February 22, 2010

A Lot of Photos!

Filed under: Everyday Life,Photography — Susan Stevenson @ 5:11 pm

It has been a busy week for photos. And the weather has been absolutely beautiful. We’ve seen high temps in the low 40s at times, with most days seeing 30s.  Add in blue skies and sunshine, and conditions were perfect for getting outside and enjoying the fresh air.


The Annamaet Gold Run Race includes skijoring and four, six, and 10-dog mushing classes. The skijorers started running at 11am, with the mushers following. This is the race that Steve and I took Kayla and Colt to last year, when they came for a visit.

The sun was shining brightly – almost too brightly for capturing photos at the start of the race. After shooting a few frames of the skijorers, Steve and I drove to a spot where we could walk onto the frozen lake and take photos from an area sheltered from the bright sun.

We could hear the countdown for each musher echoing through the trees, and after hearing “GO!”, it took about 30 seconds for the musher and team to come into view.  We were a couple of riders into the four-dog class, and despite hearing “GO!”, no musher came into view. And then, off trail and in the distance, we saw dogs and a sled racing across the ice and snow. It seems the musher had fallen off and the dogs did what they love most – they kept on running!

A snowmachine was dispatched to catch the dog team and empty sled, and didn’t have too much of a problem bringing them back to the start.

Musher Stacy Lanser met the runaway team on her way to the finish line, at about the same time the snowmachine caught up with them:

Here are some more photos from Day 1 of the Annamaet Challenge:

Becky Voris Greg Jurek Kriya Dunlap
Happy Dogs Dog Team Malinda Holmes
Malinda Holmes Final Stretch Happy Dogs

These pups were waiting for their turn to race:

We had a few errands to run, so we didn’t stay for the 6 or 10-dog teams to run, but it was good to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and the happy dogs for an hour or so.



On Saturday, I made plans to drive up to the top of Murphy Dome with my friend Lori, as the northern lights were forecast to be pretty active.  I thought it would be really neat to see the aurora from the ‘top of the world’, so I filled a thermos with hot tea and Lori met me here at my house a little after 9pm.

Murphy Dome is about 30 miles from my house, with the last 12 miles or so being Murphy Dome Road.  The drive offers gorgeous views of the surrounding valleys, and on clear days you can see the Alaska Range and sometimes even Denali on the horizon.

At the top of Murphy Dome is a Long Range Radar Station (LRRS). I did some online research and found  this bit of information at this site:

Murphy Dome, part of the Alaskan Air Command and Norad was the Region Control Center for the Northern half of Alaska. The site was completed in 1951 and was designed to accommodate a larger staff than the other DEW (Distant Early Warning) line sites. The small facility was a typical military designed single story all wooden structure. Local legend told of a Captain Murphy who when flying an early surveying and construction flight in heavy fog crashed the helicopter he was piloting into the Southeast knoll of the hill and was killed. Thus the appropriate naming of Murphy Dome.

On this webpage, you can see quite a few photos of Murphy Dome over the years and I found the old photo from 1957 (below), showing the facility when it was active, at this very informative website.

Murphy Dome Old Photo

Here’s what it looks like now (image from Google Earth). As you can see, all of the buildings are gone:

Murphy Dome from Google Earth

The drive up to Murphy Dome in the dark was a little bit scary. I was thankful for the light of the partial moon, because if not for the light of the moon, it would have been pitch dark. The final stretch of the road skirts the dome, with one side falling off to the valley below. While the road is fairly wide, in the dark the abyss below appears as a black void. Spooky!

Fortunately, the road was in good condition, due in part to the warming temperatures we’ve had and the melting of the snow. This was my first drive up to the dome in the dark, and I was surprised to see that the radar ‘ball’ was lit with a red beacon on top, and yellow/orange spotlights around the perimeter of the building.

Unfortunately, the aurora never made an appearance, but the stars and the moonlight were beautiful. Lori and I stayed almost two hours, hoping to see them dancing in the sky and finally gave up a little before midnight.

While we were up there, two Fairbanks cabs came up the road. Each cab had a group of Japanese tourists in it. Winter in Fairbanks is prime tourism season for visitors from Japan. They charter entire planes and come for a couple of weeks. This time of year is perfect because of the possibility of seeing the aurora, and having the opportunity to visit the Ice Park, and attend sled dog races. Although I’m sure they were disappointed when the lights didn’t come out, they did seem to enjoy themselves. I saw camera flashes and heard laughter coming from their direction. I do wonder what the cab fare was for that excursion! Especially since the cab driver stayed with them.

Here are some of the photos I took on top of Murphy Dome:

Murphy Dome Radar Station

Murphy Dome Radar Station

Murphy Dome Big Dipper Murphy Dome
Murphy Dome Murphy Dome



The Ice Park opened early this year, and on Saturday I picked up my season pass.  I always buy a season pass ($25/pp, with specially priced family passes and kids’ passes also available) so that I can have the collector pin. This makes pin #7 for me.

This year Ice Alaska was asked to host the annual U.S. National Ice Carving Championship, and those sculptures are already completed and have been judged, although at the time I’m typing this entry the winners haven’t been published on the website yet. You can check the Ice Alaska website for this information, as well as to view webcams of these sculptures and the other creative works of art that will be sculpted over the next two weeks.

On Sunday, while Steve was at work, I visited the ice park. It was such a beautiful day, with sunshine and temps in the 30s. I spent more than an hour wandering among the sculptures and then watching the children skate on the ice rink and slide down the huge ice slides in the kids park. They were having such a good time, and I wanted to join them. Perhaps I will wear my snow pants next time I go to the park and try it out myself!  (I was advised by an avid adult slider that jeans stick to the ice, but snow pants are more slippery)

Heather Brice tools Steve Brice
Vance Huber Joaquin Quezado Out for a swim
Surfer The Morning Dew Playing with Hair
Playing with Hair So Far Away Breakthrough
Golden Heart Ice Queen Homesick
Home Sick Arctic Frieze Graceful Flight
Graceful Flight Welcome Spring Welcome Spring
Ice Fishing Kids Park Kids Park
Slide Hill Slide Hill Harvesting Ice
Ice Blocks OOps Free Ice Skates
Ice Blocks Ice Park Stage Ice Maze
Silk Flowers Icicles



Although the northern lights didn’t make an appearance when we drove up to Murphy Dome, they did come out briefly last night (early this morning). With the moon shining brightly, the photos were a little bit different than those I took last week. The moonlight illuminated the snow and caused shadows, which I thought was very pretty with the lights dancing overhead.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Until next time…


  1. Memories!! I miss the ice park. Loved sledding with the kids. So much fun!!


    susanstevenson Reply:

    I’m going to do that sometime! 😀 It looks like so much fun!


    Comment by Tammy Kauffman — February 22, 2010 @ 6:53 pm



    susanstevenson Reply:

    I love watching the little kids enjoy themselves at the Ice Park. Makes me wish I was still a little kid myself!


    Comment by Kayla Melton — February 23, 2010 @ 5:09 am

  3. Susan…I continue to admire your work. Murphy Dome! 744th AC&W Squadron (Murphy Dome Air Force Station) Was stationed there 1963-64 when it was much larger with 250 Air Force and some Army personnel (Nike Hercules Missile). To find much more images & stats, check out http://www.radomes.org/museum/ insert 744 for the Unit/Squadron search and then you can search for photos of the Radar Station, as well as rosters of personnel stationed there. I have a number of images posted from my stay and my visit in 2002. Included are photos I shot ’63-’64 of Mt McKinley 154 miles in the distance.
    I drag some out there, dragging & screaming, to come and rejoice in your imagery. Beautiful!
    Hank Brand


    susanstevenson Reply:

    Thank you, Hank. I just made another blog entry with your photos and your information! I appreciate you commenting and emailing me. So very interesting!

    Warm regards,


    Comment by Hank Brand — February 23, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

  4. Parting shot….I worked on the old (1963) equipment inside the tower you portray in your photos of the Dome.


    Comment by Hank Brand — February 23, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

  5. Susan I miss going up to Murphy Dome with you. It was always a nice drive up there. And oh I love the new ice sculptures being worked on. It will feel so weird for me not to be going to any of these events this year since I am in Kentucky and not Alaska. 🙁 But hopefully with all your wonderful pictures it will feel like I am not missing out. 🙂 Thank you for sharing and your Aurora pictures are gorgeous!


    susanstevenson Reply:

    I’ll miss you during all these events, and especially the dog races downtown and standing in the slough with you and at Creamers Field!


    Comment by Abby C. — February 24, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

  6. I was stationed at murphy dome Alaska in 1964 and went through the earthquake. scared the dickens out of me. I am a viet nam vet. flew combat in Cambodia for one year retired 1973. now live in florida. spent most of my career in Europe. look for book titled cleared hot and rustic fac. my handle in Cambodia was lunchbox. all the best to you.
    TSgt, usaf retired.


    Comment by george larson — July 27, 2014 @ 8:53 am

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