2011
02.21

Tolovana hot springs

Well, making up for some lost time, we went with a bundle of friends to these hot springs off the Elliot in early January. My money was heavily betting on a miserable trip start to finish what with it being January and kind of cold out. Turns out ixnay on that. We got super lucky on the weather. A warmish front was coincident with our visit so trail temps were 0 to 15 F. Not to shabby! How about the sled action below.  I have long had on my list the perfect hauling / riding sled.  For this trip I whipped this bad boy together.  Design criteria: tie down ropes you can reef on, good as a sled or for pulling, fast with the skis underneath for sledding.  Worked as advertised.  As you can see, twinkies were the fuel.  After my good luck with them running the marathon (a future post?) I packed a couple dozen for this trip.  Our attack vehicles for this trip consisted of three skiiers, two snowmachiners hauling most of the gear and two sledders.  I didn’t trust the snowmachines with my bottled beer (of course right, when in Rome…) so it all went in the cooler.   The post trip analysis on the sled setup is that it wouldn’t hurt to shorten up the pulling bars.  They were a touch on the long side.  Not bad but if they were shorter they could fit inside the sled and then I wouldn’t worry about them being available for stabbing me when I’m skiing in altarboy mode. Also, upgrade the rope to light wire rope to reduce wearing. And finally, forget the skis, snowshoes all the way. I was semi paranoid about being impaled by the skis, too. In front is the bike stereo. Now a dual-use (was that the phrase from the run up to the iraq war?) stereo. Normally it’s my bike stereo but for this trip it was the sled stereo. 12 volt battery + 12 volt computer speakers + ipod shuffle in waterproof deal. The best part was the tunes. I like jazzz when I’m out and about. So, Bill Dixon and Horace Silver. Not a bad way to go. There was other stuff but those guys & their bands were the highlight reel. Sled performance was generally good otherwise. On the new snow the first day it was pretty disappointing, basically no sliding to speak of. On the return though, some of the finest sledding of my lifetime. A 2.5 mile sled in two hops. It was great, saw all the crashes from the skier and P chasing after his sled occasionally.

I went for style points on this trip

The mode of travel paired with my love of bringing everything conceivable (24 fine seasonal jubelale beers to share) meant I was going slow and steady. Once I got over the inital Gurg! though it was off to the tortoise races. Had the worst charley horse of my entire life in the cabins at the far end though. It’s like I forget, a 10 or 11 mile hike, 1500 feet of elevation or something like that. Anyway, just sitting in there warming up and I go to stretch out the leg. The whole leg was one big charley horse. Yeow! I gave everybody a good yelp. J and everyone else had a good time though. We were out for two nights. So, a longer than average weekend. The tubs were great, the cabin was great, having wood precut was great. The trip out was fantastic in the sun aside from the two hill climbs. The way in is one uphill (basically) and two downs but on the way out it’s reversed. No way I was going to sled after dark on my rocket so I didn’t make good use of the two downs on the way in. On the way out, luckily towards the top of the first up I got passed by a bushel of snowmachiners. Narrow trail so I smashed myself into some brush (and got a bonus push) from from the dudes to make room on the trail for them. It was nice though. Here’s a little gallery of the return:

More Pictures Here and Here.

2011
02.21

Little time in the sun etc.

So took a while but here’s a bit of an update. We made the hopefully becoming annual visit to Hawaii (except for maybe next year when there are offspring to visit… that’s more up in the air) for more camping and all. It was nice, relaxing, sunny, read like 1000 pages or so in a few good books, baby sat some kid from Anchorage to just outside honolulu. His grandma’s were up in first class and it was all fun and games until it got dark. Then the tears started flowing. We traded with the grandma’s and were up front long enough for a moist wash cloth. Lame. Anyway, end point was Maui: third favorite island by a distance. It’s nice, just not really quite as much our thing (not that it wasn’t cool, just not as cool as the others..).

Did several fun hikes in the national park plus this hike that went up towards some wind turbines, we didn’t get quite that high but there was hardly anyone on the trail being that the superbowl was going on at the same time although we did see this couple from New Jersey (they felt obligated to tell us). Otherwise, our hiking meshed pretty well with a lack of other people (we saw that couple again on the crater hike up in the National park but they didn’t recognize us). All our hikes were basically other-people free. Nice, not what you might expect. Partly dictated by circumstances though. The day we ran up the volcano to see the high part of the national park it was raining nonstop at the top. We sat up there in the car for an hour or so reading before heading below the cloud level. Kind of late in the day by then (we raced sunset on the way back up the trail) but it was a decent few hours hiking down into some crater that’s not a crater or something. Nothing much to see, we were below the rainy clouds but it was overcast and there was plenty of cloud action in the crater bit. Nice. On the south side of the park we hiked to some waterfall first thing in the morning. Not many out that that early. In fact, I was armed with a spiderweb stick because no big people had cruised through to knock them down. About a mile or so in though, I rustled up a bat with the spiderweb stick. Eventually J led the charge through dancing bat’s airspace. It was cool though, nice bamboo forest and the end point wasn’t to shabby, either. On the way back though I was nearly paralyzed to inaction. J noticed a tapeworm about 12 inches long (tapeworm or centipede, we remember differently not that it’s a contentious difference) on my arm. After pointing it out I didn’t know what to do. No way I wanted to touch that thing… but it was already on the ol’ arm.

Had some rad barbecue at somebody’s house in that neck of the woods. They just had the grill fired up and were selling plates of food in their driveway.

Back end of the trip we got a bit of snorkeling in. Better snorkeling by a longshot compared to Kauai (where the water was to dangerous for snorkeling). We hit up Honolua bay and some blackrock reef. One reason was to get some more action with my underwater film camera. I’ve been babying that thing with the orings and making sure it’s saltwater free. The problem is, only going snorkeling twice per year means I’m still figuring the thing out. Last year though I picked up some uncommon lens from R in town. It’s an above water only lens. I’m totally into that one. Shot 1+ rolls with it figuring it all out. All my lenses are unmetered so it was sunny16 rule of thumb all the way. I guessed decently for the above water stuff and was hit or miss in the ocean. All in all fun though!

More Pictures Here

2010
11.17

over the top dessert season

So, we’re entering my favorite time of year: Winter. When all we do is eat! This is for the company picnic/ thanksgiving lunch. Black forest cake. I made this from scratch over the weekend for some friends. Also a longtime request from J. It turned out awesome. At the company there are folks with food allergies. So for the general public I went wheat-free chocolate. Bobs Redmill has a good mix it turns out. The last gluten free cake mix we tried was more like over done waffles than light moist cake but this one seems to be the business. So, on top of that these sour cherries, cream frosting & tlc of course. I diyed it with the cherries. Chambord, pear brandy went into the cherry syrup. The last batch was awesome, I’m guessing this one will turn out, too. Otherwise it’s been a conservative fall of old familiars. Made the maple buttermilk again… I was going for a darker flavor so added molasses. One could certainly argue to much molasses but it still turned out decent. J. got me an ice cream maker for my birthday after I mentioned less than occasionally over the pas several years how much I’d love an electric one. This time of year with the temperature below zero it’s easy to make ice cream. I’m making a vegan coconut/chocolate/ginger one tonight for tomorrow’s deal since there are some vegans coming, too. The last batch though, it was cold when I planned on ice cream but then the weather warmed. +15f isn’t cold enough to freeze ice cream though… So, I made this totally awesome caramel ice cream that didn’t ice. It made good leftovers though. Otherwise I’ve done maybe two blueberry ice creams (one at alaska day in boston and one back just after my birthday plus a couple vegan ice creams that have been respectable. So, that’s it. Stand by for more baking and there was an excellent summer that needs some supporting documents posted!

black forest cake

black forest cake

oh yes

oh yes

final product

final product

2010
07.12

Super straps

Came across this jalopy out at Silvergulch tonight. You can’t beat that strap for after market value add on the truck. Windshield wasn’t quite crack-free but suggested no particular reason for the added hood protection.

2010
07.06

The not so high seas

I don’t know if this is a poor man’s paddle boat or maybe an off key house boat but how sea worthy do you think the Atco trailer on top of the steel bits is?

This craft has been parked down off Chena pump road on the Tanana River. I guess it normally lives upriver a mile or so. Totally taking the party on the road. The thing I like about it is that much like the octopus gold dredges in Nome, although at a glance it looks like a garbage pile, there is some incredible thinking and attention to detail going into this boat as you can see better probably in person but well worth the price of admission.

Taking to the not so high seas

Taking to the not so high seas

2010
07.03

June Nomish

Nome was rad, I was flying solo, the others were flying by airplane. Hopefully Jessie will put some of her pictures. I’m happy to be back though. Maybe get my second weekend of summer spent in Fairbanks this weekend.

Didn't end up being quite what I thought I was snapping a picture of...

2010
06.28

We two humans just got back from the SP. Thought after a week at doggy daycare I’d further treat the hounds to a trip up the Steese. Leave it to Midge to close the party down. We headed home when she came out of the woods with a porcupine carcass. So uncool. I’ll post some trip pics before to long…

2010
06.16

Back from snowmelt

Ended up being stuck for four weeks due to cooler temperatures compared to last year. Pretty rough. We only got on the water three times (in the water once…oops…). So here’s a couple pictures of that plus flying back from Umiat (I started in Umiat but transitioned to Deadhorse via Fairbanks. Ideally I would have flown the 120 miles from Umiat to Toolik by helicopter but the weather was so bad I flew back to Fairbanks and then flew Fairbanks to Deadhorse. 36 hours in Fairbanks was extra nice though, got to catch up with out of town friends and a few in town ones, too.
Deadhorse was rough. The first day there we went out for a couple hours but it was blowing 40+ mph so we didn’t stay long. Then over the next two weeks we only got out three more times for a couple hours each. Just had the wrong kind of weather. So we alternated between getting ready and then not going out and spending all day in our hotel room (2 single beds, 2 end tables, 2 narrow closets, 0 chairs). I had a camp chair sent up and after that life became more bearable. Tough to do anything when the only thing for sitting on is the bed. But, had time enough to whip up some more things for the home station and some of our other stations. Eventually we got out for a couple of days. It was rad catarafting. I drove while the ADCP measured. It was blowing 10 increasing to 20 over the course of our time on the water. You’d think that would be rough but the cataraft was like a sail boat, point it at the right angle and the wind pushes both directions across the river. Way there was still rowing involved but could have been way worse. Got to coexist on the water with icebergs. Mostly they were to small to notice so we’d be keeping an eye open and then would see one floating close but already downstream. The clear ones were like that. The bigger white ones you could more often see coming down but they were pretty sporadic. This was all bottom ice breaking free after being frozen to the bottom during winter.

2010
06.15

remote location blogging

So here’s a first. I’m sending a remote post from out here on the tundra. Have a marginal cell signal and as you can see from the picture the fog rolled in as we came back to deadhorse tonight.

So if it doesn’t clear tonight hopefully we’ll be back tomorrow sometime. Not to bad out here otherwise, weather has been miserable, very foggy this is only the fourth time in ten days that we’ve left Deadhorse. The rivers are all on there way up. We’ve never seen U1 higher than it was tonight, to bad we didn’t get a chance to measure it…

Anyway, perhaps more a bit later.

…. The post script: we got off after a couple hours. Couldn’t get the phone to post from the slope though.

Action Shot:

2010
04.18

living the dream

So we went out flying today. My first trip. Went to Nenana to check out the ice (still frozen). Super nice day for flying aside from the 11 knot crosswinds at landing… Summer seems like it might have some pretty good potential for fun. We’ll trade car trips for plane trips since the car is doing something similar to dying… and getting more serious about it.