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!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


High today: 8 F
Low today: -17 F

Beautiful morning! One of the first weekdays in awhile I've been able to drive around in the daylight and enjoy the full brightness of the snow. The trees just glisten in the snow and the low angle of the sun makes it that much prettier.
Had Thanksgiving dinner with lots of awesome people and met two new ones. What went from a 6 or 7 person dinner increased to around 17. Thanks to Celine for hosting at her house! Here's a handful of us at dinner, picture thanks to Shaoqing.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Even Better!

High today: 15 F
Low today: -8 F

Monday, November 24, 2008

Another auroral night...

High today: 8 F
Low today: -5 F
Not an extremely bright aurora but still beautiful as always.. I promise one of these days I will get some really good pictures from a bright aurora.
It sure is nice having a north facing window, though. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Fine Frostilicious Day!

High today: -10 F
Low today so far: -20 F

Now who the heck would wake up at 9am on a Saturday to run a 5k when it's -12 out?

You got it! This morning was the annual Turkey Trot sponsored by the Running Club North. Here's Joel, Karen and Debbie before the race. The best part of the race was beforehand you guess what your time will be, and then whoever guesses closest to their actual time wins a turkey!! (no watches allowed!) Karen and I ran the whole thing together but were about a minute and a half off.. oh well! We forgot to incorporate the extra 0.2 miles that were added onto the 5k!We got VERY frosty keeping our good pace going. It was hard to see by the end of the race!! Thanks to Karen for this awesome pic!Later this afternoon I met up with some friends to do some downhill skiing at Moose Mountain. There were no lifts so we walked up the first time then Debbie drove me up to the top to do a second run before the sun went down. It was scary to get on the downhill skis for the first time since March. I always feel like I don't know what I'm doing starting out again, but it's easy to get back into the groove.
Sunsetting around 3:20pm..
Frostilicious, indeed!

Friday, November 21, 2008

First bike commute in the negatives this winter

High today: -11 F
Low today: -21 F
Now that I live on the ski trails, my commute to work via ski is only 1.5 miles whereas biking to work is 3.5 miles. Logically, this leaves me to skiing to work on a normal day. But we all know that deep down in my heart all I want to do is ride my bike. So today I allowed a bit of extra time for error and misc. mechanical problems (that did not happen, thankfully! :) ) to bike into work for the first time from the new place! Check out this sweet outfit...Heck yes! Bring it, cold! I've learned quite a bit about dressing in this weather from watching other winter bikers... there are some people who ride EVERY day because they don't have a car, or maybe they just love riding their bike as much as I do. It's those people that I idol. Skiing has been a fun alternative but just not the same, for me, anyway. But it IS slightly quicker and there's less distance for error and I trust skis to not break much much more than I trust all the parts of a bike to not break.

After about 15 minutes of riding my gears were pretty hesitant to change.. other than the click-click-click of my non-winterized hub I was plenty warm and happy. The favorite part of my commute were all the funny looks I got mainly once I hit campus. If I saw someone wearing that outfit, I'd give them a funny look, too!

Below is a picture of the sunsetting behind the top of Denali. I took this picture slightly too late and it is blurry, but you can see the blowing snow off of the mountain. Pretty!Getting home tonight was more than slightly entertaining.. in fact it was a little surreal with the orange goggles in the dark and the way my headlamp reflected off of the ice crystals in the nearly 20 below air. Then my goggles decided to freeze up, which they didn't do earlier today. So I had to take them off for the last mile, where my eyelashes immediately began to freeze! But the silver bullet and I made it! Hooray!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Natural Happy Light

High today: -8 F
Low today: -24 F and dropping...
Sunrise today: 9:43am
Sunset today: 3:31pm

First off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!! I have no recent pictures of you, otherwise I'd post one! How old are you.. 46?? haha.. we'll just let the blog readers believe that. ;) It's realistic if you were my age when you had me!
It seems like there have been a few concerns lately, "how cold is it?", "how dark is it?", "how's that cabin treating you?", "how's school?"

Here are my answers: "it was in and around the zeros but now it's dropped to 25 below for a bit", "down to 5 hours and some minutes", "cabin is great!", "school is nuts, as usual this time of the semester!"

I was worried about November coming because I was told that if you have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) you will start to notice a change in your mood when the first week of November rolls around. It's the third week of November and other than me not wanting to get out of bed before the sky gets somewhat light and being a little stressed over school stuff, I am still feeling good. But me not wanting to get out of bed is nothing new. :) It is a well known fact that I hate mornings no matter if it's 4:30am or 10am, unless I'm promised something cool like a road trip that day or if the aurora is blazing outside or if a small child decides to jump on my bed. ;) No more waking up in the light until I get down to the east coast in a little over a month! Even there though, the sun will set at 4pm in December.

The days are dropping on the times I can say "last year at this time" and still refer to life in PA. It's a little bit strange but makes me a little bit proud to say I've almost made an entire year here successfully. It seems like yesterday that I was getting some funny looks from people in PA when I said I was moving to Alaska and it seems like yesterday that I got the email saying I got into grad school - and I can still relive that feeling. The first few months starting out anywhere new can really suck but now Fairbanks is like home. I can go many places in town and try to avoid seeing people I know as much as possible, but this town is a little bit like State College in that it is big enough to hide but small enough to see someone everywhere you go. It is that size of a town that I like for sure...

Alright, enough rambling. Should I ride my bike tomorrow morning to beat my cold riding temperature? It's very tempting but I think skiing will be the way to go tomorrow. We'll see what time permits in the morning!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Celine's Birthday Bash

High today: 14 F
Low today: -2 F
(jumping picture courtesy of Karen)

We celebrated Celine's 24th b-day up near the hot springs. Here's the b-day girl ready to go hiking in the snow!
The Chena river was mostly frozen but had a few open leeds. Amazing that the river is not completely frozen yet! I surely don't understand the kinematics of rivers.. maybe being exposed to them so much more nowadays will help relieve that.
We took a very highly traveled trail, one that I have done many many times, but it is still fun because it's always with different people and in a different season! I prefer this as a winter hike.. it's more challenging in some ways but easier in others since it is easier to grip on snow than loose sandy rock!
Below are the girls at the top near the rocks.

Cute picture of Karen and I (next two pics thanks to Karen)Mo is the COOLEST dog ever because if you throw snow at him, he does jump turns!
Celine, Rena and Karen staying warm.
Joel and Ashlee with Mo running around them
Woo! Free cake for the birthday girl and a soak in the hot springs.. not too shabby eh?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Arrow Points Farther North

High today: 15
Low today: -9

Hoar frost covers trees along the Dalton Highway

Headed up north for work for two days with our stopping destination at Wiseman, town of about 10 people, about 270 miles north of Fairbanks... well above the Arctic Circle. It was a sweet trip since I haven't gone anywhere for this side of work for awhile.. and I got to skip class which is a big "hooray!" in my book.

On the way we stopped at Livengood and Minto, below you can see the Minto Flats.
I won't mention what the temperature is in these pictures because I can still hear my Mom yelling at me to put a hat and gloves on when it was 30 degrees and hating when I'd go running in shorts at 50 degrees. ;) "But Mom! The 20-degree rule!"The drive north was spectacular, a beautiful world of white encompassed the highway which is used primarily by truckers.Our truck took the lives of two ptarmigan, of whom were asking for a death wish. They took out the entire sideview mirror and the breaking of glass made us think that part of the window was gone too.. but we were lucky and it was just the mirror.Stayed in Wiseman overnight at a neat little cabin. Below I am crouched down by the old post office in Wiseman which has fallen into the ground over the past 100 years from the permafrost. There are cabins in Fairbanks that look like this, too! Yikes! We came upon this huge semi just about a minute after it veered off of the highway. The driver was ok but was shaken up for good reason. He was only 5 miles from his 630 mile destination.. poor guy. Puts things into perspective for you...On the drive back it was actually light enough out to see the mountains.Hey Jim - this one's for you! There was Jim River 1, 2, and 3! My favorite creek though was "No Name Creek". :)Back into the White Mountains... almost home!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Prindle area, winter style.

High yesterday: 2
Low yesterday: -12
I never did make it up to the White Mountains much this summer to explore this expansive territory north of Fairbanks. My friend Steffen wanted to attempt a winter trip in an area he hasn't been in, which brought us to the Mt. Prindle road yesterday. We had quite the assortment of outdoor enthusiasts - snowshoers, skiers and bikers.. unfortunately I have no pictures of everyone, just of Debbie biking with me. I will post some pictures she took when I get them from her, since my camera's batteries died rather early in the trip. We came across two dog sled teams which was really cool seeing! Debbie has a few pictures of them.

I'm sure you are asking why in any right mind would someone want to bike this area instead of ski or hike it, and the only answer I have for you is that I was beginning to have some serious bike withdrawal since now my commute to work is easier and warmer via ski... and I need more practice in the snow. Anyway, this trip was really fun.. short but fun. Below, Debbie battles the sport we call snow biking... the conditions were great at the beginning but deteriorated slightly a few miles up the road so there was a lot of slogging. It was a really beneficial trip because we picked up some new balance and momentum skills.
And on a completely different note, a special birthday shoutout to my best bud from college, Alexis! Happy 23rd!