PhoenixI made it back to Phoenix for New Years.

Now it’s time to focus on conditioning so I can get back on the ski slopes.

My first workout included light jumping rope, pushups, situps, prone mountain climbers, handstands and kettle bell swings to get the blood pumping and my body warmed up. That was yesterday. Today I definitely feel sore and like I had a good workout but find my hips need some soft tissue massage to work out the lactic acid.

I realize that handstands are one of the hardest things I’m doing and today I’ll skip that and just focus on Yoga and stretching.

I also plan to try hiking and more conditioning but experience has taught me I also need to take it a bit easy and slowly work up to my old routine, not just jump in with both feet and over zealous enthusiasm. My goal is to be skiing next weekend so I want to keep at it but not over do it either. With just one week left to prepare I better get going.

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Recovering in Santa Maria


Debra and Merletta


Pismo Beach, CA


Farewell to 2014

SantaMaria4 SantaMaria5 The year will soon be over. It’s been a very good year for me. For the past two weeks I enjoyed a visit with my friend Merletta while I recovered from the hip injection on my right hip.

I’m pleased to report that my legs are doing much better and I am enjoying the ability to get around easily and hike for more than three miles a day. I’m planning to ski in January so this was a great chance to work on getting my legs in shape.

I kept a diary of my walks and realized each time I walked I was able to venture further with less pain. I could not be happier about the outcome on my hips.

If you’d like to learn more about the treatments I had done, you can contact me with your questions. I’m also working on another blog that will detail only my journey of alternative medical care and the procedures I’ve had done. I’ll post a link once that is ready to share.

I have learned that I have the most problem when I sit for more than a few minutes at a time so I need to get this post up and then get my body up and moving again. Thanks for coming with me on this journey!


Hiking on the trails around Orcutt, Ca.

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California – Health follow up

On Friday, December 12th I headed for the warm beaches of southern California for my one-year follow up and the possibility of  a treatment for my right hip that has been bugging me a lot.

I had the pleasure of spending the night with my ‘cousin’ Mary and enjoying an awesome IMG_2321visit reminiscing about growing up together in Anchorage. Mary was heading for Florida to celebrate Christmas and the New Year so we got up early on Saturday and set out for a tour of the LA harbor and her non-profit – Harbor Community Foundation, in Fin-Henri and then on to the airport where we said our goodbye’s.

After leaving Mary, I headed south and made a stop in Orange County to visit another friend, Donna. We spent a fun day visiting Downtown Disney and checking out the sites in her community of Buena Park. I feel so blessed to have such amazing friends who open their hearts and driveways for Fin/Henri and I.


On Sunday afternoon I headed for Oceanside, CA where I was scheduled to meet with my doctor on Monday for my follow-up and MRI. I arrived to see an amazing sunset and got the chance to walk on the beach and relax. What an awesome, amazing adventure I’ve had this winter with Fin/Henri.

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On Monday I got an MRI on both hips and visited with my doctor. He was very pleased with my progress and recommended a Platelet Rich Therapy (where they draw your whole blood and then spin it to separate the red blood cells out and then use the platelets to help heal joints by injection) for my right hip which has been bothering me. The MRI showed marked improvement in my left hip  but a tear in my right labrum and degeneration. I had the injection on Tuesday and then headed off to Santa Maria to enjoy Christmas with my girlfriend Merletta. Stay tuned for more adventures…

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Traveling challenges

Michelle and I camped at a Wal Mart on the west side of Wichita, Kansas on our way Travel2home to Phoenix. We woke in the morning about 5am to the biggest challenge of our trip so far. It was about 12 degrees, the wind was blowing about 20mph and Fin-Henri wouldn’t start. I cranked and cranked but she would not start. All of the house batteries were reading dead and the engine battery didn’t have the power to turn over the cold engine. I finally decided to replace the main battery so we went into Wal Mart, bought a new battery and the tools to put it in. It took us several hours with Michelle and I taking turns playing mechanic (her in her beautiful long, white coat) and multiple trips into the store before we finally had the new battery installed and the engine turned over and fired up.

We went to a Ford mechanic in town to be sure it was safe to drive but they weren’t going to be able to get us in for several hours. I turned off the engine and started it several times, every time with no trouble so at 10am, five hours after starting the day, we decided to just get on the road and head for Colorado.

Travel1I’ve had really good luck at Piedra Automotive in Pagosa so decided to call and make an appointment with them for the next morning.

We had an uneventful drive but didn’t pull into Pagosa until 7:30 pm. But it was enough time for us to soak in the hot springs, swim in the pool and get a great shower before camping out for the night at my friend Michael’s place.

The next morning the challenge continued. It was just 1 degree above zero and again Fin-Henri did not want to start. It took about an hour, during which time we put a heater under the engine and then jumped the motor with Michael’s truck to give it a little extra boost. Eventually Fin-Henri started and we were able to get to Piedra Automotive. While they did some investigative trouble shooting, Michelle and I drove around Pagosa with Michael as our tour guide. We even got to check out one of the new ‘Organic Dispensaries’ and a brewery which was a fun experience. Plus we checked out the other big hot spring in town and went out to a damn just to enjoy the mountain views and the incredible sites that are Pagosa Springs.

Travel3When we finally got the call on the motorhome it was early afternoon. We returned to find out during the diagnostic check they determined my biggest concern should be the brakes. Apparently I was lucky I could still stop. But they also recommended I take the battery back to Wal Mart because part of the problem was the new battery. But all things that could be handled once I got back to Phoenix.

STravel4o we decided it was time to roll on. We went to Durango and checked out another ‘Organic Dispensary’ and another brewery, plus got to see the quaint and fun town that is Durango, Colorado.

By late afternoon we were back on the road and heading for Farmington, New Mexico where we once again camped in a Wal Mart parking lot.

At 2 am Michelle woke me up to say that we had a problem and she thought we should start the motorhome. The furnace was on but it was blowing cold air.

I checked and once again, all the house batteries were reading dead. “I think we should start the engine,” Michelle said.

I agreed and immediately took the keys and fired up the engine. Lucky for us it started easily so we decided to just get on the road. By 2:15 am we were rolling toward Arizona and putting the final leg of our journey behind us. Fortunately we had no more troubles and made it back to Phoenix by noon.

On Monday I called my mechanic in Phoenix, (Community Tire and Auto Pros) who has worked on several of mine and my daughter’s vehicles, and made an appointment for Wednesday morning.

It took three full days and a lot of trouble shooting to finally resolve all of the problems. The first day they figured out a burned out dome light was the culprit of the drain on the batteries, they replaced the brakes and rotors, the serpentine belt and a couple of other parts. But when I came back to get Fin-Henri and was driving home, I felt a horrible shaking I had never experienced before.

I called the shop and they told me to bring it back then next day. They worked for hours trying to find the cause of this bizarre shaking and after replacing the shocks, rotating and balancing the tires, and putting on a new stabilizer bar, they finally discovered it was the new rotors, which were defective. They ordered new rotors from a different company and installed them the last day.

Now Fin Henri is back home with me and running like a dream again. Happy to be back on the road and grateful to Community Tire and Auto Pros for their great customer service and diligence for getting it right!

Travel5To celebrate, Michelle, her boyfriend Michael, and I went to South Mountain and went hiking.

My next adventure will begin next Friday, December 12th as I head out for California.

It’s time for my one-year follow up for my stem cell treatment on my hip. Looking forward to getting the MRI so we can see exactly what happened in this past year. Am I really healing, or is it all in my head?.. Guess we’ll find out soon.

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On the Road Again

After a busy summer, even busier fall with work and the International Snow Science Workshop and the Alaska State Snow Safety Summit, I finally got the chance to escape Alaska for a winter break .

I flew to Phoenix and spent a couple of days taking care of me (visiting with my daughter, getting a massage, dental, chiropractor…) and then headed to Nashville to visit my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.

Tennessee01Avery is two-and-a-half. A bundle of lovable fun and charm. She’s an amazingly happy child and a blast to hang out with. She makes me laugh and explodes my heart with love.

Tennessee14She has an incredible tree house her Daddy built for her and we had fun playing in this amazing princess castle.


Thia year, for the first time since Avery was 5-months old, her Aunt Michelle got to come play with her too.


We also got to go to the Grand Ole’ Opre thanks to Allen, Stacey and Katrina and John Holancin (Stacey’s Mom and Dad.) It was an incredible experience and gave us all lots of wonderful memories to cherish.Tennessee33


One day we also took Avery to the Mall and I had a wonderful time watching her play with her Daddy and wave at Nana with the camera! 🙂 This is one lucky, happy child enjoying precious times with her awesome Daddy.


One day I was also excited to go to gymnastics with her. I look forward to getting to take her to Denali Gymnastics in Alaska with me. But for this day, we got to play and enjoy her gymnastics class together with her Mommy. A super fun day indeed.


We climbed under a rainbow, over a rainbow, swung from the rings and jumped on the trampoline before crawling through the ball pit and sliding down the big slide. Busy time and oh, so much fun. I think both Avery and I would love to have this go on and on, but I know one day it will be time to hit the road again!

Until then I just focused on playing and savoring every precious moment we had together. In February she’s going to have a little brother…


So after enjoying two amazing dinners (one to celebrate Thanksgiving and one to celebrate Christmas thanks to Stacey’s amazing cooking)


I completed some maintenance repairs on Fin-Henri so Michelle and I would be ready for the road.


Avery wanted to go with us but we figured we’d only make it to the end of the street before she wanted Momma and Daddy to come too so instead we just let her pretend and then wave goodbye as we drove away. Definitely the hardest part of our visit.

But I’ll get to go back in February when we welcome Avery’s little brother AleXander into the world!

After Michelle and I got on the road we had an easy, comfortable drive to the land of the lakes where we found a quiet place to camp near a marina.

After getting all set up for the night I thought we should get out and scout the area before bedding down so I walked outside into the pitch black night. I could see light at the marina not far away, but from our location back in the woods at a picnic area, there were no lights. I listened the coyotes and dogs barking and howling in the distance and felt a comforting calm. It felt safe here and I was now familiar with the way out so if we had to make a dash, I’d be prepared. “It feels good here,” I told Michelle. “I think we’ll be safe. Yes. It feels safe.”

“Shhh! Listen,” she said, quieting me. I strained to hear but could only pick up the distant barking. And then a rustle in the bushes just feet away made it obvious, we were not alone. Startled I bolted for the door, Michelle right on my heels. I think we both knew it was just a small critter like a racoon but it was spooky. Inside we laughed about it and enjoyed the time to bond. The rest of our first night was lost to deep sleep and dreams of travel.

We woke early to the sounds of rain drops and set out to find a Wal Mart where we could stretch our legs and pick up a few things we needed for the road.

At thewheelBy late afternoon, with Michelle at the wheel, we hit a storm right in the face. The rain was pouring down so you could barely make out the lines on the road and the wind beat against us with unrelenting force. Every time we drove between two slopes, the wind would suddenly change direction blasting against us and requiring brute force to keep Fin-Henri on the highway. We rolled into Wichita, Kansas at 6pm and made our way across town to where my nephew Joel Johnson was living while playing hockey for the Wichita Jr. Thunder. 

Then next day our trip took an unexpected turn… Check back for the rest of the story…

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Preparing for the ISSW

This gallery contains 1 photo.

The International Snow Science Workshop (ISSW) is a scholastic gathering of snow safety professionals from around the globe that takes place every two years. This year the event will be held in Banff, Canada Sept. 27 – October 3rd. I’m … Continue reading

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Deadly Mistake with The Power of Plants


The plant in this photograph is actually Water Hemlock which is highly poisonous to humans. It contains a toxin called cicutoxin which causes central nervous system stimulation effects including seizures following ingestion. Be sure you are absolutely positive of the identification of a plant before ever harvesting or using.


This is a yarrow plant. This plant is edible and a natural blood coagulator, so if you’re bleeding to death it can save your life. • For infection, this cooling plant slows inflammation. It’s also a blood purifier and reduces fever. Make a tea or crush to make a poultice.

I recently had an article published in Alaska Coast Magazine on the power of Alaska’s Plants. I was horrified when I got a call from the plant specialist I had interviewed, Shelley Plumb, that one of the photos in the article had been mislabeled and the mistake could be deadly. I accidentally submitted a photo of Water Hemlock with the information for Yarrow. I have submitted a correction to Alaska Coast which they are working to make on the website now. They will also be printing a correction in the October issue of the magazine.

I feel terrible about this mistake and please ask everyone to be ABSOLUTELY positive about the identity of a plant before ever using it for anything.

Shelley shared a story about two young boys at the Alaska State Fair that had been playing with a poisonous plant that ultimately resulted in the death of one of the children. She warned that really knowing and understanding plants definitely can be a life or death matter.

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