Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I couldn't ask for better weather for a quick work trip to Kotzebue - it's in the 20's and sunny everyday. In Alaska, March and April are certainly the best parts of winter. There is still snow and ice for easy travel but the days are long and the temps usually aren't terrible. Kotzebue does have a lot of wind, but it's been in the 20's during the day, so even with a little wind it's not too bad. Hopefully I'll be back to Kotzebue later this spring and summer when the days are really long. Right now there's a little more than 12 hours of daylight since the equinox was just a few days ago, but since Kotzebue is so far to the west in this giant Alaskan time zone, the sun is up from about 9:00am to 9:30pm. It was suggested that we start work at 7 tomorrow morning, but I think we've decided on 8 - I don't see the need to start in the dark when the sun is up until 9:30 at night!

My co-workers checking out the waterfront

A dog musher running on the ice

Monday, March 24, 2014

A few more photos from Fairbanks

from the Ice Park in Fairbanks
I was just doing a major iPhone photo dump (for the first time since getting an iPhone in 2008, I filled it and had actually clean it off). I came across this gem of a sign from the Ice Art World Championships in Fairbanks a couple of weeks ago and had to post it.

I also had to post this one (for which I hope Brooke doesn't kill me):

And this one. After napping for 90% of our trip to the ice park, baby L decided to wake up and try his first ice slide. Apparently sitting on ice is pretty much the greatest thing ever if you're this kid. It's a good thing he lives in Fairbanks.

And a few from the indoor conference-type stuff.

Some of our very best Seattle friends who we are very happy moved to Alaska at the same time as us (we'll forgive them for moving to a different part of Alaska than us).
Some of my favorite Alaskan archaeologists (all the way from Seattle and Boston) who I usually only get to see in the summer!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March Hiking in Eagle River

Despite the fresh snow last weekend there is very little snow in the Chugach Mountains around Eagle River. The windward and south facing slopes are mostly snow free.  Today we headed up to the south fork of Eagle River valley and ended up hiking along Rendezvous Ridge.  With not a cloud in the sky the views were great and Denali was visible on the north horizon.  I never would have guessed I was going to be ridge hiking in a t-shirt today but I really can't complain.  Luckily the cross country skiing trails are still holding up and the back-country skiing is still good in Hatcher Pass.  I guess there is something for everyone in March.

Enjoying lunch and hot chocolate on the ridge

The snowiest portion of the hike

Molly climbing the snow free slope above the South Fork Valley

Great hiking and great views

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fresh Snow in Eagle River

Last week our weather was pretty gray and boring. On Friday after work I went into the gym for an hour and when I came out Eagle River was in a total blizzard (no windows in the gym, so I had no idea until Ryan texted me a picture of the snow). Even when I checked the NOAA forecast it said 1-2" overnight. Instead it snowed all night and we got about 8" at our house. Some places in Anchorage got over 20".

We needed the snow! All the snow that was still left around town was dirty and the new stuff certainly brightens it up and makes the city not look so yucky.

Today we walked down to the river in front of our house. I've said it before but I'll say it again - sometimes we miss having a yard, but most days our view and front-door access to Chugach Sate Park more than make up for it. Even though the houses are packed in to this little development, Eagle River Valley is pretty spectacular.

Looking up toward our house

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Iditarod Re-start

The weather is soooo beautiful and it feels so warm it would have been a crime not to get outside to see the re-start of the Iditarod today. I saw the ceremonial start in Anchorage yesterday after I got home and then went out to Willow to see the real/re-start today. After living in Alaska for 3/4 of my life, I finally got to see part of the Iditarod!

There are 69 racers this year and they start at 2 minute intervals. I only know one person who is racing (Paige Drobny from Squid Acres Kennel in Fairbanks). She drew the #3 start bib (the first place is ceremonial, so she was actually the second racer to start), so I had to be there early to see her. I missed seeing her yesterday because I only made it for the last few racers. I snapped a couple decent shots of her, but to be honest my later photos are much better as I figured out the best strategies for shooting these fast-moving targets.

I've only been to a couple of dog races before, but they are always fun. If you haven't been to one, I highly recommend it. The excitement is contagious - from the crowd, the mushers, and the dog teams. I'm not even a dog person but I love seeing sled dogs run. They look like they are having the time of their life.

Paige high-fiving a few fans

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This musher was pulling out his camera to capture the moment

The hand of a little fan waiting for a high-five

Final Days in Dutch Harbor

We are wrapping up our final days of survey in Dutch Harbor.  I have been lucky to be busy this winter and happy to be working in a place as pretty as Dutch Harbor.  Back in 2006 I spent a week or so doing GPS survey work here as part of my graduate research.  During that visit to Dutch Harbor I spent lots of time hiking and exploring as it was summer and I had a rental vehicle.  This trip has been very different, as all of our nice weather is spent working on the water.  Yesterday it was far too windy to work so I decided to bundle up and go for a hike.  The hike to the top of a nearby hill was very rewarding with expansive views, fascinating World War II relics and interesting geology.

This visit to Dutch Harbor is also different from grad school as I am not on a grad school budget.  We are staying in a nice hotel and eating good food.  But honestly, most of best meals are eaten on the boat.  Our captain is an amazing cook and has prepared for us everything from crab to rotisserie chicken to lamb stew.  Whenever the weather allow it the captain will start up the charcoal grill on the back deck and spend hours preparing us a fabulous "lunch" which is often served late in the afternoon.

Its been a great job, but I am ready to go home and see Molly.  Its been 6 weeks since she left for Seattle which is the most we have spent apart in the winter for a long time.  If all goes well, I we be back just in time to join Molly at the alaska anthropological association conference in Fairbanks.  

King salmon cooked on the grill

Bering Sea scallops also cooked on the BBQ grill

Snowy mountains near the survey area on rare sunny day

WWII bunker on a hill overlooking Dutch Harbor

Overlooking Dutch Harbor