A Glorious Morning on the Road

An amazing thing happened when I was on the road with Jack one time.

We woke up at what the truckers call 62 Mile, a good-sized pullout used by truckers and tourist buses and just anyone traveling the road.  It was Pink Birch Tree on the Daltonlate September and the drive up north had been sunny and crispy cool.  I could not have gotten luckier on a time to be on the Haul Road.   Orange and yellow autumn colors abounded and even a pink birch tree showed up every so many miles.  (Click to enlarge.)

Tourists on the Dalton HighwayNo snow had fallen, but when we woke up that morning at 62 Mile the tundra outside was a winter wonderland.  There were tourists milling about, gazing at the frosty grasses that surround the pull out.

Tourists on the Dalton HighwayAnd as you can see, there was a long line at the restroom, so I decided to take a walk out onto the tundra, and I’m so glad I did.

I discovered frost-covered fireweed, spider webs glinting in the morning light, and best of all, an absolutely stunning mist rainbow.  I hadn’t known they even existed before, but now I have proof they do.  As the frost was evaporating off the tundra, the water vapor in the air created a rainbow that shimmered in the sun’s light.  As I stood watching, the sunlight slowly burned off the frost on the ground, leaving plants thawed on one side and still frozen on the other, and the glorious rainbow eventually faded away with the warmth of day.

A moment of astounding beauty.  Luckily, I took a quick video and lots of photos, some of which may give an inkling of how amazing that morning was.  If anyone ever tells you that the arctic tundra is a frozen wasteland with no redeeming qualities, here is proof that it is not true.

(Click on the first one and scroll to the right.)

 

 

A raven’s eye tour of Fairbanks

Flying into Fairbanks one day in 2008 the airplane took an unusual route.  Instead of coming in from the southwest it came in from the southeast, flying over Harding Lake and Salcha and circling over Farmers Loop across north of town into the airport.  Maybe this direction of landing is normal, I don’t know, I have never experienced it before, but this day happened to be beautifully clear and I captured some great photos of the Tanana River and various Fairbanks landmarks.

Click on the first one and then scroll to the right for an overhead, raven’s eye, tour of Fairbanks.

Memory Foam Clouds

Jack took these photos a couple of days ago.  The clouds have a really weird consistency to them, like there are air pockets underneath that are pushing them up in patches.

 

Driving the Dalton

Jack finally took a video of driving down the road.  It seems like a silly thing to do but people have requested more videos and this one shows what most of his job is like, on the good days.  🙂

(If these appear blurry change your resolution settings on the bottom right side of the player.)

 

Happy New Year!!

Ah, Memories of Autumns Past

We’re already missing summer around here.

Jack on his 4-wheeler in 2009But at least we have our memories.  Such as from a few years ago on a sensationally sunny day in early September when Jack and I took a 4-wheeler ride in the mountains around Chena Hot Springs.  Chena Hot Springs TrailThat year there were striking fall colors and luckily I captured a few images to warm my heart on cold winter days.  Hope you are all keeping warm.

________________________________

________________________________

________________________________

________________________________

 

 

Jack’s driving the motor home this time…

This year Jack took me and the motor home out for a quick weekend hunt.  (It was really camping, not hunting, although Jack would have taken a shot if he came across one in an accessible area.)  We really wish we had been able to get out a little more over the summer!

There is always next year…

Jack, taking a look

Jack, taking a look

Sport, taking a lookSport, taking a look

Truck on the Dalton Highway, with the Trans-Alaska Pipeline next to the road

A Western Star truck driving the Dalton Highway with the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in the background.  Jack knew who the driver was, of course.

Jack's wife, Judy and their dog Sport

Jack’s wife, Judy (me), and our dog Sport.

What are these?

Any idea what these are?

Jack on a pipeline access road

Jack on a pipeline access road.

Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Dalton Highway AlaskaFinally the sun starts to come out!

Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Dalton Highway Alaska

And we get to see the pipeline in the evening sun.

Dalton Highway sign

The beautiful Dalton Highway road sign at 1 mile.

Jack with motor home and big trucks

Jack taking a look at the big trucks, but he’s driving a motor home this time…

Here are a few more photos if you are interested.

Oxbow Lake, Dalton Highway Alaska

Trans-Alaska PIpeline, Dalton Highway Alaska

Autumn FireweedTrans-Alaska Pipeline along the Dalton Highway Alaska

Graffiti on the Trans-Alaska PipelineGraffiti on the Trans-Alaska PipelineBridge near Trans-Alaska Pipeline

Spruce Grouse

Spruce Grouse near the Trans-Alaska PipelineTrans-Alaska PipelineTrans-Alaska Pipeline, Dalton Highway AlaskaTrans-Alaska Pipeline

Have a wonderful autumn everyone!

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.)

___________________________________

___________________________________

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!

_________________________

Wild – and Not So Wild – Animals

This wolf was the first serious wildlife Jack and I saw, soon after entering Yukon Territory, Canada.  Quite a thrill for both of us.  Maybe a little more for me since Jack drives the Dalton and sees this stuff all the time…

Driving near the border of Yukon Territory and British Columbia we saw some bison relaxing in the late afternoon sun.

And then big horn sheep in Jasper National Park.

And here’s our not-so-wild dog Sport jumping over a log, acting like he is 4-years-old again.

Last but not least… us enjoying the late afternoon sun on a mountain in the Black Hills.

______________________________________________