Monday, August 30, 2004

State Fair Weekend

This weekend was the first weekend of the Alaska State Fair in nearby Palmer . Palmer is about an hour's drive from Anchorage along the Glenn Highway, and is originally the area where farmers settled and is still considered the "salad bowl of AK".

We decided to go on Saturday, since they were predicting cloudy/rainy/cold conditions that day. Luckily for us, there was just a sprinkling of rain, and it was pretty sunny in Palmer.

Here is the entire gate area for the AK state fair. Two lines filing into three cashiers total.

Fairs of course have a lot of food. In this case, we had the usual fare (pizza, hotdogs, hamburgers) but also some strange things like reindeer sausage, caribou burgers, and beer battered halibut. Frank and I split a roast of corn, fried halibut, and a buffalo burger. It was all very good of course.

Friar Tuck's booth

We went to all the contest areas, like Flowers, crafts, photography, and livestock. I've not been a Fair connesieur in my life, so was not prepared for how many pretty flowers, photos, quilts, and rabbit breeds there are at a State Fair. I was very impressed by the very large angora rabbits that looked right out of Monty Python's Holy Grail. They were also having a hula hoop contest, which brought bad memories of hula hoop attempts (Frank says he knows how to hula hoop, but conveniently was not about to demonstrate at the state fair...hmmm :) ).

Picture of Frank outside of the livestock tent and right beside the hula hoop contest

The thing I was really looking forward to was the vegetables. Not only was I interested in what possibly grows up here, but I had heard about the world-record cabbage this year. Here's a picture of the massive cabbage:

The world's biggest cabbage (still to be certified by Guiness)!!!!!

A very pretty cabbage...

For the kids, they had the usual fair rides, as well as an ATV course instead of the car course. These kids were really good considering they should not be driving cars this fast for a few more years at least!!!

Kids learning to drive in the mud at the mini-ATV course

On the other side of the ATV course, you can see if you squint Denali (Mt. McKinley):

If you look close by that tree that's Denali...

And on our way back, we stopped by Mirror Lake in Eklutna. It is a very calm and pretty lake right off the highway.

Great picture of Frank at Mirror Lake

This week, Frank starts work at UAA (today was his first day) and he posed for a picture at 6am this morning. I'm sure he's looking forward to the semester start!!!

Frank getting ready for work...

Friday, August 27, 2004

And then the skies opened up...

Since we have been here, Alaskans have been telling us that the wonderful sunny weather we were having was not typical of August. Well, Tuesday night I believe the ocean started to try to take Anchorage back.

It started off with a big thunderstorm. Now, as midwesterners, we are used to thunderstorms, however these are rare in Alaska. I was talking to one native Alaskan who had never even seen lightning before Tuesday, and could not stop talking about it. The weird thing is, although the lightning never got too close to us (using the old seconds to thunder test), when it did thunder, it reverberated off the mountains for like 15 seconds, which is very weird.

To make it worse, there is a 7,000 acre fire happening in Kodiak which makes now the air in Anchorage smell like a wet fireplace.

So I woke up on Wednesday to rain, which was alright. The problem was, it has not stopped raining. Once again, being midwesterners, we say, alright and go about our business. Problem is, Anchorage does not have the super-excellent gutter system that we are used to. It did well until about noon from what I hear, when all the gutters filled up in different areas of town causing water levels to rise dramatically.

Here is a report from Anchorage Daily News. Here are some pictures we took while driving around:

Urban Flood Warning

Galileo is perplexed by the rain...

More Flooding

Now you might say why were we driving around...we had to pick up Frank's car from the shop, where we were checking for oil leaks. Well, when we got there, the entire car lot for the shop was under 2 ft. of water! Frank had to wade through it to get to the shop to try to get the tracker out. Luckily, the car is fine -- the floor and passenger seat is wet, but the engine was working just fine.

Now don't feel too bad for us, because we now have a loveseat and a coffee table! The rest is landing at the port around Sept 15th. Here are some pictures of the new furniture:

New Couch and Coffee Table!


Tuesday, August 24, 2004


While the Norwegian police are still lookiing up leads, my Munch poster is now hanging on my office, I'm sure it's not the original :)

Here's also a picture of Galileo playing with his Pyramid, one of his favorite toys. He's taken to telling us what he wants now...every once in a while, he'll tap me, then touch his lead to his nose to tell us he wants to go on a walk. I think that's pretty smart!

Galileo and his "pyramid"

Monday, August 23, 2004

Another walk in the Park

This weekend, we went to Kincaid Park, a bit of a welcome change from going into the mountains. This is one of many huge parks that sit directly within Anchorage, this one is directly on the water, although you wouldn't know from these pictures since we went towards the lake instead of the water. In the fall, they have a big trail running series through Kincaid and other parks for people, and in the winter a big cross country series (Kincaid is only one of two recognized FIS courses in the US).

Some pictures from the hike:

Mushroom in Kincaid Park

Frank and Puppy in the park

At Cambell Lake, they were just finishing pulling up buoys for the AK championship triathlon that morning.

Lake at Kincaid, Frank and Puppy

You can't really tell by this pictures, but many of these plants are HUGE! We walked by these plants that looked like Queen Anne's Lace that were at least 6 ft tall, and here the leaves on these bushes are about as long as my arm:

Huge berry bushes

Maybe it was because I was hungry, but doesn't this look like a sesame bun?

"Hamburger Bun" Mushroom

Pretty berry bush

In other adventures, Frank and I went to the Greek Festival right down the street from us. It was heavily advertised on TV, radio and newspaper as "the thing to do this weekend". It was funny because it was really very small and sure enough, everyone was going to see these three food booths, a gift shop, and some imported Greek musicians from Los Angeles. I have to say, the Soulvaki was really good though.

We also actually bought a sofa, loveseat, and chair set for our great room, so that we don't have to sit in papasan chairs anymore. Although Anchorage is not at the end of the world anymore, they are still subject to shipping problems. We were lucky to find a set that had one piece currently in the AK warehouse, and the other two pieces coming in a shipment in September -- sometimes it takes six months to get furniture shipped here!

New Car!

Last Week, Frank bought a car. Ironically, it's a Tracker, but much nicer than my old one. It has a cracked front windshield, but other than that, it runs quite well, and certainly has more room than the Legacy. Take a look:

Another Tracker Pic

Frank, his new AK plate, and Puppy

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Humpy's and Weekend Hike

Lori at the start line

This weekend, I did my first 5K in AK...the Humpy's 5K. For those of you who don't know, Humpy's is a popular bar downtown. They have been sponsoring this race (which includes a marathon and half) for four years, and this year successfully moved the race to downtown so that people can get a beer afterwards (apparently Alaska racers have their priorities in the right place. Ha!). This is one of two USATF certified marathons -- this one goes south along the bike trail (relatively flat) and the other one (Midnight Sun) apparently goes through the army base and is partially run on tank tracks.

Stretching at the start

There were about 1000 runners in total in the race, which is a pretty good turnout.

We're off!

The race was pretty spartan -- you basically had to dodge cars and really make sure you knew where you were going. For the people in the front, there were cyclists that led the groups through the bike trails. I went out a little too fast, and at the end it was really hard to climb up the hill back to downtown! But I finished, even passing a pigtailed lady right at the end (thus the "kick" picture here).

I'm so fast I'm blurry!

Frank was very generous in coming to support and take these pictures!

Afterwards, Frank, Galileo and I went on a short hike. I'm glad we did, because on Monday the fires from Tok caused a lot of smoke to land in the Anchorage bowl -- we are on a respiratory alert here. It's also been the warmest summer on record (today it's supposed to get up to 84), and the plants are very unhappy. Supposedly, August is the rainiest of the summer months usually and we have so far only had trace amounts of rain.

Mud Flats

I also found out that fireweed gets its name because the leaves start to turn bright's one starting to turn:

The fireweed's starting to change

We basically completed the Blueberry hill circle (steep at the beginning but pretty flat beyond that. We went by the old flattop trail, which is supposedly not maintained but you could see people climbing up and down it. We saw one guy scree down the trail...when he went by, he said that scrambling down loose rock is easy if you are used to walking on ball bearings, whatever that means.

Lori and Galileo on the trail

Frank and Galileo on the trail

"wildlife" on the trail

Here's some twisted trees on the side of the trail:

Monday, August 09, 2004


The "Alaska Moores" at peak 2

Yesterday, Frank, Galileo and I hiked up Flattop mountain. It's a beautiful but somewhat challenging climb about 10 mins. from our house, overlooking the city. Here are some pictures from the day:

We started off by climbing up over blueberry hill-- this is one of the many places in Anchorage where people go to pick wild berries in the late summer/fall. You see people all over these hills with big buckets to hold berries.

Up close shot of fireweed

One passer said these are called crowberries

Frank and puppy on blueberry hill

Frank and Puppy on top of Blueberry Hill

Here's a closeup of some fireweed:

Looking out over the city from Blueberry Hill

Right after the first difficult section to peak 2, you come along a set of rail ties where almost everyone stops and catches their breath. We're going to the top there in the picture...

Picture of flattop from the halfway point (peak 2)

Here's some pictures off the trail at about the same point:
Off the flattop trail

Pretty alpine flowers

At the Top:

Galileo is a trooper. He travelled very close to the top with us, but we weren't quite able to get him all the way up to the top. He is so much faster than us going downhill!

Frank and Galileo skidding down the mountain

Puppy doesn't have any troubles climbing mountains

Galileo going downhill

Puppy waiting patiently for us to catch our breath...

What we wound up doing is taking turns going to the top. It's kind of a scramble to get to the top but they have these orange dots to help you pick the best route.

I went first...

Marker at Flattop

View from the top

Then Frank went up to the top...

Frank scrambling for the summit....

Frank at the "top" of flattop

Here's a picture from the top back down towards the parking lot...

This is where we came from...

I've got to tell you, it was a relief coming down, despite how beautiful it was at the top! Here's a view of Anchorage from Blueberry hill...

Fireweed and view of South Anchorage