Caribou & moose herds

This is what it looks like when caribou cross your path on the Dalton Highway (click on the first one and scroll to the right to see them full size):

And here are three moose next to the Welcome to Fairbanks sign on the Parks Highway, taken the day after the caribou but there was no snow in Fairbanks at that time (10 days ago).  Jack says this is a bull and his harem.  You can barely see the one on the other side of the bushes but Jack says he’s a young bull trying to build a harem.  The moose on the right looks to me like a young moose, possibly a calf of the cow.   All-about-moose.com says about this topic:  “The taiga moose calf will stay within visible proximity whereas with tundra moose calves they will generally avoid the harems the bulls collect. Bulls will tolerate yearlings but for the most part calves avoid the harem group.”  We didn’t even know there was a difference between taiga and tundra moose.

 

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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.

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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