Thursday, July 30, 2009

A 5 mile start

High today: 77 F
Low today: 61 F
Above is my newest baby, bike #3.. aka first road bike ever (which is now being sold.. as noticed above). Poor thing has been ridden many more miles by one of my friends than I have ridden it. It was a killer-find at the bike swap this spring. I still haven't gotten used to the funky handlebars.. but it is a pretty bike.

Tonight there was supposed to be a group ride but it was canceled due to heavy smoke. I went out anyway, because I had put away time tonight to test the waters for a first official ride since the injury (44 days ago). Breathing was actually not difficult at all in the dense smoke conditions, but maybe it seemed easy to breathe because I was so focused on trying to make every stroke go straight and not in a funny angle, and I was not going very fast at all (though, I did pass someone on a mountain bike commuting home.. ;) ). I don't know how successful I would consider this mini-outing. It was a sparkle-and-fade kind of ride... I was totally pumped to have the wind in my face and all over my body and running through my helmet while wearing spandex, and part of me wanted to use all of the pedaling energy that has been built up in my legs, but at the same time, many strokes were uncomfortable and I was not able to keep a steady pace. Once I got about 2.5 miles out, I decided that it might be smart to turn back. 5 miles on a FLAT ROAD. That's all I could do, even with painkillers. What a bummer. I was RUNNING more than 5 miles regularly just a month and a half ago. I mean, I guess I had PT today so that was a little bit of work, but still. Guess riding to Valdez isn't going to happen this year. Well, go big or go home next summer, right?! The bike ride still picked me up a little bit and I'm glad to have tested the waters. The very very shallow waters! But you have to start somewhere....

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fall foliage in the future

I made my flights for Maria and Bill's wedding today! Will be flying into PA on Tues Oct. 20th (evening) very much jetlagged as usual I'm sure, and leaving very very early Tues Nov. 3rd. Unfortunately my field work sits in this time frame, otherwise I would come back for longer. So here's the deal - this is my once a year trip and I'll be busy thru the wedding on the 24th. If you want to see me, please let me know ahead of time so I'm able to plan this short time well. Halloween weekend I am backpacking in Central PA with some good friends so either weekend is already planned out. I'm really really pumped to be back this time of year, because it's one of my favorites in the Mid-Atlantic with all the fall foliage. I can already visualize giant trees coated in red, orange and yellow speckles... and good company!

In other news, I am totally PUMPED that I was able to bike down my road a little ways today without it being completely painful to pedal. Maybe it's the brace that is helping or a tolerance that has built, but that 10 mins was the most refreshing 10 mins I've had in 6 weeks. I have not gone this long without biking since I was probably 17 years old. Maybe I will try to ride to work on Wednesday. Maybe not. Soon though..... very soon.

In other random news, if you or anyone you know is wanting to learn guitar but does not know where to start, I found this awesome video on YouTube that has very detailed instructions for learning chords. There's a part two as well but haven't checked that out yet. Enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Puff of Fresh Air

This summer was supposed to be full of "new" places, but every single one of them had to be canceled because of my injury, so this work trip was a very welcome break to what's become a lethargic lifestyle.

I got to head up the Steese highway to a town called Central, which is located just 30 miles from the end of the road. I hadn't been past the Mt. Prindle road - and that was in the deep of winter. Things look a lot different this time of year! On the way, we stopped at an observer's house to switch out some weather instruments. I was very excited to meet these observers, since I've talked to them on the phone for over two years, and it is so nice to put faces with voices and names! Here's Brad's yellow lab and Lois and Ed's little weinerdog sniffing each other out. Don't you wish we could figure out if we like each other just by sniffing one another when we meet?? Ha ha.
Below is Lois, Ed, and their pup. Every morning when Lois calls with the wx observation, she says "ready whenever you are, young lady!" SO cute. I really enjoyed their company. The public interaction is what makes me like my job. Without it, I would not survive.
Farther up the road I experienced awesomeness. For some reason, I did not accurately visualize this area up the Steese highway.... and did not realize this is where Pinnell Mtn trail is - a trail of which was on my list to backpack this summer. I didn't know that there were such mountains up here.. granted they are not jagged and super huge - but man.. this is ideal country for backpacking. You can see miles and miles of vast expansiveness!! Wide open spaces.... just makes you want to run for miles through it.
The fireweed which has grown following the Boundary fire of 2004 was incredible. It just lined the hills for miles! I would have hated to be in this area while the fire was burning, though. This summer, approximately 1.5 million acres of land have burned so far from wildfires and is still rapidly increasing. During the summer of 2004, 6.5 million acres of land burned. That seems so unreal. We have had some smoke this summer, way more than I have seen, but practically no acreage compared to 2004 and 2005. Maybe it's just that most of the fires seem to be in the Interior this summer. Then again, I have nothing to compare it to. Sure makes a pretty landscape years later!
Our next and final stop - Central, AK. This bridge to get to our observer's property was just wide enough for the work truck.
The mosquitoes in Central were a little bit worse than they are at my house. You can see 11 in the picture below. And I had only stopped for maybe 4 seconds by the creek. Considering all of the mosquitoes, only 5 or 6 of my new bites were even noticable the next day. Not too shabby. One can only hope for immunity to mosquito bites.
SO close. I wanted to go Circle Hot Springs, but our duties didn't call to go there. Maybe someday.. the hot springs is closed anyway.. I have plenty of exploring enqueue in the meantime.
Here's the views of the mountains in the distance from Central... unfortunately I did not get a picture of our observers here but they are also very nice and hospitable. They have a huge vegetable garden and were very generous in feeding us from it.
Here's a video over 12 mile summit.. I think. It is all beautiful and above treeline in this stretch of road. I had no idea!! For some reason, I visualized Pinnell Mtn as being below treeline and all wooded. What was I thinking??? This area is a well kept secret I think.. there are boundless opportunities for backpacking and floating up here.

Hooray for somewhere new!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Berry tasty

There's not a lot of berries in my container at this point.. but collected more :)

Birgitte, Fredrick and I landed ourselves at the McKay Creek Trailhead today to pick some berries. I didn't know exactly where I was driving to today, but somewhere other than town.. and somewhere with berries! One of my coworkers mentioned there were berries up the Steese somewhere.. though I know I drove a little too far. It has been one too many perfect weather weekends spent in town, and there are too many places nearby to explore. This is actually Birgitte's last weekend in town before moving to New Mexico, and who wants to pack when we can go pick berries?! Here's Birgitte and Fredrick scouting out raspberry bushes.
The fireweed was awesome up in this area. I love when there are just fields and fields of it.
Berry picking involved a little bit of bushwacking, but very low key terrain. I'm able to get around again!! Still working on being able to bike.... but at least I am able to hike on easy terrain! For the first time in my life, I am able to go uphill faster than downhill.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An Apple a Day...

Someone has a sense of humor, or at least so I took it as such when I found this on my desk this morning. Maybe they just know how much of a fruit snarfer I am. Maybe it was someone with a lot of apples and was just handing them out. Maybe it was indeed a little message to keep the doctors away. In any case...whoever you are, thanks! It was delicious.

Tonight was nice.. I swam for nearly an hour (you know, release of pent-up energy) and had a few visitors after that. This is Joel's method to keep the mosquitoes off of his body while relaxing in the hammock. I'm not so sure about the mosquitoes not biting off his face, though...they are particularly vicious back in my 'hood for Fairbanks mosquitoes....

Monday, July 13, 2009

New address!

9 months later, I finally got my mailbox up. Big big thanks to Josh for helping me build it and providing power tools, and Celine for helping me haul it to its spot! HOORAY! This means I have a new mailing address... email me for it!

No mountain biking for awhile

It was funny when I asked the doctor if I was allowed to bike and he said yes, if it doesn't hurt (unfortunately it does). In any case, after he said yes, he said, "Now what kind of biking are you talking about exactly?? As long as you aren't doing what my brother in law does going on crazy downhills and jumping over things."

Oh no, doctor. I wouldn't ever do that.

Picture courtesy of my buddies at Easterns '06. I know I've posted it before. But it makes me giggle to think I came out with just a black and blue mark.. and a broken derauiller hanger...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I rode my bike today!!!

Until Monday, it was three weeks since I was able to make a full pedal stroke on my bike. Today was my first "ride" on the trainer.. 20 mins! Yeah! I am not supposed to do more than that. Progress is good.

So what's been going on lately.. Fairbanks hit a record high temperature yesterday of 91 degrees, beating the record of 88. It was also the first day that Fairbanks hit 90 degrees since 1994. It has been smoky from wildfires lately too, so that, combined with the 91 degrees, made it look a little like Pittsburgh on what they call an "ozone action" day. It has been tough to sleep since the cabin was 85 degrees at night.Today I crashed a free dinner put on by my friend Becki for an Arctic Summer School.. and then decided that since there was actually wind in Fairbanks, to bust out my $2 kite. I knew it would come in handy. :) It was tricky to get up in the air since the wind was so erratic... and well, I definitely only got $2 worth of string.. so it couldn't go very high up anyway.
Upon leaving, I found what is my 2nd PA license plate sighting ever in AK. I did a double take, because it's the same colors as some of the AK license plates, and both are familiar. Wonder whose it is?I also finally blogged summer solstice.. see a few posts below!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The REAL blood-sucking mosquitoes.

"Is it me or does there seem to be a new breed of mosquitoes hatching?!"

That was the question of the day I remember most, mainly because the mosquitoes left for a couple of days, then the new, small, FAST and itchy ones came out. I'm talking vicious, blood-sucking monsters, whom identify you within a second of when you get out of the house. The ones that are hard to swat with the mosquito zapper because you can't even see them. The ones that make you really not want to have to pee. And that is my ramble for the day.. thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Smoky Fourth

On the 3rd of July, the university's 'day off'', a group of us went over to Chena Lakes. Some enjoyed just snoozing in the sun and some of us went a floatin'.. it was a perfect day for it.. in the 80s and sunny. Below are Steve and Erica and our moose-friend. Everyone smiled for the camera!
This is really zoomed in and kinda blurry, but still kind of neat.
The actual 4th of July, Fairbanks woke up to poor air quality and mounds of smoke from wildfires. Even though the fires aren't THAT close, the wind shift brought an unpleasant stink to the air and reduced visibilities for most of the day.
But we still gathered 'round to set off a few fireworks that worked as day-time fireworks.. including the infamous parachute men barrel.
And slingshot a few rocks at cans. We're classy like that.