly local named Sunshine
  • Found a cute bar/restaurant called Tequila 61 and had a fancy yummy cocktail
  • Met our guide from Ruby Range- Adam Moore
  • Dinner at hotel- despite the accommodations lodging the fish and chips was pretty good
  • Passed out and slept like a rock with my face mask and ear plugs on

I began writing rhyming poems on the trip… Here is my first poem written about Sunshine:

Shining in his orange vest
Smiling larger than all the rest.
He's not shy, he'll come right up to you
You'll be confused, not sure what to do.
Engage in a little awkward conversation
Stay or leave? A contemplation.
Just as you decide to go
He stops because he wants you to know...
his number!

Day 2:

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Went to Wells Fargo Alaskan Cultural Museum and met with Robyn and Megan of the Alaska Art Education Association
  • We got to actually touch historical artifacts!!!!
  • Drove to Alaskan Native Heritage Center and learned about the 5 different cultures of Alaska’s Native people and the different clans within them.
  • Viewed and explored different traditional dwellings of Alaska Native Peoples
  • Bought some souvenirs (Earings)
  • Went to the Alaskan Native Medical Center for their gift shop. It was very small and made me anxious so I did not really look around
  • Walked around downtown Anchorage some more. Still not impressed, but found a cute Oyster/Champagne bar called the Bubbly Mermaid and had both of those things.
  • Went to dinner at the Crow’s nest which had an amazing view but was overrated for food. Very expensive for food trying to act fancy. Would not suggest eating there. Go for a drink at most.
  • Went back to Tequila 61 for after dinner drinks.
  • Played floor is Lava with towels at The Aviator since the floor and carpet was so dang gross

School for Art Leaders Day 5

This post is a bit belated. Our last meeting together was more logistical and reflective, and then ended with a celebratory lunch. After that, it was off to the airport, and then I stopped over in Atlanta for some visiting with friends and family, so I found my time consumed (gladly) by that.

Saying goodbye to my awesome SAL roomies.
Saying goodbye to the green 21C penguins
Flying into storms… a metaphor for the feelings I was going through! Ha!

Reflecting back on my SAL experience I have a lot of thoughts I am still trying to sort through, as well as papers and readings! lol

Going in to School for Art Leaders, I will admit my skepticism in the program. Other folks who attending claimed the program to be transformational and life changing. I thought to myself, “How will this actually be life changing for me. I am not like everyone else! And how will trust falls and learning about leadership transform me?” Well folks, I drank the SAL Koolaid.

What I failed to realize is that SAL is more about learning about yourself and your story. It is about who you are as a leader, what motivates you, what stresses you out, how to work with other types of leaders, and giving yourself time to sort through all this.

I have come to learn how to accept our differences as leaders (no matter what level of leadership one is at) and how to appreciate the value in everyone’s strengths. And admittedly, I feel a little foolish that it took me this long to figure that out.

The Buckminster Fuller Geodome thrown into nature.

The other thing I was skeptical of, was the location. When arriving in Bentonville, I was like, “Where the heck am I? There is gonna be nothing to do and I am trapped.” But this to, I now see the value in. That isolation was necessary to my allowing myself space to process. There were little distractions, beyond good food and nature, and the nature was definitely inspiring and peaceful to be around. Our walks to and from the museum everyday allowed time for reflection.

I have learned a great deal about myself. I have learned what I need to work on and what I am good at. And I have allowed myself to be vulnerable in front of strangers (now friends) in order to understand myself.

I realize there is a larger more personal journey I have to take that will allow me to feel balance in my life. Ultimately, everything in my life and in my story leads me to be the type of leader I want to be, and so there are some things I must work on. In Friedman’s book, Total Leadership , he identifies 4 domains that play into the role of a leader- work, community, home, and self. I put a lot of my time into work and community, and I know there are plenty of things to work on there, but those two domains line up pretty well within each other. Self (mind, body, spirit) and home (family and relationships) live far outside those circles of work and community and seem to get little in the way of my focus of time and energy. So that has to change, and I have to work on bettering my relationships.

This will be my last consecutive post for a while on SAL. I will probably still make other future SAL/Leadership type posts depending on what I am working on, but the next series of posts will be my trip to Alaska at the end of July!!! Woooo hoooo!!!! And then hopefully… I will continue here and there with blogging throughout the school year.

Crystal Bridges Day 4

Today was a big story writing and story telling day. Not much in the way of pictures to go along with the stories so I will just throw some fun ones in at the end.

This post is just gonna be my 3 minute Art Education Advocacy story…

Allow me a moment to frame it. I teach in a district where we are referred to as “prep teachers”…by colleagues, by students, and sometimes (though not usually in mine) by administration. Even our union slips into that language. So all those folks would be my audience. And as you probably guessed, the core of my story is that I am not a prep teacher. And away we go!!

What’s in a name? 
What is my label?

I am an art educator. I teach my students about the visual arts and how to apply what they are learning in other classes. I teach divergent thinking in my art room and how to be creative problem solvers. I have created an art room where my students can learn about themselves, explore their ideas, and experiment with different mediums, themes and content. I am preparing them to be creative thinkers and innovators and to understand the visual culture they live in. But please don’t be mistaken by that. I am not a prep teacher. I am an art teacher. 

A teachers prep time is their time to prepare lessons, grade, organize, have a meeting or do whatever they need to do to be ready for their students. Art teachers have a preparation period also where we do such things- preparing paint, cutting paper, hanging art, assessing work, cleaning paint brushes, researching artists, and so much more (like this list could go on for a while y’all!). To me and many in my profession it feels like a misrepresentation to refer to art class as a prep class. It has the potential for misunderstandings. Knowing that students are sent to me under that false label and to hear a student refer to it as such or to call me a prep teacher can be soul crushing. I feel devalued and unimportant in the role of their education. “But Miss, it’s just my prep class- it doesn’t matter. I want to be a basketball player.” Teaching art is my passion and has always been. I want my colleagues and my students to see, feel, and hear that passion and understand what my label truly is.

You know how labels can share the fabric compositions and care instructions on the back? Well I’d like to share with y’all the fabric of my art room and the care I put into it to create a constructive, creative, and safe learning space.

My room is unapologetically colorful. It’s a space organized and dictated by colors that  create systems to help students understand the art room culture.With an art library bursting at the seems, my room invites students to learn through literacy if that is their strength. We sing songs about art and learn kinesthetically through dancing.  It’s a welcoming space filled with smiling students who are learning about our world through art and drawing conclusions on their relationship with that world, and how to build relationships with one another through collaboration. On a painting day, students can smell the tempera paint and are excited to experiment with mixing colors and explore color theory. My room is a place for all students to succeed in  ways that work best for them while making connections to their learning and to discover themselves.

So, what I’d like to do is switch the perspective…to shift the dialogue. To help folks understand what I do and what happens in the art room… That I am not a prep teacher, I am an art educator. As a community we can make this change. We can flip the label.

There ya have it folks. I even volunteered to be one of the people to read it to the whole group. It was nerve wracking, but I was so proud of what I accomplished and I had to share.

Now some fun pictures…