Tuesday, November 23, 2010

By noon the second day

By noon the second day... or how did Sonja cross the road?

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By noon the second day of the subtropical wet mass hitting the subarctic, road conditions of side roads have worsened a bit, though my understanding is that main roads are being maintained with sand and gravel and are somewhat passable. Here we are walking up and crossing the street after a brief visit to our neighbors on a side road. There was no way to walk directly on the road.

Interestingly, one of our neighbors did pass us in his truck as we were walking up. In his old 70's truck, he did not seem to have much problem, even without chains. I don't intend to try it until I have to.

On the radio they announced the schools are closed again tomorrow, so that means a full week of no school for us. Good decision from the school district administrators.

Outside, it is still just drizzling, so overall it's not bad to be outside. But the above-freezing temperatures make everything super-wet. Since walking on the street itself is impossible (one just falls down, and the pants get a layer of water from the water on top of the ice), we walk through the snow, which makes for wet boots. And any fall into the snow means some more water for the snowpants to absorb. Jackets just get a doze of the drizzle from the constant drizzle. We have never been so wet after spending such a short time outside. One hour outside meant pretty much soaked everything. I even broke out my extratuffs (rubber boots). This is no weather for the mukluks I normally wear all winter long.

So now we will just continue to work on the snowmen. The one I build yesterday afternoon collapsed overnight, the small one that Sonja build survived. I need to practice :).

Monday, November 22, 2010

By noon the first day

By noon the first day of the subtropical moisture system making its way into the subarctic, our local road looked like this. But that was noon, and it continued to drizzle continuously the entire day and night (at least so far), so it will be interesting to see how things look tomorrow. No school tomorrow either, due to the rain, so we will continue to practice that thing so rare in Fairbanks - making a snowman.

Taking the dogs for a walk, it feels, except for the darkness, like April. Everything is melting. Slush underneath the snow. Not what we bargained for in November. Especially since we finally got some decent snow this past weekend, making it look like the winter won't be so bad afterall.

More snowmen tomorrow.... if the snow lasts :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Natural light

Here is our house in the bright sunlight (reflected off the full moon), around 10:30pm tonight. Temperature just around freezing. Freezing rain predicted tomorrow. So probably no moonlight tomorrow.

Spectacular sunset Friday

Friday evening we had a spectacular pink sunset. Denali was throwing a
shadow into it (bottom left).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tanana 2

A bit further on the floodplain, a whole bunch of driftwood.

Walk by the Tanana river

The dogs and I took a walk by the Tanana river by the airport. This
section of the floodplain riverbank has been actively eroding over the
last however many years. Another thing to note is that this main
channel of the river has just small but hardly any big ice pancakes on it. Late freezeup.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Leaving Toolik

Saturday I woke up to fresh snow on the ground. And the honking of some 150 geese flying south. They were way late, for being that far north!

After breakfast, Anja and I left Toolik to drive back down to Fairbanks. Anja needed a ride, and I was happy to have company. Half a mile from Toolik, just before we got back onto the Dalton Highway, there was the group of ptarmigan I saw a few days earlier again on the side of the road. I only realized there were some thirty of them once these ones took off and the other ones, right next to me, joined them in the air. They are real well camouflaged.

Shortly before Atigun Pass we saw the first patch of blue sky.

Some places names along the Dalton are funny. Here, the "Oh shit" corner that one should slow down on, no matter which direction one is heading:

And eight hours later, we arrived in Fairbanks.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


This morning it was 4F on the thermometer (-15C). Cold and clear. Everything is white or black or brown or various shades in between.

The group of ptarmigan that is hanging around Toolik and making their noises just flew to the shrubbery a bit further away as I walked out of my weatherport tent to take a picture.
A closeup on one part of the picture above, showing the birds in flight:
Here is closeup of one bird from Monday. They are definitely changing their plumage to match the landscape. The red above the eye only shows up from some angles. I love their feather boots. Now if they just didn't make so much noise, I would never know they are here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

View this morning from Toolik

How the weather is depends which direction you're looking. One way clear and beautiful. The other way a wall of thick fog. Everything is frosted from the 14F nighttime temperatures.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Almost 100k

Crazy. We've put almost 100,000 miles on the car since March 2002. And
I thought we don't drive that much.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cold licks

Sharing ice cream at Hot Licks


Fleeting glimpses into the lesson happening in the classroom

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More migrating cranes

Another amazing Fairbanks day.

This morning near UAF, what a sight! (and the larger group had already passed us by that point)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A trip to Chena Hot Springs

This Sunday we took the first trip all together. Destination was Chena Hot Springs. After arrival, the kids ate a sandwich before we went to soak.

That time of the year...

Sunday, August 8, 2010


The kids enjoyed seeing all the animals in Martin's village, like this
neighbors kitty.

Monday, August 2, 2010


And then I finally made it to Switzerland . A three hour train ride
later, I'm waiting to see when Martin arrives from his trip to the
Simplon Pass.

Denali 8 hours later

After coming down with Alaska Airlines, 8 hours later we were on the
Condor flight to Frankfurt. Flying over the same route as that
morning, in reverse, at least for the first hour. Again had a nice
view of Denali.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Denali, or McKinley, the highest mountain in north america, this

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Martin is in Europe with the kids, so I went Dipnetting at Chitina with David. This guy (in the picture below) and his friend were fishing "our" spot, so we had to wait until they finished catching their 30 salmon each, which they did some 50 hours after they started. Then it was our turn. We got about 10 fish each in five hours, not bad for a slow run. At 1 pm we stopped, gutted the fish and cleaned them, carried them back up the trail to our bikes, biked the 2 miles (one hour) back to the car, put the fish into the coolers with ice and loaded up the car, and drove the six hours back to Fairbanks, arriving around 11 pm. Slept real well.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A walk with the dogs

Pictures from a walk with the dogs last night. Starting around 9, finishing around 10:30 pm. Most picturse taken around 10pm.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Camping on the Chena

We had a very nice camping trip this past weekend. Good company. Sunshine. Great bonfire. A nice hike up the beginning of the granite tors trail, followed by a nice melow paddling trip from our campsite to the bridge a couple roadmiles downstream.

Keith and Susan joined us for the bonfire, together with Regine, otherwise it was just our two families with four kids total.

Dads paddling with the kids, right by our campsite. The granite tors trail is on the opposite bank, and we used the canoe and kayak to get there. A lot of fun.

The bonfire, including smores.

Sonja got an early present for her birthday from those guys: her first swiss army knife. That's what it's called, "My first swiss army knife" or such. Does not have a point at the end, which is very nice.

Emilie and Elias throwing rocks into the river.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Signs of spring

  • The tripod fell down yesterday (Nenana Ice Classic)
  • Robins, geese, cranes, etc are back
  • Bugs are back
  • Hummers are back out too, somehow they too disappeared during winter (low mileage per gallon???)
  • It rained!!! First time since... September?
  • Mud season by our house where the sun doesn't shine enough to dry things out
  • Mud season by the river, too, resulting in some bare knees after the muddy pants got taken off
  • and still by the river, one can actually see into it, perhaps even half a foot! Now before the glaciers start melting and sending a lot of silt down the river, when one can see barely two inches in.

  • Things are about to go green. The buds on trees are about to break. Yay for that, too!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Painted nails

Yesterday, Sonja asked if, when she is big, she can paint her nails. I said something non-committal. Looking up a minute later, I realized Emilie had taken destiny into her own hands, and had already finished all the nails on her left foot, and was working on her right. I wonder form where does she even know about painting toe nails.

In honor of the robin that arrived by our house yesterday and was singing loudly this morning, I changed the blog header. Spring is here officially now that the robins are here. Yay!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Hot chocolate"

Hot chocolate (aka in swiss german 'schokie', since it started when Lena was visiting here) made from the mudpile of dirt that will hopefully turn magically into a garden.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April weekend

We had a nice and relaxing weekend. On Saturday, we went to see the baby reindeer at the university farm, followed by a walk through the botanical garden to enjoy the warm sun. Unbeknown to us beforehand, there were a lot of cool trees to climb on.

This tree by the reindeer was sporting most of the kids pretty quickly.Then the tree by the farmhouse was a popular spot too.

We only managed to make it some fifty yards further before the next tree climbing opportunity presented itself.
And after some playing in the kids house, going through the big maze, climbing up a big hill of dirt, and playing in the sand, there was one more tree and rock wall to climb before we headed back to the cars.
In the evening, Elsbeth et al treated us to a salmon dinner. On the way back, we stopped by the Tanana. No more skiing on it.
But, there was fun to be had by breaking the ice along its edge - the needles of the ice are delightful. Or may be I should call them candles since this ice is called candle ice.
On Sunday, we headed to Chatanika to walk and play by the dredge that's right across the Chatanika Lodge.

Elsbeth, Elias and Emilie look down from the tailings onto the dredge down below.
The dredge from the other side.
After several hours of walking and climbing across the tailings, making rock towers, making rock walls to make a 'house', and otherwise entertaining ourselves in the warm sun, we headed back the quarter mile back to the lodge for lunch. On the way, while Tinu watched all four kids, Elsbeth and I explored the dredge for a couple minutes.

There are a lot of staircases.
And a lot of levers.
And overall, it is one gigantic piece of history. That thing moved tons of rocks, and must have made enormous noise when operating. It is amazing to drive along the road and see the miles of tailings that this machine and others like it turned over in search of gold and piled into 30 ft or higher continuous snakes of rocks.

After lunch, the kids checked out some of the outhouses on skis, left from the outhouse races last month. One of these years I will have to come to those.