January 19, 2015

Happy 2015! Here’s to a year of adventures!

Filed under: Aurora, Roadtrips, Travel, Wildlife — Susan Stevenson @ 2:32 pm

Hello my dear friends and readers! I think this is the longest time that has lapsed between entries about my life here in Alaska. I apologize for that, as I have certainly missed writing.

The last time I updated, I was preparing for my three week trip to Madison, WI to spend the holidays with my two sons and their ladies. It was an amazing trip, and I am so happy I was able to have so much time with my boys. I miss them so much throughout the year, despite the regular communication between us via phone, text, and messaging. What a joy it was to wrap my arms around them and feel their cheeks against mine!

I’ll share more details and lots of photos in my next entry, as I haven’t completed processing and re-sizing all the photos I took while I was in WI.

One highlight of my WI visit, was being able to hang out with Julie - my dear gal pal and roadtrip partner who used to live here in Fairbanks. She and her family moved to IA last November, after her husband retired from the army, to help out on the family farm. Julie made the three-hour drive from Hawkeye, IA to Madison to spend the weekend with me. We went north, in search of waterfalls. Our travels took us all the way to the southern end of the Michigan U.P. - to Iron Mountain - where we spent the night. We enjoyed some much needed “girl time” catching up with each other, exploring the beautiful countryside, and stopping for photos and some winter hiking. It was a fun and beautiful drive. I miss her very much!


I returned to Alaska early on New Years Eve. After a long night of traveling in a cramped airplane, it was so fabulous to be back in my own house, and sleeping in my own bed. It was so wonderful to see Steve (and Raven) again, and although we originally had plans to go up to UAF to see the fireworks on New Years Eve, I wanted nothing more than to stay in my comfy clothes, sip champagne, and celebrate the arrival of 2015 here at home.

The day after New Years, my friend Amanda and I flew to Anchorage, where we photographed the wedding of another friend - Tracy. Tracy and her husband Steven spent one of their very first dates at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood (south of Anchorage) and were married at the top of the mountain on Saturday afternoon (1/3). Amanda and I flew down for the weekend, and hung out with Tracy and Steven’s families in a beautiful log home within walking distance of the resort. It was a gorgeous wedding, and I am happy for Tracy and Steven and their new blended family.

Tracy and Steven had a *First Look* - seeing each other before the ceremony. Tracy and Steven just pronounced married! Tracy and Steven's blended family
Tracy and Steven in silhouette Tracy and Steven share a romantic kiss with the mountains in the background Tracy and Steven and family at the top of the mountain.

On Sunday, since we had a late flight back to Fairbanks, Amanda and I decided to visit the AWCC (Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center) and do some sight seeing. What a fabulous visit! Since we were the only ones visiting, one of the staff members asked us if we’d like to feed the bull moose! Of course we said YES! Amanda and I hand fed two beautiful moose tangerines. And I also had the opportunity to pet a moose nose - something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s as soft as I imagined it would be.

Me petting a moose at AWCC


December 8, 2014

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.

Filed under: Aurora, Events, Everyday Life, Wildlife — Susan Stevenson @ 3:16 pm

(The title of this blog is a quotation by Hamilton Wright Mabie)

I love the month of December. Not only because Christmas comes in December, but because Steve and I both celebrate our birthdays in December. Steve’s birthday is actually today (12/8), and mine is on Sunday (12/14). Because we both have birthdays in December, we often celebrate both on the weekend in between. Because I won’t be here for my birthday, we celebrated early with a delicious dinner at Lavelle’s Bistro here in Fairbanks. Lavelle’s is our ’special occasion’ restaurant as it’s quite pricey, but the food has always been good and the ambiance is quite romantic too.  We both enjoyed dinner immensely, and afterward we took a drive around the downtown area to look at the Christmas lights on display in Golden Heart Plaza and on some of the stores and businesses.

I took this photo of the two of us before we went out to dinner:

Here is a pano photo of downtown Fairbanks, that I took after dinner:

Downtown Fairbanks pano

Because Steve turned 60 this year, I also organized an impromptu gathering at Badger Den Bar & Grill here in North Pole. Several friends came out to celebrate, and to share in a meal and delicious cheese cake (Steve’s request, rather than birthday cake). It was very last minute, and also snowing, so we are both quite happy that they came out. We sang to him and I put one big candle in one of the cheesecakes so he could make a wish. It was an enjoyable night, and I know Steve was happy to have others celebrate with him.

Steve had 3 Cheesecakes. This is just one of them Steve's Birthday Gathering Steve's Birthday Gathering


At the beginning of the month, Fairbanks finally had a sizable accumulation of snow. At our house in North Pole, we measured about 7″ of new snow. Most everyone is happy about this, as we didn’t have much before then, and once our temperature plummets into the negatives, there’s the risk of frozen septic systems without the added insulation.


November 26, 2014

“Snow was falling, so much like stars filling the dark trees…

Filed under: Aurora, Everyday Life, Roadtrips — Susan Stevenson @ 11:39 am

… that one could easily imagine its reason for being was nothing more than prettiness.” ~ Mary Oliver

Finally - after waiting forever it seems - we had our first significant snowfall yesterday. Here at our house, there is an additional 5-6″ of accumulation. So many of us have been wanting and wishing for fresh snow, as the first snow had compacted into less than an inch of dirty, footprint-marked, grayness. Now, the world looks bright and white and clean again. And the trees look beautiful, wearing their white cloaks - especially the many birch trees surrounding our home.

fresh snow on the driveway

I took this photo of one of our birch trees and converted it to B&W:

birch tree and snow

I had a few errands to run yesterday, and although the roads were slippery in several places, I made a few stops along the way to grab a few photos:

Snow Scene - Fort Wainwright Golf Course Spruce Tree - Fort Wainwright Golf Course Snow and the Red Storage Shed

Only a few days earlier, we had one of those blue-sky winter days. Despite the sun’s brief appearance as we near Winter Solstice, and its low position in the sky, the light it emits is quite bright. As the sunshine finds its way between the trees, and spills across the snow-covered ground, ice crystals sparkle like fairy dust. The light is a beautiful orange-yellow and warms the tips of the trees, highlighting the frost and snow clinging to each branch. Against the blue sky, the orange-painted branches look almost fall-like. It is quite stunning!

Sun through the birch trees in my front yard Orange Frost Orange branches against a deep blue winter sky