Archived blog posts from 2012 and 2013.

Alaska’s Main Artery

Every day like clockwork I hear, see, and feel the locomotives and line of railcars from the Alaska Railroad rumble by my home. When I first moved into my current house (located about 100 yards from the tracks) the nighttime passes would wake me up… it was disturbing enough that I resorted to earplugs. Over time, I’ve adapted. So much so that I don’t even notice it anymore. In fact, if the train suddenly stopped running I would probably not be able to sleep now. Trains have always fascinated me. Maybe it’s because some of my earliest memories are of hanging out with my dad when he worked on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad in Skagway (I won’t even get into the story of the time I pulled a switch on the tracks and caused a train to detour). Some of Dad’s fondest memories still stem from his time working on that line. Alaska has a rich railroad history and I’ll share a little of it here. The Alaska Railroad was not the state’s first line. There were others that came beforehand but the Alaska Railroad is the only one that endures. My city, Anchorage, owes its existence to the line.     In 1912, Congress created the Alaska Railroad Commission to study the railroad situation in Alaska. Their goal was to find an efficient way of linking the rich goldfields in central Alaska (Fairbanks area) to a port location where ships could unload equipment and goods, and send it north. A 196-mile long railroad linking the rich Kennecott copper deposits in the Wrangell Mountains to the coastal... read more

The Porch

Welcome, Friends! As I posted on Facebook earlier: RIP Prime Minister Thatcher… guided by strong morals, commonsense, and a solid grasp of economics, she strengthened her country by shrinking the size of government, fighting communism, courageously taking on the unions, and putting state-owned businesses into private hands. She understood that overtaxing the working man while paying people not to work leads to nothing but an increase in unemployment. By easing government overreach, she created an atmosphere where businesses thrived and and her nation grew stronger. People at all income levels saw their standard of living improve. Mrs. Thatcher set an example for the world to follow. Her successful economic blueprint is a model that today’s politicians would be wise to duplicate.     For those of you who have been making guesses on the “what is it” picture, here’s another view.     So, what is it exactly? A nine-foot diameter rotor on a diesel snow thrower on the front of an Alaska Railroad locomotive. You all were closing in on me in the comments! One person actually guessed it on Facebook. This rotary snowplow was used to cut through the numerous avalanches that cover the tracks between Anchorage and Seward. The car behind the locomotive was a former WWII troop transfer car that was modified into a dining car. This particular train has been retired and sits on the far south side of Anchorage near Potter Marsh. Potter Marsh is one on the top bird viewing areas in the country. Tomorrow, look for a post with more details on the Alaska Railroad!   Subscribe free to ChuckHeathJr.com and receive notice of... read more

The Porch

Welcome, Friends! Here’s another shot of the “guess what it is” picture from yesterday to give you an idea of the scale. Keep the guesses coming in the comments! Some verses for today from Matthew 25: 34-40 (NIV): 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ This past week thousands from around the world gathered in Orlando, FL with Samaritan’s Purse “to give God glory for His faithfulness in providing more than 100 million shoe boxes filled with simple gifts for children across the globe.” You can read all about it HERE. Below is a great video highlighting the ministry of... read more

The Porch

Welcome, Friends! Here are some links from this week’s posts in case you missed them. The Porch, April 1, 2013 Edition – Meet Eli Reimer, the first child with Down syndrome to climb to Mt. Everest’s base camp. The Porch, April 2, 2013 Edition – A soldier surprise video and note from Sarah about World Autism Awareness Day. The Mind of the Raven – A look at this curious bird with stories, pictures, and videos. The Porch April 4, 2013 Edition – A couple of great videos of child prodigies. Here’s a “guess what it is” picture for you! Do you know? Leave your answer in the comments.   Subscribe free to ChuckHeathJr.com and receive notice of each new post! Just enter your email address in the subscription box found in the sidebar and watch for a verification email. (Crazy Dog Kennel image by Birch Leaf Photography) Have a guest post you’d like to submit? Read about the details HERE. To purchase a signed copy of Our Sarah, mail a $25 check (made out to Sally or Chuck Heath) to: Chuck and Sally Heath 425 North Klouda Circle Wasilla, Alaska 99654   Amazon.com Widgets   Amazon.com... read more

The Porch

Welcome, Friends! There’s a new post up today about a kind of bird often taken for granted. Check out The Mind of the Raven and let me know if you see this bird any differently. Recently, I was teaching the kids the meaning of the word, “prodigy”. Talking to them about it is one thing; showing them clips like this is much more effective. God gave us all gifts: some are just a lot easier to see.     Subscribe free to ChuckHeathJr.com and receive notice of each new post! Just enter your email address in the subscription box found in the sidebar and watch for a verification email. (Donnelly Meadow by Birch Leaf Photography) Have a guest post you’d like to submit? Read about the details HERE. To purchase a signed copy of Our Sarah, mail a $25 check (made out to Sally or Chuck Heath) to: Chuck and Sally Heath 425 North Klouda Circle Wasilla, Alaska 99654 Amazon.com Widgets   Amazon.com... read more

The Mind of the Raven

This past weekend, I sat with my two boys in my truck in a Walmart parking lot while we watched a group of ravens scavenge and frolic about. Ravens in Alaska, and I’m sure in many parts of the world, are so common that we tend to take for granted just how amazing they really are. I remember reading an article years ago about some ravens that were raising havoc with an electrical transformer here in Anchorage. The Fish and Game Department was called in to try to catch and relocate the birds but they had no luck. A spokesman for the department was quoted as saying that the ravens were just too smart to be captured. Even if they could’ve been caught and relocated, I have no doubt the birds would have easily found their way back to their “electrical playground”. A friend of mine in Fairbanks, John Reeves, told me an incredible raven story a couple of years ago. He said that when the temperature dips well below zero, the ravens will sit on top of the streetlight poles. Why? Because they’ve figured out that if they sit on the sensors that automatically turn the lights on as it gets dark, they can switch the lights on themselves. When the lights go on they heat up the ravens’ perch. Ravens play an important role in some cultures: especially the Tlingit natives of southeast Alaska. The Tlingits hold the raven in high regard. They recognize the birds intelligence and tell many stories of the birds powers. According to their legends the raven is responsible for the creation of... read more

The Porch

Welcome, Friends! The winners of the Liberty Pose March 2013 contest have been announced. You can see them by clicking HERE. While you’re there, be sure to check out a recent submission by Barbara F. Along with the picture, which shows her, her husband, and her son (all veterans), Barbara shares some background of this heroic American family. In the book Dad and I wrote last year, I talked about one of my teaching experiences on a military base. I mention that what struck me most about the experience was what the majority of the kids in the class were going through. Over twenty of the twenty-seven kids in class had either a dad, mom, or both deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. I remember thinking, ‘How would I feel if I was a kid in that situation?’ I’d probably worry myself sick everyday. The kids (and spouses) of deployed soldiers are often overlooked today. This short clip serves as a poignant reminder of how hard it is to have a loved one gone from home and living in harm’s way.     One more thing…from Sarah: Today is World Autism Awareness Day. There is such a need for us to understand and appreciate the complexities and mysteries of the outward challenges of those who suffer from autism, as well as their inner goodness, intelligence and unique gifts. I think of so many kids challenged by this, including my beautiful nephew, Karcher, and the patient, sacrificial families doing all they can to nurture and teach and protect their loved ones. My nephew has greater life tests and trials than most... read more

The Porch

Welcome, Friends! I hope you all had a great weekend. Thank you for sharing some of your Easter and Passover traditions in the comments last week. Have you seen this awesome story posted at Foxnews.com today?   One teenager has made history by being the first child with Down syndrome to climb to Mt. Everest’s base camp.   Eli Reimer, a 16-year-old from Bend, Ore., hiked 70 miles to Everest’s South Base Camp in Nepal with a team of eight other people, including his father, Justin Reimer.  The trek was meant to help promote the work of the Elisha Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps to raise money and support for those living with disabilities.  Reimer and his wife, Tamara, co-founded the Elisha Foundation in 2005. You can read the entire article HERE and visit the Elisha Foundation HERE.   Subscribe free to ChuckHeathJr.com and receive notice of each new post! Just enter your email address in the subscription box found in the sidebar and watch for a verification email. (Featured image from Elisha Foundation) Have a guest post you’d like to submit? Read about the details HERE. To purchase a signed copy of Our Sarah, mail a $25 check (made out to Sally or Chuck Heath) to: Chuck and Sally Heath 425 North Klouda Circle Wasilla, Alaska 99654 Amazon.com Widgets   Amazon.com... read more

The Porch

Welcome, Friends! I hope you’re having a great Easter weekend! Please share with us what your plans are…any traditions you always keep? Don’t forget to vote for a picture in the Liberty Pose contest and get your own shot in for the drawing! Deadline for both is tomorrow night. Click HERE to vote. In case you missed it, here are links to some of this week’s posts: The Porch, March 24, 2013 Edition – Remembering Dad’s 75th birthday. The Porch, March 26, 2013 Edition – A picture of my son Teko and one of Dad working hard. The Porch, March 27, 2013 Edition – My daughter Sophia’s #LibertyPose. Our Children’s World – Some thoughts on the future of our children and pictures of my kids playing in Alaska. The Porch, March 28, 2013 Edition – An open letter to my sister Sarah, the new SarahPAC video, and the Liberty Pose contest survey. The Porch, March 29, 2013 Edition – A Good Friday video. Subscribe free to ChuckHeathJr.com and receive notice of each new post! Just enter your email address in the subscription box found in the sidebar and watch for a verification email. Have a guest post you’d like to submit? Read about the details HERE. To purchase a signed copy of Our Sarah, mail a $25 check (made out to Sally or Chuck Heath) to: Chuck and Sally Heath 425 North Klouda Circle Wasilla, Alaska 99654   Amazon.com Widgets   Amazon.com... read more

The Porch

Welcome, Friends! Remembering Good Friday… Subscribe free to ChuckHeathJr.com and receive notice of each new post! Just enter your email address in the subscription box found in the sidebar and watch for a verification email. (Dogwood Bloom image by James Hawkins) Have a guest post you’d like to submit? Read about the details HERE. To purchase a signed copy of Our Sarah, mail a $25 check (made out to Sally or Chuck Heath) to: Chuck and Sally Heath 425 North Klouda Circle Wasilla, Alaska 99654   Amazon.com Widgets   Amazon.com... read more
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