Happy Alaska Anniversary To Us.
How about 7 years in Alaska? As of Christmas Eve, we have been here for 7 years. This is the home of my heart that I had spent my life searching for. I am glad I finally found it as I was getting tired of moving around and wanted to provide a bit of stability for my children who were 2 and 5 at the time. Now at 9 and 12, I consider them Alaskans even though they were born elsewhere. Luckily I got them here early enough in life to be effective lol. I spent my childhood moving around quite a bit. No, my dad wasn’t military (by then), he did have the heart of a gypsy. While there are advantages to having been raised this way, such as being able to fit into any type of group fairly quickly, being able to make friends easily, and knowing a lot about the different areas of my country, it is exhausting not to mention expensive. I don’t know how my parents did it so often.
If you notice, it has been almost a month since my last blog post. I normally try to make at least one post every two weeks. I don’t know what it is, maybe the holidays, but I have not felt like writing as of late. There have been plenty of things to write about and plenty of pictures to share. When doing something I often think to myself, “oh, I should put this in the blog” but then it just seemed like too much trouble. I seem to be in a waiting state of mind. I don’t like it. I feel very melancholy. Maybe it is cabin fever of which I’ve never really been affected by. I LIKE hunkering down in my cabin and being a homebody. Maybe, maybe, maybe a lot of things. Oh well, I know I will snap out of it. I think I just have to wait a while longer for it to happen. I definitely feel like it is just a waiting period. Perhaps if I begin writing again, it will help. I know I get a lot of enjoyment from sharing my blog and the few comments I get.
We have two main holidays to celebrate in December. Of course we have Christmas, but to Alaskans, Solstice is a wonderful day! Solstice, the shortest day of the year, the turning point to our long dark. Now the days will start getting longer. There are Solstice parties and downtown festivities as well as fireworks on the Chena River. Here is a time-lapse video shot on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus around the Winter Solstice last year. It shows how the sun barely peeks over our horizon before setting again. Photos by Todd Paris, UAF Marketing and Communications.
Sunrise was at 10:58 AM and sunset was at 2:40 PM giving us 3h 41m of day. The day following day was only 9 seconds longer but by the time it is going full speed, we will be gaining 7 minutes of daylight a day. It really adds up quickly. We will get our light back before we get our heat back.
To add to the excitement that is Solstice, we also had a full lunar eclipse.
Speaking of heat, I recently had some problems with my heating system. Here’s a quick picture of me going out to change the tank filter at -30F. I was not successful that night as the filter was frozen on. When I lost the snow load off the roof during that last warm snap, it all landed on the tank and the filter. I had already chopped it off the tank so I could have access to pour in fuel but never did anything about the filter. Now I know…. I was told to take a hammer to it to break it loose but was afraid to hammer it too much as things tend to break in those temperatures. It warmed up quite a bit the following day and my cousin came over to show me how hard I could hammer on it hahaha.
So, since I couldn’t get the heater working that night, after several attempts, I brought the kids’ mattresses into the living room (to keep us off the floor which is very cold), closed off the bedroom, and turned on the oven. They spent the evening drinking hot chocolate and watching movies quite comfortably from bed.
It took me three trips to town, lots of frustration, and no few expletives but I got it going. I still need to replace a brass fitting that was broken during it all. Right now heating fuel is still dripping into a jug I am using to catch it with. I am catching it and pouring back in but it is a hassle. I need to go buy a flaring tool and new fitting tomorrow. I’m kind of putting it off as I don’t know how successful flaring copper tubing will be at these temperatures. If a brass fitting can tear like play doh, I’m not sure how copper will behave. As it is now, I can deal with it. If I totally mess it up, I’m a bit screwed. At least now I know how to change a filter, how to bleed the lines, how to reset the float, and that the guys at The Woodway shop are generous with their information and talked me through a lot of this process!
Earlier this month we had a visit from a friend of a friend. Carol and Kathy are from Australia and came up to see the northern lights. While they were here, we took a day trip out to Chatanika. The snow plows were taking a break there so I thought we would take a few pictures with them so you can see how massive this machinery really is.
Chatanika used to be a busy gold mining town, 28 miles north of Fairbanks on the other side of the Cleary Summit. At least 70 million dollars in gold was taken out between 1926 and 1957. Today Chatanika is a ‘gold camp resort’ on the Steese Highway and a lodge with a very big derelict gold dredge across the way.
Chatanika Lodge was established in the late 1930’s as a trading post to serve the needs of miners and trappers traveling to and from the rich gold fields and trap lines in the Circle mining district near Central, Alaska. The lodge is located across from the second largest stacker dredge that operated from the early 1920’s until 1962. When the dredge was in operation, there were many families living in Chatanika. It was a booming town with people traveling back and forth to Fairbanks for supplies.
It’s papered with bills from people all over the world and filled with Alaskana. It’s also very decorated for Christmas.
When taking out of state visitors there, I ask to see “the dredge video” and then in the summer you can walk across the road and with just a short hike, see the actual gold dredge from the video.
Christmas was very low key this year. When I brought the turkey in from the porch to thaw, the kids saw and it and said they did not want turkey. We are still full of turkey from Thanksgiving. So I put it back out in the chest to keep it frozen for some future date. We ended up going to see a movie in town (Gulliver’s Travels) instead of having a big Christmas dinner. Then we hauled some more fuel, dropped off some bread to my Aunt in town, and went to visit a neighbor and toast her birthday with her. I think we all enjoyed it more. I know I did.
You can’t live so close to North Pole without going to see Santa. Even if it did mean waiting for 2 hours… Olivia might not want to do this next year so I’m getting it while I can!
Olivia’s plate of cheese and crackers for Santa and oranges for the reindeer. Notice the bread rising on the counter. She left a space in the middle of the plate for a fresh slice of bread to be placed once they were done, which would be after her bedtime. We figured he had enough cookies.
Well that seems to be all I can think of right now. I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas.