Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Happy 4th of July, Juneau-Douglas 50th Reunion & More from Alaska!

Alaska is my true north, my compass, my heart, my childhood and forever home.


Eighteen members of my family getting together for feasts, fun, and catching up.

All of us knowing it's time to see more of one another and not less!  So, I made it to my very 1st class reunion!!

  Seeing Juneau-Douglas High School classmates from 50 years ago was added into the fun!

Didn't make it to 10th, 20th, 30th, or 40th, but here I  am 50 years older hoping to recognize others I once knew, now 50 years older, as well.

I was Co-editor with Linda Nielson Thibodeau of our1968 Juneau-Douglas High School yearbook, the "Totem."  My yearbook had burned up in our 1970 house fire.  I'd missed it so much over the years as it was a big part of my high school life. Linda loaned me her copy for next 50 years and it was great fun looking, laughing and bringing up so many memories from so long ago.

Flying at 17 over our junior summer to Seattle and the University of Washington School of Journalism for yearbook training in graphic design, typography...meaning typewriters... and styling layouts, photo editing and page layouts, thematic design etc.etc.

Amazing experiences for an incredibly shy student from Alaska in 1967 long before computers and digital layouts and editing! Oh how we loved it.

Linda reminded me we were both so shy we had to take turns "being brave" and asking for help and directions with buses and routes among everything else.

Some I did and some I didn't.  Most did not recognize me after 50 years and no other sightings!

So much fun! Here, a cousin's cabin by's lovely that everyone's retired and a lifetime of hard work has come to fruition with lovely homes, getaway cabins and are needed for transportation in southeast Alaska as many of us grew up on, or still live on islands.

Even Juneau, the capitol is landlocked and transportation out is by air or water as lovely mountains and miles of ocean surround us!

Our big Savikko family has been potlucking, hiking, boating to nearby Horse Island for a picnic.

And on the 4th, parades in both Juneau and Douglas and watching the yearly constructing, (and eventual celebratory torching) of a huge bonfire on the beach looking across to Juneau for my family's tradition scraps and pallets wood sculpture that is as close to Burning Man as I'll ever get!!

This year the "Burning Whale" in honor of Juneau's newest art sculpture park where Larry and I had our photo synchronistically taken and made the news!

I learned to work with clay and am in the process of the magical alchemy of the manifestation of earth by the catalyst of fire into the creation of art!

My little magical little Alaskan fish ! Here, not yet fired into bique to be fired by my SIL's 2000 degree kiln into finished form.

Hiking and trying to keep up with my Alaskan Family. my impressive blister with a little quilted hug healing.

This trip taught me that while it was great fun being 20...

And 22.....

And 25..... and 30...and 60...and 65..

But being what I am now and into the great unknown is an awful lot of fun right now!

We create our own magic wherever we are...inside and out!

And because I did my own magical alchemical energy on this precious little...

Bikko of Savikko
(A "Cotton de Tulear" puppy cousin once removed)
Bikko boats, kayaks and hikes everywhere with my cousin and his wife!

I was able to be and do and create here, there, and everywhere and always will.

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands.


  1. Happy 4th of July, it seems like a very special journey and place for you, home always is whenever we think of it!! It is wonderful to get family together ! from Iowa

  2. Looks like a lovely place and I am glad you were able to enjoy your family reunion. Congrats on making the news! Happy 4th!

  3. Thank you so much, Shasta. We had opportunities we've never had
    before with things to see and do. All of my younger brothers are retired and have houses, boats,etc. that offer us places to stay and things that get us places to areas I've never visited much less hiked etc. I have blisters but great fun to remember even more!

  4. Happy Fourth of July to you and yours dear Michele. So happy to see you out in your place of comfort . Wishing you a wonderful year of new travels, times to share your passion for creating and new blog posts..
    Warmest regards, Anna

  5. How fascinating, Michele. I will never venture that far abroad so it is nice to see your photos. Thank you.

    1. Nanna Chel, thank you for stopping by. It's lovely hearing from you and getting to know you.

  6. Beautiful place. I would love to visit it someday. My dad was stationed there part of the time he was in the army during WW2.

    1. It is lovely. My dad and 4 of his brothers served in WWII. Three of them in Alaska in the Army, too.

  7. Thank you Annw, it is my place of comfort. In this crazy world and precarious times, it soothes my heart. The hiking however gave me a huge blister 😉 Its been our first real vacation in a very, very long time.

  8. That's a great celebration of many things for the 4th. Love your beach sculpture. Burning Man can't hold a candle (hee hee) to Alaska in my opinion. Love to you all.

  9. I'm so GLAD you got to go "home" for the 4th... to see your family and everyone there! Alaska is such a magical place... I've only been once but will never forget it. I went in July in 1995.. the light, the water, the ice, creeks, woods, and oh that magical light at midnight! I love all of your photos and how fun to get to hike there again! My hiking would be fairly short lived I'm afraid, but I can still do it thankfully. Enjoy your family especially... it's sad when they are so far away from where we are living. Bless you.......Marilyn

  10. Looks like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos.

  11. Hahaha, Celia..You might be right. Two architects engineered it and my cousin's wife climbed repeatedly to the topic of that ladder adding finishing touches. They filled in with wooden pallets to simulate the paths around the sculpture. It was impressive and then...whoops! Gone up in flames,. Huge in real life!

  12. You are so right, Marilyn, every kind of magical there is! The air almost vibrates with the energy of the land the water, the sea and the really active people. I'm so glad you got to travel there.

  13. Winifred, I truly did. After a decade of vacations spent helping family and fun only being a visit to a store, it was lovely to do,and see, and enjoy, so many unusual things!

  14. Diane, thank you. I was so happy when you got to see your daughter. It's enough to keep us hopeful for fun, again.


Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.