When I was getting discharged from the hospital in Seattle (Summer vacation? 6/30/14), they found an irregular pulse, so did some tests and figured out it was AFib (atrial fibrillation). They thought it was a temporary reaction to the anesthesia and would go away, but it didn't. After seeing a cardiologist in Fairbanks, he recommended ablation therapy, where they normalize (tune up) the heart to eliminate the irregular nerve impulses that cause AFib. Since it wasn't available here, we had to go to Anchorage, where they did the procedure this past week. Apparently, it was successful. We won't know for a while yet, since it occasionally returns, but for now I got my rhythm back.
More on AFib at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atrial-fibrillation/multimedia/img-20096441
(You'll have to copy and paste into your browser.)
The past two weeks have been near perfect weather. Sunny for the most part and 60-70° F; quite a contrast to the cool, rainy summer (The end of Thermidor 7/31/14). Between the hip problems (Summer vacation 6/30/14) and the rain, I'd hardly ridden the bikes since last year. It didn't seem worth the trouble, given that it literally was a major pain in the butt when I tried to ride the bike in May. But with this recent warm spell. I figured I'd better get to it or miss a whole season of riding. Each time I went out, it felt better, until it seemed like there'd never been a problem. The rides were comparatively short, maybe twenty miles or so, but the colors were near perfect (Leaves a' turnin' 9/15/14). I finally remembered to take the camera when I went down to the Chena River.
The colors were past their prime by then, but you get a great panorama of
the valley and hills north of town as you ride across the flats. But now it's cooled off, the leaves are down, and the rains have returned. Looks like this could have been the last ride of the year.
The fall colors were out this past weekend as the temperatures rose to record levels, thanks to a strong low in the gulf creating Chinook winds. The color change this year is a sharp contrast to last fall when the leaves didn't change until early Oct (Autumn leaves... 10/5/13). What was especially noticeable this year was the early arrival of brown to some of the hillsides. This was likely due to an infestation of moth larvae on the birch trees.
According to the local news-minus (newsminer.com): "There has been an outbreak in Fairbanks of the amber-marked birch leaf miner (Profenusa thomsoni), an insect that came to North America in the early 1900s and arrived in Fairbanks by about 2002. Leaf miners overwinter in the ground as pupae and emerge as adults in the spring. The adults lay eggs at the tips of young birch leaves. The eggs hatch into larvae (small caterpillars) that eat the insides of the leaves, leaving yellow areas scattered with worm nuggets. After a few weeks, the larvae fall to the ground and pupate. The leaves that were mined then turn brown."
Their source: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r10/forestgrasslandhealth/?cid=fsbdev2_038906
What's interesting is that in the past few years, the aspen trees had suffered from a similar infestation and turned a pale shade of yellow well before the birch. This year the aspen apparently were unaffected and exhibited the more vibrant colors.