Summer Solstice in the Land of the Midnight Sun
I am a bit late posting this. I wrote most of it shortly after Solstice but then put it in my drafts folder as I had yet another adventure to go on. I’ll write more about that one later though. Oh so much fun has to be packed into such a short amount of time!
The garden and the kids are both growing fast. I measured my 11 year old son recently and was surprised at his 5’6″. Yes, at 11! My mom told me that her grandfather was considered a giant and had been apprenticed to the blacksmith before he even started school. I’m not kidding when I say that he is eating me out of house and home lol. Good thing the garden is growing so well.
So, on to Solstice stuff.
June 21-22 is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. The sun rose at 2:59 AM and set at 12:47 AM. So while the sun does actually set here, unless you are up on one of our mountains, it does not get dark. We traditionally go to see the Goldpanners at the Midnight Sun Baseball Game.
Since the Goldpanners are the farthest north baseball club on the face of the earth, where in summer the sun rarely stops shining, the team annually takes advantage of its unique geographic location by staging the patented Midnight Sun Baseball Game.
With Fairbanks a mere 160 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the sun is just beginning to set in the north as the game gets under way and, at its conclusion some three hours later, the sun begins to rise again – also in the north.
It is a phenomenon ever so rare.
Each June 20, 21, 22, each equal in time as the longest day of the year (with a full 24 hours of daylight in the vast Tanana Valley), the Panners begin their widely acclaimed contest at 10:30 p.m. The game continues straight through the hour of midnight and often lasts as late as 2 a.m.
Never once has artificial lighting been used for this unique event, and never has the game been postponed or delayed because of darkness.
The “high noon at midnight” classic, as best can be determined, originated in Fairbanks in 1906. Every year since it has become a ritual to play the game on the solstice.
Since this is a military town and the ‘Panners were playing the U.S. Military Heroes of the Diamond, there was a record breaking crowd of 4,700. It was a marathon game of 15 innings (in which the Goldpanners won 4-3). We got there over an hour early and almost didn’t find a place to squeeze into!
At midight the game is halted and the Alaska State song is sung.
Written by Marie Drake
Composed by Elinor Dusenbury
Eight stars of gold on a field of blue –
Alaska’s flag. May it mean to you
The blue of the sea, the evening sky,
The mountain lakes, and the flow’rs nearby;
The gold of the early sourdough’s dreams,
The precious gold of the hills and streams;
The brilliant stars in the northern sky,
The “Bear” – the “Dipper” – and, shining high,
The great North Star with its steady light,
Over land and sea a beacon bright.
Alaska’s flag – to Alaskans dear,
The simple flag of a last frontier.
Copyright © 1985, University of Alaska Foundation, All rights Reserved
It’s difficult to describe the jubilation one feels at times such as these. I certainly do love winters, but summers are so ecstatic!
Since the game was going on so long, we left early to go take our traditional Solstice pictures. Here are the kids at the University of Alaska time and temp sign.
We got a shake from McDonald’s while we were in town then headed home.
We normally make several trips down the Chena every summer. For this one, we had to take turns as we had to have one parent drop off and the other to drive down to the take out place. We switched places so I got to float down the second half (the best part). Wierd thing is, two days after this, a large crane that is building a bridge across the river toppled over totally spanning the river.
Armed with his Flash Flood water gun.
There was a guy sitting on the bank serenading us as we floated by. I thought that was a nice touch.
Shards, we’ve been spotted!
Teenagers and other crazy people often jump off this walking bridge.
Fast forward to another day. We filled this one with geocaching.
Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.
LARS is managed by the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks to provide a unique facility for research and education that focuses on ungulates from the subarctic and arctic.
Musk Ox in the distance.
Owl’s Roost was a nice hide, very original.
This is an example of Alaskan Character from one of us crazy Alaskans. It’s located one mile from where I used to live and is very fun to look at. We call it the house on a stick but it is pronounced as house on a steek. That’s a porta potty on the front porch.