Wednesday, July 24, 2013

...and Old McDonald had an Eskimo?

This weekend I stuck around here and went to all the events in the Fairbanks area. For some reason they all seem to be on the same weekend which works out well for me, I suppose.
This Friday I spent the better portion of the day and night at the World Eskimo Indian Olympics or WEIO as they called it. Whenever they would say "W.E.I.O." I would always get the "Old McDonald" song in my head. :)
Anyway, they had a bunch of strange events that apparently their ancestors had been playing or doing some form of for generations. The most interesting had to be the "Ear pull". They would put a piece of simulated sinew in a loop around around each persons ear and pull their heads back trying to pull the loop off the other persons ear. They would do rounds as best out of three. They would go right ear to right ear, then left to left and then, if they needed a tie breaker, they would go winning ear to winning ear. They had brackets that worked down to the winner. By the last few rounds I cannot imagine how badly their ears must have been burning! Some got cuts on the back of their ears and almost all of them were icing their ears.
Other events included "The 4-Man carry", "Two foot high kick", "One foot high kick" (not pictured), "Women's Blanket toss", "Seal Skinning", "Drop the Bomb",  and the "Knuckle hop (not pictured)."


On Saturday, there was a festival downtown that celebrated the Gold Rush call "Golden Days."
On Sunday, as a part of this celebration the people of Fairbanks got to show off their ingenuity in the "Red Green Regatta". I have no idea how it got that name, but it has been a Fairbanks tradition for 17 years to make any kind of floating structure with at least one roll of duct tape used in its construction, and see if you can make it down the Chena river a couple of miles without sinking.
Some people were more creative then others, but it was so funny to watch! This year there was a big hazard right at the first bridge they had to go under, a huge log. A few of the "boats" didn't even make it past this first obstacle.
 Besides not sinking, the other object was to get the other floaters and the onlookers as wet as possible.
(Wow, sorry that video is so small and poor quality. I took all the Red Green Regatta pics with my phone since I forgot my camera memory chip. I won't let that happen again.)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

True Alaskan adventures

Well, we went away for another weekend! This time to Valdez, AK. This town is about 7 hours away and as I was thinking about 14 hours round trip in the car I was not too excited. However, I would have stayed in the car for a whole 24 hours if I could continue to see the scenery that was on the Richardson Hwy.


When we got there we saw, what is typical of most towns in AK, a small town with just enough to do to last us about...oh... 1hour. It is a good thing we found out about the kayaking/glacier hiking tours so we had a cool way to spend our time. They completely outfitted us with awesome looking waterproof gear and we were on our way. We kayaked into this little glacier fed lake and paddled around icebergs for a while eventually making our way over to the glacier. It was substantially colder near/on the glacier with the wind coming off the ice. We ate lunch on the glacier, and I was so grateful that our guide had the forethought to bring hot water with him. He made us all tea, or hot chocolate, or hot apple cider. I opted for the apple cider and I have never felt so good as when I held that warm cup in my hand. Normally, I am very sensitive to hot drinks, but I was able to drink this one right away! After lunch we hiked on the glacier for a while and it was so fascinating to look down and see the blue ice under the rocks. 

We returned later that afternoon, and went by what they call "the beach." There was a salmon hatchery at the beach and the salmon were beginning to return to lay their eggs. Apparently, this is the best time to see wildlife in the area because the animals all come around for the easy meal as the salmon make there way up stream through the gauntlet of seals, sea lions, and eagles to where they were born.


On Sunday we did the long, but beautiful 7 hour drive back to Fairbanks. This Hwy is definitely on my list of top five best drives!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"Well, that's not what I expected..."

...that was what we kept saying over and over this weekend. We took the long drive down to Anchorage on Wednesday evening after work, stopped only to sleep, and then continued into Homer for Thursday and Friday. The hostel that we stayed at in Anchorage was terrible. It was so dirty. That's not what was shown online...
The next morning, we went to Homer and looked around the "Homer Spit". It was nice and we stopped in a few little shops. I love seeing all the boats in the Harbor. It reminded me of Maine.
Later that evening, we went to get settled into the next place we were going to stay. It was a farm where the owner had turned her farm house and some other structures into little rooms for people to stay. When we arrived, there was no one there to meet us. Instead, there was a phone number with a courtesy phone for us to call her cell phone and let her know we arrived. She didn't answer the first few times we called, but the house was wide open so we walked through to see if we could find our room. There were bags everywhere. Finally, we were able to get this lady on the phone and she told us there had been a mix up and she had no room for us. What! This was not what we expected. It was the 4th of July. Everywhere else was booked up. We called all over Homer and eventually found one place that had availability. I thought for sure this would be a dump. When we got there we saw that this family was running a fish packing business along with the motel. In fact, the packaging area was directly under the rooms. Oh boy! However, once again, the unexpected happened, it was really nice! We were very pleasantly surprised.
On Friday, Milton went on a fishing charter for the day so Lissie and I decided to take a Ferry to Seldovia. After spending the day there Lissie and I decided that the best word to describe it would be "bizarre." The town is not accessible by road, and does not have all the amenities that a normal place would so I guess I should be a little lenient, but let me describe some of the odd things for you.
First, there was the grocery store/art gallery. Apparently, the art gallery used to be a pizza shop and they didn't remove anything they just put the art on top. Then, there was the central park which was decorated with Styrofoam plates. Then, on the map, there was a coffee shop/bookstore listed which we thought would be a good place to wait out the rain, but when we got there it turned out to be a old man's house with lots of books in his living room for sale. He did have the coffee pot on though. :) Since there was no where to sit we decided to go to the bakery that we had seen on the main street to dry off and warm up. Well, we walked in and it was like we were in someone's living room again except this time they actually had a counter and a cash register, but still no place to sit. Weird. I ordered a piece of pie and coffee. At least the food was good.


We were happy to get on the ferry again and begin the ride back to civilization.
Milton had a successful day on the water and caught 2 fish over 60lbs each! Now we both have freezers packed full of fish and Lissie is having to come up with every possible way to cook Halibut.
We drove over to Seward that evening, and on Saturday we visited Kenai National Park where we hiked to Exit glacier.
 That evening, we took a dinner cruise to see the glaciers and wildlife along the coast of Seward. Sounds nice, right? Yeah, it would have been if we could see anything above the shoreline...if it weren't raining... and if it was warmer then 40 degrees out. The fog had set in so thick that at one point on the cruise all you could see out of every window was white. When we did actually venture out to take a picture of something that we could see through the fog we were met with nearly freezing wind and rain. It was lovely. Just what I expected. NOT!  :)

Well, I will take it for what it is worth and chalk it up to a learning experience. At least I had good company and we laughed about it the whole way home. Hope this weekend is dryer and warmer.
Here are some other nice pics from the trip and lots of moose!