October 31, 2009

Sunshine and Snow

Filed under: Everyday Life,Photography — Susan Stevenson @ 9:19 pm

The sun came out a couple of days ago. What a big difference it makes on my mood! When it’s overcast, it feels so much colder than when the sun is shining. And there’s nothing I love more than pure white snow and deep blue skies. Such a beautiful color contrast.

Friends of mine were traveling last week, and I was stopping by their house to check on things. The river runs right behind their house, so I took my camera with me on the first day that the sun came out.  There’s ice in the river, and it’s closing in from the sides, but there’s still a wide strip of open water down the middle. It’s nowhere near thick enough to even think about stepping on, but in some places I did see bird and squirrel tracks.

Chena River

Chena River

Steve and I went up on post to deliver some calendars, and I took my camera with me. This time we stopped at the newest memorial in honor of the fallen soldiers from the 1-25 SBCT, since we missed it last time. These men and women were deployed from 2008-2009 and recently returned home.

The snow was fairly deep and some of the paths weren’t cleared (most were though), so it was hard to get a feel for the layout. I’ll go back in the spring when I can see the grounds more clearly.

RobertAs with our visit to the 172nd Memorial, we both felt very sad for the families of those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Engraved on the Brigade Memorial marker are the names of the seven soldiers of the 1-25 who were killed, as well as the names of five soldiers from attached units. There was a thirteenth name, and at first we couldn’t figure out who it belonged to. Then we realized it was for SGT Jok – a military working dog.

I found some information about Military Working Dogs online:

Military Working Dogs have been used by the U.S. Military since World War I. American families donated their dogs to the military to aid our troops during wartime. Dogs, along with their volunteer handlers, trained in teams as scouts, trackers, sentry, mine/booby-trap/tunnel and water detection of hostile forces. Dogs were used in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

It has been estimated that these courageous canine heroes saved over 10,000 lives during the conflict in Vietnam.

Today all branches of our Armed Forces are utilizing Military Patrol Dogs specializing in Drug and Bomb/Explosive detection. There are approximately 600-700 of these canines in the Middle East in such places as Kuwait, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. They are being used to patrol Air Bases, Military Compounds, Ammunition Depots and Military Check Points. They are guarding and protecting our Military Personnel as they were trained to do, with Courage, Loyalty and Honor.

Here are a couple of photos I took at the Memorial. The first photo is the Regimental Crest for the 1-25 SBCT. On the reverse are the names of those soldiers who lost their lives.

Unit Plaque

Names of the Fallen Heroes

This made me cry. It was on the base of the memorial. The wind was catching it, so Steve piled a bit of snow on the corner to hold it down.
Note left at Memorial

Steve drove me around post to look for photos of less somber things.  When we lived on Fort Wainwright I used to take many drives along these same routes all the time, particularly to the one-lane bridge that crosses the river near the golf course. There’s a huge nest on top of some power lines. I’m not sure if it’s an eagle’s nest. It’s the first I’ve seen it, although it’s obvious that it’s not new, considering the cones marking its location.

One Lane Bridge X-Country Ski Trail Ski Hill
Critter Tracks Sun Behind Clouds Big Bird's Nest - Eagle?


The first shipment of calendars went out on Friday. If your calendar was shipped, you should have received an email. If you didn’t receive an email, it means I haven’t received your payment yet. Mail to AK can take a little longer than usual, so give it a few extra days to get here.  If you have any questions, feel free to email me directly at susan@susanstevenson.com.

Until next time…


  1. Hi Susan and Steve When you had said that you are in
    a much better mood Nothing more than the truth in that
    We have had so much rain and heavy clouds we were wondering if there is even a sun up there Sure is a beautiful day today for a change Not a cloud up there
    It made me go out in the yard for a while and do what I had to put off because of the weather
    Our Very Best To You Both Our Love Also John and Shirley


    susanstevenson Reply:

    Sunshine is so much better than cloudy – especially on a winter day. Today we woke to below zero temperatures. It’s -2F at my house, but the sun is shining, so this is good!

    I’m glad your rain stopped and you were able to get in the yard for a little while. I hope you continue to get sunshine!

    Love to you both,


    Comment by John&Shirley Strauser — November 1, 2009 @ 10:12 am

  2. I have not been to the memorial on Post yet, I have not seen the memorial for the MWD, I will have to see if my husband has seen this since he is part of the military working dog section here on Post. Where is it located at? And the eagles nest- where is that too? I am going to have to take the girls to see the nest, they love finding things like that. Thanks for the great photos!


    susanstevenson Reply:

    Hi Kerry! I was pleasantly surprised to see the memorial for SGT Jok. I didn’t even know that we had military working dogs over there with our AK troops. What a valuable asset they are!

    I think it’s wonderful that your husband is a part of the military working dog section here. I imagine that must be a very rewarding job for him. Who wouldn’t love training with a faithful canine? I can only imagine how sad SGT Jok’s handler was when he was killed. I know I would be.

    The nest is located on the gravel/dirt (now snow-covered) road that you access from the one lane bridge near the golf course. It’s also the road that leads from the new neighborhood (Taku Gardens) near Trainer Gate Rd to Birch Hill ski slope. Just continue past the road that leads to the ski slope and follow it until you reach the airstrip landing lights. The nest is up on top of one of those light posts, on the river side of the road.


    susanstevenson Reply:

    If you access it from the one lane bridge, it’s closer… and it’s on the left hand side.


    Comment by Kerry — November 1, 2009 @ 10:28 pm

  3. Hi Susan,
    I would not be able to see the memorial without tears either! The brave soldiers that gave their own lives are such heros and it is nice that they have a place to honor them on post. That working dog must have saved many lives while sacrificing his own.

    That nest is huge, looks like an eagles nest to me too. While living in Alaska, I loved driving around the A-frame house neighborhood on post especially when there was snow. It reminded me of a postcard.


    susanstevenson Reply:

    Those memorials really do tug at my heart. I’m happy that they’ve created these memorials here though, so that future soldiers and family members will be able to stop by and remember their sacrifice.

    I wonder if it is an eagle nest?! Steve said he found an osprey nest up at the mine site. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an osprey in town.

    Is it still hot in Vegas this time of year? We’ll be there in about a month. Wondering if we should pack our shorts. *grin*


    Comment by Heidi (Las Vegas, NV.) — November 3, 2009 @ 5:46 am

  4. Hello Susan,
    My calendar arrived today. The photos are wonderful and remind me of many visits to Alaska.



    susanstevenson Reply:

    Hi Diane! I’m glad to hear your calendar arrived, and I’m pleased that you’re happy with it! Enjoy it over the next year. Perhaps the next time you’re in Fairbanks, we can meet for coffee.

    Take care,



    Comment by Diane — November 3, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

  5. I got my calendars today. They are beautiful. I bought one for a friend of mine who with her husband, flew into Fairbanks to stay with us for 10 days last summer.

    I can’t believe it’s below zero already there. I know it was “fall” when we left in August, but I am still in shock over how fast it turned to winter.

    I would still like to experience at least one winter in Alaska, but not sure I could do it for more than that. Please keep up the journal so I can get used to the idea of winter so early. Maybe it will make me appreciate our shorter winters here in Wisconsin.

    Truth be told, I would rather be there than here, even though I have never liked cold weather. My dislike of cold weather probably has to do with the fact that I have never dressed properly for it. I will try better this winter.

    Anyway, I appreciate the calendars. They are a work of art.



    susanstevenson Reply:

    Hi Linda,

    I’m happy to hear that the calendars have arrived, and that you’re pleased with it! Enjoy it over the next year. I hope that it continues to remind you of your wonderful trip to Alaska. 🙂

    It is definitely winter now, with temperatures below zero when we wake in the morning. Not -30F yet, but below zero, is below zero! *grin*

    I don’t think I ever dressed properly for winter when I lived in Philly either, and I was not a fan of the cold months at all! But now that I do know how to dress, and I can at least get outside and enjoy the beautiful landscape, I find that winter can be an amazing season to experience a beautiful, frosty world. I hope you’ll get out more, and enjoy your surroundings. And I also hope that perhaps someday you’ll come to AK in the winter. It’s really lovely here when the landscape is covered with snow.

    Thanks again for your calendar order!

    Take care,


    Comment by Linda Kauffman — November 3, 2009 @ 8:42 pm

  6. […] in late October in Fairbanks by Susan Stevenson, this frosty view of the Chena River shows the beginning of what will be a cold winter […]

    Pingback by Top 10 Images from Alaska’s Golden Heart City - Alaska Travel Blog by Princess Lodges — May 27, 2015 @ 9:27 am

  7. […] in late October in Fairbanks by Susan Stevenson, this frosty view of the Chena River shows the beginning of what will be a cold winter […]

    Pingback by Top 10 Images from Alaska’s Golden Heart City — September 1, 2015 @ 1:02 pm

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