Saturday, August 27, 2016

A visit from Porky...

Yesterday the dogs were really barking, so went outside but didn't see anything. Later on, they started again, so Andy went out to check on it. She called to me and when I came out, she pointed up into a small spruce tree. When I walked over, I could see it was a porcupine, about ten feet up, looking for a place to hide. Now we've seen lots of porkys, they are everywhere in the interior, but this is the first time one's made a visit to our backyard. So got the camera and took some pictures. He (she?) was pretty big, maybe twenty pounds or so, probably an old timer.
Figured we'd leave him alone and maybe he'd leave. After going inside for awhile, Andy looked out and saw him waddling up the path to the wood piles. So I grabbed the camera and headed out for a real wildlife photo. But the porky would have none of it. Shifting into his high speed waddle, he cut between some wood piles and headed off into the woods. All I could get was a shot of his butt as he waddled off to his next adventure. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ridin' into fall...

This is the time of year when it dawns on you that summer's about over, the leaves are starting to turn, and winter's just around the corner. So it's time to get serious and finish the summer projects. But more importantly, it's time to take advantage of the rare (for this summer anyway), sunny day. So we got the bikes out and went for a ride. No particular destination, just headed out on some of few twisty roads around here, (the DOT seems bent on straightening all the main roads), and enjoy the beautiful weather.

The Enfield ran great; the electrical problem's apparently solved.

A little while back, we went for a ride to George's memorial. He had been the long time BMW/Royal Enfield dealer for Fairbanks. He was somewhat retired, turning over the BMW business to the local Harley dealership (where they held the memorial), but still kept the Enfield side going. There were at least fifty or more bikes there, mostly BMW's, and Andy rode the only Enfield. George would have been proud.

 Photo and a nice article at:

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Stooped again...

Had a bunch of water issues on the addition to the new garage. Finally decided to dig up a new drainage and get rid of the water problems. That led to deciding to pour slabs in front of the three doors on top of the drains. So after mixing 14 ninety pond bags of reinforced concrete, here's somewhat boring photos of what we've been doing the last few weeks...
After digging up the ground in front of the door, putting in a bunch of drain rock, compacting the surface, then framing a stoop*.

Here's the stoop after poring in the concrete.
After removing the framing, re-grading the gravel, and digging a drainage ditch to divert runoff, here's the completed stoop. Now there's only two more to finish. Hopefully it'll take care of the water issues.
*Stoop: From the Dutch stoep ‎(“platform", "pavement”). 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Watchin' the garden grow...

Not much goin' on here after 7-8 days of rain (about 4" so far). I'd post some pictures of my breakfast or lunch like some bloggers do, but then you'd just have to shoot me for clogging up the interwebs with pointless trivia. Been doing odd jobs, carpentry projects on the house and garage, but that's hardly worth a photo. I guess the best part of this recent weather is that the garden is doing great. We're eating lots of fresh vegetables and the berry bushes are really loaded this year.
The garden's doing great with all the recent rain.
And the berry bushes are really producing too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

June weather summary...

National Weather Service's weather summary for June:
"June 2016 in Fairbanks was cooler and wetter than normal. This
follows 8 consecutive months where the mean temperature was above normal. The warmest day of the month occurred on 17th with a temperature of 85 degrees while the coldest was 40 degrees on the 3rd. The mean temperature was 60.0 degrees, which was 0.4 degrees below the normal mean temperature of 60.4 degrees.
3.29 inches of rain fell during the month of June. This was 1.92 inches more than the normal value of 1.37 inches. It was the third wettest June on record. The rainfall on the 5th totaled 0.45", breaking the daily record set in 1942 by 0.13". Then on the 11th, rainfall totaled 0.95", breaking the old 1940 record of 0.67". The highest wind speed was 37 mph on the 1st, while the average wind speed was 4.8 mph.
Looking forward to July, possible sunshine decreases from 21 hours 22 minutes on the 1st to 18 hours and 12 minutes on the 31st. Continuous civil twilight ends on the 27th of July. The average daily high temperature decreases from 74 degrees on the 1st to 70 degrees on the 31st. The daily low temperature decreases from 53 degrees on the 1st to 51 degrees on the 31st. The forecast for July from the climate prediction center calls for above normal temperatures and near normal precipitation."



Ruty, like his namesake the rutabaga, hanging out on the deck. We almost lost him to an unknown illness last month, but through wonders of modern cortico-steroids, he's back, keeping an eye on things again. No need to worry with the watch cat on duty!

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Ride in the Park...

When you'd say you took a ride in the park, most folks around here would think you either meant Denali National Park, Alaskaland, or Pioneer Park as it's now called. But to me, the park has always been the Chena Recreation Area. Just a few miles down the road from our place, it's always been the area of choice to recreate, since it's so close and don't have to drive through town to get there.
Today, took the 850 Moto Guzzi out for a ride there. Surprisingly, there wasn't much traffic on the way out, most of what was on the road was heading towards town. The only incident of note was coming around a turn in the park, there was a large van parked in the middle of the road. And by the middle, I mean his wheels were on the centerline. So I slowed down and passed. When I looked over, I could see it was a tourist company van with with a load of passengers, probably stopped to take pictures. Hard to believe they couldn't pull over to the side of the road and turn on some warning lights.
Anyway, the rest of the trip was fine. Stopped at the 38 mile bridge, where there was a major issue with the river a while back. As meandering rivers are prone to do, it changed channels. Unfortunately, the new channel began to erode the abutments of the bridge. So the state built a huge berm, technically termed a training structure. That forced the river back into it's former channel. While hardly a natural area, it created an option for those who want to pull off the road and spend some some time at the river without being in a developed campground.

Parked on the dike at the 38 mile bridge. The interesting thing about the photo was that there was a clear blue sky out, but the photo looks cloudy, almost like a smoke sky. Go figure.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Back Hoed....

When we first got the tractor, couldn't figure out why most farmers had so many tractors. But then we started to get more implements, and finally figured it out.  It's a huge pain to change them out, so it's way better to have lots of tractors. Well we haven't gotten there yet, so every year we have to change things out. So in the fall, it's time to put on the rear blade. Then in the spring, the rototiller. Then the splitter, then the mower. Now finally put the back hoe on.

The back hoe cost almost as much as the tractor, so it was a major investment. But figured it was a real useful tool and besides, thought it'd be fun to learn to run something different. Well it was in more ways than one. Now whenever it get's put on the tractor, it's another adventure. First you have to remove the three-point hitch, then carefully back over the sub frame of the hoe, which you can't see once you're over it. Then when it's finally positioned correctly, hook up the hydraulics. You lift up the sub frame of the hoe using the side stabilizers and bucket until it connects to the locking clamps on the tractor frame. It usually take two or three tries and lots of cursing. Anyway, today it was time to dig out some stumps. After the trees are dropped, it's about about five years until we can get a big stump out. There's no way that there's enough power in the back hoe on the JD to rip out a monster stump. But after a few years of letting it rot, hydraulics rule. So the next thing you know, there's just a hole in the ground!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Riding weather...

After three straight days of rain, we finally got some decent weather. Now don't get me wrong, the rains keep the forest fires down and benefit the garden, but still, it's nice to just hop on the bike and go for a ride. Had been riding the 650 (First Ride...4/30/16), but decided to take out the 850 this time. Since I'm too cheap to buy 2 batteries, had to switch it over, but otherwise just needed to check the oil and tire pressure. Rode into town for some errands, then out past the University to the Goldstream valley where my friend Bill lives (Out to the Whites... 3/26/16). Had a nice visit, coffee with fresh brownies, then took the scenic route, via Fox and the Old Steese,  back home. What started out as a typical run to town wound being a fifty something mile tour of the valley. Pretty much fun.

Of course I forgot the camera, so took a photo when I got back. The dumpster sign had been buried in the back of the garage for years. Moved it outside when the garage was recently cleaned. When we first moved out here, there was a public dumpster just down the road. The sign was right at our mail boxes. One year an errant motorist took out the sign as well as most of the mail boxes. While we put the boxes back up, the sign lay off to the side of the road for years. When the Borough finally closed the dumpster site, I threw the sign in the back of the pickup and brought it home. Never have figured out a use for it, but I used to think I might put it up so it pointed toward my neighbors house. Or not; they probably wouldn't appreciate the humor of it all.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Down to the Delta...

Went down to survey the Delta River at the Black Rapids (Back to the Black...10/10/15). My friend Mike was already there when I arrived. He had the data logger running, so we just needed to survey the elevation and then launch the boat for the hydro survey. But when we finished the ground part of the survey and checked out the river at the boat launch, it was obvious that the river was higher than we thought. After discussing the options, Mike decided to pass on launching the boat there.

High water on the Delta River creates pretty spectacular hydraulics. By comparison, Black Rapids Creek, in the background, had a lower flow.

So we drove to a place up river to launch the boat at Phelan Creek. There we could run the river to the survey site above the glacial inflow. This so-called clearwater section of the Delta River has an important fisheries and Mike's project is documenting the flow regime. Had a bit of a search to find a place to launch the boat, the shore ice (aufeis) blocked the usual spots, but eventually found a launching site. No problem running upriver at this high of a flow and were able to complete all the survey work there. When things go well, these trips are a lark, you almost shouldn't get paid for it. Oh, that's right, I don't anymore.
Mike and his namesake boat, two hardy characters. It's always great to get out and work with him, one of nature's gentleman.

Didn't get any photos of the work, too busy I guess, so here's some shots of the scenery.
The Delta River flows through some pretty spectacular  mountains.

Another mountain, near the confluence with Phelan Creek.

Nearby Summit Lake is striped with ponded water on top of the ice. A few more days of sunny, warm, and windy weather will probably get the breakup started.

Here's a photo Mike sent me that he took at the upper Delta River survey site:
Trying to spool up the tangled survey tape; sometimes the routine things are the hardest part.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hill and the Donald...

While I normally eschew politics (I love that phrase, it implies something so distasteful you'd spit it out), the insanity of the current presidential race screams for a comment. On the one hand, Hillary Clinton, a person so untrustworthy that she's comparable to Sarah "you can always tell she's lying if her lips are moving" Palin. On the other hand, The Donald T-rump, also Palinesque with his rambling word-salad speeches, arrogant, almost child-like put-downs, and inability to ignore any slight, no matter how trivial. It's a conniving, duplicitous woman against a bloviating, narcissistic man. It doesn't get any better than that.

But I digress. This blog is supposed to be humorous, so let's talk about the Donald's hair. You'd think a billionaire could afford a decent haircut, implants, or hairpiece. Instead, you hear comparisons to the raccoon, rabbit, or beaver pelt that sits on his head. Well I think that does a huge injustice to the piece of fur that adorns the Donald's bald spot. To most anyone from Alaska, it's pretty obvious that he probably got a muskrat pelt from Sarah Palin. She would've sent the Todd out to the swamp nearest their Wasilla bungalow to trap one, then present it to T-dumpster as an offering to get her into his supposed administration. Anyways, I think they've missed a big opportunity here: marketing muskrat hairpieces. Give them a catchy name, I don't know, maybe something like T-rat hair?

The Donald's glorious mane...

And a muskrat pelt. I rest my case.
You be the judge.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Rubber Buggy Bumpers...

As noted earlier (First ride...4/30/16)  the rubber band mounts (bumpers) on the sidecar needed replacement. Found this "how to" comment posted on the Classic Motorworks forum:
Replacing the rubber bands on a cozy sidecar (
Tried to follow their method, but after removing the old bands and installing new ones on the one side, couldn't get any mounted on the other. As luck would have it, my neighbor Bert stopped by, took one look and said "that ain't gonna work, ya need to remove the sidecar body."
Well that didn't sound too good to me, but six bolts later, he had the back of the body loose. The front pivots on a cross piece, so didn't need to be disturbed. We tied a ratchet strap to the luggage rack, then to the garage door mechanism and lifted it up. It's real light so could've just as easily lifted it by hand and tied it up with a rope.

With the brackets exposed, it was easy to take a second ratchet strap and pull the bracket over to mount the other side rubber bands. Then just used two screwdrivers to align everything and slide the bolts into the brackets. It's a lot easier with two people, the third hand fits the bolt while the other two hold positioning with the screwdrivers.

So all in all it wasn't terribly hard once we figured it out, but I still think it's the stupidest suspension system I've ever seen. And then the best part was that after we were finished, I noticed one of the new bands was starting to split, it hadn't lasted more than a few minutes. Fortunately two of the old ones were still good, so replaced it with one of those. Makes you feel real confident in the new parts. Been trying to think of something funny to end this post on, but so far not seeing much humor in it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sure sign of spring...

NWS Monthly weather summary for April for Fairbanks Alaska (edited for brevity)...

"April 2016 was the second warmest on record. Average temperature was 42.4 degrees which was 9.9 degrees above the normal average temperature of 32.5 degrees. There were four temperature records set, all warmer than normal.

Green up (when the south facing hills near town change from brown to green) occurred on the 26th of April, breaking the previous earliest date on the 29th. The mean date for green up is the 9th of May.

Looking forward to the month of May, sunshine continues to increase by nearly 7 minutes per day. The day light hours increasing from 17 hours and 8 minutes on the 1st to 20 hours and 30 minutes on the 31st.  The average daily high temperature increases from 54 degrees on the 1st to 67 degrees on the 31st. The average daily low temperature increases form 31 degrees on the 1st to 44 degrees on the 31st. The forecast for the month of May from the climate prediction center calls for the likelihood of above normal temperatures and near normal precipitation."

Another sure sign of spring is the harnesses and winter gloves washed and hung out to dry. In winter, the dog's diet is supplemented with lots of fish, meat, and fat scraps added to their regular dog food. This gives them real oily fur which rubs off on the gloves and harnesses. If they're not washed every few years, they can get pretty fragrant, even moldy.