Sunday, February 27, 2011

Our ultimate roadtrip to the middle of nowhere.

 The sun just slipping behind Mt Redoubt tonight with the ice pack in the forefront..  There was a wisp of ice and snow rising more than likely a few thousand feet in the air right at the peak, caused by the winds whipping up over the backside of the mountain.  It was fabulous!

The day had started out rather early.  Or, maybe the previous day never really ended and it all rolled into one.  We tried to go to bed and probably napped for a couple of hours before it was time to get up at 1:00AM.  The plan was to meet with their garage, which made me feel so dirty at 2:00AM.....and as one would expect we were running a little late, barely able to see straight much less think.  After the brief rendezvous, in the garage, we set out for the early AM road trip to Anchorage.  Let me tell you, a road trip to Anchorage at 2:30AM is very uneventful!  Other then the homemade muffins and thermos of coffee....there just wasn't a whole lot going on!

Our goal to make it to the airport in Anchorage by 5:45AM was successful, where after a bit of a scare (Era Aviation had no confirmation of our booking and it was a full flight....except for the 2 seats that they had to squeeze us in on...thankfully) we boarded our plane and began the trek to Fairbanks.  The best part of flying with Era Aviation within the bounds of Alaska is that they serve you a cookie of your choice and juice for a snack!  As this may sound petty to some, to someone like me who loves 'the cookie' it is utter joy.  After flying a little more than an hour we landed at the tiny Fairbanks airport.  Not near as tiny as Kenai's airport, but it was small by most standards.  I knew I was in for a scene when Maryann turned to me and said, " have to look at this".  As I peered out the window past her, it was like a sight out of some sci-fi flick.

Freezing fog is like microscopic ice particulates suspended motionless in mid air.  It was bizarre to say the least!  As we got off the plane onto the tarmac, where most people would have been gasping for air as it was -35F below 0, I was fascinated with the frozen fog...never mind the fact that my nose hairs froze instantly and face went numb!  the frozen fog was like hovering just high enough off of the ground as to prevent you from seeing within feet of where you were standing.  My second thought was, how in hell I was going to drive in this....I couldn't see as it was on the tarmac!  First thought was, "and why am I here?".  Which brings me to the point of exactly, what we were doing there.

Around here when you mention Fairbanks, most Alaskans simply ignore the comment, say "I'm sorry", or ask the pertinent question, "why would you want to go to Fairbanks?".  There just isn't a whole lot happening in Fairbanks.  In the winter it is cold, very cold, and you only get like a couple of good hours of daylight...on a good day.  Beings that we were there in January, we caught the lengthening of daylight hours, but not by much.  In short, John found a work rig for me on Craigslist.  It is what I had been wanting, and although it came a little unexpected at a time I wasn't really looking for one, it was too good of a deal to pass up with ultra low miles on it and the utility bed that is a super plus.  So after doing a two week 'virtual' run over with the owner through emails, many pics, and having him take it into a shop up there to have it gone through for me, the decision to purchase it was firmed up and Maryann and I went to Fairbanks to get it and drive it back.

In a sense, I feel as if I let my viewing public down by not taking pictures of the journey.  However, trust me, there really wasn't much to take pictures of with the temps at -30F below 0 mid-day, frozen fog suspended in mid air, and little to no daylight to speak of!  You really didn't miss much!!  There was "Skinny Dick's Halfway Inn" south of Fairbanks with a trademark signage of 2 bears humping....probably somewhere I would have liked to have sat and watered down as a pit stop.  But not this trip.  Oh, keep in mind this is a stock photo from the web.  With little daylight, a lot of snow and ice and us just not wanting to stop due to the extreme frigid temps, there was no viable photo opp here folks!

 It was a long and arduous 12 hour drive back home for us, and we were really trying to grind as much road as we could while there was still daylight.  We went through the village of Nenana, where the "Nenana Ice Classic" is held each spring.  There will be more to come on that in coming weeks as the lottery for that event is abound.  We did have breakfast at the northernmost Denny's restaurant in North America!  Believe it or not it was the best tasting Denny's I have yet to have the chance of eating at.  I would go back for some 'Moons Over My Hammy' the summer!  One thing that floored me was how much Fairbankites complained about how cold it was this this I can only say, "really...ya think?!"

All in all it was a good adventure for us with lots of time to talk, and listen, and talk.  Most all of the drive was very desolate, ice covered, and barren.  Maryann was excited to get to see Mt McKinley from a distance as we drove through Denali National Park.  For hours we were literally the only vehicle on the road either direction.  Further emphasis with the minus temps, why we so wanted to cover as much miles as possible before the sun went back down.  The very long day did finally come to an end around midnight as we pulled into the compound and were greeted by 3 very excited dogs!  Bed never felt so good.

On a more exciting note, Maryann has made a conscious decision to run a marathon this coming fall.  Mind you, she has never done anything like this, much less really "run" since her high school days.  She has begun training for it now and once the snow and ice melt in the spring will begin an astringent training regimen through the summer to prep for her day in the sun!  I have included the link for this event.
She will be participating in the run with an artist friend of hers who lives in Pacific Grove, California on November 20th 2011, and she is very excited about what she is setting out to accomplish!  I am sure there will be more info here, to come on this adventure.  We are hoping that she will get the honor and support of family and our close friends,  maybe a chance for us all to spend some time together before and after the race in the most beautiful place one could experience on the California coast!  For now, all I can say is "run Forest, run!"

Many people have been brought to my attention lately, who are going through some very difficult and emotionally trying times.  When I think about how fortunate and blessed we are, it only makes me want to channel constructive time and positive energy to those who need it.  Whether you are a friend from the past or present, a family member, a fellow blogger who is a  "follower" of this blog, or someone who I have been so honored to have been brought to cross paths, you are in my thoughts and prayers and I encourage us all to spend just a little time in our days being more aware of these people who can use some positive energy and prayer.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Returning after a brief spell....

....And just as the daylight hours increase with life giving essence and endurance, so to, do they return.  After a long and seemingly unbelievable absence from my post of storyteller, fact practitioner, opinionated commentator and sharer of our life in the 'great land', I have returned!  To the followers, I apologize for leaving all at bay.  To the ones who lost interest and left...oops!  I can't really put a finger on it.  Oh, we are all just fine.  Nothing has happened, life is good, and winter although cold and at times unseasonably warm at other times, has been a blessing!  Sometimes, a person just losses the drive and ambition through no fault of their own, but rather to the consistent and ever present circumstances that may surround them.  In my case, busy with life, extremely busy with work...God has blessed us in so many ways this past year with a stable and secure income.  And, I don't know why, but a lack of motivation in the arena of writing.  You know how there have been times when you have to talk to someone for whatever the reason but you keep putting it off.  The longer you put it off worse you feel.  Then you put it off even more.....and pretty soon you are afraid to make the long needed contact that you just find it difficult to put yourself to it....  Best explanation I can give!

In the meantime, the world seems to have gone to hell in a hand basket if you listen to mainstream media.  Oh the stench of 'change' is in the air it seems everywhere.  Even in our own country, where an apparent overstock of 'shellac' this past fall seemed to find it's way all the way to the top, in the form of a rather harsh reality check!  That being simply, that people are pissed!!  All one can do is just try to live life each day the best they can, and do all they can do to make life a little better.  I struggle with this theory lately as frustration sometimes seems to take the drivers seat.

But enough of that.  Much has gone on around here this winter and it has been both accomplished and enjoyable, and some of it I will try to catch up on as the days go.  But for now, again, if your reading this, thanks for sticking around and for your support.    In the meantime, I wanted to share a few pics representative of winter and some of the joy to my soul it does bring.  Yes, I am still a sick little monkey and love the cold and snow!  We actually witnessed frozen fog last month up in Fairbanks.  It was a trip, man!  More on that later....

                                         4/5's of the pack!

                                          Snow play and frolicking!

 Mouth of the Kenai at low tide.  Those flow chunks of ice are easily the size of an SUV.

                                          A morning Mt Redoubt.

                               Sunset do no justice!

                             Intense 'fire sky'!  I love this sight!

                                               More sunset color.

  Whoa!  There is some of that 'stoic immensity' I've spoken of in the past.  That is a full size Chevy pick-up there that she is loving up to!  Can't tell by the tree in the way, but she is pregnant.

                  I got a little close here.  She let me know about it.
                A cold morning with a wisp of hoar frost about the birches.