Jan 4, 2011

Class B Fun

Mike and I finally skied a loop in the White Mountains just northeast of Fairbanks. There are a dozen BLM cabins that can be rented out for $25 a night, with 7-15 miles between each one. We'd both been out to the White Mtns Recreation Area a handful of times for a day ski or one night each time, but wanted to get further out.... This holiday trip we were out for 5 days/4 nights, and skied 60 miles total, with a rest day on day 3. Will calls this Class B fun, where it's fun when it's over.

The first day we skied 20 miles to Borealis Cabin where it was -38F. Freakin' Cold!! Thankfully it warmed up and we were in the -20F range for a couple of days, then -10F for the last couple of days. Had some stiff winds from Caribou Bluff to Colorado Creek, where the windswept landscape reminded me of Antarctic skiing days.  Saw tons of wolf, caribou and moose tracks, but the only live animals we saw were ptarmigan and rabbits. and I am 90% sure - in my frozen, tired, sore, hungry state on the first night, in the dark - I saw a wolverine. A solid 90%.

Even before it was over, we knew we were having fun (Class A), and by the time we got to the car, we were already nostalgic for the peace and quiet of snowy mountain ski trails.

Very snowy at the start
The best cabin: Caribou Bluff
Endless bags of snow to melt for water
Chillin' in the cabin

Fixing my down booties for the 87th time
UCO 9-hour candles rock!

Mike on the trail

Short days

Dec 1, 2010

Ice Storm '10

An exciting weather event in Fairbanks! Not quite as dramatic as the Rochester ice storm of '93, but beautiful and crazy still. People were actually ice skating on the streets here and the U closed for 2 days. Our snow is normally too dry to make a snowman - in fact, I can't remember seeing one in Fairbanks before this year - so the freezing rain led to a snowman population explosion all around town. Being trapped at home for a few days was really nice for me and the kitties, not so much for Mike at the mine, but he made it home for Thanksgiving.

Ice storm walks down Ookpik

I love the colander hat!

cozy cats

Nov 30, 2010

bonfire season

Sky lantern takeoff

Sky lantern in flight

Dan's birthday fireworks

Flight delayed

Our first piece of original art (oil painting by local Fairbanks artist Robin Barker)

Oct 27, 2010

Escape to Anchorage

We had a fun weekend road trip to Anchorage. Hiking, eating, spending our PFD, visiting old Fairbanks friends, and drinking with Uncle Alec. Beautiful drive down and back, and beautiful time there!

Japanese-looking Chugach
Reba, our awesome Girdwood hostess
Abstract Turnagain Arm
Los Anchorage sunset from Earthquake Park

Oct 18, 2010

autumn falling

Summer ended suddenly. It was going along all warm and sunny, than whamo! it turned cold and dark and snowed. I'm trying to stay excited about wintertime, but October can be a rough transition month, when there's not enough snow to ski, and the remnants of summer still hang around - tan lines, studless bike tires, geranium plants from the garden now blooming happily on the window sills. Fall is such a nice time too, but it's short here in Fairbanks. Autumn is pretty much one month - September. A great autumn it was this year.  
The birch trees in our yard drop their leaves all at once.
Last plant to bloom in the garden.

Beautiful sunset at Quartz Lake.

Morning canoe at Quartz Lake.

Sep 21, 2010

Mike vs the Equinox

Mike ran his 5th Equinox Marathon last weekend - 5 years since his 4th - in a PR of 3:51 to place 33rd out of the men. Way to go Mike! I think I'm more proud than he is. It was an absolutely glorious fall day on the trails, 40 degrees at the start, 65 at the finish, blue skies, sunshine, birch trees the whole way.

The first Olympic marathon was run in 1896, and the first women's Olympic event wasn't held until almost a century later, in 1984! This was the 48th running of the Equinox marathon in Fairbanks. Over 4000 feet of elevation gain over the course. It's a toughie.

Pre-race bravado
Late-race fatigue (around mile 23)
Post-race relief?
Stop taking pictures of me or I'll make you run the ultra next year.

Aug 3, 2010


We hiked up Donnelly Dome for the first time and saw a lone caribou far off in the distance, which offered this quintessential Alaska scene:
The caribou kept his distance and a close eye on us. But I don't think he understood the concept of a hiking trail... We really surprised each other at the top!

Jul 27, 2010


I love summer in Fairbanks. It's such a crazy, bright time of year. We're like squirrels packing away all the sun in storage for winter. It works! I am already exhausted and looking forward to dark, cold, peaceful, quiet... I guess it's a good sign that I am excited for winter. (It only took 7 years!) Although if I re-read this in six months I'll wonder what was the matter with me?

It's starting to get dark, kindof, late at night.

Jul 6, 2010

healthy hiatus

Since starting a summer photography class, I've posted exactly zero photos on this blog... mostly because I spend enough time in front of the computer - at work, and Photoshop for the class (digital photography). I've also been humbled by how little of the basics I remember of photography, and how little I knew about how to use my camera. The class is helping. Hopefully there will be a noticeable improvement in my photos as a result, but in the meantime I am getting back to the basics... a good thing!

May 8, 2010

caber toss

Thanks to Bennish's land, Bernie's truck, Jones' brawn, and some very sore shoulders, we got several loads of seasoned birch this weekend for the wood shed. yay!

May 1, 2010

Harmless Weather Instrument

I got to get out of the office and go photograph a weather balloon launch. The National Weather Service sends up a balloon twice a day, every day, at 3 am and 3 pm from Fairbanks (one of 92 U.S. locations). We needed a photo of a weather balloon and its radiosonde for one of our tutorials. It was a little tricky to capture since the balloon rises about 1000 ft/min, and the radiosonde is on a 90-foot tether. [So, a photo of the balloon and parachute for the radiosonde will have to do.]
The radiosonde transmits weather data (temp, pressure, humidity, wind speed) back to a receiver near the FAI airport at 1 Hz during its flight. There's actually a pretty involved circuit board with sensors in the radiosonde box, so it also includes a self-addressed bag to send the thing back. If you see a small styrofoam box lying out in a field, check it out!

Apr 22, 2010

Love means nothing to a tennis player

We had a fun (albeit cloudy and windy) tennis game with my brother's family in Round Rock. My two little nephews were really good despite some McEnroe antics after a few whiffs. I went into the bushes after a tennis ball, and found 8! None of which was the one we lost. Got a bit of poison ivy in the process, but it was well worth it.