Saturday, January 31, 2009

Harley & OCC

You'll be happy to know that so far... no eruption. "Seismicity levels have risen", but for now, Mt. Redoubt is behaving itself. It is a gloriously beautiful day in Anchorage, so we went out and hit the town. We ran some errands, and then ended up at the House of Harley. They have a motorcycle from Orange County Choppers on display. The boys from OCC built this chopper to celebrate 50 years of statehood for Alaska. The bike is being raffled off to raise money for the Children's Hospital at Providence, Alaska. The tickets are $100, and they are only selling 10,000. Do the math, and you'll see what a nice donation it is! If you want more information, here is the link. The bike is absolutely beautiful. The pictures don't do it justice. My only complaint is that I didn't know the fellows from OCC were here in December to present the bike to the hospital. I had a chance to meet Mikey and didn't??? I'm seriously bummed.

The names of all of the Governors of Alaska are engraved on the wheels. I thought that was a nice touch.
The tank was beautiful, too. Sorry I didn't get a better picture of it, but the lights put a glare on it no matter which way I turned.

The whole time Russ, Jess and I were looking at the OCC chopper and other bikes at Harley, Brandon was checking out something totally different. He loves motorcycles like his Dad, but his preferences are a little different. He has his eye on this little Buell beauty. He even asked me to take his picture with it. If anyone wants to buy him a little something for Easter, he'd like one of these. Only make sure it's green with white trim. He's a young man who knows what he likes.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Volcano Saga Continues

No, this is not a current picture. It was taken on April 21, 1990, by R. Clucas. This was the last time that Mt. Redoubt erupted. I'm just sharing a little piece of Alaskan history. It's a beautiful picture, even if it was a scary event. Apparently the volcano erupted over a period of several weeks, and coated Anchorage with a layer of ash. On the other hand, this picture of Mt. Redoubt was taken two days ago by Cyrus Read of the AVO/USGS. It shows the muddy flow coming down the north side. Activity is still high. It's just a matter of waiting at this point. After considering that we might be trapped in this house for several days (with the kids!!), I went to the Commissary and stocked up on food. And a bottle of wine. (I'm not an idiot!)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow In The Forecast

I think Gretchen has been doing some voodoo or something, because she is sending her snow our way. Last night, the forecast said an inch or so was all that was expected. This morning, they are sending out warnings of 4-8 inches. It's another one of those cases of "Be careful what you wish for..." Russ and I were talking about the weather this past weekend, and I said I wish it would either drop another foot of snow so we could get out and go sledding, or just let it all melt. (This in between stuff is driving me crazy.) Maybe they are wrong. I'll just peek out the window and see...Nope. It's begun. Soon it will be a winter wonderland once more.

On to other subjects. If you are following our Redoubt volcano saga, reports now say that it is not a question of if it will erupt, but a question of when. It could be hours, or days, but it is definitely going to happen. Keep in mind, we don't do things quietly in Alaska. We go all out. Here is part of the article:

"If history is a guide, Redoubt should erupt in style, geologists say. Unlike volcanoes in Hawaii, which tend to ooze out slow-rolling lava, volcanoes in Alaska -- Redoubt included -- usually erupt explosively, shooting ash nearly eight miles high.
That's because the gas that's trying to escape the volcano gets blocked, either by a lava dome or thick, syrupy magma -- characteristic of the highly viscous material in Alaska volcanoes -- which increases the power below, AVO geologist Jennifer Adleman said."

Personally, I think the snow and volcano are all part of a bigger plot to keep me inside the house, cleaning and not shopping. What kind of connections does my husband have, for goodness sake? No telling. After all, his picture is hanging in the Pentagon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We're Still Here...

We're still here and not covered with ash, so it's a good day. Things are still active, though. The Alaska Volcano Observatory is fixing a web cam about 5 miles from the Redoubt summit crater today, so they can monitor the activity. Until that is up and running, they have redirected the web cam near Mt. Spurr toward Redoubt. If you are interested, here is the link to that web cam. Enjoy. (Unless it erupts, and then you can run screaming into the street. No, wait. That would be me.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Earthquakes, Ice and Volcanoes...Oh My!

We didn't want you guys to get too bored, so we have added another imminent natural disaster to our forecast. You guessed of our volcanoes is getting ready to erupt. Namely, Redoubt Volcano. Here is a map so you can see where it is in relation to Anchorage. Now here is the official warning on Redoubt:

"Seismicity remains well above background levels. Beginning at 00:58 AST (9:58 UTC) this morning, nearly continuous volcanic tremor was recorded at stations near Redoubt's summit, prompting AVO to raise the Aviation Color Code to ORANGE and the Alert Level to WATCH at 02:09 AST (11:09 UTC). Seismicity began to decline at about 05:30 AST (14:30 UTC) this morning, but remains elevated as of this writing.The current activity at Redoubt could be precursory to an eruption, perhaps within hours to days. A further increase in seismicity is expected to accompany an eruption. Staff are currently monitoring the volcano 24 hours a day."

Translation for you Southerners:


If you are interested in getting more information, please feel free to check out their site.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ice Fishing on Jewel Lake

In case you were wondering, the earthquake yesterday was a magnitude of 5.73 ML. What do you do after an earthquake in Alaska? Why walk out on a frozen lake and going ice fishing, of course! We went out to Jewel Lake yesterday so Brandon could try ice fishing. We tried to do it last year, but the weather and timing just never agreed. Jewel Lake is a pretty lake south of Anchorage, just west of the Dimond Mall. They have a man made beach there, and it's a hot spot during the summer months. The city decided to host free ice fishing this weekend to get the crowds out and about. They did a great job. They pre-drilled fishing holes for everyone, had people walking around offering bait and assistance, and provided all of the gear. It was well below freezing and windy out on the lake, so Russ did the tough part like baiting the hook and anything else that required taking gloves off. The hardest part was getting the bait to go down into the icy water. Think of trying to get a piece of shrimp to sink down to the bottom of a cup of half melted slushy (or icee). It's no easy feat.
It was a very interesting experience. You could tell where the schools of fish were traveling under the ice by where the excited cries of the kids were heard. It wasn't too long before Brandon caught a fish. I'm sure he is smiling under there somewhere. They provided bags, too, so you could take your fish home to eat, but we passed and donated our fish to a neighboring angler. We still have a lot of salmon in the freezer, and the thought of filleting a bunch of little fish wasn't that appealing.
On to more fishing.
Not only did the city provide free fishing, but they also held drawings the whole afternoon, and gave out great prizes. They had a big warming tent set up as well, and provided the frozen fishermen/women with hot chocolate, coffee, popcorn and donuts. Anchorage is definitely a family friendly city, and does a great job of providing year round entertainment. It started snowing again, and we were ready to head home and warm up.
Back to base and a warm couch and funny movie. Hope you enjoyed your Saturday as well.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


We had an earthquake this morning. 9:09 am, to be exact. They don't know the magnitude right now. The center of it was in Cook Inlet, 158 miles Southwest of Anchorage. We've had quite a few earthquakes since we've lived up here, but this is only the second one that I've felt. I was sitting in a chair upstairs, and suddenly the house started swaying. Then I could hear the faint rattling of things on the dresser. I could feel myself moving slightly back and forth. It's kind of a strange feeling. I was wondering what someone was doing to make the house shake so much (probably my kids), and then I realized that it was an earthquake. The whole thing lasted less than a minute. Very cool. Russ says earthquakes are not cool, because they can do so much damage, but this one was minor, and that makes it cool. When the kids are older, they will not remember that they have been through hurricanes, tornadoes, water spouts, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. I guess that's a good thing. It means none of them has had a damaging effect on our family. If you asked the kids what they remember of the hurricanes we experienced in Florida, and they will tell you we had a great weekend in Disney World. (If you have to evacuate, why not make a vacation out of it.) Such is life. Hope your day is disaster free.

Friday, January 23, 2009

School in Alaska

The weather is back in the 20's now, but not much snow to speak of. We got about 1/4 inch the other day, but that was about it. Today I am sharing some pictures of the kids from this past year at school. They have really done some interesting things here. Jess learned how to shoot a bow, and was very good at it. They taught the kids how to shoot at the indoor range here on Elmendorf, and then they took them to the outdoor range for a bow competition and picnic. They really had a great time. (And discovered some new talents!) Jess did even better with a rifle. She took a hunter safety course at school, and part of the course was a field trip to the shooting range south of Anchorage. Jess definitely takes after her father, and is a fantastic shot. The teachers were calling her "Sniper" by the end of the day. Not to be outdone, Brandon was chosen to represent his school in an art show at the Anchorage Museum downtown. It was really cool to see his art on the wall of a real museum.

He had some fun field trips, as well. His class had a visit from REI, and they taught them how to use snowshoes. Trust me, it's a lot harder than it looks.
The kids had a blast running relays and taking part in other competitions while wearing the snowshoes. He got to participate in an egg relay, hurdle jumping, and kick ball.

I think it's great that Jessica (our artist) found her inner outdoors woman, and Brandon (our outdoors man) found his inner artist.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Moose Crossing

Things have been a little busy, so I've been slacking off a little bit on this blog. I have been so busy taking pictures at school lately, that I haven't taken any for myself. I thought I would share these that I took last winter in front of our school. I was parked beside the school, waiting for Brandon to come out, when this Mom and calf decided to stroll through.
It always makes me a little nervous when they walk so closely to the vehicles, but despite their massive size, they are very gentle creatures. This is not uncommon in our area. They make regular announcements on the school intercom before they release the kids concerning moose sightings. They will tell the kids to not take certain routes home, because there are moose in that area. In this case, the moose were right in front of the school, so they held the kids a little longer and "shooed" the moose away.

Unfortunately, the moose refused to go very far this time, so our Principal and some volunteers walked the kids safely around the wildlife and up into our neighborhood. Just another day in Alaska.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Warrior Has Returned

Russ flew in early yesterday morning from his Hawaiian vacation (oops, I'm sorry, I meant TDY). As you can see from these pics that he took, it was very rough and time consuming. It's a wonder he doesn't need to take next week off to recover from all of the hard work.
As you will also notice, the weather was not much different from ours in Alaska.

In fact, if you didn't tell me where these pictures were taken, I would have assumed they were from down on Turnagain Arm.

It wasn't all fun and games. He had to provide for himself on this trip. Here is the poor baby having to fix his own dinner. Life is tough.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Springtime in Alaska?!?!?

"When it's springtime in Alaska, it's 40 below..." That is a phrase from a song my Dad used to play a LONG time ago. Apparently times are changing. It hit the 40's again today and it was a beautiful day. Blue skies, snow melting, birds chirping. I might even have heard a bear yawning as he rose from his winter slumber. This is the view out of my back patio. What is that stuff under the tree? Is that grass? In January? On closer inspection, there is GREEN grass in my back yard. It's official, Spring has sprung. Now don't go crazy like Jess and start picking out new shorts and swimsuits. (I think I heard Brandon rooting around in the garage, looking for the slip and slide.) I have a feeling this too shall pass.
The kids are enjoying their 6 day weekend. They have been enjoying a Wii marathon like no other. They pooled their money yesterday, conned me into driving to Target, and picked out some new games. They remain happy campers. I guess we can call this Pre Spring Break. We hope you are enjoying our cold Alaskan weather down south. It's only a loaner. Next week will be be expecting it back.

Friday, January 16, 2009

No School Again?

Day three of the melt down/no school saga. I'm beginning to wonder if these kids will ever go to school again. The roads are pretty messy. There is still a thick layer of ice over the gutters on the streets, so very little water is draining off. It's in the upper 40's, so the snow is melting rapidly. (I can see grass! I'm not kidding!) It's been raining for most of the day. There is a wind advisory for gusts of 50 mph in Anchorage, and 100 mph south of town on Turnagain Arm. Now, to add insult to injury, they have added a flood warning. It's like driving through a river out there. I think the only place that the ice and snow aren't melting is on our street and driveway. What are the odds? I get to go out tomorrow with a shovel and pick away at the mess to clear it off. If you want a good laugh, hang out on the corner and watch me try to carry trash bags to the dumpster. If I don't break something before this is over, it will be a miracle. Who knew spring would come so early? I'm heading out to buy some flowers and sunscreen. It's tan time. Who needs Hawaii anyway? Apparently our yard is now beach front property.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Day 2 of The Lockdown

No school again today. I was smarter this time, though. I got up at 5 am, checked the school information channel, saw that school was out again, and went back to bed. I didn't wake anyone else up. Do you know what the high is predicted to be today? 50 degrees. Are you sure we are still in Alaska? Is this really January? Crazy weather! Anyway, the thaw continues. This will be our second day of bombing here at the house. Bombing, you ask? Yes. Our roofs are made of metal here. As the weather warms, the foot deep snow and ice on the roof starts to slide down and over the edge. Huge frozen slabs hit the ground with a booming sound. The floor actually shakes. The sound is really impressive when it falls onto the metal garage roof. You definitely don't want to walk around there too close to the house. One big chunk almost took out a neighbor on his back patio last year. Definitely dangerous stuff. I am thinking of making a break for freedom. There are only so many viewings of recorded NCIS and games of Wii Star Wars that I can take.