Monthly Archives: May 2016

Growing Season


There’s a nice rhubarb plant just outside my cabin’s door, that grows back every year. Here is a picture of it from last week.

Keep in mind:
It’s still May.
It’s Interior Alaska.
It’s still in the month of May.

I’d say the plant is easily at July 4th height before Memorial Weekend. That is insane.

Memorial Day Arlington NC
Arlington National Cemetery

Denali Road Lottery

Road into Denali NP
Driving into Denali National Park

The deadline for entries for the annual road lottery into Denali National Park is May 31. My luck with the lottery has been mixed. I’ve been picked, and I’ve traveled to The Park with friends that have won, but early snow has dampened plans. One thing the Park Service is consistent about: if there is so much as a dusting of snow, they will close the road so quick that even the grizzlies are impressed by the speed.

For those of you not familiar with the lottery: The Park Road opens up to individuals for four days every September for the lottery winners. You pick a day you can travel, Saturday is reserved for military personnel, and if your bid gets picked, you get a vehicle permit for the day to explore the “Denali Park Road as far as weather allows”.

This year the dates are September 16-20. On average, there are 1600 winners chosen. The odds of winning are reportedly 1 in 6.





Been there…

What an apostrophe!

Death in the Backyard

Moose 1
A moose as seen from the deck this past November

I received an email from a concerned party today that carried the title: “7 Things in Your Backyard that could Kill You”. I was touched by the concern, so I opened the email out of curiosity to find out just what was lurking in my backyard.

1) Pesticide-Infused Grass: Not really a concern.
I don’t have any grass. No lawn. No lawn mower. It’s pretty much just wild tundra out there, and it does what it does.

2)Dog poo: There is poo scattered all about. I currently do not have a dog, but the neighbor does, and the dogs are often over at my place, because I’m so damn friendly. The pack has been thinned out over the past winter, however, and the neighbor’s dogs now number two. When it was at the high end of five, I even found dog poop on my roof. True story.

3)Ticks & Lyme disease: Not a problem.
I don’t believe I have ever had a tick on me in Alaska, and I’m outdoors all the time. When I did have a dog, even he did not have to worry about lyme disease.

4)Bees: I can already tell this will be a Bee Year. The yellow jackets have been out in force.

5)Backyard Burning: Nice catch!
With as dry as it has been, backyard burning is a huge risk. I refused to let my neighbor burn two weeks ago, luckily the Borough backed me up with an emergency burn ban. Some idiot will no doubt start a wild fire, with the upcoming Memorial Weekend being a good time frame. As of two weeks ago, there had been 124 fires in Alaska this year, with 122 of them started by man.

6)The swimming pool, especially the hot tub:
This one actually gave me a case of the giggles. I do have a pond in the back yard though, complete with resident leeches. If anything, this is more of a danger in the winter, when we are out on the ice lighting the methane pockets with a propane torch.

7)Tanning: I’m not sure we really have to worry about this one a whole helluva lot either. With all the bug dope on, can the sun’s rays reach flesh?

I was disappointed that the list was so obviously incomplete. Where is the grizzly bear on this list? What about moose? I’ve had moose hanging around the cabin since breakup; one seems to walk right past my shop every morning. Once mamma moose drops her calf or calves, you can count on her being ornery more often than not. I’m not even getting into the fact that there is moose poop everywhere. The horror!

Is there actually a world out there where the greatest health threat is dog poo? Although, I admit, it really torques me when I find it on my roof. I am thankful that I’ve never found moose poop up there, however.

Fairbanks griz
Grizzly seen on Murphy Dome Road

First Atlas

Epitome of the Theater of the World
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum: Courtesy of the Library of Congress

On this date in 1570, the first atlas was published by Abraham Ortelius, a Flemish book collector and engraver. Called Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theater of the World), the groundbreaking work was a collection of 70 maps, all organized logically by continent and/or region.

Ortelius died in 1598, but the atlas continued to be published until 1612, running a total of 31 editions. By 1612, the atlas had grown to include 167 maps.

“Buy an atlas and keep it by the bed—remember you can go anywhere.”
—Joanna Lumley

Mercury Trucks

From the mailbag:


Mercury produced a line of pickups between 1946 and 1968. They were almost solely available in Canada. Many areas in Canada had a Ford/Monarch dealer or a Lincoln/Mercury/Meteor dealer, but few areas had both. In order for those Lincoln/Mercury dealers to sell trucks, Ford pickups carried the Mercury badge. Instead of the “F” designation, the Mercury line had an “M” designation. For the most part, the differences were cosmetic. If anything, the Mercury line was a bit more upscale, with a different grille or bumpers, often chromed compared to the plain Fords.

A 1957 Mercury Meteor Ranchero

The Automotive Trade Agreement signed between the United States and Canada in 1965 would bring about the end of the Mercury line of pickups. With the automotive manufacturers now being able to freely bring models across the border, the need for the separate line of Mercury M-Series ended, and the trucks were phased out by 1968.

’53 Merc

1953 Mercury M-350
1953 Mercury M-350