Saturday, May 30, 2009

Camping at Otto Lake in Healy

Thanks to Dorte and BJ, we went camping at Otto Lake for Memorial Day.

Thanks also to too good a weather, Martin couldn't do his fieldwork in Yakutat (in southeast Alaska) and came back a week early and came camping with us. He was saying how ironic it is that they couldn't do fieldwork due to *good* weather - in Yakutat, of all places, which has on average more precipitation (130 inches) than the often-quoted rainiest city in the US: Hilo, Hawaii, with 120 was due to the nice sunshine that the snow did not melt on a road they hoped to drive 20 miles out of town. The road is in a dense forest, sunshine can't really reach it, and the rain they hoped for just did not come.... so we got Martin back in time to go camping at Otto Lake by Healy.

After meeting up with Dorte, Bj and Kasper and having a snack at Lulu's Bread and Bagels, we hit the road, and managed to get down to Healy in not quite two hours. Found the campground, and found some camp sites. The campground was quite empty, which was a good thing - our kids enjoyed the place, and went running around, through at least five other campsites within several tens of meters of the ones where we put up our tent. The men and the bigger kids enjoyed a canoe ride, and dipping toes into the lake. No flesh-eating bugs were to be seen (though plenty of small bugs hovering in large congregations in the air, luckily those didn't bite).

They went into the tent clothed, came out naked...

Dipping toes into the lake.


Emilie, still up after Sonja went to bed, put on Sonja's hat and rubber boots.

The next day, more dipping toes into the lake...

Emilie enjoyed banging her head into Martin's, and then saying "auwa". She found it hilarious.

Isolated showers visible from Stampede Road.

The night was a bit tough - the kids had problem sleeping since it never really got dark, then Cooper started howling, and Sonja started throwing up... so it was probably good we headed back the next day, Monday, after a hike off Stampede road.

Another one

Another small quake, magnitude 3.5, yesterday at 8:52 pm, about 4 miles from our house (not counting another 6 miles for depth). Two hits, perhaps half a minute apart, from the two kinds of waves. (If it was not an earthquake, the next thing on my mind would have been that it's two trees falling onto the house - but Martin was not cutting any trees down at the moment. Not that he is normally either.)

The quake rattled things around our house, as well as the video store where Martin was just picking up a movie to watch (soon that will be the only way we will watch TV, since we didn't get a digital converter box - yet). Anyways, it was noticeable if one was not jumping around. Probably it was something shaking from the quake that woke Emilie up.

It seems like the Alaska Earthquake Information Center's web pages for earthquakes don't last very long, the link to the previous earthquake is already broken after less than a week. So I will just copy the information from there:
Local Date: Friday May 29th, 2009
Local Time: 08:53 PM AKDT
Universal Time: 05/30/2009 04:53:43.432 UTC
Magnitude: 3.50 ML
Latitude: 64.8004
Longitude: -148.0511
Depth: 6 miles (10 km)
Location of this quake on google maps.

Location of previous earthquake on google maps.

I think Sonja was about 3 months old when the first little earthquake, of similar magnitude as these ones, shook our house - her first quake.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Small local quake

5:30am this morning, a jolt shook the house. Didn't last long. Big enough to shake the whole house (so it was not a dog trying to escape through our dogfence), but not big enough to do anything else.

Based in this Alaska Earthquake Information Center webpage, the earthquake had a magnitude of 3.59 and was centered about 5 miles away from our house. I think that's the closest I have been to an epicenter, based on their current coordinates of 64.7908, -148.0158.

(And mom, note that above I said "not big enough to do anything else".)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Accessorized Emilie

I have to give it to Emilie - this morning, after dressing her in a dress (all three of us were in a dress!), she put on beads, wanted the sweater, took of some other shoes that I forced her into and instead put on rubber boots, and by herself put on the winter hat. Quite a character!

(otherwise, as can be seen in the back of the picture, all the trees are fully green, and I have been trying to get stuff done outside... like planting things and trying ot figure out where to plant those pine trees I've's been busy)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Emilie loves Cooper

Martin insisted this be put up

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spring is here: robins, leaves, butterflies

A weekend of spring: the leaves on the trees are popping out - the south hillsides have that wonderful spring green touch to them that will by tomorrow turn into full blown spring green. We saw our first robin right next to our house this morning singing a beautiful song. And several butterflies.

More Tanana Beach

Today, another trip to the Tanana Beach - on another probably record-setting hot day. After a couple hours at the beach, we got flooded out and hastily retreated to higher ground so that our cars wouldn't get stuck in water and mud - water rose probably a foot within the course of half an hour. That itself was an eye-opening experience for such a big river. All pictures are pre-retreat.

Closeup from the above picture:

Must be a footbridge, the railings still upright. We saw numerous (empty) oil drums come by. Mark estimated 100 trees an hour floating by. A deck floated by too - 10ft square. A lot of things coming down that river.
Here is an oil drum floating by (at left), plus the bluff that I love so much:

Friday, May 1, 2009

No more ice on the rivers

Record high temperatures! After weeks of rather cool spring (where the April felt more like March most years), suddenly we are breaking temperature records on the hot side.
This is definitely not typical Fairbanks May weather:

Things are melting super fast.

Yesterday all that was left of the polar bear sculpted out of ice that was standing by the university entrance were a few pieces of ice. Candle ice - you touch it and it falls apart into long thin needles.

Chunks of ice floating down the Chena by Alaskaland. High water.

We stopped at Alaskaland to look at Inari's drawings in the Bear gallery, including a drawing of a stuffed cat that Sonja had with her during a trip to Mary's cabin in January. Sonja had during that trip sat the kitty down on the hot stove. To warm up. Poor kitty. Its leg had a burn from the hot stove. Inari drew in that detail too when she sketched the kitty later that evening. Inari had also an opening today at the Well St gallery - I dragged the kids there, but Sonja would not go into the room where Inari's paintings were. She was pulling on me as hard as she could to keep me away too.

After the two galleries (two minutes per gallery), we went to a playground. Coming back to the car, things look green!

Then I thought may be we should go look at the ice on the Tanana before it goes out. So we went. To find out that it had already gone out on the main river, though not so much on a side slough. We went to the beach from where we went skiing and dogsledding a month ago. Open water. Other kids. One of them, a girl in a swimsuit, jumped into the water a few times. Brrrr. It ends up we know the parents - her mom went skiing today probably the one last time at Birch hill, while the daughter goes into the river the first day it's open... (though I don't think it's open at Nenana, I don't think the tripod went out yet - I stand corrected, the headline on the Nenana Ice Clasic website is that "The Ice Went Out 8:41 P.M. May 1, 2009")

Big chunk of ice. The kids were trying to get Jose to jump onto it. See the mosquito in the upper right? The bugs are out, in full force. At least they are still the big slow ones, not the small fast ones.

Sonja did not want to leave:

Nor did she want to talk to Martin, who called while we were there at the beach. When I asked her this evening in bed why, she said that she was busy when he called. (Busy playing in the mud.)

Long day today, we still had to take a very quick bath to get sand out of all the crevices that it can fall into...

And for Martin, who is travelling, one more picture of the girls yesterday in our driveway: