Monday, March 21, 2011

Iditarod - Willow Start

We drove up to Willow for the official Iditarod start. Tony's parents were gracious enough to host everyone at their house, so we had lots of good food and good company! Last year it was bitter cold and hard to stay outside long enough to watch each racer go by, but this year it was a pleasant 20 degrees with very little wind! We actually enjoyed being out all afternoon.

Sam and his "rear-D" Army buddies pose on Long Lake with Denali in the background.

We took snow machines from Tony's parents house over to Long Lake to watch the Iditarod racers come by.

We loaded our friend's toddler on the snow machine "village style", meaning we zipped him up in his Dad's coat and drove slowly. He thought it was the coolest thing ever and kept telling us, "go go, go go."

I got to ride on the sled, hauling our grill, chairs and complete tailgating kit behind Tony and Christina. "Mush mush!"

Tony, Tom and Ryan on their sleds.

Lance Mackey, the four time champ was predicted to be a contender for the victory again, however this was not his year.

Lance Mackey is a great racer though! Always a champ in my book.

Justin coming across Long Lake waving to fans.

And off they go, headed to Nome.

Meanwhile, back at Tony's parents' house he made us a very tasty Alaskan treat...King Crab Legs!

Justin ended up finishing in 39th place with 9 dogs still running. Congrats Justin on becoming an Iditarod Veteran!

Iditarod

Sam took a few days off of school after his week of inservice training in Fairbanks and we drove down to Anchorage to visit friends and watch the start of the Iditarod! The ceremonial start was held in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, then the official start was in Willow on Sunday.

Justin Savidis of Snowhook Kennels is the musher we got Jasper and Jack from. Justin was a rookie last year, but was not able to finish the race after losing one of his dogs. The dog, Lance Whitey, was found and is back for another try at making it to Nome this year.

Like people, there are many different personalities of the dogs that run the Iditarod. This dog can't wait to get going! "Let me run!"

This dog is overwhelmed by all the commotion and is hiding under the truck wondering what is going on.

Justin putting booties on one of his dogs, getting ready for the ceremonial start down 4th Street in Anchorage.

Justin's wife Rebecca, who is also a musher, helps him get booties on the dogs.

Look how many people it takes to hold back the team at the starting line! They are ready to run!

Justin's Iditarider was Carol Comeau, superintendent of the Anchorage School District.
Look at all of Jasper and Jack's relatives! There is a lot of family resemblance!

Rebecca stands on the runners with Justin, helping slow down the sled for the ceremonial ride through Anchorage.

Race fans, Sam and Gretchen pose for a picture near the starting line. I fit right in wearing my fox hat. There were people in all sorts of furs out for Iditarod!



Denali

Living in Alaska we have had the pleasure of seeing Denali countless times, but it never gets old! On a recent drive down to Anchorage to visit some friends we enjoyed clear blue skies and amazing views of Denali.
View of Denali from the South View Point along the Parks Highway

Denali - The Great One

The climbing season begins in May and you can keep track of how many climbers are on the mountain at http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/current-statistics.htm

After digging my way through the snow to use the view finder I discovered the lens was frozen over.
It was worth post holing through the snow filled parking lot for these views!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Our own "Ice Art"

We love Chena Hot Springs. We have been many times, but recently we took our first visits in the winter. It is such an amazing experience to walk outside at -15 and submerse yourself in 110+ degree water. The steam coming off the water freezes in your hair!




And of course I saved the best for last! Don't worry hair doesn't really snap off when frozen.

World Ice Carving Festival

Every year Fairbanks hosts the World Ice Carving Championships. Ice artists come from all over the world to carve the world famous Fairbanks ice. The ice in Fairbanks is known for its exceptional quality because it freezes at low temperatures and multiple feet of ice freeze at once creating nice solid blocks of ice, or so I was told.
The ice park is an RV park in the summer and an ice park in the winter.


The only thing that would make this phone booth cooler would be if superman were using it to change!

They have a giant ice maze you can walk though and if we were a bit shorter it might have been a challenge.

Giant ice tortoise!

Waiting at the ice bus stop.

Ice snow machine

An Ice Truck made for the Ice Road...Ice Road Truckers watch out!

Beth, I thought you would like this one!

There were many neat carvings of polar bears, but we liked this one. It depicts a group of bears on small pieces of ice, reflecting upon their melting habitat. What an interesting subject for an ice sculpture...melting ice.

Tools of the trade. It takes a long blade to cut through a whole block of ice.

There is even an ice skating rink completely made of ice, with ice side boards.

The ice park also has a great kids section with all sorts of beautiful ice slides that kids can actually slide down. I would recommend snow pants. We stopped by the ice park in regular shoes and cotton pants...so the slides weren't too tempting for us.

If you are in or around Fairbanks go check it out. The ice park is great!