May 21, 2017

4 years...

Four years ago today I had this post on Facebook: Spent the day in jail... But then they made me leave.... Probably 'fraid I'd take the place over...
But hey, if you are a church, ministry or Christian in Southcentral Alaska, there is plenty of ministry opportunities at Goose Creek. And the guys I met today in the Faith Wing are some of the most solid believers I've ever met...

 And here's the update for today:
Four years ago today I stepped into Goose Creek Correctional Center for the very first time. Since then I have led 10 rounds of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University attended by almost 200 men total. I also was part of the launch and now lead the God Behind Bars ministry with 150 - 170 (we've broke the 200 mark a couple of times) men coming out each week for service. James Saxon comes out with me on Friday and then goes back into the Special Management Unit (SMU) on Saturday to share the service with another 35-45 men. The highlight of our GBB ministry was last February when Central Church sent Drew Bodine, G-BLEST and the rest of the Central Live worship team and over 400 people packed out the gym for a worship service.
I've also led a couple of rounds of John Bevere's Bait of Satan bible study but had to drop it due to time constraints. Additionally I've attended multiple baptism services (we've seen almost 200 men take the dunk) and preached a couple of Sundays services.
I've had some incredibly high times and a few low times, just like any other endeavor; but it's been worth it.
I would like to see the churches of the MatSu Valley support and participate in ministry to these 1,500 inmates more. While we have some incredibly dedicated volunteers, there's still so many more opportunities to have an impact. But I suppose every para-church leader and missionary has that same thought about whatever it is they are doing. And most churches and Pastors already feel pulled a hundred different directions...
The administration and staff of the Alaska Department of Corrections at GCCC are incredibly accommodating when they can be and I always appreciate their hospitality.
Because we all come and go at different times, I rarely see the other volunteers that also come in through out the week. But I'm thankful for their dedication and service. All of us who minister at GCCC do so as volunteers, including our facility chaplains who are out there almost full time. And of course there's our Statewide Chaplaincy Coordinator JD Duncan who tirelessly works behind the scenes to make it all happen.

Nov 4, 2016

It's votin' time in Alaska....

Over a series of Facebook posts, I recently laid out how I'm voting this year. It's late & I'm tired, so I'm just doing a copy and paste of those posts.

I'm voting no on Ballot Measure 1. Here's why:
***There's currently no barrier to registering to vote. You can register online, at the DMV, through the mail, at the Division of Elections, or through multiple voter registration agencies.
***The measure will cost $1,000,000 (that's one million dollars) to implement and $300,000 each year to maintain. For a state government that's broke, that's a pretty decent chunk of change.
***Since it's already easy to register to vote, what is the motivation in registering a whole bunch of people who up to this point have chosen to not participate in our representative republic? Here's a thought: soon Alaska will follow other states like Oregon where all voting is done via the mail or online. If measure 1 passes, there'll be piles and piles of extra ballots floating around. That sounds like the perfect storm for voter fraud.
Bottom line: VOTE NO ON 1!!!!!

 Still on my soap box:
Ballot Measure 2: Really? More debt? Is that really what we need right now? That is like throwing a drowning person a concrete block. VOTE NO ON 2!!!

One more political post before bed... I hesitate to comment on this one... These posts are not meant to start a facebook argument, but I know some of you will disagree with this one. The race for president. Simply put: #NeverHillary . Is Trump going to be good president? Probably not. But Clinton is on a mission to destroy everything that made this country great.
And while we are on the subject... It's time to get rid of primaries, delegates, super delegates, and the electoral college. It's time to use this alternate voting system:

It's past my bed time, but let's do one more: local races.
State Senate District D: David Wilson. I think he's a solid choice.
State Representative District 7: Colleen Sullivan-Leonard. Mainly because of the R.
These are my choices for where I live. If Cathy Tilton is on your ballot, she's a great pick.

Another late night politics post: the judges. What is there; 20 or 30 up for retainment? Who has time to research that? Well I did some. I'm voting no on the first two judges listed; Bolger and Maassen. They struck down the parental notification law passed by voters a few years back; meaning a minor child can obtain abortion without the parents ever knowing anything about it.
For the rest of the judges I'm voting yes. Is anyone else doing something different? If so, feel free to share what & why. Especially why.
****UPDATE: I've heard some stuff about Judge White. I think I'll vote no on this one.

 Last political post. After this all my cards are on the table. Judge me as you will.
U.S. Representative: Don Young. Why? ( in my best Teyve voice ) ~ TRADITION!!! And if you don't get the Fiddler on the Roof reference, I'm not sure we can be friends...

Finally that brings us to the US Senate race. Man, I have gone back and forth on this one. In 2010 I wrote in Lisa Murkowski. Why? I had serious concerns about Joe Miller. His behavior while employed by the Fairbanks North Star Borough showed a lack of ethics. His attempt to rig a survey by voting from multiple computers? His having a reporter handcuffed and illegally detained? At the time I described him as a big ol' bucket of crazy. And yes, I know Lisa is a liberal Republican. But I figured better the devil you know than the one you don't know.
But here we are six years later. Actually I'm really, really disappointed that former Anchorage mayor Dan Sullivan didn't run. Then we'd have two Dan Sullivan's as Republican Senators from Alaska. The resulting confusion would be awesome!! But alas... it was not to be.
In these six years, Lisa has continued to slide further to the left. Joe has managed to keep the craziness under control. I still can't shake the feeling that he's just saying what he thinks people want to hear though...
So where does that leave me? I'll probably vote Joe, but I'll do so wishing I had a better choice.
So there it is. Let's see what happens on Tuesday. Oh, one final note. Two actually. #1: what makes this country great isn't who we do or don't elect. What makes this country great is it's people. We all need to work hard, provide for our families and be decent towards each other. #2: no matter what happens, God is still God. Anytime we place our hope on who is or isn't elected we set ourselves up to be disappointed.

One more note on Lisa:  the sanctity of life was the issue that put the nail in the coffin for me on Lisa. We've always known she was pro-abortion, but I figured as part of the pro-life Republican Party she couldn't do much damage. But more and more, every vote counts on these important issues and I'm not giving her a chance to swing the balance in the wrong direction.

Bonus clip:

Aug 28, 2016

Denali "The Great One"

I'm trying this post from my phone....
On Friday my parents were up for a visit and we drove to Talkeetna. The view from the deck of the Talkeetna Alaska Lodge is pretty spectacular and the mountain was out in its glory. 
Then on Sunday we were in Anchorage and I swung by my favorite spot near Point Woronzof. And again the mountains was out. 

Jul 3, 2016

Portage Pass Trail to Portage Glacier & Portage Lake

 The Portage Pass trail starts just outside of Whittier and travels upward 700 feet in elevation gain to the top. It's around one and half miles to the top and then continues down another mile and a half to the shores of Portage Lake.
The trail is well defined. At the lower elevations it cuts through thick brush and alder trees. It's a gravel trail that was mostly dry the day we hiked it.
 The entire hike you are surrounded by incredible vistas. Waterfalls cascade off the surrounding peaks, fed by melting snow or hanging glaciers.
 Did I mention the glaciers... The goal of the hike is the Portage Glacier, but its just one of several glaciers to see.
 The total distance from the trail head to the lake and back is about 6 miles. The trail is pretty steep in places... For us it was a difficult hike, but we are in pretty weak physical shape. We passed several families with smaller children, so it's pretty doable for most people.
 Going up and down has great views in every direction. Many people choose to just hike the top and not continue onto the lake. Looking back the way you came has views of Passage Canal, the mouth of the Anton Anderson Tunnel and the Whittier Harbor. The cruise ship the Coral Princess was in port the day we did the hike.
 A word of warning: the bugs were horrible... Not just mosquitoes but biting flies. We repeatedly applied bug dope, but it only helped at a little. We had a slight breeze, so maybe a stronger wind would help. At the very top on the Whittier side the wind was stronger and the bugs were a lot less.
 Again... the views are amazing. Once you reach the top you can see Divide Lake and then the Portage Glacier beyond that. The trail can be seen on the shore just left of Divide Lake and then it drops down to the shore of Portage Lake. You can click on any of the pictures for a larger view.
 The top of the pass is your classic Alaskan alpine area. We'd like to repeat the hike sometime and the future and spend some time exploring up here. It appears there are trails going off in several different directions.

 At the top we debated about continuing on down to Portage Lake. I was already pretty worn out from the trip up and the heat was making me sick. But after getting down to the lake I know it was worth it. You could spend a lot time exploring along the lake and there were even people setting up to camp overnight on the shore.

The other, more popular way to get to the Portage Glacier is aboard the M/V Ptarmigan with Portage Glacier Cruises. This one hour ride is cost effective and gets you right up to the face of the glacier. You can book your cruise here...
For more information on visiting Whittier you can click here...
For details on traveling through the Anton Anderson tunnel you can click here...

Sep 18, 2015

Valley of Fire Revisited - The Fire Wave

In late 2012 we visited Valley of Fire State Park in southern Nevada. It was part of a day trip from Las Vegas that included time at the Hoover Dam. We took longer at the Dam than we had plan so we had to rush through Valley of Fire during the last few hours of daylight.
We loved Valley of Fire and knew that we would have to do a return trip, only this time we wouldn't rush it.
You can see our pictures from our first trip to Valley of Fire here..
And our time at the Hoover Dam can be seen here...
In late March of this year (2015) we were able to do another trip to the southwest, and this time we blocked out a whole day for Valley of Fire.
I know most people go to Las Vegas to drink and gamble. We go for everything else. Great food, good shopping and the unparalleled desert scenery.
Valley of Fire is just an hour's drive from Las Vegas. There are tour companies that you can go with... But I always prefer having a rental car. That way I can explore at the pace that I want to go and see what I want to see. However, no matter how you get there, it's worth the trip.
On our last trip we we able to spot some big horn sheep. We went to the same spot on this trip but we couldn't get lighting to strike twice. The best we could do was to spot this little lizard. Christy initially saw him as he scurried under a rock. After some patient waiting he came out and we got a good look at him.
Our main destination on this trip was a natural phenom know as the Fire Wave. The hike in is a little over a half mile each way. Being there in late March meant it was warm out but not the scorching heat of summer. Anytime of year you'll want to stay well hydrated.
I'm sure there's some fancy way to describe the geology that created this amazing display... But who cares. It's so beautiful that you aren't too worried about how it happened.

About the pictures: you can click on any of them to see a larger picture. I'm not much of a photographer and I don't know if the lighting at the time was the best. So these pictures do not do it justice... But hopefully they'll give you a taste...

If I lived in Vegas, I think Valley of Fire would be a regular destination for me. There's multiple hiking trails taking you to scenic vistas. But even if you don't hike, just driving through gives you stunning views.
It's almost overwhelming. Our trip was 6 months ago but I just now got around to going through the hundred's of pictures to put together this post....

Jul 27, 2015

Three Hidden Alaskan Gems...

Of course Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on earth. There's plenty of websites and guides to the major attractions that tourist and locals alike visit. But there is also countless hidden gems that maybe even the locals are unaware of. So far this summer, we've discovered three great places here in Southcentral Alaska that are definitely worth the stop if you are in the area.

South Eagle River Falls:

Parking is extremely limited and it's almost a mile walk to the falls. But the trail is wide and easy walking. In the first part of the trail you'll cross a bridge of the South Fork of the Eagle River. This is downstream of the falls. Even coming this far is worth the walk. But of course, there's an even better view further down the trail. So stop for the view, but be sure to keep going on. You'll come to two Y's in the trail. Take the right hand trail each time.
This pictures isof the falls. You can click on the picture for a larger view... The journey to the parking area is a bit windy... But here's the Google Map link for it's location: Basically it's off the Glenn Highway at the Hiland Road exit onto Eagle River Loop. Take a right onto Hiland Road, then eventually a left onto Riverview Drive and another left onto Waterall Road. Then a right on River Park Drive and finally a left onto Ken Logan. Pay attention to the no parking signs in certain areas.
If you are in an RV or pulling a trailer, this stop isn't going to work for you. I don't think there's enough room to get turned around and parked.
  Pioneer Falls
I think this is my new favorite place in the Valley!!! It's easy to get to and easy to park at. And oh, so beautiful. Within a few hundred feet of the parking area, you are along side this soothing, cooling waterfall. If you have an RV or are pulling a trailer, there's an alternate parking area a little further away that should work.Pioneer Falls comes off of Pioneer Peak and empties into the nearby Knik River. 

To get there: take the Old Glenn Highway exit off of the Glenn Highway near the Knik River Bridge. If you are coming from Palmer, you can take the Old Glenn Highway through the Butte. It's about the same distance either way... You are headed for Knik River Road. From the bridge, you travel 1.3 miles up Knik River Road to this point. If you watch closely you'll see a wooden "Pioneer Falls" sign on the right. Just past that is a driveway that leads to a small parking area. You'll hear and see the falls just a short way up from the parking area. If you miss the road to the parking area, or if you are in an RV, there's a turn out on the left hand side of the road just past the driveway. 
Bonus: if it's a nice, sunny day; the next road on the left leads down to a great swimming area.

UPDATE: I made another visit to Pioneer Falls in December. They are just as incredible in the winter.....

Quartz Creek Boat Launch at Kenai Lake
This final spot is a little further south, on the Kenai Peninsula. Normally I zoom through Cooper Landing, in a hurry to get to a fishing spot or to home. But if you've got a minute and need a break from driving, or if you are looking for somewhere to relax for a while; this is your spot.
 Just as you start to come into Cooper Landing from the north there's a turn off for Quartz Creek campground. Just a quarter of a mile down the road on the right is the Quartz Creek boat launch. Also located here is 4 picnic tables with unbelievable views of Kenai Lake.
Here's the spot on the map....