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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

Things to Do, Places to Go While in Alaska-Day Trip to a U-Pick Farm for Fresh AK Veggies

Things to Do, Places to Go While in Alaska-Day Trip to a U-Pick Farm for Fresh AK Veggies

One of our favorite things to do in the fall is go on a day trip to a U-Pick Farm for fresh Alaskan Veggies. The carrots are sweet adn crunchy, the peas are the BEST adn it is fun getting your hands dirty. The views are spectacular too!

One of our favorites is Pyrahs Pioneer Peak Farm in the Butte. Here are some pics of us being silly with my cousins on the farm.



From Palmer, take the Old Glenn Highway west out of Palmer. Follow Old Glenn for approximately 8 Miles.  Turn right onto Bodenburg Loop Road.  Follow Bodenburg for approximately 3 miles.  The farm will be on the right hand side.

Special Notes:
There are rules when you pick as to the minimum size of certain veggies, picking allowed in designated areas, be careful not to waste and they are closed on Sundays. You can visit the website for more information.

Have fun and enjoy the harvest!

Jacque & Larry

Siblings, Rotten, Rotten-ROTTEN!


Siblings, Rotten, Rotten-ROTTEN!

Growing up in Alaska with two brothers and two sisters it was interesting to say the least. We all got along (our parents would not have it any other way) and we went on adventures as a family. We went snow machining like ducks in a row, camping, fishing, going to the flight line on Elmendorf AFB (now Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson or JBER for short) to watch the planes, whatever it was, we were together.

One memory that sneaks up on me this time of year is the smell of fall. It is a decay smell to me, wet leaves, dying grasses etc. Some people like the smell and others do not. Larry and I are on both sides of the fence on this one, I do not like the smell, he does because it means fall to him.

The reason I do not like it is because of the title of this story. Siblings, Rotten, Rotten-ROTTEN! You see, my siblings told me when I was an impressionable young kid (maybe 6 years old) that the smell was a WET BEAR in the woods. They followed up with anytime you smell that smell, the bear is close and can smell you too. Then something like it is close enough to attack and eat you…you know, the fun stuff siblings say and do to each other.

To this day, I still have that millisecond response to the smell and then I think ‘siblings, Rotten, Rotten-ROTTEN!’

For those of you new to Alaska or just visiting our area in the fall, the smell is probably just the smell of fall and not a wet bear lying in wait to attack. Thank you John, Don, JoAnne and KC for the blog idea, you are all ROTTEN!


The pics above were from our family reunion in 2011. We were recreating the family pic from 36 years prior as a silly surprise for my folks. My family is nuts (in a good, silly, mischievous, fun, goofy-and a bunch more adjectives-way)! Can you see from the pics why I say Siblings, Rotten, Rotten-ROTTEN? 

If you are new to Alaska or just visiting, we are available to help with the purchase of your new home. If you are selling because you too do not like the smell of fall, we are also here for you!

If you are not moving here but vacationing we also have some really cute Alaskan themed, modern and fully furnished vacation rentals if you simply just want to check out our beautiful state (and tease family members with the ‘wet bear’ story).

Jacque & Larry

Things to Do, Places to Go While in Alaska-Overnight Camping Trip over the Denali Highway


Things to Do, Places to Go While in Alaska-Overnight Camping Trip over the Denali Highway

While you are visiting Alaska, you may choose to go camping! Why not take in the fantastic fall colors and take an adventure drive over the Denali Highway? In all our years here and all our travels, this is one road that neither Larry nor I have had the pleasure of traveling until this year (2011). So we packed up some friends, warm camping gear, Tana the poodle and headed north.

Our adventure started as we drove through the still green Birch and Spruce trees of the Matanuska Valley and meandered north through the state toward Cantwell. We left Wasilla (mile 40 of the Parks Highway) passed Talkeetna, neared Mount Mckinley (ok, the park anyway) and made a right at Cantwell (about 160 miles later). As we drove north we could feel the temperature change and see the light yellowing of the trees as fall kissed the leaves.


We were, of course, in full debate as to which we would see first-would it be an eagle? A moose or caribou? Perhaps a bear? Our friends were ready to see a bear but the caribou ‘won.’

Along the Denali Highway, we were very surprised to see how many other campers (hunters too) were out there with us. Much to our surprise, with as many weekend tent cities and hunting stations as there were 100 miles from much of anything, we had a friend (and past client three times over) pull up beside us. Alaska is the largest state in the union but it is still a small world! Allan was doing exactly what we were, exploring our beautiful state and taking pictures along the way.

Our campsite was not perfect and it rained on us all night but, by morning, it was beautiful out and the campfire was perfect for our oatmeal and fresh picked blueberries.

Our 550 mile drive/camping trip and wildlife viewing tour cannot be described any better than in the photos we took. Take a look!




From Wasilla, drive north on the Parks Highway toward Fairbanks, take the Denali Highway exit at Cantwell. Follow the 135 mile (much of it dirt but very well maintained) road across to Paxson. Follow to Glennallen (get gas here too before continuing on) and then south to Palmer. From Palmer you can go back over to Wasilla or continue south to Anchorage.

Special Notes:

Services are very limited! Medical may be available in Delta Junction, Cantwell and Glennallen but there is not much available while on the Denali Highway.

Fill up your gas tank before heading on the highway. Bring your snacks and drinks, protection from wildlife, extra gear and warm clothes with you. Don’t forget your camera!

There are a couple of places to stay but they are limited and on a first come first served basis, otherwise a warm tent and camping gear makes for a great adventure in itself.

The Denali Highway is typically open from mid May to October unless you are on a snow machine adventure. Snow and drifts often makes the road impassible. 

Have fun on your adventure and stay safe!

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 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 Knik River and Jim Creek 4 Wheeling

Things to Do, Places to Go While in Alaska-Day Trip to Knik River and Jim Creek 4 Wheeling

While in the Palmer area, if you head into the Butte, there are many trails to take four wheeling.

Not only will you be nose to nose with gorgeous mountains but you can play in the valleys and kick up some mud in the meantime.

There are amazing views, cold water, bumps and jumps, dunes and dirt all along the way. Many people camp along the river in one of several parking areas. You will see brand spanking new four wheelers mixed with old beater four by fours. Everyone is welcome in the mud!

Beware though, do not get out too far like these folks. It may not look dangerous but it can get there very fast.

It looks like fun until somebody goes into the drink! We were not sure if they thought there was a sandbar or what but they had several onlookers.

Apparently, they had several supporters as it took two trucks, a couple tow lines and a chain and a nice friend with some hip waders to hook it all up-just to get them out.



To get to the Knik River parking lot From Anchorage, take the Glenn Highway to the Old Glenn Highway Exit toward the Butte. Follow the road to the left (over the bridge) and there are parking lots on both sides of the road. There are other places to park but this is the closest to Anchorage.

Special Notes:
Prepare for the unexpected and bring gear for all temperatures.
Watch for tides, keep a safe zone!
Stay off the mudflats and beware of the quicksand like properties of the mudflats.
Unsuspecting or people unaware of the dangers of the mudflats can get caught in it and drown or die of hypothermia. We know of several instances where it took a fire hose and pressurized water to break the hold of the quicksand like mud.

Play it safe and keep it fun!

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

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

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!


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.

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

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