Monday, March 27, 2017

Spring?

According to the calendar, it has been spring here for a week. Looking outside, however, you will see none of the typical signs of spring. There are no flowers poking up through the soil. There are no buds on the trees. There are no robins or geese flying overhead. The grass isn't turning green. In fact, it looks pretty much the way it has looked for the last 8 months: covered in snow.




And yet, I can feel spring in the air and I can see signs of springtime in Interior Alaska. As I am writing this it is 23*F (-4*C) outside. The overnight low tonight will only be 4*F (-16*C). I can walk from my car into the grocery store without gloves on and not feel like I am about to get frostbite. The air no longer hurts my face. We now have over 12 hours of sunshine each day. We are inching ever closer to the almost-constant daylight that will come with summer. The sun's strength has returned as well and I can feel its warmth coming through the windows. It is actually melting some of the snow now. I can see bare pavement in a few places. In the parking lot of the gym, I can see the yellow lines for the first time since October. I must confess that after months of gauging my parking spot on the parking jobs of the cars already in the lot, parking between two yellow lines seems a little foreign. The roads are starting to clear up and I am not as worried about sliding through intersections anymore. And the people? Everyone suddenly seems nicer and happier. There is a hope in the air.

Is this the spring I am used to? No. My internal clock is having a difficult time with the Alaska spring. This isn't what spring is supposed to be like. There are supposed to be flowers, and birds, and leaves. But this, this Alaska spring--with its snow, and its cold temperatures, and its brilliant sunshine--promises the end of winter is near. And you know what? I believe it.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

World Ice Art Championships

The World Ice Art Championships are held here over a four week period every March. The last ice sculpture event we attended had us out in -13*F (-25*C) weather so I wanted to wait until it was warmish before venturing out to see the sculptures. It took a couple of weeks, but thankfully the weather finally complied. It was a beautiful, sunny 17*F (-8*C) today. The sculptures were amazing. The ice was so clear you could see through it. I am in awe of the talent of the ice carvers. I can barely cut meat, let alone carve something out of blocks of ice.






 A tribute to David Bowie




 

Finally, a peacock that won't chase me! 

 If you look closely at this one, you can see the snake's tongue reaching out for the bird.


 Some of the sculptures were dark and terrifying, like this Grim Reaper one. 



My favourite was The Mad Hatter's Tea Party. The detail was so precise, from the teacups to the Cheshire Cat to the mushroom. 








It's not every day you get to put your head inside a hippo's mouth. 





Tuesday, March 7, 2017

2017 Iditarod

The Iditarod normally starts in Anchorage every year, but this year there wasn't enough snow along part of the route from Anchorage to Nome so they moved the official start to Fairbanks. What's that? More sled dogging? Yes please! When we ventured out it was hovering right around -30*F (-34*C). We had discussed going to the actual starting line, but that involved parking and taking a shuttle bus and standing outside for hours in the cold. Ummm...pass. Instead we parked at a church right along the river and about 3 miles down from the starting line. We sat in our car for 2.5 hours, leaving it running to keep us warm. The church was open and provided hot chocolate, cookies, and bathroom facilities, as well as a place to warm up if you didn't want to sit in your car.  At the start time, the temperature had risen to -16*F (-27*C). We headed from the parking lot to the river to watch the teams come by. This was much better than the Yukon Quest because the teams came by minutes apart, rather than hours or days apart. We watched about 1/3 of the teams go by before we decided to call it a day on account of not being able to feel our toes anymore.

*Warning: picture overload*


video













The straw is for the dogs to bed down on. 























Pink booties! 

There was a group of young kids, probably a daycare or preschool, cheering the teams on. Their teachers set up these signs. Every time a team went by the kids chanted "Go dogs go!"