Saturday, May 31, 2008

Team Spiritus at the Relay for Life

High today: 70
Low today: 36
It was fun being a part of Team Spiritus this year for the Relay for Life. I remember being so intimidated by them all last year. The weather was perfect except for the chilly morning, but the sun rose above the horizon at 4am, and all was dandy. Our team did really well raising money for the Cure and even ended up in 5th place for fundraising!


Traveled on down to the "Lower 48" for the first time since the move to Fairbanks and set foot "out west" for the first time. I love flying over the mountains and glaciers between here and Seattle.
Had an awfully long layover in Seattle, so went out and wandered around the city a little bit and got lunch. I remembered why I don't like big cities.. I hate putting on my "city face", you know, walking with a purpose and not making eye contact with people.. having to really watch out for yourself.
Got into Missoula in the late evening. I imagined something very different, but it was a nice place. The college town part was frighteningly like State College, but much smaller. When I walked around campus, I felt like I knew exactly where I was going.. they had something very similar to Old Main, the Old Main lawn, and the layout was just similar in so many ways. Located in a much bigger town though.
There are a ton of rivers and creeks that run through town. Some rapids, some calm. If I were a big kayaker/rafter it would be heaven.Mmm lilacs!! I miss these.. I wonder if they would survive in Fairbanks if I tried to plant them?The hiking in Missoula was awesome. Even though the peaks weren't very big, the trails were RIGHT there. It took me 2 mins to bike to the trailhead. This particular hill had an "M" on it for University of Montana, there was one next to it that had an "L" for whatever high school is in town. I learned that the Montanans like to put big letters on their mountainsides. Totally random, but I saw it several other places the next day when we drove to Great Falls and back.
Look!! It's a Johnny Jetta.. this was pretty much the exact car my sister and I used to own. I saw two or three of these in Missoula.
Here is an arrow-leafed balsamroot, which is very common on open slopes at low elevations. (thanks to Don for the addition!)On Thursday the professor I am working with drove us out to Great Falls the long way (through Helena) to test our equipment with NWS's radiosonde. We stopped a lot along the way to take his dog on short hikes. Cocoa (the dog) made it into a lot of pictures!She loved the snow patches that were still left over.
We passed the continental divide there and back. Now I've passed it in AK and MT. Of course I had to pee on it, so I could contaminate the Missouri River down to the Mississippi River which would eventually make its way to the Gulf of Mexico and wherever the other side goes. Sorry New Orleans...
This was a riot.. we were on the highway and suddenly a herd of cattle was walking towards us.Check out the video of them! It's pretty entertaining.. turn up your volume!

The drive to Great Falls was neat since we went from the mountains to pretty much... the Midwest!
The drive back to Missoula was better than the drive there... finally felt like we were actually in Montana. This is what I imagined it to look like. .. farms and wide open spaces!After the work portion of my field work was over, I had most of Friday to play before heading back to FAI. I met up with a friend who I met at the AMS conference in 2006. He was a STEP student in Juneau the summer before I had my internship in Anchorage. Small meteorological world.. at both the Great Falls and Missoula offices, there was some sort of connection to people I knew from my undergrad too. Matt and I headed up to Rattlesnake National Recreation Area for some mountain biking. There are a ton of places to ride around Missoula, I could probably just bike for several weeks and find new trails. Good place to be a cyclist, that's for sure!On the way back to the airport stopped by the Big Sky Brewery (Moose Drool! I just like the name) with Don to sample their brews. Then it was back home, where the sun shines all the time. It was neat boarding the airplane in Seattle in darkness and the light gradually increasing until the landing at 1am in daylight!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mini-Chena Cruise

High today: 65
Low today: 40

Carrie's bro was in from North Carolina for a few days. Trevor, Carrie, her bro and I did a mini cruise down the Chena. Trevor brought his canoe and packraft to use. There were some scenic views of fine Fairbanks housing... fun was had by all!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Sky's On Fire

High today: 64
Low today (so far): 50
This is why I love this time of year. Rain showers, rainbows, sunsets, and the smell of it all to top it off. Only downside would be when I open up the door tomorrow to swarms of mosquitoes... well, let's hope not for now. :-)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hey Bear!

High today: 68
Low today: 40

Got to go down to Denali today to move a weather station at the dog kennels. As we were working on wiring the new system, one of the NPS girls says "did you see that bear???"

"What bear?"

"Over there!"

Whoa! Cool! He was checking out our truck not very far away. We were ordered to get into the building but I was able to snatch this shot before the bear wandered down the hillside into the brush.The weather station is at the dog kennels near HQ. This lady had 8 pups exactly one week ago. Aren't they cuuuuuuuuuuuuute? She is a very proud mama.
I really liked this pup even before she looked cute sleeping. Doesn't look very comfortable though, does it?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Travel bug

High today: 64
Low today: 40

A couple exciting trips coming up. Next week I am going to Montana for a few days to "train" for some field work for my thesis. (aka train a little bit and play the rest of the time.. who said grad school was so bad???) This is a big deal since I've never been west of Indiana in the Lower 48 and out west is where I originally planned to go to grad school. This trip was pretty last minute so I haven't had a chance to get psyched about it yet. The guy who is "chauffeuring" me around is really cool too, so I think the trip will be a lot of fun. Two weeks after the Montana trip I'm going out to Nome and places along the Seward Peninsula for some more field work with a post-doc I'm working with. For this trip we will be traveling by plane, boat, 4-wheelers, etc. Another really cool place. Let the fun begin!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Back to the Big City

Had to return Aviva and Jud to Anchorage so they could board their cruise in Whittier. I could make a cd of songs that will remind me of this week.. all 1900 miles of it.. containing a lot of Indigo Girls (Galileo for sure, right Vives?) and misc. ones like Umbrella by Rihanna. There were moose not in Denali but on my street in Fairbanks, caribou on the Richardson Hwy that got a teeny bit too close to the car for comfort, bear tracks all along the trails. Some sucker would return to Fairbanks with a new commuter bike (I don't know who that fool is..) and summer would have begun in the state.
We met up with Jud's parents at Humpy's for dinner. Brings back good memories.
The 5th Avenue mall.. my favorite!
The mountain showed her lovely face again on a crystal clear ride back north.
And the frozen lake became liquid once again.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Castner Glacier Adventure

High today: 63
Low today: 35

My goal of this day was to get Aviva and Jud to a glacier, special request by Jud. I was going to take them to the Gulkana glacier, since I am familiar with that one, but decided to try to get to the ice cave at the Castner glacier, mentioned to me by Dea, since it was on the way south. She skiied it with a few others about a month ago. Sounds like a plan for next winter!By the time we got to Castner Creek, (at this point we were moving at a very very slow, relaxed pace of life getting out of Fairbanks..), the snow was really coming down and the mountains were mostly obscured which was a bummer. I was still very excited about the snow and was wondering why I didn't think to bring my skis (there really wasn't THAT much snow, but one could wish). We zig-zagged along the creek until we finally found the ice cave at the base of the glacier that was supposedly only a half mile from the road. I think our swiggling made it more like 2 miles.. I wasn't super impressed with the glacier at first, but it did have that cool cave and even though it was small, it was still a glacier. There weren't any crazy crevasses or anything... Next time I'll go back to the Gulkana, although I'm glad we didn't attempt it this time. It would have taken a much longer time, and the Gulkana was still completely covered in snow which makes it unwalkable (unless you're dumb) this time of year. Both Jud and I played around climbing on very solid parts of the glacier a bit.. fun times! The glacier was pretty dirty on top but was crystal clear underneath all that soot.We found a pretty spot on the Castner and Jud proposed to Aviva!! (and he made me take pictures...) She had no idea he was going to do this, since he's been playing off that he didn't want to get married for a long time. It was pretty funny because her first words after a long pause were, "...are you serious????............really???" We'll just says Vives was in a very good mood for the rest of the trip. We didn't get back to the car until 11:30pm (still light out for the most part, even in cloud cover and moderate snow) and didn't eat dinner til 12:30am. Decided to camp out at the end of the little drive in they had off of the Richardson. The snow was accumulating on the tent as we were trying to put it up, but we woke up to the sun shining bright with the mountains towering around us.