Monday, April 27, 2009


Breakup. Endless interpretations.
1) water projects in the driveway.

2) cars stuck in the driveway.

(Last Friday: Looking up towards the house)

(Looking down to where the car spent the night)

The truck, today, stuck at the very top of the driveway. To the right of the truck is the igloo we made this winter - only the opening is really visible.

(Mom, it's ok - don't worry - during the night, the slush freezes again, and we can drive the cars out without problem the next morning. So no worries.)

3) Breakup also means the bugs are back. The first sat on Emilie's head. It was quickly destroyed. The second was killed, then photographed.

4) Breakup means plenty of puddles to stomp through and on occasion, fall into. (Emilie, today, near Sonja's daycare - wet leaves were plastered on her face. Poor girl.)

And, unrelated, some other pictures.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Swans (aka Creamer's Field again)

Breakup time... the extratuffs and rubber boots came out in full force.

With Sonja, we visited Creamer's field again today. A couple swans flew over us. Joined another two swans on the ground.

Our bird count:

countless Canada Geese, Greater white-fronted geese, swans, two american kestrels hovering at times over the poor birds below them, mallards (the normal ducks with the green head), pintails (the ducks with the long tail), and some gulls.

One person told me she saw one sandhill crane in the tall grass earlier, we did not see that one.

But it is cool to see the birds arrive. It doesn't look that much as a migration, but each minute, another group of geese arrives - sometimes two, sometimes ten, never that many together, but it all adds up. It would be really cool to see the cranes come together - a bunch of years ago I saw that by Delta Junction, must have been a thousand birds together...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Around where Martin is

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

I say, it's not that different from here - around our house here there is only one patch of dirt that is showing through, otherwise it's all white also; we have dogs; we have airplanes - heck, it's not that different! :)

(Thanks, Martin, for the pictures!)

Around town today

Beautiful crystals grew overnight in the garbage can that catches the snowmelt off our roof.

Sam's Sourdough, gutted last month by fire.

"Stubborn German Ct" is right across from Emilie's daycare.

"My Lead Dog is smarter than your honor student" bumper sticker

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Scenery from the dogmusher's trail

Martin will laugh about this one when he sees all the pictures on our computer of two dogs on a trail, but today I thought I will try to capture some of the scenery on the ADMA trails (Alaska Dog Musher's Association) that are within the area in between College Road and Farmer's Loop. As a result, there are some 60 pictures on our computer now that have two dogs on a trail on them :). My pictures, Martin, don't touch! :)

I really love the variety of habitat along that trail. (It is the turquoise, green and yellow trail on the west end of the trail system). Considering that it is mainly spruce trees and birch trees (and shrubs), some of the trail leads under big trees (ok, only a very small part), some goes through birch forest, and a lot goes through the drunken forest of scrawny trees on permafrost. Still, there is something cool about that scenery.

Moose poop! We didn't see the moose that left those nuggets on the trail, but we did see one earlier - luckily just the hind end of it as it was disappearing into the bushes.

Birch Hill in the background. North edge of the trail that gets the most sun is snow-free.

Not that scrawny... but not normal size either.

Drunken forest...

More scrawny trees.

Some big(ger) trees, some small trees.

In the background is the ridge above Farmer's Loop.

Big trees!

Skiing was marginal today. We went from 4 to 5pm, during the warmest temperatures of the day (but when the kids were still in daycare, which was the reason we could go out at all) and some places the snow was very very slow. Still, I might try to take the dogs Friday once again. Can't complain about skiing mid-April!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The geese really are at Creamer's Field

Today I had to pick up some dogfood at Alaska Feed, so I stopped next door at Creamer's field too. In the past week since the geese have arrived, I skijored just in the trees on the outskirt of the field, but never stopped by to check out the birds. It is really incredible - if they hadn't plowed the field and spread some grain on it, the birds would be sitting on snow... I heard they had snow buntings too. Might have to go check things out with binoculars, to see which migrating birds besides the geese made it. We did see two ducks flying this morning, but that was very likely a pair from the resident duck population that stays here the entire winter (thanks to the power plant which dumps hot water into the Chena River and keeps it from freezing for a couple miles).

Meltwise, things are definitely melting, but the snow remains. A lot of it. Except under some trees. Where there might be a big puddle instead. A great puddle to play in. There were more kids playing around that puddle than anywhere else in the playground. The teachers at daycare said this is nothing, that I will see in a week or two what "muddy" means...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter and (more) dogsledding

We did color eggs for easter, but the thing the kids liked the most was finding the nests and looking for eggs during the easter egg hunt.

We colored eggs using both store-bought colors, and the onion-skin brew like last year using a leaf of cilantro or italian parsley from the fridge for the shape. All of that was the previous weekend...

As for this weekend, we had a wonderful easter. The "easter bunny" hid during the night the nests that the girls made for him the evening before, first filling them with easter eggs and goodies. The girls then looked for the nests when we got up. Sonja found both hers and Emilie's. The strawberries in the nests were a big hit. The chocolate bunny was a hit with Emilie, who attacked it immediately.

After a breakfast at LuLu's we went to look for the eggs that the bunny hid along the trails that we had stomped into the snow over the past several weeks. That was a huge success also with both kids. The plastic eggs were filled with grapes, or yogurt-covered-raisins, or candy, or m-n-ms. (Sonja still doesn't like chocolate, so the easter bunny tried to find some things that she might like.)

May be in a few years I might find something that will work instead of the willow branches used in the czech republic to create pomlazka (or easter whips). Sounds rough, but is not meant to be (much) - in fact it is supposed to transfer youth to the person receiving the symbolic whipping. The branches are braided together, then decorated with ribbons. Here is a description in english. As another aside, the czech name for easter is Velikonoce, which sounds a bit like "Velike Noce" = "big nights" in direct translation. I was wondering why the name, since the nights are getting shorter in spring - why would people call some holiday "big night". But based on this, it might have been a "big" holiday that got the suffix from christmas (=Vanoce), which itself comes from the german word for Christmas. So may be it is not a "big night", just a "big"+suffix holiday.

The rest of the day was wonderful too. After nap, we went to the Tanana (River) again to go ski/sled. As before, Cooper pulled Sonja, Martin had Saphira (not that she pulled much - she was way too hot), and I pulled Emilie. We went may be a mile downriver, then I let Emilie run around. She thought may be she will cross to the other shore of the river:

When Sonja and Martin came back half hour later, Emilie jumped (ok, crawled) onto Sonja's sled, and Cooper pulled them both back to the 'campground' where the car was parked. First, a family portrait - Emilie on the sled, Sonja behind the handlebar, and the parents next to the kids.

Another portrait:

Then it was time to go home. Here is a special picture for my mom: transporting the sled and Emilie:

Martin was sooooo proud of himself and his kids during bath time, when he asked them to show big 'putti' (sp?):

And, lastly, at night, we actually saw an aurora briefly - it has been a quiet winter aurora wise, both because I go to bed earlier than before, because we don't have an outhouse (so I am not likely to be outside late at night), and because there just has not been much aurora out there.

OK, one long writeup, but I thought it was just such a wonderful day! Hope everyone (that's you, Matt, and you, Cecile - my only readers :) had a nice easter!