Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It's Official, Winters Here!

I got up this morning and it was obvious that it snowed last night. Not a whole lot, but enough to leave about 1 1/2" on my truck. I made plans with my nephew to go out to his house in Wasilla (about 40 miles away) to install a gate across his stairway in his house. He needed to keep the little ones from taking another tumble down the stairs. It didn't look to bad here in town so I didn't think much about going out there. I loaded up the gate and my tools and took off for the valley. Following is pics that I took as I went to Wasilla.

This is what it looked like when I first left town

This is what it looked like by the time I hit Eagle River (about 10 miles from my house)

10 miles before I hit Wasilla

This is the gate that I built and installed

So needless to say, I think we can say goodbye to summer and hello to winter. Now to get my head all wrapped around the idea of 6 months of snow yet to come.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Significant snowfall due starting tonight

Well, winter is definitely here. It snowed enough to stick Sunday. Made a solid white blanket on the ground. Some of it had melted off by this morning. Here is what I found on our newspapers website today:

As reported by Julia O'malley , reporter for Anchorage Daily News.

Two to 6 inches of snow will accumulate over the next two days, according to the National Weather Service. And it's arriving more than 10 days earlier than the average first snowfall date --- Oct. 17.

Snow totals will be greater at high elevations.

Along with early snow, it's cold. Temperatures have been a few degrees lower than usual.

"Pretty much all of (the lows) are below normal," said Sam Shea, a Weather Service meteorologist.

As much as an inch of snow is expected to fall overnight, and the rest will fall tomorrow, Shea said.

Snow should taper off on Wednesday and could be gone by the weekend, when temperatures are expected to rise back into the low 40s.

The earliest first snowfall on record was on Sept. 20 in 1947. 1950 and 1944 tied for the latest date of first snowfall, Nov. 11.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Winters A Coming

Mornings are a little crisper. Ice crystals are on the car windows in the early morning. You don't linger getting to the car in the morning. It all didn't really hit me until I looked up at the mountains and noticed that the snow is slowly making it's way farther down the mountain sides. It is no longer just at the very peaks and in the deep shadowed crevices. Sadly, summer is over. Fall is coming and going in the blink of an eye. Actually, I don't think that you can say we had a fall. The weather went from summer (such as it was) right to winter.

Some say we'll have snow in Anchorage by Oct. 10th. Some are forecasting a bad winter this year. All I know is, it's going to be cold and more snow than I've seen in a few years. I just moved back up here from North Carolina where the snow hasn't gotten deeper than a few inches in the 9 years that I lived there. It was in 1994 that I last was up here. So my blood is going to have to thicken up a bit.
They are calling for high temps of upper 40's this coming week. I think that I'll throw another blanket on the bed tonight. Well, I was tired of the heat in NC so I'll definitely get cooled off!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Alaska License Plates

I haven't been out and about much lately. Been busy working on my hobbies. I was online checking out our newspapers web site and ran across this article about personalized license plates. I thought people might get a kick out of these so am posting them here.

This plate belongs to our governor Sarah Palin. It means iron dog

For those that wondered where the Grinch hangs out

Yea... We have them up here too!

Pretty brave advertising. Yep... no need to search my car...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Gloomy Alaska Days

The weather has been cold and drizzly here the last couple of days. So what do you do on a cold, nasty day when you don't want to go outside? I was bored so I went to the store and bought what I needed to hang up some stuff at the house. Found some neat little kitchen doo dads that will be handy to have. That put me in the mood to do something in the kitchen. So when I got back home I went to work. I thought to myself that the smell of baked goods would be perfect for a rainy day. Nothing picks up my spirits like the smell of stuff baking in the oven.

I gathered all the necessary ingredients and went to work. Throwing everything together, flour, water, butter, milk.............. everything necessary to make my loaf of raisin bread. I punched and kneaded .............. well, to be honest, I used a bread machine. But it was hard work measuring and pouring the ingredients into the pan. That and pushing all the necessary buttons to make my loaf come out the color I had envisioned in my head. And the waiting! The machine would run a little then stop and let the loaf perk up with the yeast working then run a little some more. That went on for what seemed forever. All the time, I had to listen intently for the little beep letting me know that it was time to add the raisins. That was torture. Then the baking begins. The smells start filling every corner of the house. The aroma's teasing your senses, your mouth waters but all you can do is look in the little window watching the bread get bigger and start to brown. Finally the final ding! You swing open the door and admire your creation. Oh, what a beautiful brown crust, the aroma of cinnamon and raisins filling your nose. Oh no, the instructions say to wait 15 to 20 minutes to slice into the bread. Now what? More torture. You get the butter all ready, your favorite bread knife at the ready. Counting down the minutes until finally you attack the bread, like a samari warrior slicing away. You make the first slice cutting off the heal. We'll save that piece for later. Toast it in the toaster.......yummm. The next slice is about as thick as two regular pieces of bread. Then you slather it with butter. You know your putting too much on... all that chloresteral but what the heck. That first bite...... mmmm butter dripping down your chin..... orgasmic! Then I have to try some toasted. In the toaster the next slice goes! After pigging out on half a loaf of bread I think I'm going to take a nap and let things digest.

Such is a rainy day in Alaska!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Bird House Tavern

Back in 1984 when I first moved to Alaska and met my wife Kathy. She took me south of Anchorage to Bird Creek, just before you get to Girdwood on the Seward Highway. She pulled off the highway into a little dirt parking lot. Then I saw this little log cabin with a blue bird sticking out of the gable end. I remember thinking to myself "just what in the h*** is this?". It's a real small, cramped old log cabin. During the big earthquake of 1964, the log cabin half sank. Putting it on about a 10 degree angle. You go inside and see that the bar was on a slant too. You had to hang on to your beer or the fellow down from you would be drinking for free all night!
But the first thing you notice when you walk in is all the stuff hanging everywhere. Bra's, underware (hers & his.. *shudder*), business cards, driver licenses, military ID's and there was even someones fake leg hanging on a post. After you have a beer or two, the bartender will come up to you with a jar of pickles. He'll calmly ask you if you'd like a pickle. He'll then take the lid off and all of a sudden you get a whif of the most obnoxious smell. Then he'll inform you that if you can eat one whole pickle that you can drink the rest of the night for free. I have to tell you, when I was younger I thought I was pretty daring and would do a lot of things on a dare. But, there was no way one of those pickles was even going to touch my lips. Don't get me wrong, the thought of drinking the rest of the night for free was a real temptation. I figured though that after eating one of those pickles, there was no way my stomach would be in any mood to have alcohol added to the mix.Notice the comfortable stumps for stools? Needless to say, people didn't sit there for more than a couple of beers.

As you can see the Bird House was a fire hazard and the odds finally caught up with the owners and the it burned down about 1996 or so. Since then a bar in Anchorage called Chilkoot Charlie's built an addition to their bar and made a replica of the Bird House for tourists to visit. It's not the same thing but gives you an idea of what it looked like.

All the above pictures are pics that I found online. I had pics of this from before but can't find them.

Bear Update

The sow brown bear that has been attacking people in Bicentennial Park was put down today. Wildlife and game officials were able to shoot the sow but the 2 cubs got away. They will continue to search for them and when they find them the plan is to catch them and ship them to a zoo in the lower 48 in the midwest. The sow was shot over the carcass of a trophy bull moose in Anchorage's Stuckagain Heights neighborhood Tuesday morning around 9:30

Upon going through film from cameras that they had set up on various trails in the area. They found pictures of a couple other bears that are also in the area. There has been no mention as of yet as to what they plan on doing with those bears. Probably nothing unless they endanger humans.

Fish?....... No Fish Here!

One of the main reasons people come to Alaska is for the huge fish! Trout & bass fishing is great fun but lets face it, hooking a 50 lb and larger fish is quite a thrill. Your not just catching a fish, your battling a fish. Take a look at this monster halibut below weighing in at 348 lbs! I'll bet that fish was pulling the boat around!

This monster king salmon below was caught out of Kenai this year. Fish and Game recorded the monster fish, which was just beginning to blush, at 54 inches long, 32 inches in girth and weighing 72.75 pounds. Just 3 lbs short of the record. The man (George Wambold) came all the way from Pennsylvania to fish up here.
Below is a few more huge king salmon that was caught in Alaska. I don't know the details of when or where they were caught. I found the pics online and put them on here for you all to enjoy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mountains Surrounding Anchorage

Yesterday Kathy and I were going to head south to Mt Alyeska. They have a tram there that you can ride up to the top of the mountain. But the weather was not the best and pretty cloudy. We wouldn't be able to get real good pictures so we decided to do it another day. I'll post pics of it when we do go.
Mt. Alyeska Tram
Instead, we drove north to Big Lake to visit Kathy's brother. They weren't home either. So far we were hitting "0". From there we drove back through Wasilla to Palmer where our one of our son's live. I got the following pics while we were driving through Wasilla. Plenty of clouds but it gives you an idea just how big the mountains are here surrounding Anchorage and surrounding areas. Notice the snow? It never melts totally. When it gets to the point that you think it might all just melt away. It starts snowing again.
Heading out of Anchorage, looking up the valley

The following 3 pictures were taken around Wasilla

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bear Sign In B.C.

How to tell a Black Bear from a Grizzly Bear
Click picture for larger image
I thought this sign was cute so posted it to share with everyone.

Our National Bird, The Eagle

Everyone knows that Alaska is famous for it's eagle population. They're thick up here. People come from all over just to see the eagles. There is a couple of spots that people swarm to to get a glimpse of these magnificant birds.
The Eagle Lady - Jean Keene
One place to go see them is in Homer. Located on the coast, the abundant fish supply the eagles with plenty of food. There is also a woman in Homer that tends to the needs of the eagles and provides them with a safe sanctuary. She is called the Eagle Lady. Her correct name is Jean Keene. She has been living in a campground on the Homer Spit since her relocation to Alaska in 1977. Jean began feeding a pair of eagles on the Spit shortly after her arrival. Jean worked for a seafood plant where she had permission to gather surplus and freezer burned fish for the eagles. After ten years, more than 200 eagles were coming by Jean's place for breakfast. At age eighty-two, Jean still loads the fish into barrels and then into her pickup for the short drive home. Before she doles the fish out to the eagles, she chops them into smaller chunks making it easier for them to carry. Currently, Jean feeds 200 to 300 eagles about 500 lbs. of fish daily from late December through mid April. People swarm to her place just to sit and watch. Taking pictures of the eagles as they eat and fly around putting on a great show for all the tourists. A lot of pictures taken of eagles that you see in magazines are taken at the Eagle Ladies place. They are truly beautiful creatures. I can watch them for hours.

Kathy and I are planning on a trip down to Homer to visit Jean and the eagles that visit her as soon as we can. I'll post more pics as soon as we get them.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Map of Bear Locations

Here is a map of 11 bears that have radio collars on them that live within the city limits of Anchorage. You can see a couple are where we live. That's just the ones that have collars. There is still an estimated 30 to 40 more brown and black bears in the city limits.

Click for larger Image

Sunday, August 10, 2008

More Bear Attacks

Somewhere the bears around here got the idea that it's open season on humans. There has been 5 or 6 bear maulings just since I've moved up here.

August 5th, a teenager in Eagle River was walking home along a creek when he heard splashing sounds in the creek along side the road. He didn't think much of the splashing, figuring it must of just been salmon. A second later he heard the brush snapping and cracking next to him. When he looked he saw a full grown brown bear coming out of the brush in a full out run towards him.

Devon showing his bandaged body and shredded pants

The teenager ( Devon Reese) said he knew the attack was on and even though they say the best thing you can do in this situation is to drop, cover your head and play dead. The bear may nibble on you a little but hopefully it'll figure you for dead and no threat and leave you alone. Devon said to heck with that. If the bear wanted him, he was going to have to earn it. With that Devon fought back. Swinging with fists, elbows and feet. As fast and furious as he could. The bear got in the better of the licks to say the least. Gouging Devons legs, thighs, scratching his face and biting his arms. Then for no reason the bear turned around and walked back into the woods. Devon made it to safety and called for help on his cell phone.

August 8th another jogger was attacked in Bicentennial park. Clivia Feliz, 51 was jogging and was attacked by a brown bear. She recieved bite marks to her head, arms and torso. She was injured pretty bad. She was jogging in the same area where the jogger I wrote about in earlier blog was attacked. This same sow bear with 2 cubs is said to be the one that attacked another young girl just before I moved up here and injured her real bad. She is still recovering in the hospital. A bike rider was said to have been attacked by this same bear. He was able to outrun it though.

Game & Wildlife Biologist heading down the trail in search of sow bear responsible for several attacks

The police have been out along with game and wildlife biologists trying to find the bear to put it down.

There was another attack on Admirty Island to a woman tourist. She is in fair condition. The bear was scared off by a man with a gun. She recieved a couple bite marks.

Yet another woman was attacked about 2 weeks ago at a resort. She works there in the summer and was going outside for some fresh air and was attacked just feet from the door of the lodge. She recieved bad bites to the head and torso. A tourist that was staying at the lodge scared the bear off and got help for the lady.

My wife Kathy went rasberry picking last weekend (August 2) in the Spenard area of Anchorage. That is where we lived when I first met and married Kathy in 1984. She was picking the rasberries behind a friends house in the alley along the back fence. While she was picking she came across a fresh pile of..... well, lets just say the bear left a present. The grass was matted down around the rasberry bushes where it was eating the berries. Needless to say she decided she didn't really want to make rasberry jam that day. She got in the car and came home with a cup of berries.

Hopefully we won't have any more attacks. But people obviously aren't listening and still use the trails, put dog food out on their decks and other things that bring the bears in.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Nanana River Ice Classic

Today I put a time countdown clicker for the Nanana River Ice Classic on this blog. Every year the residents of Alaska buy a ticket making a guess at what day and time the Nenana River breaks up and flows down river.
Tripod set up on the ice waiting for breakup
Alaskans wager thousands of dollars yearly on the day and time of the break up of the Tanana River. The prize is worth it - over $300,000 this year, and that is only the main contest - minute pools abound, too.

Large grooves are cut into the frozen Tanana River ice about 300 feet from shore. Volunteers lends their muscles to pull on ropes to stand a wooden tripod upright. Holes are drilled in the ice, allowing water to seep upwards, filling in the grooves to freeze the tripod in place.

A watchtower erected next to the tripod holds the official clock of the most recent breakup, and provides a "photo opportunity" for visitors while they wait for the ice to move.

Once the ice has thawed to the point where walking on it is no longer safe, a wire is attached from the watchtower on shore to the top of the tripod, and rigged up to a clock mechanism so that the clock will be stopped when the tripod moves 100 feet. Watchmen monitor from the time the clock is activated until the ice has gone out. A siren will alert the townspeople to the tripod's first movement.

When the tripod trips the clock, spring has officially arrived, and Interior Alaska's rivers are once more navigable. And someone is a lot richer.

Closeup of a tripod set up on dry land

Northern Lights

I've had a lot of people ask me about the Northern Lights up here in Alaska. So I thought I'd post a few pics to show everyone just how beautiful they can be. This first picture shows the bright fluorescent green color that most people hear about or see in pictures in magazines.

I thought this picture was really neat because of how bright the northern lights are even with the city lights.

This picture has a really spooky feeling to it. The first time you see the northern lights in real life, you get an end of the world feeling. You feel like your in the twilight zone for sure. It is definately an awe inspiring sight. One of natures real things of beauty that will take your breath away.
The northern lights are usually visible from Sept to Oct and Mar to Apr.

Click on Images for larger picture

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bears in Anchorage

After my first post I got to thinking about all the bears here in town. I needed to get some pics to post for you all to see that I wasn't just kidding.

I just couldn't see me on crutches running around town with a camera trying to get shots of bears. So I went to our newspapers website (Anchorage Daily News) and found these pictures that were contributed by readers.

Click on images for larger picture
This one amazes me. A large bear like this balancing on the top of a fence. You can tell this one has had to outrun the law before! I wonder if the homeowner insurance will repair the fence?

Makes you a little leary about just going out to have a BBQ on the deck doesn't it? The dog food on the deck lured this bear in with her cubs.

This one was taken within a mile of where I live. The easy pickings in the garbage persuades the bears to come in to town for the free meal.

This big brown bear was spotted in Eagle River just out of Anchorage.
I am buying a new digital camera as my old one was broken in the move to Alaska. So will be posting new pics of the town, scenery, etc soon as I can so keep coming back for updates.
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