Thursday, September 30, 2004

Alaska News Roundup

I know everyone has been wondering how I did in the Tuesday night race this week. The fact is, I did not go. I'm getting over a cold, and thought running in the mud through the rain in 40 degree weather was probably not a good idea :). Still, 300 people showed up for the race at Hilltop this week without me.

So instead, here's a roundup of news stories, because Alaska is like no place else. Here are some of the news stories that caught my attention this week.

Where else can high school cross country championships get prime coverage? Last week was the regionals, this week is the state championship in Soldotna . For the Southeast schools, it takes an epic journey to get to many of these races.

In other news, the transportation bill which includes the Knik Arm Bridge looks like it won't happen this year . I realize that Alaska gets a lot of transportation money, but we need transportation development like no other state needs.

Yesterday, an escape-artist alpaca, running wild east of Fairbanks along the Chena Dome Trail was met an unfortunate death before a rescue operation was able to be launched.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

More of the Early Snow Event

We just had a very exciting day, dealing with our early snow event.

Our sound card blew out of our TV, so we had to drag the TV down to the TV repair store in the morning. The guy, named Sam, doesn't speak English very well, and thinks if he shouts loud enough, people will understand. But he knows TVs. We won't have a TV again until maybe Monday or Tuesday! While Frank is OK with this, as a TV generation kid, I am feel a bit deprived (Anne, funny that this is the exact opposite of what you are going through!).

I had a change to make at work at 4pm and Frank went to work at UAA. Right as I finished my change, the power went out. Thinking that this was temporary, I went to take puppy on a walk. When I got back, the power was still not on. Apparently, someone in a 4x4 ran into three other cars and a power station, knocking out power for all of South Anchorage.

Because I had another change to make at 7, Frank and I drove to Fred Meyer, the only store on this side with a generator, save McDonalds (of course). I spent about an hour on the phone trying to fix things in the cold entranceway of the Fred Meyer while Galileo and Frank waited. Then we travelled to the coldest Quiznos on Earth to eat and shiver.
Frank's frozen toes, courtesy of Quizno's!

By the time we got home, the power was back on (around 7:45 or so).

Tomorrow is supposed to be snowy too. Thank God for 9 hours of football -- oops, that's right, no TV!!!!!!!!

Early Snow Event

This morning, we woke up to a snowstorm in September. This is called an early snow event, which is good because snow insulates the ground. In fact, the worst problems in Anchorage have to do with when there is no snow to insulate -- water mains break, pipes freeze, etc...Here's a picture, maybe I'll have additional ones later:

Backyard early snow

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Tuesday Night Race Series

Yesterday was Tuesday night trail race day in Ruth Arcand Park. This particular park is a very popular one for horses, thus there was a lot of M&M (mud and manure). I managed to stay somewhat clean, but dropped down the standings a bit to 60th.


Monday, September 20, 2004

Weather and Rendevous Peak

Our fall is moving rather quickly now. What felt like October last week (falling leaves, cool temperatures) has quickly moved into November. November to me means cold that's enough to make you want to eat soup and coffee, winds, and chilly precipitation. This weekend was rainy, cloudy, and the temperature never got over 45 degrees. This is all in line with our pace towards winter -- the expectation is that snow should be on the ground by mid-October. In anticipation, we bought studded tires for the Subaru.

This Saturday, Frank and I took advantage of the relatively good weather to do another hike recommended by our guide book. We drove up to Artic Valley, a ski area/golf course almost on Ft. Richardson Army Base. After travelling up on a gravel road for about 7 miles, we made it to the ski area. The trail goes under the ski lifts, then follows a stream until it breaks upward toward the peaks. It was a really difficult hike, especially considering how high up we were and how cold it was that morning. There were actually ice spots and in some places, snow. But we made it, here are some pictures from the top:

Climbing to the Top

In this next picture, you will see some buildings on the hill above. That's the military base. Some parts of this area were ruins from Nike missle tests.

Frank looking out towards Anchorage

You can see how far we are the middle of this picture, you see the parking lot and our car.

Did I say it was cold up here????

Mountains in the distance

You'll notice Galileo does not have any leash on. We've found in many cases, he's better off leash and able to explore. During this hike, Galileo kept tracking the ground squirrels (not marmots) that had holes all along the trail. As usual, he always was way ahead, since he has built-in four wheel drive ;).

Puppy having a great time

There were still some blueberries unpicked up there (probably because it's such a hard trek), along with these red plants:

Plants and blueberries

There was also this spongy type of plant that was a really unusual yellow-white color:

Spongy ground plant

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Bioterrorism in Alaska?

Apparently, rogue geraniums from Guatamala and Kenya carrying deadly disease have infiltrated the US. To combat this ever increasing threat, Homeland Security (really) is executing thousands of flowers. In Anchorage, this means the greenhouses that used to "overwinter" geraniums are on alert to stop the little terrorists(apparently people pay for geraniums to be babysat all winter?).

"You can't ask a geranium where it came from."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

A short note about the weather pixie

So many ask me how the weather is up here, I decided to put a weather pixie on the web page (check out the right hand side of the page). This tells you 1) what the weather is like and 2) what people who go outside wear today. My model, as you can see, strangely looks like my sister Mandy. Hope you like it!

Also, results are up for Tuesday Trail Run Race #2. It was at Chugiak High School, about a 1/2 hour from Anchorage so a long drive. Yours truly is a consistent runner, this time pushing the ranking up to #53 in the Women's Farm League. Last week, they made an error and I wound up being #54. At this rate, by November I should be mid-40s or so. I did get my special new motion control shoes which were stabilizing although I still have crazy legs on trails.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Weekend adventures

Sunday, Frank and I went to Talkeetna. This is a small town near Denali National Park, and happens to be the town which was the basis for Northern Exposure. Unfortunately we did not see Denali, but we did see a Moose:

Frank in Talkeetna

Fall is certainly falling here, and our birches are turning a nice shade of yellow. It's interesting how in such a small area you will see such vast differences in scenery. For example, here's a picture of a pond in Talkeetna -- contrast this to some of the pictures of Whittier this month.

Pond near Talkeetna

After eating lunch in Talkeetna, we stopped in at a little espresso shot, and the cappuccino lady was kind enough to suggest an adventure up Hatcher pass. This is a mostly gravel/dirt road through the mountains in between Willow and Palmer in the Mat-Su valley, and just happened to start right at this little coffee stand.

The Willow side was nice but somewhat similar to what we had seen on our way to Talkeetna:

River on Willow side of Hatcher Pass

....but then it started to turn incredibly colorful as you got further along in the road. I'll just let these photos speak to how beautiful it is up there:

Hatcher Pass View

More Hatcher Pass Photos

Another Hatcher pass pic

At the top of the pass

Snow already!

Shot through the pass

Isn't that great! It's incredible to be so close to a place that looks so much like a postcard!

At the bottom of the pass near palmer, things look completely different:

Creek at the bottom of the pass at Palmer

Friday, September 10, 2004

Hello David!

Congrats to Sanae and Doug on the birth of
David Ken Ferrier!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Marmot Search!

For those of you looking for the infamous marmot, look at the inverse square...

Here is a blow-up of the Marmot!

Tuesday Night Race Series, session 1 report

I ran my first Tuesday night race, my first trail running race since sixth grade. Within the first mile, I had twisted my right ankle multiple times, making the decents through root-laden singletrack quite difficult. However, I did make it back and apparently was not the last person to finish. Here are the results:
Anchorage Daily News | Luch, Hefferman lead runners

Monday, September 06, 2004

Weekend Hiking Adventure

This weekend, Frank and I went to Portage Valley. The nature center is about an hour out of Anchorage on the way to Seward. This is a beautiful drive that winds around Turnagain arm.

Portage Glacier, from the Nature Center

Frank and some more glaciers from the nature center

Nature Center at Portage Valley

Glaciers from the Nature Center

On the advice of our books and the nature center employees, we decided to do the Portage Glacier hike in Whittier. Now, Whittier is connected to Anchorage by the longest contiguous tunnel in NA, and it costs 12 dollars for a round-trip ticket to get there. Once you get there, there is very, very, little to see and they have totally dug up the entire town, I assume to get it paved at some point. However, right out of the tunnel there is a gravel road going to the trailhead for Portage Glacier.

Now, this trail is about 2 miles long, but all of that is uphill on a gravel trail. It's hard -- maybe not as hard as Flattop, but pretty difficult.

Looking back down towards the water in Whittier from the trail.

The hiking book said that this was the biggest bang for your buck as far as scenery goes, and they were not kidding! Once over the ridge, you are looking at Portage Glacier from an incredible viewpoint, with all sorts of little glacial ponds. It was incredible.

Along the way, there are all sorts of strange plants to look at...


Here's the view I was telling you about:

Frank looking out towards the Portage Glacier

Frank and Portage

Another picture from the trail

To give you a perspective on how big this glacier is, here's a picture in relation to a sightseeing boat (left side of the lake)...

Perspective shot of Portage Glacier and a sightseeing boat

Frank pointing out the tiny boat

This is a picture looking back on the glacial pond from the highest viewpoint.

Pretty glacial lake

We did actually see wildlife...marmots! They look like little rat/taco-bell dogs from a distance and make a little whistling sound (at least I think that was what was making that sound, not really sure). Here's a picture...I dare you to spot the marmot in this picture:

Spot the marmot!

After going back down the trail and through the tunnel back to Portage Valley, we did the Byron Glacier trail. This is a relatively flat trail that takes you to the edge of the snowfall for Byron glacier. Apparently there are iceworms in the ice (they look like little black strings), but the only ones I saw were at the nature center.

Byron glacier

Byron Glacier

Lori and more Glaciers

The nature center touted that the salmon were in the williwaw creek, and that we should go there. When we got to the fish viewing platform, there were all sorts of fish there...but they were dying after doing the spawning thing. All of them were either dead or dying, so it wasn't a very fun thing. At the same point, some dummy decided to throw a five lb rock over towards the fishing plaform, managing to scare these dying fish and us as well. Some of the people on the fishing platform went to talk to the guy, but it was clear he was 1) not from around here and 2) really not very bright. It still points out there are some really sick people in the world. But here's a picture of one salmon.

Salmon in Williwaw creek

That's it for this weekend, thanks everyone for the comments and everything. As for the Towanda gang, I check every day to see how things are going.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Natalie MacMaster

On Saturday, Frank and I went to the Performing Arts Center to see Natalie MacMaster, a fiddler from Nova Scotia. It was an excellent concert, and I would strongly suggest if she ever makes it around your parts that you go see her. She really brought down the house, and her band was excellent too! Her website is here .

Friday, September 03, 2004

Termination Dust

Last Thursday, I was walking back from the grocery store to my car, and I looked over an noticed that the mountains were white! We had what they call here an "Early Snow Event" -- and in the higher elevations it actually snowed. It's called "termination dust" and is the official killer of the construction season here in Alaska. By Saturday, all the snow had melted. Here's a picture from our driveway.


Clearly, Summer has summed up, and we are supposed to be getting ready for winter. The Anchorage news had a story on all the things we are supposed to do, including marking our driveway. I assume we mark our driveway with big sticks, but I don't see anyone else doing it yet. We did though order a snowblower, which is an absolute necessity up here!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

More about giant vegetables

Since many (ok, a few) people were interested in the giant cabbage, I thought you might want more information on bigger vegetables . Including a pic of Thunder Horse, an over 500 lb pumpkin.