Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Believe

If there is a sun god or goddess, I believe. I would bow at his or her knees and drink from the goblet of light. I miss the sun that much.

Shortest Day on Video

Here is a time lapse video showing the sun's path over Fairbanks on the shortest day of the year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice!

It's finally here. Winter Solstice. A very exciting day in Fairbanks. The shortest day of the year. From here we can only go up: more daylight, more sun. Oh yes, please, more sun! It's only been in the past two weeks that I've felt the oppressiveness of the dark, and I am over it. I've been popping Vitamin D like candy. 

I'm off work for a few weeks now and find myself with a lot of time on my hands. It's been too cold for snowshoeing or skiing. Heck, it's even been too cold to snow! I spend the morning with the paper, my coffee and Happy Light: 
Notice that it's pitch black outside. This was at 9:00am.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Comparison

Here's a comparison of the same scene in different seasons.

This was taken May 23 at 9:20pm:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bus Ride

This is video of my "bus" ride to Aleknagik school yesterday. It was bumpy and I have to admit I was a tad worried that if I should fall out, the driver would never hear my screams.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Day in the Life

Reflecting upon today, it struck me how odd the following conversations were. Especially to have so many in one day. But the more I think about it, the more I realize this was a typical day in the bush.

Dillingham stormy skies.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I made it out of Togiak today but it wasn't easy. Visibility was good, wind was not. I almost had to use this. If I hadn't been so nauseated I would have smiled at the bit of assurance the Sic-Sac had to offer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Would You Rather?

Would you rather have forgotten your shower flip flops or your towel? Lucky for me I didn't have to decide, for I forgot both this week. I have my hair dryer so I am able to blow dry. I'm using ziplock bags for shower shoes.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I Don't Believe

The back of this notecard says that Polar bears hide their black noses with their paws to disguise themselves while waiting for seals at the water's edge.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Taxi rides in Fairbanks are an adventure. It's great when it's negative 35 degrees and the cab goes to the house at the end of the block and you have to chase them down.

It's also fun to have an argument with the same driver about where you're going.
Me: Warbelow's is here, on the right.
Driver: No, that's not it.
Me: Yes it is. See the sign that says Warbelow's? That's where I need to be.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Oh, Thanksgiving

What would Thanksgiving be without a little chaos and a grease fire? A small fire that was quickly put out. No thanks to me though. I couldn't find my baking soda until after every one left. Typical. Thank God I didn't have to call the fire department -- I would have been mortified!

Pot -- post fire.

Ski Lesson #2

Today was my second cross-country ski lesson. It was -11 degrees. I thought I was making a lot of progress until my instructor asked me:

"Can your skis actually glide?"
<heavy sigh>

What I aspire to -- *not* what I look like.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen

This is life on the road: red vines, diet coke, Parmesan cheese and watching Modern Family on the iPad. Can you say your night has been this exciting?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

You Know You're not in Kansas...

... when you hear an elementary student say when leaving school: 
"But bears will get you if you go the shortcut -- I never go the shortcut."

Monday, November 12, 2012


This was the oxygen mask on the plane today.  I think it was meant for the pilot but I could have used it. The pilot was a bit of a cowboy and practically had us upside down. I don't know how I managed not to wet myself.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sister Mary Full of Grace, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Today I had my first cross-country ski lesson. It's a 5 week class focusing on classic skiing (versus skate skiing). It didn't go well. I can't glide; I can't balance; and Holy Moses I most certainly cannot go downhill.
Waxing our skis in the warming hut.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Aurora Borealis

Interior Alaska was treated to quite an aurora show last night. On my flight home from Anchorage I saw the the lights from the plane. They were were dancing unlike I'd seen them before.

Here's a picture someone shared on Facbook of his plane ride leaving Fairbanks early this morning. This is very similar to what I saw last night.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Signs of Winter

You know things are slowing down for winter in Cordova when the bartender is teaching the one waitress how to knit, behind the bar.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fairbanks' Best Kept Secret

I read this blurb on the web tonight. It was in response to the question, "What is Fairbanks weather like?"

"The weather is probably Fairbanks's best kept secret. With less than 12 inches of annual rainfall and only 70 inches of light, dry snow each year, Fairbanks has just the right weather for summer boating, fishing, birding, hiking and winter snow-machining, snowshoeing and skiing. Summer days are breezy, dry and warm and most winter days are clear or slightly overcast with almost no wind."

This makes winter in Fairbanks sound downright balmy! How is it that so few people come to this veritable paradise? I don't understand.

Perhaps (and this is merely a suggestion) it's because the author of said note failed to mention the nose-hair freezing, front door frozen shut, don't-forget-to-plug-your-car-in-or-you're-screwed, freezing temperatures!

Winter Sunsets

I think winter sunsets in Fairbanks are prettier than summer sunsets.

There tends to be more Denali sightings as well in winter. I still think it's amazing that I can see Denali from Fairbanks at all. Puts it into perspective as to how tall 20,320 feet is, even 120 miles away.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sweet Tanana

I was in Tanana this week and it was nice to be back. I'm not sure why, but there's a decidedly different feel in town this year. It doesn't feel as sad.

Once above the fog when leaving Fairbanks, I had a great view of the Alaska Range. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Livin' the Dream

Some say I'm "living the dream". I don't disagree, I'm just not sure that  "dream" is quite the right word for my gallivanting across the tundra. Adventure?  For sure. Blissful autonomy? Absolutely. But "dream"? Hmmm, that might be pushing it at times (you did read about the boat ride, right?)  But you be the judge. Here's what living the dream looked like this week on my trip to Togiak, Manokotak and Aleknagik.

Sleeping in the nurses station at Togiak school.

Monday, October 15, 2012

If Not By Land, Then By Sea

Or lake, as it were.

I went to Aleknagik last week -- a small village 30 minutes drive north of Dillingham. The district superintendent also had to go to Aleknagik so he gave me a ride. No one mentioned that we'd only be driving to the boat launch. When the road ends you hop a boat to the school. I did not know this. Along the drive, the superintendent kept making comments that I thought were odd but didn't think anything about them.

"Might be a bit choppy on the lake today", he said. I thought he was making general conversation about the weather so I replied, "Yeah, it was really windy up in Manokotak yesterday". No, he was talking about us crossing the lake via boat.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Conversation with a First Grader

Today I had the following exchange with a first grader in Togiak:

Me: Did you ride the bus to school today:
Kid: No, there was a bear at school so my mom drove me. 

I guess there is a benefit to my accommodations being at the school -- I don't have to worry about running into a bear while walking to school. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Little Cordova

Flying in to Cordova on Monday was beautiful. I'm sure I've said it before, but when the sun is out, Cordova is spectacular.

Unfortunately I only had my phone camera with me.  (Long story but I believe someone in TSA is the happy owner of my Sony DSC-H10. Grrr.) I was able to get these two shots, grainy as they are. Cordova sits at the bottom of Mt. Eyak.

Friday, October 5, 2012

What We Need Here

It is my belief that what the Anchorage Airport needs, is a flash mob. Yes, these are the things I think about while meandering the terminals at ol' Ted Stevens International.

Look how forlorn and desolate. It's begging
for a flash mob!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Momma's Tired

What a weekend. I spent two days at the "Ultimate Athlete" seminar hosted by Crossfit. It was very informative and I learned a lot but man am I tired. Stick a fork in me I am done! Preemptive Advil is in order because tomorrow I don't know that I'll be able to lift my arms above my head to wash my hair, or be able to bend over to pull on socks. I squatted, deadlifted and bench pressed more than I ever have before.
Weight I deadlifted.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Curious Cat

After a long day all I wanted tonight was to read my Kindle while soaking in a hot bath. However when you have to wait a half hour for your tub to fill because of the lack luster water pressure at your house, it just isn't as satisfying.

Once I finally had a full bathtub, the cats were curious. In particular, Roly.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Last Paddle?

I believe days like today are numbered. It was 34 degrees when I woke up this morning but the sun warmed up nicely. It almost hit 60 degrees! The hills surrounding Fairbanks saw snow flurries last weekend. Yup, these warm days are in short supply. To celebrate such a lovely day I went for a paddle on Birch Lake. Kayaking is good for the soul and the best way to adjust one's attitude.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Almost Hawaii

The weather in Adak this past week was particularly nice -- only one day of rain.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's Gettin' Real

When I interviewed for this job I was told that I might be sleeping on schools floors; be sure and have a good water purification system; and I'd have to take my own food with me since not all the villages have grocery stores.

Fall Color

I created a separate page for the pictures I've been taking of the fall color around town. Click the "Fall Color" tab at the top of this page.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Green Salad, Vodka, and a Missing Breast

On the flight home from Adak this week I was upgraded to first class.There were 15 people on the jet, total. Ten of us were in first class. The flight attendant asked me if I'd like to have dinner -- an herb chicken breast with a green salad. That'd be lovely, I said. Oh, and a vodka and sprite zero cocktail too, please!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


This past weekend, Hollie and crew had a destination vacation in Fairbanks. Cousins Henlie and Savanna had fun playing in the leaves and in particular, throwing leaves on me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ouch, That Smarts

On a layover at Anchorage airport last Friday night I overheard this phone conversation at the Chili's bar:

A guy was talking to his girlfriend. He asked her if she wanted to go to the OSU football game next weekend. I can only guess what her answer was based on the following response:

"Am I gonna pay attention to you? At the football game? Probably not!"

Silence on his end for a moment then,
"Just sayin' I'm not paying $200 a ticket to sit in the stands and stare at you."

He made a fair point. If I were paying $200 to see Justin Timberlake in concert I can't say I'd be paying attention to any boyfriend!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fall Frivolity

It was another beautiful fall day yesterday -- perfect for a bonfire at Blair and Mark's.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A DIY First

Fine readers, I've reached a milestone. I started and completed a DIY project ALL ON MY OWN!  Sorry for the shouting but this is monumental. Typically when I DIY, I don't know what I'm doing, end up getting frustrated and either don't finish the project or do it hastily because I am sick of working on it, and it looks like crap.

But I've turned over a new leaf. The tide has turned. However you want to look at it, I can now look at Pinterest knowing that I'm a doer, not just a late-night-addicted-to-Pinterest-crack-whore-looker. That's right, I re-painted my dresser. I exhibited patience (waited for the paint to completely dry), did my homework (i.e., spent countless hours reading Pinterest), and I completed the project in three days.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Only in Alaska

I've mentioned before that some things are quintessentially Alaskan. There are experiences you won't have anywhere else in the world. Last night I had one of those experiences.

I was at my friends Adam & Yvette's house for a bbq. Our other friends, Blair and Mark stopped by for a few minutes. They were on their way home from getting their first moose. As in, they shot a moose with a bow. In case you didn't ascertain this, it's moose season in Alaska. For you readers not in Alaska, this is a very big deal.

Summer Pictorial Review

My observation that Fairbanks summer weather wasn't "all that' has been substantiated. Today's News Miner reported that the average temperature in Fairbanks this summer was 59.5 degrees. We had 5 days of 80 degree weather -- far off the average of 11 days.

Yesterday was Labor Day; summer is officially over. Here's summer in pictures:
Start of summer -- Hiking Angel Rocks

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Here birdie, birdie, birdie...

I have a neighborhood raven who enjoys talking to the cats. He doesn't tease and taunt quite like Blue Jays do, but he sure does like to get the cats going! 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Back to It

This past week was my first trip of the year. 1 down 7 to go for Cordova! As is typical when I go to Cordova, the weather was exquisite. Truly, I have never experienced more than a day or two of rain while there. For those of you who don't know, Cordova never sees the sun. It's weather is similar to Juneau and Ketchikan: gray skies, rain and rain.I tell the locals that the sun comes out when I'm in town (obviously).

This week however was exceptional. The trip started with a fly-by view of Mt. McKinley, although I was sitting on the wrong side of the plane to get pictures! When I fly to Anchorage I always sit on the right side of the plane so I can see Denali if the mountain is out. This trip though, the skies were so clear the pilot did a special fly-by where he dropped down to 24,000 feet and circled around the mountain. Those on the left side of the plane had all the views. I did get this nice picture of Mt. Foraker though.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

6 Weeks 'till Winter

Local wisdom says that once Fireweed flowers go to cotton, winter is six weeks away.

Autumn has arrived in Fairbanks. We're still having nice days -- 70's, warm and sunny. But nights have a chill that requires an extra blanket. Windows can't be left open at night; and the quality of light has shifted as well. Softening it seems, in preparation for its hibernation.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cluck Hut Casulties

Last weekend Crossfit Fairbanks hosted the second annual Fairbanks Fitness Derby at the Tanana Valley State Fair. I (wisely) chose not to compete but I did spectate. The derby was intense; each of the five events was a workout that we'd typically do at the gym on one day. These people were completing all five events in one afternoon!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Kayaking the Chena River, Take II

Those of you long-time followers may remember my fiasco of an attempt to paddle upstream on the Chena River over a year ago. If not, take a peek and read it here. It's classic Heather; what can I say.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Goods Are Odd

Let's focus for a moment on the men portion of this blog, shall we?

I've mentioned before that in Alaska there's a saying about the plethora of men compared to women: "the odds are good but the goods are odd." To exemplify this point I give you the following email I received from ClassyBigDee, shortly before I met 007.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is what's available in Fairbanks, Alaska. And, this was not an isolated incident. (You remember my experience with the BARF, right?) Oh, and to you, "Singleandesperate" -- please change your user name.

Is it any wonder that I've been so taken with 007? I cartwheeled* to my laptop to cancel my match.com account after our second date. Suffice it to say 007 is far classier than BigDee. And that's not classy with a 'K'.

*I've been watching a lot of Olympic coverage (albeit through illegal streaming), in particular the gymnastics. Hence the cartwheel reference. What I wouldn't give to be able to do "a roundoff, one-and-a-half twisting flip into another roundoff, backhand spring, half-twisting double flip, into another flip." Sheesh. I can barely get my feet off the ground to do a jump tucks at Crossfit, and not fall over when I land! 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Chena Lakes: winter vs summer

Chena Lakes is one of my go to places -- perfect for snowshoeing in the winter, and kayaking in the summer. It's interesting to compare the seasons in pictures.

Winter sunset:
I believe this was a "sundog" day. The phantom
sun is to the left.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bright Lights Big City

I ventured to Anchorage last weekend to visit Hollie, Henlie and Jon. It is a long drive but infinitely more scenic than driving between the Bay Area and Los Angeles. No McKinley or moose sightings this trip, but I also didn't get pulled over by the troopers.

The weather in Anchorage unfortunately was dismal: cold and gray, lots of rain. So much for the great Alaska summer! A rainy Saturday was a good day to be crafty -- we made "calming jars".

Monday, July 16, 2012


This past weekend I was in Seattle visiting Cicilie. What a great time we had! We went on the Seattle Great Wheel.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


* I started this post back in March and seemingly forgot to finish it off. It's a bit late, but worth posting as it was a wonderful experience witnessing one of the greatest races. 

When I was a kid there was a York Peppermint Patty TV commercial where a woman ecstatically shouts, "When I bite into a York Peppermint Patty I get the sensation of driving a dogslead across the frozen tundra....Wshew......Wshew"


I realized when I mentioned sledding in yesterday's camping post, that I never posted a blog entry about sledding this winter. Shame on me!  I loathe thinking about snow right now, but this was such a fun day it deserves to be blogged. It certainly went into my memory jar. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Camping in the Interior

Over July 4th I went camping with Agent 007. (His name is Ken, but 007 is just more fun.) This wasn't camping that I'm accustomed to. First, we arrived in daylight. Not just because there is still 24 hours of daylight, but because we actually got to the trail head at a reasonable hour. Usually my camping trips consist of Julia and I reaching our destination at 1 in the morning and camping in the ranger station parking lot. Sometimes we accidentally camp in the trail head parking lot thinking that it's the campground, only to be awakened the next morning by people parking their cars next to our tent. How rude!

This trip was off to a good start. Except for one minor detail. We were riding 4-wheelers 18 miles to our cabin destination and I had never been on a 4-wheeler before.  Well, there was that one time this winter when sledding with Blair and Mark. I remember the look of fear that passed over Mark's face as I climbed on and asked him what the silver doohickey was for. "The brake", he grimaced. Good to know.

Our view for much of the ride.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ice, Ice, Baby

There are some activities that are quintessential Alaskan. Ice climbing on a glacier is one of them. Not that you can't do this elsewhere but when you combine it with camping at the foot of the glacier and not needing to use your headlamp all night, well, it's an experience that is unique to Alaska.

Last weekend BFF Julia visited me from California. We went ice climbing on the Matanuska Glacier as neither of us had ever done that before. What an experience! We were able to camp at the glacier the night before climbing day. 

Our view from the tent.

What a surprise it was to see the moon! I haven't seen it since April. It was a bittersweet moment though -- I miss seeing the moon but it's appearance means the end of summer is near.

The next day we met our guides and got geared up for the climb. There were six people in our group -- I was the only one without any climbing experience.
Julia, ready to go!
At the Moulin.
Waiting for the ropes to be set.
Julia climbing.

Lock and load.
Up I go!
Trying not to wet myself as I descend.

Julia looking so stable, but really trying not to fall.

We climbed at two different places on the glacier, and were able to do as many climbs as we wanted. Our guides were great, although... Julia and I were told if we didn't stop whispering we'd have to be separated.

I am actually climbing here -- not
hanging on for dear life as it appears.

Super Twins!

Me climbing the crack. "It's just like going up a staircase!"
said Richard the Ice billy goat. Uh huh.

Our guide, Richard, not letting us fall.
Hanging out at the wall. This is shortly after I fell
through rotten ice up to my hip, in glacier water.

Our crampons were no joke.
The day after ice climbing we drove to Talkeetna and had lunch before stopping in at Denali National Park. Unfortunately it was cloudy all day and Julia didn't get a good view of Mt. McKinley. This means she'll have to come back for another visit!

The rest of the weekend we spent enjoying the Fairbanks sites. Julia witnessed first hand all of Fairbanks treasures. That took 20 minutes and then we had a drink. :) It was a great weekend catching up, doing new things and enjoying summer.

And you know you have a good friend when she'll hold your cat so you can clean his poopy bottom when he's having digestive troubles. Poor kitty.