Category Archives: Life in Alaska

Some days it’s a pleasure to sit in my office and peer out the window. 

Okay, I always enjoy time in my office, but yesterday the mountain was out and it was imply a beautiful day. 

  

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Despite this Pansy, it’s Fall

 I found a pansy today that I didn’t plant. I don’t know where it came from, but there it perches, under our back deck, beautiful and strong despite the snow a few days ago and the damp fall weather we’ve been having. 

So when I ran this afternoon–in long pants, knee-high socks, long sleeved undershirt, and t-shirt, it struck me how determined that pansy is. And how much it’s humble little picture deserves its moment of fame. 

  
  

Out Camping in Denali

Last week Hubby and I celebrated a whole nine years of marriage.

To celebrate, we did something that we’ve only done once before during our marriage: went camping.

That’s right. My hubby, who used to be a Denali trail guide before I met him, and I have only camped once before last weekend. And you want to know the real insult? It wasn’t even Alaskan camping–it was in Washington state!

I’m hiding my head here, because it’s really so pathetic. I think we just got so caught up in life and everything that we didn’t make time to get away.

Last weekend though, we dropped the kid at Grandma and Grandpa’s, and drove a few hours into Denali National Park. In recent years, they’ve opened up the park road to 29 mile, Teklanika camp ground. So instead of taking a bus in, we were able to drive our car out to the campground.

Now, let me preface this by saying that this is light-weight camping. There were outhouses–nice ones–and potable water at this campground. But it was still “camping.” We didn’t have cell reception, so we were unplugged all weekend. And it really felt nice.

I was able to finish a short story while I was out there, and read some of Geraldine Brook’s The People of the Book, which I am starting to enjoy more, although it’s different from her other books and I don’t like it as much.

But I also managed to take a few pictures, and just had to share.

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The entrance to our campsite.

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We took an evening walk the day we got there, and the area surrounding the campsite was classic Alaska. The light was so great and created such a peaceful picture. I was tempted–if I didn’t realize how much wildlife as out there–to sit under a tree and read my book!

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This little creek meandered through the area, eventually disappearing under the tundra.

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We half expected to see a moose around the corner, or a bear, as we found many moose droppings in the area. But, no luck. No moose.

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The next morning we woke and went on a morning hike along the Teklanika River. This is the view from the riverbank. It was a gorgeous day, with few clouds and nice hiking weather. Not too hot, nor too cold.

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Some of the mountains still have snow on their tips, and probably won’t lose that snow all year round. Even so close to June, we found shaded spots and creeks with hardpacked snow still there.

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Another classic Alaskan picture. The skinny trees, the mountains in the back, this could be anyone’s backyard. Only it’s in Denali National Park.

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On our three hour hike along the river, we found thhese bear tracks on the way back to campsite. Later we heard from a camper we ran into ok our walk that a bus saw a Grizzly watching him pass by along the river.

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With claws like this, who wouldn’t want to run into this guy?

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Caribou tracks. Saw a lot of these along the river–tracks, not caribou.

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These pretty little flowers grew along the riverbank in patches.

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Wolf tracks. Saw plenty of these, as well as some fox tracks. But no live ones, unfortunately.

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One of the few animals that posed for me, this graverobber visited our campsite a few times looking for food.

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We didn’t want to get any closer to this Grizzly Bear we found right off the river from our campground. He looked a little too big to mess with!

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If you look closely, you can find the Griz right in the center of this pic. My lens wasn’t good enough to get a better picture, something I’m still upset about…

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As we drove out of the park Sunday morning, we were given a beautiful farewell by Denali herself.

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Denali, or The Great One

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Views like this is why people move here.

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I couldn’t decide which picture was better… This was one of the best views I’d ever gotten of The Mountain.

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The best wildlife shot I could get was of this ptarmigan! Silly bird didn’t move from the side of the road as we drove by.

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But attention turns back to Denali… Who can tear their eyes from her?

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She really dominates the scenery…she’s big!

Spring is Here

It’s officially spring in Fairbanks. The snow is (pretty much) gone, and the trees are finally budding. Soon they will not be barren at all, but bright yellow green and full of life.

      

There is a sense of renewal this time of year, almost like New Year’s. Everything starts over, and beginnings even smell fresh. 

 

This year is no different. Well, perhaps different from the past five springs, as I spent the last five springs in Washington State, and now return to my home state springs. In Washington, the world is almost always green. Although the trees lose their leaves in the fall, the ferns remain green, there is moss all over the trees, and the grass remains green. Winter never truly seems to arrive there.

Here, it’s vastly different. Since September, we’ve had lifeless trees and all winter they have been in alternate states of barrenness, snow-covered, or iced over. It is a relief to have warm days (60F or higher) and be able to go to the playground and peel off the jackets.

Spring in the Arctic

Well, it’s officially breakup season here. The snow has been melting like mad, the roads constantly freeze at night and then thaw during the day (really the best way for all the snow to melt and keep clean and drivable roads). 

For the first time since the snow hit, we can begin to see the brush in our backyard. Late this summer and fall, that backyard will turn into berries that I can go out and pick and share with my berry-loving son. We have blueberry bushes, raspberry bushes, and two types of cranberries out there. Last year we moved in too late to reap anything but the cranberries. 

I’m looking forward to this summer, being able to go outside with my son, who has now started walking, and share the Alaskan summers.

The sunlight has already become obnoxious–with daylight savings shifting the days later and later. By June 21st, the sun won’t be truly setting around here at all. (There’s an official sunset still in the Fairbanks area, but it stays bright all night.) 

Spring makes it easier to get out and do things, despite the large puddles where I could easily lose my one-year-old and never know it. Piles of the dirtiest snow you’ve ever seen lay heaped on sides of road under months of road gravel. These piles will remain long past all other snow patches, even if they lie in full sun. The top coating of gravel protects the snow from the heat of the sun, and slow piles of trash emerge as the snow melts. Every once in awhile you see people out there with metal detectors, looking for lost winter treasures. I hear stories of people finding great things too, like lost iPhones or wedding rings. Heck, maybe I should start metal detecting as a hobby! 

And since I’ve been MIA for so many days weeks, here are a few photos that I’ve taken as an apology. 😉

 

March 30, 2015

  

Denali, March 30, 2015

  

Deanli, March 28, 2015

  

Denali, March 17, 2015

 

Too Much Fun, Too Little Time



I don’t ever get tired of the sunsets during the winter.



It’s been beautiful and warm here in Fairbanks lately. We’ve had both fresh snow and melting snow, evidence of cloven hooves visitors (moose), and icy roads that have canceled school and closed businesses (a rare occurrence here in Fairbanks, I assure you). 

We didn’t see these moose, but it must have been a mama and baby judging by the size of the prints.



The roads around our house were pure ice for a day or two this past week.



So finding time to blog should have been easy right? Well, not so much. 

The kid, who is quickly approaching his first birthday, decided that ear infections are all the rage, as well as never, ever sleeping through the night. It’s been great fun, both literally and sarcastically. The son enjoys playtime in the snow and all new experiences, but sleepless nights and fussy days are challenging. 



The son has decided that crawling arpund in and eating snow is great fun. I just have to keep him away from the parts the dog has visited!



Still, we’ve been having great fun in the warmer and longer days!