I ran into a couple of turistas today. They were in a large RV, taking up a dozen parking spaces at a store I had to make a quick stop at. I’d like to say that I don’t enjoy making jokes of the Recreational Vampires, but it’s great fun, so it would be a lie if I did actually say such a thing.
They chatted me up a bit because I was driving the Beetle today. As luck would have it, they, of course, used to own one.
Me: “How long are you in Fairbanks?”
Turistas: “We’re going up to Prudhoe Bay; that’s where Alaska’s oil comes from.”
Me: “Yes, I’m familiar with Prudhoe Bay.”
Turistas: “But we’ll be back in time for the fireworks.”
Me: “Excuse me?”
Turistas: “The Fourth of July! We’ll be back in Fairbanks for that.”
Me: “Fairbanks doesn’t do fireworks for the Fourth.”
Turistas: “Of course they do! Who ever heard of a town not having Fourth of July Fireworks?!”
Me: “Every town north of Anchorage.”
Turistas: “That makes no sense. Surely you have fireworks. When would you do them if not July Fourth?”
Me: “New Years.”
Then I promptly walked away as quickly as I could without actually running.
Well, we’ve gone a week without rain, and the wild fires are starting to pop up. We had six days in a row with highs over 78 degrees and four of those have been above 80, although that streak did end today. We call that a heat wave in Alaska.
On Sunday morning the Bear Creek Fire, which is 100 miles south of Fairbanks and running parallel to the Parks Highway, was at 1500 acres, 24 hours later it was at 20,000 acres. It started out as four separate fires that joined up on Sunday to give you the photo above. Three of those fires were from lightning, the other was man-made. I haven’t heard the what that final ignition source was.
There are 33 active fires in Alaska.
We’ve had 257 fires to date.
117,450 acres have burned in Alaska so far this year.
“A newcomer to Alaska was on a tour and asked about the flora and fauna. At one point the guide talked about Rubus Spectabilis, aka Salmonberry, to which the … lady responded, ‘Alaskan salmon eat berries? How do they jump that high?'”
After hauling six dump loads of rock and distributing it for several hours today, I planned on a relaxing evening on my deck with a cold cerveza. Sadly, I’ve received visitors who convinced me to join them in viewing the 30th Midnight Sun Run. Since most Solstice events start at 10pm, I still have some time to chill out.
The Sun Run is a 10K race that starts at 10pm on the University of Alaska-Fairbanks campus, and runs through city streets along the Chena River, eventually ending at Alaska Land… errr Pioneer Park. This is not your average road race: Costumes are encouraged, and the Army representatives have, on more than one occasion, pulled a howitzer along for good measure. The race starts, not with a starter pistol, but with cannon fire that you can hear throughout the valley. The MSR usually draws around 3000 runners. I’ve done the race twice, but sadly, registration is closed, and I will have to be a spectator in 2012.
Tomorrow morning at Pike’s Landing is the start of the Yukon 800 boat race. The race has been called “The longest, roughest, toughest, speed boat race in the world, traveling 800 miles along the Chena, Tanana and Yukon rivers”. Harold Attla, who has won the race 10 times, finished the 800 run last year with a time of 12 hours, 22 minutes, 26 seconds. Make it 11 Harold.
Where: Downtown Fairbanks.
When: All Day on Sunday.
What: The Midnight Sun Festival takes over the heart of downtown. It’s a mass of Alaskan humanity with some tourists thrown in for confusion. Lots of live music… often competing, food, drink, food, entertainment, food, crafts and I believe the 3 on 3 b-ball tourney is back this year.
The tourists don’t seem to really understand why The Solstice is such a big deal here, but they do seem to enjoy the eclectic activities all the same. The Summer Solstice is one big party in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Time to grab a bottle of bug dope and head off towards campus.
Tonight is the 107th Midnight Sun Baseball game. The Alaska Goldpanners take the field against the Everett Merchants. The first pitch is at 10:30pm at Growden Memorial Park. The game is played entirely without artificial lights.
It was an easy day and I wrapped things up before noon. I did call another client to see if I could swing by to do an easy two hour job, but he didn’t return my call until I had already moved on by. He was put on tomorrow’s schedule.
Another beautiful, sun-filled afternoon here in the Interior. I unloaded and put away all my tools from the siding job, then drove into town to buy some wiper blades for the truck, since I have worn this pair out. The NAPA lot was packed, but I parked & went inside anyway. Too many people, too few employees, and no cross reference book by the wiper blade display. I was out of there in less than a minute.
I simply don’t do lines well. It is not part of my DNA. Luckily, I can usually avoid the damn time stealers here in The AK. Although, it does get more difficult during the tourist season.
I then hit the post office to check my box. Inside was a yellow form for a package retrieval. It showed a 32 cent postage due amount. Who mails a package with postage due? I went out to the truck thinking that I’d stop by again on another day to pick up the package. After all, there was a long line to get to the counter and only two postal employees. At the truck, I checked for change, but I had cleaned the truck out over the weekend. No change there or in my pockets. I knew I had several packages out there ranging from auto parts to tools to books & music. The smallest bill in my wallet was a ten. Shit.
Back inside, in line, I consoled myself. I had already put off the wiper blades, so I might as well get this over with. But I was in a good mood, the job was done, the salmon are running down at Chitina, the Solstice party is Thursday, life was good. The guy in front of me was doing the impatient dance: Shuffling his feet, looking at his watch, sighing when the people at the counter kept chatting needlessly to the clerks. He only had to collect a package too. Normally, the customer service representatives will take a package slip, then ask if anyone else was picking up only a package and combine the orders, but I could see that wasn’t going to help me out. Of the two employees in front of us, I knew only one did that and she was tied up with a couple of Canadians, and everyone knows that Canadians do nothing quickly, so she wasn’t going to be free anytime soon. The other one was actually my favorite worker at this branch, but consolidating package orders is not her thing. She may have done it once when I had Rover parts come in, and that put an end to it for good. I don’t recall specific details.
The Impatient Guy was on his way quickly, and soon enough I was exchanging the yellow form for a package. Or so I thought.
When my USPS Customer Service Representative returned, she was outright laughing. “Someone sent you a post card with no postage.”
I looked at it on the counter and said, “That’s just mean spirited.”
Then several people waiting behind me laughed.
The really sad part about all of this, is that I don’t even like the person who sent it enough to send him an email chewing him out for making me stand in line to break a ten dollar bill to spend 32 cents for a post card that cost him a damn dime.
The Cleveland Volcano, out on Chuginadak Island, went off this afternoon sending ash to 35,000 feet. The ash dissapated relatively quickly, however.
The photo is from AVO’s “Cleveland Cam”.
This morning I was loading up the last of the old siding into the truck. After finishing up one pile of lumber, I came face to face with the moose above, who had been eating a tree just around the corner from where I was working. I guess the sound of boards slamming into the bed of the truck was not enough to interrupt breakfast. The pile of siding that the moose was hovering over had to wait until this afternoon to go to the dump. That moose simply did not want to leave, and no amount of attempted shooing seemed to work. I guess I have to do a walk around before I start the job in the morning.
Finally, with Solstice on Thursday, summer seems to be showing signs of itself in Interior Alaska. The temps actually hit 80 degrees today, which had me in shock & in shorts. It was a damn, fine day.
I worked both days this weekend to try to make a push on the siding job. The trim needed to get painted and the deck needed stain. Once again the weather didn’t cooperate on Saturday, as I watched the storm clouds come in while I was painting facia boards.
I did get the trim finished and a coat of stain on the deck Sunday, since the rain held off until late in the afternoon. I was dropping off a truckload of the old siding at the transfer site, when the wife of the couple I’m working for swung through to drop off her own trash and offered to buy me a beer at the local brewery.
Part of our conversation over a couple of Old 55’s:
Client: The house looks great. You really know how to polish a turd.
Me: Thanks. You’re trying to give me a compliment, right?
Client: You know what I mean.
Me: That’s not something I want to get around. Next thing you know, I’ll get a rep, then I’ll do nothing but polish turds and they won’t let me near a nice, level house.
Client: There are worse things.
Me: Well, don’t be offended or anything, but that slogan is not going on my tombstone.
Client: You want another beer?
Me: I do now.