Toasting on the Tundra

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop from you like the leaves in Autumn”

John Muir


So, I had this friend whom I’ve known for many, many years online.  He was just a young man when we first met online, a young teen, and was still just a young man when he died.  We met on a private message board.  It’s not like we were best friends or anything.  He was clever and witty and fun and sweet.  His name was Vivan Bhandarkar.  Still, when I found out about his death, I was very sad.  I was sad for his family.  I was sad for him.  I was sad that I had lost touch with him for a while and didn’t find out about his death until months afterwards.  But it did make me think of the good friends I have in my life right now.  And that, my friends, is a good thing.   A mutual friend of Viv’s and mine, Matt, made a batch of beer and named it after Viv.  He was kind enough to send me a bottle so that I may toast our friend in pure Alaskan style.  So, the day before Halloween, the day to remember the dead, we headed out.

We get so busy living our lives that sometimes we don’t make the time necessary to be involved in the lives of those who are close to us.  With this one small bottle of Bhandarkar IPA, my friends and I had a short time to just ourselves on top of an Alaskan mountain, sharing our energy and joy with the world and each other.  I am truly blessed to have these strong, beautiful women in my life to help me through life’s travails and to celebrate life’s joys with me.

It was a brisk, snowy morning, about 22F degrees when I left the cabin.  Snow clouds were on the horizon.

We had decided to drive up to Murphy Dome, the tallest “hill” around Fairbanks. 

You can see through the trees, the road I have to climb.  I was a bit concerned about going up the steep parts but this sweet little 4 Runner just plowed on up the hills like nobody’s business.

Photo by Susan.  We left Susan’s car at my house and Jan picked up Penelope on our way up.

The last part of the road up the mountain is not plowed.

I had collected the branches that had made Olivia’s “fort” in the woods this summer to burn in the bonfire.

Photo by Jan Denapoli.

Penelope brought wood also and a blow torch to start the fire with.  Lol nothing like having good friends that don’t believe in messing around!

Photo by Susan.  Penelope, Jan, Morgan, Me, Susan.

Photo by Susan Stevenson.  Matt’s Bhandarkar IPA.

Photo by Susan Stevenson.

“The Dome” faded in and out of the clouds as we stood and watch the magical clouds float over and around us.

“Murphy Dome Air Force Station was a Air Force Station began operations in 1951. It is located to the northwest of Fairbanks, Alaska. During its heyday in the 1950s-1970s, the station had multiple radars and buildings. Today, only a single radar dome exists.

The site was built in 1951 and shared with the United States Army in order to supplement the Nike Missile system. At this point, it supported over 100 people. In 1975, the site was switched from military to civilian personnel. In 1984, the current radar was brought on line and the station was slimmed down in terms of personnel.

During the 1950s-70s, a ski slope also operated at the site. A rope tow was constructed to allow for servicemembers to go up and down the slope.”

Removing the wax seal.

Photo by Moe. Photo by Moe.

Dear, sweet, Jan.  My first best friend here.

We toasted Viv.  We toasted Matt.  We toasted each other.  We spent time just being Alaskan women together; alive and ecstatic with not only surviving hardships in our lives, but being victorious in grand style as we reveled in our friendships with each other.

Photo by Susan Stevenson.

Photo by Moe.

This is a sweet little meadow where I go in the fall to pick blueberries.  It is off to the side of the mountain top.

A clearing of the clouds in the distance.

The clouds came and the clouds floated away.  Sometimes t is comforting to be so enclosed in such a wide open wilderness.



One bottle of beer does not go very far so we brought back up.

Just kidding, we actually did use cups.  Photo by Susan.

Finally, it was time to put out the fire and leave.  Back down the mountain, back to town, back to the daily trivia that is our lives.  Only in the back ground of my mind, I know that there are special moments to be shared with special friends in our future.  I am satisfied.


Since Susan’s car was at my house, she rode back down with me.  It was great to have my own personal photographer on the drive down.

Susan managed to catch Denali peeking out over the hills.

Hope you didn’t mind me waxing on so…

16 thoughts on “Toasting on the Tundra

  1. varun says:

    hey I have no Idea who U are but I wanna get to know u i was one of vivans freinds I sail on ships and I didnt knw about his loss till i came back I am really happy and GREATFULL for what u did in his memory hope to catch up with u hope u still r reading the comments on this blog cause I still miss him and I dont know what to do I wish I was there while he was around to help him out but I hope to make a freind who could tell me more about him and just share HAPPY memories of him THANK YOU for what u did this just prooves to me that the world isnt as shaloow as we have made it to be

    Love Varun


    • cloud9doula says:

      Hello Varun, Thank you so much for writing. Yes I do read the comments. I am interested in those who read my blog. I’m sorry that we meet in sad circumstance. But no, the world is not shallow though sometimes it is harsh. Just keep on being the best person you can be as that is all anyone can do. You are also welcome to Facebook friend me if you’d care to.

      Hugs and take care of yourself,


  2. […] The busiest day of the year was November 4th with 135 views. The most popular post that day was Toasting on the Tundra. […]


  3. Carmen and Gip Moore says:

    What a wonderful blog of your day! Beautiful women you are all and sharing each other’s lives in remembrance of another’s life. Kudos!!


  4. sasha says:

    that was lovely g. i think he would have liked the way you honored his life and your friendship.


  5. Pants says:

    Great stuff there. 🙂


  6. Crystal says:


    Looks cold…but what a great tribute!


  7. Thanks for inviting me along. I really had a great time. What a wonderful way to remember a friend. And the weather and scenery was perfect too!


    • cloud9doula says:

      I’m really glad you could make it Susan. We’ve gotten a lot of compliments on your pictures. Thank you so much for taking them and letting me share them. Your colors are so much more vibrant and clear!


  8. Anthony Mckinley says:

    Wow Georganne I couldn’t think of a better way to remember a friend like the way you girls did that day, I’m sure Vivan would be very happy


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