Fading Light and Active Clouds (May 25, 2015)

As the light began to fade today, Susan said, as she often does, "you should take a picture of that."

She is usually right, so I did. :-)

Here are a few pictures taken as the light faded on the mountains around our house.

Twin Sisters

Detail of the rocks and trees to the southeast

Rocks and trees to the east

Detail of some formations to the south

Twin Sisters. Can you see the antenna on the right snow-covered (actual) summit?

Mule deer passing through after the sun had gone down

Lily Lake Walk (May 23, 2015)

We've had one of the rainiest springs here that we can remember! Some locations in the foothills, like Golden, have gotten over 12" of rain this spring. And it's not over.

Twin Sisters, viewed from our house yesterday evening

When we woke up to clear blue skies this morning we decided to do a walk around Lily Lake before the clouds moved in again.

We covered the blue lines on this outing

When we arrived at Lily Lake a little after 9am, Longs Peak wasn't visible, but as we continued we got some very good views of it.

Longs Peak obscured by clouds (Estes Cone at right)

Quaking Aspen starting to leaf out!

View to the northwest

It was also very obvious that beavers were doing a lot of work on the southwest side of the lake. We might have to go back out at dusk to see if we can watch them working.

Beaver dam (or lodge?) right off the accessible trail

We also got a chance to see a few birds, including the Red-winged Blackbird, Ring-necked Duck, a Mallard, Brewer's Blackbird, a couple of Canada Geese.

Ring-necked Duck


Red-winged Blackbird in breeding plumage

Brewer's Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird in an unusual pose

Mike had some fun photographing a cute little Douglas squirrel, Tamiasciurus douglasii, (aka pine squirrel or chickaree) busily chomping away on a pine cone.

When the clouds cleared, Longs Peak, capped with a lot of recent spring snow, appeared in dramatic fashion!

From left to right: Mt Meeker, Longs Peak, Mt Lady Washington, and Estes Cone

Longs Peak! Do you see the beaver?

We timed our outing just right. By the time we got home the skies turned dark and cloudy and the rain started falling again!

Fairbanks, Alaska Aurora-chasing - Part II (March 10-23, 2015)

The Aurora was so active this year that our chasing had left us little time for much else besides trying to catch up on sleep during the day.

Not everything in Fairbanks is about the aurora :-)

We never tired of our view of the birch forest around "our house"

"Our house"

But there were a couple of local attractions we wanted to visit, or revisit, so in between naps and our obsessive monitoring of space and local weather, we managed to get out a few times to do something during daylight hours.

We dropped in to Creamer's Field Migratory Wildlife Refuge a couple of times, once getting in a walk when it was about -20F. Not much to see there yet in the way of birds, though we saw quite a few common redpolls around our house and the UAF campus.

Sunny but -20 Fahrenheit walk at Creamer's Field

We also didn't see any snow buntings this year, though we did last year. And we looked for the Bohemian Waxwings again at the Georgeson Botanical Garden at UAF, but they hadn't made their appearance just yet.

We really enjoyed our visit to the World Ice Sculpture Championships at the Ice Park in Fairbanks. Susan had stopped by the Ice Park last year, but only during daylight and after warm weather had degraded a lot of the sculptures. She was keen to go back with me. We went during the day, but returned later that night with the tripod to get some photos of the illuminated sculptures. The artistry and detail in these sculptures is incredible, and reminded us a lot of the snow sculpture competition held in Breckenridge, Colorado each year.

Susan at the Ice Park entrance

Moonlight Courtship

Some cold ice-carving conditions

Susan "lost" in the ice maze

A real ice house!

Still at work after dark

Staying warm

We also visited the outstanding Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum in Fairbanks. This museum is a real treasure for car lovers and has over 85 antique cars, many of them found only in this museum, all lovingly restored in-house, and most of them still driven at least once a year on public roads!

Susan at the entrance

And while we were dressing up for the picture below, I ran into Zane Giles, an aurora-chaser and photographer from Anchorage we met at Two Rivers at the Pi Party on 3.14! He was kind enough to take our picture.

They let us dress up and sit in one of the cars :-) Thanks for the photo, Zane!

1903 Cadillac

Susan with the 1912 Peerless Model 36-K Touring

1909 Whiting Model A Roadster

1906 Pope-Toledo Type XII 7-passenger Touring

Us with the spark plug collection

1911 Ford Model T C-Cab Depot Hack

1936 Packard Dual Cowl Convertible Touring

1932 Chrysler Custom Imperial Series CL Convertible Sedan

We also visited the University of Alaska - Fairbanks Museum of the North. Unfortunately, none of the movies we wanted to see were showing the day we were there, but we toured the main exhibits and definitely enjoyed our visit.

Susan at the Museum of the North at UAF campus

Every parking spot on campus had a power outlet to charge our iPhones! :-)

A new museum exhibit was the Arctic Odyssey: Voyages of the R/V Sikuliaq. This interesting exhibit had a lot of information about life and scientific work aboard this arctic research vessel.

R/V Sikuliaq model and arctic research exhibit

Cool illustration of deep ocean pressure literally shrinking a styrofoam cup

Susan noted that among the many fine exhibits in the natural history section of the museum that there were no mentions or displays of the Collared Pika, a cousin to the American Pika we have here in Colorado.

Petey Pika searching for his collared pika cousin :-)

The 2nd floor gave us a better view of a cool "snow drawing" art piece in a field across from the museum. It was made by volunteers who left tracks on the field under the direction of the artist.

Snow drawing art piece across from the Museum

On our last day we treated ourselves to dinner at our favorite restaurant and watering hole, the Silver Gulch Brewery and Bottling Company in Fox, but not before refilling our water reservoirs from the Fox spring.

Mike getting the good water at Fox Spring

Silver Gulch Brewery and Restaurant -- good food and drink!

Susan on our last aurora outing near LARS

Goodbye from Alaska this aurora season