October 10, 2016

…and Autumn was awakened.

Filed under: Aurora,Everyday Life,Wildlife — Susan Stevenson @ 1:46 pm

“And the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep, and Autumn was awakened.” ~Raquel Franco

Autumn came and went last month. I missed the peak colors, for the most part, as I was in WI with my family until the 8th of September. The few pockets of color I could find were beautiful, and I savored the autumn golds and yellows.

OUT AND ABOUT

I walked at Creamers Field several times – with both Steve and Raven. I was happy to see several cranes still remained, but they were gone within days. Summer was definitely over. A highlight of our walk, was seeing a female Northern Harrier hawk flying low above the fields, hunting for voles and other tiny critters.

I took Steve by an osprey nest I had visited several times, and I was surprised to see there was still an osprey hanging around. I took several photos, but my presence was obviously disturbing her – especially when she took to the sky above me, shrieking loudly – so I didn’t stay long.

Leaves turning at Chena Lakes Sandhill Cranes at Creamers Field Creamers Field Pano
Creamers Barn Northern Harrier at Creamers Field Osprey in a local nest

My appearance disturbed the osprey and s/he left the nest and flew above me, squawking.
Osprey flying overhead

(more…)

March 20, 2016

March Guests: Carla and Gordon’s Visit

Filed under: Aurora,Events,Interesting Things,Roadtrips — Susan Stevenson @ 11:36 am

(If you missed my blog update about Cyndi’s visit in the beginning of March, please check out this recent photo-heavy blog entry!)

A few days after Cyndi left Alaska, my friends Carla and Gordon – who live in Soldotna, AK – made the drive to Fairbanks. It’s Spring Break here in the Last Frontier, and they wanted to check out the Ice Park and better their chances for seeing the aurora.  Carla and Gordon stayed with us for four nights, and we/they kept very active while they were in town. They arrived on Saturday (March 12th) afternoon.

Carla and Gordon at Pipeline Viewing AreaAfter unloading their car, we took a drive out to the Pipeline viewing point on the Steese Hwy, before continuing up the road to dinner at Silver Gulch. Dinner was pretty good, as was the service. I’m glad we chose to go before the dinner rush, when service sometimes drops off and wait times become extremely long. It was nice to catch up with each other and fill our bellies with burgers and onion rings.

With cloudy skies, and not much chance of any aurora, we all went up to bed fairly early. Carla and Gordon grabbed long cat-naps in their vehicle throughout their drive from the Kenai Peninsula (about 500 miles and more than 9 hours – not allowing for stops. They make a LOT of stops). Even though I hadn’t made a long drive, I was exhausted and sleep came easy for me.

The next day (Sunday), Steve had to work (night shift) so he planned to sleep as late as possible. The plan was to go to the Ice Park during the day and again at night. As long as you have your hand stamped you can return as much as you like. By this time, the multi-block sculptures were carved and judged, and displayed under colored lights at night. Seeing them during the day and then again at night is really something special. You notice details at night, under the lights, that are missed when viewed during daylight hours.

But first – before the Ice Park – we stopped at Mushers Headquarters to watch some of the Limited North American Sled Dog Races. Just as we arrived, the snow started to fall.

Besides a few episodes of snow flurries, I don’t think we’ve had a substantial snowfall since Thanksgiving. What snow we did have up until now was ugly and dirty and full of tree debris and just not pretty at all. This fresh snow – big fluffy flakes – was gorgeous! There are some who probably weren’t very happy for this change in the weather, but honestly – I was thrilled to see new snow cover all the ugliness.  And I thought the falling snow made the races even more fun. I think it made the photos I took a lot prettier too.

Limited North American Sled Dog Race Limited North American Sled Dog Race Limited North American Sled Dog Race
Limited North American Sled Dog Race Limited North American Sled Dog Race Limited North American Sled Dog Race
Limited North American Sled Dog Race Limited North American Sled Dog Race Limited North American Sled Dog Race
Limited North American Sled Dog Race Limited North American Sled Dog Race Limited North American Sled Dog Race

(more…)

March 18, 2016

March Guests: Cyndi’s Visit

Filed under: Aurora,Roadtrips,Wildlife — Susan Stevenson @ 2:27 pm

The first two weeks of March were very busy here in North Pole Alaska. My friend Cyndi, who lives in Atlanta, visited for a week. It was her first trip to Alaska and her biggest hope was that she’d be able to cross off “See the Aurora” from her bucket list. I’m happy to report Lady Aurora was quite cooperative!!

Cyndi arrived around dinner time on Tuesday night (March 1st). Her trip from the east coast was long and exhausting. I know she was happy to finally get here.

I had a full itinerary of activities, events, sightseeing, and roadtripping in store for her, and we had an awesome time hanging out and enjoying Alaska together.

EXPLORING THE AREA

On Wednesday morning, after having breakfast, we drove into Fairbanks to visit the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center, the Yukon Quest Headquarters, and Golden Heart Plaza. I also drove her through the downtown area, pointing out some of our historic buildings and a few of the original homes from the early days of Fairbanks.

Next, we visited the Santa Claus House and then the Knotty Shop in Salcha. Unfortunately Santa is on vacation this time of year (resting up from his long Christmas trip), but he’ll be back in the summer when tourism season is back in full swing.

Cyndi at the Morris Thompson Cultural Center Cyndi at the Antler Arch Fairbanks First Unknown Family
Cyndi at the Santa Claus House Cyndi - Polar Bear Attack! Cyndi and Moose at Santa Claus House

LADY AURORA SHOWS HERSELF! 

Late Wednesday night, after we were already in our pajamas and unwinding from our full day, a green band of aurora became visible in the sky. It wasn’t the brightest display, but it was visible. We ran out to the end of my driveway to enjoy them. Steve followed a few minutes later with hats and gloves and my big parka, etc. to layer Cyndi up for the cold. It wasn’t too bad, temperature wise (above zero), but still much colder than what Cyndi is accustomed to. Just after midnight the aurora became brighter as it danced across the sky.

We stood outside for about 15 minutes enjoying the lights before they faded again. I immortalized Cyndi’s first sighting of the aurora with a photo of her under the beautiful night sky.

Cyndi under the aurora

Here are a few more photos of the aurora from early Thursday morning:

Aurora with Cyndi Aurora with Cyndi Aurora with Cyndi
Aurora with Cyndi Aurora with Cyndi Aurora with Cyndi

(more…)