Marie - I hope you got over your hissy fit over the pine cones by now!
I know exactly what you mean. My DH mows down by the river, where you can't see it from the house and leaves the grass 6" high in the front and back yards.
I keep my mouth shut because I can't drive the tractor mower and I know what his answer would be! I hate our weed wacker, my arms vibrate for two days if I use it or the hedge trimmer, so I usually don't do those jobs. Oh the joys of country living! The pluses outweigh the minuses though and I still love it here. I'm going to have to wheedle my DH into getting the mole traps set soon before the little varmints take over the whole yard. The trip you're planning to Fairbanks sounds awesome - even better than your cruise. I'm afraid I'd blimp up if I took a cruise - too many eating opportunities!