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.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Hockey and Outhouse Races - seriously!
Speaking of missions, I SOOOO appreciate receiving e-mails and comments from those of you who are following my blog. The amount of time it takes to decide which few (yes, few) photos I'll post, log into here, find the photos on my pc to post, upload, etc., is incredible. Hence you won't be seeing me in any local bars. LOL Like that's on my list of 101 places to visit before I die anyway! That said, please DO keep the e-mails and comments coming. It lets me know that my efforts in posting this have made you smile or some impact on you.
My blog is about 1% of this total Alaskan experience. Alaska is SO much more than an out of place state on most US maps. Everything about it is awesome...the people, the weather, the events, the terrain, the sites, the smells, the sounds, the beauty, the peacefulness, the choices of activities, the pace, the traffic, the comfort, well, you get the "picture" without me taking one. Most people in the lower 48 think that there probably isn't much to do in Alaska, because it's so COLD - which is not true, not true...meaning it's not uncomfortably cold, and there is a LOT to do. Each weekend we have to choose which activity or two we'll be participating in because there are so many, and most are free. Those that do cost are well worth the price.
Alaskans have a multitude number of ways of filling their time. How they choose to do that is just that, a choice. Someone recently told me that there's a lot of chemical abuse and dependency (alcohol mainly) in Alaska 'because there's nothing else to do in the winter'. Hello?! We've found a lot of things to do that don't involve drugs or alcohol, and sometimes have chosen to do absolutely nothing. Yes, Ms. Type A Personality has found herself doing absolutely nothing occasionally.
The local newspaper is chock full of information, such as how much snow is dangerous to have on one's roof-including the data of the water contents of Alaska snow vs. snow we've been accustomed to in Iowa, the entry fee to race in the Iditarod ($5,000+), etc. Be sure to check out the Newsminer's home page at www.newsminer.com for a peek at "my" world. When I was home a bit back my dad told me that each day he checks out the Newsminer's webcam to see what kind of weather we're experiencing here. How nice to know that we're in each other's thoughts and in a sense "touch" each other across the miles.
The Newsminer recently added another webcam website. I'm kind of excited about it, because it is about 4 blocks from where we live. It's actually at the exact site where I took the photos of the mushers coming into Fairbanks on the Yukon Quest. Had I known there was a camera there, and had I known that's where we'd finally decide to take our photos from, I would have waved at the camera. It can be found at www.newsminer.com then select Arctic Cam, then select more web cams, then select View of Chena River from Pro Music.
Even though the weather doesn't seem to reflect it today (-26 as I write this), they say spring will come, and that break-up on the river is something to see. Since the above camera is right on the river, I'd recommend you take an occasional peek at it to see how things are moving along down the river.
The Newsminer also has an interesting web page of the "Public Safety Report" which link can be found under the news tab. It gives quite detailed reports of those found in violation of the law. I found it interesting that it is a crime in Alaska for someone to interfere with someone reporting a crime involving domestic violence....which, in essence, means taking a phone away from the victim as they attempt to phone for help.
I've used the public safety report page to notice where the majority of the DUI's occur, and pay extra attention when driving in those locations in the wee hours of the morning (which, thankfully, doesn't happen very often).
We now have daylight about 12 hours per day, with it increasing 6-7 minutes each day...do the math and we gain about 3/4 of an hour a week and it's only gonna increase from here! It's nice to go to work and come home in the daylight. Nate and I delight in knowing that we've "survived" our first winter in Alaska, 5 hour daylight days and -40 temps. Nate commented the other day that Alaska winters are SO much nicer than Iowa winters. I'll agree that they're longer (we've had snow on the ground since September and it hasn't begun yet to melt), but we don't have the dampness, the wind, the windchill, followed by the thawing and ice covered roads, sidewalks and parking lots, followed by snow to hide the ice, followed by rain, repeat again and again. When it's cold here it is just that, cold. The cold stays where it's at, meaning when you open a door it doesn't come gusting in, and it doesn't creep its way up your sleeves, pantlegs, and down the neck of your clothing. I was back in Iowa in February and thought I'd freeze to death out in the cold and windy, windy, wind.
This afternoon we're planning on going to the Outhouse Sprint Races at Chatanika Lodge, about 30 miles north of Fairbanks. I'm excited about it because 1-we've never traveled that far on the Steese Highway north of Fairbanks so new turf to see, 2-I've never seen outhouse sprint races, and 3-I'm not participating in the race via sitting in or pushing one of the outhouses. Here's a website that I found that gives some details about Chatanika: http://www.mcrw.com/lovenotes/ag_potties.htm It is a well written blog and expresses some of my personal sentiments about Alaska.
Oh my Gosh - just found where someone posted on the newsminer arctic cam website that not only the History Channel is expected at the outhouse races, but 3000 people too! Great! Nate worked last night and is catching a "nap" before we head up there. Looks like I may be waking him a bit earlier than he expected. Having never been there now I'm wondering how far we'll get to walk from our vehicle to the actual race area....and what kind of view we'll have. Can't risk missing another life adventure that's waiting to be experienced. This blog gives us an idea of what fun we're in for...and what you will be missing: http://trevorpng.blogspot.com/2007/04/chatanika-days-outhouse-races.html
I took a peek at the above website and it reminded me of something I said to our receptionist, Letha, yesterday. I said that if I do something goofy or look goofy wearing my klompy yes, with a K, boots or a silly hat I don't feel embarrassed about it in Fairbanks. Two reasons: 1-Most other people are wearing klompy boots and silly hats, and 2-few enough people in Fairbanks know me that I don't have any "image" that might get tarnished from being seen in such a manner!
When I think of how we feel about experiencing Alaska, it reminds me of how someone characterized a first-time grandfather when he meets his first grandchild. "they get all sappy". Yup, that's me! Sappy and lovin' it.
Speaking of websites, here are a few more that I found that might be of interest to you. Well, they are to me~
http://kit-dogdaze.blogspot.com/ - the gal posting this was involved in the Iditarod this year
http://tundratantrum.Blogspot.com/ - the writer of this blog lives 33 degrees north of the Arctic Circle - north of Fairbanks. We haven't yet had the opportunity to travel there, but hope to do so when the road is passable.
I recently joined Facebook, a website where one can locate friends and post items of interest (thoughts, photos, profile info) and connect with them on a regular basis. It's been fun to connect with former schoolmates, former co-workers, current co-workers, current relatives, former relatives, etc. If you haven't joined facebook yet, I encourage you to do so. For those of you who have loved ones that have new generations (children, grandchildren, pets, etc.) it's a fabulous way to be able to take a peek at their lives and bring a smile to your face. www.Facebook.com It's FREE, too!
Friday night Nate and I went to another UAF (University of Alaska Fairbanks) hockey game. They played the Ohio State hockey team in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association quarter final game. UAF won 4-0. The UAF fans were encouraged to wear white and the first 2000 fans received a white towel to wave as we created a "blizzard" effect in the 4200 seat arena. My energetic husband really surprised me during the game. He came aross a stray towel, armed himself with one in each hand, and throughout the game regularly flipped his wrists in front of his chest, arms at his sides, making his towels flutter up and down, up and down. That's my Nathan, my ball of energy! Check out the news article about the game. http://www.newsminer.com/news/2009/mar/14/uaf-fans-see-success-whiteout/
I was able to practice my whistle a bit more at last night's hockey game. I actually cheated a bit and practiced it at home Thursday night after Nate went to work at 11 p.m....not sure how the neighbors in the other half of the duplex felt about hearing my shrill whistle, but don't really care since their winter activity (drinking) lends itself to loud, profane arguments on a too regular basis. We know way more than we should about "those people" considering we do not have face to face conversations. The saving grace in this situation is that they have a HUGE motor home parked alongside their side of the duplex so we have high hopes they will be moving on come warmer weather. Our landlord permits 6 month leases, and we have our fingers crossed that theirs falls in that category!
Well, time to post my photos. I'll be posting them in a separate blog so as to hopefully not skew things all up with lengthy text AND photos all in one posting. Yeah, right, there I go thinking positive thoughts again!