Sunday, September 30, 2007
So, Ana, Johnson, and I road tripped it on down to Palmer for the state fair. Three years running now that I've made the pilgrimage and I think each year is better than the one before (first year was pretty tough to top though with the whole Donnas concert and all though..). Picture one there is from Rob's house. How's that for a sweet flying saucer alien light. We overnighted with him and Mr. Pumpkin the cat in Denali Park before driving to Palmer Saturday.
How can you go wrong at fair that has stuff like this though:
Even saw the skunk lady again. If I see her once more I'll be able to start critiquing.
The fair is fun and the food is plentiful but watch out for the animals.
It was Ana's first trip to the fair but John and I made sure she had a great time. And really, how can you top face art like this right!
I really think the low point of the trip was seeing the grafitti someone put on this sign. Heartless. At least one dog got sold.
So, after another great breakfast at the Palmer 24 hour diner (which we shared with Charlie Daniels and band)... we hit the road for home with light hearts.
So, the first day I got into trouble while Jessie got a haircut. Nothing I like better than wandering and shopping! Check out Party wagon, the Sequel. How rocking is this!
We got to hang out with Mrs. Hagen-Friedenauer which was totally awesome, one of the highlights of the trip. We started off our visit with her losing the brand new car. So, got a parking ticket. Oh well. We drove down through city Seattle to a bookstore on the other side of town. It was awesome, did some decent damage there. Anyway, stopped at a shoe store and thought this was kind of cool:
You never know the circumstances but there are few things I love like a sportscar driven by a handicap person:
How sweet is that.
Anyway, I have to focus... the wedding was super fun. We whooped it up late into the night at a senior center above a big lake up there. The wedding was one of the funnest I've been to and the wedding cake was some of the best I have and I lllove cake! We'll close things out with the aftermath:
It was pretty fun. Emily and Luke plus their friends Jessie & I, Julie, Heather, and Jeff floated through the Tangle Lakes near Paxson and then north down the wild and scenic start of the Delta River.
It was awesome but blowing like the dickens the whole time. Here's everybody floating the second day:
So, after the ceremony we camped early at this awesome spot down towards the far end of the lake system:
The ladies and I picked berries while Luke and Jeff scored us a tasty lake trout. Then we had a curry dish that Jessie made, an asian salad full of cabbage (huge mistake!) and some king crab I brought back from Nome. I can't believe I didn't take any pictures but I picked up 21 pounds of live king crabs in Nome and brought them back on alaska air. Spent a day cleaning them and then steamed a bunch in garlic to take on this trip. Seriously best crab I've ever eaten. Anyway, dinner was awesome.
It was pretty fun, we ditched the dogs at the kennel (they lllllove it there) but Jeff and Heather brought along Hadley and Harriet. Having done the dog thing once before through whitewater I was pretty into just leaving them in Fairbanks.
There's a few miles of class one and two on the Delta River start. Plus a short portage around some falls. It was pretty fun though and totally worth it. We're pretty much just crossing wild and scenic rivers off our list left and right these days. We managed though and now Jessie's been through rapids in a canoe.
It was blowing in our faces pretty much the whole time. No biggie for Julie in her kayak but it was pretty rough for us and even worse for the two raft parties. So, we ever so slowly passed this beaver house at some point and it cracked me up.
The end of the trip was pretty anti-climatic. The winds were probably up into the 20s and 30s at the end. I was paddling forwards and Jessie was just drawing on the left the last mile or so to keep us off the bank. We gave up two hundred yards from the end and the wind pushed us up on shore instantly. Fun trip though!
Umm, Ooops! Yeah, that wasn't planned. Caught the ATV on fire back in July out in Kougarok. Was driving it back to camp. It had been kind of overheating a bit and so anyway, I look down and the flames are licking at my left boot! Slammed on the breaks, killed the engine and ran away from the four wheeler waiting for the hollywood explosion. Nothing happened the four wheeler just continued to smoulder so I ran back for my backpack. Well, I had like a hundred bungee cords attached so it was a bit of a clown act as I struggled to get it free. Get the thing free, run back away from the fourwheeler... it still hasn't blown up yet. I go back for my gps. Still hasn't blown up. Now I'm feeling a bit more confident. I remember I've got a bit of water in my nalgene. So, I pull the seat off and douse the flame. And so that's pretty much the state you see here. I had to walk back to camp (like a quarter mile, not to bad) and so thought I should grab a picture for posterity. I walk quickly back to camp and everyone is cooking dinner. They were happy to see me until I was like um hah ha haa, you're never going to believe this ha ha haa. but the fourwheeler is on fire! So, Larry, Rena, or Anna I'm sure can relate that part better than me but in any case, we high tail it out of the cabin, they leave the cook stove on, and pile into the truck. We're in the truck and I was like uh, did you leave the stove on? Larry runs back into the cabin. I was like shoot, we'll see him later. So, I peel out in reverse. Just set to take off when he comes charging back. Hops in the truck and off we go. We dump our cleaning water on the smoking atv and that's pretty much the end of it. Larry tried to drive it back to the air strip but the hot oil light came on... Awesome gesture though. As it turned out there was an oil leak combined with cottongrass and a hot engine. Pretty nutty way to kick off our July trip.
The July trip was awesome. The impetus was pretty much to get some great data on the area around Cape Espenberg (the northern lump of the Seward Peninsula between Shishmaref and Kotzebue). Here's a common sign of permafrost, patterned ground:
On my permafrost distribution map I show a great deal of thawing up there on the northern part of the peninsula that we're kind of suspicious of (as it turns out there really is a lot of permafrost degradation up there so maybe we were righter than we thought) but the purpose of this trip was to helicopter around up there for a couple days and get soil thermal properties information with a spiffy new sensor that goes for about 5 grand. Here's the view along Shishmaref inlet:
So, after everything was set up, Anna and I collected data and Larry and Rena dug holes for us. A pretty awesome set up. So, we visited like eight sites over two days up there and got a ton of great stuff. The bugs were pretty rough. Here's a favorite picture or Rena that Larry took:
Here I am out with Anna. Just a few minutes later I would notice that I had my hip waders on backwards. Not the first time that's ever happened (notably back on my second river trip I put Rob's boots on and thought my feet had swollen dramatically overnight till Rob got up and was wearing super big boots for his feet).
So how awesome is this, a working gold dredge, perhaps the only one still operating in north america:
Can you believe with the price of oil and all that it's still profitable to run that thing? Totally nuts!
So, we had to get Larry back to Nome for a presentation. But, we also had more work to do at some other sites. Anna ended up driving Larry in to town. With Rena and I out at the Kuzitrin River site we did some gaging of the river with our toy boat and then sat in the sun. After sitting in the sun got boring I busted out my fishing stuff. I just started learning to fly fish this summer. I've been out a few times with Luke but out at the Kuzitrin was the first by myself. Check out some grayling:
Here's a typical fish I caught out there. I pretty much did catch and release till I got bored. It was rad:
So, an awesome trip all in all!
Anyway, we had an awesome summer of food. Jessie and I love us some Martha Steward cooking magazine. Here's our take on a grilled pizza thing from this summer. Soooo tasty with mozzarella and everything:
From the first trip up the Steese this summer with Rob & Luke, our cooking pan after the bacon and stuff was out of it:
Finally, my personal favorite.... desserts. Early in the summer we scored wild strawberries and rhubarb from the farmers market. Instead of doing a shortcake number went with shortbread instead. Here's a ginger shortbread I whipped up. Next time you make shortbread I hope you'll think about adding the ginger. It was pretty darned awesome.
So, couldn't just leave it at shortbread. Made a fruit syrup from the rhubarb and strawberries. Dumped that on top and sealed the deal with vanilla ice cream. Pretty tasty!
After I get my camera back from Anna I'll put more pictures up from later in sumer at the IARC picnic. For the picnic I made peanut butter pie but poured a dark chocolate layer on top of the graham cracker crust. That was super awesome. Then, variation on the shortbread theme, made a short bread in a 9x11 pan and on top made a key lime creme brulee filling. That was just so crazy good you wouldn't believe. Nice and tart. Then, for my birthday Jessie made the Cherry family toothpaste cake. An awesome peppermint cake.
Yeah, somebody from work has an awesome dog. That guy chilled on the roof there like half the summer. Pretty nice way to roll.
Drug them to Denali Park among other places on the tourist circuit. Here's the view from a washout:
We took the road all the way though and saw a ton of animals. Totally got our money's worth. I even saw my old nemesis, the antler beetle.
My first interaction with that bugger was way back when I was a kid. At the end of my first trip down the Yukon with the boy scouts we had just popped out of the shower in Dawson and were just hanging out waiting for everybody to filter through the two or three showers this antler beetle landed on my shoulder. I just caught sight of it out of the corner of my eye and pretty much saw a huge dragon or some other monster. I was totally petrified (Rob or Andrew can vouch) and ran circles trying to get it off. Running in circles didn't work. Can't remember how it all ended but hopefully there was one casualty. Anyway, we've been sworn enemies ever since.
So, back to the trip. The bonus of the denali trip was it was gorgeous and we saw a ton of animals like these bears:
The minus was the bus driver was a birder so we were stopping for every darn hair feathered blue duck or whatever that he could see. Pretty awesome though.
So, had a blast with the folks. The last night they were here we took them camping up at 12 mile where Rob and I go. It was just your typical awesome night:
Jessie's folks came up, too. We had a super fun time with them as well but apparently I didn't have any pictures from their time up here. You can check out her site for pictures though.