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Friday, August 29, 2008

Alaska abuzz....

I most definitely and specifically stay away from writing opinion or politics but can we say, "wow"? The news, like a cup of coffee, jolted us awake... Sarah Palin is the republican VP candidate!?! What do we do now? The decision was so easy before. Incredible, what an antithesis of candidacy. As many Alaskans have, my wife and I met her briefly, during a Governors Ball here in Nome. Of course everyone knows her husband as the Iron Dog racer. This election will be interesting, I haven't seen people so wound up or excited about politics in a while...

Summer Shorts.. or.. Short Summer

It has been difficult to keep up on the writing lately. I just don’t feel the interest so I will post a few pictures of our latest outings and a general blah writeup (how's that for an intro).

The summer is winding down here, the tundra is turning colors and last few nights have dipped below freezing though the days have been warm. We had a good weekend doing projects, getting out for blueberries, chopping wood and some nice fires on the beach. The only interesting change from my standard bike rides, hike, kayak, rows and gym workouts was a 10 mile run last week. Sarah dropped me off at Cape Nome 10 miles from town on the way back from a beach picnic at the Last Train. It was a spontaneous event and I had only my hiking boots so it was a little awkward on the gravel road. It was such a nice day that shorts and a tee were all that was needed. It was a significant step. Since my knee damage earlier this year I stayed completely away from running. Aside from a little hamstring tightness the 1 hr 12 minutes it took felt fine and though a little slow it encouraged me to include running in my repertoire of work outs again.

I was in Savoonga yesterday for a quick day trip and snapped a few photos waiting on the runway and then of Nome when we were flying in to land (above). It was a long day and by the time I packed Hahnah on the front and a weighted backpack up Anvil mnt a few times in the evening I was pretty tired. The brisk wind and the smell of fall were sure signs that winter is coming soon again.

Monday, August 18, 2008


A hectic week ended to begin a hectic weekend. After installing an excruciating painful chimney for a woodstove all day Saturday followed by Sarah's songwriter showcase in the evening, then a berry picking fiesta today, I finally managed to get out for a 40 mile ride today down to Safety and back. I haven't been on a bike in this direction since last year training for the invitational. It was a good ride from town because you can grind out most of it on the beach. I was so sick of riding it last year after countless training runs and couldn't believe I was a little nostalgic. It was probably the weather though, lately we have been having temperatures in the 60's. The sound of the waves and the fine beach sand could have been Hawaii, well up until I rode past the dead headless walrus. Then I remembered I was in Nome.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


When the sun shows up you have to take advantage of it. Evening plans change at the drop of a hat but figuring out what to do is always tricky. It can't be epic, maybe intense or just refreshing. Sometimes, by the time I figure it out the weather changes or time is eaten away. Time to fall back on the bronze standards and going up to Anvil Mountain was the quickest option. Well it is not really a mountain more like a hill.

Carrying Hahnah and a pack gave me an extra 20 lbs to sweat up to the 900 ft top. Biking from town is the usual method though not with the baby so I did a couple of trips up and back to make up for some lost effort.

Nome view and Bering Sea.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sentimental row

The Dexter Challenge was held yesterday, 8 mile run or walk or a 12 mile bike. I didn't participate. Even though I felt a little peer pressure it just did not get me interested for some reason. Some people are doing 100 mile runs (Resurrection Pass) as a training exercise (crazy) and I can't seem to get motivated to race something on a bike or run even as little as 8-12 miles. Maybe I'm afraid of reinjuring the knees or maybe that's an excuse. Instead I went out for a 12 mile row, the evening was so inviting it couldn't be helped. Sculling is so much easier on the body, like swimming. No injuries, good workout.

The idea was born from Jill Fredston who is well known in Alaska for her Rowing to Latitudes book. I had been brewing the idea of kayaking to Barrow when I had injured my shoulder after a harrowing high seas crossing to Unalakleet in the summer of 2004 with a traditional sea kayak. Jill actually discouraged me from rowing the modified version of a kayak solo since it is too heavy to launch and land. She was correct but I did it anyway, the shoulder gave me no choice.

As much as the boat needs new scull tracks, oarlocks and even oars it just keeps on going. Drew Harrison from Vancouver designed the boat and I must say the durability - most impressive. Its name, Eschemo Warrior, is fitting and the pounding I keep dishing out over the years is unforgiving. There are so many miles on the seat the bearings had to be replaced twice and the wheels are ground to a nub. The track has worn completely through in some places and the oarlocks are almost worn through too. I broke the oar in half once and then shoved smaller piece into the larger one, glued it together, made a wooden handle and that still works. It's one of the few modified ocean kayaks with a scull insert and hard to find someone who makes them.

A sentimental piece for sure, the Eschemo Warrior keeps on ticking.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Enough phish

I'm not sure how many pics I can possibly put up of interest for Unalakleet and the fishing we did. I wouldn't describe myself as a fisherman or a hunter by any means but it is insane to live up here and not subsist on the great food out in the country. It's amazing that a $3 lure + borrowed pole = salmon for the year. Next comes berries then moose then caribou. I was wondering if I could use my fatbike this year to get caribou. That would be fun, not sure if it would be a first but it would be interesting. Gas is expensive these days in rural Alaska.

I admit I had a great deal of fun in Unalakleet hanging out with old friends and the air of small town life. Not that Nome is a big city but it is different. This was my view every morning biking to work.

Another fun filled weekend coming up. We'll see what mischief I can get into out in the country if I have time.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Biking for silvers

Rain, wind, rain, sun, rain, clouds.

I am not sure why we always comment on the weather, I suppose it's human nature or a tradition that probably dates back to ancient times. Possibly the reason we wanted to communicate in the first place to pass the time or complain about something. It's never perfect and always changes, especially in Alaska. Even when it is perfect and it stays too long, people complain about that too. Animals would likely do it if they could. Maybe they do. It's probably what the whales are really saying or what that wolf said to the bear.

Regardless of weather we had a good salmon catch upriver. Caught our limit each day and put away enough fish for the winter. Hahnah and Sarah enjoyed the river runs too, the scenery is great of course.

This week I get to bike to work at the Unalakleet clinic, only 4 miles of gravel each way but it's great. Last night I explored a little bit and it brought back memories when I used to live here. I would run up to Army Peak but this is the first time I biked it. There is some nice steep single track and good tundra up top. This is what I had hoped the Imuruk Lake trip would have been like. Knees surprisingly held up with only a little soreness today.

If the tundra is this good here though maybe I'll attempt a mountain bike trip to Shaktoolik from Unalakleet. It's about 40 miles through some hills, tundra, ponds, lagoons, brush and decent river crossings. I have kayaked that way but I always wondered what the iditarod trail looks like in the summer or fall. Maybe another little venture brewing in the ole noggin.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Unalakleet, not quite a cd release concert

The family and I are headed to Unalakleet this morning. It'll be a working trip next week but this weekend I hope to catch our salmon for the upcoming winter. It'll also be Hahnah's first trip to Unalakleet too and will be really special. I have said it often that sometimes it seems the world revolves around Unalakleet. For example, one of my first friends here in Alaska is from there, I lived there a few years and oddly enough my wife Sarah's parents lived there for five years in the 70's.

It'll be a little wearing for Hahnah since they just came back from Fairbanks last weekend while I was tromping around in the mud (see below). Aside from visiting a childhood friend Sarah performed a cd release concert on her latest album, Treasure a Storm Can Bring. It’s her fourth album and is really cool & available at CD-Baby, Itunes or other digital music media. I am really proud and amazed how she was able to juggle studio time in Anchorage, her store here in Nome, the birth of our baby in January and the multitude of events she sponsors to promote music in Nome.