October 6, 2022

Alaska is a land of adventure—you never know just what you might run into.

Wildlife is a huge attraction for visitors.  While most people are able to see several types of animals in Denali Park, some are fortunate enough to run into them (figuratively we hope of course!) on the roadside.  One spot close to Fairbanks that moose frequent is Chena Hot Spring Road.  The upper Chena meanders alongside the two lane road and offer a watering hole for moose.    This picture was taken by my daughter on her way back to Fairbanks up the Richardson Highway—these bear were happy to pose while checking out the car passing by.

Wildlife is also a draw for hunters within Alaska as well as from around the country.  My nephew hunts every fall and is usually able to harvest a moose to pack the freezer for the winter.  This past month several of our guests were returning from remote sites where they were seeking caribou.  Indigenous people will be embarking upon whale hunting soon so they can share their good fortune with their community.

If you are hunting for views of the aurora, this is the time to come; people are already flocking to Fairbanks for what looks to be a very promising winter of auroral activity.  There are three “S’s”  to know about this hunting adventure:  (1) Skies that are clear (think seeing stars) are a must; (2) Sun spots that create a heighten amount of solar activity and (3) Staying awake and away from light interference (consider the phrase, “sleep is overrated”)

Many come to Alaska “hunting” a fresh start, new job, and make a new life.  Alaska does not disappoint; with wide open opportunities to launch a business, many locals are proof that given the gumption to keep on trying you can reach your goals to succeed in entrepreneurial pursuits.  My favorite example is one of a young upstart who began with a lemonade stand downtown, and retired as a Chancellor for the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

What adventure will you seek in Alaska? 

April “Showers”

April 19, 2022

Fairbanks celebrates spring in many different ways—the theme of water runs through them all. We don’t usually have rain showers in April. That is fortunate because the combination of melting snow, freezing and thawing is quite treacherous for pedestrians and vehicles alike. Our three water related events are the geese to ponds on Creamer’s Field, the Nenana Ice Classic, and “Breakup.”

What the local news paper, the New Miner, calls the “goose watch” starts the end of March, beginning of April.  This year, the first geese arrived in Fairbanks on April 6th.

The first individual in the interior of Alaska (that would include Delta, Tok, Salcha, North Pole, Fox—any of the outlying communities) to spot the return of the geese to Fairbanks receives recognition for this sure sign of spring.  Creamer’s Field is prepped with grain for all the many migratory birds that arrive in the next few months. Pools of water that resemble lakes gather in Creamer’s Field and the birds feast and put on quite the show as they cover from their travels.  It is a wonder to behold—trumpeter swans, Canandian geese, and a variety of ducks.

Another event that begins mid-March and continues until “the Tripod tips” is the Nenana Ice Classic.  This tradition has run since 1917.  A large tripod is placed in the center of the Tanana River at Nenana.  Whoever guesses the minute  when the tripod will “tip” –i.e, the ice will break beneath it wins the jackpot.  This year even garnered the attention of HBO with the uniqueness of the event.  One of our guests, Dona Schneider created the artwork for the poster as shown below.

Break-up is a term locals use to describe that wonderful event—melting of the snow.  Whether this term is peculiar to Alaskans, or not I do not know; I have lived here since I was six.  For me, I consider a true sign that spring is here when the pussy willows show up.  Perhaps the combination of enough light and warm days make it fell more like spring is here to stay (regardless if a snowfall or two happens thereafter).

The Quest is On

February 6, 2022


The Yukon Quest starts today—sleds, dogs, and plenty of spectators on-line and in person.

This year’s event has definitely been redefined in order to make all “things” work—specifically, by reformatting the race.  Essentially, there four distinct races: two in Alaska, two in the Yukon in order to accommodate both mushers, rules and restrictions of both countries. 

Dog Team

Yukon Quest start-up


For those who compete in one race in each country, there is chance to win an additional $5000.  This rightly so earns the title of “quest”.  Can you imagine the logistics required—not only to cross borders, but navigate the preparation and execution of food drops, check-points, terrain and weather in both venues?  There are actually four different trails: today’s (Tok to Fairbanks); February 7th, (Circle to Fairbanks); February 19th, (Whitehorse to Pelly Crossing); and again on the 19th (Shipyards to Braeburn). 

Of course, the stakes (“purse” in musher’s language) are high–$35,000 per race!  However, when you consider the costs associated with the entire year to get to the point of actually doing the race, it doesn’t seem all that lavish.  There’s feed for all those dogs, booties, harnesses, straw, blankets, and all the appropriate gear for extreme weather conditions. 

Additionally, there are hazards on the trail.  Sadly, a local musher posted her horrifying experience of watching her dog team be trampled by a rouge moose.  She also stated that she herself feared for own own life but was rescued just in time.  It is not uncommon to encounter wildlife on the trail.  However, this particular year has been extremely hard due to heavy snowfall. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has posted multiple time about the dangers of encountering moose that are “stressed” because they are having difficulty navigating the heavy snow fall in search of food. 

This will definitely be an interesting year for the Quest and its participants. 
Keep an eye out for updates on-line.

The Great Escape

February 19, 2021

Not only are we the Last Frontier, we may be unarguably the last great escape.
Think about it; Alaska is the epitome of the great outdoors. Wild, unexplored open spaces. Endless miles of wilderness, untold rivers and streams, glaciers, mountains, and forests. Even the highways wind through hundreds of miles with often nary a passing car or two.
In a socially distanced world, where else would one go?
This time of year, we enjoy rugged dog sled races, spectacular aurora viewing, and beautiful ice carving.
You can experience dog mushing in a variety of ways. There are local individuals that frequent the Dog Musher’s Field on Farmer’s Loop Road who may be able to offer you a ride in one of their sleds. Alaskans are notorious for their friendliness and even if you choose to just watch the fun and activity, you will learn plenty.

Yukon Quest dogs

Dogs at the Yukon Quest

Another way to take part in dog mushing is to come for some of the bigger events—for example, the Yukon Quest or Iditarod are two of the most popular. Many people “follow” the team of their choice along parts of the trail by road systems so they can cheer them on. Plan your visit during these times. You can check with for more specific information.
Yet another option is to book a tour to one of the local sled dog venues; there are many to choose from and you can again, check out the visitor’s center’s website to select a business that specializes in taking you to the great outdoors for the ride of your life.

Ice sculpture

Ice carving

If dogs are not your thing, the Ice Alaska International Ice Carving Competition just began this week. The ice park is at the Tanana Valley Fairgrounds, halfway between the downtown area and the University westside. Some people choose to come early and watch the making of the sculptures; others wait so they can enjoy the finished product of approximately 50 different ice carvings. Oh, and don’t forget to bring the family; there are ice slides, skating rinks, and great photo ops for everyone.

Aurora over Ballaine Lake

Aurora over Ballaine Lake

For many people from around the world, viewing the Northern Lights is on their bucket list. This time of year seems to be accommodating due to a little warmer weather, as well as the above mentioned options for daytime activity. Clear skies, higher aurora Kp levels (check out for specific information) and low light interference make for great aurora viewing. If you choose not to ventures to hills, there are many “aurora chasers” who delight in seeking great viewing opportunities.
Go ahead and treat yourself to explore our Great Land.

Looking for Light

December 4, 2020

We just finished doing a little mid-winter window washing (Alaskans consider above zero temperatures to be quite warm this time of year!  Almost like Spring!) and removing the sheers that were blocking the sunlight.   I am definitely enjoying the extra light through the window.  It dawned on me –no pun intended- that I have been noticing the sunrises and sunsets so much more.  Not only because they occur at 10 am and 3 pm, but I really think it’s because of the contrast of darkness and light.  Those long winter nights can be very dark.

8 am moon light

This year particularly.

No one need say more.  The contrast of darkness and light, right and left, the over-riding fears of pandemic and presidential elections have been staggering. 

10 am Sunrise

The experience of light brings hope.  The sun will continue to rise, the aurora borealis will continue to shine, the seasons continue to change.  These constants are stabilizing. 

As we approach the Christmas season, let’s remember to give thanks for the blessings and freedoms we have.  We are the richest country in the world, in terms of liberty and light.  We do not need to cower in fear, but rise up in faith as we look to the Light of the World this Christmas season.  Enjoy the Light, partake of the Light, remember the Light, reflect on the Light, receive the Light, and as we do, we will enter the new year, with greater faith, hope and love in our hearts to face the year ahead as we readjust our focus.

Fabulous Fall

September 14, 2020

Top of Goldstream June

Fresh green of spring above Goldstream

Fall Colors

Fall colors above Goldstream





The changes are slow but seem all too fast.

The (practicing) yellow school buses rolling out down lanes lined with yellow tinged leaves on the trees.  Couples walking dogs while donning light jackets or sweaters.  The cool night air and reappearance of the moon and stars after a three-month hiatus. Crisp clear mornings as you breathe out with an almost visible breath.   Honking geese flood the skies and the sandhill cranes stock the grounds at Creamer’s Field.    Reports of snow on not-so-distant hills.  We check the lows for the overnight temperature to see if it really is time to pull the last of the garden produce or bring in the hanging baskets.


Sudden rainbow

We experienced record rains this summer, with resulting numerous rainbows, discussions of opening the Chena Lakes Flood Control dam, and preempted many canoe trips down the extremely high river.

Thankfully, some things do not change.  We can count on the seasons, the sunrise, moon and stars, and the beauty of the seasons.  This year, it seems the leaves are hanging on just a little bit longer.  Many more people are out and about enjoying the sun and warmth it provides.  Perhaps it all has to do with slowing down to notice?  I’m not sure, but the things we have taken for granted have definitely come to the forefront.

Sunlit tree

Sunlit tree

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.

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.



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.