Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Biking at Boyce

High today (in PIT): 40 F
Low today (in PIT): 29 F

My bro-in-law Reed first took me mountain biking when I was 16, and took me back to the trails today where the madness all started at Boyce Park. The trails were very muddy but it was a blast from the past being back there again hopping over logs and rocks, in December nonetheless.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


High today (PIT): 68 F!!!
Low today (PIT): 47 F

In the past 48 hours I have gotten to see so many of my old friends, last night spent with those from high school whom I'm still in touch with, and today was able to meet up with some friends from college. Below is Sammi and my best friend from high school Meg, and the men in their lives - Tyler and Gray.
Michelle and Derek met up with us too!
Then immediately the next day I got to meet up with some good friends from college who live a few hours north of here. Thanks to Donati for the ride up north! They requested some jumping pictures so I took a few - this one makes me laugh a lot since Donati decided to hold his bags for it and it just looks ridiculous.Then, to finish off the day with 100% good times, I got a last minute ticket for the sold out Clarks show and got in the front row -yeah!! I've been looking forward to seeing the Clarks again for months! I held up a sign at the beginning that said "I came all the way from ALASKA to see you". They liked that.. funny thing is there was a girl from Tok, AK there too who originally grew up in the 'Burgh and was back visiting!!! What a small world. Best part of the night was that I got one of the drummers' drumsticks, and the fact that the band did not disappoint as usual. :-D Below is Scott Blasey, the lead singer for the Clarks.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

High today (PIT): 37
Low today (PIT): 25

There is nothing like spending Christmas watching four excited eyes open up their gifts from Santa. These are my nieces Rosalie and Gretchen who can easily be distracted by presents and candy... or novelty people from Alaska! ;)Tried to get everyone into this pic.. this is my fam minus one sister and brother in law who I get to see in another week in a half in a very warm, sunny place. :-D
It feels like I never left.. everything looks the same though this year my sister busted out one of the old train sets.. below the old trolley is running on the tracks.My sister's neighborhood a mile down the road lines up and lights up lumineria along their road. Since they wanted in on the jumping picture action, below is Patty, Reed, Maria and future bro-in-law Bill in front of the lumineria. Not too shabby for first-timers. ;)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Reporting from Pittsburgh!!

High today (PIT): 57
Low today (PIT): 34

Hi everyone! Glad to report that I made it home in Pittsburgh within 22 hours of getting to the Fairbanks airport. I was one extremely lucky duck who by a miracle got on one of the very few planes to get INTO Chicago and another one that got OUT of Chicago on Tuesday, in the midst of their snow and ice storm. I can't tell you how happy I was to get on that airplane.. I'm pretty sure there was a huge smile on my face the entire flight even through the exhaustion. Thanks to everyone sending good vibes my way so I wasn't stuck anywhere past Christmas day! It's good to be back - feels like I never left but it is fun surprising neighbors and old acquaintances who don't expect to see me. Here's some pics from flying.. below is Mt. Rainier peaking out of the clouds. :)
Did I really get on this flight???? Really??? This one deserves a picture.
Steelers Country or bust!!!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Playing on Ice

High today: 9
Low today: -15

Ashlee, Joel and I checked out the North Pole ice sculptures today. There was talk of an ice slide, and I was trying to blow time before going to the airport. You can see we had a bit of fun...
And here I bit adieu to my wonderful winter wonderland until mid-January!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

High today: -8
Low today: -19

While I had plans of going out into the mountains today for an exciting overnight solstice ski trip with the potential of seeing some amazing aurora and racing the daylight to the destination, I've been detered by an unhappy foot which isn't letting me do any physical activity. This got me pretty depressed yesterday and very ready to go back east, which right now is looking slim of getting there for Christmas day. The airports I am supposed to go through are both bottle necked with people from major flight cancellations, setting passengers back several days. At this rate, I'm bracing to be stuck somewhere through the 26th, preferably Fairbanks, so I'm not stuck alone in a foreign place. Because let's face it, that would really blow spending Christmas by myself in an airport far away from either of my "homes".

But all is not bad, because I am getting a lot of down time which hasn't happened in a long long time. Today, the Large Animal Research Station up the road was having an open house so Matt, Karen and I went to see the big furry creatures of the North. Santa's reindeer are totally ready for Christmas.
These little dudes are my favorite - musk oxen! I saw one in the wild on the Seward Peninsula from far away which was uber cool. I have to say, the baby below is totally my favorite.
One let us get up close and personal with him, hanging out by the fence.
And now for some entertainment. If you didn't know already, I have quite the collection of pictures in front of large wild animals. It all started with the moose on the Coastal Trail in Anchorage in 2006...Then the elk in Elk County, PA. February 2007. when LeeAnn, Cat, and I were seriously driving around looking for them. There MUST be elk in Elk County.. and sure 'nough there were!So today, I was able to bag the musk ox photo...
AND the reindeer!
Granted they were not "in the wild" like the other two, but let's just pretend for now that they can stay in the collection of large furry creature pictures. Touche?

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Longest Night Ride

High today: 12 F
Low today: -9 F

Tonight was the annual Fairbanks Cycle Club's "Longest Night Ride", celebrating the winter solstice and the soon to be lengthening daylight. Granted, we have two more days until the actual winter solstice, but we are zeroing in on our minimal sunlight, today sitting at 3 hours and 41 minutes of sun barely 5 degrees above the horizon. The sun rose at 10:58am today and set at 2:39pm. Here's the hearty gang at the beginning of the ride.Dave's stint with us was rather short (think 100 meters long..), since his seatpost just snapped in half. Ouch!
We went down a few snowy roads to get back into the Goldstream trails. Wish I knew where we were going.. we were crossing Ballaine, back in Goldstream valley, crossing Ballaine again, all of a sudden at Sheep Creek and eventually back to Ivory Jacks. I'll have to go exploring when it's light out to find these trails again because they were fun!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Meet the Purple Snow Eater

High today: 0
Low today: -12

Two really really awesome people (shoutout to Chris and Kim!) are letting me borrow their Surly Pugsley (aka my dream bike) for the next two months. Its tires dwarf my mountain bike tires by 1.3 inches. I had to make a deal with myself to not ride it until finals were over, so today I finally was able to take it for a spin. :) It eats through snow like its nobody's business. If you want to see a big solid grin on my face, ask me about the Pugsley.And of course my biking buddy Debbie came along for the first Pugsley outing.. we only went on a short ride today but are planning a longer outing this weekend so stay posted.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Here Comes the Sun

High today: -3
Low today: -16

The meteo nerds got excited today...
Check out the awesome sun pillar!!See ya later sunshine!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hutlinana Hot Springs

High today (in Fairbanks): 13
Low today (in Fairbanks): -24Headed northwest of Fairbanks about 150 miles to Hutlinana Hot Springs for my first overnight ski trip and winter camping! I was quite excited about this because I've been wanting to go to a "natural" hot spring for a long time. Chena Hot Springs just doesn't do it for me.. it's way too built up. Back when I was talking about moving to Wyoming or somewhere out west I always imagined a hot spring at the bottom of a waterfall.. still haven't made it swimming or soaking under any waterfalls, but I'll keep my vision.

Below Steffen and Sumy are ready to break some trail. It seemed as if we were the first skiers of the season.
It snowed fairly heavily during our ski into the hot springs. We encountered some winds but they could have been much worse. The winds overnight covered up most of our tracks on the way out the next day.
Steffen totally tricked us out by telling us that the halfway point was when we were 3/4 of the way there. (he really thought we were only halfway.. i love it when that happens) That was pretty sweet because mentally I was ready for another 4 or 5 miles haha.. then a mile or two later you think, "we're here already??" We were able to get to the hot springs and set up the tents before all light faded.
In the middle of the night we had both howling winds and moments where everything was completely still. When it was really windy my tent's vent would flap in the wind and I swore that there was a moose circling my tent or some sort of creature.. but no footprints in the morning. I could feel the temperatures plummeting as the morning came, and awoke to a crystal clear morning. Dang, yo! If it was going to be clear I would have hoped for it being clear the night before so we'd have a chance of some fabulous aurora watching. But at the same time I was thankful that it wasn't brutally cold. It was hard enough to get out of the toasty sleeping bag!
I wish I had more pictures but my camera collected a lot of condensation on the lens and most of my pictures turned out blurry from the 110 degree difference in the hot springs and the ambient air. Note to self, wipe off lens when taking pictures in the hot springs.. I will post some of the actual springs when I get a hold of Steffen and Sumy's pictures. The morning was spectacular.. a little bit windy at times but otherwise everything was so peaceful.

We headed back into the twillight, not seeing the sun come above the horizon.
Below Steffen got a picture of me trying to avoid the overflow. It didn't work...We had to stop a few times to get the ice off of our skis from the overflow sections since it froze instantaneously.
Back on the road again into the fading twilight... another great trip with fantastic people...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Moose Mountain's Open!

High today: 8 F
Low today: -3 F

No more hiking up the mountain, Moose Mountain is open! Yeah!! They don't have lifts, but they have a bus shuttle system. Pricey resort for what you get but so conveniently close to town. Celine, Debbie and I busted out the downhill skis for the resort's opening weekend, not to mention at a discount ticket rate.Celine hadn't been on downhill skis in 5 years but smoked both Debbie and I. As you can see also, Moose Mountain is in need of about.. umm.. well 15 more inches of snow or so. :-P At least a good 8 inch snowfall would do them some good. Despite all the grassiness we still had a blast. Some areas were completely covered and powdery but the well-used ones like these below were pretty grassy.
I told you the moose pose would come back, especially being on Moose Mountain and all.
Self-portait of the ladies!
Wahooooooo! We even went on some black diamonds, my first Alaskan black diamonds other than the one at Skiland that I slid down on my butt. The ones at MM were actually less scary than east coast ones.. I can't say the same for the one that Josh took me on at Skiland last winter...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Skiing for Hot Cocoa

High today: 17 F
Low today: -7 F

Celine, Ashlee and I went on a good ski from my place today. We have been getting out on fun weekly skis together. They are taking a ski class right now and giving me some pointers on how to gain better technique. Below are the ladies on Smith Lake.. how nice to not be stuck in a building in the early afternoon!
I don't know why, but we began making what we call the moose stance with our ski poles. Now that it's begun, I'm sure you'll be seeing a lot of it in my pictures.
Then, Celine and I tried what I thought would fail but actually turned out awesome - xc ski jumping pictures!! I love it!!
Our skis always end with hot cocoa.. Celine and I have a recipe down for some tasty mint hot chocolate.. and it keeps getting better!