March 22, 2015

Ice Art and Happy Dogs!

Filed under: Aurora, Family, Roadtrips, Wildlife — Susan Stevenson @ 4:30 pm

ICE ALASKA

It’s been a fabulous month here in Interior Alaska! I’ve been kept quite busy with all of the activities taking place here. The Ice Park opened at the end of February, and I purchased a season pass (as I always do) so that I could get a commemorative pin. This pin will be the 12th one for my collection. Unfortunately, they’re not in yet, and I hope I don’t miss out on getting one. Over the last couple of years, the pins have not been in when the park opened, which necessitated frequent inquiries and visits, in order to guarantee getting one. The price of the season pass increased substantially a year or two ago, but I love this event (and the pin!) so I continue to purchase this pass even if I don’t go as often as I’d like. I hope I don’t miss out!

I have visited the park three times so far. Twice,  during the day - after both the single and the multi-block sculptures were up, and once at night, to see them all under colored lights. They look so different with and without lights, and I like to take photos for comparison. Unfortunately, one of my visits was during a rather heavy snowstorm, which meant the sculptures were covered heavily in snow. It was still quite pretty and magical, even if much of the detail was obscured.

My friend Bob and his wife Jolene were in town for the Iditarod Re-start the weekend of the 7th-9th. I met up with them that Sunday and took them all over town, showing them the sights. We visited the Ice Park in the afternoon, and returned again in the evening for the colored lights. They really enjoyed themselves (as did I), and I had a wonderful day showing them my favorite places in Fairbanks. They talked about possibly moving here someday. They currently live down in Soldotna, which is on the Kenai Peninsula. It does get a lot colder here, so it’s not for everyone, but I think I showed them enough of our fair city to make a good impression.

Here are some photos taken during my visits to the Ice Park. I put together day and night composites of some of my favorite sculptures so you can see the difference. Some of the other sculptures, while also beautiful, didn’t photograph as well at both times of day, which is why I don’t have composites for all of them.

Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015
Ice Alaska 2015 Ice Alaska 2015

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March 4, 2015

March! A Fun and Busy Month!

Filed under: Aurora, Everyday Life, Wildlife — Susan Stevenson @ 7:57 pm

Hello friends and readers! Can you believe it’s already March?! I feel like February just flew by, and now March is upon us, and it’s going to be a very busy month. March is my favorite winter month here in Interior Alaska, as there are so many events and activities to enjoy. Most are outdoor activities and events too - which is the perfect encouragement to get out of winter hibernation mode. With the return of light (we’re up to 12 hours of visible light now), I feel like winter is just about over - even if we still have quite some time before we see the green of spring buds on the trees. We’re having some magnificent sunrises and sunsets too - at a “normal” hour. I took this photo a couple of weeks ago - right from the end of my driveway.

February Sunset

March is always a good time to see the aurora, although with the longer daylight hours, you may have to stay up a little later to see them. March is usually tolerable, temperature wise, although we have had years when we’ve seen negative temps. So far, this year is proving to be unseasonably warm. In fact today we saw highs in the low 40s - and that’s above zero! It was such a beautiful, sunny day, that Steve and I took Raven out for a nice long walk around the neighborhood.

March is also a great month to watch dogsled races, and this particular year, we’re going to have the race of all races  - the Iditarod - start right here in Fairbanks! Because of the lack of snow in Anchorage, and along the trails down in that part of the state, officials decided to bring the start here to Fairbanks. The last time they had to do this was in 2003 - only a few months before we moved here.  Although I was lucky enough to go to the Iditarod when my sister-in-law, France visited several years ago, this will definitely be a first in seeing it start right here in Fairbanks. I can’t even imagine how crazy it’s going to be at the start, and just about everywhere in Fairbanks, with the influx of spectators and visitors. This is good news for Fairbanks, and will bring a lot of added revenue to our city.

My friend Karen is coming up from Anchorage. Karen is the gal who was gracious enough to take France and I around when we went to the Iditarod a couple of years ago. She’s flying up with another photographer friend that I know online, and they will be staying at Pike’s Lodge - which is pretty much right where all the activity will be going on. They are already warning that there won’t be any parking available and that the only way to get to the start will be via shuttle. As much as I’d love to be right there at the start, I decided I’d rather avoid the crowds, and instead find a place along the river where I can watch the mushers and their teams come by in a more natural setting. Steve took me out yesterday looking for places with a good view, and I do hope that it works out.

My friend Bob will also be in Fairbanks, and I hope we can meet up too. He’s got a press pass though, so he’ll be at the start fighting for a good view. I really didn’t want to deal with that, which is why I didn’t apply for a pass myself. I hope we have some decent weather, not only for the race, but for (hopefully) some good aurora displays.

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WHAT’S GOING ON IN FAIRBANKS THIS MONTH?

The Festival of Native Arts: I love this event, and plan to attend on Saturday night if possible. I also have plans to attend the Pow Wow on Saturday afternoon.

The World Ice Art Championships (Ice Park): Single blocks are up and multi-blocks will be judged on Friday night. Sadly, I haven’t been to the ice park yet. I plan to remedy that this weekend as well. My belly dance friends will be performing at the Ice Park on Sunday, and I hope to get over there and see them dance. The Ice Park is open until March 29th.

Sled Dog Races: The North Pole Championship Races - March 7th. The JUNIOR North American Championships - March 7th, late afternoon. The Limited North American Sled Dog Race (weekend of the 13th) AND the Open North American Championships (weekend of the 20th) . The Fur Auction and Parka Parade are also a part of the Open North American Championships.

Nenana Ice Classic Tripod Days is this weekend. Always a lot of fun, with games and contests, and wonderful participation from the community and visitors. The Iditarod is coming through there next week too, which is an added treat for those who call Nenana home.

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February 15, 2015

Aurora, Aurora, and MORE Aurora!

Filed under: Aurora, Everyday Life — Susan Stevenson @ 3:49 pm

January and February have been awesome months for aurora viewing and photographing! But because of the arctic cold, I have stayed close to home - especially when Steve is on night shift, and not close by to help me if I had any car problems. While my car is in good repair, -45F is not easy on any vehicle, and I try not to go anywhere unless absolutely necessary.

One of the more exciting nights of aurora viewing was on January 26th. That evening, Poker Flat Research Range launched four rockets into and aurora-filled sky. The four launches were successful and were done to gather data that will help researchers understand turbulent air currents in the upper atmosphere.

Two teams collaborated to launch the four rockets. One team was led by Rich Collins from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the other by Miguel Larsen at Clemson University. Larsen’s rockets released a gas called trimethyl aluminum, which glows green when it reacts with oxygen. His team will use images of the gas dispersal to better understand turbulence. Researchers have been in position to launch since Jan. 13, waiting each night for the clear weather they needed for their experiments.

I don’t know much of the technical information in regards to these rockets, and found the above information at the Poker Flat website. But how lucky that I happened to be standing out in my road just as a rocket launched! Here are the photos I captured.

The Rocket Trail appears off in the distance, beyond the trees I think this squiggly light trail was made when the gas was first released from the rocket More gas released and glowing as part of the rocket makes its way back to earth.
Poker Flat Rocket and Aurora from my road Poker Flat Rocket and Aurora

At the end of January, we had several days of continued activity. I hardly slept a wink, as I found myself stuck to the Aurora Cam, watching for the familiar lights in the sky. When I see strong activity on the cam, I know that I have several minutes to get outside and set up in the driveway or the road for photos. I especially pay attention to where the lights are showing up. If they are straight up, I have a good chance of seeing them from my house. If they are low, I know I will see very little, or will need to drive elsewhere for an open sky. (The camera is offline during daylight hours, but if you’re up late, give it a look and get an idea of what I’m seeing!)

I attended an aurora lecture given by the very knowledgeable Neal Brown - one of Fairbanks’ real rocket scientists. If you’re curious about his education and professional experience, feast your eyes on this extremely impressive resume. And if you’re local, and he schedules another lecture - GO!

Beautiful Aurora over my House Beautiful Aurora over Frosted Trees Beautiful Aurora over Road
Beautiful Aurora over House Beautiful Aurora

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