Category Archives: Photography

When Clouds Dump Snow…

You brush it off.

If you can’t brush it off, you shovel it off.

If you can’t shovel it off, you snow-blow it.

If you can’t snow-blow it, you remember someday it’s gotta melt.



Alaskan Fireweed and The Dregs of Summer

In the week since I’ve taken the above photo, the fireweed has nearly bloomed itself out. If you grew up here, you measure summer by the fireweed blossoms. In spring, the fireweed sprouts and begins to bud, shooting up several feet into the sky. By early summer, the lowest buds on the plant have bloomed pinkish-purple and you begin to notice them in the fields and on roadsides. By midsummer, the fireweed has overtaken fallow fields and roadsides. But if you look closely, you’ll notice that the tips of the fireweed still haven’t bloomed yet.

As summer fades, the fireweed fades as well. By the end of July, the tips of the fireweed begin to bloom, and the earliest flowers on the plant go to seed, splitting open and releasing feathery white puffs. That’s how you know that summer is ending.

We’re in that stage now. Summer is coming to a close. The past week has been rainy and full of unusual thunderstorms (Fairbanks doesn’t get a lot of thunderstorms, but we’ve had plenty lately). The roadsides are starting to fade, the bright pink/purple hue of fireweed diminishing into green and thin purple seed pods that will begin to release their white feathers soon.

It’s always been a bittersweet time of year for me. A lot of Alaskans endure the winter to enjoy the summer, and I’ve always been one of those. I think I’ve mentioned on this blog before, but I’m a summer-sport kind of girl, not being one to go snowmachining or skiing or anything like that. With the exception of running out of doors in the winter, my ideal winter day is spent curled up next to the fireplace with a good book.

That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the beauty of winter–it is beautiful, but it’s also cold in more than just the literal sense. It’s isolating and frigid, it’s exhausting and terrifying. But that’s a post for another time of year.

Now, I want to enjoy the last dregs of summer, gearing up for that winter chill which will inevitably steal fall from Fairbanks and descend before anyone is truly ready.

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.


The entrance to our campsite.


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!


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


These pretty little flowers grew along the riverbank in patches.


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


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


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!


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…


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


Denali, or The Great One


Views like this is why people move here.


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


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.


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


She really dominates the scenery…she’s big!

Summer in the Interior

It’s finally here. After months of waiting, staring longingly out the windows, summer has arrived. 

Long summer nights, bonfires, swimming, hiking, running, playing…these are a few of the summertime activities I look forward to.


My chokecherry is budding…

 Ferns unwinding… 

And rhubarb bursting out of the ground with force and life. 

Summertime in Alaska is truly a short blip in the calendar year, one which everyone looks forward to at some point and enjoys as long as possible. 

Spring Canning

Oh, that’s right. You read that right–I don’t follow the book. I can in the spring.

Well, not in this at least. Let’s just say “canning season” didn’t fall at a good time for me last year. I managed to do a little bit, but on most days with my infant son, it felt completely overwhelming and beyond my ability to deal with.

So when Hubby gave me an afternoon off parenting duties the past week, I took an hour or so to can some of the lingonberries that I picked with my son last fall.



I’ve never canned lingonberries before–well, let me rephrase that, as I haven’t done much canning ever. I’ve never had an interest in canning lingonberries before. Usually I use lingonberries in my mother’s cranberry cream cheese bread recipe, but I haven’t made that this year, and it’s relatively unhealthy, and usually we use lingonberry sauce for lefsa over the holidays. (So, really, I should have canned these in the fall when I bought them and then we would have had homemade lingonberry sauce for the lefsa. Oh well.)

Regardless, I finally got my act together and did some canning the past week. The lingonberries were surprisingly simple to can, as I just made a simple jam type sauce with them. Basically a lot of sugar plus a bit of water and a lot of lingonberries cooked for awhile on the stovetop, then water bath canned.

Lotta sugar hiding those berries...

Lotta sugar hiding those beautiful berries…

For 8 cups of berries I got about 4.25 pints of sauce. The extra I canned anyway and put in the fridge to taste-test. I like it. It’s a lot denser than any of the store bought lingonberry jam/sauce that I’ve had, but it actually tastes all right on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (That’s probably an unusual taste testing method, but…we were out of other jelly.)

The finished product.

The finished product.

So now this Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’ll have lingonberry sauce for our lefsa! I’m actually rather excited about that… might be worth making some lefsa before then…

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!