Alaska BGH Adventure

After spending 54 years from birth to 2008 living in Iowa I was presented with an opportunity to live in Fairbanks, Alaska. My blog is a diary of the adventure to get to Alaska, day to day life in Alaska, as well as facts for loved ones left behind in the Lower 48. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Oops! Where did 2011 go?

Can't believe I didn't post at all in 2011. Well, it's history by now. I will include our Christmas/Valentine's Day posting I sent to some friends and family below. As for 2012 I purchased this neat journal in which I could write daily notes. You see, years ago I came across my Grandma Lawrence's diary that she kept and I found it ever so fascinating. Since she passed away in 1959, when I was only 5 years old it gave me a glimpse into her life. One comment she made sticks in my mind to this day. 'Paul (her husband) helped with the laundry today.' In today's society it isn't uncommon for the men to share equally in household chores. However, back in the days she was writing household chores were done by women; men took care of the outside chores.

As a youngster I kept a diary, as well as throughout my two pregnancies. It was interesting to compare what I was experiencing during the pregnancies. Similarities, yet some major differences. Just like my offspring. One male, one female. To this day I attribute the fact that I was carrying a boy during my first pregnancy that caused my never-ending nausea and what came post nausea. I learned that popcorn was the "best" food to eat, as it was least harsh coming back up.

Well, back to the 2012 journal. I ordered it on the internet (living in such a remote area doesn't provide much selection), and received it in November. I could not WAIT for 2012 to get here so I could journal. Boy oh boy, January 1st I wrote in the journal, and it felt so good. Unfortunately that was the last entry I made. I've decided that it would not be so much the day to day activities I've been doing; rather it would be my thoughts and experiences of life. Living in Alaska I'm living a slower, more reflective life. Or is it my advancing age? Regardless, I find myself frequently thinking about my childhood, school friends, choices I made and experiences afforded to me over the past years. It's hard to not dwell on mistakes; I need to frequently remind myself that they made me who I am today.

I will get back to posting in the journal. There's so much in my head that I want to pass on to future generations in hopes they will have a few, okay, maybe at least one, "aha" moment when reading my journal, similar to how intrigued I was when reading my grandma's diary.

To catch you up to date in 2012, Nate and I both have the same jobs, and are doing well. After having snow on the ground since early October, we are getting eager for spring. Yet, how is it that each time it snows, as it is now as I post this, we find ourselves somehow comforted by it, and in awe of its beauty? The comfort comes from having a warm, comfortable home in which to watch the snowfall, and the awe in that here in Alaska each snowfall is that perfect Christmas card snowfall, the flakes gently falling to the ground, not blowing like there's somewhere other than our yard that they want to land, like it snowed back in Iowa.

Camilla flew from Anchorage to spend this weekend. She commented, and I can so relate, that when we lived in the Lower 48 that flying in an airplane was such a big deal, and a rare occurrence, and that here in Alaska it pretty much means if you are leaving town, or traveling over 100 miles you expect to fly. With her living an 8 hour drive/1 hour flight it only makes sense to fly. Alaska Air makes it enticing to use their credit card as each dollar spent qualifies for one "mile". Somehow their miles and actual miles aren't the same thing. I think someone needs to explain to them that we are nearly 4000 miles from Iowa, yet it "costs" us 50,000 air miles to fly there. While I could take that as my next task, what good would it do, right? Nah, think I'll continue to live the laid-back, non-stressed life. Thank you very much.

In February Nate and I made an unexpected flight back to the Lower 48 to reunite with the family, as my sister's husband of nearly 40 years passed away suddenly from a heart condition. From the time he experienced chest pain until he was heaven bound was only a few hours. Quick for him, but way too young (64 years young) and still difficult to grasp as reality. It was so good to see my family again. One year ago in May we all met in St. Joseph, Missouri to celebrate my parents' 65th wedding anniversary over Memorial weekend. We had the best time ever. For their 66th anniversary we found ourselves together mourning the passing of perhaps the most awesome man I've known personally. Mike was very, very intelligent, a Mensa member (google it if you aren't familiar with Mensa), and yet could explain the most complicated things in terms that anyone could understand. He had a way of making everyone feel important and comfortable around him. He was genuine. Such a blessing to have him to greet me on the other side some day.

With that unexpected expense which, of course, added more "miles" to the Alaska Air credit card, we have no return trips back to the Lower 48 planned at the present time. We have accrued enough miles for an emergency trip back, should the need arise. We are hoping that isn't any time soon.

I was so pleased that Camilla decided to cut short her vacation in Orlando with her husband Brian and his sister, brother-in-law, and nephew, Austin, from South Dakota, short so she could be with the family in the Tulsa area. Nate and I were able to give her a ride back to the Dallas airport and we all boarded the same plane to Seattle. Due to the flight being delayed out of Dallas we were on short connections to our Fairbanks/her Anchorage flights, so texted a good-bye hug to each other at the airport, as we were leaving out of different terminals and she had a seat near the front of the plane, ours near the back, and she was long gone by the time we got off the plane. Probably best, as she was our last good-bye to family that trip, and emotions were running pretty sad at that time.

If anyone would like to follow frequent updates and lots of photos from our Alaska experience, friend me on Facebook at marcia.lawrence. (My mom, a non-computer user, calls it Space Book. Cute, huh? When I'm in my 80's I want ppl to think that giving nearly-correct names to things will be considered cute as well.)

Well, as promised here's the Christmas letter:

In these Christmas letters everyone writes what has been happening in their lives the past year, which gives us reason to try to remember all the highlights. Our life is quite mundane, albeit in a good way. Marcia continues to work at Boys and Girls Home, ( going on 23 years with the Agency. She is responsible for the client records, transcribes the psychiatrist’s dictation, and other CQI (continuous quality improvement) tasks in her position as CQI Coordinator. For the first time in over 22 years she is not a supervisor and loving it. Previously she oversaw the receptionist positions, which meant early morning “I won’t be in this morning” to “I need to leave early, can you cover for me” phone calls. Talk about liberating!

Nathan began his third year of delivering the local newspaper, Newsminer, ( on a motor route from Fairbanks to Denali National Park, working midnight – 8 a.m. (noon in the summertime) Tuesday-Sunday nights. Each morning when he returns home he gives Marcia the wildlife count, Aurora Borealis viewing report, as well as informs her of the various weather patterns and wide ranges of temperatures he’s experienced while on his route. He enjoys his work, especially the overtime pay. Marcia’s heart truly softens when he has to head out in the darkness and –40 temperatures.

Brian and Camilla, Marcia’s son-in-law and daughter, moved from the lower portion of our duplex to Anchorage in September. Brian found work in a pawn shop (perfect job for bargain-lover Brian) and Camilla is working as a psych RN at North Star Behavioral Hospital, days, Monday-Friday on the young children’s unit. Both are enjoying their jobs and life in the “big city”. Marcia flew to Anchorage to visit them over Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends. Anchorage is a six hour drive over the mountains and through the woods (literally), or a 45 minute flight. We miss not having them downstairs to share daily happenings and special activities and outings, yet are happy for the opportunity to do some real shopping when visiting them. Fairbanks has few stores, so Marcia takes an empty suitcase with her, and brings the bulging bag back to Fairbanks with treasures and bargains in tow.

Brian and Camilla’s dog, Bubba, (obviously) moved with them. He and Rambo, our Alaskan Eskimo/Husky mix dog enjoyed wrestling and running around our large fenced in back yard. Concerned that Rambo would be lonesome, Nathan found a retired sled dog on Craigslist, that we adopted. Guava (she came with the name) was 100% outdoor dog when we got her, and she continues to adjust to living indoors. She seems to prefer indoor living, as her potty trips outside are out and right back in, no time wasted. She and Rambo get along very well. Rambo has taken on the dominant role and takes advantage of every opportunity to intimidate Guava. She either doesn’t recognize it or gives in easily, and doesn’t have any reaction to his bullying.

Due to us not having simultaneous days off work we don’t get much chance to get very far out of town to explore. We had a garden again this year, in the raised garden bed Nathan built, 4’ x 32’. We had a LOT of rain early in the summer, and our crops were minimal at best. With 24 hours of daylight in the summer it’s amazing how fast the vegetables grow.

Over Memorial weekend Marcia’s family (us, her kids & spouse, her sister & spouse, niece & spouse, nephew, spouse and two children) all gathered at a hotel w/water park in St. Joseph, Missouri to celebrate her parents 65th wedding anniversary. We came from New York, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Alaska, so had us coming from both coasts. This was the first time ever that the entire family had gathered simultaneously. It was a fun time together, ending with many tears being shed as we went our separate ways.

Marcia and Camilla took a road trip to Valdez, Alaska in August, retracing the same trip Marcia and her son, Sam, took in August 2010. We have a 1977 Dodge motor home that provided inexpensive lodging and high gas consumption on the trip. They were in Valdez at the time the spawning salmon were returning to their birthplace, so got to see the thousands upon thousands of fish as well as a couple of bears dining. On the return trip the motor home decided to not start after pulling off to take a look at the Brooks Mountain Range, prompting a visit by an Alaska State Trooper, an attempt by the AAA responder to reattach the battery wires, a small fire starting which was quickly extinguished, the need for a tow, overnight stay near a repair facility, and Brian driving 4 hours to pick up Camilla so she could report to work for her overnight shift (at that time she was working in Fairbanks as a nurse at the local detox center, where inebriates come to get sober, usually an overnight stay). The initial repair was very reasonable; the rewiring not so cheap. We don’t live an exciting life most of the time here in Alaska, but when things do get exciting we seem to go overboard!

The end of September we returned to Iowa to “switch over” tenants in our house in Sioux City. We rented our furnished home to a lady about our age when we moved to Alaska in 2008 and made arrangements to meet her to do a walk-through prior to her vacating the property. When we arrived at the house, she was not there, and neither were the majority of our furnishings we’d left in our home. She also placed a dead mouse in the house, disconnected the pipe connecting the gas water heater to the chimney, left severe water and mold damage throughout the basement, as well as cut the vines we’d grown the prior six years as a privacy area to the back deck. We attempted to contact her, however our calls and texts went unanswered. We spent an entire week painting, repairing, recaulking, scrubbing, crying, installing new window treatments, cleaning, re-carpeting the main floor, and removing all remaining personal belongings, selling at a rummage, taking to Goodwill or the dump, or packing into suitcases and bringing back to Alaska. The place looked so good when we left, better than when we purchased it. Over the past few months we’ve had the moldy basement carpeting and walls replaced. We now have a new tenant (someone we have known personally for several years and are confident we can trust) and are happy to have that chapter behind us.

Over the past two years we became Big Brother and Big Sister to two children. The first was a 10-year old girl. We met with her about three times when she decided we weren’t bonding, (yeah, after three whole visits) and she discontinued our match. The second match was a 10-year old boy who had recently been discharged from where Camilla currently works. We were matched for several months until he was readmitted to the hospital and subsequently placed in a long term residential facility in the Lower 48 (Texas).

That pretty well highlights our year. As said earlier, we don’t live an exciting life, it’s a comfortable and relaxing life. For us, it’s a great life. We hope your life is as rewarding and you find joy and peace in even life’s simplest events.

We miss and reminisce about our loved ones back in the Lower 48. Feel free to comment or friend me on facebook or drop us an e-mail.

Until next time (hopefully before 2013), Sunny skies/soft snowfalls.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Alaska Facts

Wow - how the time has flown since my last posting. I received an e-mail from a friend in Sioux City who asked a few questions about Alaska. My reply to her e-mail was appropriate for this blog, so I included it here~

Yes, we do celebrate Thanksgiving in Alaska. Life in Alaska is so much different than in the Lower 48, as most people stay either in Fairbanks or maybe travel to Anchorage, otherwise fly out to the Lower 48 to visit family for Thanksgiving. Anchorage is about a 6 hour drive (one way), and the only city of any size that we can drive to. Fairbanks city has a population of around 35,000 and metro area population around 98,000. There are some small towns around us, a couple about the size of Sgt. Bluff, otherwise the rest are about the size of Merrill. Most towns in Alaska have population similar to Merrill's.

Due to us being so remote, we don't travel like we used to in the Lower 48. It actually makes it quite relaxing to stay in town for the holiday, rather than to worry about the roads, etc. On the other hand, it keeps us away from our family in the Lower 48. Brian and Camilla rent our duplex in our daylight basement, so we celebrate holidays (and other "regular days") together.

We had an inch of rain Monday through Wednesday last week, and things got quite icy. Fortunately the temperature was warm, so ice didn't form on the trees or electric wires, but it certainly did on the roads and sidewalks. It's kind of funny that in Alaska we cancel school when it rains, but not when it snows. It is unusual for it to rain during November in Alaska. The last time they had any substantial rain here in November was back in the 1930's. The rain washed all the frost and snow out of the trees, making it look a lot like Iowa in the wintertime.
We have received snow (light, fluffy snow) off and on since last Thursday, covering the trees and bushes with snow. Now the weather is taking a cold dip. This morning it was -8 when I went to work; when I came home it was -24. They predict it will be in the -30's tomorrow, then go back up around 0, normal temps for this time of year. We don't usually get the -30's to -40's until early January.

Due to the colder weather we've begun to plug in our cars when they are parked. We had three heaters installed on our vehicles: engine, radiator and battery. We have a timer on our home outlet at home, so it warms for about 3 hours prior to going to work. At work there are posts with plug-ins by the parking spaces where we can plug in. When the temp is + 20 to -20 the electricity runs off and on every 30 minutes. Below -20 the electricity is on all the time. They sell special kind of extension cords here that remain pliable when it is very cold, usually down to -50. Winter boots and coats are also sold by indicating the lowest temperature they should be effective. Alaskans have been very free about sharing everything we need to know to stay warm and safe in the winter weather.

Our home is heated with a boiler, as are probably 99% of the homes in Fairbanks. We have a contract with a fuel company who comes and delivers fuel to the underground tank next to the house. There is minimal natural gas here in Fairbanks. The natural gas needs to be trucked from Anchorage, then placed in a large, central storage tank. If the weather were to be bad and the trucks couldn't bring the natural gas from Anchorage to Fairbanks that could get pretty serious.

In town we have water pipes that run from the city's water treatment plant. People that live outside the city limits have a few options. Many people have no running water. (These homes are called "dry".) Their homes usually have a kitchen sink and an outhouse is their bathroom. Brian and Camilla spent their first full summer living in a dry cabin. (Dry cabins rent for about 1/3 the cost of other housing.) In Fairbanks there are two or three "water stations" similar to gas stations where people pay and pump water into their containers. Some people load 5 gallon containers with water which they use for doing dishes, washing up, etc. Some people have large plastic containers that nearly fill the back of their pick-up trucks that they take to the water station and fill up, then transfer into their home water tank. Many employers showering facilities in their place of business, otherwise laundromats have pay showers.

Another water option is to have an above or underground water tank at your residence. There are also services which will deliver water to your home on an as needed or regular basis.

Nearly everyone in the local area has electricity. In some of the remote villages they are "off the grid" and use other sources to make their own electricity.

Our days are getting quite short now. We have some light outdoors by 9:30 am., then it gets daylight until about 2:30, then starts getting dusky. Due to our latitude (65 degrees) we have long twilight, so it's actually somewhat light out before sunrise and after sunset. Alaska celebrates June 21 and December 21, the longest and shortest days of the year.

We've been watching Sarah Palin's Alaska show. Alaska is very, very different from the Lower 48. It has been fun to learn about the things that are here but nonexistent in Iowa. Sarah flies a lot in private planes in the show, which is much more common in Alaska than down there, however it is not cheap to charter a flight or take a small commercial plane. That's why we haven't done it! If I were younger, I would get my pilot's license so we could do some flying, however I don't think that at my age it's a worthwhile investment.

My son, Sam, visited for 10 days this past August. It was soooooo good to spend time with him. I was able to take several days off work when he was here to show him the local tourist sites. We purchased a 1977 Dodge camper in June, so he and I took it on the road for three days on a jaunt to Valdez, Alaska. Enroute there we had a private salmon charter and did some fishing on a river raging with glacier run off. I can attest to the water's chill, as I took a tumble into the river getting out of the boat. He enjoyed his time here in Alaska and took hundreds, if not thousands of photos. It did my soul well to be able to spend time with him and to share the beauty of the great outdoors. He is such an awesome young man and I enjoyed every minute with him. It was probably good he went home when he did, as my stomach was feeling the impact of laughing so much with him.

Camilla and Brian joined the Methodist Church here. They attend a Bible Study group which meets weekly for 17 weeks during which time they will read the entire Bible. She is also one of our 6 female singers in our Praise Band for church service. She and Brian also cook every other Saturday evening for the Celebrate Recovery meetings held at the church. (It's like AA, only Christ-centered and for all habits, hang-ups and addictions.) I volunteer every 3-4 weeks to babysit for any children that may happen to accompany their parents. So far only once have any children come on a night I was volunteering. Camilla and Brian also have parts in the Christmas Day drama which will be performed for the December 26 church service.

The Methodist congregation has probably 300 members, and they are an active church with all ages participating equally. Church and worship are very important to Alaskans, with a LOT of churches in Fairbanks and usually the entire family attending. The Methodist Church had 120 in Sunday School last week. They have enough Sunday School teacher volunteers that they rotate teaching, teaching one segment of the lesson every four weeks.

Our Boys and Girls Home here has been taking in more and more children. We currently have 60 clients living in our facility. When I moved here I was the office manager. Due to the need for a Continuous Quality Improvement Department, my job position has changed. I'm now CQI Coordinator. Basically I shuffle a lot of papers. I am responsible for alphabetizing, organizing and filing in the client's charts, conducting regular chart audits, alphabetizing, organizing and filing the billing (a 12-15" stack each month), scribing minutes on the computer during several meetings, and keeping CQI statistical reports filed and organized. I absolutely LOVE my new position.

We live about 5 blocks from the military base. It was frequent last summer to hear them shooting practice rounds throughout the night. It was kind of upsetting to know that this was a necessity, yet nice to know that they were doing what they need to keep us all safe. The military population makes up 30% of Fairbanks' population. Due to this young population there are a LOT of babies and children in the local area.

Nearly every weekend in the fall there are craft sales and/or bazaars. The first one was prior to Halloween and they will continue until Christmas. Alaskans are crafty folks. We have a very, very large JoAnn Fabric store about 5 blocks from our home, as well as a large Michael's within 10 blocks.

Fairbanks has attracted an abundance of artistic talent from all genres. This Friday evening Camilla and I have been asked to usher at the local community theater for "The Miracle Worker". All theater performances we have attended have been flawless. The Sweet Adelines Christmas concert is December 4th/ The local military band concert and Sing it Yourself Messiah are also in December. Most weekends it is necessary to select which activities we want to attend, there are just too many to attend all. We also enjoy attending an occasional Ice Dogs hockey game, Fairbanks' version of the Musketeers.

We seem to have settled in to Alaska living, yet miss spending time with our loved ones face to face. We will be back to Iowa in May for my parents' 65th wedding anniversary, Nate's granddaughter's high school graduation and my son Sam's college graduation. Until then e-mail and phone calls will need to fill those voids.

Before I close I have a prayer request for Alta, a young mother in her mid 20's who is in need of a kidney transplant. Her twin sister, Alma, has worked with us at Boys and Girls Home of Alaska, since we opened. Alta was Life Lighted (helicoptered) to Anchorage Saturday evening so she can receive dialysis, leaving her year old daughter here in Fairbanks with family members.

The Advent season is upon us, and I am praying that you will have peace in your life amongst the hustle and bustle which can sometimes blur the reason for the season.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer 2010

Flower bed outside Brian and Camilla's apartment. Nate built us a huge garden (32' x 4') in which we planted head lettuce, radishes, cabbage, green beans, snap peas, celery, broccoli, brussell sprouts, basil, carrots, tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, and I can't remember what all else. I'll post pix of it at a later time.

House for sale - only a couple of blocks from us. Won't you be our neighbor?

Winners of two stock car race heats. In Alaska women participate equally in all sports including hunting, fishing, trapshooting, dog mushing, etc. People are people in Alaska regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, etc. Prejudism doesn't exist. That's something I can live with.

I spent about an hour taking pix of this butterfly enjoying a flowering tree. Alaska permits people to do enjoyable things without feeling guilty.

Reflection of the "sunset" taken after midnight.

Another photo taken after midnight. Long summer days blend right into long summer nights. It seems we have two seasons, the light season where everyone gets outdoors and enjoys being outdoors and the dark season where people hunker down and enjoy being homebodies, leaving home for work and to participate in or observe intermittent outdoor activities. We're awake a lot during the summer and "catch up" on our sleep in the winter.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Photo Uploading

Well, summer is officially over in Alaska, and the upper elevations have experienced their first snowfall of the season. At our place we had only a dusting that remained on our vehicles overnight.

I have a confession to order for me to upload photographs here I must select them one at a time, which is very, very time consuming. My intention of this blog is to let you all take a peek at what we're seeing here in Alaska which I've been doing via photographs.

Well, I've been on Facebook for a while now and find that it is MUCH faster to upload photographs to that website. Like, I can select 200 at a time and with one click they're all uploaded. Yeah, I knew you'd understand my reasoning behind that one!

Thus, I'm inviting you to log into your website and ask to be my friend so you can see the photographs I've been posting on that website. If you don't have a facebook account, set one up. It's quite easy, it's free, and remarkably "safe", in that you won't begin receiving a bunch of spam mail, etc.

Hope all is well with you and yours. Look forward to seeing you on Facebook!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summer in Alaska

Here are some pix of our Alaskan summer. First photo is inside of downstairs pre-purchase. Gives you an idea of the kitchen/dining/living layout. Brian and Camilla will begin living here in September. Until then they shower and do laundry at our place and haul water for their kitchen and face/handwashing.

Rambo and Camilla 7-3-09.
Camilla refers to Rambo as Nate's and my child. She obviously gets along well with her new brother :-)

Camilla bought a Superdog costume @ thrift store..Rambo willingly posed.

Photo of marigolds, cabbage plant, miniature rose bush and green beans I planted on the south side of our house. The cabbage is currently larger than a basketball and still growing! (view from our deck)

View of one corner of our back yard from our deck. Sidewalk leads from deck stairs to garage.

Dining area. I love the entertainment possibilities of our 60 x 108" dining room table.

Living area - hard to believe when we moved here we brought no furniture. Thanks to and rummages we've been able to furnish our living space quite comfortably and cheaply.

Downstairs kitchen

View from our living room windows around midnight. Colors don't do it justice in the photo.

Our kitchen. The kitchen appliances came with the purchase. Can't believe the stove doesn't have a drawer under the oven.

Nate and I attended the 4th of July parade in North Pole, Alaska. Here are some pix I snapped showing similarities and differences of Iowa and Alaska parades. Something I've noticed in Alaska is that regardless the weather, Alaskans embrace whatever opportunities the season might offer. When it's winter, they get out and enjoy it; same with summer.

Girl carrying a baby goat.

Girl on 4-H float holding rabbit.

About as patriotic as it gets.

Uncle Sam encouraging popcorn donations...not sure what that's all about.

Photo of a local coffee shop I thought you'd enjoy seeing. (There are small coffee quick stops several places in Fairbanks, and they are always busy.)

Smokey reminding everyone that only YOU can prevent forest fires. There are several forest fires burning in Alaska now, creating a haze over the Fairbanks area. Due to no winds here they expect the haze to remain til mid-week.

Moose antlers attached to the grill of this pick-up.

This banner is difficult to read. "More than a church, we are a launching pad for dreams."

Yup - Farm Bureau in Alaska.

Papier mache moose and calf on a float. Note: Real moose are not nearly so slender!

North Pole has an asphalt raceway with races every Thursday. We went to them one week.

This past Friday evening we went to the sprint, stock, and modified stock car races in Fairbanks. They have a dirt track. The track got very, very dry during the race. We brought home our share of dirt on our skin, hair, clothing, etc.

This elderly gentleman got off of his bike and showed us how he mounts it. Yes, very carefully!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pix 4 u

We've been really, really busy the past couple of months. Here are a few pix to update you~
We finally found an eskimo in Alaska, and adopted him. Rambo is eskimo and husky. We adopted him from a young lady originally from North Carolina. Her husband and she moved to Fairbanks with the military.

Ice chunks floating down the Chena River. The photo doesn't do justice to the constant flow of the huge chunks of ice that floated by all day. Fortunately we did not experience flooding like Eagle, AK.

Rear view of the duplex we purchased. Snow has all melted and veggies are planted in back yard.

View across the street from our living room window.

Street view of our duplex. We live in the upper portion; Brian and Camilla will move from their dry cabin in late August into the lower portion.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pioneer Park, Parka Parade n Puppies

Snowy buildings at Pioneer Park - formerly known as Alaskaland. See how much snow is piled on the roof? Fact: 50 5-gallon buckets of Alaska snow = 5 gallons of water. Another building in Pioneer Park. With no wind the snow just remains right where it falls, piling up.
The snow on the building below has begun to melt, creating a wave effect. Today the temperature was 27 degrees and we could see definite signs of melting.

The sweet children below are the children of Letha, our receptionst. She made the kuspak's for her daughter and son on the left and her mother made Letha's coat modeled by her other daughter. There was a nice article in today's paper...check out the entire article here:

Open water on the Chena River - it's been open all winter because it is downstream from the local power plant.

More drooping snow

Snow piled atop the trailer Brian and Camilla towed to Alaska in July. We've been told that once the snow begins to melt, it goes very quickly, as it is low in moisture content.

Letha arranging her coat on Chanda as her son, Randy, looks on. The coat Chanda is wearing won first place. Her prize was the parts and pieces to make a man's parka.

There were more dogsled races in town this weekend. It's amazing how they are all yippy once harnessed before they get to run, and once they start running they become stealthily silent. You can tell these dogs are absolutely delighted to be turned loose to run! Here are some interesting articles about the race:

Here's a photo from the outhouse races held last weekend in Chatanika, Alaska.

This little gal is all bundled up and awaiting the outhouse races. Every time we go to an activity I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the number of young, young children in attendance. Gotta hand it to the Alaskan parents for their patience in getting the little ones' gear organized, on and off...and on a regular basis.

More mushing competition pix. We watched a movie this afternoon at Pioneer Park and learned that they initially train dogs to pull dogsleds by allowing them to run alongside the dog team for a season. When the weather is very, very cold (by Alaska standards, not Iowa standards) they put booties on the dog's feet to keep them from injury. (They are very similar in appearance to the hand mits worn by newborn babies, with velcro attached to the top.)

More dog mushing. The wooden building across the river is a new bingo parlor. There are three bingo parlors in Fairbanks which are open 7 days a week. They each give away a minimum of $5000 every night.

They went to great lengths to get the snow in the right places for the race. They hauled snow back into downtown, as the race began on the street in downtown Fairbanks. At the end of the street they took a left hand corner where they'd built a ramp of snow down onto the Chena River.

It was a nice 22 degrees at the start of today's race. There were a LOT of people out on/by the river watching the dogs go by. One family brought their cookstove, lawn chairs, cooler, etc., and had a picnic in the snow on the riverbank.

The picture below is absolutely hilarious to me. This girl was at the riverfront awaiting the passing of the dogs. She brought along her pink hobby horse and her stuffed monkey. Here she is shown having propped her monkey on the teeter-totter and is attempting to figure out how to get the hobby horse attached to the teeter-totter. Right after I took this photo she threw down the hobby horse and hopped on the teeter-totter.

Handmade mukluks worn by Letha's children. The diamonds are pieces of fur cut in that shape and attached to the other fur to make the beautiful cuff. The bottoms are made from sealskin.

Hand beaded gloves made by one of Letha's ancestors. Typically these are made from moose hide.
I went to the Festival of Native Arts at the University Saturday evening where they had Alaska native dancers and craft sales. On one of the tables I noticed a purse made from a moose heart. I left it there for someone else to admire and/or purchase.

Awaiting the judge's decision. I told Randy he should get extra points. He was the only boy there and twirled his number stick around and around, entertaining us (or was it fighting boredom?). Either way, he was cute.

Nate holding the second place prize - a fox skin, won by Letha's younger daughter, Chanel, for her kuspuk. When she was given her prize she reached right out and draped it over her arm. I can imagine in Iowa if a teenage girl were given a "raw" fox skin they would not have the same appreciative reaction. Letha can be seen in the background behind Nate.

Here are a couple more newspaper articles I found to be interesting and want to share with you~
The second article (beginning Iditarod ordeal renews...) particularly touched me. You just may want to have a tissue handy~