27 June 2007

Meet Kaya!

well, i finally did it.
yesterday i thought i'd just go take a look at the animal shelter. i've been checking their website almost obsessively, lookin' at the dogs up for adoption. i've thought about it for years, the major down-side to the whole "having a dog" thing being the commitment to more or less staying in the country. but i think i can work around that, and i've made the decision that i *will* work around it now when it comes up! i came home with Kaya!!

She's absolutely wonderful. I feel almost guilty, as she's so incredibly well behaved and sweet!!! Everything I would want in a dog (so far, at any rate!) She's a younger adult, some kind of husky dog. With beautiful eyes!!

Here she is, tuckered out after bounding (she bounds, like a deer) through the underbrush on a walk down the powerlines. Not much more to say for now. I was feeling apprehensive yesterday when I got home (the "holy camoly, what did i DO??) but after an evening walk with her I was all sorts of excited. This afternoon we're going to go on our first run together...hopefully she'll be an excellent running partner. And by the looks of her when I take her off leash, she'll be good at skijoring! This girl can definitely run.

21 June 2007

Solstice, a new home and a garden!

happy solstice, everyone!!!!
i hope wherever you are you've been able to reflect for a moment today on the day with the most sunlight (at least for us in the northern hemisphere!)
i wasn't sure whether to celebrate or maybe slightly lament the coming of the summer solstice. indeed after this we're losing minutes, and man oh man do we lose them quick up here. justine is convinced that she gets S.A.D. appx. one week following the solstice.

but, also on justine's insistence, i will forever celebrate solstice as a beautiful and ever inspiring and important day in our year.
below are some pictures. some from my new lovely cabin in the woods, including several taken last night at 12:15am. no flash. yep.
and then a few from our community garden plot! yeah !!!! last night i harvested some radishes and green onions!

this was at 12:15am last night. notice the daylight. the inside picture below is a little blurry, but not bad for no flash just a little after midnight, huh?

here's the backside of my cabin, and below is the inside looking out towards the porch (facing north)

this year, John and I have a community garden plot! we have ~600 sq.ft (i think it's larger than my cabin...) and i absolutely love it.

day one, assessing our plot and fixin' up the raised beds...

john, contemplative and cutting out potato eyes to plant

the oh-so-little rutabaga plant. the one living thing that came with our garden (aside from the grass and weeds...)

and here's a shot i took yesterday! the rutabaga is the giant bush you can see. there will be more pictures to come, but overall the garden is doing really well!

alright, well. i'm done with email and updates, and i'm off to play frisbee. and then possibly get a ticket for the midnight sun baseball game...we'll see if i get out of the frisbee game in time to get there before they sell out!
much love to everyone on this summer solstice.

18 June 2007

the official marathon update

right on! Justine and I finished our first marathon ever!!! and what a trip it was. . .
here is the official update - photos courtesy of Aaron, for the most part!
if you don't know, we headed down to Vancouver Island to run the 8th Edge-to-Edge Marathon.
in our minds, this was a scenic and not-to-be-missed unique trail marathon, through the Pacific Rim National Park. Indeed, the highway that runs between the two towns of Tofino and Ucluelet goes through the park. But, also true - it is a highway. 50mph divided highway.
We had a lovely 600m section on the beach which can't be understated - it was beautiful. And while the rest of the run wasn't really much to write home about, it was an incredible personal first marathon!

Our trip to get there was ridiculous. The itinerary:
Drive to Anchorage --> fly to Seattle, pick up rental car --> pick up Aaron in Seattle (Justine's *fabulous* husband who lives in Vancouver, B.C.) --> take the Bainbridge Ferry and pick up some camping stuff from Meg (thanks, guys!) --> drive 1.5 hours to Port Angelas, WA --> take the M.V. Coho ferry to Victoria, B.C. on Vancouver Island where we stayed for one night --> drive 5.5 hours northwest to Tofino and the Park where we camped for three days. To head home we drove from Tofino 3.5 hours to Nainaimo, B.C. where we then took a ferry to Vancouver (the city) and spent the night at Aaron's house. And ate sushi. Such.Good.Sushi. It was incredibly hard to leave - Vancouver is great! I look forward to heading back there.

In Victoria (the land of mini-things), Justine and Aaron got a mini-room at the hostel. This can only begin to show how tiny it is. I'm sitting in the window and Aaron is on the other side of the room, on the bed-cushions. I couchsurfed that night with some great guys who are grad students down there.

Things weren't looking so hot at first. First there was that whole road-thing. J and I thought we might be done for, running approximately 25.9 miles on pavement. Then it rained. Hard. For days. The only break in the weather was, honestly, during the race. Here's Aaron, demonstrating how wet we were for so many days.

Needless to say, we were a bit happy whenever there was a break in the pouring rain. Here's Justine busting out some knitting in a brief repose from the wetness. (lesson learned --> always have a tarp with you (and rope) for car camping in the northwest)

Race Day!
Justine notices that none of the other marathoners are wearing rain coats! We quickly got them off (but my zipper got stuck - there was a small moment of panic) just as all the racers were lining up at the start line...

It was a relatively small race, with about 130 marathoners and some relay teams. I think the half-marathon had far fewer racers, but it began and ended at the other end of the marathon route.

The sports bra has an incredible capacity for holding items - here I am pulling out some food. I ate about every hour, and my food included a luna bar and some of the cliff goo-cubes. Aaron also provided me with ibuprofin support and a bit of a granola bar right near the end. He was an *incredible* and **much appreciated** support crew!!!

Finished and super happy! 15 minutes later discussing the next race (Equinox in September? Probably..)
Justine finished in 4:20, and I came in at 4:38 -- well under my goal of "anything under 5 hours"

Post-race beach walking. Overall we didn't feel too bad...not terribly sore, and just really happy for such a great experience.
Our trusty rental car. I have to say, I hate Fords but this little car was incredibly good to us. We were a bit sad to say goodbye as it had been such a good home for the week!

So now Justine and I are back in Fairbanks, and Aaron is back in Vancouver. All of us working on our respective master's theses (or updating blogs, as the case may be).

Thanks to everyone for the support and well-wishes for this crazy endeavor!

And many many many thanks to Justine and Aaron for being such wonderful traveling companions, incredible friends and just downright amazing people.

06 June 2007

Kesugi Ridge in Denali State Park

for memorial day weekend, Jason and I headed down to Denali State Park to hike Kesugi Ridge...I have to say this was a much nicer way to spend Memorial Day weekend than the Memorial Days of my youth -- the opening of tourist season and shleping pizza or coffee or waiting tables or cleaning rooms, etc etc etc etc.

We drove down, about 3.5 hours south of Fairbanks, on Friday after work and camped out with a beautiful view of the Alaska Range. Saturday morning we prepared our food and packs. We stuffed the bear bin with as much food as possible, and still had some loose to eat. There was some concern about overdoing it with food, but come to find out the two of us can put away quite a lot....! I think the only major leftover was the oats. And some Tastee Bites.

** I am currently soliciting any and all suggestions on good backpacking foods --> high calorie, low weight. We're going out for six days in the Brooks Range in ANWR in July and need some new ideas! **

Day one was beautiful. The trail heads up immediately to the ridgeline, and then follows it for a long ways. We hiked a total of 17 miles, from Little Coal Creek to the Ermine Trailhead.

A leisurely post-lunch tundra nap....

The first night and through most of the second day the weather fluctuated between overcast, raining, hailing, windy and solid snow. Pretty much typical of my experiences on the trail, almost always. I'm just lucky like that, I guess...

It was beautiful, though, and felt kind of hardcore when we were up at this point where it cliffed out on one side quite sharply. Sadly my camera had a streak down the front of it and I had nothing dry to wipe it with on hand...

We camped out the second night near the trail junction with the Ermine Lake trail. The granite rocks and general tundra landscape is incredible. We had a great dinner, hung out on the rocks, watched some Pacific Loons in two separate tundra ponds on either side of our camp, and had a lovely last night on the trail. Monday we hiked out, down an incredible lush trail to the Parks Hwy. We hitched a ride with a very colorful man back to the car at Little Coal Creek. The ride back was rainy but nice.

Overall a fabulous trip - good company and an incredible landscape. You really can't go wrong...