Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Got Snow?

So yes, it's been awhile since I last posted. Due to this incident, our internet and phone service hasn't been consistent, so I used the opportunity to take a mini-blogging sabbatical. My DSL was up all day yesterday, so I took that as a sign that I should get back to my regular updates. I missed writing about our adventures!

The big news is we finally have snow! It started last Saturday and we've had several inches since then. I was telling Rick last night that it is wonderful to have snow actually stay. In all the places we have lived, it would snow and maybe hang around for a day or two at the most.

I'm loving this! These two pics are taken from my back porch. The three of us went for a long walk in the snow last night, but it was too dark to take photos. I'll be posting a lot more picutres in the days to come.

We were told during our winter briefing that the snowy roads on base do not get cleared very often, and that has proven to be true. The priority is keeping the flightline clear, so all the snow removal resources are used to that end. Rick put the studded tires on both the car and SUV which has made driving uneventful so far. Bren and I went to Fairbanks the other night after school and found the roads to be well cleared of ice and snow on the main thouroughfares.

This past Saturday the 20th Annual Friendship Day was held in Fairbanks at Alaska Centennial Center for the Arts. Bren was loaded down with homework, so Rick and I went out for about an hour to check it out.

The event, which had a variety of exhibits and performers representing different cultures around the world, was very well attended. There was a scavenger hunt for the children, as well as crafts. Cultural food was available for purchase and it all looked delicious. We walked around the main floor and the balcony looking at the display tables full of items unique to each country.

The pics are of the front of the Arts building and the interior. Click on any picture to enlarge it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Random Bits

  • $2,396 was what it cost us to drive from Virginia to Eielson. Actually, that amount is what we charged on Rick's government travel card for gas, and lodging. There were a few times when the particular gas pump we used didn't accept the gov't card and we used our debit card.

  • For a Ford SUV, a Kia sedan, and renter's insurance, our insurance bill went up $700 a year when we moved here.

  • In Alaska, pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way. So if you're in the street and get hit by a car, it's your fault.

  • Also, in this state it is legal to have marijuana for your own personal consumption. (But of course if you're active duty and want to take advantage of this liberal law, prepare for a court martial if you get caught)

Perdy interesting stuff.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ignorance Kills

I haven't posted here in awhile as my attention the past ten days have been concentrated on the house. The day after our household goods arrived I got sick, so the going has been slow in getting everything unpacked, but we'll get there, we always do.

On October 5th Rick and I went to the "Cheechako" Winter Orientation (Cheechako is Native Alaskan for "Tenderfoot", aka: newcomer or foreigner). The meeting was held from 9:00 - 12:00 and covered the following topics:

  • Fire Safety
  • Services Activities: What is there to do on Eielson? (There is A LOT to do!)
  • Winter Health and Fitness
  • Dressing for Cold Weather
  • Coping with cabin fever
  • Winter Activities: What is there to do in Fairbanks?
  • Winter Driving
  • Pet Ownership in the Sub-Arctic
  • Northern Lights Snowmobile Club (The presentor told us a story of two teenage boys who went snowmachining up in the mountains without the proper clothing - you know, since teens are invincible and all. Their $11K snowmobile broke down, stranding the boys. They ended up setting the it on fire that night to survive the 20-below night (we got to see a photo). Them boys shoulda listened to their mothers!)
  • Military Family Life Consultant

I must have picked up about 20 handouts that were available at the meeting. Topics included:

  • Instructions on how to make a coffee can survival kit for winter driving (who knew you could get all that in a coffee can?)
  • Recommendations for survival kits
  • Cold weather checklist
  • 101 Things to Do In Alaska #6 - Land a barn door-sized halibut
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder: Helpful Hints to Keep You From Being "S.A.D."
  • Winterizing your car and camper
  • Winterizing your home
  • Use of vehicles for shelter in cold
  • The adverse effects of alcohol in a cold environment
  • Choosing winter gear
  • Care of outerwear garments
  • Hypothermia and frostbite
  • Information about the Aurora (Northern Lights)

The Fairbanks newspaper, the Daily News-Miner, puts out a Winter Survival Guide, which has a lot of information, articles, photos, and advertisements for local businesses that can supply your needs.

Fairbanks Convention & Visitors Bureau puts out my favorite schedule of events for the year. A sample: the month of October:

12th - Ladysmith Black Mambazo (I tried to get tickets but they were sold out. Bren and I are still going tonight to see if we can get in).
21st - 20th Annual International Friendship Day
27th-29th - International Sled Dog Symposium
29th - Nov 12th - Arsenic & Old Lace
29th - Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra in Concert

In summary, if we are bored or freeze to death here it wasn't due to a lack of education!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Northern Lights

Last night I was doing the dishes when the phone rang. It was my friend, Julie. Our conversation went something like this:

"Hi Donna, it's Julie. Have you been outside recently?"


"Well go outside. The northern lights are out."

She may have said something else after that, but after I heard "northern lights", I was gone. Bren was in the living room doing homework. I yelled at her,
Bren! The northern lights are out! Come on!". I ran outside, the phone still pressed to my ear. When I looked into the sky and saw the green light making waves in the sky I was in awe. It is so beautiful! I kept saying into the phone, "Oh my gosh! It's so pretty!"

Julie must have known I would react that way, like an excited little kid, as I've been giddy since I arrived here. I'm so glad she called me to let me in on Alaska's big show.

(I found this photo via Google Images and posted it here because this is is what the lights looked like last night. You can read about the Aurora Borealis here if you like.)

The temp dipped into the 20's last night and the sky was clear. Later in the evening Bren and I went out to the back porch and were amazed when we looked at the sky; there was an incredible amount of stars visible. What captivated us the most, though, was how close the Big Dipper seems. The last time I remember seeing that many stars at night was on a scuba diving trip in the Philippines in 1987. I look forward to getting out to a place where there are no lights and a good view of the sky here.

The high temp today was around 50 F and it was beautiful. We took the dogs on a nice long walk this afternoon. They really like their new stomping grounds!