Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Last weekend, Frank and I drove up through interior Alaska to Fairbanks and then on to Barrow for a "Day at the Top of the World".

The trip up to Fairbanks was suprisingly uneventful. Whenever we drive out of Anchorage, my suburban roots begin to show as I get nervous about experiencing a tire blow-out or run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, having to live on pretzels and gum for mutliple days while fending off bears.

Luckily, I had heard of The Milepost, which is a book that chronicles every nook and cranny of the Alaskan Highway system. This is an absolutely essential book for every Alaskan Traveller! This made me feel less agoraphobic in the wilderness.

So saying that, I can now attest to everyone that, yes, the travel and tourism board is not lying, there are enough adequate gas stations along both the Richardson and Glenn Highways. The roads between here and Fairbanks are more than adequate. In fact, if it wasn't for the lack of exits and guardrails, I would say the road system was actually better than I75 in most cases (certainly the gas prices were better :)).

We stayed at the River's Edge resort, which consists of small one-room cabins along the Chena River. It's really a fantastic place in Fairbanks, further away from the tourism traps of the other hotels.

The next morning, we were off on our way to Barrow.

Barrow Alaska is the northernmost town on the North American Mainland. Point Barrow, which is essentially a spit that juts into the Arctic ocean, is the northernmost point in the US. That being said, it is cold but not as cold as you might think -- the average low in January is only -19 degrees. The day we were there, it was about 30 degrees.

I would like to say that there is a lot to see in Barrow, and maybe it does for a town of only 4,000 people. But once you've seen the museum, the Wiley Post/Will Rogers memorial, eaten lunch at Pepe's Mexican, and checked out the prices at the local supermarket (suprisingly not that much different than Anchorage, although dairy products were super-high), you've pretty much seen the town.

All that was left, really, was to see the polar bears. Driving out to Point Barrow, I remember feeling really claustrophobic. Since the sky and ground are both white, there is just this unnerving loss of direction. I could so easily get lost in that whiteness and be eaten by a polar bear! Speaking of polar bears, we did see some in the distance by the bone yard (you see remnants of that in the pictures) -- luckily for our safety and unluckily for picture-taking, the polar bears were driven off by some jerk behind us driving like an idiot.

So, will we be packing up and moving to Barrow? Probably not. But I'm glad we went and saw what it was like. The fact that people have lived and thrived on such a seemingly inhospitable place since 500 CE is an incredible testament to the human race.

Monday, May 28, 2007

It's the edge of the world as we know it...


Barrow is cold. Here's a picture of Frank at the Point Barrow, the northernmost point in the US.

More later!
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Monday, May 21, 2007

"It's Time to call 911", Part 2 :Update

Through a series of strange circumstances, Frank, Galileo and I found ourselves at Jodphur trailhead for a hike this afternoon. As we were walking along the cliff edge, we heard a big boom sound. The smoke soon followed.

Luckily, we were in the only place in Kincaid park where you could get cell phone reception, and were able to call 911. The fire trucks were there pretty quickly (they had to crawl up the sand dunes) and saved the day!

UPDATED: Story on ADN with more cool pictures


Monday, May 07, 2007

"Making a mess with Lori and Frank" Redux

During the spring, every alaskan gets a little twinkle in their eye. Despite the fact that many of us were never interested in gardening, up here, I swear there is something in the air that makes you want to nurture green stuff up out of the ground.

We are no different. In our first Spring, we put together a massive tiered garden in our backyard. Because the ground up here gets a bit shaky and wood in general warps, we had some repairs to do this year.

Task #1 was mulching the gardens and beds to (hopefully) assure that only things we want to grow actually grow.

The second task was a little harder. It involved fixing the herb garden fencing which was a little cockamamie. This task first involved cutting treated wood with a dull hand saw and levelling boards. Suprisingly, no people (or dogs) were hurt in that exercise.

Which brings me to the last part of the exercise. Frank had to nail metal braces to keep all the boards together. It proved to be difficult, and provided a colorful vocabulary lesson to the neighborhood kids.

Oh, and Frank took a hammer to his knee hard enough to cause an inch gash on the side of his knee. The gash has finally stopped bleeding and luckily it looks like the knee is operational, albeit stiff and sore.

This effectively ends the gardening extravaganza for at least a few days.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Spring has (somewhat) sprung...

Here in Anchorage, it takes quite a while for us to get into spring, but once we do, watch out! Things grow incredibly fast here once they get started.

In our case, we've started working on the garden, in anticipation that soon we'll be able to put plants in the ground. Inside, we have tomatoes and peppers, as you can see :).

Outside, things are going great as well, here are two pictures of the infamous rhubarb and the ever-present "pansies", our first flower of the season:

One of the things we are talking about is what to do with our deck which is currently a 4x4 square about 2.5 feet off the ground, making it difficult to negotiate. My idea I thought was whimsical and pretty darn cool -- make a little beach!

Hear me out...pavers, decks, etc are difficult up here since the earth moves a lot. You might be OK for a year or so, but you know that eventually it has to be redone. Sand can just be replaced/reraked, and, unlike gravel, is soft and reminiscent of hawaii. A coconut umbrella, little fru-fru drinks, and some tiki torches would complete it. Before the first snowfall, we could take a big tarp and put it over the sand to keep the snow from being dirty.

What do you think?