Saturday, April 30, 2016

First ride...

Most years we don't get the bikes out too early cause our gravel road stays pretty muddy until mid May. But this year, we finally got some decent conditions and it dried out much earlier. Spent the morning getting the bikes ready, when it was sunny and in the sixties. By the time we got going, it was cloudy and had dropped into the fifties, so it wound up being a little cooler than expected. The highlight of the ride was probably the new frost heaves and dips in the road that almost sent the bike airborne. But all in all, it was pretty good for the first ride.
Took the 650 Moto Guzzi out for the first ride. It handles a lot like the old Triumph I rode back in the day, pretty much fun.

Got Andy's bike running, but then...
She noticed that some some of the rubber suspension bands were completely split (removed one to see it better). I think it's time for some maintenance.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Beardcicles and jellyfish...

One of the blogs I follow is mostly about motorcycles and shop work, in other words, gear head stuff. But it's written in a laid back funny way, so it's often interesting. The other day he posted a selfie eating bacon in his shop. I wanted to post a funny comment, but couldn't get this photo on his blog. So I'll just post it here (

The bacon looks great, the beard not so much. It looks like you ate some miso seaweed soup and most of it stuck to your chin. HA, just kidding. It really looks more like a bunch of dead jellyfish tentacles. No seriously, if you had a crop of facial fuzz like that in Alaska, you'd wind up looking like this...

Scott, if you read this, remember, if you're not laughing, you're not having fun.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A musher from Mars?

Here's another photo from our trip last month (Out to the Whites..3/26/16). Bill never brings a camera since he has an I-phone. So when he tried to send me the photos, we were both surprised nothing arrived. He spent several weeks trying to figure out the problem and finally got this one from him. Now I know it looks like I just landed from Mars (or maybe Uranus). But there was a brisk north wind blowing across the ridge top and combined with the glare off the hard pack snow, well it was pretty comfy wearing the dark goggles, face mask, and parka. While I usually look like your average over-the-hill dog driver, sometimes the conditions dictate the appearance.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

In Passing...

Last fall I wrote about visiting my cousin Rosemary and her family (Family reunion...9/26/15). When I was a kid, she lived with her husband Chuck just down the street from us until they built a house out in the NW suburbs. They spent a lot of time at our house and being older,  well they were more like an aunt and uncle to me than cousins.

Anyway, what I wanted to mention was Rosemary's visit to Alaska. In the early 90's, she apparently was on a tour of Alaska with her sister-in-law. We got a call from her one day, saying they were in Fairbanks. So we drove into town and picked them up. Now back then, we had an old Ford Bronco. It was great in the winter, four wheel drive and all, but because I'd installed heavy duty rear springs, well it rode kind of hard. In fact, we'd nick named it the bucking Bronco.

So we're driving them out to our place on the Chena Hot Springs Rd. Back then it was a narrow two lane road with lots of frost heaves, kind of like a mogul ski course. I remember looking back in the rear view mirror and seeing their heads bobbing up and down like a couple of bobble heads as we road over the rough spots. I imagined them both getting whiplash and seas sickness simultaneously. But when we got to the house, she never said a word about the rough ride and we had a great visit.

Now one thing to keep in mind is that Rosemary was adopted by my uncle. So even for a cousin, we weren't really related, except by her feelings, the warmth she always had for my family. The nicest thing she ever said to me was that I was real family to her, and that was special, for both of us.

Rosemary passed on last week after a short illness. She was 85. And we never did take that family reunion photo.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

NWS March Weather Summary...

"The remarkably warm and dry weather pattern continued into mid March when a short cold spell dropped temperatures to 20 below on the 18th, which was the coldest temperature recorded in the month A warmer, wetter pattern took hold during the last week of the month, when a storm on the 29th and 30th set a record for the most rain in twenty four hours in March, 0.30 inches.

The average temperature was 19.8 degrees which was 8.4 degrees above the normal average temperature of 11.4 degrees. This ranks as the 9th warmest of 111 years of record. The highest temperature was 51 degrees on the 25th which set a new record; the previous record for the day was 50 degrees set in 1999. The coldest temperature for the season remains 29 below which occurred on Christmas morning. This makes 2015-2016 the only winter except for 1976-1977 where the temperature at Fairbanks failed to drop to 30 below or colder, in 111 years of record.

Looking forward to April, the average daily high temperature increases from 35 degrees on the 1st to 54 degrees on the 30th. The average low temperature increases from 8 degrees on the 1st to 31 degrees on the 30th. The warmest temperature recorded at the Fairbanks airport in April was 76 degrees in 2009 and the lowest temperature recorded in April was 32 below in 1911 and 1944. The average snowfall for April is 2.9 inches.

Possible sunshine increases by nearly 7 minutes per day with daylight increasing from 13 hours and 41 minutes on the 1st to 17 hours and 1 minute on the 30th. The forecast for the month of April from the climate prediction center calls for above normal temperatures and near normal precipitation."
The snow was disappearing fast by the end of March.
But then we got a dump of snow in early April. It's melting now, so hopefully it'll soon be gone.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Winter logging...

Mentioned earlier (Back on Track...1/24/16) that winter logging was going on in the valley where our trails run. In the past, they bulldozed out whatever trails they needed to access the logging area and we had to use different trails. So some of us dog drivers got together and formed a group (with the catchy title of Little Chena Dog Rivers and Trail Users Association) and had a series of meetings with the State of Alaska, Division of Forestry, who held the timber sales. The upshot of it all was an agreement that they would put in separate logging roads so that the recreational trails would still be available for others. By and large it has worked OK, though sometimes they block cross trails with their berms and push debris onto adjacent trails. This year, with all the warm weather and lack of snow, the logging road crossings got real icy, so it's not uncommon for the sled to go sideways at the crossing. It's great fun.

Crossing one of the logging roads.

Now, with the latest warm spell, the dog running is mostly over, so it's the time of year to haul in wood (Iron Dog...4/19/09). It's been a race to haul as many loads of logs up the trail and over the hill before the snow's gone.

Hauling in logs, to be bucked up and split for firewood, is a spring ritual. Most of the trees that were  hauled in had already fallen on or next to the trail, so it's kind of recycling, in a way, they get used for more that just growing mushrooms.