Valdez Avalanche Photos

A major avalanche happened very recently along the Richardson Highway, about 20 or so miles from Valdez.  Below are photos Jack was able to acquire from a friend – taken by Alyeska (and we hope no copyright has been violated by posting them here).

You can see here where the snow has covered the highway and the river that runs alongside it:

Valdez Avalanche 1

Here is the same thing but farther away.

Valdez Avalanche 2And the rest are from another angle, showing the pooling of river water that is covering a long stretch of the highway.

Valdez Avalanche 3

Valdez Avalanche 4

Valdez Avalanche 5

So needless to say the Richardson Highway is closed and people who live in Valdez can only get out of the town by water or air.  Jack says the snow will be removed by loaders but that sure seems like a dangerous job…!

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Atigun Pass, after an avalanche

Merry Christmas everyone!

The below two videos show Jack driving over Atigun Pass through an area of road the state has cleared a tunnel through after an avalanche.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MYzo645ffY

(You might have to click on the 2nd video if it doesn’t come up like the first one.)

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Transportation Art by Christy Hollibone

We want to share this great artwork by Alaskan Christy Hollibone.  You’ll see Jack on the far right and next to him are truckers Tony (left) and Phil (middle).

Transportation Art by Christy Hollibone

We especially like this one too:

Transportation Art by Christy Hollibone

To see more of her transportation art and excellent images of trucks, go to the Moments in Time Art Studio webpage.

Happy November to everyone!

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Of Squirrels & Moose Antlers

We’ve never heard of this before but there’s a squirrel around here who likes to scrape the tines off of moose antlers!

Tips of tines scraped off moose antlersSeveral times over the summer we heard a mysterious scraping sound coming from the area where Jack’s moose antlers are stored in the woods. We knew the resident squirrel was up to something and sure enough, when we inspected the antlers a few days ago, the tips were scraped off the tines!  Jack says he thinks it’s the squirrel sharpening his teeth and you can actually find a couple of references to this on the internet.  (Here is a link to a video of a squirrel sharpening its teeth on some other kind of antlers, in some other part of the country.  Our squirrel looks much different, smaller and more orange-red. It could be that the squirrel is getting some kind of nutrient from them too and in the video it almost looks like the squirrel is eating the bits of antler.)

Jack's moose antlers

Jack hopes to get a chance to replace the antlers this hunting season!

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End of Summer For Us

Hi all!  Here is a photo of Jack’s latest project:

Jack and his wood pile

He’s been working on that pile for a few weeks.  They still need to be split but he’s made good progress.

Jack says he enjoys cutting wood a lot more than the project he had to tackle back in May:

Cutting Sport's furCutting Sport’s hair.  He tried the trimmers but they didn’t work so we whipped out the scissors.

Poor Sport, I know.  He was miserable.  But the next day he ran around like the world had just been lifted off his shoulders.  And later, when we had 90 degrees, though he had surely forgotten about the heavy coat he had in winter, he still seemed grateful.  :)

Summer was sensational!  80 and even 90 degree weather.  It was heavenly.

Hope you all had a terrific summer!

2004, the worst smokey year in Fairbanks history!

2004 was the worst summer for smoke in Fairbanks EVER, at least as far as we’re concerned!

The smoke hung around for over 3 weeks.  It was rough.  Here are before and after photos from that summer:

Forest fire smoke in Fairbanks, Alaska - July 2004

I shouldn’t have been out taking photos in this stuff!  This is the Chena River and the 2 buildings are the Key Bank building and the Springhill Suites Hotel.

Forest Fire smoke in Fairbanks, Alaska - July 2004

Here is another one showing Springhill Suites, which was at the time very new.

Luckily, the past few days have been pretty clear and now we’ve had a downpour or two, so things are looking up for those of us who want the fires to go away!

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Smoke & Heat in Fairbanks, Alaska

It’s been an interesting summer so far in interior Alaska.  First we had snow and low temperatures until mid-May, and then we had about 3 weeks of 80 and 90 degree weather.  When you live somewhere that is cold and dry for 8 or 9 months of the year any heat you can get is like charging some inner battery.  So let’s just say we have adequately charged our batteries…life was great…until the smoke rolled in!  Right now we have well over a hundred fires burning throughout Alaska, some small and some large, some being fought near towns and some being left alone to burn.

Forest Fires in Alaska - July 1, 2013The University of Alaska has a sensational website showing where fires are burning in Alaska. Here is a screen shot from it taken July 1st.  The website, UAFSMOKE: Wildfire Smoke Prediction for Alaska, is in it’s experimental phase but when finished should be able to tell us when smoke is going to reach a given area around Fairbanks.  This is when Jack and I shut all our windows and turn on the air filters, so we’d love to know ahead of time.  (Sometimes though, like the other day, its 80 degrees out and our house is baking with us trapped inside.)

One of the fires that is plaguing us is Skinny’s Road fire, the yellow dot that is close to the upper right of the word Alaska on the map.  It’s about 20 miles away from us and on the other side of the Parks Highway.  But any of the ones in that general area could be causing the our smoke problems right now.  The crazy thing is, you can go to bed with a heavy smokey haze outside and wake up to a bright clear day because wind patterns are changing so much.  So Jack and I are constantly sniffing the air to decide when to close or open the windows.

The smoke affects certain people more than others and Jack is not greatly affected.  He even went out and chainsawed some logs last weekend with the mosquitoes and haze surrounding him.  A day off is a day off and you have to get something done.  But I have to stay inside because I feel a heaviness in my chest when the smoke gets bad, and if I breathe it in too long my sinuses and allergies act up too.  People with asthma and respiratory problems like COPD are in big trouble if they don’t get into a safer environment.  Just about everyone gets a headache if out in it for too long.

All in all, here at our house Jack and I have had only about 48 hours of dense dangerous smoke, so we are beyond thankful for that, considering how many are burning around us as you can see from the map.  Below is a photo from June 21st, 2010, late in the evening under the midnight sun during Solstice, looking southward down from a turnout on the Parks Highway onto the Tanana Valley where a fire smolders (on the left in the photo) and sends its wispy smoke westward (to the right). Click it for a larger image.

Forest fire in the Tanana Valley

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July!

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