Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ridin' the Suburbs

High today (PIT): 28 F
Low today (PIT) 3 F
Mid-travel I was slightly derailed and ended up back in Pittsburgh a lot sooner than I had been planning on.  Dave let me borrow his singlespeed mtb (thank you thank you thank you!!) so I was able to get some fresh air and riding in despite being completely unprepared for a Pittsburgh January.

Reed cranks uphill from his house.
So the funny thing about Dave's bike is the whole singlespeed deal.  Though I rode one for years in college, riding around my old neighborhood in Pittsburgh with one gear is something worth mentioning.  We don't exactly have any flat roads, anywhere.  The main reason why not too many people drive stick-shifts in this area.  It created some slow-going on flat parts and downhills, and some serious cranking up the hills.  I had one goal for the week - to get up this one steep hill by my parents house that has been my nemeses since I was little, and anyone's nemeses when it snows - it took me two tries but I was a very excited camper when I got to the top!!  Yeah!!!  It's the little things in life.. The photo above isn't that particular hill, but another massive one Reed and I came down which was absolutely sketchalicious.
Now this is pretty cool.  So this WAS a bridge/road.  Last summer, my old neighborhood had a 100 year flood.  In the local valleys, all of the runoff just created a giant river on the 'main road'.  The 6th picture down on this article is the road we were on.. you know, the one where there's a car stuck in the water and other cars at the intersection in a state of shock.  This wimpy little creek rose probably about 10-15 feet in a rampant flash flood.  I am quite impressed, really.  There are a lot of other signs still of where the flood just uprooted the road, and road crews are still out replacing the hillsides.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wearing shorts and getting Vitamin D in late-January

High today (SRQ): 72-78F
Low today (SRQ): 58-66F
After the AMS conference, I spent a few days in Florida with my sister Val, bro-in-law Keith, and best friend from college, Alexis.
Al flew down from New Jersey to come soak up some sun with me and she wanted to meet the last of my siblings.  That sun was a little hard to find the 3 days we were there, thanks to a torrential downpour (we deserved that downpour, after looking at the giant black cloud and going out anyway.), and then some sea fog the next day...
No sun?  Tiki bar?  We're there!
Out on the dock at Venice Beach

Cool wave shot before the wave got a little too close to me.
The next day we went down to Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island.  The sun finally came out after we patiently waited for it.. and all three of us got an awesome sunburn.
Hooray for Vitamin D!
And hooray for palm trees!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

AMS '10 - The Weather Nerd Conference

High temps (ATL): 49-66F
Low temps (ATL): 40-46F
I went down to Atlanta to join about six thousand other meteorologists and atmospheric scientists from around the country (and world for that matter) for what I like to call, the annual weather nerd fest.  I went down by myself from Fairbanks but quickly reunited with many friends and acquaintances from undergrad and summer internships.  It was very rewarding to present my research in front of people from all over the country and a few other countries, and good practice for my defense.  Thanks to my former professors, coworkers, friends, and acquaintances who came to listen to my talk, that meant a lot to see so many familiar faces in the crowd!  Didn't take too many photos but here are a few from a very jetlagged, blurry week in Atlanta.
 Dinner at some southern-style place
Steve representing UMaryland.
 Alan and Dan, former and current Penn Staters enjoying some refreshments at the banquet
Greg this is what you get for making a funny face, now the whole world can see. :)  We were at a reception in the Georgia Dome here.
I found my old roomie Laura!
And Jenni (Dr. E), one of the professors I worked with as an undergrad.
Laura knows all kinds of people from a program she was in a couple of years ago so I met a lot of them through her.  On the left though is my friend Andy from undergrad, whom is exactly one year older than me. :-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Couple of Hours in Kotzebue

On the way home from Red Dog, Oceana and I had a layover in Kotzebue.
Even though it was only -15 in Kotzebue, it felt FLIPPING COLD. Colder than I have experienced yet this winter. There was a slight breeze which made all the difference. I actually WANTED to be inside, that is how cold it was.
We made the time pass by checking out ridiculously expensive handmade parkas at an art shop.
And of course, eating, because that is what we do best.
Picture of me bundled up along the frontage road.

Aerial view of Kotzebue in the low light.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Red Dog, Alaska

I had the privilege to go out to Red Dog in the Northwestern Brooks Range with Oceana to take down her coastal radar at the port. We were supposed to go over winter solstice (funny time to go above the Arctic Circle) but the trip was pushed back a couple of weeks.. and ended up landing on my two year anniversary as an Alaskan resident. Not a bad way to spend it. :-)
Upon entering the mudroom, I spotted a Steelers hard hat!!!! WOOO!! Steelers fans are everywhere, I am convinced. Unfortunately the hat did not fit my head, otherwise I would have walked around with it on!! Haha.
We had incredible weather. Well.. it was a little chilly, but it would be a lot colder if there were 20 kt winds blowing out of the north. We stayed down at the port, about 55 miles west of the mine, where about 20 people are living this time of year. Everyone was very welcoming to us. The frozen landscape is like a sea of glass.
Looking out into the Chukchi Sea......
The sun just began to rise in this part of the world, recently. They were gaining over 10 mins of sunlight per day, with about two hours of the sun above the horizon.
In the two photos above, are Oceana and Evans, whom was a huge help to us in taking down and packing up the instrumentation.
I did not get many photos of the road between Red Dog Mine and Red Dog Port due to low lighting, but above is one coming from the sea back into the mountains. The flat terrain rolled into the beautiful Brooks Range.
Our Grand Caravan airplane used for the charter.
Trivia tidbit: So I asked why Red Dog Mine is called Red Dog Mine. The man who found the place was a bush pilot and he always flew with his reddish Husky, named Red. Hence, the name Red Dog came about. Pretty cute, huh?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Night Riding at Far North Bicentennial Park

High today (ANC): 8F
Low today (ANC): 1F

I spent a day lingering around Anchorage, finding $5 shirts at Kohl's, (yes! Anchorage has a Kohl's now!), drooling at gear at REI, and going to places that were once familiar. My favorite visit though, was somewhere I spent nearly every other Friday at, and some weekdays after work, too. Far North Bicentennial Park.
This place brings back a lot of memories. My first encounter with a mama and calf moose, blazing down the trails yelling through the woods in an attempt to avoid any bear encounters, nearly taking out a hiker while going down a hill through some deep brush, sitting alongside the creek just listening to the water while contemplating this beautiful state, participating in my first orienteering event, biking with the WOMBATS... the list goes on and on. But, this was my first visit to FNBP in the winter.
I headed to the trailhead to just look around, and to take some photos. But then, I saw a fatbike, and immediately my heart stopped for a second out of jealousy. And then I wondered what the crap was I thinking with my skis and bike in the car, visiting trails I loved, but not bringing my biking or skiing clothing??? What the heck, Julie? I seriously contemplated driving 100 miles R/T to get my pants to bike in. I had a wicking fabric shirt on so could pull off what my upper body was wearing, but there was no way I was going to be able to bike in 0 degrees in my jeans. But rather than be even dumber and drive 100 miles to satisfy an itch to bike on these trails again, I headed to Fred Meyer and bought some sweatpants to be able to survive in for an hour or so.
So upon re-entering the Campbell Airstrip trailhead, I blazed through an old trail system of memories. It was flipping awesome. The trails were more packed down than anything I have ridden on this winter - I felt like it was way faster than riding on dirt in the summer. The above photo is at the Black Bear trail, a trail they reopened the summer I was there. I zoomed around on the Old Rondy trail, Rover's Run, Moose Track Tr, to the Hillside trailhead and back around. Really wasn't out for all that long but was cruising since the trails were in awesome shape. I also got to test out Amanda's awesome bike light that she is letting me borrow the next few months. It rocked! What didn't rock was how cold my legs got in those sweatpants. But for the short hour of glory, it was totally worth it. I had the trails all to my myself, which I blame on the darkness and the "cold".
Now remember kids, if you're going to put your gear in the car, put your clothing in there too. Or if you really need a new pair of sweatpants and need an excuse to purchase one, that works too. ;)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Spending the New Year with Old Friends in Anchortown

High today (ANC): 9F
Low today (ANC): 2F
This post is a continuation of my day at Hatcher Pass. After having a beverage and some appetizers at the lodge, we headed up to Houston, the land of 5 or 6 fireworks mega-stores which are open twice a year, before the 4th of July and before the New Year.
What's even better is that the Mat-su valley lifted their fireworks ban for New Years Eve. Not that a ban was going to stop anyone, anyway.
After a very long day with little sleep the night before, we decided to stay in Palmer and play video games rather than brave the highway to Anchorage.
Jeff plays his new game, DJ Hero. I wasn't all that thrilled with that one.
New Year's Day though, we hit up some of the bars in Anchorage. Starting with Bernie's, where we found my old coworker Lee, and I enjoyed the place where my coworkers and I spent after work every other Friday.
It was kind of chilly in Anchorage that night, for Anchorage. The trees all formed hoar frost on them, which I think is somewhat uncommon in Anchorage.
Aaaaand, somehow we ended up at the Shed, a karaoke bar I spent a few nights at when I lived in Anchorage. I had nothing to do with that decision, but did not hesitate going, either. :-)
Here's a picture of Chloe and a cool octopus balloon the bartender at Sea Galley made me take home. Chloe was so tiny when we met nearly 4 years ago and spent some quality time together at Clam Gulch. Apparently she thought I lived in Anchorage this whole time and was shocked to hear that I live in Fairbanks. It was pretty cute. Nice to spend time with my Alaska "family" and a slight change of scenery.