Jun 29, 2007

Rainbow Ridge June07

Last year, my 'friends' all got together and tried to figure out which single weekend i would be gone for a conference in Girdwood (Active Tectonics and Seismic Potential of Alaska - good conference), so that they could hike Rainbow Ridge without me and then talk about how awesome it was whenever i was around ALL last summer.

So, I FINALLY hiked up rainbow ridge (south of Delta Junction) with Mike, Lisa, Ann and Ann's dog Mytack. It was a bit cloudy and windy, but the views were still stunning!!
I guess people do some backcountry skiing on the east side of the ridge --- hopefully there is an easier way to get up there. It was mostly scree slope, and the scree was too big to get some good leaps on the way down. But we all had a nice day, I think Mytack was pretty pooped by the end of the day!

Jun 27, 2007

Moustache Party May07

Our friends Brent and Emily have had a moustache party for the last 6? years, 3 in Michigan, and 3 here in Fairbanks. As this was their last summer in Fairbanks, moustache party '07 was a huge blowout - tons of fun and awesome costumes/outfits.

According to the invitation, men are supposed to sport a moustache and dress in the style of the moustache they have chosen, while women are supposed to dress like the type of women who would hang out with guys with moustaches. Not too much of a stretch for some people:

Trev and Brian looking suave.

Mario and Luigi. Stefan in the middle stuck his 'moustache' (dryer lint) to his face with HONEY!

Amanda and Lars, enough said.

Woo hooooo!

It was an exciting bike ride home...

For more photos, see http://picasaweb.google.com/snowgecko/MoustacheParty

Jun 19, 2007


OK, I'm first going to catch up on a few posts, starting with our trip to central America in March of this year...

ATM is the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave near San Ignacio, Belize where the locals get cash. Kidding. It's an amazing archeological site. Mike and I decided to splurge and take a tour ($75 US each). you can't go in the cave without a licensed guide. The competition for guiding these tours is pretty fierce between the two tour companies in San Ignacio. So the 'other' company that we didn't go with was badmouthing the company we did pick, while the company we went with just said "we don't want to badmouth the other guys..."

The trip starts with a 1.5 hour van ride (about 8 people in our group), then hike about an hour, which brings you to the mouth of the cave. There's a deep pool, so the first step is to plunge into the water - chilly, but refreshing - and swim about 15 feet to the entrance of the cave. Someone had clued us in to a good trick to take our shirts off for the swim and put them inside our helmets so that we'd have a dry shirt while inside.

Turns out it is really DARK in caves. We walked, scrambled and waded (in up to neck-deep water) for about an hour, then we got to this spot where we had to take off our shoes and climb up a pretty steep wall to another 'room' of the cave. This 'room' was actually like a huge cathedral, filled with stalagmites and stalactites (g=ground, c=ceiling is how i remember them), and all kinds of offshoots into other 'rooms'...
A bit spooky actually.

So what is the big deal about this cave? Well, it was featured in National Geographic Magazine in 2001, because the rooms are littered with Mayan pottery and human remains! The Mayans believed that the rain god lived in the cave, since the mist came off the water in the morning, and the water came from the river, which came from the cave. Very logical. When things started to go badly for Mayans, they sacrificed people to appease the gods. Therefore when there was a serious drought, they sacrificed people to the rain god.

The skeleton is a Mayan woman around 20 years of age, she is called the "crystal maiden", and the cave is also known as "Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre" which is a much better name than ATM. There are a few theories on how she died, based on the way she is lying on the ground. Some believe she was trying to climb up the wall next to her and was pulled off the wall to her death, or she fell, or that she simply fell backward from standing.

In any case, she looks a bit surprised. Water from the limestone cave (calcium carbonate) has calcified the skeleton and she is very well preserved. On her forehead you can see how high the water has gotten - maybe not so much in the photo. It's amazing they let people walk in there, several of the artifacts, including a skull! have been stepped on by tourists. The preserved skulls have teeth that have been filed or have jade inlays, which tells you what tribe they're from and how important they are. Mike and I both decided to get some dental bling as a result of this trip.