Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sign of the times…

I took the Beetle out for one last seasonal run today, then added some fuel additive to the gas tank, and topped it off.
With snow, rain, and more snow in the forecast for the remainder of the week, I figured it was time to take off the roof rack, park the car and put it under cover for the coming avalanche.

The Northern Lights

Northern Light in Alaska

We have had some brilliant displays of the aurora here in Interior Alaska the past couple of weeks. Even now, after all these years in Alaska, the northern lights never fail to stop me in my tracks. Which makes the past fortnight all the more enjoyable, because it has not been forty degrees below zero when I did stand outside to watch them light up the sky.

Interestingly, retired Professor Charles Deehr of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, who now puts up the UAF Geophysical Institute’s aurora forecast, stated that the recent intense activity is only 1/3 of the level it reached at its peak in 1959.


I’ve seen some incredible aurora displays, which really piques my interest at what it would look like amped up by three times.

1959 in Alaska, must have been quite the experience, on far more levels than just the one. I have no doubt, that I would have liked it even more.

Little Brown Jug Heads to Minneapolis

Gophers Hoist Jug in Big House

The 111 year old Little Brown Jug traveling trophy was up for grabs in the Big House of Michigan on Saturday. Minnesota vs Michigan is one of the oldest rivalries in college football, with the first meeting between the two programs taking place on Northrup Field in Minneapolis in 1892. The earthenware jug entered the competition in 1903, when Michigan coach Fielding Yost had the team manager buy the 5 gallon crock for 30 cents. Yost didn’t trust the Gopher fans; he thought they may contaminate the Wolverine water supply.
Minnesota tied that 1903 game late in the second half. A thunderstorm hovered above, as Minnesota fans rushed the field. The game was eventually called a 6-6 tie with 2 minutes remaining. Michigan walked off the field, leaving the jug.

Little Brown Jug after capture

A Minnesota custodian, Oscar Munson, recovered the jug from the playing field. The team painted the jug brown, and a traveling trophy was born.

In the past 4 decades, Minnesota had only won the trophy three times. On Saturday, the Golden Gophers dominated all facets of the game. Minnesota running back, David Cobb had more yards rushing on the ground (183), than the entire Michigan offense had as a team (171).

Luckily, through the magic of the internet, I was able to listen to the Minnesota radio broadcast online while I was working. I love the fact that smart phones plug into my jobsite radio. I guess technology isn’t always a bad thing.

2014 Minnesota celebration photo courtesy of Minnesota Golden Gopher football.
Black & white photo courtesy of the Michiganensian … 1909 edition

A Revisit

High Impact Aurora

13 December 2006

The aurora flowed like a great river;
an inverted Yukon meandering across the sky.
Time lapsed. Banks eroded. The brilliant green
river changed its course.
Then drought hit, and the powerful flow was reduced
to a faint puddle, a dim shimmer.
The sky was quiet.

With an explosion, the aurora returned as a wall of thunderheads.
Imposing. Inspiring. Pulsing.
The lower layer of the wall of light was magenta.
The aurora’s lightning.
Thin lines of green light dropped down from the glowing storm.
Like sheets of rain falling on the distant hills.

Photo courtesy of the Daily News-Miner

Turn the Page

Snow Across the Valley

A couple of milestones were reached today. Snow flurries filled the air for much of the day, eventually turning to straight rain by late afternoon.

It was also the first day this season that I wore a long underwear top underneath my sweatshirt.


It would seem that S.O.B. Jack Frost is burning the bridge to summer.

Door Weatherstrip

Upper passenger door

A few years back, I was forced to replace the weatherstripping (as well as the glass and mirror) on the driver’s side door while parked in a driveway in the Twin Cities. I decided to replace the weatherstripping on the passenger door before I went back there and someone else decides that it is time for that weatherstripping to be replaced.

No more folded up pieces of cardboard between the glass panels to keep the rattle down to a minimum. These truly are strange times.

New weatherstripping

The Series door splits in half with two bolts. Overall, it came apart easily. The rivets holding the rubber seal between the two door panels had to be drilled out, as well as the lock mechanism and some of the screws holding the bottom track in place. I’m certain that the window track was original to the truck, so there were only remnants of sign that they once held weather-strip.

In some ways, working on an old vehicle, is like working an archeological dig.



After an excruciating day of replacing “el baƱo del diablo”. I stopped by the post office to find 2 small packages and three additional package slips in my post office box. Upon turning in the yellow, pick-up slips, the clerk looked at me with suspicion. Ever since I received a cylinder head in the mail, the postal clerks seem to approach me with doubt mixed with a healthy dose of concern. Of course, it is possible that it was the complete exhaust system that ruined my reputation with USPS. At any rate, I did confirm to the clerk, “Yes, I believe it’s Rover parts”. She promptly grabbed a cart and ventured into the back.

Three boxes full of brand new Land Rover parts. The efficiency of Rover’s North amazes me sometimes.

There is a habitual planner out there lurking in the corn, who will be thrilled to know that I now have plans for the weekend.

Rover Repairs

Saturday, September 13, was Interior Rover Day in Alaska. It marks the day my Rover’s transmission escaped the transmission shop, after 11 weeks in captivity. 11 weeks!

With the Rover now mobile, I have so many things I want to do to the truck, so many parts to buy… and so few days before the snow flies…

Leaky seal

My old Land Rover does not take well to sitting, and it’s been sitting for a while now. Tonight, I started out by replacing the rear axle shaft seals. I had replaced the passenger side axle shaft in a Minnesota driveway a while back.

Ready for new gasket

The main gasket was fine, but I installed a new one.

Axle shaft w/ felt seal

The leak came from the felt seal at the end of the shaft. It was in poor shape when I pulled it out.

The driver’s side had only a minimal leak, but I replaced both the gasket and felt seal on that shaft too. I must be getting good at this: The job took 30 minutes per side to complete.

Mark my words, Interior Rover Day will catch on and go global.

1952 Hudson Hornet


This Hudson Hornet, a circle track cast off, once ran the Nordic Speedway in Decorah, IA. The track is currently known as the Upper Iowa Speedway. The Hornet is for sale on ebay out of Glencoe, MN.

The Hudson has a 308 Flathead Six with the Twin-H Carter carbs, that allegedly runs, although nothing is hooked up to the motor. This Hudson 6 was originally rated at 145 horsepower, but with Hudson’s racing interest, they had the optional “Severe Usage” package. This was a factory-prepped and dealer-installed collection of thinly disguised high-performance options for the motor, which added another 85 HP.

When I last looked at the auction, the bid was at $1700.