Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why I Love Fairbanks

High today: 16
Low today: -21I went to the library today to "borrow" a nice camera for a few days. They gave me one of those fancy Canon EOS cameras.. with too many options to understand. :-) I went on an aurora chase tonight after seeing the aurora forecast at 9/10. Started at UAF and then drove and stopped for well over an hour all throughout Goldstream Valley. I couldn't tell when I took the pictures that they were blurry - Jim even told me to take the monopod but I forgot it because I was too excited to go!! Oh well, this is only the beginning, my aurora chasing days are just starting and I'm self learning this photography thing. ISO what? Shutter time huh?? What button should I press??? AURORA! AURORA!! I can find that. :-)

A few more from home later tonight... even with monopod something still isn't right.. I will figure it out!

Nerdy McNerderson

I got to go catch a glimpse of an atmospheric science research aircraft today with some coworkers. These guys are from Britain and are doing research on the radiative balance of sea ice north of Barrow.
Below is one of the scientists on board showing us the dropsonde chute. Wouldn't this be a fun job???
They have a ton of equipment and workstations in this aircraft. Maybe a future career option?? Hmmm...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Who is Your American Idol?

Ok, I know some of you out there have to be watching American Idol. This is the first time ever I've followed it since the beginning. I am totally in love with a 17 year old ("Julie, that's illegal!") but I'm sure the rest of the female population is as well. :-) Anyway - any thoughts on who you like? Who do you think will make it to the end?? I know only the boys went tonight, so give me feedback tomorrow as well after the girls perform.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Western PA represent!

Just was checking out the Newsminer this morning and I see two PA cyclists are going to bike to Alaska. Didn't they ever read the book, You Can't Ride a Bike to Alaska, It's an Island?? Haha..

I want to join them....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

South to the Mountains!!

High today: 22
Low today: 2

Today I headed down to Denali for Winterfest - a fun little celebration down at the park with different activities. It was the first time I got to go down to the mountains since I arrived Jan. 10th - I totally needed some fresh mountain air and to get out of town. I like Fairbanks and all but you know I can't stay still, and 6 weeks is a long time to not go anywhere out of town!
It was my first road trip with the Subie and my first time down the Parks Hwy in the winter. I was totally pumped to see the Alaska Range close up in the winter. Josh and Deb came with me to enjoy the festivities down south. I also learned how to use cruise control - never used it before, haha. Not sure that I like it too much with all of the windy corners.
Driving down it was pretty cloudy so the mountains were obscure but once we got close enough to Denali, the mountains started jutting out into the sky. It was awesome.
At Denali, they were having a snow carving contest. We decided to try our hands at it.
This one is not ours - but I thought it was rather entertaining, especially since the carvers even put some goodies in the toilet - how about it has a roll of toilet paper too!!
Deb and Josh are feverishly working on our moose carving. We named him Mikey the Moose.. he is a very over-fed moose who has more of a bear butt than a moose butt. We got some really good laughs out of passerbys. That's all we really wanted, the entertainment value! Josh actually did a very good job carving out the head of the moose.
Here we are with our finished product.
After our fun in Denali, we headed up to Healy a few miles north of the park to do some exploring at the end of the road. Literally. There is an old coal mine along a creek bed that Josh wanted to hike at.

This little "secret" spot was awesome - tough to walk on the frozen creek but the views were nice despite the clouds, and if you stopped and listened, you could not hear a THING. No passing cars, trucks, airplanes. Nothing. You could lightly hear some water flowing underneath the frozen creekbed. I don't know if I ever encountered that kind of silence before - even in the summer there were either birds chirping, mosquitoes buzzing, etc. What a neat place.To get back down the frozen creek, we decided it was easier to get just on our behinds and slide. Deb decided to race me down part of it, THAT was pretty hysterical. I bet it would have been funny to watch.
After our hike, we headed to the Healy Community Center for some chili and live music. Oh, and people watching - my favorite!

Friday, February 22, 2008


"I think I can I think I can I think I see THON, it looks GLORIOUS!" - THON '04 line dance

Every year, Penn State raises money for the Four Diamonds Fund - an organization that provides support and medical bill support for families of kids with cancer, as well as supports funding for medical research at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. At the end of the money collecting, we hold a 48 hour (now 46 hours) no sitting, no sleeping dance marathon. Dancers from different organizations get to dance in this event, while the Four Diamonds families attend and get a weekend away from their daily worries and struggles having a child with cancer. It is fantastic having the kids there and letting them just be kids and not having doctors appts to go to or tests to go for. THON is mostly important I think though, that the parents and families of the kids with cancer know that they have such a large support group and know that the battle for cancer hasn't been lost and there are many people out there fighting and hoping for a cure.

Check out this promo video from last year.
Here's to you, THON '08 families and dancers.
"We will win this cancer fight. We are Penn State, always believing!" Go get 'em, kids.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pedal, Pedal, Pedal!

High today: 38
Low today: 9

Today was another warm February day in Fairbanks. It's almost depressing that the snow is melting away a little bit. My plans to explore new trails with someone was canceled, so I went out and explored the neighborhood a bit more.
There are a lot of quiet streets, which apparently all lead to the same road.. I intercepted the road a total of three times, and immediately turned back around to try other routes. It would have been nice to have my GPS tonight to see how far I rode.. but unfortunately it is hanging out up on Chandalar Shelf somewhere.. maybe in a bear's stomach. :-)
It was a really nice night - I was actually overheating in what I was wearing. It was way too warm to have the poagies on the bike. But, it was SO nice being comfortable the entire ride and not having to worry about fingers or toes freezing and falling off.. and having water not turn into a solid block of ice!!
I found a couple of spots that had good views of town, and a spot that would be particularly nice to stop at when the aurora is really active.
"I'm at the top of the world!!!"

Monday, February 18, 2008

Something Special About Nighttime

Maybe it's because I have a few people out there that will call me when they see the aurora. Thanks to Stef for the call tonight!
Another not so great shot but I am learning! I figured out how to do long exposure on my camera (I knew this camera was nice enough to do SOMETHING spiffy!) The moon was out so bright the pictures also didn't want to turn out well. I bet without the moonlight they would have turned out better! But to be able to just chill at my bedroom window and watch the lights do their thing, that is something special.

Welcome to Fairbanks, bike #2

High today: 30
Low so far today: 14

Today was cozy enough out that I felt like putting Ruby the commuter bike together. Poor thing lost a ton of paint on the shipment up here - she was already peeling pretty well. I wasn't quite sure where to start putting her together since I never saw this bike in pieces and it's not as simple as the Rockhopper since the bike frame is at least 20 years old and the components are not built the same as modern bikes.After some finagling I got Ruby together, but her back brakes are still wacked out.. they were that way before I moved but I thought Sparky and I got it all figured out at one of the bike clinics before graduation.This bike has been hands down the best investment I ever made. Simple singlespeed, low maintenance, a bit of pizazz and lots of personality. Everyone knew where I was if they saw this bike parked in front of a building, or knew I was coming when the bugle horn was sounding. I had a designated lock up spot in front of Walker that only my roommate ever dared to steal as a joke. This bike is even on YouTube.. funny story, not one for the blog though. Went every day of the year through rain, snow, ice, high winds, hail, drunk people on College Ave., etc. A bit of a legend to State College.. maybe this bike can make some memories here too.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Need for Gravity

High so far today: 9
Low today: -26

Today Josh - one of my classmates, his wife Deb, and I went up to Skiland to hit up the slopes and enjoy the new powder from the other day. Skiing was extremely challenging - it was the first time I wasn't at a resort with groomed snow. It was all natural snow, windblown, parts had inches of fresh powder that I got stuck in, the terrain was extremely bumpy.. it was an experience!! This my friends is NOT Holiday Valley or Seven Springs... I went down a black diamond which should have probably been a double black diamond.. but I didn't exactly ski down it.. more like slide down it on my behind. After that, just stuck to the blues!
Josh and Deb excited to ski.
Some of the slopes - it looks neat with all of the spruce trees - you had to be there!
Josh talked us into going over some jumps. Here he is in mid-air.
He caught this awesome picture of me in mid-air. :-)
Deb also taking off of the jump.
One more of Josh doing his thing.. this guy is CRAZY he is all about tree jumping and skiing in closed areas.. I'll stick to the wide open spaces, thanks. :-)
The three of us with all ligaments intact, after a long day of skiing. Note the White Mountains in the distance!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Warm weather

High today: 33
Low today: -3
The temperature soared today - it's been crazy roller-coaster weather. 40 below one week, 30 above the next, almost 50 below the next, and now 30 above again. I don't think it's normal up here for the temperature to fluctuate so much, but I'm not sure. In any case, everyone was happy to have some relief in warmer weather. Honestly, when it hit zero degrees, everyone was walking outside without a hat or gloves.. at least for short distances. If you told me to do that 2 months ago I would have looked at you funny.

Skiing was good today - there's a lake called Smith Lake that has a track around it. It's neat because it's just a vast open space to ski around.
Almost the weekend!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Food For Thought

High today: 8
Low so far today: -16

Nothing to report today but you have to check out Stef's blog for some insight on the 40 below temperatures in Minnesota. I find it rather entertaining. :-)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Snowy World

High today so far: 4
Low today: -35

Today we escaped from an 8 day streak of low temperatures below -40. It was also the first day in 19 days of which our temperature went above zero. It's amazing how warm it feels after being cold for so long. I am really enjoying the snow that stays on the ground all the time and doesn't turn mushy brown. I went for a ski today to enjoy the warmer weather while Jana walked her dog Sawyer on the designated canine trails.
The trails were pretty empty. Saw two other people ski by but otherwise all was calm.
The setting sun made the ski even more beautiful. I wanted to stay out there all day and just be at peace away from the hustle and bustle of town.
When I was skiing it still felt like I was on some sort of vacation. I had to remind myself that this is my new home. I guess it's ok to treat life like a vacation as long as you're taking care of your work and responsibilities, right? I guess that's the nice thing about starting over.. no clubs and activities to attend to, no leadership positions, no expectations, none of that. Just starting over with just the memories and lessons you took from them all along the way, with a blank paper trying it all again. :-)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

One Month of Fairbanks Winter

High today: -16
Low today: -48

Today marks my one month mark living in Fairbanks. I can't believe how quickly the time has gone, and sometimes I feel like I'm still in a mass confusion of settling in and meeting people. Today though, I was shopping and bumped into someone who I hung out with when I lived in Anchorage two summers ago. He remembered my name and completely stumped me, it was actually rather funny. He's now living up here, and through him I found out another guy I knew in Anchorage is moving up here in a few weeks. It's like the great mass exodus of the Anchorage summer '06 interns to Fairbanks! We have a couple more to work on, but I know one of my roommates from Anchorage who is still in pharmacy school has definitely plans of moving back to AK after school. What a funny little world... talking about the world, let's see a map of my recent blog readers. Thanks Al for viewing the blog from London!
Thanks blog readers!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Yukon Quest, Hobo Jim, and the northern lights

High today: -15
Low today: -44

This morning was the start of the Yukon Quest, a 1000 mile dog sled race that starts in Fairbanks and finishes at Whitehorse in the Yukon. Jim, Carla and I went down to check it out. It was a toasty 40-ish below..
Here is a picture of Lance Mackey starting - he is one of the few names I recognized. He won both the Iditarod AND the Yukon Quest one season (last year maybe?) and the two races were only 2 weeks apart from each other!
Jim and Carla were all bundled up.
This evening we went to see Hobo Jim at Ivory Jack's which was awesome. He was quite entertaining, but better than him playing was seeing the aurora, I mean REALLY seeing the aurora. Out from the city lights... here are my first semi-successful but not fantastic aurora pictures.
I tried to photoshop some pictures too, they kind of turned out cool but not realistic.. but it's good to see the pattern of the lights.