Pursue Your Passion

November 21, 2019

Recently I went to an open house sponsored by our local visitor’s center, entitled, “Winter Rocks!” As I talked to the twenty plus vendors there, I discovered they shared a common thread: they were pursuing their passion.

From ATV (all terrain vehicles) and snow machines to snowshoes and skis, each told me how they enjoyed what they now offer as a service what initially started as a hobby.

One individual provides sled dog rides with her purebred Canadian huskies. Her team of 6 dogs pulls 700 pounds with no effort. Another demonstrated her quick release short skis and quipped that no winter sport is enjoyable”unless the person is warm.” Yet another gentleman boasted of his very tall heated garage from which his snow machines enter and exit so his clients are comfortable beginning to end.

A high percentage of all the vendors offered variations of aurora viewing, tips, tours, and photo taking techniques.  Fairbanks has definitely grown into a “go-to” destination for aurora viewing and as such some have even named their business or tour “aurora chasers.” Such diligence requires staying up all night, driving long distances, and traveling to remote locations–definitely requiring a strong desire to catch that coveted sighting of the northern lights.

I’m sharing just a few shots of what winter is like –more what I enjoy about winter:  the beautiful pristine beauty of sunrise and sunset, the moose and the people as they pursue their passion.  Alpenglow behind trees

Pioneer Prrk Moon

Moon set over Pioneer Park

Moose next door

The moose next door


Geese, Tripods, and Green Grass–oh my!

April 17, 2019

Today’s post began with spotting a beaver paddling downstream on a clear-of-ice Chena River.  Mind you, this is the second week in April:  we are approaching spring well over a month early.   I must tell you this is really not the norm.

Geese feeding at Greamer's Field

geese landing at Creamer’s Field

While some are still catching glimpses of the northern lights during the darkest hours of night, others are scanning the sky in search for the first goose to fly into Fairbanks.  A ritual called the “goose watch” encourages anyone in the interior to call in when they first spy a goose overhead.  The local Fairbanks Daily News Miner provided a history of the dates which indicate a trend toward earlier and earlier sightings.  This year was the earliest sighting ever–March 30!

Residents have donned shorts and teeshirts, dug out their bikes, raked their partially thawed lawns, and all but sun-bathed.  Greenhouses posted opening dates in the newspaper –perhaps to avoid the calls about when starter plants will be available?  While walking today I found people fishing along the Chena.   No, not ice fishing–but in wide open waters.   Are we really being treated to such an early spring?

Yet another uniquely Alaskan event is the Nenana Ice Classic.  A tripod is secured to the ice in the middle of the Nenana River; tickets are sold for a specific time when the tripod will tip over into the river due to the melting of ice; the winners are those who guess closest to the actual time the tripod tips.  Proceeds from the tickets are given to both the community of Nenana and local Fairbanks charitable organizations.  Again, this was the earliest that the tripod went out, April 14th to be exact at 12:21 a.m.

tripod in front of Nenana Bridge

We are all about setting records–most daylight, least daylight–just about any “most extreme” that offers us a chance to boast.  I hope you have plans to visit the Great Land in the near future.


Daylight Dawn and Darkness

February 19, 2019

 

People in Fairbanks are all about aurora viewing, but experiencing daylight at five in the afternoon deserves some kind of celebration.  An excitement in the air, a sense of hope–even though it is still February I believe I felt the warm of the sunlight through the car windows while I was driving around town midday.

While people talk about all the darkness during winter, if there is sufficient snow, any light–day or night–reflecting off the snow makes a huge difference. If you are coming and renting a car–believe it or not–you will appreciate bringing sunglasses.  At night, with just a touch of moonlight, you can see well enough to walk the dog.  And even despite moonlight, you can still see some great northern lights.

 

Pink sunrise

Something about that quiet serenity of snow-laden trees that are tall, but lacey with silvery frost and glitter.  Those long hours of daylight are not too far off.


Did I Say Resilient?

December 6, 2018

I could not resist this meme because I think it personifies the attitude that Alaskans have.

It seems from our perspective up here that it is best to move on quickly–no matter what comes your way.  There simply is no time to retreat into self-pity.  We are survivors!

My family to Alaska in 1964,  immediately after the last “big one.”  (I think this qualifies me to truly be a pioneer of Alaska (another word is a sourdough, the opposite of which is cheechako, which means you are definitely new to Alaska).  We lived through the 1967 flood in Fairbanks which did take a very long time back then to recover.  We returned to our home across the street –there was 4 feet of water for a couple days–after just three days.  I was just ten, but I have vivid memories of the murkey water rolling into our yard and carrying away my pink Schwinn bike.

I’ve been interviewing people from Anchorage as they come to the inn to query how things fared for them during this earthquake.  Answers like, “just a little broken glass” or “no real damage” seem to be quite common.  I’m sure there are those with much more damage, but with no deaths or severe injuries, we are very thankful.

 

 


Transient and Resilient

November 20, 2018

With another chapter in the ebb and flow of business in Alaska coming to Fairbanks, I can’t help but note that the individuals in this state seem to follow this same trend; many are transient, but all must be resilient in order to stay.

Sears Closing Sale

70% off Sears store closing

Sears just announced what we all knew would happen sooner or later (how can a large chain continue to bleed red with only three to five cars in the enormous parking lot at a time?)–it is closing,   Tuesday, days after the announcement, I was astounded to see the parking lot once again full of cars.  Amazing what those “70% off, going out of business” placards will do in a community this size.

Costco

Costco

Conversely, Costco will open its doors tomorrow morning bright and early, after the long hiatus due to the abrupt departure of Sam’s Club.  It is difficult for those in the lower ’48 to understand the anticipation with which the population of Fairbanks (and I dare say, most of the bush community in northern Alaska) regards this event.  I am not sure that I want to endure the “black Friday on Tuesday” mobs that will visit this new store for the first time.

Alaskans must be both transient and resilient.  A great portion of the individuals who make up Fairbanks are brought here through the military–serving at Fort Wainwright or Eielson Air Force Base.  Others come to study or teach at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  Seasonal employees come to work, whether it be in construction or tourism.  When someone says they are leaving the State, we often quip that “they’ll be back– just wait until they experience real traffic jams.’

Resiliency comes as each season brings its challenges;  the winter, drives us to find ways to “keep the lights on”–so to speak.  Literally this could translate into making sure the pipes don’t freeze and the heat stays on.  Oh, and don’t forget to plug in the car–(for those of you who don’t know, the oil pan must be heated so the car will start).  With the spring, there can be flooding to cope with.  As summer comes the long days generate extra hours so people push themselves beyond normal limits in order to maximize the warmth and daylight, the fishing, hunting, and harvesting.

Resiliency does not only pertain to seasons, but business as well.  Alongside the great opportunity to succeed in a new venture here in the “frozen North” is also the flip side of potential for failure.  A “can’-do” spirit goes a very long way in this community as well as the state in general.  Many come to find a second chance at life, love, fortune, and adventure.  Fortunately, many succeed.

 

 


Making our Mark

October 31, 2018
Ear Pull

Native Olympics ear pull

We may be the 49th state in the United States line up, but we definitely leave our mark when it comes to making a statement. Alaskans can be very laidback in their general lifestyle, while at the same time extremely defiant or perhaps in kinder terms “fiercely independent.”
Note the current political scene: In respect to claiming a political party, please note that Alaska had the ONLY independent governor. I emphasize the phrase “had” because Governor Walker has bowed out of seeking a second term to afford the declared democratic candidate a better chance to win, rather than dividing the vote (or confusing the vote) by having to choose between four candidate on the ticket. Only time will tell if this tactic will aide in a more clearly supported candidate. Walker himself was a “leopard” republican who changed his spots to become an independent and run against the incumbent republican governor and win four years, but lose the voter trust then drop out of the race and transfer his support to the democrat candidate.
Always in the news: let’s not revisit the make-or-break Lisa Murkowski vote or the flash-in-the-pan Sara Palin. Hey, should we inject the Alaskan saying women have about men in Alaska? The odds are good but the goods are odd? How about not so political…reminiscent of the most grueling dogsled race there is with multiple-time winner of the Iditarod—Susan Butcher.
Tough, self-sufficient, against the odds—Alaskans are noted for perseverance. Whether it is against the extreme elements of the winter, or the elected officials of the electorate, this quality seems to be prevalent across the board; perhaps, even essential for living in this Great Land.


Down the Trail

September 18, 2018

 

Marathon relay runners

Runners on the trail

The golden fall foliage is here, with leaves still clinging on, much like our experience here the last few weeks. With each passing day, the temperature drops down a little, and the daylight hours dwindle. The Equinox Marathon was just yesterday and as I watched the runners and walkers, I pondered the many diverse paths taken at this time of year. Alaskans are either scurrying to wrap up those projects left procrastinated all summer, setting goals to start or finish school or embark on new ventures, or selling household goods and home to head south.
My sister and brother-in-law just left after forty years of raising their family, then packing up a myriad of memories, selling their home, and leaving for the lower ’48. This path down the road is just one of the trails routinely traveled; many come back after a few years (discovering the “madness” of traffic, population and general restrictions taken quite for granted in the rest of the United States), while others leave “for good”, only returning to visit friends or families during a brief stay. It feels like the end of an era. . .
My daughter and son-in-law had a housewarming, inviting close family over to visit and munch while playing games and enjoying each other’s company. They are definitely into the “nesting” mode, setting up their half dry cabin to prepare for the winter months ahead. For those who don’t know, a “half dry cabin” means there is a barrel that holds water to allow for running water in a sink and a shower; the commode is, yes—you guessed it, the outhouse. Their trail entails quite a social schedule, with both of them working and lots of outside interests and close-knit communities.
My husband and I are the “let’s get this done before the snow falls” scurrying mode. How can we both be in denial that the the “w” word is just around the corner, and yes, we need that fence at that property installed, and the footings for concrete aren’t done, and who needs to prepare the garden beds for winter? With this weekend’s successful fishing trip to Chitina, smoking of salmon takes the front burner. All too much demands attention within our brief window of opportunity to bring closure to fall.
Yes, we are all headed down the trail. Whether it’s closure on a season of life or just the beginning of a new adventure, the turning of leaves reminds us of the changing seasons and times of our lives. It particularly reminds me of the faithfulness of the Creator of it all.