Monday, September 18, 2017

Chippin' away...

Back when I was working full time, we decided to get more attachments for the tractor so I'd have the equipment to run a small landscaping outfit. So every few years until I retired, we bought something new. So much so that several don't get used much. One is the chipper-shredder. Can't remember the last time it was on the tractor, but since there were a few piles of brush to chip, figured it'd be good to hook it up and use it. Since it needed to be greased, went ahead and also greased the tractor and pickup. That way I won't have to crawl around in the gravel at near freezing temp's in Oct like I usually do when I've put off the fall maintenance.
The fall colors are still decent, though the leaves are dropping fast.
Andy got involved, speeding up the process. Now there's enough chips to cover the worst spots on the trail to the garden.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Another fine day...

Been trying to finish up some carpentry projects around the house. But when the sun comes out and the leaves are close to their maximum fall color, it's just gotta be time for a bike ride.
The pull off at the Little Chena bridge has gotten so over-grown, you can hardly see the river.
The sun filtering through the trees brightens the colors so much it almost hurt the eyes
The colors usually max out in mid-September, so it's right on schedule this year.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Chinook!

After several days of cool, rainy weather, the winds shifted to the south and the downslope effect from  the Alaska Range gave the interior a chinook. The temperature rose from the forties this morning to near seventy by noon time. So of course had to take the bike out for a ride.
The pull off near the Nordale bridge was a good spot for some photos.

The light frost from the other morning has turned the leaves golden in the flats.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The ever popular NWS August weather summary for Fairbanks Alaska...

August 2017 was a warm and slightly wetter than normal month in the Fairbanks area. Overall the month was tranquil with no dail ytemperature or precipitation records set. The warmest temperature was 83 degrees which occurred on the 6th. The coldest temperature was 40 degrees which occurred on the 31st.

The average high temperature was 67.2 degrees which was 1.3 degrees above the normal high temperature of 65.9 degrees which ranked as the 43 warmest of 111 years of record.

2.15 inches of rain fell at the Fairbanks airport in the month ofAugust which was 0.27 inches above the normal rainfall of 1.88 inches and ranked as the 39th wettest of 105 years of record.

Looking forward to September, possible sunshine continues to decrease by nearly seven minutes per day with possible daylight decreasing from 14 hours and 35 minutes on the 1st to 11 hours and 22 minutes on the 30th.  The average daily high temperature decreases from 60.5 degrees on the 1st to 46.2 degrees on the 30th. The average daily low temperature decreases from 41.3 degrees on the 1st to 30.1 degrees on the 30th. The average rainfall at the Fairbanks airport in September is 1.1 inches and the average snowfall in September is 1.8 inches.

September can be a month of extremes. The warmest temperature on record for the month of September in Fairbanks is 84 degrees which occurred in 1957. The coldest temperature on record for the month of September in Fairbanks is 3 above which occurred in 1992. Measurable snow has been observed in September about 2 out of every 3 years. Heavy snow events are infrequent but are not unheard of. Long time residents will recall 1992 when over two feet of snow fell during a 10 day period and more recently 20.9 inches of snow falling during the month of September in 2015.

The forecast for the month of September from the Climate Prediction Center calls for increased chances for above normal temperatures and increased chances for below normal precipitation.

September brings dark nights,  cooler weather, and the leaves they are a turnin'.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Goodbye Barney

About twelve years ago, got a call from Lynn who had a sled dog rescue kennel out in Two Rivers. She asked if I was interested in a young dog. Well a big male, sure, I remember saying. So I went out there and there was this small, scruffy dog, maybe forty pounds, and so wild she could barely catch him. But I figured I could always bring him back, she was good that way, and besides, maybe he'll grow. So I brought him home. Kind of crazy on his chain, always running around and did he bark, if he wasn't barking, he was either eating or asleep. When Andy got back from her field trip, it was kind of clever of me to get a dog when she was gone, she couldn't believe it, "This is the most worthless dog ever!" And when he got loose and nearly killed the cat, well he was almost "unrescued" as she put it.
But as time moved on, Barney grew into a strong, sixty pound sled dog. And because he was so crazy to hook up and run, I started putting him up front, since that often quiets a rowdy dog down. And darned if he didn't turn into a lead dog. When it was time to retire Springer, my old leader, Barney stepped up and became the main leader. No matter how bad the trail or steep the hill, Barney was up for it. He didn't like to stop for breaks, after a few minutes he was whining, ready to go again.
Barney (Rt) and Spuds (Lt) in better times. They ran together so often, I called them Barneyspuds.

But like all good things, they come to an end. First I noticed he had trouble with the speed on the downhills, so tried to keep it slow. Then he started limping occasionally, but always wanted to go again. Last fall he did fine on the early training along the highway but when we switched over the more remote trails that were soft and punchy, he struggled to keep up. Finally decided to leave him home and he was fine with that, happy to just run around the yard and bark a lot. He started having trouble jumping up on his house, then quit eating all of his food. When he didn't eat at all this weekend, well it was time. Took him into the animal shelter where he was euthanized. I know it was for the best, but it's like losing a good friend. Well if there's a dog heaven, he'll be up there, barking and running around like when he was a pup. Good times again.

Leading the team home. While Spuds was a little better on commands, Barney likely was the hardest working dog we've ever had. He was an animal!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

More dog daze...

Not weather wise, it's rained every day this past week and barely hits 60° in the afternoon. You'd think summer would last a little longer, but up here, fall usually begins in mid-August and this year is no exception. No, the dog daze now is the new dog in the yard. We had gotten a sled dog last winter from the Sled Dog Sanctuary (http://www.sleddogsanctuary.com/index.html). Mia was seriously shy and while she was a good working sled dog, she wanted nothing to do with my wife and I. So after several fruitless months of trying to get her to warm up to us, we decided to send her back. So in exchange we got Rig.

A little shy at first, Rig (the all black dog) soon warmed up to us and now gets plenty of exercise. He's already dug a hole about three ft deep. So he's now known as Rigger the digger.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

July Weather, the dog days...

Here's the ever popular National Weather Service summary for July, the dog days of summer up here...

NWS MONTHLY WEATHER SUMMARY FOR JULY FOR FAIRBANKS ALASKA...

July 2017 was a warm and slightly dryer than normal month. While no daily temperature or precipitation records were set, wind from a strong weather front on the 23rd knocked down trees and caused power outages in the local area.

The average mean temperature for the month was 65.7 degrees which was 3.2 degrees above the normal and ranked as the 5th warmest of 111 years of record. The warmest temperature for the month was 86 degrees on the the 6th. There have been eleven 80 degrees or warmer days in Fairbanks this summer. Normally there will be around 12 days per summer where the temperature reaches 80 degrees or warmer. The lowest temperature in the month of July was 49 degrees on the 22nd.

1.94 inches of rain fell at the Fairbanks airport in the month of July which was 0.22 inches below the normal rainfall of 2.16 inches and ranked as the 47th wettest of 105 years.

Looking forward to the month of August possible sunshine continues to decrease at nearly 7 minutes per day with daylight hours decreasing from 18 hours and 7 minutes on the 1st to 14 hours and 41 minutes on the 31st. The average daily high temperature decreases from 70 degrees on the 1st to 62 degrees on the 31st. The average low temperature decreases from 50 degrees on the 1st to 41 degrees on the 31st. On average 1.88 inches of rain falls at the Fairbanks Airport during the month of August.

The forecast from the climate prediction center calls for increased chances for above normal temperatures and near normal precipitation.

In other news, we picked up a dog from the local animal shelter a little while back. Pretty shy when we got him, but several boxes of dog biscuits later, he's started to come around. Surprisingly, he didn't seem to know how to jump on his dog house. Most of our dogs spend a good part of the day sitting or sleeping up there. But with some encouragement, he's slowly figuring it out.


The black dog on the right, Tamarack or Tambo-Rambo as he's now known,  is a house dog now. Well at least when he get's excited enough, he'll jump up there. The goal is to teach him to jump up and then sit on the dog house so I can put the dog harness on him. That's how I train when harnessing them up for a dog run. Makes it a lot easier to get the harness on and gives my back a break, not having to bend over so much.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Michigan Madman...

The other night we were sitting out on the deck and a couple of my neighbors stopped by for some beers. We got to telling stories, as is often the case, and I talked about growing up in the Midwest. There was a guy named EJ Potter, aka the Michigan Madman, who did drag racing exhibitions, first on a series of V-8 engined motorcycles, then put a V-12 in a '57 Plymouth. It was the latter machine I saw when I went with my older brother to the locally world famous US 30 drag strip, "Drag Racing Capital of Chicagoland". I almost never went anywhere with him and it turned out the only reason he invited me along was that he was broke, so I wound paying for everything. There's nothing quite like growing up as the kid brother. Anyway, my brother's buddy was so excited seeing the hot rod Plymouth smoke it's tires all the way down the track, he kept jumping up and down, yelling "didya see that? didya see that!" Incredible.
Starting off with a small block Chevy, Potter built increasingly bigger-engined drag bikes. Eventually he graduated to a V-12 Allison airplane engine in a '57 Plymouth.

After he retired from drag racing, Potter put the V-12 engine in a tractor and entered it into tractor pulling contests. That led to a double engined tractor with 3400 HP!

Bert, one of my neighbors who had raced a Harley engined dragster himself, was quite impressed by the V-12 power plants. "Yeah those Allison engines, they sound like nothing you hear today, the sweetest sounding engine ever."  And the conversation moved on to old airplanes.

So never did get to the point of the story; that this self styled madman spent most of his life riding crazy fast motorcycles, never was seriously hurt, and built some pretty fantastic machines by himself, with no sponsorship or engineering help. Amazing. EJ Potter died in 2012 at 71. He supposedly was planning a comeback on the V-8 motorcycle just before he died.

Monday, July 24, 2017

All carted up...

When I was getting the walking tractor and attachments ready to sell (Walking tractor...7/1/17)l, it was obvious the cart was in pretty rough shape. Unlike the other parts that were stored in the shed, the cart spent the last twenty years or so leaning against a big spruce tree. The tires were flat, wheels and body rusted; it was pretty shabby. The guy who bought the tractor took one look and said he wasn't interested in it. Andy thought it should go to the metal recycling. But to me, well it was a challenge, it looked fixable.


The cart looked a lot worse than the picture shows. This photo was taken for the ad, so kind of hid the cart with the flat tires behind the tiller.

Started off by removing the wheels, they were rusted fast to the axle. While I couldn't get the tubeless tires to hold air, figured if they could be removed without damaging the bead, might be able to insert tubes. So after removing them, sand blasted and painted the rims, then ordered a pair of tubes on ebay. After the tires and tubes were on the rims, figured it was worth it to work on the cart. So spent the next several days sand blasting the rusty areas and sanding the faded paint, then primered the cart. The steel tube that they used for the tongue had split where it was flattened to meet the axle. Not sure if it came that way, but wound up welding it anyway. Three cans of Rust-Oleum blue later, it looked good as new.


The cart now looks great, almost don't want to sell it. But given that it hadn't moved in over twenty years, well maybe it's not needed so much anymore.
Update:  Sold the cart. It's always a little amazing when someone buys something that others consider junk. It just goes to show the value of a little spray paint.

Monday, July 17, 2017

June weather...

Here.s the June weather summary from the Alaska Climate Research Center:

June 2017 marks 18 months out of the last 20 months with mean statewide temperatures at or above normal. The mean monthly temperature for June was 53.5°F, 1.8°F above the normal. This is 0.6°F below the June 2016 mean of 54.1°F. The first eleven days of the month were above normal, followed by ten days of below normal temperatures, then the month ended with nine more days above normal. The greatest positive deviation occurred on the 8th with 7.5°F above normal, and the greatest negative deviation occurred on the 13th at -2.0°F. 

The highest daily maximum temperature for June was 90°F reported at Fairbanks on the 9th, a new daily record, breaking the 1957 record of 87°F. This was the second earliest 90°F daily high on record, after the 90°F high on May 28, 1947, as well as the first 90°F in Fairbanks since June 2013. Fairbanks also held the spot for the highest mean temperature for the month at 62.8°F.

June's precipitation was notably below normal, with the overall precipitation calculated as 17% below the average;  24 days of the month reported below normal values. This is drier than June 2016, which reported a precipitation surplus of 21% A limited number of daily precipitation records were set this June. Fairbanks on the 11th broke a record set only the pervious year with 1.09", topping the 2016 record of 0.95".

Fire activity was moderate with the somewhat drier weather. Smoke from the South Fork Salcha fire, north of the Pogo Mine, reached Fairbanks on the 9th. It ended the month at over 8,000 acres. A small wildfire temporarily closed the Richardson Highway near Fairbanks at mile 308 on the 9th.  By the end of June there had been 165 human caused fires that burned about 6,000 acres and 90 lightning caused fires that had burned over 183,600 acres.

And here's the stupid cat picture for the month. Ruty's apparently decided to become a lap cat after ten years of mostly ignoring us.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Ridin' the 650...

So after finishing the work on the 650 MoGu (technically it's a V65 Spada, or sword in English, but seriously, who rides a sword?), took it for a ride to see how the new tires worked, Well to be honest, there seemed no difference. But the speedometer was working now, so the worm drive mechanism was fixed. I was happy there were no problems, since I wasn't sure if the axles were assembled with all the spacers in the correct order. At least I was until I came to the junction with the Steese Hwy and the motor died. Didn't think I was out of gas, since I'd added what was left in the poly gas can, maybe half a gallon. Then I remembered last fall running out of gas (Last Ride #3....). and never did fill it up again. So then switched to reserve and it fired right up. Decided I better get to the nearest gas station and opted for one that carried premium, not all of them up here sell it. Since it was more than a few miles, there was some angst before getting there. But made it to station and filled'er up. The rest of the ride was anti climactic, sometimes it's the little things that'll make it interesting.



Saturday, July 1, 2017

Walking tractors....

Back in the day when we were building our cabin, we didn't have time for a garden. But when we were finished, at least with the first part before the additions, we decided to get a "walking tractor" that could be put to multiple use, roto-tilling a garden, snow plowing the driveway, and hauling firewood. After we got one, found it was fine for  roto-tilling, but not so much for everything else.
So eventually we got a real tractor (Retired...2/22/16). After years of not using the walking tractor, figured maybe it was time to sell it. Surprisingly, it fired right up after a few pulls with some new gas. The impeller on the snowblower was cracked and bent in a few places from ingesting rocks on the gravel driveway, so had to sand blast, straighten, weld, and repaint it. Otherwise it just needed some clean up, then put an ad in Craigslist. Go figure, it sold the next day. Maybe I should of asked for more? Well it's gone now so at least there's one less thing in the tool shed to trip over or worry about what to do with it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Retired and refendered...

Back when I was working on the 850, I wound up ordering two sets of tires, since the 650 takes the same size (All Guzzied Up...8/2/15). Now that the 850's done, figured it was time to replace the fenders along with the tires. The 650 had kind of ugly plastic fenders and back one's cracked. Also the rear tail light looks like something out of a bad 50's science fiction movie.
Took the tires in for mounting and balancing at one of the local dealers, so that was no problem. The front fender was from a Honda, got it used on ebay, so had to do some drilling and welding to get it to fit. It looks a lot like the 850s fender.

The rear fender was a little more problematic. It was originally for a Triumph. Got it years ago at a sale of old British bike parts and never found a use for it until now.
The new fender was a little short, so made a spacer out of black HDMW plastic. It's under the seat, so  is pretty much out of sight.
The alloy tail light is a custom part that was used on older Triumphs. Gives the bike more of a vintage look. Also noticed the turn signal wires are frayed, so some new wiring's in order. Then maybe repaint the gas tank and recover the seat. But that's likey next years project.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wet and wetter...

After a week of hot weather, the rains came. We got a little over two inches from late Sat through Mon (that's 51.5 mm to the French). It  didn't set any records but it's more that we usually get, on the average, for the month. We went from hot, dry, red flag (forest fire) weather to an early monsoon.
So my neighbors down the hill took full advantage and spent most of yesterday burning garbage. It doesn't get any better than that!
Sunday morning the rain gage was full. While it never rained hard, it was a steady, soaking rain for almost three days. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Warm and warmer...

Summer must be here, it hit 90° F at Eielson, though it officially was only 89 at the airport, but it still broke the record of 83. We've had a pretty decent run of weather, temperatures were above normal from the end of March to late May. It's a good thing this global warming thing's a hoax.

Correction: The National Weather Service posted this yesterday:
The Fairbanks airport hit 90 degrees Friday. This is the first 90 degree day in Fairbanks since June 26, 2013.

Over a hundred in the sun, that's just way too warm for Alaska!

Here's the NWS's monthly weather summary for May for Fairbanks, Alaska...

May 2017 was another tranquil month in Fairbanks with no record daily high or low temperatures.

The average high temperature for the month of May at the Fairbanks airport was 61.9 degrees which was 0.9 degrees above the normal average high temperature for May of 61.0 degrees. This ranked as the 37th warmest of 112 years of record. The highest temperature recorded at the Fairbanks airport in the month of May was 72 degrees which occurred on the 16th.

The average low temperature for the month of May at the Fairbanks airport was 37.7 degrees which was 0.1 degrees below the normal average low temperature of 37.8 degrees. This ranked as the 34th warmest of 111 years of record. The lowest temperature recorded at the Fairbanks airport in the month of May was 29 degrees on the 2nd.

The average mean temperature for the month of May at the Fairbanks airport was 49.8 degrees which was 0.4 degrees above the normal average temperature of 49.4 degrees. This ranked as the 36th warmest of 111 years of record.

A trace of snow fell on the 26th and was a record snowfall for that date. The trace of snowfall did not change the season to date snowfall of 83.1 inches, which is 18.1 inches above the normal seasonal snowfall of 65.0 inches.

Rainfall at the Fairbanks airport totaled 0.59 inches for the month which was 0.01 inches below the normal rainfall of 0.60 inches. This ranked as the 47th wettest of 104 years of record.

Looking forward to the month of June, the average high temperature continues to increase from 67 degrees on the 1st to 74 degrees on the 30th. The average low temperature increases from 44 degrees on the 1st to 53 degrees on the 30th. The average temperature increases from 56 degrees on the 1st to 64 degrees on the 30th. On average 1.37 inches of rain falls in June in Fairbanks. Snowfall in June in Fairbanks is rare but not unheard of with a handful of days in the climate record recording snow.

Possible daylight continues to increase a nearly 6 minutes per day early in the month with 20 hours and 34 minutes of possible daylight on the 1st. Possible daylight peaks at 21 hours and 49 minutes on the 20th, 21st and 22nd. The solstice occurs at 8:24 PM Alaska Daylight Savings Time on Tuesday the 20th this year. By the 30th of June possible daylight will be decreasing by over 3 minutes per day and will decrease to 21 hours and 29 minutes.

The forecast for the month of June from the Climate Prediction Center calls for near normal normal temperatures and precipitation.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Back to the Black...

Went down to Black Rapids to help my friend Mike do some surveying on the Delta River. Unlike last year when it was cold and windy (Down to the Delta, 5/28/16), we had near perfect weather, sunny, warm, and just enough wind to keep the mosquitos away.

The river was lower this year, so there was no problem launching the boat and installing equipment.

Rather than using the boat to tow the doppler meter, we set up a pulley system and towed the meter with a rope from the shore. Worked fine and safer than boat work during high water.
Here's a photo Mike took while I was operating the pulley system. The gloves he loaned me worked great for gripping the slippery nylon rope and could also help direct traffic!

Wanted to put the boat in at Phelan Creek, but the boat launch was covered by thick shore ice.  The survey on the upper Delta will have to wait until the ice is gone.

Since we couldn't get to the upper Delta, we went down to Paxson Lake. The ice had gone out, so we launched the boat and headed for the lake outlet.

Mike surveying the channel at the lake outlet. Doing it the old fashioned way, with the mechanical meter, puts the man in the water. Bad idea, since it turned out his waders leaked!

Some lakes still had a bit o' ice floating...

While Summit Lake was mostly ice covered.  Gulkana Glacier, in the background, is the source for Phelan Creek.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Spammed!...

Some moran put a comment about shoes on all two hundred and something blog posts. There was a link: adidas nmd. Not sure if that was a hidden virus or just some stupid way to advertise, but went ahead and deleted all 200 of them. Didn't exactly make my day. But did get the garden roto-tilled, so at least that's something.
Bought the roto-tiller used about twenty years ago, it dates from the 70's, so it's quite a bit older than the tractor. It's usually difficult to hook up and work on, but today it  mounted easily, needed no major maintenance, and did a fine job on the garden. Almost inconceivable!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Winkin', blinkin', and nod...

When I first got the 850T Moto Guzzi, it was awhile before I figured out that it originally had turn signals (winkers), that were removed by the previous owner. Since most of the bikes I'd ridden never had'em, it didn't seem like a big deal. So it took some time (like maybe twenty years) before I thought to replace 'em. What made it seem like a good idea was when I got a ticket for no seat belt. Now don't get me wrong, wearing your seat belt's great, there just shouldn't be a law about it. I was driving the pickup  home from town, in fact I was parked in front of the mail boxes on the Hot Springs Rd, when I noticed some lights in the rear view mirror. WTF I thought, as the State Trooper walks up, taps on the window, and writes me a ticket for no seat belt. The worst part was he wrote down my hair color as grey; it was still listed as brown on my license, so he added insult to injury. Anyway, it eventually got me to thinkin' that maybe the Guzzi needed to be made legal again.
Found some decent looking turn signals on ebay so ordered two pair. It's funny, they're apparently not DOT approved, so they say only for off road use. Who'd need turn signals for off road use?
The rear wires and plug ins were still there, so they were no problem. The front, not so much. Here's what the headlight wiring looks like:

The only thing I learned from the wiring diagrams I downloaded is that Azzuro = blue, Nero = black, Rosa = red. So with my rudimentary Italian and a volt meter, got all the front wires hooked up. Then it was time for the tail light.
On our last ride in the fall, hit a serious bump and went airborne. Not normally a big deal, but when we got home, noticed that part of the rear tail light was missing.  Now this wasn't a terrible thing, cause I always kind of hated the rear tail light. It looked like something off a Diamond REO truck. So after a little research, saw that the early 70's MoGu's used a similar, but somewhat smaller round tail light that mounted on the same bracket. Suh-weet, I thought, it'll mount right on, so ordered one. Well of course the wiring was totally different, so had to rewire it.  But now that they're on the bike,  the turn signal's a winkin', the brake lights a blinkin', and I can nod off in peace.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Last time out...

After finishing the bridge deck (All decked out...4/25/17), there were still lot's of debris from the demolished deck and unused lumber to haul back. The snow machine sled is really my trail groomer with some metal strips bolted to one side to act like skis. While it works OK on hard packed trails, the warm weather (it's been up nest fifty most afternoons), made for soft, sloppy trails. So after almost getting stuck a few times hauling loads back, finally was forced to use one of the dog sleds. These have plastic on the runners (QCR) that glide well on the wet snow and patches of exposed ground, while the toboggan bed keeps it from sinking in. Of course it's not designed to haul lumber and hooks on with a rope hitch, so it tends to slam into the back of the machine on down hills. Not a good thing for sled longevity.
Fortunately, we had a light frost in the morning, so the trail was somewhat frozen. It was a slow trip down, stopping a lot to make sure the sled handle bars cleared the trees that were leaning into the trail. But made it there, loaded the sled and headed back quickly, while the trail was still frozen, if only slightly. The trip back was uneventful, kind of anticlimactic after the last few days of hurrying to get the bridge deck finished before the snow was gone.
The dog sled came in pretty handy to haul out the last load.

This may be the last blog post for awhile. Got lots to do before we head out of town in a few weeks and not sure if anybody reads this stuff anyway. Maybe later will have something worthwhile to write about. So here's a final photo, the pond near the bridge just after the creek started to flow. Now already filled with water, just the day before it'd been dry, covered with snow. Spring always amazes me at how fast things change up here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

All decked out...

Back in the day, the bridge over the creek in the valley behind our place washed out (Bridge Work 4/30/09). It caused a hassle running dogs, since the banks are 6-8 feet high and the creek frequently overflows. I got in the habit of building ramps by shoveling lots of snow After a few years, a local trapper dropped a bunch of trees on the trail in the vicinity of the creek, then went on vacation. So that 's what got me involved, just clearing up his mess and then doing the log work to turn the pile of logs into a timber framed bridge. My neighbor offered to help out with the deck. When I went to see how he was doing. the bridge already had a deck. While I appreciated all his hard work, he used a bunch of oriented strand board (OSB) he had apparently gotten from the dump. Now I know that OSB has taken over a lot of the uses of plywood, but it's not really good for decking, since it readily soaks up water. Over the years, it's been deteriorating, sagging between the log joists. I tried waterproofing it with some old wood preservative stain, but it didn't seem to help. What really doomed the deck was it became a regular part of the local moose trails. While they seldom use it in the winter, the moose apparently cross the bridge in the summer, often punching holes through the soggy OSB. The last few years I spent a lot of time patching holes in the deck. So when I went to shovel off the bridge this spring, it was obvious that the deck was now beyond patching. As much as I didn't want to take on a new project, I wound up spending the last week or so re-decking the bridge.


Forgot the camera the first few trips so don''t have shots of the old deck. It was so full of holes, it reminded me of the pictures of Bosnia during the Serbian war. The pile on the left is the old decking. The strip down the middle is the new plywood, ripped into two foot widths to make it easier to haul with the Ski Doo..

Wound up narrowing the bridge a bit after re-levelling and straightening the logs.


The finished deck. The project was largely completed with scrounged material. The main expense was gas for the Ski Doo and chainsaw and aspirin and vodka for my sore back.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Iron Dog 2...

When the old Ski Doo wouldn't start, it was a setback to my wood cutting plans, since this is the time of year when the trees that fall along the dog trail get bucked up and hauled back (Iron Dog 4/19/09). The local dealer no longer stocks parts for a machine that old, so had to order them from a place in Vermont. Took a week to get here and then a few days to install it. The ignition coils mount underneath the oil tank in a space so small you can only get two fingers in there. I was able to get one bolt fastened, but not the other. Fortunately, Andy offered the services of her long thin fingers, she was able to get the second bolt threaded, so then it was just a matter replacing the plug wires, caps, and spark plugs. It started first pull, so that was pretty good, since I wasn't sure if the coils were the problem.  So then was able to go over the hill, buck up some wood and haul it back. The main problem now is that while snow is melting fast on the south side of the ridge, on the north side, there's still almost two feet of snow on the ground, which makes it harder to find and cut up the downed trees.

The old Ski Doo hauling the wood home. Like me, it's getting older and slower, but still gets the job done.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Last dog run?...

After a week of warm weather, it cooled off, clouded over, and dumped a couple inches of snow. While this will delay spring and all the changes it brings, it also means it's time for one more dog run.

Even though the trail out of the yard was soft and punchy, it was still winter in the valley.

The younger dogs ran great this winter and should be a solid team next year.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Signs of spring...

After an unusually cold March, April has started off quite warm with some firsts:
Been up to 50 for a few days now, the first since last October. 
The first time we've seen gravel since last fall.

And the first time the old Ski Doo wouldn't start. Waiting on parts to replace the ignition coils.

And here's the March weather summary:
Fairbanks had a mean monthly temperature of -3.0°F, a significant 14.4°F below normal. Third coldest on record, only seven of the 111 monthly average temps for March have been below zero. The highest temperature for the month was 48°F occurring on the 31st, while the lowest was -39°F on the 8th.
Precipitation was 0.17”, 0.08” below the normal of 0.25”. Snowfall was measured at 3.5”, 71% of normal, 1.4” below the expected 4.9”. Average snow depth was higher than normal at 26 inches at the end of the month. The highest wind speed was 25 mph from a northeasterly direction on the 15th, while the average wind speed was 3.0 mph.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Nugget of a trip...

Years ago Andy and I tried to get to a state parks cabin in the Chena Recreation Area. We never made it in, a combination of encountering overflow on the river and then following the wrong trail. So getting to the cabin became something of a quest. After checking out the the river crossing and confirming the route (Circuitous ramblings on pi day 3/15/17), finally made it to the cabin with my friend Bill.

Heading down the trail. Straight stretches like this were rare.

The dogs parked at the cabin. It was only 7 miles in (about 11 km to the French), so they were still ready for more.


The elusive Nugget Creek Cabin (photo courtesy of Alaska Div. of Parks, since I forgot to take one). It was kind of anti-climatic after waiting all these years to finally get there. It's just an old, kind of run down trappers cabin that the state appropriated, made a few improvements, and then rents it as a  "cozy log cabin with 3 platform bunks on the banks of the South Fork Chena River". The trail in is quite circuitous and could use some realignment(s), but we made it in and out with no serious crashes and the dogs ran great, so like they say,  it just don't get much better than that.
Information on the Chena Recreation Area at:  http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/cabins/north

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Circuitous Ramblings on Pi Day

Yesterday was pi day, no not apple, cherry or strawberry rhubarb, but the number pi, 3.1417. Surprised not more was made of it, since it matched our calendar date out to four places this year. But maybe the math nerds are too busy with computer games and/or hacking Facebook, whatever.
Andy and I went out to the park (Last Ride?...10/1/16) to check out some of the trails for a sled dog trip. We've had problems there in the past running into overflow and open water at the river crossings, so we decided to ski in to check it out before bringing the dogs. Back in the day, we did a lot of cross country skiing, winter camping and the like, but hadn't done that in years. When we got into running sled dogs, the skis just languished in the tool shed.

All geared up for the big adventure.


These older wooden skis require waxing. Unfortunately I guessed wrong on the wax, so had lots of grip but no glide. At least I never fell down, likely was stuck fast to the trail, so that's something