Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Alaska Land aka Pioneer Park - 50th Anniversary

This past Saturday was the 50th anniversary of the founding of Pioneer Park.  It was founded on May 27, 1967 to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the purchase of Alaska from Russia.  It was originally called Alaska 67 or A67 for short but soon afterwards it was renamed Alaska Land.  In 2001, it was renamed again to Pioneer Park to reflect its historical significance.  Most people who have spent any time in Fairbanks call it Alaska Land.

So in celebration, they planned a day full of celebrations including a variety of performers starting with the community band.  They were spread out on the Gazebo and the platform just in front of it.  

The band took up all the space and the director told people to please be careful and not fall off.  I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of the band but I was off in the French Horn section at the time playing 4th.  The picture to the right is taken from the stage showing the distance to many cities from Fairbanks.
The city set it up so there would be rides for all children, no matter the age.  This shot is taken from the information booth at the entrance.  you can see the Ferris wheel towering majestically above the other rides.

The area with the amusement rides doubles for BBQ's when any group such as the Department of Transportation, any governmental body, or the city wishes to host one.  There is a huge one during Golden Days.  The building to the right is Centennial Hall where people perform on a regular basis.
 This picture shows Centennial Hall better and you can see the line for one of the rides.  The park opened at noon and this picture was taken just after 1PM when the concert ended and the mayor began to speak. 

One of the speakers mentioned he'd helped create the park 50 years before.  I am not much for amusement rides so I wandered around the area and snapped pictures.  I also had to get moving so I could make my next appointment.

 This ride had not yet opened but it looked like they were getting ready to start.  It is one of those that looked really pretty with the lights.  Most of the rides were already working and there were a few food trucks which had the same long lines as those for the rides.
Behind this ride is one of those whirling type rides filled with both adults and children and the line was quite long. 

Things like this always attract people, especially after a long dark winter and the last snow fall just a couple days before this event.  I saw little snow at my house but on the other side of town, the ground was totally covered with hail.  Fortunately, the hail did not damage anything.
 This oriental front is drawing people in to ride the small portable roller coaster.  Although it wasn't as high and wild as one you would find at an amusement park, it still attracted lots of people. 

The closest real amusement park is somewhere around Seattle I think.  It might even be further south than that.  An amusement park would only be open for a few months every year so its not a viable business up here.
 In the picture to the right, you see the end of the portable roller coaster.  You can also see some of the people waiting to ride it.  At one point the line for the roller coaster and line for the Ferris wheel which is to the left and not in the picture got confused so I wasn't sure which line went where.
The last thing offered is a high slide. Lots of parents took their children up to the top and some even slid down with the younger children.

Off to the right is a food truck.  You can just see the edge of it in the picture.  They offered the usual things.  What you don't see is the long lines of people waiting their turn to be served. 

It was a busy crazy day full of fun and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  I got there early enough to find a good parking spot but by the time I left around 2 PM, people were trolling the lot, looking for somewhere to park. 

As I pulled out, a car followed me, taking my spot.  I'd parked at the edge.  I'll be presenting more pictures of the place.  You'll see why its considered a slice of history.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Community Garage Sale.

I live in a small town outside of Fairbanks.  It finally got its very first gas station, just this past year.  Before it was built, you had to drive into Fairbanks to buy your gas.  This town still prohibits fast food places and tends to be quite independent.  Once a year, the fire station hosts a community garage sale as a fund raiser.  It happens once a year and anyone is welcome to sell their extra stuff there.  Since this is an all volunteer force, this is their chance to earn extra money.
They park all the trucks and rescue ambulances outside at the edge of the fire station so the fire house is clear for people to set up tables. Even the fire fighters take time to sell things.  Some years they even sell hot dogs and hamburgers.  This year they did that plus there was a bunch of mothers who sold some wonderful baked goods.  People set up where the trucks normally park. They find spaces around all the equipment. 
As you can see, the number of people selling, took up most of the grounds.  The line spilled over out side the fire house to the edge by the park and around to the road.  A few folks set up in the park right next to the fire house.  People were everywhere.  I saw everything from clothes, to books, to shovels, to a beautiful saw set up.  I might have bought it but I couldn't figure out where to put it. 

In past years, I've scored a lovely telescope for $20.  A refurbished coal burning stove which will be nice when I finally get it set up in the basement.  A never used cast iron wok which I've not opened yet.  I have to rearrange the kitchen for it and other pieces of cast iron.

This year, I found two beautiful wooden birch bowls perfect for my bread making.  I adore making bread from scratch and prefer using wood bowls.  The sale began at 10 and I was there to purchase things.

I also bought 4 used vegetarian and vegan cookbooks I don't have.  It is not often one finds vegetarian or vegan cookbooks for sale at this event.  Usually, you only find the regular cookbooks.

The fire department, in addition to hosting this event, also participates in the Golden Days parade which celebrates the founding of Fairbanks due to Pedro Felix discovering gold.  This took place this past Saturday and I squeezed it in between the Farmers Market and the 50th anniversary of  the founding of Alaskaland, now known as Pioneer Park.  

I'll share more on both later in the week.  Every Farmers Market is a bit different and I found more goodies there.  Have a good week and let me know what you think. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

You Won't Believe These!!!!!

 I stopped through the Farmer's Market this past Wednesday and stumbled across these beauties.  Look at them!  They are mouth watering, gorgeous, and perfect.

I could not believe them when I saw them at the Honey Bakery.  You read that right!  The bakery!

These are cookies created to look like peaches.  The skin color is absolutely spot on.  The glistening is due to sprinkled sugar.  I"m not sure what the leaves are made of. 

The six are rather expensive but they are so realistic.  As I walked around the market, I had multiple people ask me where I got the "peaches" because they looked so real.

The baker took the peach theme all the way.

Check out the two pictures.  These are close ups of one cookie showing the details the baker included.

The skin color is perfect for a peach.  Even with the photo taken so close, the peach looks so juicy and desirable.

 When you crack open the cookie, you find a "pit"in the center made up of a cooked, reconstituted dried peach so it sits in the center and is wonderfully gooey. 

When you split it in half, the "seed" separates into one half of the cookie while the other is free, almost like a real peach.

Everyone who saw these cookies were so surprised because they look so real.  I'd actually stopped there to pick up some creme rolls which are like thin waffle cones in a roll, filled with a flavored creme mixture.  It is frozen so its like an ice creme cone and its so good.  I've got more pictures to share so I'll probably include more on Monday. 

Have a great weekend.  Let me know what you think.  The pictures do not do justice to the real item.  The cookies were enjoyable.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pot Holes

Pot-Holes, South Africa, Prospector  Alaska in the spring is a crap shoot in regard to the roads. This is quite a descriptive comment. You see, when fall hits and the snow starts, the city and state quit repairing roads.  The only thing they do is to plow the roads but they don't worry about repairing them.

Its kind of a catch 22 situation up here.  Over the fall and winter, the ground freezes solid.  In the process, the water in the ground expands and pushes up wards.  This includes the ground under roads.

If they fix the pot holes, they do it at the beginning of summer so fewer people break axles.  If its too close to the first snow fall, they won't fix anything because the snow piles into the holes and gets packed down.  Eventually its all nicely filled and covered so no hole.

Come spring during break up (when all the snow and ice melts) the holes appear or reappear when the ice melts and the thawed ground shrinks.  This is the point where roads actually begin falling apart or sinking.

One time I was driving towards the airport in Anchorage and the road was covered with water.  I didn't see the pot hole in the road, drove through it and punctured the tire.  I think the ragged edge cut into the tire when I drove over it.  As the snow and ice melt, the roads tend to be covered with water until the ground has thawed enough for it to properly drain.

If you look at roads in Alaska, the edges are always wearing away or the asphalt has significant cracks or pot holes.  I've seen stretches of road that look like an earthquake struck because the road is riddled with gaps and holes.

Even though the process requires the state to dig down, let it set for a period of time before filling the hole in before paving the area, the freezing and thawing of water in the ground still messes with the actual road.  

Even in places where roads are not paved you see how the frost heaves change things.  The road in front of my house where I live most of the year is a prime example.  It was built without a proper foundation so every time it rains, or the snow thaws a bit more of the road washes into the lake.  The city said they'd redo all the dirt roads in town but usually that means bringing in dirt, laying it down, before tramping it down solidly.

Its a wonderful road until its totally dry and it becomes dusty or it rains and the mud takes over.  At this point, grooves are imprinted in the mud so when it dries, the road is back to being bumpy and cruddy.  I don't think those beautiful roads last more than 2 weeks at best.

Road building is a challenge in Alaska where the conditions make it difficult.  I'll tell you more when I talk about building the Al-Can Highway back in the 40's.  Have a good day and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Who Are You in Rogue One?

Star Wars, Movies, Log Support  I finally got to watch the latest Star Wars film "Rogue One".  Yes, it made me cry.  Yes, it made me cheer.  Yes, I still have a secret hope the two main characters of the film did not die although I know they probably did.

I realized many of us in life are like the members of the council who wanted to play it safe and not even try.  They saw the Empire as being totally unbeatable so why even try?

So many of us, me included, are unwilling to make the jump into another job or into something else without setting up a safety net in case something happens.  I grew up in a family where I was always told "Do not quit your current job until you have another one lined up.

I dream of quitting my current job and pursuing a writing career I've always dreamed of.  I tell myself, I can do it.  I know ways to support myself and create a business but I'm scared to do it.  I'm scared to leave the security of what I know for the unknown.

<grins>  In my dreams, I am the heroine.  The one who thinks nothing of running off to fight for the rebellion.  Who is willing to walk that edge without knowing what could happen.  If you've seen the movie, you know that scene where they decide to go steal the Death Star Plans.  A bunch of rag tag people who have nothing left to lose volunteer to go, knowing full well they could die.

I think that attitude is what distinguishes those who jump off the cliff to do something new while those of us who hesitate think about what could happen and wonder if its worth it.  I'm not ready to make the jump.

I have set a date but I moved it back by one year because I decided I needed to finish the basement before I quit working otherwise I will still need a fair bit of money to get it done.  Its best to do it while I have a regular income.

Will I ever make the jump?  I don't know.  I know I want it but I don't know if I want it bad enough quite yet.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Have a great day everyone.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Farmers Market.

 The farmers market has started but its quite early in the season.  Most people there offered either soap, jewelry, or baked goods. A few had vegetables like cucumbers or starts but that was it. 

Most of the vegetables for sale right now were grown in greenhouses because the ground does not fully warm up till late may or early June.  In addition, we can have snow in June so greenhouses are best.

Today, I'm sharing a few of the more unusual offerings from this past Saturday.  I'll go back Wednesday because the Mexican place will offer their fantastic tamales.  I'll snap a picture of that and maybe Moostard's. 

To the left you see fiddlehead ferns for sale.  These are ready to plant somewhere in your yard so you can have fresh greens in early spring.  I've never eaten them but I've heard they are fantastic.  I might pick some up on Wednesday if I can figure out the best place to plant them.  These guys come in from Manley Hot Springs.

Note we have the guy who makes balloon animals on request for a small fee.  I've never seen him there before but every time I saw him, he was creating something magical. 

He even had a sign loaded with different animals he was willing to make.  He'd labeled it "Today's Choices.

 If you look carefully, you can see a sign advertising Pickled Alaska which does not refer to a bunch of drunk Alaskans.  Instead it refers to the way certain vegetables etc are prepared.
mou know what it tastes like.  I adore the title of her business.
Alaskans like to exaggerate even more than fishermen.  We claim our mosquitoes are large enough to carry off a man.  So this entrepreneur created her pickled mosquito eggs.   
As you can see, they are sold as authentic mosquito eggs.....LOL.  I saw that and absolutely had to get a photo of it.  I suspect she took some quail eggs, pickled them, and now she is selling them as mosquito eggs.

We actually get visiting tourists who come through on a regular basis.  I wouldn't be surprised if she sells several of these every time a tourist bus comes through.

Over the past few years, I've gotten to know many of the vendors because I see them so much as sometimes even buy from them. 

As stated earlier, I'll take more pictures on Wednesday to post and share with everyone.  I hope you enjoyed this short visit. 

Thank you for reading this.  I'll share more later with you.  Have a good day and let me know what your think.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Back in Town

Tulips, Tulip Flower, Flowers  Last Thursday I traveled into town for part of the summer.  It was a long nasty trip.  Since I deal with a very local airline, their schedule is a suggestion.

I was scheduled on the evening flight but they sent an extra flight in the afternoon but I didn't find out about it until it was taking off.

When it came time for the flight, they announced it was delayed by about half an hour.  So I headed up in time for it but they forgot to make an update so I was at the airport but no plane.  It finally showed around 6:45 for a 5:30 scheduled time.

My connection was due to leave at 9:00 and I had to check in by 8:15 or 8:30.  The flight was about an hour so when we took off at 7, I was a bit nervous but the pilot used the tail wind to move us a bit faster.  He even radioed ahead to make sure the shuttle to take us to the other airline was ready to go as soon as we landed and got our luggage.

I got there just as the plane landed so I was able to check on, go through security before boarding the plane.  This is not your normal plane, it was a combi as we affectionately call it. A combi is a combination cargo and passenger plane. The front from the first class to the first exit row is where they put all the cargo that is being carried out to the local hub while rows 17 on are for passengers.  I love row 17 because it has even more leg room than a normal exit row. From then on it was a great trip the rest of the way. 

 I'm going to take a minute to explain the pictures from the weekend.  The few willow trees out where I normally am, never ever get taller than about 3 feet.  They are short and quite spindly but they are willows.  Fairbanks have real trees which grow up to 15 feet or so unless they are in a permafrost area.  If the black spruce is short (no more than 6 feet) it means there is an excellent chance there is permafrost underneath.

As for ice cream, the only ice cream out in the village usually arrives slightly thawed and is refrozen so it has a grainy texture.  In addition the cost ends up double what it is in the city.  I am not going to pay $10.00 per half gallon.  They do not serve it by the scoop out there so I have to wait till I get back here to get it in a cone.

When I'm due to fly back in, I dream of getting ice cream and pizza for my first real meal.  So now you know the story behind the pictures.  Let me know what you think.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Village

 I thought I'd share some pictures of the village as it appears from my house.  The houses are all basically the same but many are bright and colorful.  A couple years ago, many of the houses were repainted.  The most used color was nicknamed "Smurf blue".  I got the name from a friend who said they painted her house that color.

The whole lake is no deeper than chest so its really not that deep.
 This shot was taken looking towards the left from the other picture.  If you look carefully you will see two windmills.  They help keep the cost of electricity from rising.  Its already quite expensive.

The blue building above the basketball courts/hockey rink, right next to the light is the catholic church built in the 1980's.  The one before it became one of the stores in town and it recently closed down due to a death.

This picture shows some of the house colors.

In this picture which has moved left, you get a great view of the hockey rink with the two basketball courts.  I need to get a picture of the courts themselves.

The brown building behind the court, across the lake, is the combination post office and court.  Each occupies half the building.  Several years ago some enterprising young people tried to start a coffee stop in the court building.  One of those places where you stop for a cup of coffee and then move on but it didn't do well and went out of business.
I think it was fine during summer when people were out and about but once it got cold, I think people refused to stop by as much.

To the right you see the peace pole which stands in front of the school.  You are looking at the front of the school building and seeing part of the parking lot.  The only vehicles which park there are 4 wheelers or snow machines.

If it gets too full, the secretaries make announcements over the PA to please move your vehicle because no one can get through.  Its fun watching vehicles roll up and see the students hop off before it heads up.

The part of the building right behind the peace pole is the cafeteria.

Hope you've enjoyed seeing the village I work in most of the year.  Have a nice day.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Eskimo Baseball

 Eskimo baseball is a rather unique version of baseball.  Its known by several names but this is the one I learned it by.  I still don't know all the rules so I'll try to share what I know.

One team is lined up to bat while the other team is off on the field.  The field is actually just the area between the lineup and the safe line at the end. If this were a basketball court, one end would have the batters while the other end is the safe line.
There is a pitcher who pitches one of two ways.  The first is what we are used to.  He or she stands in the middle of the field and pitches the ball to the batter who tries to hit it.  

The other way is to stand next to the batter, throw the ball straight up and as it comes down, the batter swings hoping to hit it.  In this game the pitcher chose the second method.

So once the ball is hit, the batter either runs for the other line all the while hoping no one tags him out or he waits till someone else hits a better ball and runs for it.

 When the ball is hit, the team in the field scrambles to get the ball so they can throw it at the runner or run up to him and tag him.  The ball has to touch the person before they are out.  It follows the standard three outs and you change sides. 

 We played in an area surrounded by channels of water so often the ball went quite a distance and landed in the middle of marshy water.  I'd get a call to retrieve it because none of the kids wore their boots.
 The day was actually pretty nice although still a bit chilly due to an earlier rain fall.  By the end of the day, it has warmed up to quite warm.

I included a picture of the area looking out towards the end of the new airport (the old one is behind us.)  The lake you see is the same one found in front of my house.

It is beautiful out there and I love spring the best when its warm and beautiful.  Have a great day, be back tomorrow with more.  Next week, I'll have pictures of Fairbanks.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Late At Night.

 This is a picture of the lake in front of my house.  It was taken around 10:00 at night without any artificial lights.  It doesn't get dark till around midnight or so and the sun rises around 5 or so in the morning.

By mid June, it will be light for an even longer span.  The lake itself is maybe waist to chest high on a normal adult.  I know this because one of the teachers put on a pair of chest high waders and walked across the lake.  It was fun watching him.  He is really tall so it was about hip level.
 Again you see the edge of the lake by teacher housing.  Out here, housing is often an issue so many districts provide housing for its employees.  Most of the buildings are duplexes with a two bedroom and a three bedroom apartment.

The exception is the first building facing the lake which is a quad with four one bedroom apartments while the other is the last one facing the lake with two one and a half bedrooms.

The area between the end of the lake and teacher housing is kind of marshy so you need your mud boots on when walking in that area.  The dogs love wandering through there.

 In this picture which was taken from just in front of the back steps of the school, you see the new airport in the distance.  Its those two little bumps which are two huge maintenance buildings.

To the extreme left is a hockey rink that has never been used for hockey.  The carpentry class built two wooden platforms for basketball.  Kids and adults spend hours playing out there when the weather finally gets warm.

I've seen them shovel melting snow off the platforms so they can get out and play sooner.

This shot allows you to see more of the rink and a bit of the village off in the distance.  All roads are dirt with gravel.

I'm told the city plans to redo the roads so they are smoother.  Last fall they redid the parking lot in front of the Post Office but it rained so instead of ending up with a nice flat surface, it was bumpy, jagged and it dangerous.

I'll see what it looks like when I get back from my summer holidays.

Keep an eye out for more pictures of the area over the next few days.  Later in the week, I'll be up in Fairbanks where I'll take some additional pictures to share the world from there.  I think you'll love some of the countryside because it is so different from here.

Have a good day.  See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

An Afternoon Stroll.

   Since its spring, I've been going out for nice long walks around the village.  Usually part of the walk involves the springy, uneven tundra with its wholes and wet patches.

I need to take my camera out so I can snap more pictures of the beauty to share.  The river is slowly melting but its not quite thawed enough for the boats.

I took this picture while standing on ice located at the side of the river.  The shore that has melted is a oily dark mud which tries to wrestle off your boots with every step.

I started this walk over by the store that over looks the gas station (think a shack with two pumps).  There is a path that curves down to the river and then back up.  I strayed from the path to walk along the shore line.  If you look carefully, you'll see ice chunks below the surface.

 This picture is looking back at the curve in the river.  Those small bumps you see in the distance are actually boats.  When it gets cold enough, they pull the boats up onto the higher ground next to the river.  They leave them there till spring.

The river bank is marshy right now due to the melting snow and the deeper ground not having fully melted yet.  Its not too bad with knee high boots if you stay on the grass.  You don't sink as far.
 This was taken near the end of the old airport.  The old airport was in service when I first came out but within two months, the new airport had been opened. 

Now its used as a street by people heading out to the tundra or practicing cross country. The objects in the distance are boats.  The flat lands allow us to see things a bit further.

If you look carefully, you'll see faint wheel tracks in the tundra from where 4 wheelers (ATV's) drive across the tundra as they head out.

This picture shows the wheel tracks better.  In this one, we are heading back home after taking a nice one hour walk.  There are tons of small lakes around the area.  One of the states claims to be the land of 10,000 lakes.  They have never seen this land from an airplane.

I'll be flying out later in the week, so I'll try to get some pictures to share so you can see what I'm talking about.

Tomorrow, I'll share more pictures of the area around my house but later today  I'll take another walk and  I'll snap pictures of the town, clinic, and the area out by the end of the lake to share. 

I hope you are enjoying seeing what I see and enjoy everyday.  There is this old pickup truck abandoned by one of the small lakes I need to get a picture of to share.   Let me know what you think.  Thank you for reading this.  Enjoy.

Monday, May 15, 2017


 Here it is people, a few graduation pictures from Friday night and a couple pictures from the 8th grade promotion held this past Saturday. 

This arch and lights were used the week before for prom.  The arch provided a backdrop for prom pictures while the lights lit the pathway into the cafeteria. 

It is customary to reuse as many of the prom decorations as possible due to the high cost of shipping them up here.  Shipping is about as much as the kits.

In the picture to the left, you see the chairs where the graduates sit after they file in.  Friday night, we had 21 graduates, 3 who took 5 years to finish and 18 who finished in the customary 4.  The people seated behind are the parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents, and other relatives who attend.

One tradition is for seniors to take time to give their parents a rose at graduation to thank them for all the support they got during their years of schooling.
 This is a quick picture of the graduating class of 2017.  The two young ladies in purple should have graduated the year before but one had to take time out to have a baby while the other made some not so good choices as a freshman. 

The two young ladies with the yellow bands are the two who graduated top of the class and received scholarships to the state college system.

Both are extremely hardworking young ladies who managed to do well both in academics and in sports.
 This picture shows one of the 8th graders walking in from the locker room area.  He's following the same path the seniors took the night before. 

I've worked with many of his older siblings over the past 11 years.  The middle school students walked quite a bit faster than the seniors the night before.

I didn't take a picture of students after they passed through the arch because their family members and friends stood on the other side of the barrier to take pictures as they paused before heading for the row of chairs from the night before.
These are the students who were promoted to 8th grade.  There is a good chance that many of them will not finish school in four years. 

The reasons are many but its a fact of life out here we are trying to change.  Several students applied to Mt. Edgecombe which is a boarding school for Alaskan Students.

It offers so much more than we can due to the limited staff we have.  Some of the girls chose to wear their prom dresses because this is one of the few chances to wear it while others chose to wear the traditional Quspuk.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a few pictures of graduation and promotion from a rural school in Alaska.