Monthly Archives: October 2016

Happy Halloween

Gopher Halloween
Photo credit: Golden Gopher Hockey

Campfire vs Bonfire

Mn Campfire
Minnesota campfire

Maybe Alaskans over do it, but campfires up there seem so much larger than in the Lower 48. (Knoxville excluded) Don’t you have pallets down here?
Since I’m on the subject: What’s up with not owning an axe? When showing two near-teens how to properly build/light a fire, I was splitting kindling in a garage with a brick chisel and a drilling hammer! The travesty! Life lessons lose some credibility when one does not have the proper tools, and you are forced to repeat the phrase, “Now, don’t you do it this way.”
In other news, I know what my cousin is getting for X-mas.

Inside a used book

After reading Brazilian Adventure, I wanted to read more of Peter Fleming’s work, so when I stumbled across One’s Company in a used bookstore, I didn’t hesitate to buy it. 

While traveling recently I brought the book along and found tucked within it’s pages an old post card. 

The card is of Egmore Railway Station, Madras, and was mailed from India to an address in Ottawa Canada roughly 30 years ago. 

There are no words written on the post card other than the address. On the left hand side, where one would usually write with varying amounts of sincerity, “Wish you were here!” is a simple water color. 

A picture worth a thousand words. 

Explosion under Cleveland 

Photo credit: AVO

An explosion was heard from the Cleveland Volcano by residents in the village of Nikolski.

The 5676′ active volcano is on Chuginadak Island, which lies 940 miles southwest of Anchorage. The alert level on Cleveland was subsequently raised from yellow to orange.

Cleveland, named after former U.S. President Grover Cleveland, is one of Alaska’s most active volcanos.

Meanwhile, in Ohio, the Cleveland Indians exploded for 6 runs in a shutout win over the Chicago Cubs.  Coincidence?


Fairbanks received its first snowfall of the season on Thursday. A whopping 1/2″ pummeled the city. 

Of course, I stalled until Friday to take down the original Rover Hut and replace it with a new & improved Rover Hut II. 

I did get three winters out of the original, but there was no hope for a fourth. Partly, because I was gone for most of last winter, so there was no one willing to keep the snow off the roof. The poles took quite a beating even with the 2×4 supports. In the end, I don’t think it would have mattered. The roof was so thin from sun & weather rot, it tore when I tried to fold it up to place in the truck. 

The new & improved version is the “Alaskan Series“, which no doubt means 4 winters. I’m sure the label is not a ploy to get Alaskans to buy the thing based solely on the rugged name. 

Bob Swanson & the Offenhauser


Fountainhead’s Wetteroth-Offenhauser Midget Racer, was once raced by Robert “Bob” Swanson. Swanson, born in Minneapolis in 1912, was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame.

From Bob Swanson’s Wikipedia page:
Swanson won the first Turkey Night Grand Prix midget-car race in 1934. At the 1939 Indianapolis 500, he was involved in the accident that killed defending champion Floyd Roberts. Thrown out of his car when Roberts hit him, Swanson lay unconscious on the track as the car overturned and caught fire. His lucky escape proved to be only a temporary reprieve, as Swanson was killed a year later while attempting to qualify for a midget car race.

In an 2006 interview, motorsports reporter Chris Economaki called him ‘the best racing driver he ever saw’.

Bob Swanson

The Wetteroth-Offenhauser Midget Racer can be seen at the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum.


Photos and Swanson bio come courtesy of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum

Throwback Weekend

University of Alaska Seal

They are promoting this weekend at UAF: “Throwback Weekend”, as the University of Alaska Fairbanks takes on Minnesota State University at the Patty Ice Center on campus.

Patty Ice Center

It’s been three years since Alaska has played a D-1 game at the Patty Center. This year with MSU having a conflict with their Verizon Center and the Carlson Center here in Fairbanks being booked with the Alaska Federation of Natives Conference, the hockey games have been moved to the campus rink, the original home of the NCAA Nanooks.

Center Ice

This year begins the celebration of the University of Alaska’s 100th Anniversary, and the University is starting that kickoff with the hockey team returning to campus to play the #9 ranked Mavericks of Mankato.

The puck drops at 7:07 both Friday and Saturday evening. Tickets are extremely limited.

“The Farthest North Auto Museum”

Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

Between hockey tournaments, we stopped by the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. The museum is one of Fairbanks’ lesser known gems. It is quite the collection of classic vehicles. The Curator, of course, wanted to see the three midget cars, and I pretty much wanted to see everything.

Three Midgets
Fountainhead’s three midget racers

The three midget racers include a 1934 Wetteroth-Offenhauser, a 1937 Winters-Ford Midget V8-60, and a 1938 Southwest Chrome Special Elto. The Offenhauser had been driven by Bob Swanson.

1906 Pope-Toledo
1906 Pope-Toledo Type XII 7-passenger Touring

One wing of the museum has a collection of cars with Alaska ties. It includes a 1906 Pope-Toledo, which was the first production car to arrive in Fairbanks. Also included is the Sheldon Runabout, which was the first car built entirely within Alaska. It was “manufactured” by Bobby Sheldon in 1905 to impress a young lady. The Sheldon Runabout is on loan from the University’s Museum of the North.

1932 Chrysler
1932 Chrysler Custom Imperial Series CL Convertible Sedan

The ’32 Chrysler is one, absolutely beautiful car. I bet it’s damn fun to drive as well.

1927 Stutz
1927 Stutz Vertical Eight Custom Series Black Hawk Boattail Speedster

As I’ve posted on here before, I’ve had a life-long, yet sadly, long-distance love affair with Stutz. Look at those lines. Beautiful.

1919 McFarlan
1919 McFarlan Type 125 Sport Touring

The McFarlan was once owned by actor Walter Reid. Reid, who starred in over 180 films during the silent film era, was obsessed with cars and racing. Sadly, the actor died in 1923 at the age of 31. The vehicles, especially in this wing of the museum, have been moved closer together to accommodate the private events that take place during the fall and holiday seasons. Unfortunately, some of the vehicle locations did not provide outstanding cameos. This was one such case.

Roaring Road
Walter Reid in “The Roaring Road”, 1919

Due to the tight schedule we were on, we stopped by the museum on a day that they were closed because of winter hours. Luckily, we ran into the Fountainhead mechanic, and he gave us a quick, private tour. For which, we were both extremely greatful. The Antique Auto Museum is well worth checking out when in Fairbanks. I can not say enough, and will certainly be paying them another visit. Probably during regularly, scheduled hours.

Fountainhead is a working museum. In other words, the vast majority of the cars here, are operated at some point during the year. There are only a few exceptions to that rule. In all, the collection has over 80 vehicles at this point.

Juneau Snowfall

Juneau gets snow

Juneau received 5.1″ of snow over the weekend. It’s a bit early for Alaska’s capital city, as November 3 is the average first day of measurable snow. What makes this snowfall notable, is that it is the first time since 1940, that Juneau received recordable snow before both Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Not to be left out, the coastal community of Haines, received a foot of fresh snow from the same system.

The Great One


Denali has been very visible the past couple of weeks. Here’s a view from the south, as we traveled up the Parks Highway from Anchorage.