Monthly Archives: January 2013

“The Locals are a Hoot!”

Building Alaska Hwy 1942

I was listening to the radio broadcast of the Minnesota vs. Minnesota State hockey game this past weekend. During one of the intermissions, announcer Wally Shaver interviewed Minnesota defenseman/forward Justin Holl. Holl was having a great weekend on the ice, but what really grabbed my attention was Wally referring to Holl’s father and his bike trip from Anchorage to Mexico.

In times like this, google is magic.

I won’t go into the reasons, or go into detail about Jerry Holl’s trip. You’ll have to read his blog, and get all that direct from the source. I just love the fact that this guy from Tonka Bay, near where I grew up, made the trip at all. He didn’t train for it, he simply figured that he’d get in shape by climbing on his bike and getting started.

“June 20, 2012 — August 9, 2012 — Alaska to Mexico — 3634 miles — 50 days

One Man. One Bike. One Tent.”

I’ve haven’t read the entire blog, but what I’ve read so far is pretty good. I got a kick out of the picture with the bear spray sitting in his water bottle holder on his bike. Of course, for me, I enjoyed getting his impression of this part of the world that I call home… especially from the pace of a bicycle. Plus, he spotted a lynx along the AlCan… Something I have never seen on any of my many trips on that path.

I’m glad he found the locals to be a hoot, and his blog is a great reminder to get out and experience your own adventure.

Jerry Holl’s Alaska to Mexico blog:

The Cliff Notes Version:

The photo, courtesy of the Library of Congress, is a road camp from the building of the AlCan, circa 1942.

Damn Chilly

When it’s this cold outside, and you heat with a woodstove, sleeping in can be a tad inconvenient. I don’t have to work until Wednesday, so I didn’t wake up until 7 this morning. The cabin was chilled, to say the least. I climbed out of a very warm bed, took a quick look at the thermometer on the wall… 46 degs, but I’m thankful it was above zero… then stoked up the fire, leaving the dampers open and climbed back into bed.
Two hours later, I awoke to find the cabin back up to 66 degrees.
Plus I was well-rested.

I did make a quick run into town, which the truck felt was completely unnecessary. It was -53 degs, so I can’t find fault with the Chevy having an attitude. Minus fifty really is a different world. Getting into the truck, I might as well have been sitting on a marble park bench. There is absolutely no give to the seat. The truck is so stiff, and it takes extra gas just to break the tires free from the ice. I think it took close to a mile before the tires warmed up enough to lose the flat “thumpity-thumpity”.

At the corner of University & Airport, I spot a kid outside in a Statue of Liberty outfit, slinging a mini billboard promoting “Tax Savings” from Liberty Tax in the mall nearby. Honestly, that’s a tough gig in decent weather. The poor guy had a hard time spinning the placard with thick mittens, but I have to send out kudos for the effort. He just kept at it.

Now this…

ephamus brewery

… is a beer for the full moon. Usually, it’s wine that I’ll try based only on a cool label, but this is a brew I would love to try.

Full Wolf Moon

Aurora and Moon

The return of the full moon has also brought with it the return of -45 degree air. On the plus side, the aurora also returned last night to absolutely fill the sky over Interior Alaska. It was a brilliant display, in spite of the glowing moon.

When I returned home from the hockey game last night, I just stood out in the drive and took in the shimmering curtains of light, as they flowed across the sky. It was an impressive show.


Winter Walk

I was talking with a friend over the weekend about our warming trend. It’s been rather nice since we started to gain daylight, which is appreciated after a cold November – December. After enjoying a couple of beers from the new brewery, we came to the conclusion that -10F is an ideal winter temperature.
I may have to explain that further to the Lower 48ers. My buddy pointed out that our roads are in much better shape, ice-wise, if we stay at zero and below. For me, the cabin is easy to keep warm at that temp, but if it gets much above zero I end up opening windows. So all in all, my buddy & I agreed that if we saw a winter of only ten degrees below zero, what a wonderful winter that would be.

Two days later, my friend sent me a link to a story online. The headline read: Another Day of Dangerous Cold in Minnesota. I opened the link, and scanned the article. School districts cancel classes… blah, blah, blah. AAA handles 900 calls on Monday… yeah, yeah, yeah… get to the good stuff. Forecasters say that Duluth sees a high of 10 degrees below zero.

So I’m sitting there, looking at the computer screen, acting like a person who was just told a joke, but didn’t get it, and was waiting for the punchline.

Minus ten is dangerous. I’m going to let that sink in. In the meantime, forecasters are calling for -45F to return to Interior Alaska for this weekend. I wonder what -45 would be called today in the Lower 48…

BTW, the coldest temperature ever recorded in the Lower-48 was minus 70 degrees F at Rogers Pass, Mont., on Jan. 20, 1954. That’s more like it.


Courtesy of TJS

Alaska: Where polar bears roam the streets, and the mail is delivered by dogteam.

fairbanks census 1940
Photo courtesy of UAF Archives: Fairbanks Census circa 1940

Two stories that I found amusing regarding the Outside and their perception of Alaska that I felt honor bound to share. customer service vs. Palmer, AK Resident:
“I wanted to return some Carhartts my 27-year-old daughter gave me for Christmas that would’ve fit me around the time of her conception. …

“The customer service agent (a young fellow located in the Caribbean — I asked) said UPS doesn’t ship to Antarctica.

“I said, No, no, Alaska.
“Oh, Alaska, he says; do you get mail there?
“No, I said, of course not, and we don’t have phone service, either.
“Jeez, he said, I wouldn’t want to live there.”
——–Courtesy of Anchorage Daily News

Hockey News Conference
“As we are approaching the end of the CCHA, I am reminded of so many great stories that this league has told, stories that fans rarely hear. I have to share this one.
It was the league’s media day in 1999, back when the league held such a thing, when all the coaches would gather at Joe Louis Arena and any member of the media who could be present was present to hear what was said and ask what needed to be asked.
That was Guy Gadowsky’s first year as the head coach of Alaska, and there was a question that one reporter who I shall not name really needed to ask. Really.
“Have you seen any polar bears in your backyard?” That was the question. Really.
Gadowsky had just moved to Fairbanks from Fresno, Calif., so he hadn’t been in Alaska very long. And Fairbanks is like, you know, a city. The first-year head coach looked a bit confused and very graciously told the reporter that, no, he hadn’t yet seen any polar bears where he resided in Alaska.”
–Paula C. Weston


A special note of thanks goes out to Weston for picking the Nanooks in both Ann Arbor & South Bend. She’s my favorite USCHO blogger… even before the recent show of faith. I think Weston has become good luck for Alaska Hockey, so I’m hoping for a little more Polar Bear Love this week against No. Michigan. In any case, her blog is well worth the read.

“In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
— Aeschylus

True Alaskan

Nuggets: One Room Cabin

Comic courtesy of Nuggets

One Last Time

MN vs NoDak

In what has arguably grown into one of the best rivalries in college sports (notice I did not limit it to hockey), The University of North Dakota visits Mariucci Arena to take on the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers this weekend. Unfortunately, due to the Conference Shuffle that has been going on, this will be the final regular season series between the two schools as WCHA members. In fact, it will be the final meeting between these two programs for several years, barring a meeting in the playoffs. Both schools will be moving on to new hockey conferences after this season.

I’m disappointed to see this bitter rivalry threatened. No doubt, fans of both programs will continue to hate each other with rabid passion, but I’m convinced that the intensity of the MN-NoDak Rivalry will not be sustained after the exodus from the WCHA. I really hope that I’m wrong. Only time will tell.

Still, we have one more to revel in. Minnesota is ranked #1 & NoDak is ranked #6 in the country. Both are tied for third in points in the WCHA, but both are tied for first in Win Percentage. Both teams hate each other, both teams want bragging rights in this final series, and both teams will put on a show.

Standing room only was sold out weeks ago; Mariucci will be rocking. The puck drops at 7 CST Friday & 5 CST Saturday.


In other hockey news: Congrats to the University of Alabama – Huntsville for being accepted into the WCHA… And congrats to the WCHA for doing the right thing by voting unanimously to add UAH into the conference. I’m glad Bruce listened to me when he was visiting Fairbanks.