“Snow Wars Part II,” Week 2

Thursday, February 23, 2012

L-R Oz, Theresa and “The Terminator” a.k.a. Dolly

The Reggae concert Wednesday was entertaining, but I didn’t come to Alaska to pay tribute to Bob Marley.  I came to see things unique to Alaska (and to visit with my cousin of course).  Thursday turned out to be another sight seeing day, which was fine by me, because I was still on the mend.

The morning started off with Gayle,

This thing is a real animal!

Julie, Rachel (Gayle’s other girlfriend) and me watching Theresa ski-jouring  with Gayle’s dog, Oz.  Oz, being a former sled dog, turned in a pretty impressive performance considering how out of shape he was.  Theresa’s dog also tagged along.  Her name is Dolly and she is one of the toughest dogs I’ve ever seen!  Despite being bred for far warmer climates, she appeared to be right at home in the subzero temperatures, and had a special fondness for biting into solid, frozen ground; bizarre .

Another 10lbs and you wouldn’t be able to tell us apart

After the park, Rachel drove us around the town, North Pole.  It was all pretty campy, but fun.  I even ran into Santa, though sadly I didn’t take a photo with him.  He did tell me he was looking for volunteers next Christmas Eve.  Thankfully, I will be nowhere near the town of North Pole at that time.

We capped the days activities off with a little

Another fine dismount

sledding on University of Alaska sledding hill.  I’ll leave out most of the gruesome details, but I will tell you that I didn’t learn that you can slow down a sled until AFTER doing my best impression of that rarest of rare birds….the “Snow Ostrich.”  It was a full and (mostly) fun day, but I was thankful it was over.

Friday, February 24th, 2012

I laid in bed and stared at the ceiling.  In between, I watched a movie that came out in 2004 called, “Garden State.”  It was good.

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Did a little of this and that.  Julie and I dropped Gayle off at a car rental place and we took her truck around town.  It was all pretty quiet.  She (Julie) was getting over her a cold of her own and we both knew later that nite people would be coming over to Gayle’s cabin for a bon fire.  When we got home, I watched another movie I’d always heard about called “Notebook.”  It was, in a word, depressing.  I liked it.

Enjoying the fire

The bon fire was very relaxing.  I sat out there nearly the entire time the fire was burning.  I liked watching the flames flicker on the ground and then looking up at the stars above.  I felt at peace.

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

We all got up pretty early so the girls could get in a little tubing at the local ski resort.  The resort was located on the big Army base.  You actually have to get a written request to use it, but Gayle’s husband is in the military, so she had access to all the bases amenities without needing any permission.  After the girls got the tubing out of their system, we headed south to Anchorage.  The ride down was pretty bad, because the snow was coming in fairly heavy and it got dark early.  Though there wasn’t much traffic, we (meaning Gayle) really had to play it cool and go slow on account of the conditions.  Ultimately, what was supposed to be five hour drive turned into something much longer and when we finally made it to our hotel in Anchorage, the three of us zonked out.

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Got a little bit of exercise in before the girls woke up, which is always a good way to start the

Anchorage house

day.  Afterward, we all got ourselves together and set out to explore Anchorage.  It’s a lot more of a city than Fairbanks, but I wouldn’t call it bustling.  We walked around a while, hit the mall (eerily similar to ever other mall in the U.S.), ate some food (Gumbo?) and went out for a few drinks when nite arrived.  I had a good time, but I wasn’t exactly dreading the trip back to Fairbanks the next day.

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Got some much needed sleep back at the hotel and in the morning we did a little more

Snow sculptures

exploring of the town before hitting the road.  The drive back was definitely the highlight of the weekend; absolutely stunning scenery!  The weather was far more cooperative than it was on the way down, so I’m counting myself lucky.  Later that evening we went and checked out the first day of the annual International Ice Park competition, which truly is remarkable.  The work the participants put in is hard to fathom, but the final product is pretty amazing.

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Making our way back north

Gayle dropped me off at the local bookstore, where I was to spend most of the day working on paperwork for the Peace Corps.  Unfortunately, the computer I was using had other plans and

One of many detailed ice pieces from the Ice Park Competition in Fairbanks

I wound up stranded there without a thing to do.  There are a lot of places where not having wheels is a real hassle; Fairbanks, AK is such a place.  By the time Gayle picked me up, I must have had about five lattes in my system.  Due to a surplus of caffeine and the fact that I had been so idle for so many hours, I asked Gayle to take me to the gym.  I know she was tired from work, but she was a sport and complied.  The gym on base was very nice, the people, not so much.  It was neat to see and it felt good to stretch out.  I started thinking how strange it was that, in less than a year, I had hung out on two different military bases.  Marcus had put me up for the nite on Ft. Bliss in Ole Paso this past summer, which was a first for me, and now this.  These large military bases are like self-contained cities.  I don’t think I would like to live on one, but it was fun to experience it.

This is what happens if you eat too much moose

Week 2 was officially in the books.  Only five days to go!

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