Our Alaska Blog Category

Things to Do, Places to Go While in Alaska-Day Trip Hike to Pioneer Ridge in Palmer

Things to Do, Places to Go While in Alaska-Day Trip Hike to Pioneer Ridge in Palmer

If you are in the mood for a great hike, stunning views and some sore muscles the next day, Pioneer Ridge in Palmer is a great day hike. The trail is not as strenuous as hiking to the top of Lazy Mountain (another tale for another time) but it is was a very good workout for our old bones! The trail went farther than we did (we got to the 9600 foot distance marker) and, from what we have read/heard about it gets more difficult the higher you go. There is always next time!

The Pioneer Ridge trail is forested, narrow and has tree roots in the pathway. There are a few areas where walkways cover the most slippery and waterlogged portions of the trails but the trail can be very slick at times. It is a steady and steep trek up the mountain with switchbacks, thorny devils club and tons of photo ops!




From Anchorage, take the Glen Highway toward Palmer and Wasilla. Take the Old Glenn exit and follow along the right side of the bridge (don’t cross the bridge or you will go into the Butte and then to the back side of Palmer). Follow the mountainside road keep going for roughly 5 miles. The trail head is on the right and there is a large wooden sign at the parking lot.

Special Notes:
Like every adventure in Alaska, be prepared for the weather to change.
Bring water, snacks, rain coat and a windbreaker.
There is an outhouse at the beginning of the trail. From there, you are on your own.
Of course, be ‘bear aware’ and bring protection from the wildlife.

Stay safe and happy hiking!

Jacque & Larry

Things to Do, Places to Go While in Alaska-Day Trip to the Alaska State Fair (late August-Sept)

Things to Do, Places to Go While in Alaska-Day Trip to the Alaska State Fair (late August-Sept)

If your travels to Alaska involve the later part of August and the easy part of September, the Alaska State Fair is a MUST on your ‘to do’ list. The fair is typically held near the latter end of August at the state fair grounds in Palmer.

Whether you go to see the crafts or the gigantic, world record breaking veggies…OK, so the Alaska Dream Maker rhubarb took 2nd place this year but was not a record breaker-there is always next year!


Whether you go to see the animals or the petting zoo…


Whether you go to taste test your way through the fair for the fantastic foods…

Whether you go for the Ferris wheel or other rides…



A trip to the Alaska State Fair is well worth it!

Directions: In Palmer you can take the Glenn Highway to Inner Springer and work your way through the traffic cones and dozens of directional signs (easy-they have it well marked). Or, if coming from Wasilla, we like to go through Palmer and around the back way by Palmer Jr Middle School and then around to Inner Springer.

Special Notes:
-Bring rain gear and a wind breaker (’tis the season). You never know if you will need sunglasses or not so bring those too.
-Have cash ready for parking, they charge you at the gate and many local businesses will tow you if you park in their lots trying to avoid the parking fees (including the large DMV parking lot across the street).
-If you can get tickets ahead of time at Carrs or Costco, DO IT! Then you do not have to wait at the ticket line and you can go right to the gate where the ticket collectors will take your ticket. On busy days, this can save you up to 20 minutes.
-Don’t forget the cream puffs. They make ‘to go’ containers-yes, they are that good.
-The farm exhibits close early on the last day (6PM) and they will herd you out, not kidding, at 6. Get there in plenty of time so that you do not miss the monster veggies.
-Wheelchairs and stroller rentals are available at the fair in several places.

Have fun and be ready for fun and food!

Jacque & Larry

Things to Do, Places to Go While in Alaska-Day Trip to Hurricane Gulch

Things to Do, Places to Go While in Alaska-Day Trip to Hurricane Gulch

For a nice drive in the spring, summer or even in the winter, a day trip to Hurricane Gulch is worth the drive.

The bridge is an unexpected and phenomenal feat of early Alaskan engineering. It spans 918 feet and is nearly 300 feet above the Chulitna River.

Many vacationers will take the journey on the Alaska Railroad but, if you have a vehicle, you can view this arched steel bridge over the sheer cliffs below on your own time. If you are driving yourself, there is a pullout just north of the bridge and a few trails to get a better photo vantage point.

Below are a couple of our photos from our trip.

To get to Hurricane Gulch, take the Parks Highway to mile 174 (Wasilla is about mile 40)

Special notes:
Dont stop on the bridge, go to the pullout just north of it and park. There are trails to walk along and take pictures.

All pics are property of and copyrighted by Alaska Dream Makers.

Jacque & Larry

Things to Do, Places to Go While in Alaska-Day Trip to Thunderbird Falls

Things to Do, Places to Go While in Alaska-Day Trip to Thunderbird Falls


Being born on Elmendorf Air Force Base (now called Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson or JBER for short), and then raised in Wasilla since age 12, I have ‘local’ knowledge of many simple adventures that can be done in a day.

Whether you live here or are vacationing in the area, one day trip that we recommend is a day hike to Thunderbird Falls. T-Bird Falls is a relatively easy walking trail (there were several little kiddos on the trail with us) that careens through the lush foliage of the Chugach State Park and leads to the rushing water of the falls. The trail itself is about a mile and a half long and can be completed as fast as you want or as leisurely as you choose.

The trail is wider than a four wheeler so there is room for many people on the trail at a time. There are a few wooden observation decks and benches along the way for viewing the gorge, the birch forest and the rocky cliffs. One such viewing station overlooks the 200 foot falls and has some built in bench seating to enjoy a picnic if you are so inclined (hence the leisurely part above).

Bear are common in the area and we did see sign (bear scat) on the trail. It is always a good idea to travel in numbers, carry protection and make noises while on the trails.

To get to Thunderbird Falls, take the Eklutna Exit off the Glenn Highway (about mile 25.5) and then follow the signs. The trail head and parking is about .3 miles to the trail head.

Special notes:
There is a bathroom station at the trail head for convenience.
Be aware of wildlife. Be ‘Bear Aware’ at all times!
There are private residences that tuck up to the trail. How cool is that?
Always lock your vehicles, parking lots are often targets for thieves (no matter where you go).
Don’t tangle with the Devils Club-although it is pretty and easy to take pictures of with large leaves, it has loads of sharp thorns.

All pics are property of and copyrighted by Alaska Dream Makers.

Jacque & Larry

When is 195 Sockeye Salmon ENOUGH? Kenai River Dipnetting 2011

When is 195 Sockeye Salmon ENOUGH? Kenai River Dipnetting 2011

When you realize that you have to clean them, process them, can them or freeze them and then go back to work! This is , his mom and some friends down on the Kenai River traffic jam.

If you are not from Alaska, the basic description is this:

You get a net the size of a Volkswagen with a pole the length of two pickup trucks*, dip it into the water and wait for the salmon to swim into the net. Drag, pull and muscle the net with the flopping fish (approximately 8 pounds each) into the boat and go back for more. The salmon runs (salmon count) are so large that the 2011 limits were 25 salmon for the head of household and an additional 10 for each family member. Our poodle doesn’t count so our limit was 35.

Even though we could get a whopping 35 fish for each person on the boat (there were 6 of them total) they decided they had had enough at 195 so they stopped.

*Almost the truth, check out the video!

To see the crazy dipnetting video, click here!
If you need a place to stay while vacationing in Alaska, visit our extremely cool, fully furnished, Alaskana decorated and themed  vacation rental cabins in Wasilla. Yes, they are modern with full kitchens, bathrooms and, of course, log beds. Click here for Suite Dreams Alaska vacation and short term rentals.

Jacque & Larry

MONSTER Rhubarb Grown in Wasilla Alaska!

MONSTER Rhubarb Grown in Wasilla Alaska!

Really, this is Larry, our little girl Tana (the cute little ole poodle) and me in our front yard with our MONSTER rhubarb. It really does get taller than us!    Jacque & Larry


Just two questions-

How many pies will it make?
Should we enter it in the Alaska State Fair?

Jacque & Larry

Information for Military Transfers to JBER (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson)

Information for Military Transfers to JBER (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson)

First of all, Larry and I want to say thank you for your service to us and our country.

As an Air Force brat myself and the youngest of five children to a career military dad and stay at home military mom, I appreciate everything you do.

I (Jacque, the one in yellow) was born on Elmendorf AFB when my parents were first stationed here. Shortly after, the family was moved to Rantoul Illinois (Chanute AFB) and then back to Elmendorf when I was five. We stayed in base housing until pop retired from 23.5 years of service in 1982 and we moved to Wasilla. The family has been in Wasilla ever since.

I remember going to the flight line to watch the planes, Green Lake to go fishing, Hillburg Ski Area and snow machining all over the back of the base. The shuttle bus to anywhere on base, the pool and gym, the bowling alley, meeting pop at the hospital for lunch (he is a PA-C) all have fond memories for me.

If you are new to our area, the main website for JBER info is here.

If you would like housing purchase information, it would be our pleasure to assist you in purchasing your new home. Our website has a direct link into the MLS and has the most current and up to date information available. Our website is here.

Some other sites to look at are as follows:

Elmendorf Officers’ Spouses’ Organization

Commissary hours and info

JBER Services and Recreation

Hillburg Ski Area

My pop, John B Henley II (AKA Skip) is an E-9 Commissioned, Purple Heart Decorated, stationed everywhere from AK, CA, OH, IL, TX and even Tripoli Libya, survivor of Vietnam and just an all around cool guy. He still works with veterans as a private contractor and he really enjoys being active within the military community.  Yeah, I am biased but what can I say?


Vacation or Short Term Rental in the Heart of Wasilla


Suite Dreams Alaska Vacation and Short Term Rental, Fully Furnished and Modern Cabins in Wasilla Alaska. Choose from themed cabins, Black Bear Bungalow, Moose Manor, Fisherman’s Folly or Alaska Dreams (an electic combination of all things Alaskan). Go to our website for more information, pricing and to book your stay today!

Visit Suite Dreams Alaska  For Detailed Information and Availability

Located in the heart of Wasilla, Alaskan themed vacation rental with all the amenities. Comfortable furnishings, flat screen television, private deck and wifi will make you feel at home while you live your Alaskan adventure.

Like a home away from home but with Alaska style, Suite Dreams Alaska vacation rental is comfortable, convenient and modern. Features include kitchen, refrigerator, dining area, living room, large bedroom area, full bathroom, washer & dryer and private decking, charcoal grill and picnic table.

Whether you choose to relax and get away from it all or simply use the charming cabin as a place to rest your weary head after exploring Alaska, comfort and convenience are foremost with Suite Dreams Alaska!

Children under the age of 12 are excluded from additional guest charges.

No smoking and no pets.

Please go to our website for the most current pricing and availability.

For the quickest response and most up to date information, please DO NOT comment below as the website has the most current information and pricing.

Speaking of adventures, some that you may consider depending on the time of year are:

Photographing mountains & wildlife
Hiking in Hatchers Pass or many other locations
Climbing the Butte for a 360 degree view of the Valley
Fishing the many local rivers, creeks and lakes
Driving up to view the majestic Mount McKinley
Kayak local lakes or river rafting
Bike trek the long, paved paths (or dirt paths if you choose)
Explore Wasilla, Palmer, Talkeetna and other quaint local towns
Shop for necessities, gifts, trinkets and unique Alaskan items
Reserve a spot and fish with a local fishing guide
Skiing, downhill and cross country
Watch the world famous Iditarod Sled dog races
Visit and have fun with Fur Rendezvous
Snow Machine, snow shoe, or have a snowball fight!
See the monster, record breaking veggies at the AK State Fair
Pick blueberries in Hatchers Pass
Drive down the scenic highway and spot Dall Sheep and waterfalls all along the way
Climb on or simply go up to an actual glacier

Owners are both real estate licensees in the state of Alaska

When is it Appropriate to Call Clients After Midnight? When the Northern Lights are OUT in Wasilla Alaska!

When is it Appropriate to Call Clients After Midnight? When the Northern Lights are OUT in Wasilla Alaska!

Although I was born in Alaska, I always get excited to see natures paintbrush, the Northern Lights. Larry is more on the Cheechako side only being in state for only 20 years and he also runs outside when we see them. Last night was no exception!


While taking the poodle (Tana) out one last time, I looked up and saw the amazing and vivid lime green in the sky and immediately yelled for Larry. Then we started dialing the phone. Clients, friends, family, NO ONE is safe from that 1AM through 4AM call.

We woke up everyone from clients including this small sampling-

A wonderful family that just moved up from the lower 48, staying in Billeting at Elmendorf / Ft Richardson until their new home in Palmer closes. That was a fun call-imagine Larry calling saying “Don’t fire us over this, but the Northern Lights are out and we thought your family would want to see them.” You bet!

A dynamic couple that recently moved out from Anchorage. She had only been in Alaska about a year and has not seen the Northern Lights yet.

A seemingly reserved gentleman (only until you get to know him and realize you have the same wicked sense of humor) that is also moving to Wasilla from Eagle River.

My cousins that recently moved up to Alaska from LaGrange Indiana. They drove up into the mountains to see the Northern Lights shine and dance!

We also have some fantastic friends that we had on the Northern Lights phone tree tradition when they moved to Wasilla from Kansas. THEY texted us this time!

My parents started this phone tree tradition when I was little alerting out friends to ‘go outside’ and the tradition has not stopped. The simple rules were that if they do not answer, it is OK. They probably will answer your 3AM call next time because now they know what they are missing. Don’t apologize, the Northern Lights are beautiful and once they see them you will understand. It does not matter how old you get or what time of the morning it is, you BETTER call us when you see them!

It does not all have to be about helping people buy and sell property. For us, we very much enjoy sharing our Alaska with our clients, friends and family. This is one example of something silly we do to share our love of our area. If we missed you and you would like to be on our Northern Lights phone tree, just drop us a line and let us know!

When is it Appropriate to Call Clients After Midnight? When the Northern Lights are OUT in Wasilla Alaska!

Jacque & Larry

If you read our previous post, NO food coloring was used in these photos! If you missed it, here is a list of some you might take a look at.

Jacque & Larry


Springtime in Alaska, With Food Coloring   -or-   Cabin Fever in Alaska

Frostbite Footrace, Snowshoe Softball, Snow Sculptures and Dog Races, OH MY!

Good Morning Wasilla Alaska, Sunrise in February

Iron Dog, What is an Iron Dog?

Nearly 7000 SF Home with an Indoor Pool in Alaska. Really? $449,900

It is Not What You Buy but What is in Your Heart That Matters for Valentines

Home Inventory Checklist, an Easy Solution 

Spontaneous Combustion, It Could Happen to You or Your Clients

Offer Goes up in Smoke, Literally!

Alaska Foreclosures-How to Show an Igloo in Alaska  So, if Your Friends Jumped off a Bridge, Would You Too?

Homes for Sale in the Colony Middle School Boundary Map Palmer Alaska Area

Homes for Sale in the Colony High School Boundary Map Palmer Alaska Area 

Wasilla Alaska Population

International Order, How many Igloos Can I get?

Thank you for visiting and sharing ‘Our Alaska’ with us!

Jacque & Larry

Larry and Jacque Ficek
Alaska Dream Makers

Direct: (907) 373-8000
Toll Free: (877) 291-0887
Fax: (888) 818-6183
[email protected]
[email protected]

Mailing Address
PO Box 870276
Wasilla AK 99687

3751 S Well Site Rd.
Wasilla, Alaska 99654