Alaskan Adventures and More

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July 4th

Here’s hoping everyone had a wonderful 4th of July weekend and that you celebrated with fun, friends and family.  My husband and I took a few days to take a much deserved trip and ventured to the old mining town of Kennicot (pictures to come later).  For now, here’s a few photos I got in the last few days.


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Welcome Signs

Welcome Signs

Sign Alaska border 2006

How many of you have taken notice of the signs that welcome you into your state or town? We’ve all seen family pictures of the kids standing next to the “Welcome to (insert state name here)” sign when on vacation. Some of you may have signs of welcome in the town or community you reside in. Have you paid attention to what it looks like? I’ve found that they can be as varied as the individuals that are sometimes pictured with the signs. Some are surrounded by organization names and logos, some are simply a generic Dept of Transportation sign, and others are elaborate structures. Next time you’re out and about, take a look at your town’s welcome sign. What does it say about your community or state? Is it what you expected? You might just be surprised at what you find.

Here are a few welcome and road signs that I’ve found in Alaska.  Hope you enjoy the view!

~D’Sue (Donna)


Summer Solstice


Before moving to Alaska, I had not paid much attention to the event known as “Summer Solstice”.  In the lower 48 we all know that the days are longer in the summer, but did you know that in the northern most part of Alaska that the sun doesn’t set for several months of the year?  They have constant daylight from the end of April until the first of August. Where I live the sun rose at 4:13 am and will set at 11:46 pm. That’s 19-1/2 hours of sunlight!! The other 4-1/2 hours are what we refer to as “twilight”….our sunlight never completely disappears, but just dwindles on the horizon.

There are Summer Solstice events held all over the state to commemorate the longest day of the year. This year most activities were held yesterday, on a Saturday so more people could participate.  Anchorage holds a Mayors Half Marathon, carnival and other activities.  Fairbanks hosts another carnival and a baseball game that starts at midnight, using no outdoor lighting! Golf courses have players vying for a tee-time of midnight.  Fisherman can be out at midnight and not worry about the lack of light while they are casting those lines and nets. It’s a festive time in the “Land of the Midnight Sun”!

~D’Sue (Donna)


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HeAt WaVe……and Fires!

Sockeye Fire

Most people, when thinking of Alaska, almost always imagine cold, frigid temperatures year round. This is definitely not the case. The interior portion of the state, Fairbanks area, sees a drastic change in the yearly temperature.  It can be -40 in the winters and in the 90’s during the summer months. We also see lots of fires during the summer. A multitude of those are caused by weather and mother nature has a way of clearing the old brush, trees, and flora by means of fire and in the following years the areas will see a new vibrant regrowth of vegetation. Right now the state is home to almost fifty (yes, 50!) fires. The last couple of days has seen multiple fires in populated areas with devastating results. The picture above was on my way home from work Sunday evening, June 14, at 8:30pm. I admit it’s not the greatest picture and it was taken from my phone.  I have seen both amazing and horrifying pictures from news and social media outlets. (KTUU and KTVA news channels and ADN newspaper, if you care to google them.) While I was nearly fifty miles away, I have a good friend who remains in the voluntary evacuation area. He relays through his social media page that while he is thankful that his property has remained untouched, he has long time friends that have lost not only their personal property, but business ventures as well. The area of this fire is also where a lot of the Iditarod sled dog racing teams live. One nationally known musher lost her home, her oldest dog (who was deaf and refused to come out of his hiding spot) and other valuables. Others came to her aid and they were able to relocate all her other dogs just before the flames ripped through her property.

Last night we had something called “dry thunderstorms”.  I had not heard of such a thing before, but because of certain conditions, the rain never actually makes it to the ground but evaporates.  That weather phenomenon sparked seven new fires overnight.  Because of the lack of snow and rain during the winter and early spring, we are essentially living in a tinder box throughout most of the state and the electricity generated by the lightening started these new fires. To add to that, our unusually high temperatures the last several weeks contributes to the conditions that are just right to ignite whatever the lightening strikes.  We have been setting record high temperatures off and on for the last six or seven weeks! Just yesterday in Anchorage we broke the 1969 record high, and came in at 83 degrees.  Last month in Eagle, a little town over near the Yukon on the Canadian border, recorded a high of 91, breaking a 91 year old record.  Coincidence of the numbers? Probably.  The news media headlines read something along the lines of: “Baked Alaska – hot weather hangs out over far north state” and “Alaska swelters under unusually high temperatures”. Yep, I’d agree with those.

Fingers are crossed for cooler temps, rain, and that the firefighters can quickly contain the fires that are near populated areas.

~D’Sue (Donna)

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Northern Lights

In my previous post, I mentioned that winter 2014/205 was a good one for aurora.  As a full time worker commuting an hour each way to work and back, there were very few times that I actually got to see this most sought after event.  Thanks to other social media I was able to track when such activity was predicted.  I’m a member of two groups that try to let each other know when “the lights are out” and where people are able to view them.  I happen to be one of the fairly lucky ones that can step out my front door and see a fairly decent dance of lights across the sky.  Now that our neighborhood is growing (we were the first house to be occupied in a new subdivision), if those neighbors leave their outdoor or front porch lights on it makes it difficult to get really good photos.

On St. Patrick’s Day the reviews were very good for possible aurora activity, and the weather was fairly decent, so I packed up my camera gear, extra gloves, and coats, a glass of sweet tea and headed out to “the old Knik bridge”.  Years ago a new bridge was constructed, but they left the old one standing and the metal structure makes a good background for pictures. I had driven by the location earlier in the day, when it was still light out, so I knew basically where I wanted to park….and wait. Numbers on the Aurora Alert app on my phone started to go up, so at 10pm I decided to head out and keep my fingers crossed for a good show. I wasn’t sure how many people may be headed to my chosen spot, and I was lucky that only about 8 or 9 other vehicles were there as I’d heard later that more than 30 people ended up at the second location that I had considered.  People were mostly cordial and eager to talk amongst themselves, with the occasional person stopping and leaving their vehicle headlights on, thus making for very difficult photo opportunities. Mother Nature was on our side that night and Lady Aurora did not disappoint!  Around 11:30pm we could see faint bands of green starting to dance across the sky, which intensified just about midnight with some purple also being seen. Swirls and waves danced across the star studded night for a while longer before fading and leaving only the stars as our guests. Sometimes there were “oohs” and “ahs” and other times there was complete silence as we watched the spirits do their sachet across the wide expanse. It was a magical night and worth the lack of sleep.

~D’Sue (Donna)

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Missing in Action, but I’m back now!

According to the stats on this page, I have been MIA for over a year. I kept telling myself at the first of the year that I was going to get back to this, and now it’s six months later and it still hasn’t happened. I need to remedy that right now. It seems that my plan to “do it tomorrow” just became more tomorrows. I’m sure you’ve heard that expression about a snowball, how it starts to roll and gets bigger and bigger. I must admit that I’m a big procrastinator as I sometimes put things off longer than I should. Some of the projects that I’ve started are still unfinished, and that is a big disappointment, to me as well as others. Time to kick things in gear and get started again (and maybe finish a few projects in the process).
It has been a great year in Alaska! Photography opportunities abound and sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time. It was a great winter for northern lights and I did become one of those “aurora zombies” on a couple of occasions. I’ll be sharing pictures later! I just returned from a day cruise of the Kenai Fjords National Park and it was an amazing day on the water. I still have not had a chance to view the more than 800 photos that I shot. (Working two jobs during the summer means less time for the things I enjoy, but it affords me the chance to get out and about in our beautiful state.) I know not all of the pictures will be worthy of keeping as I needed to use manual mode on my camera with the lens that I chose, and it’s extremely difficult to capture wildlife in action that way. Fingers crossed that I got a few good ones. I’ll be doing some exploring throughout the summer, and hopefully be able to take a few day trips with my camera equipment in tow. Most people know that I rarely leave home without some kind of camera with me, even if it’s just a little point and shoot model.
Besides the photography, I am now volunteering with The Last Frontier Honor Flight, a group that takes WWII, Korean and Vietnam war veterans to Washington, DC. The veterans go on the trip free of charge, and we have guardians/escorts for each veteran. I was privileged to be a guardian for a WWII Navy vet on the trip this past April. It was an emotional trip for all the participants and I am very grateful to have been a part of the experience. Our efforts will continue to see that Alaska’s veterans are presented with the opportunity to take the trip to view their memorials.
I’m also trying to get back in the swing of sewing and quilting. Projects have remained dormant most of the year and promised items need to make it to their intended recipients. Looks like the last half of the year might get extremely busy!
I promise pictures with the next post! I’m glad to be back and hope you will join me on the journey of exploring Alaska through my camera lens.
Anch at night 2.18.15


Honor Flight

For the last several weeks, a group I volunteer for has been preparing to send Alaskan WWII vets to Washington, DC to view the memorials. The Last Frontier Honor Flight group from Anchorage had 30 veterans, and The Alaska Golden Heart Honor Flight group from Fairbanks had 16 veterans. So it was a really big group!  As historian, I was able to go behind security at the airport (with a special escort) to take pictures documenting the trip. The group departed on Tues, May 6 and returned on Sat, May 10 to a wonderful homecoming ceremony.  Now work begins towards the next trip, slated for Oct!


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