A couple of days ago, one Ionian offered to take us out to dinner to a "cute cafe" in Soldotna. We thought there would be muffins. Actually, Suzie's Cafe sells homestyle provisions like "Chicken Fried Chicken." What the hell is chicken fried chicken? We went with the fish and chips.
We returned to Soldotna on Saturday to assist Eliza and Gregory with the Farmer's Market. The turnips they grow here are DELICIOUS- the kids walk around eating them like apples. But turnips have a bad rep, so we put out tiny samples and those babies sold themselves. Later, we walked around the area with the DC WWOOFers, amused by the Ferret Waste Deodorizer in the thrift shop and positively enchanted by the delicious sandwiches at the Fine Thyme Cafe. Whoever thought of adding honey mustard to a grilled cheese? We also bought a hilarious spoof magazine- SLC readers, keep your eyes toward the mail.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, all the WWOOFers moved to our own cabin; moving from the communal space is interesting- now that we are in tune with the rhythms of the community, it's nice to be a little bit more on our own time. Also, it's like a sleepover every night. The Ionians decided to move as well: we now cook in a GIANT tipi instead of the longhouse kitchen, and many of them have begun sleeping in the tipis as well.
Early Sunday morning, we set out on our trip to Seward Park to climb the Harding Ice Field trail next to Exit Glacier. It made Rose miss her geology professor, Jack Ridge. Great name, eh? The climb was pretty strenuous- every mile was another 1,000 ft elevation- but it was more beautiful than the photos can portray. The fog kept rolling in and out, periodically revealing the glorious vista of the glacier and Chugach mountains. We saw giant mountain goats and whistling marmots, and the difference between the top and bottom of the hike was a huge contrast- at the bottom, rainforest-like vegetation, and at the top, snow caps and glacial rivers. Now Rose's legs are sore (she played soccer in addition to the hike) and Melanie's feet are covered in blisters, but it was worth it.
On our third day, we all piled into a van heading for Homer to meet Lasa, a friend of Ionia. He showed us around his timber frame house, which he built himself with no steel or nails, and insulated with a mixture of straw bales and straw clay. Right now, he is building his daughter's room, which includes special footholds for her to climb onto the roof. He is something of a local celebrity for his expertise in brewing beer and his property, which overlooks the Katchemak mountains.
The mountains are breathtaking, and photos don't do them justice. The view from Lasa's house was amazing, and was even better when we drove out onto the spit and saw the mountains and glaciers up close. The spit is a touristy area that hawks handmade Alaskan goods- there was one shop called the Better Sweater, which upon closer inspection Rose dubbed as Slightly Worse. We went to a gourmet pizza shop where they served us a bleu cheese and pear pie; we were SUPER excited to eat cheese and of course, both got stomachaches because of it. One of the Ionians, Connor, decided right then and there to go swimming in the freezing ocean- tourists from all parts of the boardwalk came outside to take photos of him skinny-dipping. Welcome to Alaska.
(Later that night, we decided to sleep outside and were soon rewarded with a prime moose spotting. The community's dog, Huxley, and the moose chased each other back and forth for a good twenty minutes.)
We love Harry Potter, obviously. So it was a serious concern of ours that we see the newest movie whether or not we were currently residing in the boondocks. Luckily, many Ionians are also fans, and we took all the kids to the movie theatre to see HP in 3D. Rose wasn't so happy with the rewritten battle scene, but Melanie was too busy crying to care. Overall, we agree that it was pretty great.
The full moon here is a big deal. On the full moon, everyone eats a special meal together and then folk dances. This month, it was sandwiches- for some reason, Ionians have a huge obsession with sandwiches. They included tempeh that we helped make, onion rings, lettuce, pickles, avocado, and vegenaise, the vegan choice of mayonnaise. According to our friend Connor, steaming bread slices make them more digestible, so all the sandwiches were steamed. It was odd. Folk dancing was super fun but also pretty difficult, and the people here have been doing it their entire lives.
Last night, we headed to the beach to join some friends of Ionia in cooking up salmon they had caught earlier that day. IT WAS AMAZING. Especially the salad salmon, which is exactly what it sounds like- one of the Ionians put salad on top of the salmon and we ate it. The beach overlooks a ring of fire of volcanoes and it is sooo beautiful. We are excited to go back to the beach and see the volcanoes without the cloud cover.
Today we made seitan. It was pretty easy and REALLY delicious- we're both planning to make it at school at some point next year.
12 hours of travel, two lost items, and one super tiny plane ride later, we have arrived at Ionia! It's been interesting so far- everyone is very welcoming, and there are three WWOOFers from DC who are staying in the same place and for the same amount of time that we are. There is a cat named General and dog named Huxley and a woodhopper named Felix. So far, we've gotten a tour and informal info session about macrobiotics, spent time weeding cabbage beds and pulling daikon, and used a power saw in the barn to build trusses.
The food is really important to the people who live here. They live by the tenets of macrobiotics, which include a balanced diet involving mostly grains, root vegetables, greens, and few fruits. Here, they also choose to eat vegan, despite traditional macrobiotics including fish in the diet.
After dinner, everyone hung out and played volleyball except Melanie because she is embarrassed about her athletic ability. When we went to bed around 10:30, exhausted after arriving at the Kenai airport at 4:50 AM, the sun was still out. Wooooo!
We are trying to organize some trips into the towns of Soldotna and Homer, and to Seward Park for a day hike to see Exit Glacier. Also, everyone here is planning to see Harry Potter.
We are tired but happy, and if you're our moms we will call you soon.
We are sitting at Rose's dining room table, getting ready for our trip to Ionia farm in Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. This blog is to update all of our friends and family- especially for those of you who think we are destined to be victims of a bear attack. No worries, guys.
We will have intermittent internet access on the farm, so we'll update as much as we can. And it's gonna be totally awesome!***