This is making me hungry.
More steaks here.
This weekend, a few friends and I paid our post-Thanksgiving exercise dues on a great overnight trip to a public use cabin on the shores of Eklutna Lake, about an hour from Anchorage. Before trekking out to the cabin, Rebecca, Katy and I did a side-hike up the Twin Peaks trail—and I do mean UP. It was about 2.5 miles straight uphill with beautiful views near the top of Eklutna Lake.
The trail was very snowy and picturesque and in great packed condition most of the way up—snowshoes not necessary.
No animal encounters this time (unlike a quick hike we took just a few days after I arrived, wherein we had to jump behind some trees when this moose started running down the trail towards us) but we did see some big wolf-like prints and lots of bunny tracks. I’m sure the bunny and the wolf were just out for a nice jog together.
After hiking back down the mountain, we picked up our stuff at the car and hiked 3 miles out to the Yuditna public use cabin where our friends were waiting for us with the fire roaring and the whiskey pouring. It was just about dark when we arrived—around 4:30 pm—so we had many hours to eat, drink, and play cards. We thought it would be a good idea to put one extra log on the fire before bed to keep us warm—which turned out to cause the temperature in there to increase to an estimated 95 degrees. At least. Seriously. It was that hot. Here’s the cabin by the light of day, with a little dusting of falling snow:
And the view from our front porch:
Just before Thanksgiving, Anchorage finally got the snow we so desperately needed to cover up all the treacherous ice that covered the town after a few unseasonably (and unreasonably) warm days. This made for a lovely turkey day, which I spent in a cozy cabin in Girdwood with 35+ people including probably 10-ish kiddos. It was beautiful, delicious chaos.
I made my pumpkin cheesecake and transported it very carefully the the ~35 miles on the snowy roads from Anchorage to Girdwood. Dinner was followed by a snowball fight with all the fresh snowfall and a soak in the hot tub. Idyllic, riiiiiight?
The journey was both the same and different as my first move north… like before, I drove to Seattle with my mom, then boarded the ferry in Bellingham with my jam-packed car, and accompanied by Katy and her similarly jam-packed car. Only this time, it was the M/V Malaspina instead of the Columbia, and it was November instead of August. This meant no sleeping out on the deck (at least not for us), and no amazing 1970s bar, but there was an enthusiastic cadre of UNO-loving young folks, and some amazing winter scenery.
We spent much of our days avoiding seasickness on the rolling vessel by huddling in our sleeping bags, coats, hats, and gloves in the fresh but cold air on the deck, and most of our nights playing cards and drinking Alaskan Amber. All in all not a bad way to travel a couple thousand miles.
After 2.5 days on board, we disembarked in Haines, joined by a surprise guest—our friend Vik who secretly boarded the ferry early on our final morning in Juneau, and made a cryptic announcement over the PA system which led me to find a cryptic Buster Posey-related note at the Purser’s desk.
Vik was a great companion and driving coach as Katy and I caravanned across 750 wintery miles of the Yukon Territory and Alaska to reach Anchorage. The weather was cold and snowy, at times disorienting (snow swirling across the road, fog closing in above) and treacherous (ice!), but overall the drive was less harrowing than I imagined it might be. (With the possible exception of arriving at the hotel in the Yukon where we’d made a reservation, late at night, only to find it and everything else in the little town dark and apparently deserted, with not enough gas to make it to the next town we were sure would be open and only a few minutes before the Canada/U.S. Border was to close…)
Twenty hours of driving after leaving Haines, we slowed to a halt at the first stoplight we’d seen since Bellingham, and soon after, rolled into Anchorage. I’m reminded all over again about all the little things I found quirky about Alaska the first time around, like empty cars idling in parking lots and restaurants that serve pizza, mexican, and chinese from the same menu. But I’ve also been quick to reacquaint myself with everything I loved about living here—in my first few days in town, I’ve seen almost everyone I know, met many new friends, and gone for a winter hike and ice skating on a lagoon right next to my (temporary) abode. Here’s a photo of me and Katy taken by our friend Rebecca:
The weather so far has already proven erratic and inconvenient (several days of cold in the teens, then rain and ice covering every single surface, and today a wonderful white Thanksgiving with tons of snow). I’ll try to continue to offer observations and share photos and adventures, but it has a little bit different feel to me this time around, now that I’m up here for longer than just a clerkship year. Hope nobody finds this whole operation too obnoxious! Make sure to leave me some snarky anonymous comments if you do.
Back in Alaska, and back on Taralaska! Given my recent return and the constant demands for photos and stories from my friends in warmer climes, I thought I’d sweep the cobwebs off this ol thang and put on my blogger hat again. In case you’re wondering, this is my blogger hat:
Originally uploaded by t-dawg.
I’ll try to be better about keeping up with all my crazy Alaska stories than I was at the end of my clerkship year–I found this list of “Things I Failed To Write About” that I always meant to go back and catch up on… I’ve linked to Flickr photos for the sake of completeness.
Kayakers Cove with Anne & Matt
Denali with Anne, Matt & Dave
Homer Concert in the Park
Crow Pass hike
Ill Fated Ship Lake Hike
Alaska State Fair
Klondike Road Relay
Roadtrip home to California
Moving right along… first real post of my second go round in Alaska coming real soon!
Couldn’t resist breaking the silence in order to post this fantastic video made by my Alaskan friends, answering that age old question: “So, how does someone with the power of 10,000 American voters spend the day?”
As most (if not all) of you probably know, I am no longer in Alaska… my glorious clerkship year has come to a close and I am back in California. I have been planning some “sum it all up” posts for a while, including a rundown of all the awesome stuff I did since I last posted here, but well… maybe it’ll have to be a 2008 New Year’s resolution.
…but I just couldn’t resist this post. Flickr recently added a new feature which allows you to track various stats related to your photos, including providing a list of referring websites. Most are pretty predictable–web searches, the odd photo on someone’s blog (some people I know, some people I don’t). One referrer for one of my photos, however, is far from typical.
This photo was linked from a forum on a website called Puffy Central, a UK-based website which is
only about puffa/bubble/down (call them what you will!) jackets and sleeveless vests. It is not about ski jackets, or any other type of jacket!
Puffy Central has puffy jacket meetups, lots of photos, puffy-related fiction, a discussion forum specifically for puffy vests, and an XXX photo gallery. I guess my downfall (if being featured on the website can be considered a downfall) was including the word “puffy” in the title of my photo.
I feel particularly embarrassed because I really have never thought of myself as the “puffy jacket” type, let alone the “pink puffy jacket” type. When I bought that jacket at the North Face Outlet in Berkeley, I demanded that a store clerk explain to me why they don’t make stupid men wear stupid pink jackets… he tried to tell me that they were starting to make them, but I didn’t believe him. But one of my friends later assuaged my uneasiness by saying “well, you have to have SOME way to advertise that you’re female when you’re wrapped from head to toe in lumpy winter gear.”
A few other Alaska-related web searches that led to my photos (linked to a likely result from my photostream):
About a million years ago (in June), my friend Rebecca discovered a brand new bluegrass festival starting up in Sutton, about 50 miles from Anchorage. After attending a local festival, the Ocean’s Fest (which had its own awesome events, including a shrimp-shucking contest and a bucking salmon ride), we packed up for some car camping and bluegrass listening at the Granite Creek Bluegrass Fest. It was a gorgeous setting, with a view of some stunning mountains (the Chugach, I think) directly behind the stage:
The crowd seemed mostly local (to Sutton), and I’m sure us kids from Anchorage stuck out like so many sore thumbs. But we scooted around on the dirt dance floor with the best of them. The musicians were incredible (some who we saw earlier that day in Anchorage, and a couple of months earlier in Juneau), bolstered by a really, really great sound system. (The sound system makes all the difference, as we discovered, in a bad way, this past weekend in Homer…) We all bought t-shirts (the mark of any event we’re really in love with), and trudged back to our campground only when we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer. The bands kept playing as long as it was light — that is to say, all night, as far as we could tell — and we fell asleep to the faint sounds of fiddles and banjos…
The next day, we did an awesome 11 mile round trip hike along the south fork of the Eagle River. The hike was mostly flat through lovely sunny tundra — great way to clear your head after a night of music and dancing. Along the way, Dave jumped into a pond to retrieve what ended up being a really gross and slimy sheep’s horn:
At the end of the valley are two big lakes — the prettiest of which is Eagle Lake, which even in June, was covered in a significant amount of ice:
I really love this cheesy group shot we took at the top — don’t you think we look like we’re selling outdoor gear, or guided hiking tours or something?
Group shot with Eagle Lake
Originally uploaded by t-dawg.
Full set of photos is here.
I have been shamed into posting by one of my friends telling me over and over how much my blog sucks right now. The only sort of excuse I can offer is that I’ve been so busy gleaning every last ounce of enjoyment out of my Alaskan summer that I haven’t wanted to waste a single second indoors. I’ve been busy enjoying the outdoors until late in the evenings–softball games, frisbee, and stunning hikes at 10pm in the never-absent sun are hard to trade for poking away at a keyboard alone in my house.
Today, this excuse is not getting in my way: I’m sitting out in my cute front yard, enjoying a very welcome day of sunlight after a week or so of dull gray — clouds, and rain, the summertime bane of an Alaskan’s existence. All I can do at this point is randomly blab about awesome things I’ve done in the last couple of months but haven’t posted about.
To tide you over until the few moments when my first backlog-reducing post appears, please enjoy this recent Economist article about how Alaska politicians suck almost as much as my blog.
A couple more notes on the half marathon. My friend Bill wore a GPS thingie, and so you can see our route! If you click on the picture, it will take you to the Map My Run site, and you can zoom in and out and scroll around and whatnot.
Also, I thought some of you might be interested in knowing the musical inspiration which guided me along the way. The following are all the songs I listened to all the way through during the half-marathon (not in this order–I remember my first song was “Take It Easy”–quite appropriate, but I did not follow its advice, and ran my first few miles quite quickly):
Keys To Your Heart // 101ers
It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere // Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett
Falling For the First Time // Barenaked Ladies
Don’t Worry Baby (Single Version) // The Beach Boys
Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) // Big & Rich
Toxic // Britney Spears
Summer of ’69 // Bryan Adams
Everytime We Touch // Cascada
Lady Marmalade // Christina Aguilera
Down On The Corner // Creedence Clearwater Revival
The Sound Of Settling // Death Cab For Cutie
Long Time Gone // Dixie Chicks
Heaven // DJ Sammy & Yanou
Take It Easy // The Eagles
Til I Hear It From You // Gin Blossoms
Feel Good Inc. // Gorillaz
Behind These Hazel Eyes // Kelly Clarkson
Since U Been Gone // Kelly Clarkson
The Gambler // Kenny Rodgers
Just Dropped In… // Kenny Rogers & The First Edition
Mr. Brightside // The Killers
Something’s Gotta Give // LeAnn Rimes
Perdido En Un Barco // Mana
Buscandola // Mana
Some Jingle Jangle Morning // Mary Lou Lord
Billie Jean // Michael Jackson
Float On // Modest Mouse
Ride Wit Me // Nelly
Bizarre Love Triangle (Extended Remix) // New Order
Tell It To Me // Old Crow Medicine Show
Steady, As She Goes // The Raconteurs
Pon De Replay // Rihanna
Portions For Foxes // Rilo Kiley
La Tortura // Shakira
Te Dejo Madrid // Shakira
Suerte // Shakira
The Rubberband Man // The Spinners
Santeria // Sublime
Here I Go Again // Whitesnake