September 20, 2014

Autumn - Nature’s Grand Finale

Filed under: Aurora, Calendar, Everyday Life, Photography, Roadtrips, Wildlife — Susan Stevenson @ 2:32 pm

When the bold branches
Bid farewell to rainbow leaves —
Welcome wool sweaters.

~B. Cybrill~

Autumn is nearly over already. The cooler morning air and longer hours of darkness seemed to turn the leaves faster this year. One moment there were small patches of yellow in the birch and aspen trees, and the next moment, brightly colored leaves swirled in the breeze and carpeted the lawn. It was rather sad, honestly.

Our summer was short-lived and very wet. The trees in my yard didn’t change gradually, as I recall in year’s past. Peak foliage lasted only a day or two and I don’t feel I had time to truly enjoy the transformation.

The abundance of rain brought mushrooms to both the woods and the lawn. And moss. In fact, we have large patches of moss in the lawn, where grass usually fills in during the summer. I fear next year will bring a lot of yard work, as we will need to till under many areas and re-seed.

I didn’t pick berries this year, but from what I understand there was a pretty good crop of blueberries. Some say the rain made them more plump and juicy. The farmers market certainly didn’t have a lack of blueberries. Vegetable gardens, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well. My friend Amanda has a huge garden and she was quite disappointed in her harvest. Last year she had enough beans to feed them throughout the winter. This year, she only had enough to fill about a dozen canning jars.

Steve and I took advantage of the beautiful weather. At least with the transition of fall, the rain stopped. Chilly mornings and afternoon temperatures in the 70s were quite welcome. We took Raven on long walks, and visited the trail at Chena Lakes several times.

About a month ago, I scrubbed and sanitized my bird feeders in preparation for winter feeding. Each week, I have more visitors. I am happy to see more woodpeckers - both Downey and the larger Hairy woodpeckers. The chickadees are back, although not in the great numbers I expect I’ll have in winter. Nuthatches and Juncos continue to visit, along with Gray Jays who really love the suet and leave a mess on the deck and under the feeder pole. I adore these feathered visitors to my home.

Autumn in Alaska Cranberry Leaves Birch Leaf
Birch Trees at Chena Lakes Birch Trees at Chena Lakes Birch Trees at Chena Lakes
Autumn Leaves at my house Autumn Leaves at my house Female Hairy Woodpecker
Female Hairy Woodpecker Female Hairy Woodpecker Female Hairy Woodpecker


If there’s one thing I do love about autumn, it’s the return of the aurora borealis. And the stars - so many stars! Autumn is a great time to view and photograph the northern lights. The rivers and ponds aren’t frozen, and the water reflects back the colors in the night sky. Although it is definitely chilly at night, we’re not yet having the bone chilling temps of deep winter.  This makes aurora chasing SO much more fun and enjoyable.

We had a Supermoon in September, and with clear skies, I was able to photograph this Harvest Moon from my driveway. I used my zoom lens (100-400mm) and cropped this image from the original so you can see the details in the moon. It’s hard to believe that this shining cratered ball is nearly 239,000 miles from us!

Super Moon
September Supermoon - Harvest Moon


September 6, 2014

2015 Alaska Photographic Calendar

Filed under: Calendar, Everyday Life — Susan Stevenson @ 4:32 pm

It is my pleasure to offer this 2015 Alaska Photographic Calendar, featuring photographs I’ve taken throughout Alaska. The images I chose are a good representation of the Alaska I know and love. I hope you enjoy this peek into my world.

This is my seventh calendar! Thank you very much to those of you who have ordered my calendar in years past. To those of you who have never ordered a calendar from me, it is my greatest hope that you are pleased with the quality and care that I put into creating the 2015 version. (Scroll down below image for more information)

2015 Alaska Calendar

You can see the above image much larger, at this link: )

My calendar is printed on one of the finest printing papers made today. With one of the thickest weights (130#), the paper is also acid free, archival, and Forest Stewardship Council* certified paper. (*FSC is an independent, non-profit organization that protects forests for future generations. FSC-certified paper comes from responsibly managed sources.) The calendar is 8.5×11 when folded, 11×17 when hanging. My calendars are printed and produced in the USA.

I only place one bulk order. I am not in a financial position to keep hundreds of calendars in inventory, so the only way to ensure one is reserved for you, is to contact me during the pre-order period. Once the calendars are gone, they are gone. What this means is that those of you who purchase a calendar are, in effect, getting a limited edition product.

The price of the calendar will remain the same as it has been for the last five years (which includes Priority USPS shipping anywhere in the US). Please email me for shipping costs if you live outside the US.

One Calendar - $27.00

Two Calendars - $26.00 each

Three + Calendars - $25.00 each

Fairbanks/North Pole if personally delivered - $25.00 each

If you would like to be added to the order list, please email me directly at with the following information: Your full name, your email address, & total number of calendars to reserve. The pre-order period will remain open until September 21st.*** My goal is to have the calendars packaged and shipped to you (after payment is received) by mid-late November. NO MONEY IS DUE NOW. You will be notified before I place my order.

I accept payment by check, cash (if local), or paypal. Further information as to how to make payment will be provided when I invoice you. Thank you for your interest! And many thanks to those of you who ordered a calendar last year, and in years past!


***I have been asked by a few locals if I could wait for the PFD payout before collecting payment. I am happy to work with anyone regarding orders and payments, and/or holding calendars until a time when payment can be made. Email me and we can certainly discuss an arrangement that works well for both of us.

September 2, 2014

Girls Trip - Homer Alaska - Long Weekend

Filed under: Roadtrips, Travel, Wildlife — Susan Stevenson @ 7:29 pm

I love my getaways with my gal pals. These excursions are always so much fun! We get to talk girl talk all weekend long, share many laughs, relax in comfy clothes, and best of all - we share the cost. Sharing the cost is the biggest perk, as this allows us to all have a wonderful time on a budget.

This year, our choice was Homer. After doing a lot of research, I decided that it would be more comfortable (and more cost effective) to choose a rental home rather than a hotel. With four of us traveling together, a hotel would have been much too tight for three nights. We wanted to be able to cook or prepare meals too, as we prefer to pack food to save money on dining out.

I posted on FB that we were planning a Girls Trip to Homer, and received a private message from my friend Stella (who has since moved to CO), recommending the Paradise View Cabin. Stella and two others stayed at Paradise View a few years ago, and really liked the house, the location, and the amenities.

I emailed the owners and received an immediate reply, even though they were still in HI (they are snowbirds) when I contacted them in early spring. They were very accommodating, and even extended us a 10% discount because we are all military family members (RET or Active Duty). When splitting the expense four ways, three nights of lodging was less than $140 each. Totally worth it!

We were on the road very early, as we had to make the drive all the way to Homer in one day. I think all of us were exhausted. I felt bad for Lacey (our driver) as I knew the day would feel even longer to her. The drive to Anchorage is a blur to me. I didn’t pull my camera out at all.

It rained on us most of the way, so there wasn’t really any draw to get out and take photos. However, when we arrived in Cooper Landing - which was a new destination for the others - we stopped to walk down to the lake for a few photos. It was quite overcast, but at least the rain had stopped.

A little further down the road, we made a stop at a boat landing near the Russian River Ferry launch. Across the river we could see fisherman lining the shore. Nothing like what true “combat fishing” is all about, but still a decent amount of hopefuls.

Traffic as we passed through Soldotna was heavier, as expected. We stopped to gas up at the Fred Meyer in town, as we knew that gas in Homer would be much higher priced. Other than that, we barely stopped to stretch our legs. We all just wanted to get to Homer and get out of the car.

I had Lacey stop at the Russian Orthodox Church overlooking Ninilchik. Most of the graves were very overgrown with tall grasses and wildflowers. While some sites appeared to be recently groomed, the majority of the others were almost impossible to get close to, due to grass overgrowth. The last time I visited the church, the grounds were much more tended to. With all the rain we’ve had throughout the state, I imagine there hasn’t been much time to tend to the grounds.

We didn’t stop again until we got to the cabin.

Kenai Lake in Cooper Landing Kenai Lake in Cooper Landing Kenai Lake in Cooper Landing
Russian River fishing Fireweed in the rain A view of Ninilchik from the Russian Orthodox Church above
Ninilchik Grave Marker Ninilchik Grave Marker Ninilchik Russian Orthodox Church

Our rental property - Paradise View Cabin - wasn’t hard to find. It had cute curb appeal, and we even passed a cow moose and twin calves on the way up to the house. Almost the entire front half of the house is enclosed in glass. As it should be! The view that stretched out from those windows was magnificent. We could see the airport, the Spit, the float plane pond, and all the way across the bay to the glaciers and mountains. Absolutely breathtaking!