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With backpacks and one roll-on piece of luggage, my husband Dwayne and I flew to Juneau, Alaska, to explore America?s largest state. Others we know have taken the cruise tour, but we decided we could see more of Alaska in two weeks if we went by plane, train, rental car, and the Alaskan Maritime Highway System ferry.
We felt like we were in our 40s when we left last August. We came home knowing we were facing our 70s in 1999! Early morning train, plane and boat dates effected a delayed fatigue.
But it was all worth it to see the seals, the whales, Denali Park (where we hit a grand slam?seeing 2 kinds of bears, caribou, moose, and nursery strings of sheep high on mountain sides), glaciers, the historic Skagway site of the Yukon gold rush 100 years ago, and our cousin, originally from Minnesota, who raises and races sled dogs. Headquartered at Willow, Cousin Larry Carroll?s dogs are 28 of the 3,000 dogs living in the foothills above Palmer, where there is more snow. Dog sledding is the main sport of Alaska?s 600,000 residents.
Larry left Bigfork, Minnesota, my hometown, three years ago with a few dogs. The second year in Alaska he came in 12th in the Yukon Quest Race, which some authorities think is more difficult than the Iditarod. There were dogs everywhere in the yard of the log home, which he built himself. There were: dogs on top of doghouses, dogs lying on the ground, dogs twirling and tugging on chains, dogs in their houses, and 9 puppies yipping to get into the world of action.
Larry, wife Shelly and two-year-old Jimmy were joined by son Samuel six days before our arrival. Samuel is named after our grandfather, Samuel Louis Lang, who was named for his late Uncle Sven Gunderson, a Norwegian immigrant, who died at Andersonville during the Civil War. Sven, the oldest son, wrote to his Norwegian widower father and siblings in Norway urging them to come to America, noting that Decorah, Iowa was wonderful. It was after the Gundersons arrived that they found Sven had died in the war to free the slaves.
Grandfather Samuel, a first generation American, talked of the excitement of Alaska and the Yukon and the beauty of the stars. It has taken over a century for Samuel Lang?s descendants to reach Alaska. He would be pleased to know that they have enjoyed the spectacular beauty and displays of the northern lights, and that his great-grandson is now in Alaska hunting caribou, fishing for halibut and salmon, and racing the dogs.
Shelly and Larry are helping us compile a new stocking stuffer cookbook-travel book of sites entitled License to Cook Alaska Style, which we hope to release next spring. David Totten, wildlife artist and friend down the road from Shelly and Larry, is providing some of the illustrations.
We are interested in recipes using wild game and native foods of Alaska. If you have recipes or thoughts you would like to share, send them to us through this web site or by mail to Penfield Press, 215 Brown Street, Iowa City, Iowa 52245.
Another letter will tell more about how we explored Alaska on our own-off the beaten path.
We are working too on License to Cook Arizona Style, compiled by Dianna Stevens, Penfield Press author of a similar Texas title. Release date: spring 1999.
Melinda Bradnan is compiling with the guild of the new Czech and Slovak National Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa,a mushroom cookbook. We will release alsoin spring a beautiful book Czech & Slovak Touches: Recipes and Traditions, a revision of The Czech Book. This title will have travel essays by Pat Martin.
If you have suggestions for any of these titles, please let us hear from you.
My husband Dwayne joins me in wishing you happy holidays and great turkey.