Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Beautiful Day…

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Remus and I escaped this afternoon to go hike Granite Tors..
It was a great after noon, hot and sunny – a fantastic day for a hike, and for reflecting on life the universe and everything. Time well spent.

We found berries..

And more berries..

And even more berries..

Blueberry season appears to be on us.. Get your picking in now before Remus and I eat them all!

The next adventure..

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

I am off with Ms Marsh and Tom to do a copy cat trip, ripping off Ed Plumb and Friends Melozii Trip. It should be a pretty mellow 7 day trip. We can be followed at my spot tracker page.

Hope everyone has a good week!

A Weekend with the Family

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

The family and I had a very busy weekend.  On Saturday we hiked up to Wickersham Dome.  Molly and Lizzy walked the entire way up to the dome by themselves.

There was quite a bit of stopping to check stuff out – the twins are continually amused by random things along the trail. Lizzy was quite fascinated with the flowers.

They made pretty good time even with the stops and had a blast hiking.

(Photo provided by Eli)

They even enjoyed the final climb to the top – after which of course everyone had a nice lunch and then rode in backpack carriers to the car while taking a nap.  Everyone being the twins that is.

On Sunday we headed out to Chena Lakes to spend the afternoon goofing off, playing in the water, and hopefully getting in some packrafting practice time. Nancy biked there along with Tom and her old school friend Eli who is in town for a conference. They appeared to have a good bike ride, but when we caught up with them they were having fun fixing a flat. Fortunately the twins were around to supervise the repairs.

Eventually we made it to Chena Lakes, where the twins got out their own bikes.

Eventually Nancy took the twins out for a nap time run in the Chariot, and Tom and I got out our packrafts and spent several hours splashing around in the lake. The water was fantasticly warm given it was a fairly cloudy overcast day. We spent a lot of time practising re-entering flipped packrafts – I think I flipped and got back in about 30 times. I was much, much faster by the end of the day. Spending a bit of time practising flipping is really worth while – it keeps you from panicking when you flip in moving water, and hopefully allows you get back in. Not panicking is pretty crucial if you don’t want to loose your paddle and possibly your raft – potentially leaving you with a long walk home. Chena Lakes is a great place to do this – the water is quite warm and the lake is normally not all that busy. The beach is pretty busy, but the rest of the lake is generally pretty unused.

Dumping is fun, and other lessons learned in a pack rafting safety class

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

A bunch of us from Fairbanks headed down to the Willow area last weekend to take a pack rafting safety class from Jim Gonski of the Alaska Kayak Academy. The class is highly recommended – I learned a lot.

Some of the things that I learned, in no particular order:

  • Flipping is no big deal – we spent quite a bit of time in the water, which made me quite a bit more comfortable in moving water out of the boat. I also had the experience of being the only student who flipped accidentally – hurrah for me! Amazingly it was while everyone was watching too – success! The end result was that I learned that flipping was not a big deal.
  • Getting back in after flipping is also not a  big deal – we spent a bit of time on getting back into the packrafts after flipping – it was a lot easier than I expected.
  • Throwbags and helmets are a good idea in any sort of harder water. After watching another student having a bit of trouble getting out of a flipped packraft it was pretty clear that head protection of some sort is a really good idea. On the second day as we got ready to float we had to toss a throw bag some random packrafter who had dumped just upstream of our put in. Alas, my throwbag is about 1lb dry, and lots more wet – I think a future sewing project will be to sew a slightly lighter throw bag made of less absorbent material that still allows the rope to dry. More to come on this subject..
  • Eddies are fun – I knew intellectually how eddies can be used to slow down and reposition, but this class really brought out their usefulness. I need to find a section of river with some good eddies to practice with (or perhaps play?)  the greater Fairbanks area!
  • Those extra strokes – I had learned the sculling and draw strokes, and to some extent learned when to use them. They appear to be quite a bit more useful than I initially expected..
  • Even day one should pack the minimum set of backup gear – in the class one of the students lost her valve cap, leading to sudden deflation excitement. One one had a backup cap, a inflation cap, or even a patch kit.. This drove home the point that even on short day pack raft trips I should carry the minimum set of emergency gear.
  • River ratings are very subjective – the hardest section of Willow Creek we did was according to the instructor, rated class III. It felt much more like class II stuff though, so I guess ratings must vary a lot and are perhaps subjective.
  • Rigging – I have a line all the way around my boat – a “fun-rail” as Roman Dial calls it. My boat was used for the classe’s test flips, and no one got tangled up in them or lost hold of the boat, so I guess this was a success.

    The instructor’s boat was rigged like this:

    • View of the “fun-rail”
    • The grab line on the bow

    Some of the interesting thing to note – he had the full around rail, a daisy chained line on the bow, and a “flip line” made of webbing which is supposed to help you flip the boat over after an upset. He also had a whiffle ball attached to the spray skirt’s release tab – alas I have no pictures of that.

Alas, I am afraid I was not the best student – I had a hard time paying attention with all the river noise, my packraft ADD, and the hockey helmets we had on. I also regret not taking some extra runs Saturday evening, as we had dry suits and Willow Creek was very, very fun.

I think I will take it again next year – especially if Jim G. offers a class that is the “next step” up in difficulty.  I might also take the full on swift water rescue class, though all the rigging drills sound less than useful.

In any case, this class is highly recommended – everyone who packrafts and has the free time should take it.

Bike to Work Week…

Monday, May 17th, 2010

So, as everyone probibly knows, its Bike to Work Week this week. There is a even a special bike to work event here in the town I live in, Fairbanks Alaska.. this is strange as Fairbanks is not really all that bike friendly of a place. Its not bike “unfriendly”, just not very friendly. Only really hardcore folks commute by bike year round (like my wife Nancy) or folks that have had their license revoked as the winters are fairly intense. This makes for a interesting dynamic at times. I am an indifferent bike commuter – biking on pavement with traffic is not very interesting or fun to me, so I ovoid it when possible. I commute to work via a round about way by bike on the in the summer avoiding the pavement were possible,  however once the trails set up with enough snow and become travel-able, I switch to skis, run, or bike on the trails rather than the road. My summer round-about route into work is about 12 miles one way, and takes about 45 minutes – here is a link to a Googlie Map.  Its a pretty mellow ride, with some gravel sections to liven things up a bit.  Its just long enough I can get a good dose of NPR and catch up on the news of the day.

So, this is how it went today..

The start of my ride – note the heavy traffic.   I think I saw one car in the first 20 minutes.

After 2 miles or so I turn onto Henderson Rd, and start to climb a bit.

Eventually I turn onto a dirt road called St Patrick’s Rd.  This is my favorate part of the ride – the next 4 miles or so are all unpaved and fun.

Eventually St Patrick dumps out onto Ester Dome Rd,  and the pavement returns.  After a short fast downhill  I turn onto  Sheep Creek road.  This morning I ran into my the first biker had I seen in the morning in a long time – possibly all spring actually..  She was zooming along and a pretty good clip..

Finally I turn onto a short trail that winds though the trees onto campus and to my building, the ever so lovely named building, the WRRB.

My route home is pretty much the reverse, though if I want to add some distance and have the time I change things up a bit and go back via Ester Dome road and Henderson.  This adds a biggish hill and is a bit more of a workout..

Alas, on the way home I got the first flat of the year – possibly the first since the summer of 2008… bummer.  I use stout tires with thick flat resistant inner bits, but while good they appear to be not invincible.  Perhaps these tires are just not quite up to snuff – they are Bontrager Race Light Hardcase tires and the tread does not seem to last all that long – one of these tires is lasting me about half a summer.  After fixing the flat I went home the short way.

Happy bike to work week everyone!

The Twins Ride Again

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Nancy was out of town for a couple of days and I got to be the Twins chauffeur in her absence. The twins ride in to school in the morning and back home at around noon weekdays. On cold days they get a warm water bottle each. On really cold days they get an extra “foot” water bottle.. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as alas no skiing) those days are behind us at least until late fall.
Being the twins chafferer means I wake them up at 7:15 or so, get them bundled up, then stuff them into their chariot outside the house.

The view from the twin’s perspective – the sun is just cresting the hill and is shining our trail, but alas not reached our house yet.

The twins then are pushed down the trail out to the parking lot were my bike awaites.

They then get hooked up, and enjoy the nice 20 minute ride to school while napping and sometime eating.

I drop the twins off for school, then head back out to deal with my morning activities (mainly working). Once lunch time rolls around I pick them up again, and they enjoy their lunch while pedaling home.

On the way home we often stop at UAF’s experimental farm. Right near the road there is several fenced enclosures that house reindeer, including some with this years calves. The twins like to stop here and check on the baby reindeer..

After this stop its a quick ride home, and then the twins are marched off to the house so they can get their nap started.

Life is good when you are three and three quarters!